Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer mini day "camp"

After I got back from the Ukraine on Thursday night late, Ljilja and I had Friday to organise for our one day "camp" on Saturday. We had enough volunteers wanting to help, but at the last minute had to do some reorganising of who was doing what, but it all worked out! And the volunteers did a wonderful job!

We started altogether with a rowdy game of Simon Says (hands up!):
And then using a hat Mom got when she was here to protect her from the sun, we played musical hats:
 So cute! Youngest partipant:
While the children were having fun at their "camp", our friend Gaga had a session with the parents to help them to prepare for their kids going back to school...
And it looks as if they had a good time as well: 
 
While that was going on downstairs, we were dividing into 3 groups which rotated through three different workshops: one was English with me: 
The second was also a "going back to school" lesson on being safe in traffic: Our volunteer, Dragica did a good job of leading them through the different activities. Group 1 watching the video:
 Group 2 answering the questions:
Group 3 doing the worksheet:
They also had a fun game at the end (if they were good!) where they had 1 minute to take out as many sweets as they could with chopsticks:
 Sometimes help is allowed, right??
The third workshop is something Ljilja and I recently picked up in Ikea in Zagreb - Hama beads - and they were a hit!
 Even the boys enjoyed it!
They had fun putting the beads on the templates and then our wonderful volunteers ironed them all like crazy so they would be ready to take home...
Even the volunteers got to have a go: Adelisa is one of the kids who has been in the project for 10 years already, and now is helping us with the younger kids:
Here she is with her finished designs:
And below are Sofija and Vidoslav showing off their designs: (and enjoying the snack at the end of the camp - the best "kifle" in Banja Luka are from the bakery down the road!)
Then it was time for the wonderful volunteers to clean up after a job well done (or hang out for a little while longer before going home for a well deserved rest 😊)
As you can see, our kids and volunteers and parents all learnt something while having fun: job well done! 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ukraine | LTS Europe Module 5

For the last of the 5 modules of the Leadership Training school, we headed for Kyiv, Ukraine. I got there a day earlier because of flights. We were put in hostels around the city, and luckily at my hostel there were already some people who arrived early too, so we spent the day hanging out in the city: Me with Neil, Gunhild, Johan, Suzanne and Courtney:
It was great to see some of the sights: main square - Maidan Nezalezhnosti
St Michael's
St Andrew's
We spent the week having fantastic teaching from Ina Snyman, and others on the staff. We also had presentations of our final projects (which we did between module 4 and 5). And then it was time for graduation: After being 35degrees C all week, it fell to 18 on the day of graduation, so my planned dress didn't happen... warmth wins over style! (and yes I am in the front row on the right!) This is most of the participants and staff - over 100 of us!
The best part of this whole leadership training school has been the relationships... and we did have some time to hang out . There was a Swiss bakery down the road from the YWAM base where the training was held, and it was nice to get away for a bit each afternoon (the days were long -as we were commuting, we were gone from the hostel from 7am until 10pm). Here I am with Dale and Cynthia on out last day. 
It was great to be able to hang out with people from all over Europe, but here are (most of) the people who are in Central Europe: from Greece to Hungary to Romania! Such a fun bunch! 
As I said, we were scattered around in hostels, and there were 22 people in ours. We had fun in the mornings and evenings trying to get all of us showered in the 2 showers after 10pm and before 7am... but we managed. And we also had a moment of bonding when the lift decided to get stuck on the first morning (it may have been the fact that we were 11 and it was made for 10...). Luckily the handyman came quickly and freed us under 1/2 an hour... but still we were very, very careful after that to not overfill the lifts!  
We also had one whole evening to hang out on a boat ride on the Dnieper river through Kyiv. The best part for me was when we went through a huge lock to get into a higher part of the river. I was just as excited as the kids to see how it all works! 
After we got off the boat we went downtown... we were a big group and it got unmanageable, so we decided to split up... Siril, Cynthia and Krystal wanted to stick with me as they think I am awesome... or maybe it was because they knew I could get them back to the hostel ;) Here we are going down into the metro which is the deepest in the world! (I was wondering why it had such long escalators!) 
We had fun hanging out at the main square, which was getting ready for independence day in a couple of days... so it looked a little different even from the week before.
And the fountains turned out to be a music and light show... so we took a seat (and some food) at the McDonalds (I know, I know) and enjoyed the show...
As always it is hardest when something comes to an end... and it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to so many quality people. This was the first time that this leadership training has been done in module format, and it worked so well it looks like it will be done again elsewhere! In the meantime, we will have a module per year somewhere in Europe, so people who did this school can renew relationships, and also have more input, and we are all excited that even though it has ended for now, there is still a "next time". So, until next time... 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Italy/Slovenia trip

As I have some friends who rent out their house on the beach in Italy for a reasonable rate, Ljilja, Sina and I decided to go this year to Italy for our vacation. We worked out this is the 9th holiday we have taken together (7 years in a row in the summer and 2 times to South Africa!) For our jubilee 10th one, they are trying to get me to go to Morocco - we will see!

We started off in Tuscany. It was so beautiful there... just like in the paintings :)


 We saw some of the cities there too - here Sina and I are in Siena.
We then went to Francavilla al Mare, near Pescara, on the east coast of Italy. We soon discovered that this is where Italians go on holiday and we did not see many other foreign tourists. And we loved it for that reason! Here is some of the typical "fast food" pizza which was delicious!
The beach was long and sandy and there really weren't that many people... and I spent a lot of time in the water!!! The other two enjoyed the beach - Ljilja catching her tan, and Sina reading her book :)

We took one day to go to Rome... and the Vatican:
 And we managed to pack in quite a lot of things... the Spanish steps:
 Trevi Fountain:
Piazza Venecia:
The Pantheon:
And the Colosseum:
But the highlight of the day was when we tried to get into St Peter's Basilica and they wouldn't let Sina in as her shorts were too short (you have to cover your upper thighs and your shoulders). Ljilja tried to show them other people with short shorts and he wasn't having any of it "there are other entrances, you can try them, but you are not coming through here"... until Ljilja had a brainwave: Sina had two tops on, as the top one was a bit see-through, but pulling the vest underneath down made a lovely skirt and we got two thumbs-up from the previously grumpy guard: Here we are celebrating our victory: Luckily Sina could carry it off!!
We left the beach and headed to San Marino...
Where we enjoyed the lovely little country (the 3rd smallest in the world, after the Vatican and Monaco) and especially the fact that they have a series lifts up from the carparks at the bottom of the hill all the way up to the old town at the top (where you are on your own... but saving 20 flights of stairs made me very happy!)
We then went to Slovenia on the way back and enjoyed some walking in the mountains and some thermal baths  (yes we know how to do a holiday right!). Here is the lovely Bohinj lake:
We also stopped in Ljubljana to see some YWAMers there, but of course I forgot to get a picture of that... oh well.

All in all, as you can see, it was a fantastic and varied holiday. We did drive a LOT, but it was worth it! And here's to our next holiday/adventure wherever it may be... 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Having fun with American guests...

Ljilja, my housemate, took on the role of General Secretary for the Bosnian version of IFES/InterVarsity last year, and last week she had the privilege of hosting some of the American InterVarsity Board members in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. While they were in Banja Luka, two of them helped us with a lecture on parenting techniques for the parents of our sponsorship children:
Also, Ljilja asked me to take them around Banja Luka, and I became the best tour guide ever when I introduced them to the ice cream we have on our main square as part of the tour :) Here they all are at the Fortress Kastel:
Then, this week we hosted an American family, who are in this part of the world to help with camps in Croatia. It was great to get to know Chase and Cassie and their two beautiful kids. We took them down to the watermills at Krupa:
 And on to the beautiful city of Jajce. They loved the walls:
 And the train:
On the way back, Ljilja noticed that they were no longer behind us, and so we turned back to see what was going on. The front wheel of their hire car was making a big squealing sound... so they had pulled over. We took the wheel off and had a look at the break system and couldn't find a stone or anything, so we were about to give up and call a mechanic when someone stopped to help. And they moved something around inside the break pad and then said "gotovo je" (which means "it is finished"). I thought it meant that the part was finished and we should call a tow... then he showed us the little stone that had fallen out and that it was all ok now!! All done! This is us putting the wheel back together after it was all done...
As it has been so hot, we decided that the best use of our time would be to take children from the children's home to the pool. There are not many of the 100 children left in the home in the summer as many of them go to Italy through one organisation, others go to the sea with another, others go to family members, etc. So, we took 17 of those that were left to the pool and had a great time. One of them hadn't ever been before - and so if we went just for her, it was worth it!

Before the family left, we also had a decoupage workshop with the mothers and children and teenagers from the sponsorship project. It was a great turnout:
We had a lot of fun!
And as you can see below, there are very creative people in our project:



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