Saturday, August 27, 2016

Learning while having fun!

Instead of having a camp for the kids in the Fida sponsorship project  this year, we ran a day camp. The kids are sponsored from Finland and my housemate and colleague, Ljilja, is the child sponsorship coordinator for Banja Luka. She asked me to help out with organising this event and I gladly agreed. There are a lot of new kids in the project, so we aimed it mostly at age 5-12. Many of the older kids in the project (aged 13 plus) came and were volunteers to help with the kids. And, along with some mothers, some friends and some of my children's home volunteers, we all came together to make this happen...and we managed to pull it all off! Here we all are on day 1, more kids came later on as well!
First we all met in the classroom, playing a game while waiting for all the kids to arrive:  
We sang a song or two altogether:
And then there was time for some input. Here the older children from the project are acting out the Bible story "Jesus calms the storm" (here he is sleeping). One of the moms, Zeljka, is reading the text. During this time we introduced the theme for the day as well.
Then it was time to divide into 3 groups (according to age) and rotate among 3 activities: Health Promotion, English and a Creative Workshop. Health promotion included anti-smoking, anti-bullying and oral hygiene. Here Maja (one of the mothers who did health promotion training with us) is showing the kids the dangers of smoking. They are seeing how hard it is to breath through a straw (which is what it will be like with COPD which is caused by smoking)... one way to make the dangers of smoking REAL.
 Learning about good and bad food for teeth:
And how to brush properly:
Then it was time to move to the Creative Workshops. On one day my friend, Dijana, helped us out with making beautiful brooches and hairpins... the boys made them for their moms or sisters :)

Another day, Bojan (one of the older kids in the project), showed them how to make origami boats: Sina also joined us to see how things were going at the workshops. She is the sponsorship project coordinator for the Balkan region and a dear friend :)
They put one boat for each child on a poster which said "we are strong and brave". That was the day we learnt about Jesus calming the storm, and that day's health promotion was on anti-bullying and so we put them together and we can be brave and strong if Jesus is with us in the boat :)

On the last day we made butterflies to put on the below poster: It says Children are like butterflies in the wind. Some can fly higher than others, But each one flies the best it can. Why compare one against the other? Each one is different. Each one is special. Each one is beautiful. (So true!!!!)
The third and last workshop which the children rotated through was me doing English through games and songs. Here the youngest group are singing the number song:
The older group learning about fruits:
And the middle group learning about body parts: We had a great time as you can see :) And some learning did take place!
Each day while all this was going on, Sinisa talked to the parents (many of them who had to bring their children a long way) about how to be a wise parent. And after that they got to hang out together and share experiences as well. Many parents feel quite isolated, so we were glad we could provide a forum where they would have an opportunity to be together as well. (and a place to hang out while their children were at the workshops!)
On the last day we actually had a little bit of a presentation for the parents: Singing some of the songs we learnt:
 Including the English songs that we learnt: Here we are singing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes":
We also showed the posters we made. The top one says "We are precious" and was the theme for the first day, along with the song that our ex-colleague, Rami, wrote for camp a couple of years back. Love that song - it talks about how precious we are and how we shouldn't put tease each other! Each child put their hand print and name on the poster... because they are all precious!
Here is Maja sharing what they learnt about oral hygiene: the good and the bad food for teeth on two posters:
As you can see, we managed to fit a lot of good stuff into the workshops, and the kids had fun... and learnt many things along the way as well! A great big thanks to everyone involved (and there were many people!) in making this happen. We couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book Review | Perfect Timing

I took this book with me to read on my vacation and spent a lovely afternoon absorbed in Roy Jones' life story as he shared how God got him into missions and continues to lead and guide him and his wife Shirley.

It was a short read, but it was definitely a book I will be reading again and again for the insights into how to live a life of faith full out. His insights into trusting God with finances, and how to seek the Lord's will in everything is definitely something that is worth being reminded about again and again.

Sharing frankly about his struggles, and how God has brought them through as a family, it is an encouragement that God will use you if you are willing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for more insight into what being a missionary is all about and also for those in missions to be reminded about why we do what we do!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Book Review | Together at the table

Having read and LOVED the first two books ("A Table by the Window" and "Reservations for Two") in the series by Hillary Manton Lodge, I jumped at the chance to review the final installment!

I decided to wait for my vacation and then go back and read the first two books again before getting into the third book "Together at the Table" and it was WONDERFUL! I loved the first two stories as much as I did the first time, and then I got lost in the third book completely. I must admit I even bored my vacation companions with stories from the books, as the characters are so alive and full bodied, it felt like I was talking about real people.

Once again the author keeps the suspense in the relationships of the two main characters going: "will they, won't they?" She also brings a wonderful and completely unexpected ending to the story of her grandmother which started in the first book.

I don't want to give anything away, but I cannot emphasize enough how much I LOVED this series and can recommend it as a wonderful read for foodies, travel lovers, romance suspense fans, history buffs, pretty much anyone who loves a good read about "real" people which makes you smile and want more...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Croatian Vacation

This year, I found a really reasonable place on the Island of Brac, just opposite from the city of Split. We also we added Carrie from the US to our motley crew - so now we were four nationalities from all over to make the waiters and border guards wonder how we got together!
Ljilja, Sina and I had been on the Island of Hvar before, but never on Brac, and we really enjoyed it. We were in Supetar, the biggest town:
We did some exploring of some of the other places around the island:
So beautiful!
We had a lovely sea view from our apartment and watched the sunset from our little balcony most nights: I love sunsets!
Carrie left us 3 days before the end, so on her last day we went to the world famous "zlatni rat" beach near Bol. (the below pic is off the internet, as any pictures from the land do not do it justice!) It was a lovely place and we had a fantastic day...
And we went out to a lovely restaurant overlooking the sea for her last dinner with us:
 After she left we did more exploring and enjoying the lovely summer weather at the beach :)
It was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and be able to come back energised for the next season here in Banja Luka!
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