The end of January we lost Elder Lowis and received Elder Bennett from Kaysville, Utah. It's amazing that from the six missionaries in Podgorica at this time, two are from Idaho and three are from Utah.
The last part of January, we made a trip to Ulcinj, which is down on the Adriatic coast, to meet with the director of a day care center for disabled children.
The city of Ulcinj is right on the coast and is quite the tourist town. It's beautiful, with many hotels, apartments, shops and cafes. The city is built on the hillside and goes right to the water's edge.
It was a beautiful day with no wind - clear blue sky and the Adriatic sea. In the background, is the old city of Ulcinj with a seawall and fortress.
On the way home from Ulcinj, we stopped to see this old olive tree. It is said to be over 2000 years old. They measure the age by the holes in the trunk. This is all one tree, even though it looks like many.
The center that we visited in Ulcinj was in need of medical equipment for a mini clinic. We decided that it was a very worthwhile project, so we wrote it up and submitted it to the Area Welfare Comittee in Frankfurt, Germany. We received word on January 29 that it had been approved - our very first project!!
The first week of February, we went with the Red Cross to do wheelchair recepient evaluations for the on-going wheelchair project here in Montenegro. We were able to visit a very special couple. Tusic has been unable to walk for twenty-three years because of a brain injury. The company that he worked for dismissed him with no compensation or benefits. The couple have no family and have been living on 65 euros a month. They were so very grateful for this wheelchair. For twenty years, Tusic's wife has carried him wherever they have gone. What an experience for us!
We visited the SOS Women's Shelter in Niksic to close a project that the Westwoods had started. LDS Charities supplied materials to finish the second floor, so the first floor could be used as a training center for the women to learn sewing skills. With these skills, they hoped to be able to obtain employment. This is one of only three shelters in Montenegro, and it's the largest.
After visiting Niksic, we decided that we're glad we live in Podgorica. They had about six inches of snow and was it ever cold! We decided to take this picture of snow so that our family could remember what it looks like.
During the month, we visited Camp Konic with Marta from the Red Cross. With the help of the Red Cross, some of the women from the camp have organized a Women's Center, where they meet three days a week. The women hold classes, discussions, sew and have various other activites. About twenty women met us at the center and were excited to show us many of the items they had sewn - mostly by hand. Their desire is to have sewing machines to be able to make more items for their families and possibly to sell. We felt that this would be very beneficial, so this became our next project. We learned on February 17, that this was approved. LDS Charities will furnish three sewing machines, some chairs, and some sewing supplies.
Our next approved project will be buying the supplies and assembling hygiene kits for the refugee children thoughout Montenegro (ages 5 - 9). After they are assembled by LDS Charities, the Elders and Branch friends, they will be distributed by UNHCR - a United Nations group.
On February 12, we drove down to the city of Risan which is in a gulf off the Adriatic Sea. It is reached by traveling an entirely different road than the trip to Ulcinj. The road zigged and zagged through the mountains to the coast and then dropped practically straight down (or so it seemed) to the coast. Wow, what a drive, and what a view! The small space between the steep mountains and the water contains a narrow, twisty road and many small villages. If you look closely, you can see the village at the foot of the mountains. In Risan, we visited an Elderly care center where we did wheelchair recepient evaluations with the Red Cross. We then met with the director and several of his staff to discuss their needs.
A picture of the Wall of Kotor which you can see going up the mountain. The steep trail ends at a fortress.
This is the city of Kotor with the palm trees and steep mountains in the distance.
Zone Conference was held in Belgrade, Serbia, on Friday, the 13th. Of course the Elders kept rubbing the fact in that we were all flying on "Bad Luck Friday"! We made the flight both ways, had a tremendously uplifting conference and arrived home early, which we loved. (The mission office arranged a two hour earlier flight back to Podgorica.)