Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wedding in Finland and a whole lot more...

As my former colleagues' daughter, Ruut, was marrying our good friends' son, David, Ljilja and I decided to make the trip to Finland for the wedding. Our good friend, Sina, was so happy to have the chance to host us as she has stayed with us a lot in Bosnia, and even come to visit me in South Africa. Now was her chance to show off her Finland!

The wedding was stunning: of course it was on a lake (Finland is the land of a thousand lakes!), and luckily there was no rain. Here you can see where the vows took place:
The two families together in one photo: Finns on the left, Bosnians on the right. Ruut is the oldest of 4 girls and David is the oldest son in a family of 10! Don't they all look lovely :)
Here is just the happy couple: Ruut and David
 After all the festivities - they left in a very unusual way :)
Here's a photo to show you what we looked like in all our finery :)
Other than going to the wedding, we did see a bit of Finland: We spent a few days in Helsinki seeing the sights - here is the Lutheran Cathedral.
And here is the Marina area. Helsinki is surrounded by water.
We also spent time with some great people: including Sina's brother, Sani, and his girlfriend Anna.
We had a lovely evening catching up with Sina's friend, Jelena who has visited us in Banja Luka.
Then it was time to travel to Sina's family's "summer cottage". On the way we stopped off in Tampere to see some old friends. Lea (next to me) worked in Banja Luka for 3 years so it was great to see her and her sister, Eeva-Liisa, and also Susanna (who are both sponsors of our children in Banja Luka).
We had a great time at the summer cottage, which is not really a cottage:

We enjoyed hanging out with Sina's mom, who at 70 still plays tennis regularly, as does Sina's 86 year old uncle! Some amazing genes there...
And enjoyed the breathtaking sunsets over the lake at 11pm at night! Yes, 11pm!  
We enjoyed some fun Finnish traditions of berry-picking in the forest, and making a blueberry pie out of the pickings!! And of course the sauna... including jumping into the cold river in between sessions (but I kept my bathing costume on for that!!). We generally had a great time as the below photo shows :)
It wasn't all work and no play - we helped clean the roof of all the pine needles and leaves from the trees...
I didn't just take pictures... someone had to pick it all up off the ground where they swept it... ;)
Then it was time to leave the peaceful surrounds and head back to Helsinki. We made a day-trip across the Baltic sea to Tallinn in Estonia, where we caught up with my friend Helina:
And did some sight-seeing in the wonderful old town. So pretty!
Then it was time to head back to Banja Luka, but there is always time for a silly photo with sauna hats (do they need hats in a sauna??)
It was such an amazing trip and I am so grateful to Sina and her family for showing us such a wonderful time. The wedding was amazing, and I am so glad that we could be there for that, and it was also so great to catch up with many people along the way!!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

InterVarsity/IFES Team

As our  EUS (InterVarsity/IFES) colleagues, David and Irena, left in June to go live in the Czech Republic, we didn't have an InterVarsity Team for this summer, but the team that is in Sarajevo came up for a couple of days for a visit. It was great having them here! Ljilja did most of the organising, and I just helped out, but it was a fun couple of days hanging out with new friends and old.
We even had an American Cultural night with them, including a fun game of "Guess who I am" and a Jeopardy-style quiz.
We also enjoyed coke floats and some other American snacks.
The leaders of the team are Matt and Bekah, who came with their daughter Hannah, who is a darling. They have led teams and visited before to Banja Luka, so it was especially great to be able to catch up with them!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Rest of Murilo and Avi's visit

It has been great to have them involved in other things here, like visiting the children's home and the cultural evening, but they are busy travelling so that they can run a workshop called "Word By Heart". We decided to take it on the road to Prijedor and even though it was a small group, everyone was very encouraged by the seminar:
They also shared with us in church on Sunday morning, which was a great blessing:
And they got to enjoy true Bosnian hospitality at our friends, Damjan and Tanja:
All in all, I think they had a great time as did we with them, and it was hard to say goodbye as they carried on with their adventures around the Balkans and beyond! 

Friday, July 01, 2016

BISA Cultural Evening (Brazil, India and South Africa)

With my friends, the Bennetts, here from South Africa and Murilo here from Brazil and Avi from India, we decided to have a cultural night at EKC Ihtus featuring these countries: Here I am introducing the Bennetts:
Here is Murilo with his Brazilian Hotdogs:
And Avi made us some Indian Chai:
And from South Africa we had pumpkin fritters in the beginning and at the end of the evening we had milk tart (with Katherine Bennett sneaking a bite!) YUMMY!!

Little Rachel (here with mom, Sarah) loved the pumpkin fritters:
And everyone had a great time enjoying the food, drink and sweet stuff...
Before we were treated to a very interesting presentation on each of the countries... 
At the end Murilo shared a story from his childhood in Brazil and how he prayed to the Lord to get him out of his bad family situation, and the Lord answered his prayer... He used a wonderful illustration where he changed his broken home through the cross:
All in all it was a wonderful evening, full of fun and food and new experiences. Thanks to everyone who made it an experience to remember! 
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