Friday, June 14, 2013


About June 1st Sister Ann Madsen a Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU and the wife of Truman Madsen came to Serbia. She is here as part of her calling on the General Sunday School Board and also because of  her great connection to the Balkins. She has come here for the last three or four years and is dearly loved by the church members here. On Tuesday  June 4th, she visited us in Novi Sad for our district meeting  and spent about four hours with us and then on Friday the 7th she came to Sremska Mitrovica and spent the day with us. She met with the young adults at 4:00 and talked with them about missionary work, Patriarchal Blessings, and inviting people to came to church. Dee and I were not able to attend this as she was busy cooking for a branch dinner that was at 5:00 and I was out so I could bring those members that were unable to come unless I picked them up so they could attend. Then at 6:00 we had a fireside. All in all it was a very special time.

Our little lost sheep was in the meeting at 4:00 and especially enjoyed it. I can't tell you how special his experience has been here for me. He was one of the reasons that we came to Serbia. Unfortunately he is having to move back to Montenegro to find employment because there in  no work here and his father said that he had to move out by the end of May. I suspect that it is because he has been attending church and his father hates the church. He was ordained a Priest two weeks ago and he just realized that he had the authority to baptize. Last week he came up to me and said that he was teaching some of his friends and he was going to bring them to me so I could baptize them. I said No I had a better idea. He could get his friends and bring them to the Elders that could help to teach them and then bring them to me for an interview and then he could baptize them himself and I would confirm them. He looked at me and then got a big smile on his face and said "could I do that". When I said he could, he said "That's a deal". I had to go further to explain that he could only baptize when he was given permission by one in authority. He has gotten his mother to come out to church two times now and he has also been teaching his nephew about the church. When he left on Monday he said he was going to Beograd to find his brother. He said none of the family knew his address but he said he thought he knew where his brother works and he wanted to make contact so I could meet with him. He said that he knew that his brother knew the church was true but had listened to his father and let him influence him and he fell away. On Sunday it was my turn to conduct so I had asked him to take a few minutes as a speaker in Sacrament Meeting. He spoke for about 15 minutes and every one that speaks Serbian said that it was a very spiritual talk and they all enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately I know a little about what he said but could not understand him because it was in Serbian. I do know that he has the potential to be one of the great leaders of the church here in Serbia because he is so confident and such a spiritual thinker. I feel blessed to have made contact with him.

Our Serbian  Elder has been living with us now for about two weeks now and it has taken some getting use to. He is really very good but you just don't have any real privacy in this small apartment. At the same time it has been special as we now have a full time interpreter which allows us to have more contact with some of the people. He spends a lot of time on his phone, on Facebook and as we are face book  friends we get all of his posts on our computer (and they are many). It makes for interesting reading. The other day he placed a picture on his Facebook account of him an another Elder in shirts that they designed. Across the front of the shirt is says "ONLY IN SERBIA". This has become almost a motto for us because only in Serbia will some things happen.

Today we had to take him to the Specialist in Beograd to see about his shoulder which was injured when he was a professional soccer player. It has been giving him a lot of pain and we told him it probably needed to have surgery before he could go on his mission. The Dr. confirmed what we thought and we will need to go next Monday to have a MRI and then again meet with the Dr. and the Surgeon. This was the first time that I had to truly venture into the heart of Beograd and its traffic. We survived but not without making an adventure out of it. On the way home we were driving down the Autoput (freeway) and I was in the inside lane with a auto next to me in the outside lane, when up in front of us a car stops in the outside lane. Then he put the car in reverse and started backing up down the middle of the Autoput. He had gone past the turnoff he wanted and he was backing up to it. Not on the shoulder of the road but down the middle of the road. The other car hit his brakes and I thought he would hit him but he managed to pass him by going out on the shoulder and kept control of his car. We all looked at each other and said in unison "ONLY IN SERBIA".

I think we have mentioned that we teach some advanced English Classes. These consist of meeting with some students one on one.  It is mostly just sitting and talking about anything that they desire which enables them to practice conversational English. I believe Dee has mentioned a male nurse that we teach English to. He is really a great person and has a wife and two small girls. We meet twice a week for an hour and the hour has turned into sometimes an hour and a half or even sometimes two hours. Well, he has been on vacation for the last the last week and has one week left. We asked him what he was doing for vacation. Where he was going which makes good conversation. He indicated that they really didn't have money to go anywhere special. A week ago he wanted to ask me questions about the farm because he did not understand many of the words. I mentioned the farm out at Zacabica (Zasavica) the animal refuge that I sometimes go to when we volunteer. He said he knew of it but had never been there so I suggested that he and his wife and girls goout to see it with us. We have wanted to meet his wife for a long time and this gave us an opportunity to do so. The first clear day we picked them up and we went out. They got to see the animals and there was a large blow up bounce house slide that was about three stories high that the kids could go down. His daughter, who is about four years old, would climb up there and slide down and would bounce around on her head on the way down. I thought that would scare her, but she went time and time again. It turned out to be a great time for all as you can see from the pictures. Thursday night he again came to our English class and had questions and then he told us a joke. " there were two men that died and went to heaven. When they got to heavens gate there was a big sign that said Drobrodosli (welcome) to heaven. Here you don't have to work, there is no jobs. Here you do not have to worry about money, because there is no money. One man turned to the other and said,  "oh no we have ended up in Serbia."  Well the heaven story started him asking about what we believed about heaven and he has asked us to tell him more about the church. He is such a good man and his family would make such an addition to the branch here in Sremska Mitrovica.  We feel blessed to be here at this time but these experiences could happen ONLY IN SERBIA.

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