Sunday, September 25, 2016

Festival in Osijek

We recently visited Osijek for Branch Conference. The district presidency schedules and directs a branch conference once a year in each district.  (There are six in Croatia)  Members of the district presidency, high council, and district auxiliaries (leaders) take part in the conference as
The Strassmayer in Osijek
directed.  Our mission president, President and Sister Grant were there as well. The purpose is to strengthen faith and testimony of the members, provide gospel instruction, and conduct business.  It is always fun to reconnect with our friends in Osijek and to say hi to Elder and Sister Anderson.  We always stay at the Strassmayer which is near the square in centar.  It is a sweet little hostel that always welcomes us warmly.  We picked up KM in Zagreb and took her with us.  KM is the district relief society president.  After checking in on Saturday afternoon, EK decided to take a walk while I rested my foot...more on that later.  He called me after 10 minutes and said there was something big happening in the square.  I walked over to meet him and found that there was a dance festival going on.  It was so much fun to see all the beautiful and colorful costumes and dances being performed.  There were booths set up with delicious local treats and trinkets. We stayed and watched the different groups perform, and of course tried some of the sweets.  We ended up having dinner with the Andersons and KM at American Bar Dollar, a local hamburger bistro located in a cute little courtyard.   We attended Branch Conference on Sunday and afterwards enjoyed a lunch that was provided by the members and Sister Anderson.  Then we were off to Zagreb to drop off KM and then we went on to Karlovac.

I've been having problems with my left heel for a month or so. It is frustrating because I haven't been able to walk as much as I am used to.  After doing some online research,  I suspected my problem to be plantar fascitis.  I also talked to Sister Peterson (mission nurse), and her husband has also been struggling with the problem.  They gave me some exercises to do and told me it may take weeks (or months) before it feels better.  So, I have been diligent in my regimen and am trying to be patient.  I'm thinking positively and expect to be as good as new in due time.  (I wanted to say short time, but I have to be patient)

We had to run over to the Karlovac church to get something and we noticed some flowers on President Raic's desk.  He is our Branch President and it looked like the Primary class decided to make him a thank you bouquet.  The flowers thanked him for a number of things including being humble, for his love for them, and for his example.  It made me think of the many primary classes that have made similar bouquets for their Bishop or Branch President. Branch Presidents and Bishops throughout the world volunteer their time to serve over their branches and wards and minister to their needs. They are usually called or assigned for a period of up to five years, sometimes longer.  This is a volunteer calling (assignment) and they are not paid monetarily, but they will tell you that the spiritual blessings far outweigh the time and work involved.

The Rothes's joined us
EK with Doug and Vicky
We have special visitors with us for a couple of weeks.  EK's brother Doug and his wife Vicky have come to visit and we are having a fun time seeing the sights.  We visited Zadar and stayed in the sweetest apartment right in Old Town.  We saw the Maorske Orgulje (Sea Organ) and The Greeting to the Sun.  We even had an opportunity to meet up with the Rothey's and we took a sail to see the sunset.  It rained the entire day and I was worried the trip would be cancelled.  EK (the eternal optimist) was telling us the rain would stop and the sun would break out any minute.  He said, "The wind is ideal,  how can we pass up this opportunity"?  So we went out into the tempest.  His brother ended up getting a mouthful of saltwater when the waves crashed over the bow.  It rained the entire time, but the sun did peek out for a beautiful sunset.  EK smiled the whole time.

We meandered through Old Town the next day.  I saw this little lovely who couldn't resist playing in a puddle.  She peeked over at her parents for a reaction and they laughed.  Isn't that what puddles are for?

We took our time coming back and stopped at a roadside stand to buy some fresh figs and cantaloupe.  We drove through Rijeka and drove along the coast.  We stopped at a seaside restaurant in Senj.  We have seen many beautiful and amazing sights and are happy to share them with family.  One of the comical sights was when we came across a group of sows rooting in a yard.  As one curiously walked over by us, I grabbed my camera.  She probably wondered what the interest was, but we were amazed at the size of her and her prijatelji.

Word of the week:  barica (bar ee tsa) which means puddle

Monday, September 5, 2016

Families Are Forever

Cousin Camp 2014
We received an email last week from our daughter Kate.  She told us that one of our granddaughters Ella (7th grade), had a creative writing assignment and she sent us a copy of it.  It is entitled, My Favorite Place, and is about visiting Grandma & Grandpa's house in the woods.  Her writing was so clear that she was able to take us back to those times we shared together with family and grandchildren. She spoke of our annual cousin camp, and the Easter egg hunts amid the towering pines that the wind whistled through their leaves (her words),  and the secret tunnel we had between the laundry room and our bathroom.  The kids used to pretend to be explorers and crawl through it to the other side.  It was so much fun to read about those wonderful memories. Thank you sweet Ella!  We are grateful for our family and for the support we feel from them.  We are grateful for the wonderful plan that our Father in Heaven has designed. He has placed us in families where we can learn, be nurtured, and loved.  When we follow His plan, we are promised that we can be forever families and one day return to live with Him. Dieter F. Uchtdorf a modern day apostle has said,  "In His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."  This plan is called The Plan of Salvation (or The Plan of Happiness as it is sometimes known as). This video explains it quite well I think.
The family minus one unici

Mission home in Zagreb

We traveled to the mission home in Zagreb on Saturday for two meetings.  The first one was training for Seminary and Institute which are religion classes for the youth and young adults.  The Ostergaards organized it and along with Marin Iachimov from Romania, taught us how we can become better teachers.  After it ended, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant across the street and then prepared for the second meeting.  This meeting was for the mission presidency and district presidents of the mission, but the wives were invited to attend and receive instruction and counsel from Elder Charles who is an Area Seventy assigned to our mission and several surrounding missions.  As an Area Seventy, Elder Charles is our liaison to the highest church authorities in Salt Lake City. He lives in London and flew to Zagreb for the meeting.

We were successful in obtaining a Metro card this week.  Metro is comparable to Costco in the states and you have to be a member to shop there.  The mission office has a card and we have borrowed it in the past, but found out from another senior missionary couple in Zadar, that we could get our own.  We have shopped at Metro for Youth Conference, and Singles Conference for supplies in bulk and it has been most helpful.  It is a fun place to go and meander around.  When I walked over to the meat department, I noticed a case with an interesting assortment of exotic meso. Other popular meats are pig, chicken, and lamb. I thought you might like to take a look at what's available in my neck of the woods.

When we arrived in Croatia last October, one of the senior missionaries showed me a small and intricate piece of lace.  She had taken a trip to Lepoglava and purchased it in
a museum showroom.  Lepolglava is a small town in a beautiful mountain range near Varadžin which is not too far from Karlovac. The lace was introduced by the Pauline order (the white friars) as early as 1400.  It has won numerous awards in Europe.  I looked online and was informed of a yearly festival held every September.  This year's festival is September 22nd - 25th and I am excited to attend,  It will be a busy time as we will then zoom over to Zagreb for the upcoming Singles Conference that will be held on the 25th and 26th.

Our lives were once again touched by the refugee crisis when we learned from President Grant that a strong member of the Church and a displaced Syrian citizen was being held in a refugee facility in Zagreb.    President Grant had gotten wind of him from a Church leader in a neighboring country who had been helping him while he awaited the processing of his political asylum application.  As it turned out, Croatia seemed to be the place where he would need to wait out the process.  Croatia is sympathetic towards the plight of refugees because 20 years ago they were war-torn and many Croatians were refugees themselves.  President Grant was busy with Zone Conferences so he asked if EK could find someone to accompany him and pay the man a visit.  EK teamed up with a member of the Zagreb Branch of the Church who has a great understanding of the refugee situation and of the political asylum laws and off they went to find this man.  The facility was an old hotel in a commercial area of town.  After a couple of attempts they were able to locate him and had a great visit.  When he was deported he had little time to pack so pretty much came with just what he could carry.  EK was quite touched when the man first appeared in the lobby where they awaited him wearing a clean and pressed white shirt and tie.  What a wonderful man, holding two masters degrees and studying for a Doctorate.  He was humble and appreciated our visit.  EK's heart broke when he told them that he hasn't seen his wife and two young daughters who are in a different country, a son who is serving a mission for the Church in the US, and a daughter studying in the US for over a year.  He is anxious to get settled somewhere so that he can be joined by his wife and daughters.  EK was reminded once again of the blessings of political stability and feedom!!

The word of the week:  Naum Spasenja (noum - spas -enja) which means: Plan of Salvation