Sunday, August 30, 2015

Long hot days of August in Montenegro

August has been a very, very long and very, very hot month with not much rain!  Many people have the month off and travel to the coast or the mountains to escape the heat.  It's been hard to make contact with any of our project people, so the month has seemed to crawl by.  We are definately looking forward to September.

The Moraca River, which runs from north to south through the city of Podgorica has dropped significantly through the dry summer months.  The River is a pretty popular spot during the summer.  To try to cool off, people swim and play in the water.  Every evening, the kayaking club members paddle up and down the river.

One of two walking bridges that we use to cross the Moraca River almost daily.  Alan calls this the "earthquake" bridge because it bounces when anyone walks across it.  We enjoy spending time on the bridge watching the kayakers during the evenings when it's a little cooler.  We also catch pretty sunsets.

This pretty fountain is found in center and runs all year long.  During the evening hours in the summer, center fills up with families out for fresh air and together time. Children have fun driving around little battery operated cars that are available to rent.

Podgorica doesn't have McDonalds, Burger King or KFC, but we do have Hard Rock Cafe - the only one in our mission.  The elders love to eat burgers here.  Elder and Sister Taylor were not too impressed.

We would much rather sit in front of Hard Rock Cafe and watch the beautiful fountain.  It's especially nice on a hot evening when the wind is blowing the spray your way.

Because the month has been so slow and hot, we decided to take our first P-Day trip and get away from the heat.  We traveled to Durmitor National Park, which is north of Podgorica about in the center of Montenegro.  The mountains were spectacular!

Black Lake, a popular tourist spot, is located in the park.  Hiking, boating, swimming and rock climbing are all part of the drawing features of the park.  A very nice shady, paved walkway through the pine forest leads from the parking to the Lake.

During the month of August, we had a special "District" conference here in Podgorica with President and Sister Grant.  We were able to visit the ruins where Elder (now President) Nielsen dedicated the land of Montenegro to missionary work.  President Grant reviewed parts of the dedicatory prayer as we stood in that sacred place.  The rest of the day was filled with instruction and good food.  It was a wonderful, memorable and spiritual day.

During the last long week of August, we were able to take another P-Day trip to Lovcen National Park, which is northwest of Podgorica.  The Park mainly consists of a tomb of a famous poet which is on top of a very high mountain.  A parking lot is just above the trees, then 460 steps - partly though a tunnel - gets you to the top.

These statues made from black granite guard the entrance to the tomb.  The square in front is actually a well with water - unbelievable on this high mountain.

It was a long, slow climb for these old folks, but it was worth it to see the views from the top.  We felt like we were on top of the world.  In the distance behind us is Kotor Bay.  The trip down the 460 steps was a lot easier than going up.

After visiting the tomb, we drove on through the park and down the mountain to the coast.  What a road!!!  It is described as maybe the most dramatic road in Europe.  It was a very narrow road with at least twenty-four sharp haripin turns from the top to the bottom.  We were so very glad to finally get to the bottom and drive on a two-lane road with a line down the middle

The most exciting event in the month of August in the Podgorica Branch was preparing for a baptism.  It was great to be able to use the portable font instead of finding a place in the Moraca River.  The only water is cold, so we helped Elder Larsen, Elder Prososki, Elder Sprague, and Elder Harris assemble and fill the font four days before the actual baptism.  The method of filling the font consisted of attaching three small hoses with duct tape and clamps to three water taps, one in the kitchen and one from each of two bathrooms.

Our awesome soon-to-be newest member, Nenad, with Elder Sprague and Elder Prososki just before his baptism.

Now our new member, Nenad, with a happy Elder and Sister Taylor!  We are so thankful that we have been privileged to know this special young man.  Nenad is only eighteen years old, but is so smart and mature for his age.  We love him already.  He will be such an asset to the church in Montenegro.

We can tell that the summer is almost over and it's time to go back to school.  Here in Montenegro, all children have to buy their own school books.  Every day the walking street is full of  people who are trying to sell their children's old books so they can buy new books for the year.

Yeah, we're almost through with August!!!