Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Disaster Dinner

Well, needless to say, tonight was the disaster dinner.  I decided to make something simple, yes I said simple.  Pancakes, sliced bacon, and homemade syrup (of course without the maple flavoring)...How hard could it be, right!  Made the syrup and it calls for buttermilk, easy enough, just add vinegar to the milk.  Ok, it poured a little faster than expected; but it should be fine.  There's enough sugar in it to cover the vinegar, or so I thought.  New invention... sweet and sour syrup.   OK make the pancake batter.  I got a good recipe from one of the Elders.  My goodness, these look more like thick crepes.   The bacon got a little over done and smoking but we lucked out, it didn't set off the smoke detecter.  So now for the "interesting" pancakes; after some investigation, what I thought was baking powder is actually corn starch.  But bless Alan's heart, he is eating it with a smile on his face.

There are alot of cooking items from America that I miss.  Things we take for granted until we don't have them.  Maple syrup or even the flavoring; Peppermint flavoring; vanilla in a container bigger than a mini bottle; canned soups; chocolate chips; marshmallows, Idaho potatoes, cheese that melts; Caffeine free diet Coke; Milk in containers larger than one quart; celery; unwilted produce; Sugar and Flour in bigger than 3-5 lb. bags; etc, and still counting.  But, there are a few things I do like: great bread, good chocolate; and very good people.

Anyone want to come to dinner tomorrow night? :o}

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Praise to the Man"

My sweet giant of a husband...Being on a mission can be difficult at best, but when we are older and not as technology savvy, it can even more difficult.  Thus, is the case for us!  And although we share this responsibility, we end up having different tasks.  Alan has had to learn to drive in the crazy traffic over here and get to where we need to go in strange new big cities.  He has had to learn to navigate boarder crossings and toll booths with ease, which he has done.    He climbs these three flights of stairs many times a day carrying heavy groceries or apartment items.  I try to help, but just can't carry what he does.  He's my sweet man!  But then there is the technology part and the majority of that has fallen to the priesthood holder.  He is to learn to do MLS which he is presently over at the church getting instruction by phone from a leader in Germany.  He had to get a new iphone (which to many is old hat, but to us, not so) and learn how to use it.  We are having to learn how to run a computer program and hook it to the TV so people can watch it.  My grandsons would say "no big deal", but when it's not our talent, we have to learn.  In the next few weeks, we are to set up an English language class, a family history class, and offer stop smoking classes plus have an up to date MLS list of all members, active and non active in the branch.  Start visiting non active members and prepare talks and lessons.  I have to learn how to make recipes with out many of our connivence items such as canned soups and  make them edible (poor Alan is my guinea pig).We have only been here two weeks and sometimes it feels more like months.  We just need to take a deep breath and realize that all good things will come with time....won't they!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

View from our new home away from home, such as it is!

Well here are some pictures of what the view is from our balcony.  You will see really old parts and some not so clean parts.
Our Church view from our balcony--our is not the one with the steeple--see below

Shops and offices across the street

Also across the street--very old and not clean
The Church is the two curtained windows and double doors.

Missionary Force

I can not believe the quality of the young missionaries that out preaching all over the world today.  Such fine mature young men!  We met as a district today in Novi Sad with the district leaders and zone leaders.  These young men were prepared and gave such good comments.  One young man stated that when he looks for contacts, if he believes he will find them he will.  If he believes he will find people to baptize, he will.  If he believes that he will activate members, he will.   BUT when he get down on himself and thinks that the contacts won't listen, or no one wants to be baptized, and members don't really want to be reactivated, then what happens is just what he thought.  Another lesson that we are more successful when we stay positive....and part of that is then the spirit can better reach us.  But, I can not say enough about the caliber of young men out here serving The Lord with all their heart.  Always remember them in your prayers.... 

Monday, February 18, 2013

District or Zone Conference (like our Stake Conf.)

Yesterday was a full day...It was the semi-annual District Conference in Belgrade.  We loaded our small car with the two missionaries and an investigator from Vienna and headed to Belgrade.  Sister V. , her two daughters, and a niece went in a Taxi...(A Taxi is really cheap here, that is by our standards, but people are really poor here.  So the church paid for the Taxi with fast offerings) Their husband and father have the Flu and is very ill...but the family is poor (he teaches English in the Schools and they don't get paid very much..6-800 per month) so they couldn't afford gas to go otherwise).

Belgrade is a huge and not so clean...high rise apartments everywhere.  The church is in the same area as the American and British Embassy.  A three story very old building with the Chapel on the second floor.  The District Pres. (Stake Pres.) conducted and talked about how he used to be an atheist...and now is a Christian church leader.  We had a two hour meeting with about 60 people there.  The church over here is truly in it's infancy stage.  They gave three men the Melchizedek priesthood with one of them being our young man with no country.  He is so proud to be an Elder.
They served a lunch of sandwiches and cakes after which we had Relief Society and Priesthood.  We also had to stay after to set apart a new Branch Pres. for Belgrade and the new Elders.  They are really pushing to have young men and women from here go on missions so they can better learn how the church works and then come back and help the branches here.  Needless to say, it was a long, yet fulfilling day.

All this makes me realize what the church must have been like when it first started with Joseph Smith.  Some truly faithful members and yet so many that thought the gospel strange or evil.  It is like that here, but a senior couple leaving soon summed it up when he said what a privilege it has been to be here and be part of the Lord's final gathering.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another police encounter

I promise that I won't write a tale every day but this one is about Alan and the police.  Friday Alan went to pick up the missionaries and got stopped by the police for going 2 1/2 miles over the speed limit.  He was given a ticket and they take you passport until you go pay the ticket.  So they went to the post office to pay the ticket.  (All bills are paid at the post office)  That's when they found out that today is a National Holiday (Serbian Day) and it is closed.  But they are told that if they journey out to another post office, it may be open.  So away they went and luckily it was open.  That 2 1/2 miles cost $50.00.  Yes, we will be more careful now.

Friday night we went to the Vuchenivitches (not how it's spelled but how it sounds) who are a strong member family here.  She speaks English well, but he does not.  Her name is Duchka.  They have two daughters at home, one 14 and the older one is 17.  They live in a very small apt. Their living room is about 10 x11.  He works for the city and has a fairly good job. (the unemplyment over here is 40%) Their two daughters are beautiful and sing together.  They, too speak very good English and  have professional quality voices.  They go to a Music High School.  Such a nice family, but I find that I have a hard time sitting and visiting and that's what this country sit and visit.  And another thing, everyone lives on the second or third floor.  I have climbed enough stairs here to have made it to the top of the Empire State Building...yes, my legs are complaining!  It was a good night and they truly are a choice family.

Spending time at the Boarder with Police

Today is Wed...the official third day in Sremka.  When we went to the boarder, Robert, the Serbian Elder was told that he had to surrender his Croatia citizenship.  His family has disowned him since he joined the church and his father is very high in the Croatian government.  His father made a formal request that he could not keep the family name (that is why he has an American name) and is no longer a member of his family.  When we got back from the boarder, he got a call that he had to report to the Croatian boarder and turn in his citizenship card within 24 hours.  So today, we drove again to the boarder to turn in his card.  When we got there they took his passport and were not going to return it to him.  You can not go anywhere in these countries with out passports.  Calls were made to the Mission Pres. and someone in Russia plus other calls and after 2 hours they gave back his passport but kept his citizenship card.  He is now literally "a man without a country".  He has to find a country that will allow him to have citizenship or he won't be able to get a passport when it comes due.  This poor young man has given up his family and now his country to be a member of the church and he is only 20 years old.  There is so much we take for granted and I sometimes wonder is we truly know the blessings that we have.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sremka Motrovica at last!

Well, here we are in the land of Serbia...what a long journey to get here.  In the last 8 days, we have slept in 6 different beds.  First the plane on the way over, or atleast I should say we tried to sleep.  The next two nights we were at a hotel in Zagreb and then we went to a Senior couples conference at Snow Lady which is a ski resort above Zagreb.  Saturday we traveled to Novi Sod and stayed two nights with another senior couple, the Maughan's.  Finally on Monday we headed for Sremka but had to find an apt.  We spent all day looking at places with the branch Pres.,  and by Monday the apt. deal was not finalized, so we rented a room at The White Rose.  Finally last night we got in our apartment.  All that traveling around may sound glamorous, but we are dead on our feet.

Our apartment is on the third floor and a walk up..."huff and puff" but it will get us in shape or give us heart attacks...stay tuned and we will let you know which comes first! It is a nice apt., 3 bedrooms all tile floors; not ultra up to date but comfortable.  It is 1/2 block from the church and right in the heart of Sremka.  However, the apt. was dirty so we cleaned all day and assessed what we needed to buy at the store.   Didn't make it to the Grocery food.  We grabbed some bread from the Bakery (they are famous for breads here and there is a bakery on almost every corner, yum).

The Mission Pres. first councselor came today and brought two new elders, one is from Serbia and one is from American Fork (they ask that we don't use names in our blogs for privacy issues).  So we met with all of them today and helped secure them an apt.  After having lunch with the first counselor and his wife, we loaded up the missionaries and had to drive to Croatia.  When you come to any city you have to report to the Police within 48 hours.  We had been here too long, so we had to drive out of Serbia and re-enter.  We now have 48 to report to the police, but our landlady has to go with us because a person who owns property has to go with you.  When we got back from Croatia we had to take the Elders to a store and buy things they need to set up a new apt.  We paid and then the office reimburses
us on a church card that we can use later to pay our rent.  Sooo no grocery food yet!  This is getting old...hopefully tomorrow.  But we have been told to be flexible and roll with what ever comes; so between rolling, climbing three flights of stairs and starving, we may get fit and trim.  All in
all, it so far has been a good journey!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our assignment

We have been assigned to Sremka Mitrovica and will arrive there on Monday morning after staying a couple of night in Novi Sad.  We will report more when we finally get settled.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First day of our mission

Oh my goodness....we are in Europe; Zagreb, Croatia to be exact.  We boarded the plane at 8:30 am and off to New York, packed like sardines.  You like to act safisticated because you wear those important missionary badges, but after just sitting the 4 1/2 hours that it takes to get to New York you want to cry or scream--I'm not sure which.  After sitting another 4 hours, the plane takes off for Paris.  Paris, we're on our way to Paris!  As we go toward Paris, we gain time so we are served dinner because it's about 6:30 pm.  This flight we have our own two seats but again we're sitting so tightly together, forget getting the purse off the floor to get the IPad out, it is wedged tight.  So we try to sleep while we are sitting and shifting and stretching, and repositioning and still sitting.  It's been 6 hours of sitting and it's almost time to land but funny thing, it's now 7:00 am and time for a continental breakfast.  We look out our window, no Eiffel tower.  When the plane landed in Paris it must have taxied for two or more miles to the gate.  One little gentlement said "I think they are taking us on a tour of the city before they let us off".  We are only sitting here for 1 1/2 hours before they load the plane.  But to load the plane we must board a bus and ride about 3 miles out to a small commuter plane where we enjoy sitting while they fuel the plane.   As we fly for two more hours, we fly over the Swiss Alps (pretty and rugged), over Solvenia and into Croatia.  We have finally arrived!

We are being housed in Hotel Tina, a very Europeon small hotel.  It is nice, but not like the Hilton nice.  This first night, we had dinner in a restaurant across the street from the mission home.  Pres. Rowe and Sis. Rowe have five children, David 18, Connor 16, Colton 11, and twin girls Jessica and Anna 8.  Their home (AKA mission home) has four floors and is a lived in comfortable home.  The President had a facilities manager stop by so he could not interview us that night to tell us where we are going.  We will meet him Wed. morning and get our placement.

We are dead on our feet....Sister Rowe told us to try and stay awake until 8:00 but Alan and I crashed at 7:00.  We slept until 6:15 in the morning when we got called on our IPad.  This journey is an exciting time...we will tell you later our assignment.