Monday, June 23, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Sremska Mitrovica

Yes, It is time (the time we thought would never come) to finish this mission, say goodbye and come home.  It is weird how we have looked forward to this time and now that it is really here, it is difficult to face.  As I have said many times, we have come to love these people and they really are our Serbian Family.  When church is so small, members really bond and care about one another.

Our sweet branch minus a couple of people
Our newest investigator is Mira who became acquainted with our church when she started coming to English class.  We have known her most of our mission and just recently she has shown an interest in the church.  She is a wonderful woman and a good friend and we so hope she decides to join the church. 

Alan, Sis. Sturtevent, Sis. Seelos, Mira, and Sis. Palmer (every beautician over here seems to think I need blond, blond hair--can't wait to come home)
Our last District Meeting: (L to R) Radovanovic, Christensen, Sturtevent, Mourtison, Palmer & Dyer
 Alan had arranged with the Humanitarian missionaries for 25 trees to be presented to the Ecological group here in Sremska.  Last week Dragan, who is a leader in that group, came to the church with his son, Ivan (to interpret), and presented Alan with a nice 'Thank You Certificate' and expressed their appreciation to the church.  We have to hope that little gestures like this helps create a good image for the church.  
Alan, Dragan, and Ivan

I recently had a birthday here and birthdays and holidays here kind'a come and go without much fanfare.  But the Vucenovic family brought me over a nice surprise that made this day very special.  Duska made me one of her famous cakes and they sang Happy Birthday and presented me with a beautiful pair of earrings that she purchased in Malta.
Alan got to the cake before my camera did.
Also, and I am not sure if it was because of my Birthday or the fact that we are leaving but the city has had fireworks for two nights.  Isn't that sweet of them :)
We have a perfect view from our balcony and really enjoyed the show.
We finally caught a picture, but they were much more spectacular than this picture shows.

We are fairly busy this week because Nemanja has been called on a Mini Mission to Belgrade and we will take him over on Tues. and meet with his parents for the last time.  (that will be hard)  We are so excited for him but not as excited as he is. He will be a great missionary. 
This is the total of our YM/YW program--Nemanja, Ada, and Milecia.  They will miss him.
Wed. we have to clean this apartment (Ug) and visit with the Ivanovic family--it will be hard to tell them goodbye.  I will take pictures and post them.  We are going this afternoon to have lunch with the Vucenovic family.  This is the hardest part, saying goodbye to the people here that mean so much to us.

Thurs. we are going with the Sisters to Zagreb so we can pick up the van 'Box' and bring it back to put all our luggage in plus Sister Palmer's luggage and transport her to Novi Sad Friday morning where we will pick up Sister Christensen who is going home because of illness.  Then we will travel to Zagreb again and Sat. morning we are on our way.

Our 'Only in Serbia' moment:  Since this is an old Roman city we wanted to take a picture of something Roman to represent the town.  We looked all over for a statue of some Emperor or Chariot or something and the only statue we have found is this:
I don't think these were Emperors but we haven't been able to find out what they represent.

Also, Alan bought home what he says is a picture of him doing his hard work...Judge for yourself.
Should I believe him?
I may try and do one more post before we come home or soon after.  We were nervous about coming on a mission and then when we found that we were coming to Serbia, we were really nervous.  Such an unknown place with a history of wars. But we are so Thankful that we were assigned here and have met these wonderful people.  They will always have a special place in our hearts.  And we know that because we have been out here helping take care of our Heavenly Father's children, he has blessed our children and we will be eternally grateful for that.  Our best to all of you and a special Thank You for your prayers on our behalf.  We have felt and appreciated everyone of them.  We can't wait to see and visit with each of you. See you very soon!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cheering and Limping

It has been an exciting, eventful, and painful two weeks....We recently delivered the hygiene and school humanitarian kits to the special needs school.  They were so appreciative of our donation and it was fun to meet some of the children.  They have two special needs schools in Sremska; one for older children (up to 26 years of age) and a younger school.  Our neighbor (a teacher there), through whom we arranged this donation. has been so much more friendly towards us.  Before she tended to avoid us fearful that all we would do was preach to her.  It seems that being able to make these small donations has done much for improving relationships and opening doors for the church and missionaries here in Sremska. Our missionaries will also plant some of the trees we've ordered at this school in the fall.
Our neighbor and teacher at the school (Snezana) and Alan

Some Children from the school, the blond woman is the principal...The man in the white shirt is gradually becoming Special Needs.

I had a minor accident at the church when I went to move one of our 2 ton collapsed on my foot and broke my big toe and possibly my second toe. It hurt so bad, I just sat there and cried.  We didn't get it x-rayed because I could feel that it was broken and for broken toes you just tape and limp until they get better.  So I have stayed close to home trying to avoid limping (very slowly) up and down the stairs.  But it is on the mend and doing better.  The pictures are 'ugly rated' so look at your own risk. 

This was taken immediately after...the toes and foot got blacker and more swollen.

No, that is not a green swollen toe...Ivan said to wrap it in cabbage to help healing so we did this for his benefit.

We're almost done...(you can open your eyes soon)  Splint and bandage
Moving on to more cheerful things!  June is the "month of invitation" for the mission and the missionaries have worked hard to encourage members to invite their friends and neighbors to church.  Our emphasis was for the 8th of June (yesterday) and we prayed and fasted that we would have a good attendance of non-members at church.  HURRAY, we did.  We had 30 people attend church (15 non-members)...the most we have had since we arrived.  We had the Kosovo family attend that had come to our activity because we had given them some Hygiene kits for their Kosovo Group.  They are a great family...she is a lawyer; plus another member of the group came with them.

Refugee family from Kosovo...The young boy Aleksander comes to our English class
We also had Mirko who is an English student that attends church now and then and his wife.  We had never met his wife but she seemed to enjoy coming and we have hopes that she will come more often.  Mirko rides his bike at least 10 miles each day and then goes to some hot springs for medicinal cleansing.  He is a very healthy man for his age.
Mirko, his wife and our missionaries.
 We were really excited to see Grandma Ivanovic's husband there.  He has always said that he would not become a member.  Nada (Grandma) was one of the first members in Serbia and has always wanted her husband to become a member. This is only the second time he has been to church since we have been here.  His daughter invited him.  After church he told his wife, "I will come to church, but I can't be a Mormon". (At least not yet, line upon line) Our branch President's family lives with them. Unfortunately our branch pres. and his family did not come to church or we would have had 35 people.
Duska Vucenovic (daughter), Grandpa Ivanovic and Grandma Ivanovic
We had several others attend and we felt the spirit in attendance as well...we hope they too received a special feeling of peace and truth. 

Next week, Alan and I are speaking and we know it will be so difficult.  We will both have a difficult time expressing our love for everyone without dissolving into tears and probably the 'ugly' sobs.  Oh dear, pray that we can hold it together.  The following Sunday is our district conference in Belgrade and our exit interview with Pres. Rowe.  He also leaves for home on July 1st just 3 days after us.  The new mission Pres. arrives 8:00 am at the mission home, the two couples have 3-4 hours together and then Pres. Rowe and his family depart.  The church does not allow them much time together.  They like each new Pres. to have a fresh start. When we leave there will not be another couple arriving in the mission until Aug. (and then we are not sure they will come here) so the couple staying in Belgrade will cover both cities.  They will live in our apartment 3-4 days a week.  Elder and Sister Morgan arrived in May and are from Roy, Utah.  They are coming to spend the day tomorrow to become oriented to Sremska, the apartment, and church items.  They are going to be busy missionaries for a while.

OK, so that is the last of the pictures because like many other times, I am having picture problems.  Sorry, but I am "Blog slow and weary".  And I had a great picture for 'Only in Serbia'.

Alan and I are working to complete several projects before we leave.  We are having the district missionaries here on Wed. and we will clean up our nine-mile member's home in Sasinci because he has to leave Sremska and move back.  The house is in terrible condition and presently has no running water, electricity, or stove and refrigerator.  His cousins are supposed to help with those items.  We also are having branch FHE tonight, and Activity night on Friday, plus a big dinner on Sunday.  And in the meantime we will pack, visit, clean, sort, and give away. We may need a long rest when we get home....No. We Will Need A Long Rest When We Get Home! So hard to believe that it is almost at an end...We love these people.