Monday, November 1, 2010

My life in Bosnia continues.....

I just realized it has been exactly one month since I last posted! I'm really not very good at keeping up with a blog, so please forgive me.

So many things happened in October!!! I got to meet one of the main actors from Slumdog Millionaire, Madhur Mittal (plays the older brother Salim in the movie), as he was here doing a month long acting workshop on the university campus. It was really fun to hang out with Madhur, pick his brain about his experiences in acting and such. He was really laid back and very friendly.

I also got to go on a roadtrip to Mostar with him, Josh, Izzy, and Ceca (friends with Irby's, who brought Madhur here to do the workshop after they became friends). Madhur and I both expressed interest in wanting to see Mostar, so Josh drove us all there 2 weeks ago. It was incredibly beautiful and I am sooo glad that I got to see it. The city has some amazing stone work and it parts looks like an old castle. The most famous thing in Mostar is the stone bridge called Stari Most, which was destroyed in the war and rebuilt a couple years ago. The bridge goes over the river, probably the most beautiful river I've ever seen, with crystal blue water, so that you could see the bottom in some spots. There was also an incredible waterfall, Krajvice, very Niagra Falls-esque, a little farther away that we also got to visit, with that same amazing clear water! I cannot begin to tell you what a breath-takingly beautiful place it was, I think I could spend a week there and not get tired of it.

This month, we also had a superhero birthday party for Elijah. Superman, Batman, and Spiderman all made an appearance. One of the Irby's friends even dressed up as superhero, complete with tights, mask, and a cape. Then we took Elijah to the zoo on his actual birthday. The Sarajevo zoo was pretty small, but has its own little cute charm. There was even a Grizzly bear, which was pretty cool cause we don't have those at either of the Phoenix zoos.

I also started doing a bible study with some other girls here, which has been so beautiful and life-giving. Joy, Kat, and Liz are all Americans with different non-profit organizations, who have been here for about a year and know quite a bit of Bosnian. In the short time that I have known them, they have blessed me in so many ways and I look forward to our times together every Sunday with great excitement! I feel like I can be totally comfortable with them and it's cool to hear and see how God has used them since they've been here and what He is continuing to do through them. I have a ton of respect for each of these Godly women and am proud to call them friends!

I am also blessed to be friends with the Svaki Student team, who the Irby's work with. Its so great to be able to hang out with people my own age. They have been so friendly to me and I love getting to join them on their team fun nights every Friday. We have made cheeseburgers and watched Top Gun, had a game night, and gone to a British pub. Its so much like hanging out with all my friends back home and Im excited to have met so many cool people! :) God really just had all of this in mind for my trip, despite all the ups and downs that it took to get here!

Last Wednesday night, I also went to a dance party for Svaki Student, where Madhur taught us all the Jai-Ho (the dance at the end of Slumdog Millionaire). I had so much fun dancing with everyone, meeting more Bosnian students, and acting like a goofball. Josh and I even brought Izzy, who was probably more popular than Madhur based on the sheer volume of people who wanted pictures with her! She danced all night long and everyone loved watching her :)

November is my last month here! I can't believe it! I am so excited to go home and see all my friends and family, but it will also be sad to leave Bosnia and all my new friends here. Please be praying for me as I discern what God is calling me to in this next season when I return home.

Friday, October 1, 2010

One third down, two thirds to go....

Two weeks ago, I got to go to the beautiful country of Croatia for a conference! Josh left a couple days earlier, so Taylor and I came with the kids on Wednesday. When we were about an hour outside of Sarajevo, Taylor realized she forgot all the passports! So we had to turn around and go back (right during rush hour traffic). We finally ended up at our destination, Zagreb (5 hr drive total), very late, probably around midnight. Everyone was pretty exhausted!

The next day, we continued our drive to Porec, on the coast, which was another 4 hrs. The hotel that everyone else was staying in was over booked, and so I got put in a brand new 4 star hotel by myself for a night, very nice!

During the week, I watched the kids so that Josh and Taylor and another couple could go to the sessions. Sadly, it was pretty rainy, so I was only able to take the kids out for short periods of time. Still, we soaked up the time on the playground between rain showers. The coast is very beautiful and green! I was surprised to find pine trees overhanging the ocean, never seen that before. The kids and I also found seashells of course, and sea glass, which I have only read about, never found, very cool!

The food buffet was great, huge dinner and breakfast!

On the way home, I rode with the Trousdale family ( Jonathon, Ashley, and little Tyler) and about 15 mins outside of Zagreb on the highway, the car just died on the side of the road. We called a friend in Zagreb to help us, but just before we were about to tell him where we were, Jonathon's phone ran out of credit! We tried to start the car again after about 10 mins and it miraculously started and got us to an exit ramp and a gas station. Long story short, a friend came to pick us up, car got towed, and we were able to stay for free in Zagreb. The car, an American Nissan with auto transmission, which was rented in Bosnia, needed a new alternator. Amazingly, a shop in Zagreb had the specific alternator that we needed totally a God thing. So we were stuck there for 2 nights instead of a week possibly if they didn't have the part!

Zagreb is an incredible city! So unique and beautiful! The old town was like a huge maze, the buildings are all built into each other (no space in between) and the streets are narrow. Zagreb, just like Sarajevo, is very fashionable, everyone always looks super stylish. I, on the other hand, was not stylish, and was stuck in the exact same clothes for the 3 days we were there because the Irby's had my luggage!

Here's one other funny moment from the ride home. The Trousdales and I stopped in a town in the middle of nowhere in Bosnia to eat, we were starving and couldn't wait any longer. We walk in and this super sweet old woman says that she only serves Cevapi, the fast food of Bosnia, which is sausages inside flat bread with sour cream dip. Now we were thinking, it must be really good if thats the only thing she serves! Hahaha nope...this was the greasiest food I've had in a long time, couldn't even finish half of it because it was so heavy. So much for being starving.....:) Anyway, overall it was a great trip and I am so glad I got to see Croatia!

Since then, I have been watching the kids and meeting more new friends. On Sunday, I had lunch after church with the Cunninghams (Stephanie and Craig) and Joy, all friends with the Irby's (and now my friends), which was great. Then, I rode the tram home by myself, walked around downtown, and bought new shoes, all by myself. I was sooo proud! Then on Tues night, I had coffee with my new friend Liz, who works with an outdoor adventure club. We sat and talked on top of the one of the tallest buildings in Sarajevo for a couple hours, so fun!

We also had dinner this week with our neighbors this week: a mom, dad, and their 13 yr old daughter who don't speak any English at all! It was interesting to sit through a conversation where I understood nothing and could offer no input. I actually understood things here and there, just from a few words and gestures. It was great for Taylor's and Josh's language learning! And they did translate a couple parts of the conversation for me, so that was cool.

The most interesting part for me was when the couple was talking about the war and what it was like. Snipers and cannons on the mountains that you can see from my bedroom balcony....You can't really picture something like that until you've seen the place and heard stories from people who lived through it. I was blown away by their courage and perseverance to stay in their home here during the war.

I am almost nearing my one month mark! But I am definitely starting to miss Phoenix a lot! I have such beautiful friends, family, and church community, so thankful for everyone in my life.
As I write, I am longing to hug so many people! It is hard to know that I am missing a lot of what is going on at home, but I know God has placed me here for a specific reason. Please pray that God would give me the strength to trust Him with my lonely heart.

Fun upcoming events:

Elijah's superhero birthday party on Oct 9th (Taylor and I are in the midst of planning it)
Apple picking at a farm
Having an actor from the movie Slumdog Millionaire over to our house for coffee
Having dinner at Slavko's (another Bosnian friend) house with him and his family

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 1 in Sarajevo!!!!

So I am finally here! Sarajevo is by far one of the prettiest places I have ever been. I think I have finally recovered from jet lag and am settling into some kind of routine (although routine doesn't really exist in Bosnia as I have come to learn.)

My flights were all pretty good. On my long flight on the way to London, I talked to a German girl sitting next to me for a few hours. She was very sweet and it was interesting to hear about her life at the university there. On the next flight, I talked with a sweet couple from Australia who were going to visit family in Croatia. I am always really shy initially to talk to the people sitting next me, but they always end up being really great and then I wonder why we sat in silence for so long.

When I got to Sarajevo, I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to find Taylor (the mom of the family I'm staying with) but the airport turned out to be super empty and super small! Taylor and Josh live about 30 mins away from the airport and Sarajevo is set up like a long skinny strip (similar to Las Vegas guess). It was late, so I didn't get to see how pretty the city was until morning. The next morning, I woke up and went to church with the Irby's (the kids Israel (4) and Elijah (3) are great by the way, very full of energy and imagination). At church, I met a lot of the Irby's friends, 2 other married couples, 2 guys, and 3 girls. I just love listening to worship in another language because it's so different to the way I normally experience God. The sermons are usually translated into English, so I was able to follow along.

The rest of this week I have been watching the kids while Taylor and Josh go to their language studies and have gone on a couple adventures, riding the tram, and walking around the city center. I got to watch Israel's ballet class (so cute!) and observe a preschool class that Taylor teaches occasionally to help her with her language. We also hung out with the Svaki Student team a bunch of times this week, one of which was going to a gorgeous park called Vrelo Bosne and playing frisbee in the rain! I have really enjoyed getting to know all of them! Everyone has been so nice and friendly to me, it is such a blessing.

It has rained more times in my first week here than it has all summer in Phoenix! Hahaha I was surprised that the rain was steady for hours, not just hard for 10 mins, quite a change from what I'm used to. Overall, the weather has been amazing, consistently 75-80 deg for the high! Ahh pure bliss! I'm excited to see a real fall soon with gorgeous oranges, yellows, and reds on the trees!

This upcoming week promises to be awesome! On Wednesday, Taylor, the kids, and I leave for the coast of Croatia to stay in a nice hotel on the beach for a conference.

Prayer requests: Please be praying that I would be able to start picking up some more basic Bosnian and be able to start navigating the city a little more on my own! :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Change of Plans! :)

If you haven't heard yet, my plans for Bosnia have changed quite a bit!

The Tinlin family, who I was going to go nanny for, has to come home to Phoenix immediately due an emergency open heart surgery needed for the dad Dan. This of course was a huge shock and very heartbreaking for their family. Please pray that God would help them to make sense of this and use the situation for good. Also pray that the whole family of 9 will be able to get back to Phoenix on time for Dan's surgery, safely, and with no financial burden.

In light of this, I decided that I still really wanted to go to Bosnia, so Julie Tinlin put me in contact with their good friends in Sarajevo, Josh and Taylor Irby (you can check out their family blog @ Josh and Taylor work with Svaki Student and have 2 kids of their own. Israel is 4 and Elijah is 3. This family was actually praying for a babysitter because their regular one is having a baby in October! God has beautifully orchestrated the timing for me to go and nanny for the Irby family! I don't have to change my flight dates or length of trip at all! I will be doing much the same thing for the Irby's as I was going to do for the Tinlins; it has even worked out for me to stay at their house. I will also be going to Croatia for a conference with the family for a week! When I leave in December, hopefully the family's regular babysitter will have had a good amount of time with her new baby and be ready to watch the Irby chilren again.

I have talked to Taylor on the phone and she seems like an amazing and passionate woman of God! I think I will get along great with the Irby's and I feel so blessed to still have this opportunity. I am so excited to make new friends and serve this beautiful family.

I still need some financial (about $700) and prayer (could always use more of that!) support for this trip, so please let me know if you are interested in partnering with me! You are still able to give through ODF as well. If you have already responded to my 1st letter, but no longer wish to support my trip, please let me know. If you didn't receive my initial letter, but wish to support me, I would love to mail or give you the info slip!


Monday, July 12, 2010

On my way!!!!

So, I just confirmed my tickets for Bosnia! Sept. 3-Dec 7 are my official dates! A good, cheap price, I feel quite lucky.

I have been so encouraged this week by my beautiful friends and family. In the same day, I received 2 precious gifts that reminded me of God's great love for me. I received some very generous gifts for financial support for Bosnia. THEN, my mom gave me a box full of encouraging letters and prayers written for me at my baby shower! I cried as I was reading these beautiful letters and felt so incredibly blessed, more than I can express.

I don't deserve to have such incredible people around me, but I get to accept that amazing gift anyway!

Sometimes, I feel like my life is too "struggle-free." I haven't had to deal with a lot of hardship in my 24 years. My life has been very beautiful and stable. My parents are amazing and have set the bar extremely high as to what a God-centered marriage and family should look like. I wonder sometimes if something devastating is around the corner for me, because I haven't experienced suffering and the maturity that comes with that.

However, lately I have realized that because I have such a "healthy" life, I am able to be there, fully present, for those who do have struggles because I'm not bogged down with a lot of my own "stuff."

My prayer is that God would continue to increase this capacity in me, so that I can bless others and support them in their process.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Season!

I am going to Bosnia!!!! I am so excited! I know that God is going to do incredible things in my heart in this next season of life.

What an incredible opportunity for me to serve the Tinlin's (a family that works in Sarajevo with 7 kids) and experience Bosnian culture! I have never been away from home for so long (3 months) ....but I think it will be really good for me.

I am really going to miss my nannying job, my Emma and Ella. They are so precious to me and it will be very difficult not to see them for such a long time. They are sweet and beautiful and bring me so much joy. I have been so blessed to get to be part of their lives this past year :)

I am kinda scared to leave everyone I love in Phoenix for so family, my amazing friends. But I really need to stretch myself....get out of my safe, little comfort zone.

I'm especially going to miss my little brother. He will be leaving for Army boot camp while I am in Bosnia. But I will be able to see him for a short time, when he returns in Feb for a week or so. Then he's off again for his EOD job training for 10 months in Alabama. I'm so scared for him, but I know that he needs a change in his life and this is how he wants to do it. I have to support him no matter what and that's what I'm gonna do. I love you so much Lee! I have been reading 2 different books in preparation for my trip. It's so interesting to read about Sarajevo and know that I will be living there. So much history and devastation....but also so much promise. I can already tell just by the little bit that I know that God is doing incredible things there!