Saturday, October 28, 2017

YWAM Central Europe Leadership Meetings

As many of you know, I am co-leader of the leadership team for YWAM in Central Europe. Alongside our monthly Skype meetings, we also try to meet twice a year in person. We met in April in Albania, and we decided then that I would host them in Bosnia in the autumn. One of our number is on sabbatical in the US, but the other 3 came along and we had a great time - Alket from Albania, Arlen from the US, serving in Romania and Florin from Romania:
The first whole morning we spent having Skype meetings with people from different locations across Central Europe. It was our annual Prayer Day for Central Europe, and we managed to meet up with people in 10 of the 16 countries and prayed together with them. It was so good to connect with so many of the over 200 YWAMers who are in Central Europe! Below is a photo of us with two locations in Greece and one in Macedonia:
The rest of the time we spent meeting mostly just us, but we did have one fun night at our house, and one meeting with our former leader, Yohanan, who Skyped in from Ireland: It was great to have him impart some of his wisdom before he goes on sabbatical to decide what he will be doing next.
We also got out and about in Banja Luka, so they could enjoy the city and see how beautiful it is: here we are at the Kastel Fortress:
It was good to see each other in person and not just on Skype, and it helps to be together so we can make important decisions and we also did a lot of organising for our Leadership Gathering which happens next spring! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Danish do Banja Luka

We were visited by a crazy team from Denmark who came by bus/train for a couple of days here to check us out. I think it worked out that they travelled as much as they were actually here. Luckily for them, the weather played along (we have been having an incredible October after a miserable September) and they really enjoyed the SUN that we had all week. 

Here I am with them: Jonas, Christer, Bjorn, Camilla, Christina and AnneMarie. They were super fun and enthusiastic about everything... I took them the first day to have pita/burek (Bosnian pie) and ćevapi and they were so excited to have typical Bosnian food!
While they were here, it wasn't all play and no work... We had a great Danish Evening: 
 Christer explaining (with Mihajlo translating) about the Danish flag:
 We learnt about the important concept of hygge, and how to do it for ourselves:
Then it was time for a taste test... here they are trying Danish salty licorice... you can see from their reactions how much they liked it!
While I was trying to get paperwork together for my visa, they took themselves on a hike to a place overlooking Banja Luka and prayed over the city:
And I put them to work sorting out our craft supplies as I got a whole lot of stuff at the Brela Women's Conference: (and Christer is behind the door changing the light switch as he is actually an electrician!) The others are downstairs sorting out another storage room, but I didn't get a pic of that...
We also went to the children's home with them to help out at book club: and a pic as proof that Christina got right in there:
We have realised that our reading club activities last about 1/2 hour. And then we need something else. The team was the "something else" this week! They shared about Denmark and then it was onto the fun stuff... Here are some of the kids trying the salty licorice... the rest of them got a go later. Not many enjoyed it - it is definitely an acquired taste!
They also entertained us with a play about making good choices about how to react. Very cute, and with a good message!
 At the end they taught us a song and dance with chicken movements...
 Afterwards, they entertained in other ways and eventually we had to drag them away so the kids could go to bed! The kids and the team didn't want them to leave!! Next time they will have to stay longer and go a few more times!
On their last day we went out to have some more traditional food:
 It really was fun having them, and hopefully they will come back again soon! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

8th year of Book Club!

So, I have about 25 faithful volunteers already, but it is always good to have a few more, so I put out the word about needing volunteers, thinking I would get 10,12 new volunteers. We ended up getting 35 NEW volunteers. To say that I was a bit overwhelmed is an understatement, but it is a good thing to be overwhelmed by! It is always so hard to say "no" to someone who wants to volunteer, as they may be the best volunteer we ever had... but usually after a while people realise that it isn't as easy or fun as they thought, and so we end up with about the right amount of volunteers, so it all works out in the end!

I had a couple of meetings with them to sort out the paperwork - they have to sign our Child Protection Policy and then every year we have a volunteer contract and they get their hours collected in their "Volunteer book". It is quite a lot of admin, but it is worth it as it gives them the ability to use their volunteer hours when looking for a job! Here we are at one of the meetings: 
Then it was time for the first book club. And of course we had more volunteers (38) than kids (35) - but it was still fun! And I took a microphone/speaker combination along and it was amazing! I can't believe I didn't think of it before now!!! 
We brought books from the library for the kids and so they didn't have anything they could work from, and so one of the volunteers read a story by Branko Copic (using the microphone!) and we all worked from that. It worked really well! I also found some great activity books which we will be using with them - on ecology, manners, working with manners, etc. So we worked on one of those worksheets as well. With all the volunteers and the microphone, it was probably the best Book Club ever! After 7 years, I have finally got it right! Long may it continue!!  

Monday, October 09, 2017

Montenegro and Croatia

Every year in August/September there is a Samaritan's Purse conference called nConnect for those working with Operation Christmas Child. As I am part of the national team for Bosnia and Herzegovina I get to go along to connect with others working in the region (and with our team to work on how we will be moving forward in how we do things). This year the conference was in  Cetinje, Montenegro. It is always great to reconnect with the wonderful people who work with this project, this time with the Albanians and Montenegrins:
 We also got to enjoy some of the historical city of Cetinje:

On the way back we were going to go to Budva on the coast to at least put our toes in the water... But in the end this is what we got to see of the sea. The road was closed for repairs for an hour and so we decided to turn around and go back the other way. 
As we were heading back, we came across a one-car accident where the car was destroyed but the lady had somehow managed to get out of the vehicle. We were able to help her until the ambulance arrived... and she was soooo grateful that we came along :) (she just had one broken rib, having airbags saved her life for sure... she fell asleep and hit the rock wall alongside the road and the car overturned). 

We also discovered that the roadworks were not just on the coast and had to wait another 2 hours at the border as they were fixing the road right there and then when that opened the border took forever because of the backlog! But eventually we made it to Trebinje where Ljilja and I stayed for two nights to see her family (and somehow I don't have any pics of that!) and the others carried on back home. 

The next weekend it was time for another conference that happens every year in October on the Croatian coast: the Brela Women's Conference. I was one of the people on the founding committee and it has been going for 15 years now! It is always great to go and get refreshed and reconnect with people serving in the Balkans. 

The weather wasn't as good as it has been in the past, so no swimming this year, but it was still beautiful... and the wind reminded me of Cape Town! 
I enjoyed getting a little break away from it all, and it was great reconnecting with people I haven't seen in a long while!! 

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