Sorry that we have not been able to blog for a couple weeks----we have been traveling on weekends and have been running (or bussing) around Belgrade and keeping very busy during the weeks.
Two weekends ago we went to Pancevo (pronounced Panchevo), to visit EUS students over fresh-squeezed orange juice in a café that was built inside an old train. The next morning (Sunday) we woke up early and road-tripped with Samuil to the south of Serbia. We met EUS students and others from a small protestant church in Leskovac (pronounced Leskovach), where we were warmly greeted and had a great day touring their town, sharing stories, and getting to know each other. Leskocav is famous for their barbeque (AKA meat), and so we ordered lots of Cvapi, bread, and “salad”, and had a family-style lunch in the middle of the small church meeting area. Dragon (the pastor and father) brought a big honeycomb for dessert----everyone took spoons and dug in! The whole day was filled with fellowship, optimistic spirits, laughter, and encouragement on both ends.
We have completed our first session at the Bozidar Adzija, the English school where we are teaching, completing a total of 60 classes. Emily and Casey’s (teaching 7th graders) had a student cry on the last day of class! Three students in Cassie and Carolyn’s class (teaching 16 year olds- adults), invited us over to dinner at their house the other night, which was a blast as we continued to build cross-cultural friendships. It is times like these that you really realize that you can be all the way across the world, yet find way more similarities than differences in people.
Because of our busy schedule and a more sporadic summer schedule at the Roma school, we have only visited the gypsies once since our last update, and there were fewer children because the rest were on an excursion outside of Belgrade. The children LOVE “baby shark” (a classic, if you ask anyone who has been on the Dominican Republic spring break trip!).
We continue to have EUS “parties” and have had a pretty good number of students, new and old, come each week---even with many being out-of-town on summer vacations with their families. Tuesday nights are a great way to meet university students who are involved in EUS, as well as invite friends that we have met outside of EUS so that we can continue to grow in those friendships as well as introduce them to people like Samuil, Jelena, and other EUS students.
All four of us would agree that the best part of our trip thus far has been the relationships that we have started to build. Whether it is with our students at the English school, EUS university students, or people we have met through Samuil’s many “connections”, the friendships that we have built with people here have presented opportunities for positive growth and challenges---the openness of Serbians invites dynamic conversations, the sharing of honest testimonies, laughter, and funny cultural confusions. These relationships have been such a blessing to us!
Tomorrow (Thursday, at 11:30pm), we leave for Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia. We will return on August 2nd (tentatively---with Serbian timeliness, this could likely change!), and get ready to embark on our last couple weeks in Belgrade.
Some other points of interest:
1.) In Serbia, their version of “the third wheel” is “the 13th piglet” because pigs have 12 nipples for the piglets to eat from, and the 13th is left “alone”.
2.) On Friday it is expected to be 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the abnormal rain that we had a couple weeks ago, the city was unable to spray the anti-mosquito chemicals, so we were eaten alive (Cassie had 40 mosquito bites----just on her legs). Thankfully, yesterday it was sprayed and we can already tell the difference.
3.) One of our weekly highlights are our times with Samuil, drinking coffee, having bible studies, planning our crazy weeks, eating gelato----and never without a lot of his hyper-speed energy and contagious laugh.
We will post an update upon our return of trip!