Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SNOW, snow, SNOW!

Winter has finally arrived...we had snow last night and it feels somewhat like November now, maybe not Thanksgiving, but November.  There is a belief here that when the crows gather it is going to snow.  And sure enough the crows were gathering.
About 4 inches
Snow is not the only thing that is white, this week we also had another baptism.  What a blessing.  We thought because Dragon is such a large man (previous police commander) and bad knees that it might take two people to baptize him but his recently baptized son did it all by himself (and on the first try).
Dragon and his son will always remember that moment that they shared.
Dragon and his son, Nemanja
We hope within the next few months we can convert Slogenja, wife and mother, to the church.  We told her that she only has 7 months because we want to be here when she is baptized.  I so wish I could speak the language because she and I would so enjoy talking with each other.
Slogenja and sweet Sisters.
We are preparing for Thanksgiving tomorrow and our family this year will be the missionaries from NoviSad (one set Elders and one set of Sisters) and a young couple that live in NoviSad that are from Spain as well as our Sisters.  Ten of us in all.  We have a small turkey and chicken breasts but once you carve them and you think 'Turkey' in your may all taste like turkey.  As for cranberry I said I found a recipe to make cranberry sauce from craisins.  It said once you make this, you will never go back.  So I made it and it amazingly tastes like craisins in a craisin sauce.  If only we could go back..but no real cranberry sauce is to be had.  Our oven is very small so we may be baking rolls at the church.  But we have to remember this truly is a Thanksgiving we will remember forever.  

Of course there are no Thanksgiving decorations in Serbia, so I scrambled and made our very own from an overgrown squash that we used as a pumpkin.  Only in Serbia do turkeys look like this:
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble--I thought I would be safe in Serbia!
Happy Thanksgiving and love to everyone...After spending time in a country that struggles it is easy to see how blessed we truly are.  Count your blessing that you live in America, have the gospel in your life, and can have an eternal family.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bah Humbug!

So you are all getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, right?  No such luck here...there are no holidays here until January.  I never thought that I would miss seeing Christmas decorations this early, but I do.  I told a friend that I realize as a society our lives really revolve around the holidays.  We have them scattered through out the year and it gives us something to look forward to and something to gather together as families and even wards.  Serbia is the only country in our North Adriatic mission that doesn't celebrate Christmas in December but rather on Jan. 7th.  They do have a St. Nicholas day Dec. 19th where the children receive candy and treats.  Everyone says that their Christmas on Jan 7th is basically a food day but some members have told us that they give family gifts also on that date.  They don't have Christmas trees but rather they bring in an Oak branch to burn and have a yule log.  Maybe they are the same thing...I will report after Jan. 7th.  As for Thanksgiving...there is none.  We will have our own day of Thanksgiving with our District missionaries which will include the young missionaries from Novi Sad (two Elders & two Sisters) plus our own Sisters. We have been told you can order a Turkey but it is super expensive so I think we will cook two portly chickens.  And as for cranberry sauce, I found a recipe for making it from crasins. I'll let you know if it works.  No pumpkin (so no pumpkin pie), no yams, etc. etc.  But what's life without a few adventures and as it turns out, in this country there is an adventure every day.

I have grumbled enough...because this is really a very good week.  We have submitted another missionary's papers and will await his call.

Radoslav is our branch pres. son and turns 26 this month so
we have had to hustle  to get his papers in before the deadline.
Also this week we are having a baptism on Saturday.  Nemanja the young man who just got baptized, it is his father, Dragon, being baptized.  He had to quite smoking which was not easy and is now ready and eager to be baptized.  They are a good family.  Dragon was a police commander in Kosovo during the war, but became a refugee when the new government took over.  They had to leave the country and moved to Serbia. He now can not find work.  Nemanja was bullied at school for reading his BOM. What the boys didn't know when they started to pick on him was that Nemanja has a black belt and is quite renown for his fighting skills. They kept picking at him and as he said, he took care of business. He is our Serbian Moroni.  I will give more information and pictures of Dragon's baptism in the next blog.

Since I mentioned that Alan and I are learning the language, I thought you might like to see our badges. As I have said before..they have two alphabets here, Latin and also Cyrillic (name tag example), which is the most respected and in their minds purest of the two.  Alan understands the Cyrillic much better than me because he has to work in the church records (MLS) in this language. (Can you imagine)
Sister Seelos' badge--Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of Latter Days
  The other day I wished so badly that my eyes had a built in camera.  We were walking the half block from the church to our apt. when down the road here comes a tractor with a big cage attached to the back and in the cage was a big fat pig sow.  Just out for a ride or going to the market, we'll never know.

I have included a few other pictures that show the culture of Serbia.
Several houses in town look like this one...  Often they fix them up and
replaster them and move in.  This is a really old house and looks
too far gone to survive.

Corn is a big farm product here and we see many corn cribs full of ears
of corn like this one.  That's a lot of ears of corn. (kind'a like jelly beans
in a jar--how many are there)

There is a lot of water in Serbia and this is just some of the quiet
beauty that we see here and there when we take time to look.
Not the prettiest picture, but just to prove Alan has a knack for finding
narrow, obscure, bumpy roads.  He found this trail (aka road) going up
over the highest mountain in this part of Serbia, the Fruska Gora.
P.S.  We made it...
Our only in Serbia moment is a duck, yes a duck!
In Serbia drivers are very impatient..if you don't leap as soon as the
light changes to green, they honk.  Or if you are even going too
slow, they honk.  BUT if a little duck is walking down the
road and backs up traffic, everyone will sit patiently
while she makes her way.  Hard to explain, I guess they like
animals better than people.
Have a good week everyone...and remember if you have the gospel in your life, you are truly blessed and have so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Variety Week

This has certainly been a week of variety.  As I stated last blog, last Sunday we had District Conference.  I found out after I wrote the blog exactly what a small church this truly is.  After conference, one of our Sisters from Alpine was approached by a man who said, "I didn't know you were in this mission" and she replied, "Do I know you?"... He said, "I am from Alpine Utah and you played basketball with my daughter... my brother and I are over here Boar hunting and wanted to attend a church".  You just never know! (Some of the speakers at the Conference were boring..just a joke :o)

I don't remember if I mentioned, but Alan and I are taking Serbian lessons two times a week...I'm not sure why cause it's not a language we will use daily when we get home.  But a lady judge we know who had come to our English class for a while is out of work and struggling and we thought it would be a great opportunity to learn at least some minor phrases.  She speaks English very well and it has been helpful.  We are slowing gathering short sentences, much like Molly, our one year old granddaughter.  :o}

Last week we also traveled to Tuzla, Bosnia to visit and kind'a orient a new Senior couple.  Tuzla has not been open to missionaries for very long and there are about 8 members and are considered a "group" not a "branch".  For now, their church is one room in a store front.  Bosnia is a more mountainous country while Serbia is more like Nebraska.  It did our heart good to travel in the mountains...just like home.  It is truly a very pretty country and it is dotted with Mosques because they are mainly Muslim.
This is one of the many mosques..they all have the
 minaret from which the Muezzin calls the members
to prayer five times a day.

This is an Orthodox monastery just over the boarder from Serbia in Bosnia.
The domes are gold like our angle Moroni.   

A side view...there are stately dorms built behind to house Monks or Nuns
or Priests...we don't know.
This type of haystacks are all over Bosnia.  They all have a pole up
the middle.

We rushed home on Thursday from Tuzla because a Senior couple was coming to help with a church audit.  They are from Bountiful and leave for home this Tues.  They were also making a "goodbye" trip.  That will be us one day and some days we can't wait and other days it makes us very sad.  They stayed with us overnight and that always creates a little pressure for me, but it was good to have a last visit.  Watch for the Ivins return missionary's post in the Clipper.

Saturday was a great day... We baptized our 17 year old Nemanja.  The Lord had prepared him for the missionaries.  He had become friends with Aleksander (our lost sheep boy) and ask him to baptize him. So it was a wonderful day for both of them.   It was Aleksander's first time and it took him three times to get the words right so Nemanja is sufficiently baptized. In the winter, we have to go to Belgrade to baptize because our rubber font can only be used outside.  We had 11 people who attended from Sremska that we had to send on the bus.  Seven (+ 3 children) were investigators with our missionaries.  Well when they went to catch the last bus, there was no bus and we are already on our way home with Nemanja's parents.  Luckily, one of our investigators called a friend and arranged for a van to come and pick everyone up...of course for a good price, but we did get them all home finally.  Always an adventure. 
Nemanja on the right and Aleksander on the left...some old
Senior Missionary in the middle.

Our two proud Sister Missionaries 
Then we had Sunday and it too was an interesting day...our branch Pres. has a broken car and he didn't attend church.  In the middle of church we got a call that he had been hit in his town of Sasinci while on his bike by a drunk driver.  Everyone was so upset, so we put church on hold and several went to the hospital.  He is a stubborn man and checked himself out of the hospital and went home....but he is fine.  Thank goodness.  His Niece said.."Well if he had been in church, it wouldn't have happened".  Only in Serbia sympathy moment.
Our only in Serbia Moment:  
Everywhere you look people are gathering wood
for the winter.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween in Serbian (whether they want it or not)

It has been an extremely busy week here in Sremska Mitrovica...Besides the normal week of language lessons and various teaching lessons, the rest of the school kits were delivered, we had Zone Conference, a district Priesthood meeting, and District Conference today.  We had Elder Herbertson of the 70s here from England.

But I will start with our Halloween party.  They, as I have mentioned, do not have Halloween over here and many were not even familiar with it.  So our Sisters decided it was time to share with our English classes, our investigators, and our branch the true spirit of Halloween.  We made masks, bobbed for apples, hunted through whip cream for gum balls, and played a game with dice doubles and unwrapping candy (to hard to explain that game).  Our investigators and our English class came but none of our branch...sometimes we think they are too sophisticated or they think it is too American.  But even without the Branch, we had about 15 people there and we all had a great time. investigator who will be baptized Nov. 9th
He is the best young man...The Spirit had prepared him for
the Gospel.

Mira is such a good heart...she is an English student but has
come to church a couple of times.

Two of our other English interest in 
the church....yet.

Ivan (E-von) is a 27 year old investigator and such a
great young man.  He is becoming very special to us.

Whip Cream pie with gum balls

Aftermath of the whip cream...after they found the gum
they had to blow a bubble...Nemanja won

I forgot to mention that we also gave out two wheelchairs
this week

This poor man had bone cancer...he was so
appreciative ...  he was using crutches
and his poor hands looked terrible.

The only in Serbia moment this week was when three missionary Sisters dressed alike for Zone Conference without even consulting each other...we got a lot of flak from the other missionaries...We just said that only the important ones must have got the memo.
This Roma man begs on the street corner by asking to wash
your windshield.  He can not speak (just makes noises), but he
likes us and we like him.
District Conference was great...It was for all of Serbia branches and we had over 100 people there.  That doesn't sound great for how long the church has been established here but attendance is growing.  No one has ever been able to guess why the church has not grown here as quickly as in other parts of the world.  As I have said before...Satan really has a foot hold here and is hanging on tight.