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!