Friday, May 27, 2016

Goodbye Montenegro - Hello Idaho!

Saturday, April 31, and Elder and Sister Taylor had our bags all packed and ready to go.  We moved into a hotel for the night so that Elder and Sister Olson could move right into the apartment.  We met the Olsons at the airport, showed them around Podgorica a little, and tried to fill their heads with way too much information.

Of course we had to enjoy one last cacolata from our favorite pekara before we could leave Podgorica.

Our last Sunday with our wonderful Podgorica Branch!  We happened to have five visitors from America.  Our family of seven was absent because they were vacationing for Easter weekend.

We left the Branch and the country of Montenegro in the capable hands of Elder and Sister Olson from Arizona.  We marvel at Sister Olson's courage in coming to Podgorica with a broken wrist.

At the airport with Nenad, Elder Poore and Elder Perry (taking the picture).  It was really hard to leave our special elders, our awesome Nenad, our wonderful members of the Podgorica Branch, and our great friends in Montenegro.

Flying out of Podgorica and Montenegro for our very last time!  We are taking many memories with us which we will always cherish!

We arrived in Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday evening.  Monday, despite the rain, we were able to tour this beautiful old castle in the Croatia countryside.

Our "last supper" at the Mission Home with President and Sister Grant, who were great hosts.  Also enjoying the meal with us was Elder and Sister Peterson (who were traveling home with us) and Elder and Sister Halling.

After flying from Zagreb to Frankfurt, we had a four hour layover before leaving for our long flight across the ocean on a 747- 400.    The weather was not the greatest - thank goodness we could wait inside.

What a beautiful sight!  It was better to be flying above the clouds, out of the storm and turbulence.

After a short two hour layover in Denver, with customs and passport checks, we barely made our flight to Salt Lake City.  Of course, our awesome family was waiting in the right terminal to meet the returning missionaries.  We, the travel-weary missionaries, unfortunately went to the wrong terminal.  As they waited and wondered why we were late, we wondered why our family wasn't there to meet us.  Finally, we had our joyous reunion with our awesome children and grandchildren.  What a great time this was for us!

Finally, we're settled back in our home in Dayton, Idaho.  Our family took such great care of our home and yard while we were away.  It's good to be home!

    This certainly has been a wonderful Montenegrin adventure!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Beautiful Montenegro Springtime!

What a beautiful time of year to be living in Montenegro!  The trees are full of blossoms and gaining new leaves.  The rocky mountains have turned green from the rain and warmer weather.

During the final week of March, we participated in a wheelchair training with specialists from Salt Lake City.  The week long training was held in the Red Cross facility at Sutomore on the coast.  Thirteen participants from all over Montenegro came to receive training on evaluating and measuring recipients for new wheelchairs provided by LDS Charities.

This was the first time in the wheelchair program that in-country people were prepared to train their fellow countrymen.

At the conclusion of the training, a closing ceremony was held with President and Sister Grant and the President of the Montenegro Red Cross.

During the month of April, we have been busy trying to finish and close several projects before we return to America.  We were able to visit the main school in Pluzine to celebrate with the Head Mistress and some of the students.  LDS Charities provided desktop computers for their lab and laptop computers for the teachers to use at the outlying country schools.

On the way to Pljevlja to close the homeless shelter project, we drove through the beautiful Tara Canyon.  Our souvenir for this fun trip was a flat tire from one of many rocks falling onto the road from the steep mountains.  We're always amazed by the crystal clear blue-green water in every river.  Due to lack of snow during the winter, the Tara River is lower than normal.

 LDS Charities was able to provide new windows and some renovation to the inside of the homeless shelter in Pljevlja, which is the only shelter in Montenegro.  This was a great improvement to the facility, but there is still much to be done.

One of the unusual pine trees growing out of the rocks in the deep canyons of Montenegro have a flat top.

On our return trip from Pljevlja to Podgorica, we had to stop and take a break by the beautiful Tara River again.  This was a peaceful, quiet spot this time of year....not bad for a "selfie".

We were excited to have the new Day Care Center in Podgorica open.  LDS Charities was able to provide special learning toys and supplies for the children to use.

LDS Charities provided the computers for a children's reading room for the National Library in Niksic.  Also donated was a laptop, project and screen for cultural and social seminars.  The first event held hosted over six hundred people.

On the return trip from Niksic to Podgorica, we decided to visit Ostrog Monastery.  This Monastery is built into the rock and is located on a high mountain cliff.  It can be seen for many miles in all directions.  Many people throughout Europe visit Ostrog during certain times of the year.  The road and the scenery were breathtaking.

Just before returning home to America, we made a final trip to the beautiful Montenegrin Coast.  We visited both Kotor and Budva old town "stari grad", and enjoyed a wonderful spring day together.

A beach not far from Budva old town.  Notice the beautiful clear water in the Adriatic Sea.

Old town Budva from a distance.  Most of the old town areas by the Adriatic Sea are right on the
coast with huge walls built for protection.

As we reluctantly came to the conclusion of our wonderful day together on the coast, this was our parting view of the Adriatic Sea.  This is one of the many sights and experiences that we will miss as we conclude our Montenegro mission adventure!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Comes To Montenego!


  It's beginning to look a lot like Spring in Montenegro!  The trees that loose their leaves in the fall are starting to leaf out again.  Bushes are starting to blossom and daffodils are showing up everywhere.

Our early morning walks are full of different sights and sounds.  They are made more pleasant by beautiful Spring scenery.

Speaking of sights and sounds on our early morning walks - this is a sidewalk / parking lot with cars parked wherever there is space.  It's not unusual to be walking down the sidewalk and have to step aside for a car trying to find a place to park.  Parking space in Podgorica is sometimes hard to find.

Spring has also brought a few storms to Podgorica.  One Sunday afternoon and evening, we watched a strong thunder and lightning storm pass through  the city.  With it came very strong winds, rain and hail.  This shows an accumulation of hail on our back balcony,

                                                                           The morning after this violent storm, we noticed thousands of little "gabonzo beans" that had blown off the trees onto the sidewalks.  They made walking on the sidewalks very interesting

The same storm brought so much water to the mountains that the Moraca River rose about twelve to fifteen feet in a twenty-four hour period. 

One project that we were able to close during the month of March was with Komanski Most, a center for adults with disabilities.  LDS Charities provided a greenhouse to be used for work therapy for some of the residents, and also for a fresh vegetable supply for the facility.

Another project that we closed during the month of March was with the Klinicki Center in Podgorica.  Stethoscopes for the some of the doctors and nurses were provided by LDS Charities.

In preparing for an upcoming wheelchair training to be held in Sutomore with our partner, the Red Cross, we enlisted the help of our elders to assemble needed toolkits and supply bags.

The exciting culmination to our month of March was the baptism of Sasa Markovic.  After our acquaintance with him for the past seventeen months, we were happy to see him baptized.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February in a Flash!

During the month of February, we were excited to have two new projects approved.  The first is working with a school system in Pluzine, which is located in a deep canyon by a beautiful lake.  LDS Charities will provide computers to help their students and teachers.

The second approved project will be providing closets for bedrooms and a book shelf for the library of a safe house for women and children in Niksic.

We were excited to have our son, Jeff, who was on a business trip, spend a few days with us in Podgorica.  While he was here, we were able to show him some of this beautiful country of Montenegro - the coast areas and Moraca canyon, including the Moraca Monastery.  He was a little nervous on the roads, but we had a wonderful time.

We've always felt quite short here compared to all the tall Montenegrin people.  This huge bench is found at the entrance to old town in Kotor, one of the places we visited with Jeff.

President and Sister Lotric from the ANM Presidency visited Podgorica from February 19 to 21.  We enjoyed having them take part in our Sacrament services.  It was wonderful to have twenty-three in attendance at our meetings.  After meetings and visiting, we enjoyed lunch at our apartment with the Lotrics, Nenad and the elders.

During the month of February, we have been working to close some of our older projects.  It's always a "sacrifice" to drive to the coast to work on projects.  LDS Charities provided an exam chair for this health care center in Tivat.

On our return trip from the coast to Podgorica, we drove through this "rock desert".  It was interesting to see the different formations and shapes of the rocks.  Not much to see but rocks!

"February" showers, and we do mean showers, bring lots of water into the Moraca River.  Normally there is a nice rocky beach about ten feet below this kayak club.  We have watched the water levels in the river rise and fall during the month according to the storms that pass through.

The showers have brough pretty purple and yellow pansies throughout the city of Podgorica.  Spring is definitely thinking about coming one of these days.

The month of February has flown by, and our time in Montenegro is winding down.  With two short months left, we have many things to accomplish, including a project to submit, several to finish and a wheelchair training to prepare for.  Needless to say, we won't be looking for things to do.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

The day after Christmas brought Tricia and Erik from Utah to Podgorica.  What a joy it was for us to see them walk through the door at the airport.  We had so much fun being with them and visiting fun sites around the area.

Our visit to Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia where we celebrated New Year's Eve with Erik and Tricia.


                It was interesting to see all the Christmas decoration in Old Town Dubrovnik.

We took a boat tour around an island off the coast of Dubrovnik.  We had quite a narration of the rocky island by the captain, a very interesting fellow.  He called this "the pirate's cave".


At the end of our day, we were able to catch this beautiful scene of the sun setting in the clouds over the Adriatic Sea.

On our tour with Tricia and Erik, we visited Mostar and the fun shops in Old Town.  Bosnia has a heritage of copper and silver works which were displayed in this little shop along the cobblestone walk.

The end of our tour was Sarajevo, Bosnia.  This was a fun and delicious place to eat (shown to us by Elder and Sister Dever).

These "plank" dinners included potatoes, salad, steak, chicken shish kabobs, and bread.  What a yummy meal!

On January 12, Podgorica Branch welcomed an American family.  They make a wonderful addition to our Branch.

So far, the winter in Podgorica has been pretty mild, although we have had a few cold days.  One morning on our early walk, we noticed this cold temperature.  This is the coldest temp we've seen in Podgorica in fifteen months.

Yeah!  We finally succeeded in obtaining our visa extentions.  Sister Taylor is legal until May 3, 2016; Elder Taylor can stay for another year.

The Podgoric airport, our "home away from home".  We recently made five trips in five days.  We certainly know our way - even in the dark.

"Our" Nenad returning from his two week mini mission in Karlovoc, Croatia.  He had a wonderful time, and it was a great learning and growing experience for him.  We missed him but were so glad that he had this great opportunity.

The month of January has been slow for us with Welfare Service work.  With the holidays and school being out for the month, many people use this month for vacations.  It's been really hard for us to make contacts.  We have been working in the office closing projects and planning for 2016.