Friday, March 27, 2009

Back in Banja Luka!! And some GREAT NEWS...

Well, I arrived safely in Banja Luka after a fairly nice trip: on the 12 hour overnight Cape Town-Frankfurt leg I had two seats to myself (and there were only two seats together) so I could stretch out quite nicely, which was great! Ljilja and Dragana came up to Zagreb to fetch me in Miika's big jeep and it was really nice to have someone waiting for me instead of doing it by bus... it wasn't cheaper, but with Ljilja driving it was definitely faster! (and much more comfy!)

Yesterday I spent unpacking and sorting out stuff and visiting Dragana's family and while returning the jeep visiting with Miika's family as well. I was in bed and asleep by 8.30!!

Then this morning I got a voicemail message on my phone to say that I needed to phone the British Embassy in Sarajevo. (They had left the message on Wednesday, but the voicemail notifications take 2 days to come through!) I phoned and found out that I have my registration certificate: this means that after a little ceremony in Sarajevo, where I pledge alegiance to the Queen, I will be a British Citizen!!! And the best news is that it takes about 3 weeks to get my British passport so I will be able to get it before I have to travel to Hungary for a conference at the end of May (otherwise I would have to get a visa for Hungary, so this is indeed great news!!)

So, as you can imagine I am a very happy bunny right now!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some reflections on my time in South Africa

I can’t believe it has been 10 weeks already, but yes it is true that I leave today to return to Banja Luka!! My sister and her family arrive at 9am and I leave for the airport at 4pm - so we timed this really well!!

While I have been here I have:
-Drunk countless teas and had countless meals with friends
-Been swimming at Strandfontein and Muizenberg and Hermanus beaches
-Read at least 20 books (the library is my best friend!)
-Eaten at the Spur 5 times! (Once as a family meal)
-Been to 3 shows and 2 plays (one a Shakespeare in the Park)
-Had “Sundowners” on Clifton Fourth Beach
-Hunted chameleons
-Completed my first “Geocache”
-Been to the movies 6 times (twice with my mom!)
-Played for the first time on a “wii”
-Had my first facial
-Preached (the same sermon) twice
-Successfully fed over 80 people and taught half as many to Bosnian dance at my Bosnian evening
-Been to gym 3 times with my mom (on free passes ;-), enjoying the aqua class and jacuzzi each time
-Visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
-Travelled to Johannesburg
-Spent a week at the School of Frontier Journalism at YWAM in Muizenberg
-Had breakfast at many different lovely places: including Rhodes Memorial, Chart Farm and the Waterfront
-Attended a cell just as a “pleb” every week (i.e. just come along and BE there! Not be the missionary - thanks for having me guys!!)
-Been to the Milnerton Fleamarket 4 times
-Completed 4 assignments for the online School of Biblical Studies which I am doing this year
-Played scrabble twice
-Shared in 7 cell groups and 2 Mission Covenant Services
-Been privileged to go to 2 weddings (including 1 in Hermanus)
-Swam almost every day in my parent’s pool, enjoying the unusually long summer that we had this year!
-Enjoyed driving my late Grandfather’s 29 year old Peugeot (on the LHS of the road!)
-Taught the Sunday school to Bosnian dance (even though some don’t know left from right!)

I think this summarises it very well - I have had a great time and although I am really looking forward to getting back to Banja Luka and all the stuff that is going on there, it is at the same time really hard to say goodbye to good friends and of course my family, knowing that it will be 2 years before I will be back again!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Photo album/Scrapbook

I made a scrapbook of photos telling people what I do to show people here in South Africa... I enjoyed making it and think it turned out quite well. I am leaving it behind as it is quite heavy and so I scanned it into my computer to take along. Here is the first page of the album...I then had a brainwave to put it on facebook so people could see it on there... and the cool thing is that on facebook you have a link for people who aren't on facebook so they can see it... so click here to see the rest of the album!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Preaching...

One of the things that I have been privileged to do each of the times that I am "home" in South Africa is to preach in my home church, Claremont Methodist. This time I ended up preaching on the last Sunday that I am here -which turned out well as they pray for me at the end of the service as well...

The sermon was on "Endurance:being true to what you believe" and I was given two passages to preach on Nehemiah 6:1-16 and John 15:18-16:4. I really enjoyed preparing the sermon as it was a message I needed to hear myself, and it is always good to have to work through what God is saying to me so I can share it with others!

Here is a little sample of it for those who couldn't join us...


I was encouraged and a little daunted by the amount of people who came just to hear me preach!! I was also very encouraged by the responses I got and I just hope that the Lord used me to talk to people where they are!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday...

I have been very busy trying to see everyone and get all the last minute things I need before I leave on Wednesday (it has come up so fast!).

On Saturday I went to visit my ex-roommate Rina and her two adorable children, Cloe and David: I can't believe how big they are! We went to lunch where there was a pool and a slippy slide for the kids and so we hardly saw them! And we had a great time catching up... This is a pic of us: Rina is an artist and so I had to get the background picture in (that is why we are so small!):
And then my family went to the Spur for dinner. It is a chain of restaurants in South Africa and it is kind of a tradition to go as a family, but we hadn't since I came here, and of course we had to go before I left!! My mom and dad, me, my aunt and cousin got in on the act:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rhodes Memorial and BIG fire...

Well, yesterday morning I went with my new friends, Leana and Victor (I met them at Yolande and Jono's wedding in Hermanus in February) to Rhodes' Memorial for breakfast. Afterwards we went and got a couple of shots on the Lions (I used to play on them growing up). As you can see there is a stunning view over Cape Town from up here. I also took this shot of these trees because I thought they looked really cool - the way the one lot has bent over because of the prevailing South Easterly wind, but kind of protected the others from the wind:It was a good thing we went yesterday morning because last night there was a fire which started just below the Memorial. I saw it actually, as I was coming back with friends from the Waterfront and when we saw it was really huge with big flames. According to the news reports it spread very quickly and they even had to evacuate some people from their homes...although mostly because of smoke, no property was damaged, but two men (vagrants) were badly burned.

Here is a pic of the firefighters trying to fight it I got off the news report: As I write, the fire is still raging, but they are bringing it under control with helicopters. And who knows, maybe my trees aren't even there anymore...

I have looked for more photos online and here are some from news24 and you can see the extent of the blaze - one of Cape Town's worst fires in about 10 years!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Graeme, Nicole and Janel

Last night I was over at my friends Graeme and Nicole. They came to visit me in Bosnia in 2006 when Janel was just 8 months old (see Graeme and Nicole's visit for more details on that). We had a lovely dinner together and it was just nice to spend time with two old friends and their delightful daughter!

Janel's latest thing is to say "hey mommy, even if I am naughty you will still love me, hey?". While both parents are delighted at this understanding of unconditional love, at the same time they are apprehensive about what she is cooking up in her head to be naughty about so she can then put this theorem to the test!

After dinner (and putting of Janel to bed) we were going to play "Settlers", but in the end we ended up having a "Wii" party... It is my first time to actually play with one of these and they had just got some new games, so it was a great time for all of us... although Graeme was definitely winning more games on average, we all managed to win something which of course made it fun for all of us as we are all quite competitive!!

So all-in-all quite a nice relaxed evening... I don't have a picture from last night despite having taken my camera determined to get one, but here they are when they visited me when I first arrived in South Africa in January:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Johannesburg trip...

I spent a long weekend in Joburg with my good friend Kirsten Thompson. We had such a great time. In fact I had such a wonderful time I didn't remember to take photographs of all the fun stuff we did!! The ONLY photograph I took was when Alexa came over for dinner on Monday night, so here I am with Lexa and Kirst: They are both amazing! :-) While Kirsten worked I managed to catch up with many friends who live there or worked on my Bible school assignment. And when she wasn't working the two of us went to two movies, watched two DVDs, went to church, ultimate frisbee (I just watched) at Emmarentia Dam, lunch with her folks and I was treated to a facial (my first!). On Tuesday I also managed to have one day completely "off": and I worked on my sermon for the 22nd of March, which means I am a LOT less stressed now having gotten that sorted out. So, all-in-all it was a fantastic trip. I was so glad I could spend the time with Kirst as I really enjoy her and I think she enjoyed having me as well!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bosnian Evening...

Wow, what a great evening! I wanted to make it fun, educational and well, fun, and I think I achieved my aim! The coolest part is the fact that there was an ACTUAL BOSNIAN at my Bosnian evening. She is busy studying at the University of Cape Town for the semester and it was just so great to have her along. She also shared a bit of her story and it just added to the evening... luckily she only told me afterwards that she had done the dancing from little (after I had already taught it!) otherwise I would have been very nervous!!

Here I am with Vanja:To make the evening happen, one needs a good team of volunteers and the ability to delegate responsibility: There were about 80 people who came and we served each with some Krompirusa (Bosnian potato pie), Kiflice (filled rolls with either a hotdog or cottage cheese inside), and two kinds of desert (including Bajadera cake, which is delish!!). All this was made ahead of time with a great group of volunteers! And on the night a lot of people helped out as well. I was truly blessed by how people pitched in! Thanks guys!! Here are some of the kitchen team: To keep the "educational" low-key I had a powerpoint slideshow going throughout with pics of scenary around Bosnia and Banja Luka and then some explanation of what I do: that way people could look at it throughout the evening. I also put my photo-book on the walls so people could go look at the photos if they wanted:

Mid-way through the evening, I also had a quiz so that people could actually learn some things through it (and get prizes if they already knew the answer!!). And I think most people really enjoyed that part!!

Otherwise, people were sitting around tables so that they could sit and chat and fellowship over the food (and later over the Bosnian coffee and teas):
Here is a kid of overall shot so you can ALL the people!! The majority of people who came were from my church, but there was one whole cell group from another church and then other friends of mine who came along. It was very encouraging to have soooo many people!
After all that fun, we had to have some serious time. Each people had a nametag and on the nametag there was a symbol, symbolising either Serb, Croat or Muslim and so people had to get into groups of 3 or more different symbols and pray with each other for unity in the country, that the church would grow and for what I am doing:

It was a really special time of intercession going up to the Lord for this part of the world!

But then it was time for MORE fun (is it possible?) when I taught mostly everyone how to do some of the simpler Bosnian dances (well the only ones I know!!): It went really well and most people got the hang of it... we could have carried on all night...


All-in-all it was a great evening and I am just so happy that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was really great having Vanja there as well! And it really was a God thing that she came! I think most people left knowing a lot more about Bosnia and what God is doing through me there and with happy memories of a fun evening!

Monday, March 02, 2009

birdie's new nest

I am just amazed at the ingenuity of birds. My dad pointed out this little birdie to me this morning: it is a baby who is not flying and we had spotted it on the lawn yesterday having obviously fallen out of its nest. And now the parents have somehow managed to get it up onto the window. How, I am not sure? They keep coming and feeding it (I waited to try and get a pic of that, but I have to be pretty close and they won't come when they can see me!) so are still taking care of it. Hopefully it will survive!

Neither are the greatest pic because of either backlight or distance, but you get the idea:
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