Thursday, June 22, 2017

Another Polish adventure | LTS Module 4

I needed to be in Krakow for the Leadership Training School Module 4, and I couldn't go to Poland without seeing my newly found relatives, so I started in Warsaw for a night with my wonderful (second) cousin Izabela, before being whisked away by the rest of her family to Terespol.
Izabela had to work and so she couldn't come with us, which was a problem as she is the one with the best English. I was kind of worried that we would have to resort to hands and feet, but between my little bit of Polish, their little bit of English and the genius that is the Google translator app, we did great! If you are connected to the internet, you can even talk into the app and it translates it and then speaks it out, and on the whole is pretty good. However there were a few times it didn't hear properly or the translation was less than ideal... like the one below: WHAAAAT???
We had a great couple of days, and one day they took me to the place where they used to go on vacation as a family when the kids were younger. Here we are with Ania (who is another second cousin), her aunt and uncle (and Izabela's parents), Irena and Adam and Izabela's sister, Ilona. We ended up walking the 5kms around the lake and then having a lovely lunch!
They took me again to the place where my Grandfather grew up, and the poppies were like a little hello from him! I was surprised at how emotional I actually got... but family and roots do go deep I suppose, and I am just so happy that we found this side of the family once again!
 Then it was time to say goodbye and head off to the next adventure... (until next time!)
On my way to Krakow, I broke up the long journey in Kielce to meet up with Janna whom I met in 2011 in South Africa... it was fun hanging out with her again. Here we are on the walking street in Kielce:
 She also took me to a very interesting memorial/art piece which shows what man does to man, and commemorates the different acts of terrorism across the globe, especially September 11/twin towers.
While I was in Krakow, a few of us took the opportunity to go to Auschwitz, and I was reminded of the Kielce memorial - what man does to his fellow man...
 A little story: the Jews were all told that they were going to do a job, so they would get on the trains willingly and that that job was to polish the boots of the German soldiers. So many of them came with their own brushes and polish, so that they could do a good job. So sad...
These are the train tracks into Birkenau, and it seemed so poignant that there was a rose there... remembering the 1000s of people who came into the camp and never left again.
The thing that really got me was the kids... there was one really poignant display where they had reproduced drawings that were drawn by kids in the camps... and every one of those kids consequently died in the camp. I lost it the most at that... this is their impression of the above picture: No words...
Back in Krakow, we were right near the old city, which was really beautiful: here is the Marketplace
And Church of the 12 apostles, next to St Andrews:
 The Castle:
 The castle from the other side with one of the carriages who go through the city carrying tourists:
We did actually have lectures and processing groups, and all sorts of busy-ness which made for long days, but soooo good! Below is Bruce Clewitt who was speaking to us on the Catholic World. We also had Jeff Fountain on Europe, Stephe Meyers on teams, and many other great speakers!
 There was some time to connect with our fellow students and enjoy some networking: love it!
It was also great to connect with the people from YWAM Poland - we spent one afternoon together just catching up, and we meant to get a photo, but it didn't happen :( After the week in Krakow was over, I went to Rzeszow to spend time with one of the YWAM families, Roma and Tamara and their two boys, Sasha and Tolek. We also ran a couple of fun English classes for the children in their church and I shared in the church on Sunday morning. 
Then it was time to head back to Banja Luka and catch up with what is going on there! 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Book Club should be renamed "Fun Club"

As the school year is coming to a close for the summer, Book Club will be taking a hiatus... until the new school year. We had more 30 children who came regularly this semester and about the same amount of volunteers involved, some more regularly than others.

As the weather gets better, when we go to the library we also take a stop at the local playground. The library is in between two playgrounds, and one of them was recently renovated, so we took a stop there the last time we went to the library. It has some fun features which we tried out for the first time... Like the group swing:

Mini-roundabout:
 And climbing wall:
Another fun thing we try to do is take the kids to the Children's Theatre. We took them in two groups - one to see "Ivica i Marica" (Hansel and Gretel) and the other to see "Crvenkapa" (Little Red Riding Hood). The theatre gives us the tickets gratis, and so on our last book club we made them two posters as a "thank-you". We coloured in a scene or two from the play and the best ones went on the poster. We also wrote down which our favourite parts were and put those on there.

The first one says "Ivica and Marica, thank-you!")
The second one says "Crvenkapa, thank-you!"
Both of them have "Children from the Children's Home "Rada Vranjesevic" at the bottom right, so they know who the posters came from. The theatre staff were very touched by this gesture!

We also ended off the school year by giving prizes for attendance... The kids LOVE that they get any kinds of presents, and it is a good incentive to stay a part of the club, especially for the older kids...

And so I say, the Book Club is not just about reading (although there is a bit of that), it is also about just having fun! So maybe it should be called the "Fun Club"!! :) 

Friday, June 02, 2017

Experiencing Physical Therapy in Banja Luka

Somewhere along the line, I managed to injure my shoulder. It all started with the fact that my neck was very tight and tense, from too much working on my computer and not enough exercise, but I just got used to it... and then I decided that I needed to get fit and so started swimming: but maybe a little too much, too fast and who knew, but the neck and shoulders are all connected by the same muscles and so the tight neck muscles managed to pull the ligaments and tendons out of alignment in my AC joint in my shoulder (that is at least what they think happened...).

Anywoo, the shoulder thing got so bad in South Africa in January that I had it checked out there, and then I had physiotherapy there with a great therapist. We had sessions once a week and she did a good job of at least fixing my neck a bit, but then it was time for me to go back to Bosnia and it all went downhill from there again. I went to the doctor here in March, and she told me I had to have therapy every day for 10 days as that is the way it works here. However, with all the travelling I was doing, the first time I would be available for that was the beginning of May... I managed to use ice, creams and lots of paracetamol to keep the worst at bay, but it was a pretty retched month and a bit...

I went back to the doctor at the end of April and she signed me up for various treatments and exercises. Every day I went in and started with "electricity" and then went down the hall had treatment with "paraffin" heating pads, and then went to the exercise hall. There I was with the group exercises for the first 15 minutes as my therapist was doing the group and me at the same time. She would then either give me massage on my shoulder joint (read: owwwww, but it helps!) or more exercises to do for the next 15 minutes. For 10 days I then had a 15 minute massage (I know, hard life!).

After those first 10 days, I went to the doctor for a check-up and although my neck was better, it still wasn't completely better and the shoulder still had a way to go... so she gave me another 10 days of this. She just switched out my manual massage for an ultrasound "massage" (which was also very good!).

In the beginning, I really didn't know what to expect, but after a couple of days you figure out the system and see that it works really well. I also made friends with some of the people with whom I was doing the treatments at the same time which was really fun.

The only bad part was that I needed to get a copy of my treatment records for my insurance.  You would think I had asked for the holy grail! It was very frustrating as no one ever asks for this, because most people are in the health care system, so you pay around 10% of the costs (or free if you are over 65) and don't need to get records for their insurance as it is all in the same system. However, as I am not in the system, I paid it in full and will get it back from my insurance and I needed proof that the doctor had prescribed these exact treatments... not just the fact that I had paid. They gave me the run around for a couple of days until I asked the right person the right question and eventually got sent to the archivist where I was given an official request form which had to be approved by the hospital director - and then I got a copy no problem! But in the meantime you can imagine how fun it was - NOT!

I am soooooo much better now than when I started it and I now know the exercises and will continue those, as that is definitely the key! So I am VERY grateful to the physiotherapists and the amazing people who work at the orthopedic hospital... But to end off this blog post, I just have to share something that I thought was funny. They give us a card where they have my diagnosis, and the various treatments, and then I carry that from place to place as. of course, the people in the different places change and this way I get the treatment I need. On the back of the card there are these "remarks to patients":
They include things like "turn your phone off" and "if you don't come three times, then you will be excluded and have to start again". The one I found funny is the last one: "Please don't come in an alcoholised state". Only in Bosnia!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

English Classes

I am running two sets of English classes at the moment - with adults doing conversation (but that is no fun to take pictures of, although we do have a good time!) and with children. The children are cuter to take pictures of, so here you are:
There are about 20 kids and 4 volunteers, and each volunteer then works with a table group. We do games, exercises, colouring in, etc all around the tables. 
In the middle we have time to have some games and things altogether: Here is my little parachute which was a gift from a team - and we put it to good use. It is great for learning colours, numbers, instructions (up, down, round, etc). We also do other games and songs and just have a great time before heading back to our tables to carry on. 
Meanwhile the parents are kept busy with their own workshops - this one was on what behaviours should we allow children to get away with and which shouldn't ever be allowed... 
I have fun with both my classes, and seeing how the kids and the adults improve with each class is so rewarding!!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Leadership Training School Module 3

I missed Module 2 in January, which was in Holland, because I was in South Africa, but managed to catch it up on video. This time the week-long intensive was in Skien, Norway (actually pronounced Shay-en) which is also pretty close to Oslo, but from the airport it was almost 3 hours on the train. I was in the quiet car and had to take a picture:
We were in a former prison now turned YWAM base, and it was pretty cool!! They are not used to having over 130 people, but they did a fantastic job of hosting us all!!
One of the great things about this course is that you get to meet and connect with people from all over working all over Europe...I was in a room with a Kiwi who works in Greece, an American who works in Scotland and a Swiss girl who works in France.

I and the Kiwi, despite being the older ones in the room ended up on the top bunks, because the American is pregnant and the lovely Swiss girl had broken her back in December in a car accident... there was no ladder on the bed which made it tricky to get down. I managed to do it the first morning, but realised that I wouldn' t be able to do it on a regular basis... I talked to the YWAM base staff and... no problem, one of the Norwegian staff came and measured and the ladder was made and on the bed before I came back from lunch! love it!

This is the door to our "cell" - isn't it the coolest!!
 We were in lectures (with discussion around the table) most of the time. We had two great lecturers, Markus Steffan and Jim Stier. Markus is the President of the University of the Nations and Jim Stier (below) was previously President of Youth With A Mission. We had our lectures in a Methodist Church right next door to the prison.
 On the last night we had a wonderful meal together - we call it a Love Feast. Where we have lovely food and then share about how God has been working in our lives. We also sang a few hymns acappella which was great!
Afterwards we were treated to wonderful music by two fantastic Norwegian musicians in a 13th Century Church. It was so beautiful!
During this module we were given a big project that we had to complete, so now we are all busy working on that in our own time until the next Module in Krakow in June. So far it has been a fantastic experience to be a part of this Leadership Training School... we will finish with the 5th and final module in Kiev in August. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

YWAM Europe United | Family without borders

Last year in March we, the YWAM Europe leadership, started talking and dreaming about a huge YWAM Europe gathering along the theme of "Family without borders". The last big meeting was in 2007, so it was time. We were pretty certain it was supposed to happen in Albania, where we had hotels ready to give us a great deal (as it is off season), but there was no place for loads of people to meet - so the idea of the tent on the beach (which is owned by the hotels) was born... and it became a reality!
And 750 people from the YWAM Europe Family came along to make it all happen: I had the privilege of being one of the MC's for the first night, and actually started the whole shebang off!! If I had been clever, I would have got a photo of that - but you will have to make do with the crowd instead:
We spent 3 days meeting in the mornings and evenings and having afternoons "off" to gather in smaller groups. The downside of having so many people meant the meal queues (even with 3 places to line up) were pretty long - but I had some of my best catch-up/getting-to-know-you conversations in those lines, so it wasn't too bad.
In the afternoons, we had time to meet in smaller groups, or be a part of the many workshops or seminars that were offered. Central Europe had a meeting on one afternoon - and of course I don't have a picture of that. The 120 people from our area got together to share what is going on in our area - especially as we are going through a leadership transition... It was a great time of just being in the smaller family :)

The last afternoon they also offered us an outing to a Roman amphitheatre - and a place where Paul could have possibly preached!
All week I roomed with 3 others, including my good friend Belinda, and here we are at the amphitheatre with our matching T-shirts (which is the logo for her shop in Ireland, "Good Craic"), We figure if we room together, we at least get to catch up in the mornings and evenings in the room - otherwise it is pretty hit and miss how much we see each other as there are so many people who we want to see!
 There was also a chance to meet up with people that we normally work with virtually - here is the Communication Team for Central Europe (along with some new recruits!) which I lead. Great bunch of people!
And then it was all over and time for the tent to come down... it was easier taking it down than putting it up, but not by much - as they had to figure out ways to fold it all up without getting sand in it! Luckily there were a LOT of willing hands to help...
 After the conference the leaders for Central Europe had meetings for two days - it was a good time of catching up and also for Yohanan (third from left) to pass on the baton to me and Florin (second from right) as the new leaders for this area. We also enjoyed the fancy place to meet - in the wedding hall up on the 6th floor!
Where you can get pictures of the sunset like this one... (the pics from the beach weren't bad either!)
Then it was time to say good bye and head back to Bosnia, after a great week at the beach with my "family"!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Book Club

We started the Book Club back up a month ago - and we had visits from two actors from the Children's Theatre who helped us have a great time:
We have carried on with our weekly visits - either at the library or here at the home. Our volunteers really love working with the kids each week! It is also great to see that there are lot of kids who have come through the book club and are too old for it now, but they want us to get books for them from the library each time we go... I love it!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Mini day-camp

On Saturday, 40 kids, 15 moms and 20 volunteers gathered together to have a fun mini-camp with the kids from our Sponsorship project and their moms. We started altogether and played one of my favourite games of all time - "Captain coming" and the kids loooooved it. We then divided into two groups... (there were supposed to be 3, but I had come down with a temperature the day before and felt horrible. Although I could help out, I felt I couldn't have 3 groups of high energy English classes to run. It mostly worked out ok despite the bigger groups of kids!

The one group did craft activities on an Easter theme:
 


The other group did a workshop on family and what it means to us. Many of the kids come from big families or single-parent homes, and so it was good to look at the different forms of family and how being from a "different" family isn't wrong, it is just different. 
The kids rotated between the two groups and had a snack time in between. The Moms were upstairs and had two activities: first Gaga did a presentation on organisation of free time activities for their children, which was very well received. She also explained about Brain gym. This is a form of exercise which helps to develop children's brains through physical activity (which you will see more on later!)
 And then Dijana led a decoupage workshop, which they loved!
We also stuck with the Easter theme, and did eggs!
The last 45 minutes we spent altogether downstairs. Gaga led a series of activities for the kids based on "Brain gym". We also had the Moms there so they could see what it involved!
 As you can see it is actually a LOT of fun!
To end off the Easter theme, we watched some videos showing exactly what happened on Easter.
And Ljilja closed us off by asking the kids if they understood what went on in the videos... and they did!
As you can see, it was a great day (despite me being under-the-weather) and we had a LOT of fun! We also had a LOT of help from volunteers - some of them older kids in the project, others who work with us in the Children's Home. It wouldn't have been possible to organise this without their help! We and the kids (and the moms!) are truly thankful that we do have such wonderful people who will give up their Saturdays to come and spend time helping out.

And it was good to be reminded of the true meaning of Easter: Hristos Vaskrse. Vaistinu Vaskrse! (Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed!)

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