Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ucini Nekoga Radosnium (Make Someone Happy)

The last Monday in November, we were invited to attend the one hundred fortieth anniversary of the Red iCross in Montenegro.  It was a very gala event held in the historic Grand Hotel in Cetenje, the first capital of Montenegro.  Many dignitaries from the government and the Red Cross across Europe were invited to attend - along with the humble Elder and Sister Taylor.  We were able to understand the entire program because of the translation service provided.

The first Saturday of December every year, the International Women's Club hosts an international Bazaar at the Delta City Mall.  These flags represent the many embassies in Montenegro who participated in this event.

Every embassy has a display of different items - mainly food - from their countries which can be purchased.  If you are rich enough, American foods are especially a favorite.  We were able to visit early and avoid the "huge" crowds.  It is estimated that twenty thousand people visit these displays during the one day event.

The secound week of December brought transfers to the Adriatic North Mission once again.  We lost two of our special elders - one to serve as an A.P. -  and gained two other special elders.

Montenegro is "kind of" getting ready for Christmas.  This billboard sign, which is all around Podgorica,  may bring back memories from years gone by.  Translated it says "Make Someone Happy!"

December has been a busy time of trying to extend our Montenegrin visas.  Hopefully after several visits to the MUP, help from wonderful kids at home and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, we are almost there.

The weather has been so sunny, warm and dry here - which is unusual for December - that we had to take advantage of a beautiful day.  We packed a lunch and walked up Gorica Hill to spend the afternoon.  It was great!

On December 14th, we left early in the morning to drive to Uzice, Serbia to meet Elder and Sister McAlpin, who are welfare service missionaries serving in Novi Sad, Serbia.  They had a need for items to include in hygiene kits for the refugee children.  We had a surplus of the coloring books from past projects and were glad to see that they could be put to good use in these kits.  After a five hour drive (one way) through mountains, fog, frosty canyons, and unfamiliar territory, we made it to our destination.  We met the McAlpins, transferred the books, and started back to Podgorica.  The trip was a total of 500 km. and took about twelve hours.  What an experience!

It is beginning to look like Christmas in some parts of Podgorica.  This lighted tree and fountain are at the Capital Plaza where Hard Rock Cafe is located.

Another decorated tree is located in the area of the University of Montenegro.

One of our December projects was the new Learning Center/Toy Library here in Podgorica.  We were not able to attend the opening of the Center, but were taken on a tour a few days before.  LDS Charities was able to furnish the heating/air conditioning units and these sturdy tables and chairs.  We were impressed with the bright colors throughout the Center.  This fun light is located in a special "story" nook.

During the month, we were invited to dinner by our friends Pedja and Ana with their little boy, Branko.  We had fun visiting and getting to know them better.  It was also fun see this beautifully restored restaurant.

We had a fun two-day zone conference in Zagreb on December 21 and 22.  During some free time, we were able to tour the Christmas Market and see the decorations.

After meetings, we were able to go caroling (in Croatian), then given free time to view the Christmas Market after dark.

The Christmas Market was in Zagreb city center.  It was fun to see all the lights and decorations and hear the Christmas music being played.  It couldn't help but give us the Christmas Spirt.

On December 24 we were invited to the Red Cross warehouse to be part of a press conference promoting the wheelchair project.  It was very intimidating for us to be standing with the Red Cross Secretary General in front of cameras from two television stations.  Hopefully we represented the church well.  Prior to this press conference, the Red Cross had numerous articles in local papers talking about LDS Charities and the wheelchair program.

Christmas dinner at the Taylor's apartment with our awesome elders and Nenad.  "Santa Clause presented each elder and Nenad with a scarf to help keep them warm throught the cold Podgorica winter.

The highlight of the month of December was having Tricia and Erik travel half way across the world to visit us.  It was so great to see famiar faces come through the doors at the Podgorica airport.  Boy, have we missed our family!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Marks One Year!!

The last week of October found us in Dubrovnik, Croatia at the Adriatic North Missionary Senior's Conference.  It was good to see a few familiar faces and meet all the new comers.  What a beautiful setting for a conference!  We had a wonderful time being spiritually fed by President and Sister Grant and President and Sister Lotric.      

Every morning we were able to enjoy breakfast out on the terrace by the Adriatic Sea with our good friends.  What more could we ask for?                                                                                

 After our conference meetings, we were able to visit Old Town Dubrovnik and enjoy looking at all the fun displays and shops.     

The drive from Dubrovnik back to Podgorica was very enjoyable with the beautiful clear blue sky and the bright colored leaves among all the rocks.

We arrived back in Podgorica just in time to join with the elders, members and guests for a Halloween party at the Branch building.  Everyone had fun playing games, visiting, and of course, eating refreshments.

As hard as it seems to believe, we have been in Podgorica, Montenegro for one year!  We have traveled this street many times.  The tall skinny tree was always a landmark for us as we tried to find our way around Podgorica as new missionaries.

 Bright and early one morning, we were on our way to Pluzine to meet with school officials concerning a potential project.  What a beautiful surprise we had as we rounded a corner.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The town of Pluzine is located high in the mountains near the Bosnian border.  It sits on the hillside by Pivsko Lake.

We were able to travel to Niksic during the month to close a project that LDS Charities has completed with the Paraplegic Association.  It was fun to visit with all of our friends in the Association and see them busy and having a great time working together.  

        One of our special friends in the Association, busy at the loom that was donated by LDS Charities.

During the month of November, we celebrated three birthday within a ten day period - Nenad, Elder Larson, and Elder Harris.  We decided to celebrate with a pizza and birthday cake lunch.

                                                                                We traveled to the southeast part of Montenegro to the town of Plav to visit the new Senior Citizen's Center.  LDS Charities had partnered with the Red Cross to provide furnishings and supplies for the elderly people to enjoy - notice the two elderly people in the back.
                                                                                                                                                                While in Plav, we were treated to lunch by the Red Cross at a rustic Montenegrin restaurant by Lake Plav.  It was a beautiful place with many antiques and unique furnishings.  The kind doctor sitting next to Elder Taylor donates his time at the Senior Center.

The rainy, cold day before Thanksgiving, we received a call the the long-awaited wheelchair shipment had arrived at the Red Cross warehouse.  Our wonderful elders were called into service to help unload the shipping container.  

Elder Taylor had the job of placing the empty pallets into the container.  The wheelchair cartons were stacked on the pallet and then transported by a forklift into the warehouse.

           Job completed - 375 wheelchairs inside of the warehouse and ready to be used to bless lives!


Thanksgiving Day 2015 in Podgorica, Montenegro!  Four special elders and one special Nenad (who never smiles) helped Elder and Sister Taylor enjoy a wonderful day.

As per Taylor tradition on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations went up.  Of course, we had so many that it took us about ten minutes.  Now we're looking forward to a wonderful December in Podgorica as we celbrate the Christmas season.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The busy month of October

The first day of October we were invited to join in a celebration for senior citizens at Dom Stari Elderly Care Center in Risan.  Many of the residents had been invited to take part with singing, poetry, story telling or anything they wanted to share.  It was an interesting experience for the two of us.

October 3 was a special day for the Podgorica Branch.  Dragoljuba Pejovica was baptized by Elder Harris and confirmed the next day by Elder Larsen.  Drago walks one hour to church and one hour home again every Sunday to attend meetings.


                                                                                The second week of October brought transfers, and we were blessed with two new elders from the MTC.  Elder Eddington (left) is from Cleveland, Ohio, and Elder Geertsen (right) is from Logan, Utah.  They have a lot of energy and many talents to share.

What a great bunch of missionaries in the Podgorica District - especially the two oldie goldies on the end!

On October 14 we were able to travel to Belgrade for a special zone conferenced with the Belgrade/Montenegro zone and the Bosnia zone combined.  Our special visitors were Elder and Sister Charles from London, England.  Elder Charles is a member of the Seventy.  We had wonderful, spiritual meetings as we were trained by both Elder and Sister Charles.

We were blessed during the month of October to have two projects approved and hope to have approval on a third project in the coming week.  This spot will soon be home to a small greenhouse for a center for adults with disabilities.  Some residents will learn how to grow vegetables and be able to provide fresh produce for the center.

Another project that we are excited about is helping with a learning center and toy library for young children of low income families.  We were impressed with this NGO "Parents" and their efforts to help families who struggle financially.  LDS Charities will be providing heating and air conditioning plus furniture for work areas for the children and teachers.

We were able to meet with the director of a clinic in Tivat with our special translator, Rada (on the right).  We hope to be able to help this clinic with some badly needed medical equipment.

One beautiful Saturday, we took a walk down by the River Moraca.   We visited one of the remaining parts of "old town" Podgorica.  This little bridge and some walls are about all that's left of the old town.  Podgorica was about destroyed during the bombings of WWII.

We recently had the privlidge of meeting Brother Nielsen, the Church Historian, and Elder Humala, of the Seventy and Sister Humala in Tivat, Montenegro.  We had been asked, along with Elder and Sister Dever, to deliver a mission vehicle for their use in touring Montengro and Bosnia.  We and the Devers then drove on to Sarajevo, Bosnia, to prepare for a meeting and luncheon to be held with investigators, members, missionaries and the General Authorities.

On our trip to Sarajevo, we were finally able to see signs of Autumn in the colored leaves.

While in Sarajevo, we were able to see the site where a tunnel was dug to help people escape during the war of 1998-99.  This is called "the tunnel of life".  The bullet holes in the walls tell quite the story.

The city of Sarajevo as seen from the top of a thirty-seven story building - amazing sight!

Another view of the city as seen from high above.  Many of the high rise buildings are apartments.

The leaves are turning colors in Sarajevo.  We about froze on our visit - it's definately colder than Podgorica.

On our return trip to Podgorica, we traveled from Sarajevo to Mostar.  As you can see, Bosnia also has many rugged mountains.

The famous Mostar Bridge! This bridge is famously know as "the diving bridge".  Men dive from the highest point into the river - of course, you are charged to watch this fete.

We had fun walking through the cobblestone streets of "old town" and looking at all the interesting shops and vendors.

We were so happy to finally arrive back at our apartment after six hours of driving about three hundred km.  We were here for the weekend, then we're off to Dubrovnik, Croatia for senior couple's conference.