Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo or is it Easter?

May 5th was the official Orthodox Easter and although our LDS church celebrated it in April, tradition is deeply seeped into the members here and we celebrated it as a branch yesterday.  On Good Friday (night) we had a branch Easter party but what we could eat was restricted again to tradition.  (Now get ready to envy our menu)  We could not have animal products such as meat,  eggs, mayo, etc. and no sugar, so we had fish, which we had cooked at the open air market (head and tail included); potato salad without eggs or mayo (not too bad); bread; squash stuffed phillo rolls; fruit kabobs (I made) and water.  It sounds "not great" but it really wasn't too bad.  We had a scripture Easter Egg hunt, a film about Christ, and a few testimonies.  It turned out very spiritual.  We had invited our English class and were presently surprised when three woman from our class came.  They seemed to enjoy it and stayed for about 30 minutes after to visit.  Of course, Alan and I miss out on a lot because of the language barrier, but we get the jest of things and do better than you would expect.

On Sat. night right at the stroke of midnight, the Orthodox Church bells start to ring and ring for atleast 5-10 minutes and the neighborhoods dogs join in and howl right along with each cling.  It's a true eye opener if you are sound asleep.  Also, because we live close to the city center, every weekend there is music in the square until about 2 am.  They say that things don't start happening here until about 11:00 at night.  Our members say that it is common for them to go out walking until 12:30 or so at night.  Boy, Alan and I are OLD!

On Sunday, Easter, they have only Sacrament meeting.  The kids here get up early and go from house to house and get "real" colored eggs.  They say it is not uncommon for them to come home with 100-200 eggs...but the other side of that picture is that you then have to color tons of eggs.  They also get candy and treats hidden around their own home and yards.  The stores were crazy the few days before Easter.

Sunday the missionaries came to dinner and we had fixed them each a little Easter Basket.  See picture below.
Now, don't they look thrilled?

Last week, we also had a senior couple from the mission, come here to interview some of the pioneers in the mission.  Our two families are some of the first members here in Serbia.  The branch President's  sister, and  mother joined the church in 1989 as refugees from the war as they lived in Austria.  The branch Pres. joined a few years later.  Both the branch Pres. and sister were the translators of the BOM here in Serbia plus the D&C.  Their story will now be preserved for posterity and they will be known as the Serbian pioneers of the church here.  Maybe not like the pioneers that we know, but pioneers still the same.

In attempts to find a new church building Alan, the branch Pres., one of the counselors to the mission Pres., and a prominent business man were out to dinner on a Natural Nature Reserve out in the country.  And of course, Alan and the second director of the Reserve got to talking (he spoke English) and before you know it Alan was invited to come and work with him on the reserve.  So now we may have a source for volunteer work.  This man was once a regional police commander and one of the top men in the Serbian army.  A tough old bird, but he and Alan hit it off.

Our little "lost sheep" inactive boy is still coming to church and meeting with the Elders.  It has truly been amazing to watch his countenance change.  Time will tell if he stays active, but we pray he will.

As we traveled today, the roadsides are covered with red poppies and yellow mustard.  In some places, it is really pretty.  It made the journey much more enjoyable.

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