Sunday, May 31, 2015

May in Montenegro

We have finally put our jackets away, so we hope they will not have to come out again until December. So far spring in Montenegro has kept us guessing what the day will bring.  Some days are very hot, some have been pouring rain, some are cool and windy and some are warm and windy.  Some days the wind almost blows us over, especially the "canyon wind" created by our apartment building and surrounding buildings.  At least it's beautiful and green with many trees still in blossom.

The first week of May, we were able to meet with a wonderful group called "Give Us A Chance" that we have been working with.  These young adults with special needs, some of their parents and other volunteers meet three times a week for activities and educational training.  We enjoy meeting with them and laughing and "talking" (through a translator).  They found out that we like chocolate, so they treated us to a yummy chocolate cake.


During the month, we had a "Branch Activity".  We played games and, of course, ate goodies.  We had five investigators, one member, and six missionaries in attendance.

We were able to take a trip to Bar on the Adriatic coast and help UNHCR distribute some hygiene kits to Roma refugee children.  It was such a beautiful sunny day, we had to walk down to the sea and stick our fingers in the water.  On our way back to Podgorica, we saw this big sailboat - wish it had it's sails out.

On May 13 - 15 we were able to attend Senior Couple's Conference in Belgrade, Serbia.  It was fun to get acquainted with couples from our mission and spend time with President and Sister Grant (and their daughter visiting from Utah).  We had some wonderfully spiritual meetings, some good laughs, some interesting food, and a bus and walking tour of Belgrade.  This picture was taken at the old fortress by the Danube River where the country was dedicated to missionary work in 2003 by Elder Holland.  It was a very impressive place.  A member (the fellow kneeling on the left) was at the dedication and told us what a spiritual experience it was.

Who is that old gray-haired couple on the bus?  It was fun to take this double deaker bus tour and be sitting out in the fresh air.  Belgrade is an interesting city with many, many beautiful old buildings.    The picture on the right is the Moscow Hotel.  It is quite an impressive building.  It's very old, but very well
maintained.  We hear that  many famous people have stayed
here through the years.


 This beautiful old home was in the prestigious area of Belgrade.

This is the Presidential Palace.  Notice the important dignitaries coming down the red carpet.  The guards were very impressive to watch - they didn't even bat an eyelid.  Thankfully, they are changed every half hour.  It was fun to see the ceremony that went with the change.  We just wanted to get a picture of the guards, but were invited by an official to stand on the steps so that he could take our picture.

The war in Belgrade has been over for many years, but there are still reminders.  They have kept these two buildings as "reminders" of what NATO did to their country.

This is a cafe on a fun street that we found - notice all the flowers everywhere.  The walkway between the shops and cafes was made from river rocks and was very hard to walk on, but we really enjoyed the sights and the atmosphere.

Some of the cafes had small groups of musicians walking around and playing their instruments.  We were still full from lunch at KFC (yum for both of us after Serbian food for two days), or we would have eaten at one of these beautiful cafes.

After couple's conference, we stayed Friday night at the hotel and attended our zone conference on Saturday at the church in Belgrade.  It's great to attend this conference and feel the energy of the young Elders and Sisters as they talk about their missionary work.  We six missionaries returned to Podgorica late Saturday with President and Sister Grant and their daughter.  The AP's drove to Podgorica to transport a baptismal font to our chapel.  We all had dinner later that night with our wonderful translator couple, Rada and Srdjan.

On Sunday morning, May 17, we had Branch Conference.  We had seventeen in attendance - a record for the Podgorica Branch.  Not everyone stayed for Sunday School, lunch or pictures.

On Monday afternoon, May 18, we met Elder and Sister Cullimore and Elder and Sister Canova at the airport.  They are the Church wheelchair specialists from Salt Lake.  The Cullimores have been over this program for nine years and now passing some of the countries they work with, including Montenegro and Albania over to the Canovas.  After a get acquainted dinner on Monday evening, we spent Tuesday in planning and program reviews before meeting with the Red Cross who is our partner in Montenegro for the wheelchair distribution.  Wednesday we did wheelchair recipient visits with Canovas and had some very touching experiences.  Wednesday evening Elder and Sister Orton (from Preston) serving in Albania came to take the couples to Albania for meetings.

May 21 was Independence Day on Montenegro.  Podgorica celebrated by putting these flags up along the main street.  That was the extent of their celebration  Most people were just happy to have two days off.