North Adriatic countryside

Northern Slovenia

23 month mission to the Adriatic North Mission as member and leader support missionaries.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Catching up on the past 11 months

Last fall our Senior Mission Conference was held in Bohinj, Slovenia. We've been back to this part of Slovenia several times!

ANM Senior Conference October 2016 in Bohinj, Slovenia

Leaving Sarajevo, Bosnia we were assigned to Varaždin, Croatia, but only got to stay for 3 months before being assigned to Rijeka, Croatia. Here are a few pictures of events in the Varaždin Branch and some of the surrounding sites.

One of our assignments has been to promote Family History throughout the mission. We have continued to visit different branches and help members register with FamilySearch, enter as much family ancestor information as they can find, and print ordinance cards to take with them on their trips to the temple. We also held "cemetery events" using BillionGraves (see BillionGraves is associated with FamilySearch. We visited the famous Varaždin Cemetery and took many photographs of the gravestones to later be transcribed and indexed.

Stanko Čafuk at Varaždin Family History event

Photographing gravestones for BillionGraves

Just a short walk from our apartment in Varaždin is the Drava River. The land around Varaždin is quite flat and makes walking the city and surrounding countryside very easy.

Swans on the Drava River
Trakošćan Castle, just a short road trip away

Rijeka, Croatia is a port city. The popular beaches and resort areas are north and west on the Istria Peninsula and to the south along the coast and on the islands in the Adriatic Sea. Never-the-less, during the summer teenagers and families flock to the water here.

No one is in the water in January.
Rijeka is NOT flat!  Trsatske stebe, 569 steps from Trsat Castle to Rijeka center.

We celebrated Christmas with our Rijeka District missionaries, Sister Higley, Sister Hall, Elder Evans, and Elder Geertsen.

Sister Higley, Sister Hall, Sister Schlehuber, Elder Evans, and Elder Geertsen
In late February we had a great humanitarian project. We assembled hygiene kits that we delivered to a homeless shelter in Rijeka called Roses of St. Francis.

We assembled over 50 hygiene kits.

Two of our newest members in the Rijeka Branch were able to attend the temple in Bern in early July. In preparation for that they gathered information about their ancestors and entered it in FamilySearch.

Family History in the Rijeka Branch

ANM Senior Conference April 2017 in Zlatibor, Serbia
We occasionally get members who are on vacation who find the Rijeka Branch and attend Sacrament Meeting. A couple of Sundays ago we had 3 families (12 members) traveling together from Germany. They were able to come back for a second Sunday and arranged ahead of time to bring their own provisions to break their fast and shared with the branch that afternoon. Though most of the German visitors spoke excellent English, several took the opportunity to share their testimonies in German. Sister Dunn speaks fluent English and German and does quite well with Croatian. She was very busy translating from German to Croatian as well as from Croatian and German to English.

We had a very enjoyable time with visitors from Germany.

Last week we took a couple of days off with Elder and Sister Randall (the office couple for the ANM) to go to the Julian Alps in the Northwest corner of Slovenia. We drove a narrow road (the highest in Slovenia) with a lot of switch backs to park at a very popular staging area for those who wanted to climb the rest of the way. We just walked out to the tip of what is called the Italian Peninsula.  The second picture is one that I took from the end of the path you can see in the first picture.

With Sister Gayle Randall and Elder Scott Randall
Here is a picture I took at the end of the path you can see in the next picture.

Looking north into Italy
Image taken from a drone, posted by Denis Philippov
Here's the web link where the 360 degree view can be found. Just click and drag on the Google Maps image to look around.  Mangartsko sedlo

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our last weeks in Sarajevo

The Sarajevo Branch Relief Society completed their humanitarian project to make about 4 dozen pairs of children's pants and brought them to the Red Cross in Sarajevo. Here are the new humanitarian missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elderr Dennis Newton and Sister Dionne Newton along with Davor Ivančević and Sister Pam Schlehuber.

Elder & Sister Newton had just arrived in the Adriatic North Mission on Tuesday, 23 Aug, drove to Sarajevo the next day and Wednesday morning helped us deliver the children's pants.  They're hitting the ground running!

Two Sundays ago we enjoyed the Sarajevo Branch Conference with the members from the Tuzla Home Group (under the Sarajevo Branch) along with President & Sister Grant and his 1st Counselor President Alvin Lotrič, Sister Lotrič and their son.  In all we had 30 in attendance that day!  After the branch conference, we enjoyed some light refreshments.  Branch President John Pruess took the following pictures.

For every Sunday that the primary children all read a scripture EVERY DAY during the week, they each got to add a loop in a "scripture chain" they were trying to make as long as they could (already over 7 meters!)  We expect them to add new links every Sunday even after their current primary teacher has moved to Varaždin, Croatia.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Elder Ewell at the piano

During our latest zone conference held at the mission home just last week we had the privilege of experiencing some of the amazing talent of the missionaries in the Bosnia zone.  When asked, Elder Ewell was so quick to just sit down and start playing "something" off the top of his head that he was half way through before I could begin recording.

Adriatic North Mission needs seniors!!!

We are loving our service in the Adriatic North Mission! This article by Elder Nelson says it all! And the Adriatic North Mission really needs Seniors now... to help develop leadership, to assist in the office, to do all of the many things Seniors do in a mission... including making those "magnificent senior moments!"

Click on this link to read Elder Nelson's talk about senior missions.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Harvest Will Come!

Almost three months ago in early April when the weather began to show real signs of spring, the local neighborhood came to life as well in flurry of clearing land, digging and hoeing.  Here’s a picture of them preparing their land. And then a couple of pictures of what their crops look like today.

Neighbors planting

Potatoes are the largest crop in this field

Onions, beans, etc

Old Scars, New Sights and Sounds

Around our apartment are reminders of the fighting that took place a couple of decades ago. One such reminder is called the “Sarajevo Rose”. When a mortar hits concrete or asphalt it leaves a pattern that looks like this picture. Locals would paint in the indentations with red paint or resin to remember those lost during the siege. Here’s a concrete scar on the road by our house. And a house on just the other side of the street still bears the scars of small caliber rifle fire.

Sarajevo Rose

Small caliber rifle fire damage to local house

The only explosions that we hear now are the firing of the Ramadan cannon, or midfa al iftar, that announces the breaking of the fast at sunset each day. In our neighborhood each evening, rather than a cannon, we get to see (and hear!) one kind or another of a single fireworks display. We took video of one the other evening.

Lots of Beautiful Scenery

On one of our trips to Slovenia we had a few extra hours to venture into the mountains. Even though it was very cloudy with some rain, we were able to make it part way up one of the passes and took this beautiful picture.

In the Julian Alps

Just a couple of weeks ago on our way to Podgorica, Montenegro, the last few kilometers of “road” in Bosnia reminded us of the kind of roads we had on our last mission.  Once in Montenegro the road was again well paved and we had a pleasant drive along a beautiful canyon and lake. 

Road M18 in Bosnia near Montenegro border

Piva Canyon

Piva Lake