Sunday, October 6, 2013

A DEATH, A BAPTISM, AND A MISSIONARY RETURN! (Sounds like a Mormon movie title)

As soon as we drove away from taking Daniel and Anna to the airport Alan's phone started to ring.  The missionaries were calling to tell us that the little lady we had been helping get to the doctor and helping to get morphine to ease the pain of her cancer was in the hospital and it didn't look good.  We rushed home to the hospital and her daughter and grandson were there in tears.  The daughter said that the hospital said she had to go buy diapers for her mother 'right now'.  So we took her to the store and got the diapers and returned.  She rushed them into the hospital but by the time she got there her mother had passes.  They think differently over here....they don't tell people that they have a terminal illness and maybe they feel it is better if the family does not have to watch a loved one die.  They also do not embalm people here before burial, at least they don't provide that for the poorer people.  So we had her funeral on Wed. and since she wasn't a church member and an Orthodox Christian, the funeral was very orthodox.  They pay the priest to conduct the funeral.  It is held at the small chapel at the Cemetery. He chants and waves incense around as the people attending the funeral stand (no benches in the church).  Everyone has to light a thin candle that each person holds while the Priest chants from the book of John.  It doesn't last long (about 5 minutes while the candles burn down) and then everyone moves out to the cemetery and the coffin is lowered into the grave on ropes and everyone throws a handful of dirt into the grave and then the workers immediately shovel dirt over the grave as everyone stands there.  Since that time we have been at the daughter's house and every night she lights an incense ball and carries it around the house to insure that her mother goes to the right place in heaven.   (Now aren't you thankful for the knowledge and the blessings of understanding that we have in our lives)  The daughter is investigating the church but we are not sure if she is gaining a testimony or is more dedicated to the friendships she formed.....but even that is a start.

On a happier note, our sweet man who walked nine miles to church (by the way we did loan him a bike which makes it much easier) requested baptism earlier than scheduled and he wanted it done in Belgrade.  He has a brother there and we think that he was hoping that he would come (he didn't).  So on Friday, Sept. 27th, the branch traveled to Belgrade for his baptism.  We have never seen such JOY radiated from someone being baptized.  One of the missionaries said it best, "His smile was too big for his face".  He was so excited and happy!  He was hugging everyone and even kissed one missionary on the cheek.  We had to calm him down a bit.  But his joy was infectious.  (So much we take for granted)
Our three wise Sisters who taught him, our branch pres. who
baptized him, and one of our past Elders that initially
started teaching him.

Our sweet nine mile man!

He comes faithfully every Sunday and next week he will be made a Priest.  He is so excited to help with the Sacrament.

And finally our young "live in" O'Brien missionary returned from the MTC on this last Wednesday.  We were so excited to see him and he could not stop talking about how great America is.  How beautiful and hugh the mountains are; how big the freeways are; how kind people are (they smile at you even when they don't know you); how good the MTC food is (?); and how he will live there one day and be a policeman.  We had forgotten how much he talks and how fast he walks.  We took him to the Ukrainian Embassy to arrange for his Visa and then to the Belgrade Elders to be his temporary mission companions.   He will leave for the Ukraine in about 10 days.  He learned Russian and the Ukraine languages while he was there....he really has a talent for languages cause he speaks like a pro.  But then how could we tell :o).....
He wouldn't stand still long enough for me to get a
better picture.
And now for the awaited "Only in Serbia" moment:

Now if you look up Serbia on the internet or in any brochure this picture will be shown.  It is a very interesting building.  But we have found out that here in Serbia it is called "The Two Idiots" building.  It seems that this tall apartment building was built with new elevators and technology, but they forgot to put stairs in the if and when the power goes out, people are stranded and sometimes, they say, for days.  The part that the banner hangs over is abandoned with no one living there.  We joke about "Only in Serbia", but if we start looking around, we will find our own "Only in America" moments as well.  Start looking!

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