Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Riviera of Europe

We were privileged this last week to have our Senior Missionary Conference on the coast of Croatia.  Traveling from Serbia to the coast takes about 6 hours and from Zagreb to the coast there are 22 tunnels and some go through some very large mountains.  The longest was about one mile long.  We were stopped at the entrance to one tunnel because of falling ice.  The tunnel was in the mountains and they had just experienced a huge ice storm that had broken the tops out of many of the trees.
We waited about 40 minutes for them to bring a snow plow to clear the road.

Not a very good picture of the inside of a tunnel, but we were moving fast.

Then as we come down out of the mountains, we discover a warmer climate and the amazing coastline.  What a beautiful country Croatia is said to be the Riviera of Europe and we can see why; the coast is spectacular.  We had our senior missionary conference in Opatija which is an old city just above Reijka.  (Now you know exactly where it is, right?)  We stayed in a hotel located on the ocean just above a boat dock.
Evening View from our balcony--I know, just beautiful!
Day time view from a different angle
We had 13 couples there, which is amazing.  The church is really investing senior couples in this mission in hopes of helping the work progress.  The new couples are smart and amazing...Alan and I just looked at each other and wondered how we ended up here.  That will always be a mystery.  The conference recharged our batteries...and we needed it.  Sometimes we get bogged down in the work and everyday life of the mission and it is nice to be reminded of the spiritual side and that there truly is a bigger picture.  Our mission presidency are very spiritual people.  The second counselor and his wife are the Ostarcevic's.  They are from Serbia and were converted by Kresimr Cosic and have lived in Kaysville, Utah until recently when they moved back to Serbia to serve in the mission presidency.  Elder Ostarcevic was a NBA Scout for 20+ years.  They were some of the first members in Serbia and it was great to hear their stories of conversion. 
(L-R) Elder and Sister Goodsell (from VA.), Pres. Rowe and Sister Rowe (from VA.) and
Elder and Sister Ostarcevic.  (Yes, our Pres. is only in his 40s.)
Opatija is a very old reminded me of a southern town because of the old estate looking homes.  It is a typical European coastal port town in that it rests on the coast but being built into the curve of the mountains, it is very hilly.  It has a very impressive park that was in walking distance that we enjoyed.

An example of the care taken and the beauty.

The park was very green and had several palm trees as well
as bamboo.

She stands off the corner of the park on a
rock outcropping.

These two statues need to go on a diet.
After leaving Opatija we traveled down the coast to Riejka and stayed the night in the Jadran hotel (we had stayed there when Daniel and Anna were here and it is one of our favorites.)
Another amazing view...our balcony hung over the ocean.

A loading boat pier was just down from the hotel and we watched them load and then watched it sail away.
You can see the size of the ship was noticing the size of the man on the dock.
We had a relaxing, refreshing, and spiritual uplifting time.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity and are thankful for the friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

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