Monday, August 12, 2013

And they came!

Last week was a sweet week of prayers answered.  Sometimes on a mission, we have found ourselves asking if we really are making any kind of difference here. To the members, we have so many times stressed the need for their help in finding people for the missionaries to teach.  But they have been afraid, just like we are at home, about offending people or loosing friends.  However, last Sunday we had five invited non-members at church and two of them came because of invites from members.  But the big surprise was just this Sunday, we had 8 non-members attend church.  We have a man, Merko, who attends our English classes.  A dear man of about 58 who takes care of his wife and grandchildren.  He has come to our Church a few times and last week at English class he invited the whole class of 7 people to come to our church.  He not only invited them but he pointed to each one and got commitments.  So Sunday, 6 of them came plus a mother and her 3 year old son (that's another story) came.  After Sacrament meeting, the missionaries and Alan took them into a class and just answered their questions. It was great!  We told Merko that we are going to make him an honorary missionary.  He ask if he could be the one to baptize them (with a grin on his face), but we told him that he had to be baptized first.  I don't know if he will ever join the church because he loves being Orthodox, but we will keep trying.

English class is interesting....a group of people came who each are from such different backgrounds....some higher class and some middle class and a couple are from the lower economic class.  They have all come together, learned together, laughed together and really bonded.  Now they are friends and kind'a watch out for each other but would have probably not associated if they had not been joined by a two day a week English class.  These people have also become very dear to us and I feel that they felt comfortable coming to church because they so like the missionaries and a trust has developed.  The church knows this is a way for people to get to know us, understand us, and hopefully eventually join us.  We are also hoping that with our little class of 7.

We have some members who live in a town about 20 miles from here who we have not been able to visit.  Recently, they have been on my mind a lot to the point that I have been plaguing Alan with requests to go and visit them.  We and the missionaries finally made it a point to go and find them.  We thought it was two brothers, but it turned out to be a wife and husband; and we found out why the Lord has been prodding us to go and visit them.  The wife was home and she said, "We haven't seen or heard from any one for over a year.  We thought they had erased our name from the records....but we knew that God hadn't, so I read my BOM every day."  It made me want to cry.  I know this must sound crazy to people at home...but people here are poor and don't have gas money (to come to church or go visit outlying members) and the branch still hasn't caught the vision of home teaching.  Our branch Pres. just said, "Well we can't afford the gas".  We reminded him that is why we need to set up home teaching because a home teacher could at least call them monthly and let them know that someone cares.  We will make sure that we visit them monthly and will try on special occasions to go and pick them up for church or district conferences.  However, we are only here for one more year (if we are lucky) and then what?  We just hope in that time we can help them get home teaching set up and that members will realize how important it is to follow the church programs as truly is a learning process.

Now for the other matter (the other story) that is occupying our time right now is a poor woman, not a member, who was brought to our attention by the mother of our 'lost sheep' young man.  She is a woman who has large (like drooping dog ears) growths on each side of her neck. It is obvious that they are cancerous.  She has gone several times to the hospital here (Socialized medicine -- baa humbug, what a joke) and they keep putting her off saying they have to wait for test results...they just change the bandages when these tumors rupture and send her home.  They won't give her pain medication and say just take Ibuprofen.  Anyway, we started calling doctors that we know whom the church has helped get medical equipment, and they put some pressure on her so-called doctor.  After spending several days getting several official stamps which allows her to see a specialist in NoviSad, we are taking her to the specialist tomorrow.  But I am afraid that this has gone on too long and there may not be any hope.  Her daughter and three year old son have been coming to church, but we are not sure this is because she feels she owes us or because she is truly interested in the church.  We know there are many cases like this here.  It is sad!

As for our "Only in Serbia" moments:  It is melon season here and that does not just include watermelons...they also have musk melons and cantaloupes.  Now when I say cantaloupes, I don't just mean run of the mill American cantaloupes, but the ones they have here are ginormous....(if that's a word)
Honestly, this is not trick photography.  They are
as big as watermelons.

We see trailers of cantaloupes and watermelons like this
everywhere...which makes them cheap to buy right now..Yum!

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