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Vist by Gerneral Authority
May 31st, 2009 by ron

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un-boombing1

We We thought that this was going to be a pretty laid back week of catching up on 2 ½ months of paperwork that we have neglected since we got here. Monday went as planned but Tuesday was another story. We got a phone call late Mon. asking if we would meet a sister named Lelia at 7:00 am at the Poncavo bridge to take her to the early morning flower market to buy flowers to decorate the church for the coming of Apostle D. Todd Christopherson later in the day. We got up at 5:30 in order to be there by 7:00. We bought two large baskets of roses and some yellow roses and white daisies and greenery.
When we got back to the church, Lelia had wound yellow ribbon on the banisters of two flights of stairs and had met the disapproval of the District Pres. for not asking permission to do it. Branch Pres. Nikola told me to assess the situation and if it didn’t look good when it was finished, it was my job to tell Lelia that it all had to come down. She had also made large yellow bows and a big Welcome sign that would make anyone feel welcome. To make a long story short, it turned out BEAUTIFUL and so it was allowed to stay!!! It reminded us of the song -Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree.

We missionaries were blessed to have a special meeting with Bro. Christopherson and Bro Wondra, our Area Authority, along with their wives and Pres. & Sis Hill. They talked to us from 2:00 to 5:oo pm. It was a wonderful meeting and ended with a Q. & A. session. Near the end, Bro. Christopherson turned to me and said Sis. Densley, do you have something to say. I had been thinking of a comment I had made in Relief Society last week when the R.S. Pres asked me to share how I had gained my testimony. I shared that with them and then I told them that I was really impressed with their dedication and their testimonies. I said that at home all I have to do is get in my car and drive for 1 or 2 minutes and I am at the church. For them they have to board a bus and ride some of them for 1 – 2 hours, attend church and repeat the process to get home. One sister has a baby in a stroller but is there every week. Another sister has 5 children and not only is it inconvenient to ride a bus but it is costly as well. They have a car but there is no place to park it. Another sister comes from Bosnia every other week a 2 hour bus ride one way. I told them that I was very proud of them for their dedication and their courage and strength. I am sure that Heavenly Father is even more proud and happy with them.

After the meeting we talked to the Christopherson”s and told them that Matt

was a companion to their son Peter right after he arrived in the Czech Republic after he was expelled from Serbia. This is a really small world after all!

At 7:00 they did a fireside for all of the members of the church in Serbia right here in our chapel. Ron and I took the small children upstairs to the Young Adult outreach center and played games with them and colored and watched cartoons and ate treats with them. It was fun because it gave us a chance to get to know the kids while their parents had some peace and quiet to listen to an Apostle of the Lord. It has been 8 years since an Apostle has been here in Serbia so it was a really big deal.

Thursday was my 60th Birthday. Thank You to all those of you who sent messages, E-mails and cards. It meant so much to me as 60 is a little bit hard to swallow. I tagged along with Ron and Bro. Savic to do their Home Teaching. We had to take the bus to Erana and Maria’s house and was a very pleasant experience.

Later that evening, Ron took me and the 4 local elders to dinner to a Chinese restaurant. It was my birthday dinner and elder Molina’s last supper since he goes home on June 8th. He has been here for 25 months. The food was terrible but the company was grand. We had dessert which is something we rarely do at the end of a dinner but their fried ice cream was something that sounded too good to be true! It was quite strange — like a scoop of ice cream with corndog batter wrapped around it!!! It was terrible. But Ron’s fried bananas was even worse. He convinced the elders that they needed to taste it so that he could get rid of it and not have to eat it!!!!! The Elders gave me an apron with Belgrade on it and all their ethnic foods of Serbia listed. Also, they gave me a can opener (which holds special meaning to Elder Christiansen) and a fan to keep me cool as I am constantly fanning myself with anything I can get my hands on. It turned off cool this week which was some welcome relief as it has been quite hot. Ron bought me a light jacket that has felt so good for the past 4 days since it turned off cool—In the mid 50’s.

Friday morning we had another meeting with the Divac organization. We have a private meeting scheduled with him on June 11 but he is a very busy man these days and so we will see how it goes. He lived in the US and played pro basketball for LA Lakers and Sacramento Kings and just this last March they retired his jersey. We are going to partner up with his organization to do some Humanitarian work here and I will write more on that as it unfolds.

Friday afternoon we went to Tasa”s Gypsy village to see if Ron could help him with his computer. Someone gave him a computer that is just 2 years old. The computer he has been using is the oldest computer that I have ever seen in my life! The problem is that the newer computer came with no installation instructions to link it up to the newer printer/copier and Ron is baffled as to how to retrieve all of the information off of the old computer and Tasa has been writing a book that is nearly finished and is on the old computer.

When we arrived about 5:00, Tasa had made dinner for us. He had prepared it earlier in the day and had been waiting for us to arrive. He had made Serbian Potato salad and fish ribs and fried catfish. To eat the fish ribs you had to pull off a big fishbone and scrape it between your teeth and pull the little bit of meat off. Now the catfish was another story. It was deep fried – – – Guts and all. We had to eat or we would have offended him so we ate and just hoped that we wouldn’t get sick. He also had strawberries that he spilled on the floor and so he scraped them up and washed them under the bathroom sink and placed them before us again. By the time Ron finally said let’s go, I wasn’t feeling too well and by the time we got home at 10:00pm I felt sick to my stomach and had a bad headache that was getting worse by the minute. I didn’t know if I would wake up deathly ill or not wake up at all but when I did wake up, I felt fine so I guess it was all just anxiety!! Such is the life here in Serbia!!!!!

The pictures that we have included this week are of My Birthday, of a bombed out building here in the heart of Belgrade, bombed by Nato in 1999, and of the conference with Elder D. Todd Christopherson, one of our 12 Apostles and Elder Wondra, the Area Authority over this are a and a former Mission Pres over Serbia. All of the members for the whole country of Serbia were invited to this meeting so you can see how small the church is here.

Trip To Sremska
May 24th, 2009 by ron

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Hello everyone! We spent this week travel with Dr. and Sis Bennett, traveling the country and assessing the neo natal resuscitation needs of each area. We were in Novi Sad on Monday meeting with Dr. Petrovich, the hospital director, and the intensive care Doctor to assess their needs.

On Tuesday we were in Sremska Mitrovica meeting with Dr. Mike and his entire neonatology staff to assess their needs. They thought that we were actually there to teach the resuscitation program that day and so were prepared to be taught. That is one o the problems that we face is in communicating. We sometimes think they know exactly what we mean and sometimes they are a little confused but they were ok with it and are prepared to be taught in November, provided that we get approval from the church to teach there.

We also have good news! We finally got our container of DI goods delivered to the Gypsy community here in Belgrade. It didn’t come easily however. They were holding our cargo even after the analysis of the hygiene kits was completed for reasons we will never understand except to extort more money out of us. Ron finally got mad and started contacting the DHL company in the US which finally brought results. He was up half of the night Monday night getting things straightened out. The US DHL representatives were so helpful. We went to the warehouse on Tues. Morning on our way to Sremska to pay the duty which cost us $1060.00 US dollars. They started to say that they wouldn’t accept our cash and Ron said you will accept it and you will accept it now because I have word from your headquarters in the US and they say that you Will accept it now which they finally did. We went out to Tasa’s Gypsy village after we returned to Belgrade on Tuesday and what a happy community we found. We had arranged for the Elders to go help them unload their cargo and it was a wonderful sight, it was like Christmas!!! Tasa organized the distribution street by street in his village and then he invited all of the members of the church throughout Serbia to also partake. Many of the sisters were wearing new to them outfits at church today that they were so happy to receive from the container. It was so fun to be a part of the whole thing, we loved it!!!!!!!!!

On Wed. we found ourselves in Sarajevo Bosnia. We had a great meeting with their pediatric hospital and their chief neonatologist there. She was an amazing doctor with tremendous responsibilities. They have 29 beds in their intensive care unit and 28 were filled with very critically ill newborns ranging in many problems. Most were premature deliveries and were all in incubators and very well cared for. Sick babies are rushed to that hospital to be cared for. The problem that we are concerned with is in the first minutes after birth and whether or not the babies begin breathing immediately or not. The neo-natal resuscitation program that our team of specialists teaches occurs immediately after birth to revive babies that don’t immediately breathe on their own before there is brain damage or death. That happens before the babies reach this critical care hospital and so we would teach the doctors, nurses, mid-wives and other health care people. Some babies don’t live long enough to reach this critical care facility. The doctor assured us that they do need this program to be taught throughout their country. We would accomplish this by teaching two classes in Bosnia, one in Sarajevo and one in Tuzla and the hospitals would invite all of the smaller hospitals and clinics to attend in their respective hospitals and spread this program that way. We in turn would provides the instructors, manequins and other lifesaving equipment to them so that they can in turn go out and continue to teach the program until it covers the whole country. The Bennett’s have received numerous calls telling them of times that the program has saved babies. We visited Tuzla hospital on Thursday and found them equally enthusiastic to receive the program.

On Friday we took the day to unwind by showing the Bennett’s more of our beautiful city of Belgrade. It was an extremely hot day with high humidity—90 degrees with 75 % humidity! We took them to a concert on Friday evening –The Russian National Symphony Orchestra. The music was amazing but the concert hall left much to be desired! It was stifling hot so much so that the orchestra members had to remove their suit coats after the first movement. The most annoying thing however, was the seating. They had crammed so many seats into the hall that we didn’t have enough leg room. I had to be on my tippie toes so that my legs would be up high enough that my knees were above the seat in front of me, not to mention the tall men that were there! The missionaries also went with us and I think Elders Christiansen and Knight were about to die before the concert was over. They are 6’5 & 6’6. When we exited the hall, a huge thunderstorm had set in and it was raining cats and dogs! We were all drenched and all 600 concert goers were trying to wave down the same taxi!!!! We, DR & Sis Bennett and Ron & I Finally got our taxi but the Elders had to wait for the next bus going their way. I think they enjoyed it however, like little kids playing in the mud!

On Saturday we had the elders to breakfast for palacinkas and then went to the church to clean in preparation for Elder D. Todd Christopherson who is coming on Tuesday to meet with all of the members here. They have each been asked to bring an investigator with them. We cleaned for several hours and then took Elders Molina and Stadlbauer to a city 200 kilometers south of here to meet an investigator. We stopped at a rest stop where a young man from Berlin, Germany asked if he could have a ride. The story goes that this young man, a freelance writer, made a bet with his boss that he could hitchhike to Jerusalem using no money and that he would make it within 30 days, that there are enough good people in this world that he could find rides, places to stay and food and such that he could totally make it without money. He left his cash and credit cards at home and is totally at the mercy of others. He said that he is having the most amazing experiences and plans to write an article for his companie’s magazine as well as a book when he gets home. He had us sign his book when we dropped him off at the end of our journey. It was a really fun experience. The Elders say that they want to do everything with us because we have more fun than they do!!!!! We got home at 11:00 pm only to start a new day today with many more experiences that we can’t begin to write them all. We are loving our mission and want to make every minute count. We send our love to you all.

Elder/Sister Densley

P.S.

The pictures included are of our meeting with the Doctors in Sremska Mitrovica, unloading the container goods at Tasa’s Gypsy village, Meeting in Sarajevo pediatric hospital, the Russian Orchestra, looking over the city of Belgrade and the Danube River and Elder Knight and Alexander , an investigator, cleaning the back courtyard of the church in preparation for Elder D. Todd Christopherson’s visit. He is going to have a special meeting with we missionaries of Serbia, all 8 of us, on Tuesday and 2:00 pm.

Belgrade Cemetary
May 17th, 2009 by ron

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e-d-cemeterygolf-cart-funeralus-bombervaultjason-beckyold-ladystuzla-hospitaldr-bennett

I can’t begin to tell you how fast our weeks are beginning to fly by. It is a phenomenon that I remember our sons talking about when they were on their missions. The good thing is that we are staying busy, the bad thing is that we don’t get as much done in a week as we plan to do.

We spent Monday and Tuesday doctoring Ron’s eye. He contracted a bad case of conjunctivitis (like Pink eye). His eye was swollen shut & oozing and so it wasn’t possible to contact anyone so we stayed pretty close to home except to go out & test some bus routes in preparation for Dr. George & Marcia Bennett coming on Friday. We wanted to be proficient at showing them Belgrade!

On Wed. we got up very early and drove to Sarajevo, Bosnia to meet with the Red Cross again. It was a 7 hour drive. Our meeting went well. We are hoping to go back of Wed. of this week with the Bennett’s in preparation for getting a Neo-natal program going in Bosnia probably in May 2010. We would like to do it sooner but may not have funding until then as it wasn’t figured into 2009 budget. In the evening we went to dinner with Becky and Jason Colvin at a really neat restaurant overlooking Sarajevo. They are Americans They are Americans and he works in the American Embassy in Sarajevo. They are also the only members in Sarajevo that we are aware of with the exception of a young lady who works in Sarajevo teaching English and will soon return to the USA. They hold church in the bottom of the Colvin home. What an amazing thing to imagine them holding sacrament meeting for 3 adults and 3 children. The Colvin’s have a 3 yr old son and twin girls 11/2.

On Thursday we drove to Tuzla for a meeting with the Red Cross. These people are so warm and friendly. They set up a meeting with their local general hospital that took us back at least 50 years! It was stifling hot with no a/c , poorly lit, over crowded, poorly equipped, and in run-down condition. They do the best they can with what they have to work with. There was a dead body in a body bag lying on a gurney near the elevator waiting to be taken to the morgue. We took the stairs to the 4th floor as we would probably have waited there for 30 min. for our turn on the elevator.

We were privileged to visit the maternity ward. It was clean but not very well equipped and in run down condition. They do the best they can with what they have to work with. They are government run hospitals and the bigger hospitals get the most help from their government. We were in a nursery with a new baby that was 1 hour old and in the new born intensive care with babies fighting for their life. There was a little baby girl that was born 2 months early and she was sure little but she was about ready to go home. She was one of the lucky ones that they were able to save. We met with the head doctor in Maternity who is also their head teacher in neo-natal. We talked to her about our neo-natal resuscitation program and she was very interested in learning more. We will take the Bennett’s there next Thursday and I expect that we will be able to do the program there.

Now the most amazing thing about Tuzla is the fact that people are starting to ask questions and wanting to learn more about this church that truly cares about their people. The father who has carried his son around on his shoulders before he received his wheelchair has called the Red Cross 3 times wanting to know more. We are in the process of finding out how to get the information to them. Mission Pres. Hill and D. Todd Christopherson are going to Bosnia around May 27 so we will know better what to do after their visit. The church isn’t officially recognized in Bosnia yet and Ron and I are the only missionaries going into Bosnia right now but it is starting to feel like the time is getting close to send the full time elders in to Bosnia (at least from our perspective).

On our trip home we enjoyed the beautiful Bosnian country side. They do an interesting thing, they roast lambs on spits and you can stop in these little makeshift roadside stands and they shave you off a hunk of roasted lamb. We haven’t tried it yet but I am sure we will before we are through. They hang the lamb out while they are preparing the coals for the fire and the flies are buzzing around them!

In a small farming village we saw four adorable little ladies sitting on a bench near the roadway. They were laughing and talking – I suppose they were discussing their day but they sure looked like they were having a fun time visiting. I had Ron stop and we tried to ask if we could take their picture using sign language. They didn’t seem to understand so I hopped out of the car and stood by them and Ron snapped the picture. They didn’t seem to mind and waved and smiled at us as we drove away!

On Friday the Bennett’s – Dr. George and Sis Marcie — came to Belgrade. They are here to develop neo-natal and it won’t start until Monday. We took the opportunity to show them around the city. The old architecture here is amazingly beautiful. We took them to the old fortress right here in Belgrade called Kalamegdon. Come to find out, George is obsessed with world war II, everything about it. He loved the fortress because it has so much history. It origins date back before Christ was born. It has been built in stages primarily by the Romans, the Turks and the Austrians, each having possession of it at different times in history. They have a very fascinating museum of war memorabilia including ancient swords, spears, guns, uniforms, body armor, and everything in between. The Serbs shot down a Stealth Bomber in 1999 here in Serbia and they have a piece of the bomber and the pilot’s flight suit on display . I think they are pretty proud of that but it is a eerie sight for we Americans. The Bennett’s enjoyed Kalamegdon so much that we went back on Saturday and saw the rest of the fortress.

We also visited an ancient cemetery that is still in use today. The plots are family owned and each plot has a vault underneath where the bodies are actually placed. There are people in some plots that date back to the 1600’s and might have bodies buried in the same vault as recent as 2009. We watched a funeral precession in progress . It was headed by a small band playing the death march followed by a little golf cart truck, the bed enclosed with glass and the casket is placed in the bed of the truck enclosed with glass. The family then follows the casket and marched to their family burial plot where the casket is placed in the vault with all the other family members who have passed on before. It was really interesting.

We start our neo-natal meetings on Monday to assess the needs of each area in preparation for teaching in Nov. so we are going to have a very busy week. We hope this finds you all doing well and enjoying summer that we understand has arrived. It is getting quite warm here as well with high humidity which we aren’t very used to. We will see as the heat and humidity progress!!!

Mother Day
May 10th, 2009 by ron

Annette Kitchen

Annette Kitchen

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This week has gone quickly and so many things from Friday on that I will just write about them and the pictures that are on the blog.

The first picture is of my kitchen and specifically my kitchen one hole sink. The hot water comes from the box in the cupboard ( the door is open so you can see it). The kitchen sink has it’s own water heater, however mine doesn’t produce hot water right now as I appear to have burned out the element. Have been waiting for 3 weeks for the landlord to have it fixed. I have to bring hot water from the bathroom to do dishes.

Today was Mother’s Day in the USA. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there! The cute elders presented me with a beautiful flower boquet today after church. They also gave me a big chocolate bar and a card that they had all written a sweet note. Thanks Elder Molina, Elder Knight, Elder Christiansen, and Elder Stodlebauer , you are all the best!

The third picture is in our livingroom with my beautiful flowers.

#4. My laundryroom – my washer takes 2 hours to wash 1 batch. The dryer is that drying rack, the screwdrivers that I am holding happen to be my opener for the washer as I broke the handle off a month or so ago and that also needs to be fixed. The orange cart is Mildred. She is our shopping cart and we love her a lot, without her our arms and shoulders would be dead from carrying our groceries and gallons of water home from the store.

#5. Our view of Belgrade from our 11th floor balcony. It is really pretty.

#6. Kalamegdon Fort. It is the old fort that was the protector of Belgrade many many years ago. We are told that the fort was captured by the enemy over 60 times! The cannons and guns are part of their arsenal of weapons.

#7. The branch had a priesthood outing on Saturday, May 9th. They went canoeing on the Danube River and Ron had a great time.

#8. The guys who participated in the outing.

Sorry that my writings are short this week. We ran out of time because we Skyped all of our kids and Ron has a bad case of pink eye and his right eye is swollen shut so we are off to bed at 12:15 am.

Red Cross on Monday
May 3rd, 2009 by ron

Dr Mike

Dr Mike Dr Slobodanka

Zone Conferance

Zone Conferance

Elder Eating

Elder Eating

Yellow Tie Zone

Yellow Tie Zone

Ready mix Truck

Ready mix Truck

April 2009

Another week has come and gone and it is crazy how fast the week goes by. I must admit that this week wasn’t quite as exciting as last week but also important.

We met with the Red Cross on Monday and had a very favorable meeting with them. After the meeting we hopped a trolley and went to New Belgrade. We were headed to a mall to pick up ink cartridges for our new printer and they are hard to find! Half way there the trolley just stopped and a message came over the speaker and everyone got off the bus and ran across a very busy highway. !(Remember, we don’t speak Serb.) Ron and I just stood there in amazement wondering what had just happened. A young college student, realizing our dilemma, ran back across the road and explained to us that the tracks were torn up a little further up the line and so we would need to take the bus the rest of the way. He was really nice and his English was good so he talked to us the whole way as we stood on the crowded bus to our stop. We got off, said our thank you’s and started walking towards the mall. By now the wind is starting to really pick up steam and it is trying to rain when a nice lady walked up to us. I recognized her as a lady who was also on the tram and the bus. She said excuse me, but I noticed you on the bus and I noticed something different about you. There is a different feeling when I am around you. We explained that we are humanitarian missionaries for the church. She walked with us all the way to the mall and wanted to show us around. We gave her our business card and a pass along card and invited her to church today but she didn’t come. We were disappointed. We had a hard time getting back home in the rain and trying to find the right bus. We walked for miles and the wind was so strong that it blew my umbrella inside out and broke it. That is typical Serbia, lots of wind and rain!

On Wednesday we went to Sremska Mitrovisa to meet with Dr. Mike and his colleagues who just happen to be the heads of Labor and Delivery and the New Born Dept of their hospital. We took them a new child’s wheelchair which made them really happy. Dr. Mike is a surgeon and is head of his region for hospitals. The region is the whole northern half of Serbia. These people are so nice and thankful for anything we can do to help them. We had the two local missionaries there to help us translate. One of the elders is Nellie Gubler’s grandson. His father is Marvin Gubler. He is a really fine elder and has been a lot of help to us as translator.

On Thursday we went to Novi Sad to meet with the a doctor who is head of pediatrics at their local hospital. When we arrived, we pulled up to a gate to enter when a woman came running our and yelling something which the elders Singer and Armstrong said was get out of the way-get out of the way!!! She was really irate! Come to find out, an ambulance was behind us and needed to get in. The crazy thing was, we were coming off of a very busy road and there wasn’t anywhere we could go except onto a sidewalk that was crowded with people. They cleared a spot for us to go! When the ambulance had pulled in, we explained to her that we had an appointment with Dr. Slobodanka Petrovic, head of pediatrics and that we had a wheelchair for her. The lady personally walked us in and cleared a place for us to park since we had something to give them. We had a great meeting with the Dr. and as we were leaving, the irate lady had cooled down and was waving and almost blowing us kisses!

On Saturday we had Zone Conference. The local elders asked Ron and I if we could prepare the lunch. I made sloppy joes with chips, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, (we are always trying to get a few vegetables into our diet) drinks and palacenkas for dessert. ( Palacenkas are thin crepes, Swedish pancakes, but in Serbia they serve them for dessert and they spread them with Nutella chocolate spread and man is it ever good. I fix it every Sunday for the elders for Sunday dessert after dinner! ) They slicked up every morsel of food we had and it was fun to see them eat and enjoy!

The pictures are of our meetings with the hospitals and doctors, of Zone Conference, me cooking palacinkas, of the elders enjoying lunch, and the one of all of the elders including Elder Densley is to let you know that Elder Densley has really made it! The elders bought matching ties for themselves and they even bought Elder Densley a tie to match theirs, soft yellow in color! I thought that that was so cool that they wanted him to have a tie to match all of them!!!!!

After church today Ron and the elders gave Nevena a blessing. She is a 23 yr. old testimony I have ever seen in someone of her age and she works for the church translating materials such as conference talks, manuals and such so that it can be translated into Serbian. She suffers from migraine headaches that put her out of commission for days and a week at a time. They gave her a really nice blessing after which the elders all came to our house with one of their investigators for lunch. I made them tacos and lots of them and palacinkas—lots of them also! They eat everything I put before them!!! Like hungry wolves.

We just got word that Elder D. Todd Christofferson is coming to Belgrade, Serbia on May 26. We are hoping that the investigator that came to dinner today will be getting baptized while he is here. Wouldn’t that be cool, to be baptized in the presence of a 12 apostle?!

One last note, the picture that we have included of the little cement mixer is for all of you construction people looking for innovation.

This little guy scoops up it’s own gravel, dumps it into the mixer and then the mixing process begins. Kind of cool huh?

To my sister Shirlene, thank you sooooooooooooooo much for the care package. It got here in 11 days and in perfect condition. THANK YOU THANK YOU.

We send our love to all.

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