Dennis and Dionne Newton

Dennis and Dionne Newton
Dennis & Dionne Newton

Sunday, January 29, 2017

And so it begins again....

As we head into 2017, we are amazed at how quickly time is moving for us on the mission. Today we begin the official countdown from one year, which means our mission is already one third of the way over. We had a few down weeks during the holiday season. And it’s truly a “season” in Bosnia with Catholic Christmas on Dec. 25 followed by a highly celebrated four-day New Year’s weekend which was then followed by Serbian Christmas on Jan. 7th. Almost the entire country takes the full two weeks to celebrate, regardless of their religious association. It was very strange to see St. Nick out and about the first week of January. People have finally gone back to work and things are settling back to normal.

We are now finally moving forward with several of our current projects. After weather delays, we were finally able to arrange for the delivery of supplies for water projects. In one of the towns, the delivery truck was too large to bring the supplies directly to the school so the school had to arrange to meet the truck outside of town and transfer supplies to a smaller truck that could navigate the narrow streets to the school. We were very impressed with the community effort that was made. The school has a large network of parents that offered time and services to make the delivery possible. One parent owns the smaller truck that was used to deliver supplies to the school, another the front loader that moved supplies from one truck to the other. Yet another parent owned the property where the transfer of supplies took place. They also had several parents lined up at the school to help move supplies from the truck into the school. Many of these same parents and several others with professional plumbing, tile work and electrical skills will be assisting with the project. Students from the school's vocational training classes will also be working along side the professionals to help with tile removal and preparing for the renovations. We look forward to visiting again once the work is underway and seeing everyone in action.
This truck was too big to traverse the streets of town

All of these "helpers" are parents of students at the school

Toilets and sinks and tile, oh my!

The school director was there to supervise
The little front loader kept getting stuck in the ice
Parents helping unload at the school

More parents helping

We then headed to the second town to delivery their supplies. It was dark by the time we arrived and began to unload. This project is the construction of a new septic tank system and repairs/remodeling to a couple of bathrooms on the main floor that have been damaged due to back flow from the non-functional septic system.  Again, they were very appreciative and are anxious to get started once the weather warms up.
The second delivery in the dark

Assembly line for unloading

We were unable to be there when the third delivery was made because we were hosting 8 young missionaries for dinner and the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast. During the broadcast the missionaries were taught many wonderful things. My favorite was shared by Elder Bednard, an apostle in our church. He talked about check lists and how people like to check things off and that makes them feel as though they are making progress. His emphasis was on the fact that everything we do should lead to Christ. "All things gather together in Christ." Life is not about lists, it's about living life in a way that helps us know Christ and follow Him. He also counseled them to "talk less and listen more". What great advice! How often do we just want to share our point of view, to tell others what we think without taking the time to truly listen to what they have to say, how they feel and what they might need. The broadcast also addressed some changes to the missionaries' schedules, which offers them more choice in how they carry out their daily activities as well as giving them more time to sleep if needed and a longer time period for their preparation day. It was an enjoyable broadcast, and while it was mainly directed towards the younger missionaries, I found great counsel for my life as well.

Elder Leach with his four way of Skyline Chili

Elder Echols and Elder Hardy opted for cheese coneys

We had a great conversation with the missionaries after the broadcast.

President Grant held a Skype conference with all the missionaries
immediately following the broadcast. They were waving at friends
in other areas of the mission. 

Our little missionary family. From left to right, Elder Hole, Elder Perry,
Elder Echols, Elder Leach, Elder Deleeuw, Sister Locey and Sister Rougeau

We received an email from the third school after they received their delivery and they informed us that they received the wrong faucets. So we contacted our supplier, picked up the correct faucets and headed to Sapna, two and half hours away. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny drive through the snow covered mountains. Upon arrival we were looking over the items that were delivered and noticed that they had received wood laminate doors, instead of the plastic doors we had ordered. Wood doors do not do well in called our supplier, discussed what needed to be done to correct the issue and then proceeded on our way back to Sarajevo. After we had been driving for about an hour and half we noticed that we were driving parallel to a large river. I noted to Denny that I didn't remember the river on our way up, and by the way, shouldn't we have driven through the pine forest by now? Next thing we know we see a sign for Sapna...apparently we missed a turn somewhere and we had made a huge loop and ended up pretty much were we had started. We use our iPad for navigation here but the battery was low and we forgot to grab the charger so we had turned if off because Denny was sure he know how to get home. Let's just say, the nice sunny drive up during the day was much better than the dark drive through dense fog on the way home. We did finally make it, but now have another item to log in our "driving adventures in Bosnia" journal.

In addition to our water projects, we were also able to deliver a computer and printer to one school for children with disabilities. The tablets and specialized keyboard for this project have also been ordered and we hope to make delivery of these items in the next couple of weeks.

Our other current area initiative is for a school and vocational training center for individuals with disabilities. Our project with them is to provide them with the commercial appliances for their new Culinary Vocational Workshop, which will also serve as the cafeteria for the 175+ students who receive two free meals each day. Our budget would not allow us to fully fund this project so we weren’t sure when it would be completed. However, an unexpected year-end donation from a local bank made up the difference! We know Heavenly Father had a hand in this unexpected gift and it further confirmed to us that this was indeed a project that we were led to. Some of the tile work has begun and we anxiously await the delivery of the appliances and cabinetry to complete this project in the next couple of weeks. We have been promised a free meal when it’s all finished.

We are now beginning our search for 2017 area projects and have several meetings scheduled in the near future with some of our NGO partners. A Maternal and Newborn Care major initiative will begin in 2017 as well as the continuation of multiple Vision Care projects, Benson Food projects and, if we can work out VAT issues, possibly Wheelchairs. We look forward to a busy and rewarding year! 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your posts! If you come across a sister missionary Sister Bennion - That is my cousins daughter. She is serving in your same mission. I set her parents up on a blind date together. I grew up with her mom, and her dad is my cousin. HAHA! Love you, miss you, and love what you are doing. They couldn't have picked more perfect people for the job that you are doing! Anne