Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve in Belgrade
 It is that time of the year when many people make resolutions and set goals.  I have a few in mind, and am wondering what I can do differently to actually achieve these goals for 2017.  Why is it so difficult for us to accomplish those things we wish to change in ourselves?  Do we choose goals that are unrealistic?  Do we not put enough action in our goals, or not give it enough thought and prayer?  In Preach My Gospel it tells us, Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish.    A quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard states, "I am so throughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential."  I believe it is important to prayfully select goals that will spiritually and physically strengthen us, measure and evaluate our efforts, and do everything we can to accomplish the goals we set.  Elder M. Russell Ballard finished his quote by saying, "When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life."  So, here's to all of us who have selected goals for the new year, for there is strength in numbers and in righteous desires.

Serbia celebrates Christmas on January 7th, so we were able to enjoy two Christmas's.  We went to a few Christmas parties where Santa made an appearance.  We went to Čaćac January 4th when we were invited to their Christmas party.  The surprise of the evening was when EK was handed a Santa suit and ushered into the next room to change.  Hmm, another skinny Santa., but he was jolly and the kids loved him.  He handed out their gifts and changed back into his other clothes.  One of the children Andre recognized him right away, and followed him around for most of the evening while EK tried to convince him that he was NOT Santa.

We had a house full on January 7th when we had our Christmas dinner.  Elder King and Elder Sorensen came up from Čaćac and we had the Belgrade district come over for a turkey dinner.  It was a repeat performance of our Thanksgiving dinner, and turned out well.  Sisters Johnston and Lougee brought "dirt cake" which was a huge hit. Elder Rice brought a pumpkin roll he had made, but would not reveal where the coveted pumpkin came from.  There are some things you just can't get here and canned pumpkin is one of them.  It was delicious.  We had spirited games of dominoes and Phase 10 going on simultaneously.
Wow, this was the salad!

We traveled to Sremska Mitrovica on January 8th to attend church and to visit the Ostergaards and members of the Branch.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were invited to dinner at
the Vučenović home along with the Ostergaards.  It was a dinner worth remembering.  The table was set beautifully with flowers and
A chocolate lover's delight
china and Sister Vučenović's talented touch was evident everywhere, including in her cooking.  She had a salad that looked like a work of art, lemon chicken, salmon, sarma, and an amazing chocolate cake for dessert.  Their talented daughters sang songs for us, and we found it difficult
The Vučenović family
to leave this sweet and loving family.  But we realized that we still had to drive home to Belgrade, so we said our goodbyes and headed home.  There are so many beautiful people here in the Balkans, who warmly welcome the missionaries in their homes.  We are grateful to be able to spend time with them and feel like we are with family.

Word of the week:  porodica (por od itsa) which means family