Monday, April 28, 2014

The weeks are zipping by...

The weeks are passing so quickly seems we just turn around and it is Sunday again.  Sunday is always an interesting day because church is certainly an experience.  Alan and I sit in church and as I have said before, it is all in Serbian and I keep waiting for the "gift of tongues or ears" to work but sadly it doesn't. Just imagine what it would be like to sit in church and not understand, it is worse than the  driest speaker (I almost said high counselmen) you have ever heard. Sometimes our branch president will translate a copy of his talk into English and we can see they give wonderful talks.  But we have been here so long now that even in Relief Society the teacher forgets to have it translated for me and then turns to me and says in English, "Sister Seelos, what do you think about that"?  Dah!  We all just have a good laugh and move on.  I just have to remember that these are choice times that I will never forget. 

We had one investigator at church.  He smokes as do many of the investigators.  He says that he needs to smoke about every 20 minutes but he said that when he is in our church he does not have the urge to smoke.  Smoking is one of the obstacles that people have to overcome when they decide to join the church
(I can only identify when I think of giving up Chocolate, FOREVER!)

Last week was Easter and many people brought us decorated boiled eggs.  It is their tradition and many people color their eggs using onion skin. The children here go house to house with their Easter baskets and it is kind'a like Trick or Treating...they get boiled eggs or treats.  Even our English students brought us eggs the following Tuesday.  I took them home and put them all in the fridge and took a picture.  
The leaves on the eggs were attached with nylon net before dying.

Last week Alan, I, and Nemanja went to visit our sweet member who initially walked 9 miles to church (our 9 mile man, as we call him).  If you remember, he used to live in another town in a house with no water, heat, electricity.  It was a bare shell of a house.  Anyway, we moved him into a small apt. in town that some of his distant relatives are paying for.  He is so proud of  his new place that is basically two small rooms and a bathroom.  But after what he came from, it is luxury.  
Alan, Zivan, and Nemanja

Zivan in his living room/bedroom

Outside the small apartment
We have another couple here in Belgrade who are from Washington DC, the Goodsells, that have become good friends and confidants.  They will leave to pick up their missionary son in Germany May 5th and then travel home together.  We will miss them and their support.  Duska, our Relief Society Pres., had them and us to dinner on Friday night.  She is a wonderful cook and when people ask me what I will miss from Serbia besides the people, it is Duska's cooking.  She cooked a very traditional meal of stuffed peppers, sarma (stuffed cabbage leaves), and tomatoes and peppers with her wonderful bread.  She also had one of her cakes for dessert (her cakes could rival the Beehive house cakes).

Duska...she would hate this picture

Ada, her great daughter.....
I think that we have mentioned in the past that Alan has been talking with an Orthodox Priest about coping his church records.  So many of the records in Serbia were destroyed during the war which can make it difficult to do genealogy work here.  We are hoping that the Priest will be willing to have them copied to preserve them from ever being destroyed.  Alan and our Branch President are meeting with the Priest on Tues. night.  If he agrees, church headquarters sends a team out to copy the records.  So that is our prayer this week (among others)

OK...for our "Only in Serbia" moment:

If you have a family member or friend who is a lawyer, you may want to make sure they do not see this segment because they will be very envious and may end up moving to Serbia just for this perk!

We have a prominent Sremska Mitrovica Lawyer who has his office down stairs in our apartment building and we thought you might like to see the office of an important lawyer in Sremska.  (Daniel, whatever you do, don't let Zac view these pictures)
Attractive entrance!
Spacious desk area

Inviting waiting room!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Never a dull moment (AKA Restful moment)

This has been a hectic week...(Sorry, I am writing this down more to help me remember than for your un-enjoyment) On Sunday we had Branch Conference with a dinner following which I got to make the bulk of the meal except for dessert. We had sweet and sour chicken nuggets and one of our older sisters said that she might learn to like that funny tasting chicken that Sister Seelos made. (you just have to smile).  Monday we had the Senior couple from Osijek here to visit for the day.  They took us out to lunch for Alan's birthday which was very nice. Tuesday we had a District Auxillary women's meeting here in Sremska which included all the women leaders in Serbia.  We hosted and prepared refreshments.  Wed. was District meeting here and I prepared a huge relish plate with dip for their treat. Today is Thursday and we are having the Easter Party tonight which we had to plan.  We will have an Easter Egg hunt (they loved that last year) followed by the Sister Missionaries talking about Easter and then showing a video. Following, we will have another dinner...which I prepared the main course and salad.  (People here are poor and when they bring something, it is usually a bread of some kind). Friday we trek to Novi Sad to take the baptismal font and then turn around and travel south to Sebac to pay for trees Sremska will plant (after we leave) for a humanitarian project.  Saturday I will prepare lunch for the sisters and Aleksander to say goodbye since he is leaving for Montenegro. (more on him later)...Sunday of course is Easter and I will prepare Easter Dinner for the missionaries.  And in the mean time Alan is running around doing the Priesthood stuff..Whew! Enough said...

If you remember Aleksander left the church and wanted his name removed from the records...but he has now calmed down and says that the truth is that he has a testimony of the gospel and believes it spiritually, but he can't live it physically.  He is a bartender by trade and he smokes and drinks.  We love him and hope that some day he will be able to embrace the whole of the gospel. 

Now for the "Only in Serbia" moment...we are calling it "Only in Sremska Mitrovica" this time. There is a artist living in Sremska Mitrovica that paints murals on many of the buildings and they are all representing Roman culture because of the Roman history here. (Seven of the Roman Emperors come from Sremska)
The artist's name is Dragan Martinovic and his work is very impressive.  Daniel and Anna loved these pictures when they visited (so this is for you both).

Only in Sremska, but impressive, hum!

During this Easter weekend may we all remember Christ's Sacrifice for each of us.  "And this is life eternal, they they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."  John 17:3  If you know that, you are blessed because many do not have a testimony of this.  Be Thankful!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Still here, just in case you were wondering!

It's been so long since I have written that you probably thought that we had dropped off the face of the, we're still here.  But like I have said in the past, after being here for over a year, everything seems just ordinary because we are used to it and we wonder what to write about.  But we did travel to the south end of Croatia and so I will give you a little travel log.

We traveled down to Zadar which is about 5 hours from here and is where the southern most church branch is located.  They have about 30 that come to church but 6 of them are missionaries.  Since Zadar is on the coast I think I expected it to be a little more lush.  It very much reminds me of California's ...more dry with palm trees and scrub brush on the mountains which are about 30 minutes east of the coast. The mountains are very high...maybe even higher than Utah's and they are also snow capped.  As for the coast, the ocean is beautiful and the little villages nestled into coves are truly picturesque.

This was even prettier than the poor photographer was able to capture!
Also all over the country side were hundreds (honestly, hundreds) of stone fences.  The area and mountains are almost pure rock.  We did not know what the fences were for, but when we checked the internet, it indicated that they were just to define property lines and keep their sheep in and that they are centuries old.  I guess when you have some much use it.

Many of these fences went straight up...and there is no mortar holding them in place. 
We stayed two night in Zadar in a 'full board' hotel call the Falkenakuser.  Full board here means the same as 'all inclusive' with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.  This is quit common over here.  It was nice to just go down stairs and eat (too much).  They upgraded us and we had a nice ocean view with a living room.

View from our balcony!  

In Zadar we wanted to see the 'sea organ' is a man made set of pipes under the walk way that plays certain cords when the sea hits the pipes.  

It doesn't look like much, but it sounded great.  The sound comes up through the little holes you can see in the cement.
They also have a huge circular solar panel just behind this that collects solar energy during the day and then send a giant light ray into the sky at night.  (Sorry no picture)

Zadar is a very old city (just like all cities in Europe) and as we walked into the center we saw many old remains.

Centuries old church

Protection for an old shrine

Remains of an old wall...they use those rock for everything.

Over half a century relic, but still functioning :o)
 As we drove North back towards Rijeka where we stayed one more night, we were reminded that there are more castles in Croatia than all of England, Scotland and Ireland.  So if you want to see castles, come to Croatia.  Just a couple of the several we saw.

In Rijeka, Alan said goodbye to our favorite Hotel Jadran on the sea with its beautiful surroundings.

This was the last time we will probably ever stay there...but we will always remember it.

The home across the street from the hotel...each floor is it's own apartment.
We went from Rijeka to Zagreb and the mission home to pick up our missionaries who had attended a training meeting and also to pick up a automatic shifting car that the sisters can drive to do exchanges.

Alan hugging our old car goodbye...he loved the stick shift.

And this is our new car...or old beat-up car...resulting from Elders driving.
Travel log over...kind'a like seeing someone's boring travel slides, hum!
When we got back, I was in charge of the dinner for Zone Conference and had to prepare for that.  I may change my middle name from Ann to Cook(ing).  Anyway, I have included a few pictures from Zone meeting.

An old couple from Centerville

Our Serbian Zone...the Preston's standing just to the side of Alan are also from Centerville.

Typical spaghetti (boy scout banquet) dinner...but they loved it.  The Elder with glasses is Elder Fisher, also from Centerville.

Well, this has been a long blog and it's time to give you a rest, so I won't bore you with an "Only in Serbia" moment this time.  Maybe next time you will get two. Just know that we are doing well and are starting to feel rushed knowing that we have such a short time left here.  I promise, I will write again sooner than this last time.