First off, I was (and still am) and idiot to think that I could sum up these past two weeks of Bosnia into a few paragraphs. So much has happened, and so much has rocked my world, that I wish you’d be able to experience it as well. But you didn’t, and it’s not really possible, because God’s plan for each of our adventures is perfectly suited to our own needs. I know and somewhat understand that now. So let’s dive right in, shall we?
(I’d like to apologize for some of the pictures. I forgot to change the date to 2012, and they say 2011.)
[right] On June 17th, 20 of us gathered in NYC for orientation. Nat, our team leader, gave us a fantastic intro about the Bosnian culture. We spent about 24 hours together, praying, reading the Bible, and preparing ourselves for the field. Even before this, Nat and his team sent us emails about Bosnian culture, weather, and traditions.
These are some photos of Bosnia. Yes, the landscape really is this beautiful. Everywhere I turned there would be mountains in the distance. The picture below was taken from the main bridge on the way to the Centar of Bihac.
The main religion is Islam. When we arrived we went through a small orientation where we were informed about how Christianity and Islam are viewed as very similar there. We’d have to be careful not to get into theological debates with anyone, and try not to offend. Five times a day the call to prayer sounded throughout the city in many, many different mosques. It broke my heart the first time I heard one. I wanted so badly for the prayer to shut off or for the electricity to break. I would have survived two weeks without electricity or cold food just so I didn’t have to hear something like that going off… Besides, we already didn’t have any air-conditioning. Nights were spent with the windows open.
The weeks were spent doing some major schedule-setups. Here’s what a rough of the day would look like:
7:15 – wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, leave for the ministry center (where we all met and ate meals)
8:30 – have personal devotions, talk with the team, and worship
10:00 – drive (5 min) or walk (20 min) to the park to pray and minister to Bosnians there; or have coffee with a new Bosnian friend.
12:30 – head back to the mc for lunch
2:00 – head back to the park; go for more coffee with Bosnian friends
5:00 – go back to the mc for dinner
7:00 – have a watermelon party with all the people we invited (there could be as little as 40 people to as great as 150)
11:00 – discuss the plan for the next morning, set a time to meet, and leave for separate homes
12:30 – after showering, brushing teeth, and discussing the excitement of the day with my roommates… SLEEP
[One of the awesome treats when arriving was European pizza. The toppings are fresher, as well as the cheese and sauce. Also, the crust is THIN! Thick crust is not a popular thing there.
If someone asked me to describe what the Bosnian people are like, here is what I’d say: They love very strong coffee and cigarettes. I mean, every bar that had alcohol also had espresso. And when someone was drinking espresso, they usually always had a cigarette in hand. Most of the people are also healthy in their figure. I saw very little sticks or obesity. I noticed healthy curves in the women and good figures in the men.]
Many of the days were spent with gypsy children. God completely stole my heart with this one. I fell in love almost instantly. The first moment I met a big group of them, I introduced myself as Kris. One child looked up at me with his big, brown eyes, and said, “Neh Kris.” (No Kris.) I responded with, “Da, Kris.” (Yes, Kris.) This repeated several times until he realized I was going to chase him down until he told me that my name was really Kris. He sprinted, I ran and caught him, threw him on my shoulder, and carried him to be laughed at by the rest of the children. He finally gave in and I set him down… only to have the rest of the twenty children begging me to pick them up, too.
I want to share many pictures with you, but for the safety and comfort of the people of Bosnia, I have to abstain from that. I will tell you that I had the blessing to stare into the eyes of a man exiting death and entering into life as he turned away from Islam and turned to the true Jesus. That would probably be the defining moment of my entire trip. I wish I could show you pictures, but I don’t want to endanger him.
Overall, thank you to all who supported this trip! The prayer worked. I know because this trip was saturated in it, and place we went changed. One new friend who had been there for about two years said this: “Before you guys came, the park was like a rock. Everything was cement. You could feel the hardness of the people towards the gospel. Now, it will never be the same–I will never be the same–because the park feels more like moss. It’s kind of… squishy, to say the least. I feel people will be more receptive to the gospel. I can almost feel that there is going to be a revival. I hope I’m still here when it happens.” Even though I had only been there for two weeks, I, too, could feel the difference from when we arrived to when we left. Part of my heart was left there. In its place I feel God. He’s stretching, tugging, pushing, and refining every sharp edge that I allow Him to take hold of. I once thought I was designed for missions. Now I have no doubt.
[Below: My friends took a few of us swimming in the most beautiful place I have ever seen! The water was crystal clear, icy cold, and blue as I’ll get out. This is the view just before we got to the swimming area]