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Bosnia Trip
April 25th, 2009 by ron

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Greetings!
We are still trying to get Tasa’s container through customs and delivered. In the past week we have taken trams, buses, taxi’s, and walked for miles to try spend face time with the shippers to get the container from the port in Croatia to Belgrade , through customs and delivered to Tasa. So far we have only accomplished getting the container to Belgrade where it is being held up in customs until they analyze the toothpaste and bar soap in the hygiene kits that are in the container. We have been told that shipping agents and customs agents are on the take and we are afraid that it may be the case as we are worried that we may have to pay an arm and a leg to get this container delivered. It contains winter coats, boots, and clothing all from DI and baby quilts, blankets and hygiene kits all new. Please pray for us literally as it may cost more than the stuff is even worth. Tasa is the gypsy leader who is also a member of the church and is in the branch presidency here in Belgrade.
We got up at 4:30 am on Thursday and readied ourselves for a road trip to Bosnia and were on the road by 6:00am. Remember, the car is parked at the church 5 blocks away. We pulled our little overnight bags and carried our backpacks all the way. Now, you might ask why we don’t go to the church, get the car, drive to our apt. and pick up our luggage and the answer is clear……NO parking at our apt. building. By the time we double parked the car, took our little rickety elevator (which sometimes gets hung up) to the 11th floor and got back to the car we would either have a parking ticket or our car would be towed. Our streets are so narrow, many are one way streets, and there is just no place to park. There is not one single parking stall for our apt. building. People downtown where we live just don’t own a car. Mass transit is very good here and so that is how we get around on a daily basis. We buy a monthly pass and it is good for bus & tram. The church has purchased 2 stall in front of the church building and we have a devise that looks like a tripod which stands up with a padlock to keep other people from parking there. The members who have cars also have keys so they can park there but nearly everyone takes the bus to church.
Well back to my story! We were on the road by 6:00 headed to Bosnia. Driving through Bosnia was very beautiful with it’s rolling hills and beautiful green mountains. The road is a 2 lane highway that is like driving over Cedar Mountain. There were lovely little villages all along the way and each home seemed to have an outhouse, smoke house for smoking meats, a garden spot with rows and rows of onions already up, and many had a cow, or sheep grazing on the hillside or a goat or two. Many Bosnians are Muslim and you can tell the women because they wear scarves on their heads and long skirts or dresses. Their Mausk’s (church buildings) are everywhere.
As we drove along, I noticed pock marks on the front of the houses, where big chunks had fallen away. I told Ron that it looked like someone had opened fire on them. We came to realize that’s exactly what had happened. During the war between Serbia and Bosnia of 1998, the Serbs tried to do an ethnic cleansing, and tried to take over Bosnia. The Bosnians were warned to leave and many who did burned their own houses as they headed for safer ground fearing that the Serbs would move in and take over their homes. We counted 62 burned out shells in a short distance. It must have been such a frightening time for them. Luckily the US and NATO stepped in and helped Bosnia out. For this reason, Bosnians like Americans a lot.
We first went to Sarajevo. If you remember your history, they hosted the winter Olympics in 1972. It is a beautiful city high up in the mountains. There is an American couple in Sarajevo and he works for the American Embassy there. They are both Latter-day Saints and are both anxious to help us in any way possible. They will be wonderful local contact persons for us there. We went to meet with the Red Cross to see if we can partner up with them to get a wheelchair project started. The church is not recognized there yet and so this may be a way to get the name of the church recognized while helping handicapped people at the same time. We had a very good meeting and things look promising. We plan to make application for wheelchairs right away. After our meeting we walked around a local market and visited with a few people there and were warmly received! We couldn’t stay long however as we needed to get on the road back to Tuzla, Bosnia where we had reservations and the only hotel in town.
Our hotel took us back farther than we cared to remember! It was soooooooooo old and in the middle of some renovations. I hope they hurry on the renovations as we will be going back quite often. The Durrance’s were with us and are actually our bosses (if you will) as they are in charge of all of the Humanitarian Missionaries in the Balkin region. They are headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany but are actually from Florida and speak with quite the southern drawl – y’all. They are just our age and are quite a lot of fun to work with. They have been out on their mission since Dec. and came to Tuzla a few months ago & organized a wheelchair project with the Red Cross there. We were there for the Distribution Ceremony. The local TV station interviewed our mission president for the local news and showed many of the recipients of the chairs. It was such an emotional thing to see a father carry his 11 (or so) year old son around on his back. The boy was so crippled. What a blessing this gift is going to be in the life of this boy and his father. I talked to the m and although they couldn’t understand my words and I couldn’t understand theirs, we communicated spirit to spirit. I held the boy’s hands and he clung on to me, didn’t want to let go. I cried my eyes out. Another story was of twin little 6 yr. old girls who aren’t able to walk. Do you think that twin chairs will bless their lives and that of their parents? Can you imagine carrying TWO handicapped children everywhere they went? There were so many people in need of these chairs and not enough chairs to go around. See the pictures attached and you will recognize who and what I am talking about.
After the ceremony, the Red Cross took us to one of their hospitals in the area. The Pres. Of the local Red Cross is also a doctor and a fine man. He volunteers his time to the Red Cross. He is a lung specialist and said that 2/3 of their population smoke and start at a very young age and so they see a tremendously large number of terminally ill cancer patients with lung cancer. They want to partner up with us to do another wheelchair project and are also interested in Neo-Natal Resussitation if we can get permission from their ministers of health in that region.
A funny thing that wasn’t funny at the time.
After Ron’s shower that morning, he cleaned out his ears with a Serbian Q-tip (not that brand) and the cotton came off the stick deep in his ear. We tried and tried to get it out with tweezers and couldn’t reach it. The time came to go to the ceremony and he still hadn’t figured out how to get it out. He tried flushing it out with water, banging on the side of his head then all of a sudden it came to him, use the little Christmas tree shaped tooth cleaning brush. He stuck it in his ear ant twirled it a little bit and out it came! Hooray! Another one of our little daily miracles if you ask me!
On our way home, we drove another route than we had come. It was beautiful. We stopped and talked to a little old couple (picture also included) who were working on the side of a hill. Turns out that she was picking up rocks to place at the top of the field to stop erosion. They were ready to plant hay. He said he would just scatter the seeds and it will grow. She was a little embarrassed because she was afraid she didn’t look presentable but they let us take their picture just the same!
Just before we crossed back over the Serbian border we came to a bridge crossing over the Danube River. I said to Ron that it looked like a trestle bridge and sure enough it was, train tracks leading right down the middle and only wide enough for one train. As we neared the middle of the bridge, we realized that a semi-truck was coming in the opposite direction. We weren’t quite sure if there was enough room to pass but we made it, white knuckle, with an inch or two to spare and to top it off it was nearly dark! Densley is a pretty darn good driver. As you can see, we don’t lack for adventure over here. We are loving doing what we are doing and most of all, love hearing from you. Thank you for your responses and for caring enough to keep us in mind.
We love you all,
Elder and Sis. Densley


8 Responses  
  • Mitch & Lynnette writes:
    April 25th, 200910:34 pmat

    Mitch and I love hearing your stories. We think of you often. I am glad to hear that you are having such a great attitude. I don’t think I could say I would if I were in the same situation. We look forward to hearing more =).

  • Caroline & Dick writes:
    April 26th, 20091:36 amat

    Boy talk about adventure. I am so proud of you guys. It is so neat to be involved in so many humantarian things that help the people so much. It is also a blessing to have skype so you can stay in touch with your family and watch your grandchildren grow and have them not forget grandma and grandpa. I love this blog thing but skype is much better to be able to see how things really are. I was so excited to see you guys. What a miracle — you are so far away and yet we can actually see you right on our computer screen. Keep up the good work but don’t over work and let you get yourself down. We love you guys and miss you tons. Love Dick and Caroline

  • Caroline & Dick writes:
    April 26th, 20095:25 amat

    Ron and Anette
    Remember Ron this guy played in the NBA for many years and now is retired but now he is the Adviser for Serbia on all Humanitarian issues. His name is Vlade Divac. Look up Serbia basketball and his name one the best to ever come out of Serbia. He played for the Lakers and Sacramento.
    This might help you! See ya and God Bless you guys.

  • Jana writes:
    April 27th, 200912:28 amat

    All I have to say is WOW!!! What great things you guy’s are involved in. Tha wheelchair project looks to be a very awsome project. How could you not cry, giving t hese people this wonderful gift. It sounds like it blesses the whole family. What beautiful country, and people. We will keep you guy’s in our prayers, and look forward to hearing more wonderful stories about your mission. We love you guy’s a bunch.

  • Norene writes:
    April 27th, 20098:06 pmat

    Dear Ron and Annette,

  • Norene writes:
    April 27th, 20098:09 pmat

    Dear Ron and Annette,
    It looks like you are having some really neat experiences! That is so awesome! Isn’t the Church just amazing what they are willing to do to help people! And to be a part of that must be just thrilling. I’m glad you are getting better from the cold or infection you had. Thank goodness for zpacks when needed! Keep up the good work.
    Love, Norene and George

  • Terry and Ellen writes:
    April 30th, 20091:23 amat

    Hi Ron and Annette–Terry really enjoyed your birthday greeting. Thanks for thinking of him. You guys are doing just exactly what you planned to do–helping the people wherever you can. That’s just terrific. So grateful to hear about your experiences. I think about you and will continue to check this blog. Lisa and Jacob are in Italy right now–of course, they are sightseeing. We are taking care of the dogs. Yes, now there are two dogs. Where are the grand children? Terry is doing fine after his brain porcedure. We will know in 3 months if it stopped the growth of the tumor. He will be doing the sinus surgery on 5/13. Then most of his medical issues will be taken care of. So lucky to live in a country where there are resources to that can be accessed.
    Take care and God bless you. Ellen and Terry

  • Cindy Larkin writes:
    May 3rd, 20097:10 amat

    What a week you’ve had! Good, good things happening in Serbia. The food doesn’t look to bad either. How is it? Sounds like you’re going to be walking a lot. It’ll keep your heart in good shape! Love seeing the pictures too.


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