Novi Sad, Serbia

our family

Monday, June 20, 2011

Livin' the Dream!

     Last Christmas we found ourselves a good way.  Mike and I were homeless in the sense that we no longer owned a home.  We have awesome family that allowed us to live with them for a couple weeks as we prepared to move to Serbia.  Our daughter, Tara, arrived at the house, her car  packed to the hilt with everything she would need for the holidays.  As we helped her unload, we told her it looked as if she had been living out of her car.  Her reply was "Just livin' the dream".  She said that she thought it would be fun traveling around and living out of her car.  I suppose a number of college students might think that and I, too was experiencing a strange sense of freedom.  We didn't have much left in the way of material possessions and all of a sudden life had become quite simplified.  And somehow in the mix of all of that, "livin' the dream" became our catchphrase.    
     So what does your dream look like?  That if you were anywhere doing anything right now kind of dream.  If I were to be totally honest, I would never have said my dream would be to live in Serbia.  I only learned where Serbia was a little over a year ago.  And why do our dreams usually consist of being in a beautiful place, living a leisurely life with no worries.  I suppose that is what makes it a DREAM - not a REALITY.   Dreams can be a place of comfort and peace...the place we run to when life gets hard.
    And Jesus said, "run to me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest."  Nothing wrong with dreaming... just remember where our real sense of comfort and peace comes from.  Dreams are where we can let our imaginations run wild and think way outside the box but if not kept in check, dreams can be the breeding ground for discontent.
     I'm probably not "livin' the dream" by alot of people's standards.  And although I am living in Europe there is nothing glamourous about my lifestyle.  But if livin' the dream is measured in terms of peace, fullfilment and satisfaction, then I am living it.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not right or wrong...just different.

Why do we get so caught up in the way we do things and think that our way is the right way and other ways are strange, perhaps even wrong?  Maybe you have never thought this way before or maybe it's that for the first time I am experiencing cultural overload.  As an American living in Serbia now, I'm learning to adapt to a variety of new things.  I'm realizing that just because something is not familiar to me it's not's just different.  So, here are a few things that are different in Serbia:
       *  electrical wall outlets
       *  thinner mattresses and beds lower to the floor
       *  smaller appliances, ie. refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers
       *  dryers are not necessities
       *  cars are not necessities
       *  toilets (I won't try to explain now)
       *  it takes less words to make a sentence in serbian than english
       *  limited selection in choices
       *  cooking from scratch is the norm
       *  no restaurant chains or Wal-mart
     And I suppose the number one unfamiliar thing would be that I'm surrounded by people speaking a language that I don't understand.  For the first time, I am a foreigner.
     What is it about the unfamiliar that is so uncomfortable?  In the past 3 weeks I have been bombarded with things that are different, unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone.  It's only natural to desire to find that safe be surrounded by the comfortable and familiar.
      Psalm 119:76 says, "May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant."  God's desire is for us to find comfort in Him. When things around us are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, He is the familiar one who will be our comfort.  You don't have to live in a foreign country to experience His presence.  He's there for all who call upon Him in their time of need.
     As things that are unfamiliar to me become more familiar in time, I will remember it is God alone who is the source of my strength, joy and comfort.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our 1st Week in Serbia

     It's hard to believe a little over a week ago, Mike and I arrived in Novi Sad, Serbia with 4 boxes, 2 suitcases, and a couple of carry on's.  Eventually our crate will arrive but that will be several months down the road.  We arrived on schedule and our team was waiting in Belgrade to meet us.  After clearing customs, we loaded the vehicles and drove to Novi Sad, an hour north.  Our team members had a wonderful dinner for us and we didn't have any problems sleeping that night.
     This first week has been exciting but overwhelming at times.  We are learning our way around the city and familiarizing ourselves with our neighborhood including the local apoteka (pharmacy) and pekara (bakery).  Our apartment is in a great block from the Danube River and walking distance to Dunavska Park and the City Center which are beautiful, especially at night.
Mike getting dinar from ATM
     The church that we're going to is close.  It's all in serbian but they supply headphones and translate into english so we're able to understand most of it.  There's a small seminary connected to the church and Mike will eventually be doing some teaching there.  Right now our number one focus and priority is language study.  We began classes last week and are enjoying the challenge.  It's definitely something we'll be working on daily.
     It is all so different.  I've been taken out of my comfort zone more this past week than I could have ever imagined.  For the first time in my life, I'm a minority with minimal knowledge of the culture and the language in which I live...quite a humbling experience.  However, many of the fears that I experienced the first days after arriving have been replaced with a growing love for the city.  Mike and I have experienced nothing but kindness and hospitality from the people that we've met.  A simple phrase like "Izvinite, ne resumem. Ja ucim srpski", (I'm sorry, I don't understand.  I'm learning serbian) goes a long way.
     God has been faithful in meeting every need we've had and He's provided abundantly more than all we've asked or imagined.