Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Michaela and Janice

If you would ask me what the hardest thing about being here is, I would say that it is the saying goodbye. In fact, 5 years ago, I wrote a blogpost on saying goodbye which I still return to as a reminder every so often...

But, just this past week, I got to say hello to two people who were in my life over 10 years ago, and it was so great to see them both again!

Janice is a dear friend, and I have seen her quite a few times since she left Bosnia over 10 years ago, including in Israel and Vienna, but Michaela I haven't seen since she and her family left Bosnia 11 years ago.

When I first came to Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was in a city called Zenica. Her parents, Jeff and Cindy, were there and their family became my second family. I know that I survived that transition period into live here mainly because of their support. Michaela was 4 when I arrived and I still think of her as that sweet little girl, but she is now all grown up and about to embark on her Masters!

She is travelling around Europe on an internship and started with me here and it was so great to have her. We miss her already. Janice came from Vienna to celebrate her birthday and completely by accident they were here at the same time (and they knew each other from before as well!)
You can read here more of what Michaela is up to this summer and what her impression of Banja Luka was! We had a crazy beginning with her sharing the church building with 11 other people and then as they left, a more relaxed time helping us sort out stuff for children's workshops as well as helping Janice sort out some of her stuff (which she is finally getting around to getting rid of after leaving it in Sarajevo for 10 years!)

It was great having both of them here again, and seeing how mature Michaela is now. It was again hard to have to say goodbye to them again - but I know even if I don't see them again here on this earth (which I hope I will!) we will see each other again one day in heaven, and that gives me hope! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Central European Leadership Gathering | Romania

Every other year, we hold a leadership gathering for the Central European region of YWAM. We usually have between 70 or 80 people attend and it is a great way for people to connect, as well as get inspired to continue their work in this region. This year it was time to hold it once again in Romania, where the majority of the people are in this area. We found a place about an hour outside of Cluj, surrounded by lovely mountains and where we could get away from it all!

Over 80 people attended in the end, and it was a great time of networking, as well as getting wonderful input from Stephe and Rite Mayers, who have been leaders in YWAM Europe for many years.

I was helping to facilitate the program as well as keeping an eye on the logistics (which were being handled by our phenomenal event manager, Tabita), as well as meeting with people every chance I got, so it meant for long, busy days, but I love it! I came back completely physically exhausted, but in all other ways completely full!

We did have a chance to go one afternoon to a waterfall not too far away. It was good to get out in nature (it was about a 20 minute walk to it) and also hang out with people more informally!

And of course, I didn't take my phone, so I only got pics with people who then sent them to me... (on the left, Ana from Canada/Croatia and on the right Greg and Erin from US/Poland). It really is great at these conferences to be able to catch up with old friends and make new ones!

I also didn't get any pictures of me up in the front doing my thang - but that is because I was too busy doing too many other things to think of documenting it. Oh well. I worked with our core team - me and 3 guys - to put everything together and make sure it all ran smoothly. It was so great working with such a phenomenal group and according to the feedback we did an OK job.

On the first night, one of the core team, Florin from Romania, was introducing the four of us, and he asked us each to tell him one fun fact that he could share, that no one would know about us. I told him that my fact was that I had a snake as a pet as a child. I thought he would just share "Belinda had a snake as a pet as a child" and that would be that... but he managed to take it and use it well: He said "and she learnt to handle the snake and that has helped her handle the 3 of us 'snakes' on the core team very well". :)

I love these conferences and I love being able to use my organisational skills to help make them run smoothly, and it is really amazing how everything always seems to work out well. I have been helping with these conferences since I turned up early for one to sight see in Budapest and then got roped into helping as the person who was meant to be helping got sick... I have learnt such a lot about event management and organising things well through this, and so enjoy it, but I am kind of glad that the next one is only next year!! But it will be the big one for all of our staff - so over 200 people! Can't wait! 

Friday, May 11, 2018

YWAM Hurlach team

At the end of April, we had a great team come from YWAM in Germany for 10 days. They were supposed to be doing workshops with the kids at the children's home, but because of a measles outbreak the whole home was (and still is) in quarantine, so we couldn't do that.

We did have one workshop with the kids from our sponsorship project, and they really enjoyed that:
We sang songs, played games and did some facepainting:

And got to hang out with the two cute boys on the team: 

We had already thought to use the team for some projects around the building - and one of them was cleaning out the basement and then as they had time, they even offered to paint it... I know it doesn't look like much, but this is SO MUCH BETTER than it was! Here are Sinisa and I with Jose who did a lot of the cementing... we didn't get a pic with the rest of the team (all of whom helped!!)
Although there were changes to their schedule as thing changed, the team was flexible and willing to do what they could where they could. It was great having them and we were sad to see them go! 
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