Dennis and Dionne Newton

Dennis and Dionne Newton
Dennis & Dionne Newton

Monday, September 12, 2016

Only 17 Months Left!

It's hard to believe that we have been on the mission for over a month now! We've been in Sarajevo almost 3 weeks already. We are still loving it here and have spent more time getting to know the country so that we may be able to better understand the history and culture of the people we will be serving with. While the war was 20 years ago, it was ONLY 20 years ago! When you put it in perspective that is not very long ago. There is still much evidence both in the physical and cultural make up of the country.

The Old Bridge
On Monday, we ventured to Mostar, a smaller city about 2 hours away. Mostar means 'keeper of the old bridge" and it is aptly named. It is the 5th largest city in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) and lies south of Sarajevo in the Herzegovina area of the country.  In the center of the city is Old Town, as is found in most cities in Bosnia. Old Town is an area with cobblestone streets, old buildings and a plethora of shops selling a vast assortment of goods. Like most Old Town areas, it is a tourist heavy area. None the less, it has its charm and we enjoyed strolling through the area.
Within Old Town Mostar there is, you guessed it... an old bridge that spans across the river linking the two sides of Old Town. As all tourist areas must have "entertainment" Mostar is no different. The bridge is the site of the famous bridge divers, or more correctly, bridge jumpers. As the crowds gather, men jump from the 64' high bridge into the river below. Then they walk through the crowds asking for money. We stayed far enough away that we weren't solicited, but it was kind of fun to watch.
Walking the cobblestone streets of Old Town Mostar

 We explored the area a bit, had lunch on a patio and enjoyed the view and watched a few more jumps from the bridge before we headed to see a Dervish house built on a riverbank at the mouth of a cave. It was yet another example of the diversity of this country.
Someday he'll just smile like a normal person...
Our view from our table at lunch

This video shows how massive the cliff above this Dervish house actually is

Brother and Sister Healy, the Area Welfare Specialist from Frankfurt, Germany came down to do training with us this past week as well. We spent some time doing training, but with all the background Denny and I have with computers, data bases and project management we were able to move through the training fairly quickly, which left us time to do more exploring with our new friends! We showed them a few of our favorite things and the we took a tour with a local tour guide and were able to see a few new things as well as learn more about the history of BiH. We enjoyed having others to share our adventures with.  Here are a few of the sights we saw.

Brother and Sister Healy admiring bullet holes 

Guess what this means....Danger! Minefields in the area! Needless to say, we didn't go hiking in this area
Medal platform for the Olympic ski jumping
We visited the Tunel Spasa which was a tunnel that ran under the airport during the war and was used to get food and supplies to the city during the war. 
This was once the most luxurious hotel in Sarajevo. It was built for the Olympics but was burned by Serbian forces so that the Bosnians could not use it during the war. 
A Jewish Synagog with the 2nd  largest Jewish cemetery in Europe
We are now trained and have perused the current projects in the data base and are ready to get started on finding new projects and following up with established projects. However, we found out that the next four days are one of the largest Muslim holidays of the year. According to Wikipedia, "Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days, during which Muslims usually sacrifice a sheep and distribute its meat in 3 parts: among family, friends, and the poor." Now we know why all of a sudden there were sheep in every yard! I guess they won't be there next week...
I hope we haven't become close enough "friends" with any Muslims to receive 1/3 of a sheep! Due to this holiday, we will have to put our plans for today on hold and go do more exploring, after all, it's a holiday! 

We have quickly become huge fans of Viber, a phone app that allows us to call or text anyone in the US who also has Viber on their phones for free. If the person we need to call doesn't have Viber, it's only 1.9 cents/minute. We can talk for an hour for under $1.25! The only catch is that we have to be on wifi, but it's pretty readily available here.  So... if you want to talk or text us, you should download Viber on your phone and give us a call! Just remember we are 7 hours ahead of U.S. Central Time! 

Until next week.... keep smiling and know that we love you all and miss you much, but we are thrilled to be here and ready to get to work as soon as Dhu al-Hijjah is over. 

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