|Banja Luka Branch with Ivins Family Visitors|
|Brian, Candy, Gary, Ann, Kay & Jim--Babbel Missionary Reunion!|
|Babbel Missionaries at the Sea|
|Osijek Branch Members with Ivins Family Visitors|
Banja Luka, Bosnia
This is a day of many final events. Last week we had our final District meeting; and yesterday was our final with a nice meeting honoring the first missionary to leave from Bosnia. It was a good day and much better than good. In Serbian they score their grades for 1 to 5 with 3 being dobro (good); 4 is vrtle dobro and top/perfect is odlishno. was a 5+. Almost all of the members came along with many from the English classes. President and Sister Rowe came with 4 children and two friends (the Madsens) from Alpine along with his law partner and their go-to guy. Colton Rowe is a new deacon and passed the sacramant for the first time in Banja Luka where they used to live. It was great to have to refill the sacrament tray that only holds 36. We ended up with 43 double our usual attendance. Everybody was saying we could have been at 60 if everyone came who in some way said they might come. So we still have some work today.
Sister Rowe led a wonderful discussion on missionary work and told of the conversion of her great grandmother from Norway. There is still much work to be done. At the meeting we sustained Presidents of the Relief Society, School and Primary plus three others were called to serve as Branch Music Leader, Branch Historian and as an Employment Specialist. We were busy all afternoon. We showed President and Sister Rowe the new church (proposed) and came back for lunch and then set apart all who had been called. It almost seemed like trying to get everything done before the post office closed at .
We have served with such great and good missionaries, hard-working, obedient and very positive. They work well together and have taught us so much. We love each of them and have felt so blessed to have been able to serve with such good young members of the Church. We feel very close to each of them and will miss them! We have also served with many senior couple missionaries. Each is such a great contribution to the mission, the members and the investigators. There are some big transfers in the wind. Elder Fausnaught has been blow away to Rijeka to serve with Gary and Ann. Elder Graham will get a new "Trainee" this week and the sisters are in limbo until .
We also had our final zone conference with Pres. Rowe in Sarajevo. Our zone conferences are always filled with such a powerful spirit and leave all of us with a desire and energy to go back to work. It was a double blessing to be there with Candy and Brian. They are really doing great. Brian has started some home-made games including "church bowling". We were able to do some MLS training in Serbia (Sremska Mitrovica) and back in Osijek. We saw our landlords Sylvia and Ivan, along with many friends and members. We stayed around a little while for the weekly night Aktivnost. It was a great visit. We also just told Zoran goodbye in Zagreb before we fly away.
We have witnessed so many miracles here in the mission and especially here in Banja Luka. Nine of our members were able to receive their patriarchal blessings from Gary, who was set apart to be a patriarch to the mission. Two of our brothers have the Aaronic Priesthood and five have the Melchizedek Priesthood. We have seen all of the members’ testimonies become stronger as they share in discussions during School and Relief Society and Priesthood meetings. We are hopeful to have a new church site approved this week. Church will then be close to the center of town which we feel will bring a new awareness and interest in the church in Banja Luka.
It has been a wonderful opportunity to serve with Gary and Ann and now Candy and Brian. While we were together for a couple of days Gary reminded us what Dad said often about our interview when we get to the other side and Heavenly Father will ask us about this beautiful earth that was created for us to enjoy: “Did you love it and appreciate it, enjoy the beautiful water, the mountains and hills and grasses and clouds, the beautiful fields and valleys?” It has been so fun to see and enjoy this part of this beautiful earth with them. We have been living in a beautiful part of the world and feel so blessed to have seen so much of it.
We have made so many new friends throughout the mission and love each of them. Knowing the people here and experiencing their lives have added to the beauty of these countries. They have so many trials and hard things to overcome but we have seen as they live the gospel of Jesus Christ they are happy and they will and are able to work through the hard things. Our experiences with them are forever implanted in our hearts…we will miss them and hope will watch from Utah to see how they grow and help the church grow.
We love you all and are so excited to see you !!
Love, mom and dad