Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cold, but no snow for this Christmas

Since we have moved in our apartment in Belgrade, we noticed some feathered friends on the patio waiting for a handout.  Pigeons are plentiful here and when all the others gave up, there was one lone bird who waited patiently.  And when crumbs did not come, he came to the door and stared at us until one of us gave in.  I couldn't help it, so I gave him some stale bread crumbs and off he flew. See you tomorrow, little guy.

We had a Christmas party at the Belgrade church on Friday night.  After a sweet program, singing Christmas carols, enjoying some good food,  the children made gingerbread houses.  Santa Claus made an appearance and handed out goodies to all of the children.  I personally think he needs a bit more padding, but he was one jolly old St. Nick!

We had the missionaries over for dinner to celebrate EK's birthday.
Birthday dinner
He requested a pineapple upside cake, so I gave it a try.  Elder Taylor's eyes lit up when he saw it, and  it turned out quite good.  The only thing missing were the maraschino cherries, but I don't think anyone missed them.  The Čačak elders, Elder King and Elder Sorensen were in Belgrade to register their car and since they were in town, we invited them over. This is Elder Sorensen's first week in the mission. We were glad to welcome him to Serbia.

Čačak group
We travelled to Čačak on Sunday to attend church. It is a relatively new unit that was opened a few months ago and is a little over two hours away. There were six members and four missionaries in attendance.  It is always good to see the Zarič family and we also met the Lazovič family.  They are always happy to have visitors and we wish we could attend more often.  We checked out the missionary apartment while we were there, as there are some issues that need to be taken care of.  The landlord was prompt in coming over to look at an electrical problem and promised to send an electrician over soon.  Elder King and Elder Sorenson are real troopers and while the living conditions could be better,  they are always able to take it in stride with a smile on their face.

Tunnel in Zagreb
We had our Serbian Christmas Zone Conference on Dec. 22nd -23rd in Zagreb. It started out at the mission office and then we had a great time touring Zagreb amid the Christmas decorations.  We walked in a WWII tunnel under the city.  It was decorated beautifully with white lights and snowflakes. We ended up at the mission home for a talent show, games, and good food.  It was the 3rd zone conference  at the mission home for December.  Slovenia, Bosnia, and Croatia preceded ours.  The mission home is always hopping with activity and we are amazed at all the Grants do for their missionaries.  They really make it feel like our home away from home.

We attended church on Christmas in Belgrade. I gave the missionaries their stockings with goodies and slippers tucked inside.  Later, the missionaries split up for their calls home.  Missionaries are able to Skype home on Christmas and you can bet we had some anxious missionaries and families back home,
waiting to hear from their sons and daughters. We had Sister Lougee, Sister Johnston, Elder King, and Elder Sorensen here and our Skype worked perfectly. The other missionaries went to church and to another families' home to use their computer to Skype. The missionaries get 24 hours "off" to celebrate, but since Serbia, celebrates Christmas on January 7th,  they decided to do their calls home on Dec. 25th, and use the rest of the time off on January 7th.  We were able to Skype/Face time with our family and watch the grandkids open their gifts on Christmas eve.  It was so good to see everyone and we are looking forward to next Christmas when we are all together.

I decided to use a picture for the word of the week.  This was in the shower at our hotel in Zagreb.  Can you guess what it says?  It is pronounced poe-moch.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thanksgiving Turkey and Football

Our Thanksgiving was a success!  Having a year under our belts, we were a little more experienced with our turkey hunting.  We found turkey breasts at Metro, so I bought two at 4 lbs. each.  After
making an herbal rub for them, adding some chicken broth in the pan and roasting them, they turned out moist and delicious.  We had the normal mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, stuffing and I even made a green bean casserole with french fried onion rings I found at Ikea.  They also had Lingonberry jam which was very similar to cranberries.  I ended up making "pumpkin" pie made from sweet potatoes.  EK's mom used to make sweet potato pie and I thought I would give it a try.  This experience has been good for me as it has forced me to cook from scratch.  There are no cake mixes or condensed soups here.  But I find that my chocolate cake from scratch is much better than any cake mix, and thanks to Mel, I don't need canned cream of mushroom soup.  This gravy is my go to for many dishes and this recipe is fabulous. Goodbye to Campbells, for now, or maybe forever...

We had eight missionaries over for dinner including Elder King and Elder Frandsen from Čačak. They were all excited to dig in to the feast and there was plenty of food for everyone. Before we ate, the missionaries decided to play some football and they let EK be the quarterback.  They were not allowed to tackle or touch the quarterback (those were the orders I gave them before they left)  They followed orders and everyone came back in good shape. They are such a great bunch of young men and women who are hardworking and love the Lord.  They have put their lives on hold for 18 months - 2 years to serve.  There are 60,000 of them throughout the world.  We are in awe of their dedication and are proud to be among them. We are grateful to be in Serbia, as it offers us the chance to see more countries in the mission.  It also gives us opportunities to get to know more of the members along with the local people.  The language is similar, with a few different words.  The biggest challenge is that they use the cyrillic alphabet.

We have gone to the MUP for a second time for our interview to receive a visa.  It is about a twenty minute walk from our apartment.  We are getting to know our neighborhood and have found an open fruit and vegetable market up our street,  grocery stores, and many pekaras (bakeries) along the way. We are trying out the many difference restaurants close by and have found one that offers many local dishes like sarma and stuffed peppers. We have done some exploring and have seen many beautiful buildings and  we have enjoyed seeing the many Christmas decorations throughout the city.  Every street has  different decorations, and it is fun to view them at night when the lights are on.

We flew to Podgorica on Saturday for a mission presidency visit.  We attended church on Sunday and were impressed with a display of copies of the Book of Mormon. They were in many different languages including Chinese, Armenian, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Russian.  (If only we could get Serbian & Croatian figured out)  We enjoyed meeting all of the members and were welcomed warmly.  We were also able to visit with a young man, Nenad who had served a mini mission in Karlovac several months ago.  Nenad is a fun loving person who joined the church fifteen months ago. We love his enthusiasm and he has what you could say, a big personality.  It was so good to see him.  After church, President and Sister Olson had us, the missionaries, and Nenad over for lunch.  Then the Olson's took us to the airport for our 5:00 flight which was on time, smooth, and uneventful.  We were home by 7:30 p.m.  That's what I call a perfect flight.

As I think of all the things we are grateful for, my mind is flooded with the realization of blessings that have come our way.  What stands utmost in my mind is our family at home, that loves us and supports our decision to be away from them for 21 months.  We are grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission, and will continue to tell all who will listen that senior missionaries are essential.  We have never felt more needed than we do now and have been blessed to be associated with great servants of the Lord both in the missionary ranks and in the local Church members.  We have been further blessed with our day-to-day encounters with people everywhere we go.  They are patient and kind in helping us find our way (literally) and answering our many questions.  They have shared their lives with us and their many stories testify of the love Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven has for all of His children.  I love listening to the song, One by One, the lyrics written by David A. Bednar, and the music written by Paul Cardall.  You can see the video here:
It is a sweet reminder of that love.
Which brings me to the word of the week for our unuci.
The word is ljubav (lee oo bov) which means love.  Serbian is: лјубав

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Moving to Serbia

It is the beginning of November, and the weather is gorgeous in Beograd.  The parking is challenging here, so we park our car in front of the church and it stays there until we have to drive.  Our apartment is about a 15 minute walk from church, and is just long enough to get a little exercise. This was our first Sunday in Beograd and we had a beautiful walk to church.  Along the way, one can see the many buildings with sculptured figures adorning their structure. It is an amazing sight and we are looking forward to seeing the beauty of Beograd and many of it's landmarks.

No, this is not our car!
We moved here  on Tuesday with 90% of our belongings.  Elder Osbourne and Elder Taylor were waiting for us in front of our apartment.  Since there wasn't any parking and the traffic was tight, Elder Osbourne told us to pull the car up on the sidewalk and put our flashers on while we unloaded.   You might be wondering about that, but it is quite common here.  In some cities, cars actually park on the sidewalks, and many times you will see a car in the middle of the road with their flashers on while they run in a store for something or for a delivery. The elders and EK carried our things into our apartment building while I waited by the car.  We are on the 3rd floor and luckily have an elevator.  The apartment is bright and cheery.  The kitchen is modern and is open to the living room with enough couches and chairs for all of the missionaries to sit for district meetings. It also has a balcony which overlooks a courtyard below.

On Friday we felt brave and got on a bus to travel to Novi Beograd to meet with a member.  We knew we had to get on #74, but didn't know how to pay.  We were told by a local that we could pay on the bus, but the driver didn't understand us or was too preoccupied to care .  We felt bad that we didn't pay, so we made sure to find out what we needed to do for future rides.  We had lunch with the District Relief Society President and afterwards, she helped us with some things.  She took us to a VIP store and helped me get my phone working in Serbia. and she also helped us get bus passes. It's a great system where you get a card and add money to your account as you need it.  So we are set to go!   We will also have to go to the MUP  (police) to apply for a visa.  There are many legalities that have to be done when missionaries move from place to place.  The nice thing for us senior missionaries is that we don't move as often as the young missionaries.

On Saturday we drove to Čačak to meet up with Elder King and Elder Frandsen.  Čačak is a dependant Church group and we were able to see the new building that is being rented.  The Petersons, Ostergaards, and many other missionaries have worked hard to prepare it in the past several months.  There were numerous work parties that cleaned and painted the inside.  It is looking great and just needs some finishing touches like pictures, curtains, tables, etc...  The Elders live in a small apartment which is on the same property as the church.  We took them to lunch at a local restaurant.  It was a buffet type place and we were surprised to see sarma as one of the choices.  Sarma is a local dish that is usually made at home and not found in stores or restaurants.  It is made from pickled cabbage leaves and is filled with a rice/meat mixture and gravy, and is served with potatoes.  It is very good.  Another local dish they had was stuffed peppers.  After lunch we took a drive out to see the Zarić's.  They live about 15 minutes out of town and have a country home with some fruit trees, goats, a dog, chickens, and a cat.  Sister Zarić offered us juice from their quince tree.  A quince is a lumpy and misshapen fruit similar to a pear but is inedible until cooked.  Once it is cut up, and simmered with a little sugar, it turns pink and becomes a delectable and sweet treat.  We visited with this strong and amazing family who have been members of the church for three years.  We are looking forward to returning soon to visit with our new friends.

Brick pizza oven
On Monday we had to go back to Karlovac to take care of some legal
Ivana and our happy cook!
business.  We went to the MUP and started the process needed to leave Croatia.  We have mixed feelings as we have met many wonderful people here, and have loved living here.  But we also know that opportunities await us to meet and make new friends in Serbia.  While we were in Karlovac we were able to say goodbye to some people.  We took our landlady Ivana, out to lunch.  She is one of those amazing people we have met who has always been only a phone call away when we needed her.  We ended up meeting her at Tiffany's where they use a brick oven which makes spectacular pizza.  As we were leaving, EK was able to get a picture of the cook who was more than happy to pose with us.  Farewell to Croatia, it has been a wonderful experience.

Word of the week:  voće (vo che) which means fruit

Monday, October 24, 2016


Beautiful Beograd
District meeting in Beograd
We have received a new assignment from President Grant.  We are moving to Beograd (Belgrade). We will never be able to replace the Petersons, but will do all we can to continue the work they were involved in.  We don't know who will replace us in Karlovac as of yet but I know they will love our quaint little town. We have enjoyed being in Croatia this past year and are grateful we were able to see it's beauty and meet many amazing people.  Now we are on to a new adventure in a new country. Beograd is the capital of Serbia with over one million people and is situated on the Danube River.  We were able to go there last week for a couple of days and check out our apartment.  It is very nice and comfortable.  While there we were able to squeeze in a district meeting (weekly meeting with the missionaries) with Beograd's missionaries and two visiting missionaries from Sarajevo.  We will move there permanently in another week. There are four church branches and one dependant group in Serbia that we will be visiting in the future.  They are Novi Sad, Sremska Mitrovica, Podgorica in Montenegro, Čačak, and Beograd.  We will also have to get used to using the cyrillic alphabet.  The two languages are similar but have distinctive differences.  I'm sure we will be confused for a while and use Croatian words when we mean to use Serbian ones.

We were in Zadar for a baptism and EK spoke for a few minutes.  He attempted to speak Hrvatski (Croatian) and did very well.  As what usually happens with us both, he ended up confusing words and it caused a few snickers in the audience.  An attendee behind me, leaned in and whispered in my ear, "he would make a great stand up comedian."  So, we try and many times end up entertaining the group.  EK is a great one to try and that is the only way to learn.  The people appreciate the attempts we make no matter how many mistakes are made.  We were happy to be able to visit with the Rotheys in Zadar, and to see Sisters Rusick and Elmore, along with Elders James and Palmer.  The longer we are out, the more familiar faces we meet throughout the mission.  We love seeing those smiling missionary faces and the warm welcomes we receive.

We attended a conference in Zagreb where all the missionaries gathered together to listen to General Authority church leaders Donald L. Hallstrom, and Paul V. Johnson visiting from the U.S.  There were 100 of us and we made quite an impressive group.  It was the first
time the entire mission gathered together since we arrived.  Imagine the difficulty in bringing together missionaries from all five countries in the mission.  We were attempting to take a group picture and had everyone in place awaiting our guests, but it started to rain and we had to scratch it.  I did get a quick shot before everyone went inside, which included the empty chairs for our guests.
Hot chocolate break

Banja Luka
We visited Banja Luka last week. EK had some training with Elder Bradford.  It was our first time there and we enjoyed the sights.  We stayed at a very nice hostel on the river.  The restaurant below ended up being one of our favorites.  The hotel receptionist was the sweetest and we were able to visit with her and tell her about the church.  She wasn't aware that LDS missionaries were serving in her city so we gave her a Book of Mormon and told her the missionaries would be in touch.  We have met many friendly and kind people throughout our mission.  This is a beautiful part of the world and we are grateful to be here.

Word of the week:   lijep (lee ep) which means beautiful

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

We recently returned from our senior conference which was held at Lake Bohinj in Slovenia.  We always look forward to attending these conferences because it is a time to connect with the other senior couples that we don't often see, be instructed by our Mission President and his wife, and to hear from the mission presidency.  We also have the opportunity to listen to the other couples report on their responsibilities in the mission, as well as report on our own.  There is such a diverse number of jobs to do and when you combine the many years of experience we all have, it can only mean one thing - we are a powerful force!  I am so amazed at the things that are being done throughout the mission.
Lake Bohinj

Subjects that were covered were: public affairs, Seminary and Institute (religion class taught to youth and young adults), humanitarian projects, self-reliance, language, and reports on the various conferences that have been held for the youth (12-18), young single adults (18-30), as well as the single adults (31 and up).  In between our conference, we did have some time to see the sights. We stopped at Lake Bled on the way and took a boat ride across to the island.  Our captain who rowed us across told us that he has been doing it for 35 years.  It was a beautiful island with a majestic church overlooking the lake. We also took a boat ride on Lake Bohinj, climbed 560 steps (give or take a few) to see a waterfall.  We visited some cute goats on one of our walks, and saw the amazing Vintgar Gorge.  The water was a deep turquoise color and quite spectacular.

Vintgar Gorge
Billy (the goat)
Doug & Vicky, EK's brother and his wife visited with us for several days and are now off to explore other beautiful places in Europe.  We enjoyed having them here.  Before they left, we traveled to the Lepoglava Lace Festival that I have been looking forward to attending for months.  It is held in a tiny town that once a year comes alive with activity. Several countries were represented with lace displays and people demonstrating the art. We picked up Sisters Pratt and Davenport in Zagreb and the six of us enjoyed the day together.   We spent the morning looking at all of the beautiful and intricate lace designs. We all had lunch before we headed out to Zagreb for another event to attend.
Bobbin lace making

 On the last day of our conference, one of the senior couples received devastating news that their daughter was critically ill.  They quickly packed, checked out of the hotel, and left for Beograd where they were currently serving.  President and Sister Grant drove with them to Serbia and they flew back home to Idaho the next day where they were able to spend time with Sara before she passed on.  We will miss them and their dedication to the work. It is every parent's worst nightmare to receive such news.  Our hearts ache for the Petersons and pray that they will be comforted and strengthened in this trial. In Isaiah 25: 8 it tells us that He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. We are grateful for God's plan and the promise that we can be forever families. God's plan is for us to be successful in this life and to return to live with Him.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of this plan.  In Matthew 16:19 it says, And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  God's plan or the Plan of Salvation gives us the lifeline of hope that we need to cope with the loss of our loved ones.  I am grateful for this plan, designed by a loving Father in Heaven.

Word of the week:  snaga which means strength

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Festival in Osijek

We recently visited Osijek for Branch Conference. The district presidency schedules and directs a branch conference once a year in each district.  (There are six in Croatia)  Members of the district presidency, high council, and district auxiliaries (leaders) take part in the conference as
The Strassmayer in Osijek
directed.  Our mission president, President and Sister Grant were there as well. The purpose is to strengthen faith and testimony of the members, provide gospel instruction, and conduct business.  It is always fun to reconnect with our friends in Osijek and to say hi to Elder and Sister Anderson.  We always stay at the Strassmayer which is near the square in centar.  It is a sweet little hostel that always welcomes us warmly.  We picked up KM in Zagreb and took her with us.  KM is the district relief society president.  After checking in on Saturday afternoon, EK decided to take a walk while I rested my foot...more on that later.  He called me after 10 minutes and said there was something big happening in the square.  I walked over to meet him and found that there was a dance festival going on.  It was so much fun to see all the beautiful and colorful costumes and dances being performed.  There were booths set up with delicious local treats and trinkets. We stayed and watched the different groups perform, and of course tried some of the sweets.  We ended up having dinner with the Andersons and KM at American Bar Dollar, a local hamburger bistro located in a cute little courtyard.   We attended Branch Conference on Sunday and afterwards enjoyed a lunch that was provided by the members and Sister Anderson.  Then we were off to Zagreb to drop off KM and then we went on to Karlovac.

I've been having problems with my left heel for a month or so. It is frustrating because I haven't been able to walk as much as I am used to.  After doing some online research,  I suspected my problem to be plantar fascitis.  I also talked to Sister Peterson (mission nurse), and her husband has also been struggling with the problem.  They gave me some exercises to do and told me it may take weeks (or months) before it feels better.  So, I have been diligent in my regimen and am trying to be patient.  I'm thinking positively and expect to be as good as new in due time.  (I wanted to say short time, but I have to be patient)

We had to run over to the Karlovac church to get something and we noticed some flowers on President Raic's desk.  He is our Branch President and it looked like the Primary class decided to make him a thank you bouquet.  The flowers thanked him for a number of things including being humble, for his love for them, and for his example.  It made me think of the many primary classes that have made similar bouquets for their Bishop or Branch President. Branch Presidents and Bishops throughout the world volunteer their time to serve over their branches and wards and minister to their needs. They are usually called or assigned for a period of up to five years, sometimes longer.  This is a volunteer calling (assignment) and they are not paid monetarily, but they will tell you that the spiritual blessings far outweigh the time and work involved.

The Rothes's joined us
EK with Doug and Vicky
We have special visitors with us for a couple of weeks.  EK's brother Doug and his wife Vicky have come to visit and we are having a fun time seeing the sights.  We visited Zadar and stayed in the sweetest apartment right in Old Town.  We saw the Maorske Orgulje (Sea Organ) and The Greeting to the Sun.  We even had an opportunity to meet up with the Rothey's and we took a sail to see the sunset.  It rained the entire day and I was worried the trip would be cancelled.  EK (the eternal optimist) was telling us the rain would stop and the sun would break out any minute.  He said, "The wind is ideal,  how can we pass up this opportunity"?  So we went out into the tempest.  His brother ended up getting a mouthful of saltwater when the waves crashed over the bow.  It rained the entire time, but the sun did peek out for a beautiful sunset.  EK smiled the whole time.

We meandered through Old Town the next day.  I saw this little lovely who couldn't resist playing in a puddle.  She peeked over at her parents for a reaction and they laughed.  Isn't that what puddles are for?

We took our time coming back and stopped at a roadside stand to buy some fresh figs and cantaloupe.  We drove through Rijeka and drove along the coast.  We stopped at a seaside restaurant in Senj.  We have seen many beautiful and amazing sights and are happy to share them with family.  One of the comical sights was when we came across a group of sows rooting in a yard.  As one curiously walked over by us, I grabbed my camera.  She probably wondered what the interest was, but we were amazed at the size of her and her prijatelji.

Word of the week:  barica (bar ee tsa) which means puddle

Monday, September 5, 2016

Families Are Forever

Cousin Camp 2014
We received an email last week from our daughter Kate.  She told us that one of our granddaughters Ella (7th grade), had a creative writing assignment and she sent us a copy of it.  It is entitled, My Favorite Place, and is about visiting Grandma & Grandpa's house in the woods.  Her writing was so clear that she was able to take us back to those times we shared together with family and grandchildren. She spoke of our annual cousin camp, and the Easter egg hunts amid the towering pines that the wind whistled through their leaves (her words),  and the secret tunnel we had between the laundry room and our bathroom.  The kids used to pretend to be explorers and crawl through it to the other side.  It was so much fun to read about those wonderful memories. Thank you sweet Ella!  We are grateful for our family and for the support we feel from them.  We are grateful for the wonderful plan that our Father in Heaven has designed. He has placed us in families where we can learn, be nurtured, and loved.  When we follow His plan, we are promised that we can be forever families and one day return to live with Him. Dieter F. Uchtdorf a modern day apostle has said,  "In His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."  This plan is called The Plan of Salvation (or The Plan of Happiness as it is sometimes known as). This video explains it quite well I think.
The family minus one unici

Mission home in Zagreb

We traveled to the mission home in Zagreb on Saturday for two meetings.  The first one was training for Seminary and Institute which are religion classes for the youth and young adults.  The Ostergaards organized it and along with Marin Iachimov from Romania, taught us how we can become better teachers.  After it ended, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant across the street and then prepared for the second meeting.  This meeting was for the mission presidency and district presidents of the mission, but the wives were invited to attend and receive instruction and counsel from Elder Charles who is an Area Seventy assigned to our mission and several surrounding missions.  As an Area Seventy, Elder Charles is our liaison to the highest church authorities in Salt Lake City. He lives in London and flew to Zagreb for the meeting.

We were successful in obtaining a Metro card this week.  Metro is comparable to Costco in the states and you have to be a member to shop there.  The mission office has a card and we have borrowed it in the past, but found out from another senior missionary couple in Zadar, that we could get our own.  We have shopped at Metro for Youth Conference, and Singles Conference for supplies in bulk and it has been most helpful.  It is a fun place to go and meander around.  When I walked over to the meat department, I noticed a case with an interesting assortment of exotic meso. Other popular meats are pig, chicken, and lamb. I thought you might like to take a look at what's available in my neck of the woods.

When we arrived in Croatia last October, one of the senior missionaries showed me a small and intricate piece of lace.  She had taken a trip to Lepoglava and purchased it in
a museum showroom.  Lepolglava is a small town in a beautiful mountain range near Varadžin which is not too far from Karlovac. The lace was introduced by the Pauline order (the white friars) as early as 1400.  It has won numerous awards in Europe.  I looked online and was informed of a yearly festival held every September.  This year's festival is September 22nd - 25th and I am excited to attend,  It will be a busy time as we will then zoom over to Zagreb for the upcoming Singles Conference that will be held on the 25th and 26th.

Our lives were once again touched by the refugee crisis when we learned from President Grant that a strong member of the Church and a displaced Syrian citizen was being held in a refugee facility in Zagreb.    President Grant had gotten wind of him from a Church leader in a neighboring country who had been helping him while he awaited the processing of his political asylum application.  As it turned out, Croatia seemed to be the place where he would need to wait out the process.  Croatia is sympathetic towards the plight of refugees because 20 years ago they were war-torn and many Croatians were refugees themselves.  President Grant was busy with Zone Conferences so he asked if EK could find someone to accompany him and pay the man a visit.  EK teamed up with a member of the Zagreb Branch of the Church who has a great understanding of the refugee situation and of the political asylum laws and off they went to find this man.  The facility was an old hotel in a commercial area of town.  After a couple of attempts they were able to locate him and had a great visit.  When he was deported he had little time to pack so pretty much came with just what he could carry.  EK was quite touched when the man first appeared in the lobby where they awaited him wearing a clean and pressed white shirt and tie.  What a wonderful man, holding two masters degrees and studying for a Doctorate.  He was humble and appreciated our visit.  EK's heart broke when he told them that he hasn't seen his wife and two young daughters who are in a different country, a son who is serving a mission for the Church in the US, and a daughter studying in the US for over a year.  He is anxious to get settled somewhere so that he can be joined by his wife and daughters.  EK was reminded once again of the blessings of political stability and feedom!!

The word of the week:  Naum Spasenja (noum - spas -enja) which means: Plan of Salvation

Monday, August 22, 2016

Croatia District Youth Conference

Swimming in the Dobra River
Take twelve youth, and add water.  Give them plenty of food,  provide a service project, play lots of games, talk about The Strength of Youth, and end it with a spiritual testimony meeting at sunset on the west balcony of a 14th century castle.  The castle once belonged to the Croatian noble family Frankopan.  It was a spectacular sight.  The conference took place on the Dobra River near Karlovac on riverfront property that Goran owns and generously offered to us to use.  He was happy to share it with us and stopped by to watch the kids play in the water and paddle around in the rubber rafts. After assigning four teams, the kids embarked on a selfie scavenger hunt. One group was lucky enough to
Dobra River and castle
have President Grant join their team. All six Croatian church units  were represented and everyone had a great time.  The senior couples were instrumental in the success of the event because they were needed for transportation of the youth. We had burek for lunch, which is a local dish made with meat or cheese. and is wrapped in a very flaky pastry dough.  We had a BBQ with shish kabobs, hot dogs, salad, cookies, and brownies.  The conference ended with a beautiful sunset and everyone said their goodbyes.  It was very clear that they cherished this opportunity to be together. They are a great group of young people!

Elder & Sister Grahovac

On Sunday, we visited Rijeka for their Church meetings.  It was good to see President and Sister Grahovac again.  They drove Ivan to Karlovac for the conference on Saturday.  President and Sister Grahovac come from Germany but were born in Croatia and are fluent in the language.  It is a blessing to the members that all of their meetings are in Hrvatski.  There were about twenty people in attendance and there were five of us in Relief Society.  Sister Koller was kind enough to translate the lesson for me.  As we headed out of town, we took a drive down by the water and ate the lunch that I had packed in a cooler.  It was a sweet view, but any water view is sweet, don't you think?

A quick hug with Sister Rusick
Last week was transfer week and EK and I helped transport missionaries to their new area.  We drove to Beograd to drop off some elders and I was able to meet Sister Rusick for a quick hug. We treated them to a King bar (scrumptious local ice cream), said our goodbyes and drove off into the sunset. I also got a group shot of the elders.  Aren't they an impressive group of young men?  We love spending time with them and helping them in whatever way we can.  They are always willing to help us with our attempt to learn the language and are patient when we ask them the same question... more than once.

Lunch with Snjezana and Štefica
I was happy to hear that Snježana was back in Karlovac, after spending time on vacation with her daughter and son-in-law.  She called and we went over to visit Štefica.  We all went to lunch at a restaurant close to Štefica's apartment.  For a mere 30 kuna ($4.30), I ordered a three course meal with soup, salad, and main dish.  I will have to tell EK about this new restaurant find.

Word of the week:  tjedan (tee ay dan) which means week.
Have a dobro tjedan!