Monday, June 5, 2017

Belgrade Transit

The longer we are in Belgrade, the more experienced we get in using the public transportation.  We alternate between using the bus and the tram and sometimes there are complications that occur. Recently when we got on a bus and tried to scan our cards.  Mine worked fine, but EK's card would not scan.  No matter how many times he swiped, it would not work.  By then the bus had already continued on and we sat down not knowing what to do.  Meanwhile, a young employee of the bus system who was watching us came over and scanned our cards with her device.  Their job is to check for passengers who are trying to ride without paying.  (Do you see where this is leading?)  She scanned my card which was fine, but when she got to EK's it did not register as being scanned properly.  He tried to explain what happened, but the language barrier didn't help matters.  She told him he had to get off of the bus immediately, and pay a fine.  It was frustrating at first, but when we look back at the experience, it really was funny and definitely blog worthy.

Speaking of funny, here is another experience we had.  We usually walk to church, but one time we were in a hurry so we caught a bus near our apartment.  It is a quick ride and the drivers really zoom down the road.  You have to watch carefully and strategically place yourself for a quick exit.  This particular bus was crowded and as we got close to our stop, we started for the door.  We had to maneuver ourselves around people and as I stepped off I heard the doors behind me slam shut.  I turned around and saw EK's shocked face through the glass doors as it sped away.  I was initially shocked as well, but realized he would get off at the next stop and it was no big deal.  The more I thought about it the funnier it got and the harder I laughed.  When he came walking down the street 10 minutes later, we just looked at each other and laughed until we cried.  We do that sometimes and sometimes, that's all we can do.

There was a Serbian District Youth Conference a few weeks back in Belgrade and we had seven youth attend.  It was a one day event which included lunch, games, guest speakers, and a service project.
We put on our "helping hands" vests and went to a local park where we picked up trash and litter.  There was a wedding nearby and we were able to listen to a small orchestra serenade the bride and groom outside of the church.

It's full!
We had to go to the American Embassy and begin the process of renewing our passports.  They are only two years old but traveling among the five countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro) in the mission has filled them up with stamps.  They no longer add pages, so we had to order a new one. There is a choice of two books.  The regular size, and the larger one which has more pages in it. I would recommend to anyone coming to the ANM and who needs a passport,  to get the larger book.

We had a birthday celebration for Elder Valentine and Elder Snell.  Their birthdays are a day apart, so we had everyone over for dinner on Sunday.  We also asked Milenko to join us.  He is an 18 year old young man who joined the church two months ago.  He is a really sweet kid and we love him. We had chicken stroganoff,  chocolate birthday cake, and we sang our special birthday song.  Elder Valentine has been here long enough to hear it a few times, so he was prepared and listened with a big smile.

Dušan with family and
Our good friend Dušan Vašica received his mission call.  We were invited to his home to watch him open the call and find out where he is going.  There was excitement in the air, and he struggled with emotion as he started to read the letter.  Bless his heart, he will be an amazing missionary.  He comes from an amazing family.  He is going to Cleveland, Ohio.  That is only 7 hours away from Wisconsin.  I told him we will meet him and his companion for lunch some time.  We are so happy for him!

We traveled to Podgorica, Montenegro for Branch Conference.  We decided to drive this time, and tour the part of the mission we have not seen.  We were able to see Kotor, Mostar, Tivat, and other beautiful coastal towns.We went through 76 tunnels driving from Montenegro to Sarajevo which is about 150 miles. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Sarajevo and were happy to find a copy of the Book of Mormon on the nightstand.  We got back to Belgrade and began to pack for home.  It is a strange feeling to pack our bags for the last time here in the mission.  I'm a little worried about our 50 lb. weight limit.  We have accumulated a few things while here.

It is difficult to think that at this stage of our mission,  everything we do is the last.  The last district meeting, the last zone conference, the last time we will see the people in Belgrade, and the many other units in the mission.  We knew this time would come and we tried not to think about it,  but the end is near.  We will never forget the people of this land, the experiences we have enjoyed, the beauty of this mission, and the opportunity to serve here along with the many missionaries we have met and come to love.  We have made eternal friendships.  We will cherish these memories of serving the Lord in the Adriatic North Mission forever.  And who knows, we may just do this again.

Word of the week:  вечан  which means eternal