Friday, 27 February 2009

Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3
I had a very interesting time with 2 of the ladies from the church on Wednesday. This was my first time doing some studying with them. They are both at different levels (yes, I know we all are!). One is wanting to start reading the bible but we’re not sure if she’s given her life to Christ yet. The other lady has been a “Christian” (read on and you’ll understand the inverted comma’s) since she was young. I am very concerned about her – it seems she has a pick and mix faith and has missed/chosen not to believe a very fundamental part of the Christian faith. At least we are having some insight into what her faith is and it gives me something to pray about. I was encouraged because it was obvious we had very different views. I had been praying she wouldn’t instantly dismiss any truth – she hasn’t. I’m praying that she’ll be able to accept the truth.
Oh yes. I had my Serbian test yesterday. It was a test on the first 6 lessons in the book. I spent hours trying to revise. It has highlighted areas I need to work on. It was what I expected – cases (we don’t have an equivalent in English – noun endings change depending upon the action, I think). When using one case and making the adjectives and nouns agree I can just about manage. But give me a paragraph with words missing I need to fill in with the correct case I haven’t a clue, so I guessed! It’s difficult as there are some overlaps in the English explanation. It’s difficult when your teacher has a slightly limited command of English. She does speak good English but it would be good to have a teacher that can explain the grammar in a better way. UK schools really need to teach English grammar (or do they now? They only did the very basics, as in noun-adjective-verb. The rest I learnt whilst learning languages. I was encouraged as Tina (teacher) wasn’t too worried as I can get bye in Nis with the way I speak. I’ve just paid for another month but the lessons have reduced to 60 minutes. It means I won’t be able to finish a lesson in the book each session but it will also mean I won’t have as much to learn so I should hopefully enjoy the lessons instead of it becoming a chore.
In case I don’t get a chance to write again – Happy St David’s Day for Sunday. I’m missing my griddle. I really want to make some Welsh Cakes but cannot figure out how to cook them. Oh, I’ve had an idea which I may try – not going to lose anything. It’ll be good if it works so I can take something to church. That’s a challenge for me to find the ingredients! I’m not sure I’m going to reach the shopping lesson on my course. It should be ok as I'm looking after Milos and Iva tomorrow and they can help me make them.

Goodnight Sweetheart, it's time to go. Bye Sootz
Monday 23rd February 2009
The past few days have been a real struggle. Strange how things work out. For the past 2 weeks I was struggling with being here. I had a good couple of days but then received a disturbing text message which threw me off balance. It was to do with my lovely cat and the lovely family that were looking after him. Cut a long story short, he’s not well. I had been taking to the vets the last few months before I came out here and he’d been given a clean bill of health. The blood tests hadn’t shown any abnormalities. I had been praying his skin condition would settle down but it hadn’t. He had to have a steroid injection every month. By about 3 weeks the effects of the injection started to wear off and he was scratching and uncomfortable. After a night of thinking and praying I felt it was better to let him go – be put to sleep. I feel really bad about not being there but cannot bear to think he’s uncomfortable. Everything that could be done had been and he was with a really caring family who love animals dearly. Hopefully Jo you’ll read this and will be able to have some peace from this. I feel awful leaving him with you but I didn’t know it would be such a difficult time for you. Thank you for the offer of help and giving him a fighting chance.
Losing Sootz has put a new fire in my spirit to ensure my time out hear bears fruit – for others and myself. I don’t want to waste a moment. I’m trying hard not to run ahead of God and to be lead by Him. I have a tendency to always be busy but I sense I’m being taught to rest in Him and be guided by Him more. It is a privilege to be able to spend time daily with Him.

The church here had a great few days with Grantley and Floss Watkins visiting and serving the church. My prayer is that the church continues with the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit and they don’t think it only happens when we have visitors. I pray that the growth and experiences will be sustained.
What has the next week in store? Team meeting followed by Serbian lesson followed by planning Children’s work tomorrow. Discipleship and study with two ladies followed by student evening on Wednesday. Coffee Break followed by Serbian lesson on Thursday. Church cleaning, bible study on Friday. I know it doesn’t look like much at the moment but I’ve worked out to only plan a day ahead as things change quickly here. I’m hoping to meet up with at least 2 people from the church and a student.
I had another bus experience yesterday on the way to church. A lady asked me something and I’m getting better at saying I’m English. I was expecting the usual response. This time she said in good English “I speak good English”. She wanted to know if I was waiting for her bus and how long I had been. She then gave me her life history. As we were getting on our bus she said she was going to a church but not the usual one in Pantalej (same part of the city as the Good News is in). I asked if it was a Protestant one. She said it was not quite. I was very curious. It sounds like she could have been going to the Baptist church. She took the address of the Good News. We exchange mobile numbers and as we parted she said that she needs to get credit on her mobile but would like to stay in touch. That was fine with me. I wasn’t expecting to hear from her for a few days but had a call today just to say Hi. She’ll contact me again as she’d like me go to go round for coffee and a chat. Watch this space. It sounds like Good News church has had some contact with her. I pray there will be fruit from the work they’ve already done with her.

Hot Water Spa Time
 Friday 13th February 2009
Wow, I’ve just been swimming at the local spa. It was great. So cheap, so warm. I didn’t bring a swimming costume with me as the only swimming pool I had heard about is an outside one and thought that it may be cold for most of the time I’m out here. Don’t panic – I did have a swimming costume on. Katarina has given me one of her older ones to use. That was such a relief it fitted. It was a great time relaxing and getting to know Katarina and Natasha better. It was an international event. Katarina is German, Natasha is Serbian. So between us we were each speaking a different language to our native one. No, I haven’t grasped the language completely but I’m speaking a mixture of Serbian and English in the same sentence. It’s strange I don’t realize I’m doing it until someone mentions it. I don’t do that with everyone as I’m sure I’d get stranger looks!