|Missionary work in Maribor, Slovenia|
|Leaving Osijek and Pres. Korajac and his nephew|
|The Vrbas river in Banja Luka|
|cooking hotdogs with Miroslav in Banja Luka|
|water balloon volleyball|
|race for the most fit|
|Eating with Mirko from English Class|
Sunday May 19, 2013
We are now serving in Banja Luka, Republic of Srbska, which is a part of Bosnia i Herzegovina. We shared many tears with our dear friends in Osijek when we left after serving there for almost 12 months. We plan to visit our friends there before we return home in November. We felt like the young missionaries who expect to be transferred. We fully expected to accomplish a few more things during the last 6 months of our mission. We still feel very connected to Osijek and continue to pray for the growth of the branch there, especially our Branch President there, Zoran.
Banja Luka became a branch just this spring and one of our goals is to get MLS (the Church membership and finance system) implemented. We have more children and youth here than in Osijek among our 17 members. We live on the third floor of the Church. It is an amazing home with lots of windows, outside doors and decks. The owners of the home recently built an even larger home just behind us which gives us some afternoon shade. They have a beautiful yard with fruit and shade trees as well as lots of flowers and grass. They don’t speak English but began spewing out (what they said was perfect) German when we spoke “ein bisschen Deutsch” to them. We also picked up a sister for Church this morning who joined the Church in Germany. She talked non-stop on the way home switching seamlessly (for her between Serbian and German). We can talk much better German than we can understand it—especially when it is laced with Serbian. Our landlord and his wife both love to garden and they have planted purple petunias all over the railing on our decks, to which we added two tomato plants and a pot of basil. Our home has two extra bedrooms with extra mattresses and lots and lots of room. This is an invitation to visit.
We are getting acquainted with the members and also the students in the English classes. The husband of one couple who has been coming to English class for the several months told us that his mother is the wisest person he knows and she told him to learn about the church because she feels that it is good for him. He is an engineer and works with his partners in their private company. This was a very positive thing for him and very unusual here. Most people here are very leery about the Church and don’t accept very well their neighbors and friends who join the Church. We are busy getting ready to prepare our families to go to the Frankfurt Temple trip in August. We love serving here with the young Sisters and Elders, one of whom is from Slovenia but his parents are Serbian. The sisters have been here less than 2 months. They are a great asset to the Branch. On Friday we played water balloon volleyball for Aktivnost and had hotdogs and chocolate chip cookies. We had 3 members, 8 visitors, (which included 3 children age five and under), and 6 missionaries. Having so many children is a big change from Osijek. Another big change is we don’t need any mosquito repellant here. This party was a trial run for our big American party on July 4th. We will see if we can host 50 or 100 locals. This should be very easy to accomplish because we are going to try and invite every person we see to come to church with us on one of the 5 Sundays in June. The Europe Area Presidency has challenged all of the European members to invite someone to Church each Sunday in June.
Monday and Tuesday we met in Beograd with all the missionaries from Serbia, Bosnia and Osijek with Elder and Sister Kearon (of the Europe Area Presidency) and President and Sister Rowe at a fireside for members and missionaries on Monday evening and again at our Zone conference on Tuesday. Elder Kearon joined the church when he was about 26. He said it took everyone to get him on the path…the Elders, the Sisters, the senior couples and most of all the members. We have seen this pattern with many new members and some investigators who have been sitting on the edge for years. Each missionary adds something different and each is needed to help strengthen others as they progress in the Gospel. We love working with the young missionaries and we also love and learn so much from the Senior Missionaries. The meetings in Beograd were wonderful. The Kearons and the Rowes brought a wonderful spirit, which combined with the faith and testimonies of the missionaries, young and old, strengthened our faith and our desire to become better Disciples of Christ.