Thursday, March 01, 2018

Thoughts from a snowy Banja Luka

I have lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 17 years, and so snow is something I have had to become at least a little familiar with. I was sharing today in an English class at a high school here in Banja Luka (a friend is the teacher and she gets me to come and talk about South Africa and do it in English!), and I told them the story of my first full winter here as at the time I was not familiar with snow AT ALL.

The snow started on Thanksgiving (so end of November) and stuck around until the end of January. It was a bad winter, not all of them are like that! I had a car which you couldn't get winter tyres for and so I was slipping and sliding around until one of my Bosnian friends suggested I put the chains on. And so I did - and drove around with them all winter (which is ok where there is snow on the roads, but where they had cleared it, I was like a tractor!! and to say that people looked at me funny is an understatement, but I was happy I could drive!!)

Now, I have a car which has been duly winterised. Lovely winter tyres. Antrifreeze in the cooling system which can go below -30, and cleaning fluid in the windscreen wipers which also helps to deice the windscreen. These are all things I never thought I would think about! I have been blessed in that I do manage to go to South Africa every other year or so and skip part of the winter (and I have managed to skip many of the really bad ones), so I can't really complain.

I was thinking the other day that just like me car needs to get winterised, and change and adapt to different circumstances, I had to do that as well. I needed to adapt to this culture and people in order to be comfortable. I needed to make sure I had all the necessities in order to live here successfully.
And besides doing that on a cultural and language level, I needed to do it in other ways too... I mean am now proficient in all things needed to be warm in -10 degree weather... long underwear, scarves, hats, and the warmest coat ever (pictured above!). I bought the coat last November as I lost so much weight (yay!) that I was too small for the old one... and it had been such a mild winter until now, that I hadn't really needed it. But now it has come in way handy and I am so glad I bought it!! Even if I do look a bit like Anna Karenina!! As the Norwegians say - there isn't any bad weather, just bad clothing!

This week we are starting up the Book Club and I was so tempted to postpone it, as the weather really is bad, but in the end, I thought it was just good to keep going and so we will see how it goes tonight and if my brave volunteers will come through for me!! But I realised that in the past the weather would have been a reason to cancel as I wouldn't have adapted to it, but now with God's help I have adapted. We all need to adapt and change over time.

Last night at our bible study we were talking through Romans 13. I especially like the last verse, in the Message version: "Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!". I am now thinking that just like I get dressed in all my wintery garb in order to make it out of the house, it is so important to dress myself in Christ in all that I do. To be His hands and feet in this world...and I am so glad that we didn't cancel the Book Club... we need to be up and about! 

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