Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Leaving the work unfinished

That's something we have to come to terms with as we leave England. There are some things that we've been working for that are going to seem unfinished. There are dreams and plans that we will never see the results of, or if we do it will be as spectators rather than as participants. At the moment I'd say I'm adjusting to this without much panic or anguish - time will tell whether that remains the case! The reassuring fact is that we're not leaving things to nothing. Whoever picks up and carries on what we've been working for is part of a bigger, grander, plan. God's plan. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church: I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. And that's where I’m at.

I stole this title from this post from a Paddy Ashdown article I read earlier today. It's not breaking news because he penned it back in April 2007 before he finished his time as High Representative in Bosnia Herzegovina. One line it really jumped out. "Bosnia is the fulcrum of peace in the Balkans." That means it is important and it having peace is equally so. He was expressing his concern that "the opportunity to finish the job is being lost and that Bosnia will be left as a dysfunctional space that we do not have the will to reform but cannot afford to ignore."

So we're stepping from one situation where we must trust what we have started will continue to produce positive results into another situation where we must ensure the good works others have started are completed. In it all we trust God's faithfulness.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Less than half finished!

This morning I was beaten by the weather. Rowan is anxious that we attend to the decking at the back of our house. She left the house announcing that 'it will be sunny and cloudy' today, which was code for 'I expect you to have stained the decking by the time I get back'! I was a little surprised seeing as only yesterday we'd had a conversation about the weather forecast being rain all week - and you can't stain decking in the rain. I was a third of the way through the first coat when I felt the first drops of rain. I know when to quit!

It was back to the Bosnian - the faithful flash-card programme on my laptop. It is going in, albeit a little slowly. A recap of what I've covered the last couple of weeks was encouraging although I know I need to keep up the speaking part. Rowan has plans for us to make videos of the role plays in one of the books we're studying from. That's sure to give you some amusement, whether you understand the language or not!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Am I really doing this?

There are two inspirations for this post. The first was a chance encounter in our local Sainsbury’s with a friend with questions. Essentially her question was 'are you really going to go?' I replied in the affirmative which she countered with 'I just can't imagine it!' To be fair, six months ago I couldn't have imagined that we'd be doing what we're doing now. Although perhaps Rowan could!

The second inspiration is the lunch I had with another friend yesterday. She's someone who has long taken me to task, probably with some justification, for what she perceived as my shallow western consumeristic outlook on like. I distinctly remember the late night argument in which she and another friend really battered me on the subject. 'Have you actually ever seen poverty?' Although these things are always relative back then the answer was basically no. That has changed.

There will be challenges ahead. I know that. I also know I need that. It is too easy to be too comfortable. We lose our edge and become complacent. And while an easy life is attractive in the short-term it fails to deliver long-term satisfaction or lasting benefit to anyone. So, yes, we really are doing this because life is more important than the latest pair of trainers.

Friday, 25 April 2008

The driving post

I have three chances to drive in Bosnia Herzegovina. The first was to bump start Novi Most's old Toyota combi. The second: bump starting the combi again! The third, however, was the chance to drive through snowy mountains in a Toyota that didn't seem to have any mechanical faults. I've never struggled to adjust to driving on the 'other side', whether it's been in a left- or right-hand drive vehicle.

But we've seen Mostar's tiny streets and its twisting mountain roads. If we're to have a car when we move it'll be left-hand drive. Rowan wants it's to be small and I don't blame her. She's not yet had the chance to drive on the right so that's a new experience that's awaiting her. We're currently driving a new Mini Clubman, which is nice although not perhaps as iconic as the yellow Mini One we had before it!

Every other car in BiH seems to be a VW Golf. You can see the complete history of the model in a matter of minutes on Sarajevo's main streets. But it was another vehicle that caught my imagination. You can ask why, although I'm not totally sure of the answer! However, finding this hilarious image online my have had something to do with it...

I want that one!

Maybe...just maybe!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Second Call?

Last night I finished reading a book that I'd started a couple of weeks ago, sitting on an old BA 737 flying to Sarajevo. It shouldn't have taken that long to finish; it was a slim volume. Nevertheless, I felt like I was fighting, page by page, to conquer 'The Ragamuffin Gospel' - that is, until I reached chapter nine.

Suddenly a book that had seemed slightly disjointed and not much in tune with my life experience was speaking straight at me, articulating my feelings with a clarity I doubt I could have mustered myself. It was suggesting many between the age of thirty and sixty experience a 'second call' - Rowan and I sit very much at the younger end of that spectrum!

"The second call invites us to serious reflection of the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naiveté, first fervour, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge."

That paragraph alone made the rest of the book worthwhile for me. That is exactly what I'd been feeling. I've said it before but life is going to be completely different. Are we experiencing a 'second call'? Who knows? Whatever it is, I wasn't expecting it but I'm glad it's happening!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Things I haven't done...

This morning's big omission is this: I haven't discovered if there's a way to upload a pdf to our Facebook group. Rowan has been asking that I sort this out for over a week. This morning was to be the morning. I won't waste space recounting my excuses here; instead I'll explain why my undone task is so important!

As international workers with Novi Most we are responsible for raising our own financial support. This is a new experience for us. While we're well adjusted to living on modest salaries we've never been in a position where neither of us has a fixed income before. That's where the pdf comes in. Novi Most have provided us with a standing order form we can make available to anyone who is interested in supporting us regularly.

Obviously if we come have it sitting somewhere where it could be accessed discretely we could avoid that whole English embarrassment about talking about money! So I will do my best to fulfil Rowan's request. However, if you're reading this and think you'd like to help and you’re not afraid to ask for a form that you maybe subsequently forget to fill in then do email! We set up WeDoAdventure@googlemail.com as the place for all our correspondence about moving. We'll happily send you the pdf.

And if anyone knows the answer and having a link to a pdf from a Facebook group do let me know!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Have you read this?

Today we had a meeting with Gill, Novi Most Director. It was a good meeting. In the course of our conversation we talked about the Lausanne Covenant. It's something we have to read and sign our agreement to before starting with NoviMost. I've told a few people this and they've been surprise, asking if I thought that was a bit heavy. To me it's reassuring to know someone isn't going to move the goalposts on me!

Now this thing is as old as me but I'd never heard of it until this week. I finished reading it last night and I've got to say I was inspired. It doesn't say anything I haven't heard or don't believe, but to see it laid out in such a concise, compelling piece of text really did it for me.

However it made me think. If the church globally had spent my lifetime truly living this out the world today would be a very different place. My challenge is to ensure I live it and in doing so make the difference that is so desperately needed.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Hope for the hopeless

I popped home for lunch to discover some mail from Novi Most. The document included, amongst other things, background on NoviMost and a brief overview of Bosnia Herzegovina's history since Tito. It was all absorbing stuff but I thought I'd post a few of the statistics here.

77% of youth (who form 25% of the population) want to leave Bosnia Herzegovina, having no hope for their futures. [UN OIA report in 2005]

62% of young people in Bosnia Herzegovina are unemployed. [DfiD, June 2007]

Half the country lives in poverty. 30% of those living in poverty are under 18. [DfiD, Oct 2004]

I haven't searched for comparisons; that would be unnecessary. Those figures scream 'need'. While improvements in education, the emergence of new jobs and the injection of foreign investment will be part of the answer, the restoration of hope is vital to see a lasting transformation in the nation.

I've taught song-writing for years and always encouraged would-be songsmiths to include an element of hope in their writing. Now there is a challenge for that hope not just to a song-writing exercise but a genuine life-changing force.

Monday, 14 April 2008

It's ponedjeljak!

Yes, it's Monday! Monday morning and I'm sitting down for my first focused Bosnian-learning session. Rowan has a head start on me and while I doubt I'll catch her up soon I certainly can't afford to fall any further behind!

Rowan's already spent hours on a flash-cards programme from Before You Know It, so that's where I'm starting. So far so good - although my head hurts now.

I'm attempting a multi-sensory-assualt by listening to CDs of songs that are sung in the Bosnian church we'll attend when we move. We'll probably end up playing them at some point too, so I'll get round to learning them properly before we leave.

Now I'm off to label our household appliances in Bosnian!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Safety Concerns

When you bring home pictures of bullet-ridden buildings it's only natural for people to ask just how safe it is to travel to Bosnia Herzegovina. There are parts of the country where they estimate it'll take the next hundred years to clear the landmines - mostly because they were conveniently left unmarked! But a new danger sprang to life this morning when a colleague handed me a newspaper clipping, undoubtedly from that bastion of truth The Daily Mail.

It seems there is a man in northern Bosnia who has attracted the ire of extraterrestrials, at least that's what he believes. He's had a steel girder reinforced roof put on his house because it has been struck by meteorites five times in about as many months! They quote Mr Lajic as saying "I am obviously being targeted...I don't know what I have done to annoy them."

I don't know either, but I do know in the 18 short days I've spent in the country I've yet to feel unsafe.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

WeDoAdventure video

If you've stumbled onto our blog and don't really know what it's about there's probably no easier wasy to bring you up to speed than to say: watch this!

We're back!

Sorry to anyone who's clicked to come here in the last couple of days and hasn't been allowed in. (Thanks to Meg for the tip off!) We got locked down by a robot-generated spam accusation! In our haste to get everything up and running with our WeDoAdventure communications launch I registered this blog but didn't post anything. You good people were clicking the links put up on YouTube and Facebook but because we'd not provided anything to see the machine went on high alert. It won't happen again.

Big news this week is the arrival of 'Teach Yourself Croatian'. As I type Rowan is sitting opposite holding the book and listening intently to the voices on her iPod - or she could be asleep, I can't quite tell! I need to get a grip on language learning. Monday morning is going to be my main time, at least that's what I keep saying. I'll let you know how I get on.