Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Merry 2nd Christmas!

Yes, yesterday was Serbian Christmas.  Much like America, people stay home to be with family.  The Serbian missionaries were told not to go tracking or contacting so we planned a Zone Day at the Novi Sad church.  The Senior Missionaries provided a lunch of soups and breads and the Elders and Sister brought desserts.  The missionaries love being together and they played games, talked, and laughed a lot.  Our Sisters even chose to stay longer and ride the bus home.  It was a scary trip home because the fog was like a wall and we had to travel (crawl) over the FruskaGora mountains.

Our many missionaries

A full table
This has truly been the longest Christmas Season we have ever been a part of.  On Jan. 4th (Sat) we had a District program and party.  I have included a picture of their Santa and just like home, the kids were excited and some nervous.
Their Santa's costume was a little different in that it was more like
a hooded bathrobe.  But we have seen Santa's here who wear the
traditional Santa Suit.
Just to remind you how beautiful Slovenia is...This was taken on our trip in Sept. with 
Daniel & Anna.
Prior to all these activities we had gone to Slovenia for a youth conference from Dec. 28th to Jan 1.  Slovenia is a beautiful country.  The missionaries refer to it as the land of "Unicorns and Rainbows" and almost rightly so.  It is very clean and green, plus the air quality there seems much better.  We had about 32 young people there and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.  However, we Senior missionaries worked like slaves to make sure they did enjoy it.  The young have endless energy and the days of fun were 14-15 hours long and on New Years Eve we spend a 19 hour day with the youth.  I think they could have kept going but we were dead on our feet. :o) The joys of being OLD.  But we saw the rewards of this hard work because when they had their testimony meeting they expressed their appreciation and love for each other for being strong in this church.  They know that each of them understand how hard it is to be a member of this church here in the Balkans. They shared their love of the gospel and their desires to stay strong and many expressed the desire to go on missions.  Sometimes hard work pays off with the sweetest rewards.
Our group (minus one) from Sremska...They rode the train for 11 hours.
The boy on the left is not a member and the first day (Sunday) he was over-whelmed
with all the church events but warmed up as the week progressed with funner activities.
Some of the group at mid-night New Years Eve.  There were fireworks every where
which was like a massive 4th of July. (all fireworks are legal over here)
The youth conference was in Ljubljana which is known for great Christmas decorations...They celebrate on Dec. 25th.  We took a tour down town and it was crowded just like Temple Square...Not as spectacular as Temple Square but very nice.
Alan and Elder Goodsell (1st counselor to the Mission Pres.)
Just a few of the lights of Ljubljana
This 'Only in Serbia' moment this time is a very happy one...our young man going on a mission received his call (via electronics) on Serbian Christmas Day (yesterday).  
He will be the first missionary ever in their family.  They are so happy.
He is going to Burningham, England!

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