Monday, May 30, 2016

Spring in the Mission

Spring has sprung in the Mission, and it is beautiful!  We traveled to Celje so EK could train a new Branch President.  It was our first time in this quaint little Slovenian town.  We especially loved the drive as the road wound along a beautiful river for miles.  We stopped a few times for pictures, but that in itself was tricky as the road was narrow with limited places to pull off.  When a truck came along, you held your breath for a moment in hopes you didn't lose your rearview mirror.   Every time we get on a road like this, we think of Gavin & Kate and how much fun they would have in their little yellow Miata.

After we were done with training we took a drive through the mountains with the Porters, the senior couple in Celje.  If you ever come to eastern Europe, you really need to put Slovenia on your list.  It is a beautiful country with much to see.  We took our time and got out to breathe in the fresh mountain air, and see the flowers covering the mountainside.

When we got back from senior conference in Sarajevo,  we continued to prepare for the  concert with Paul Cardall and David Archuleta which was held on May 13th at the Ljubljana Opera House.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teamed up with the Slovenian Heart Foundation to put on this amazing event.  It was the Foundation's 25th Anniversary Charity Concert with the proceeds going to the families of children who suffer from heart illnesses.  The missionaries were able to meet with Paul and David the morning of the concert at the church building where they spoke to us and performed a few songs.

 We then had a Fireside with David at the Zagreb Chapel on Sunday evening with a lovely reception afterwards.  Chefs Without Borders catered delicious and eye-pleasing  h'ordeurves to all who attended.
Chefs Without Borders Team
 They are also affiliated with the Heart Foundation and we are proud to team up with them whenever we have the opportunity.  On Tuesday, when we thought this whirlwind week was winding down, we got a call from President Grant.  The Grants had taken David and his manager Kari to Pula for some sightseeing.   David asked if there was anywhere along the way where they could stop and meet more members of the Church.  Since Karlovac was on their way back, they decided to stop in our town.  We were getting ready for our English Conversation Group, and decided he should come and talk to our class.  It was an intimate gathering of about 20 people. He spoke with each person individually, answered a few questions, and then sang a few songs for us.  He is such a down to earth, nice young man and has a amazing way of remembering people's names.  He was able to recall the names of the missionaries he had met the previous week.  

We had a baptism in Karlovac.  Rajko Aidinović was baptized on May 7th with many Branch members in attendance.  We have a portable font which was set up in the hallway.  It was a beautiful baptism with refreshments afterwards.
Snejžana made an amazing cake for Rajko and there were other goodies to enjoy.  It has been a blessing to witness Rajko's progress as he embraces the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There have been many members of the Branch who have participated in assisting the missionaries in teaching him each week.  He is a wonderful addition to our small Branch and we love him.

EK's jump shot

The 2nd Annual Krešimir Ćosić Adriatic North Mission Basketball Tournament took place on May 21st.  Krešimir played basketball for BYU in the '70's and was the first member of the Church in Croatia.  He was a remarkable man and his story is worth reading about here:  There were four teams from three different countries: Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia.  The fourth team was made up of senior missionaries and guess who made the cut?  Yep,  EK was on the  "Dream Team" and he was excited to play!  They did a great job, even winning one of the games, but I'm sure there was a lot of Advil taken that evening.

The final event of the month was a Singles Conference we attended in Beograd, Serbia.  We had a dozen people attend and being a one day conference, was a smaller version of the one we had in March in Zagreb. Many of these people did not go to the  Zagreb Conference because they need a passport to enter Croatia and it's quite expensive.  Many cannot afford the extra expense,  so the committee along with President Grant's approval,  decided to take the conference to them!  We had two workshops taught by President Lotric and Br. Mhailevic.  We participated in a service project where we went to a park to pick up trash, and also to serve food to refugees.  When we returned to the Church, we watched the movie 17 Miracles with Br. Vasica speaking to us afterwards.  We ended the conference with a dance which included President and Sister Lotric heading up fun activities including the limbo and chicken dance. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Sremska Mitrovica which is about an hour from Beograd,  and headed home after attending church there on Sunday morning. The Branch members provided a wonderful lunch after church and we felt their love as we said our goodbyes.  What a sweet, sweet Branch.  Then off we went to Karlovac, our home away from home.

The word of the week is:  torta which means cake.

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