Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Month Anniversary

We are quickly approaching the one month mark since the five of us have arrived here in Croatia. So of course we have an anniversary party planned for Saturday, to celebrate our first month here in Croatia, complete with cake and dancing! It is hard to believe that we have already been here for a month. In just a few weeks we have met many people, been shown amazing hospitality, are finally beginning to feel settled in our new homes, gotten internet in both apartments (this is our most recent success), have learned how to depend on the people around us here, have somewhat figured out our way around the city and grown to love humorous moments that public transit provides us each day, started learning the language and about the culture here, and yet at the same time,have realized how much we have left to learn. There have been moments throughout the month where being here is so new, that it has been really difficult. And yet there have been many moments when one of us catches ourselves saying that we can't believe we get to be here and that we feel so blessed to get to be a part of what is happening here.

Over the past several weeks, we have started seeking out ways that we can begin to connect with people, the community, and to life here in Zagreb. We are taking time to meet and learn about what churches around the city are doing, how they do it, and why they do it, so that we can begin to learn what the faith community looks like here and how we can be apart of that. We have started looking for ways to connect with and serve with local organizations that already have a presence in the community here so that we can learn about the needs of the community here and how these needs are already being met through different organizations. Michael has joined a baseball team, Jerry an ultimate frisbee team, and Brittany has gotten to play soccer with a few friends we have made, which has been a really cool way for them to meet some people in our community.

Our prayer, question, and desire over the past few weeks, and as we continue on into our second month here, is that we would seek and begin to learn what God would have for us and for the people here, that we can begin to figure out what it means to be the church here and to be people of love and grace here. As we have been praying this we have been learning that this starts with us loving each other and the people around us, and that it means being patient learners, who are constantly seeking to understand the people and the culture around us. The other day, the five of us prayed the prayer of St. Francis together and the closing lines have stayed with me for several days:

"Awesome God, Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we recieve, it is in pardoning we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

And may this be your prayer for and with us over the weeks ahead.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


Well, as much as we try to just give you a picture into our daily lives by our posts, we realize that actual pictures would probably be helpful. So at the request of several people, (especially you Dad ) we have taken a few pictures and will try to start incorporating more into the blog. Things have been good and people are still being great and incredibly helpful. Please keep praying that God continues to be at the center of what we are doing and that we helps us know what steps to take. Loving you all and we hope you enjoy these few pictures.

Just around the city 

 These are some of the pictures from Brittany's birthday dinner and the cake Jadranka made. 

Yeah...the boys apartment is the bright spot in our days...literally. Notice the yellow and red combo. 

Us girls took some pictures when the sun finally came out!

And finally a look into what why we love Croatia..the ice cream :) 
Just kidding...kinda. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gypsies, Shower Curtains, and a Soccer Ball

After several days of cold rain, we have been soaking in the sunshine and its warm rays this week. On Tuesday morning, the five of us had a nice time of sharing, devotions, and prayer. I’ve found that this time of sharing what’s on our hearts, what we feel like God is teaching us, and the struggles we are facing to be such an important part of our week. It’s enriching to hear each of us express what we got out of a situation, because often each of us may see or get something different out of things we experience. On the other hand, the five of us can take away five different interpretations from what a Croatian told us, which can be quite entertaining as well. haha.

Wednesday, we went with our friend to a gypsy village hidden in a rural area. No one in the village really spoke English. They have their own language, which we obviously don’t know either, but we tried to interact with what little Croatian we do know. We brought bread and juice to share with them and they served us coffee. One woman showed us her home, which had holes all in the roof, no door, and busted out glass for a window. We played with the precious children and interacted a little bit with some different members of the community. This could be one area where we could get involved. We are praying for God to direct us and show us how He can use us. 

On the way back to town, we talked with a few kids going home from school. They were excited to practice their English, and anxious to hear our Croatian- or maybe just laugh at our pronunciation.

Today, Hope, Emily, and I went to town to get a few things. This included a shower curtain, since the one we had before required that we strategically hold the showerhead in order not to get the whole bathroom wet. haha. Needless to say, we were pretty pleased to put it up. However, I think I’d have to say my favorite buy was the soccer ball I found. I’d been trying to get one for a while, so I was pretty pumped to find one in a sports outlet store for a good price (especially for less than 1/5 of what someone told me a good ball would cost here). I’m excited to put it to use and to meet some more people through that. Also today I talked to our Croatian mom, Jadranka (the woman Emily, Hope, and I stayed with the first 2 weeks we were here), who is an amazing cook, and she invited us to her house for dinner Saturday. This news definitely put a smile on our faces.

We are thankful for the moments God shows up in small and big ways. Each day is a special part of this journey we are on. In the words of Charles R. Swindoll, “Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it will never be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours between now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities.” May we allow God to open our eyes to see these opportunities and let Him work in and through us as we live to serve Him .


Monday, September 20, 2010

friendships and connections; rain and sun

okay, so the past few days have been lots of rain that brought in chilly days that seem to be way too early for this time of year.  its that feeling that makes you drag because you can't really get out to do much, and especially in this strange place its hard to know even how to get out!  i remember looking out the window a few days ago, and the spirit of god coming to me to whisper to me "let the world inside the window and outside interact in beauty...and dont worry ill be the love in between."  sometimes i'd like to say things like "but god its a rainy day, and i dont really know what to do right now."  i love how god just calls us to be faithful for today...everyday. 

friday night mike and i had a couple friends we had made over for dinner as well as the girls.  it was a fun night of laughter and joy.  these people have so much to give, and i'm so thankful they choose to share life with us.  both of the people that came over are actually in a christian punk band called 108i, and mike and i have seen them in concert already.  we are going to go see them again in october...maybe on the coast?  each of us got our croatian names as well!  i'll have to change my typing to croatian to put it in...mine is Đuro.  its an older name that people dont really have anymore haha.  you pronounce it with a quick dj sound...djooro.  haha it was amusing to our friends for us to try saying our different names.  sharing life with people daily.  what a gift.  what an honor.  what a calling. 

saturday was a slow day with the rain, but that night we went to church.  all the elders of this church were on a retreat, so our friend darko preached.  while we were singing i didnt understand what i was singing, but i heard in the depths of my heart the hearts of the croatian people.  a passion overwhelmed me as my heart broke open for these wonderful people.  god is doing amazing things, and we are so thankful to even see that happening.  after church we went to dinner with some people from the church.  a man sitting next to me said he just felt in his heart to say that he feels like it is a very good thing we are here, and that he feels we are family.  its amazing how god works when you dont even expect it.  im thankful he calls us to be faithful today with his kingdom in mind.  tomorrow has enough.

sunday we went to another church which we will be regularly going to--church of christ.  its amazing because they have headphones where you can listen to a translation!  who knew?  i think a man was trying to offer me that last week, but i definitely didnt get what he was trying to offer so all five of us sat through the sermon not having a clue haha.  this time was a little better.  we also met a lady after church that is so willing to help us with just little things.  she is bringing some pots and pans over for us today.  so far we've had to manage with sharing two :)  its been great.  there might also be an avenue through her to get involved with some youth from here.  i love how god is just bringing things before us daily.  even last night a lady we had met invited us over for dinner out of the blue.  it was a great time of fellowship and encouragement.  a man named alan who was helping us with our internet also came, and he looked at us and said "god is going to use you here.  i feel it."  im glad god is our shepherd.  he takes care of his sheep.

in the mean time we are still stumbling over our croatian and trying to figure out what it looks like to live in croatia!  in fact, alan was laughing at us at how amused we were trying to say simple phrases he probably learned when he was 3.  its great :).  i dont mind being a little kid again haha.  im just glad it makes people laugh.  also, today the sun has come out.  there is a light breeze.  both are inviting us into a world of interaction and life.  praise god he brings the sun after the rain.

thanks for reading. blessings

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Jogurt" is Croatian for "Yogurt"

Ever since we've been here in Croatia, God has blessed us with gracious hosts who have given us shelter, food, and above all else, their friendship. Vito and Jadranka opened their home to the girls, while me and Jerry spent a week with Croatia's finest, haha; Zeljko, Marko, and Darko. We are all forever grateful for the kindness and generosity shown us from these amazing people.

Now, as of a few days ago, we have moved into apartments of our own, and we're slowly getting more settled in this country. Our apartments are in a little community located in the southwest corner of the city, within walking distance of a beautiful park around the lake called Jarun. We're also within walking distance of this huge market, which we were able to visit the other day for groceries, and is also the place where I most recently made a huge fool of myself.

If there was ever a time that I've felt like a helpless child, it was in this market. I found myself staring at food labels for what seemed like hours, hopelessly trying to decode the unfamiliar mixture of letters, spending ten minutes in the dairy section trying to decide which was the yogurt (yeah, i know, it's spelled "jogurt," and not "kiselo vrhnje"). Anyways, though this country is still incredibly unfamiliar, it's slowly starting to grow on me.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthdays & Umbrellas

It has been a crazy week of bank acccounts, government offices, getting the right paperwork, but there have been some awesome highlights as well.

We celebrated Brittany’s birthday on Saturday. The family we are staying with did an awesome job of celebrating with us and of loving and caring about Brittany on her birthday. Jedranka made her a huge cake, that she decorated beautifully. It was awesome for Brittany to feel so loved and cared for on a day when she was not able to be with her family and friends from home.

Then Jay Sunberg came to town to be with us for a few days but we lost him in our attempt to get to and from the airport to meet him. Then we all got lost on our way to church yesterday (public transportation can be tricky) and arrived late. Following the service, which was entirely in Croatian, a girl came up to introduce herself to us and asked if we spoke Croatian or English. When we answered English she laughed and asked why we did not use the headsets that translate the service to English for us. We had sat through the entire service barely understand a word, when the translation was right beside us.

On our way home from church, Brittany, Emily, and I were waiting for the bus and it started to rain. While we stood in the rain, this little old lady who was also waiting from the bus came over and put her umbrella over our heads. She spoke to us in Croatian and we said say we do not understand Croatian but thank you. She just smiled and patted Brittany’s arm and then huddled under the umbrella with us until the bus came. And the three of us just took a deep breath and thought everything is okay.

So the whole weekend became a reminder of our inadequacy here with not knowing the language, an awareness of how much we are dependent on the people around us for help, even with even simple tasks, and how much we have been cared for by the people here since we arrived.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Dobro Večer. The past few days have been a whirlwind of figuring things out, and thinking we've figured things out and being totally wrong...aka getting lost A LOT on the tram. Good news though we made it back tonight from our new apartment to the place we have been staying, no problems! Yeah, that's right we have apartments! We are so excited to have found apartments and  very close to one another. We should be able to move in soon. All of us girls have realized we have gotten a little spoiled living here with what we like to call our Croatian parents, Jadranka and Vito. They definitely spoil us with food and teaching us lots of Hrvatski (Croatian). Jadranka has become more and more like our mother here, today she told us to learn at least 10 new words before she came home and then she would check us on them,  which she of course did! 

I don't think we can stress the patience and good naturedness of the people here enough. We are very much like little children and taking 3 to 5 little kids with you everywhere is never easy. But, everyone has been wonderful and so encouraging. At first everyone told us that Hrvatski is so difficult and we should just help them practice English and speak that, but we have been as persistent as possible and they now love to hear our attempts and are so encouraging. Don't worry, we're still pretty terrible but we are improving day by day. Our newest find as you will see below is a picture dictionary and a children's book in Croatian and English so we can practice and learn new words. Yes, this involved strange looks and lots of laughs from our new friends when we asked to visit the library and headed straight for the children's section. 

So..we are learning. We are getting better and through the process we are making great friends and are thankful for every minute. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

dobar dan (good day)

we have been here for only a short time, and we are feeling the hospitality of our new friends so deeply.  they are welcoming and inviting.  they are patient with our attempts at croatian.  the patience is often coupled with laughter, but it a welcomed laughter.  we can simply laugh along with them at ourselves since we are 21-24, and we sound like babies.  a woman told me yesterday i should talk with her 5 year old daughter because she is beginning to learn english, and we have about the same amount of vocabulary.

we walk through the city, and there is so much life happening.  we see people stopping to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.  they don't even have starbucks here.  it won't work here with its to go cups.  people go to main square simply to stand and talk with others especially during the night time.  they seem to be a people that really values being able to stop and enjoy company.  i think we can learn from them.  we are very interested in getting to learn more and more about these people.  our hearts are falling in love.  we went to church saturday night, and we are beginning to see the passion of the christians here.  they break so deeply for their fellow croatians.  god is doing great things here already, and we are so excited to keep learning about how we can be a part.

we have been living with people from that church for now, and we will soon be moving into our own apartments.  michael and i will look at one today, and the girls will look at one tomorrow.  sasa, one of the elders from the church, is helping us with all of this.  we are extremely grateful.

that is all for now.  we are so thankful for the prayers of our family and friends.  we feel them everyday.  we see them mixing with the prayers of the people here.  god is moving.  a simple prayer in croatian is.  "sveti bog.  hvala ti."  holy god.  thank you.  hvala ti is used for friends.  when you spend just a half day with someone in would be an insult to use the respectful version of thank you--hvala vam.  again.  hvala ti.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Waking up in Zagreb

It took me a few seconds to realize just where I was when I woke up this morning- what-Zagreb, Croatia!? We arrived here safely yesterday afternoon around 4:30. Thank the Lord. We had no issues whatsoever coming into the airport and going through customs. Actually, all we had to do was hand over our passport for a few seconds before they let us pass through. Everything went so smoothly and our new friends Vito and Marko picked us up and took us to Vito`s house for some juice and coke. Then Hope, Emily, and I got settled at Vito and Jadranka`s while Marko took Jerry and Michael to stay with two other Croatians. Vito took us out for dinner and ice cream and we walked around the city square. Itś beautiful here. We`re just trying to soak it all in. It feels so nice outside. It`s in the 70s with no humidity and a slight breeze.

Now we are getting ready to go out and discover some more. Thanks everyone for all your prayers and for keeping up with us! We love you all and are looking forward to having you on this journey with us!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And We're Off

Well, just a little over 4 hours and we'll all be heading out from Nashville. It's crazy how fast it has approached and at the same time I think we all feel anxious to just be there already. The past week has been a blur of last minute trips to the store, packing, goodbyes and lots of time spent with friends and family. I don't think it's possible right at this moment to define just how excited/nervous we all are but just know its a crazy mix of emotions and thoughts right now. One thing we can define right at this moment is not one of us are feeling unsupported. The support and love that we have been shown by our families, friends, Trevecca community, churches and even people we don't know well has been overwhelming and a great blessing. One thing we know for sure is that when we get on that plane in about 4 hours we don't go alone. We love all of you and can't wait to start sharing our lives in Croatia with you, even if it is from afar. The goodbyes have been rough and the nerves are probably at an all time high, but we know God is with us, before us, and behind us with all our families and friends. So in that, we all can find a little peace this morning.

Croatia, See you in about 26 hours! We can't wait.