At the time of typing up this post we are already back from our big trip and are recovering from the jetlag. There is also a lot to do to get settled back into our normal daily lives. It’s fun to take a bit of time to look back at things that were happening just 3 weeks ago on the other side of the world. Enjoy some of our favorite memories below!
Sunday, June 30th– Our last full day in Sarajevo was a very meaningful one for all of us. The church we were staying at had a Sunday service just upstairs from where we were staying so we had a very short commute to the service. We listened to the morning message and then stayed afterward to have lunch with the pastor and his wife. We then did something I hadn’t yet done in Sarajevo and that was to go to the top of the Avaz Twist Tower just down the street from where we were staying. It was really cool seeing all over Sarajevo from several hundred feet in the sky. Right after this the women walked downtown. I went back to the church to rest and to prepare my notes for later that evening. Earlier in June I was asked to preach at another church in Sarajevo and the time had finally come to deliver the message. We drove down to the church and I preached from 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 and then shared a gospel message. Something I really desire to do once we’ve finished this series on our trip is to blog more on spiritual matters. God willing, that will happen soon! I felt the service went well. We had some coffee afterwards with some more friends and then returned back to our place.
· Song of the day:Made Alive by Citizens – This song has special meaning to our family and is the most played song in our house.
· Morale:9 – The weather was a bit hot and there was an issue with parking that evening but overall everything went very well.
Monday, July 1st– Knowing that we’d be departing for our next destination, we started the morning by walking down to a local grocery store. We returned back to our place and ate lunch before departing toward Mostar. Our first stop on the way was at an antique shop where Candice found a nice tea set. We then continued on to Boracko Lake near Konjic where we visited the Emek Beraka camp. Our church has been involved with this camp for about 15 years and this was my 4thtime visiting it. We spent about 3 hours here visiting the camp where some friends of ours were preparing for the upcoming camp season. We also did a bit of swimming in the lake. Soon though it was time to leave. We drove to a cave restaurant near Konjic where we had a nice dinner and then finally arrived in Mostar where we stayed at a Bible School.
· Song of the day:Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
· Weather:Sunny with some clouds
· Morale:10 – Prior to this trip we were planning on spending much more time at the camp. But God had other plans for us and I think we spent our time a bit more wisely by seeing many friends in the various cities throughout Bosnia. I don’t think we’d have been able to have such good visits if we were confined to the camp for those visits.
Tuesday, July 2nd– We had one full day in Mostar and it was a hot one. In fact this would end up being the hottest day during our entire trip as temperatures peaked around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We met with the Director of the Bible School and his wife who I had met the year before and had a wonderful visit and time of prayer with them. We then met up with the Kresonjas and ate at a restaurant at Blagaj. The place was right on the water so it was a great way to cool down a bit and have a nice visit with good company. The kids enjoyed feeding the fish in the water just a few inches away from our table. We then returned back to our place. What I hadn’t mentioned up until this point is that our good friends Slavko and Sanja had also driven down from Sarajevo and so we had one more evening in downtown Mostar to visit with them. This was our last full day in Bosnia and as I think back on it I am just amazed at the friendships that have developed over the past 4 years. We are acquainted quite well with perhaps 30 or so Bosnians and they made us feel so welcome. I’m looking forward to developing this relationship with our friends as our church continues in its partnership with the church in Bosnia.
· Song of the day:Times Like These by the Foo Fighters
· Weather:Sunny and very hot
· Morale:9 – The hot weather wasn’t really the issue. It was that lingering understanding that we were about to depart from our friends, many who we may not see for another year or two. Other than this our day was very good.
Wednesday, July 3rd– We weren’t in a great rush to depart this day but we still did well to leave fairly early. It was a 2.5 hour drive to our next destination in Podstrana, Croatia. I intentionally took a slightly longer scenic route to allow for some additional time to drive along the Dalmatian coastline south of Split. Of course the view did not disappoint. We stopped just before our rental home at a pizza place right on the beach. It was an amazing setting and we were anxious to get checked into our place and back down to a beach to swim in the Adriatic Sea. After a nice evening swimming Candice and I went to a local grocery store to buy ingredients for a nice spaghetti meal. We sat at the outdoor table that evening and watched the sun set over the ocean. As I now think back on this day I recall it just being an all around wonderful and relaxing day.
· Song of the day:Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine
· Weather:Sunny and hot
Thursday, July 4th– This was the 3rd year in a row that I had been in the Balkans during Independence Day. We travelled into the town of Split and toured the Riva by the water and then Diocletian’s palace. The narrow streets were very fun to explore. We did a little bit of shopping here. Candice and Brooklyn bought some dresses. Brinley and Breza pooled their money to buy a robot Dalmatian puppy that plays a funny song while it walks and wags it’s tail. I spent my money on something much cheaper. I had been looking for some good figs and finally found some. Yum! We returned to our place that evening while Candice’s mom Dee helped prepare a very nice Independence Day meal of grilled chicken, watermelon, mashed potatoes, and corn. We again ate outside and I played some good ole American music to celebrate the night. We had no fireworks with us but later that evening we actually heard some fireworks being shot off. Apparently we weren’t the only Americans in town!
· Song of the day:Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
· Weather:Sunny and hot
Friday, July 5th– This was a very full day. We woke up early in order to get out of Podstrana by 6AM. Then we drove 4 hours to Zagreb. A highlight of the day was that we got to meet up for a brief period of time with our friend Ivan. He took us to downtown Zagreb and bought us all breakfast and gave us a quick tour of the place. Soon though we had to go our separate ways. For us that would be the Zagreb airport where we would pick up our Munich rental van and return our Zagreb rental van. You may need to return to week two’s blog to read more on why this had to happen. We made it out on schedule and then travelled across the border into Slovenia and stopped next in Ljubljana. We only spent about 1.5 hours here but I’m glad we got to see it if even for a brief period of time. After Ljubljana we drove into Italy and to our next house in Venice. After getting settled in we had pizza at a nice restaurant across the street.
· Song of the day:Bill by Exuma – You may have to Youtube this one but it’s a great travelling song.
· Weather:Sunny until we went through a long tunnel and then it was very cloudy and foggy, then we went through another tunnel and it was mostly sunny again!
· Morale:8 – An 8 hour driving day doesn’t help morale much. We were also in a bit of a hurry to get to our Venice rental prior to 7 so we didn’t have to pay a late check in fee.
Saturday, July 6th– Today was our last day with Candice’s parents before we left them and travelled on to Switzerland. We drove down to Venice and walked through the streets while seeing all the top sights. My favorite part of the day was probably sitting in an alleyway restaurant eating pizza (yes again) and being serenaded by an older Italian man with an accordion. He played some traditional Italian songs while we ate and it was just a fun atmosphere. By the time we had walked to the far end of the island we were hot and tired. The nice remedy for this was to pay to have a water taxi drive us back up the grand canal back to the parking garage. We had the boat to ourselves and it was just a really nice and memorable ride.
· Song of the day:Hymn for the Weekend by Coldplay
· Weather:Sunny and Hot
· Morale:9 – Walking through Venice on such a hot day was a bit tough and the kids were getting a bit road weary. After some attitude adjustments things went much smoother.