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Sandy Rowland: Letter from Bosnia

6/20/03

Dear Friends and Family,

Hope all is well and fine, the weather has finally cooled down and I can breathe again. My sore throat is much better.

Each day is an adventure and just when you think you have some things figured out you find out that you don't know a thing.

Riding down the mountain each morning we pass the same things, but each day I see something different. Saja drives like an Indy 500 Car driver and I have held onto the door handle for dear life many times, missing cows, dogs, cars and big yellow buses that is the public transportation, and they travel on the little mountain roads at high speed. She said I could drive, but I decline. The other day we pass a little lady, Saja knows everyone, we stop to say hi! She is old and bent over carrying a bundle of sticks tied to her back. As I look into her face I see many years of hard work and wrinkles. The sticks are tied tight with rope and I wonder how she breathes. I ask if I can take her picture, she declines and I respect that. Although I won't have her picture on paper, I will have it forever in my mind. She is a returning refugee. Frail and delicate, I wonder how she survives.

I am working with Saja on a School project for her village, we are busy getting measurements and pictures to put together the project. It will go under UMCOR. It is a playground for a small village, Most of the schools where destroyed during the war, the children have no place to play that is safe, many play in the road, where the big buses travel. Her vision and dream is to have a garden and some playground equipment for the younger children, a place to sit talk and laugh. The village will have the responsibility of putting up 30% of the funds for the project and the upkeep so they and be part owner of it. It is in the location of the two school room school house. I had chance to visit yesterday and take pictures. Also sat and had Kafe' with the teachers and architect, you just go to the municipality and pick him up and take him with you to take measurements. Omar's father is one of the teachers there. I was given a big red clay necklace from one of t! he teachers. If there is any person or church organization that would like to be part or this project just let me know. As I was writing in my journal the thought came to me, in America most kids have their own playground in there backyards, here they don't!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with one of my students family, she is Rada and is Serbian. We had to walk to her house about 2 miles, nice walk through the woods, dirt road (didn't see any snakes!) Their house was rebuild with the help of UMCOR and their greenhouses which house wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers was one of their projects also. Since they are Serbs they have a pig and are waiting the birth of a calf. We had stuffed peppers for lunch and salad, Nada, the mom, then brings out a hunk of meat, not cooked and starts to slice, I being the guest have to sample, wasn't too bad, I am stuffed, Kafe' banana choc, covered cookies. I stay until afternoon and find out more about the family. Very interesting. Dad comes home and you instantly know who rules the throne.

He is a hard working man and they all wait on him hand and foot. Soon time to leave.

I have met an African American woman named Cheyenne from Atlanta, Ga. She married a Bosnian and is here for 3 months. She met her husband while shopping in Victoria Secret at a mall looking for bras. He was lost and needed directions, she then later saw him in Applebee's and he gave her his card. He did carpet. Large Bosnian population in Georgia. He did some carpeting for her and then one thing led to another. She is a trip. A Southern Baptist and Muslim, Wow! I hope to go to church with her, here.

Lots of time to think and wonder about this wonderful world and all that live in it. I am thankful for this experience and looking forward to many more.

I start working with the children next week, school will be out. Those who have lost parents in the war. Thanks for the cards I am receiving and the prayers that I know are going up for me. I am now on my second journal.

If you come to Bosnia you will have to: deposit shoes outside door (I have been caught wearing shoes and given little slippers to wear inside); like Cabbage, sour cream, cows milk; like to walk; drink lots of coffee, work in garden, and wear clothes for about 4-5 days at a time, no airconditioning, and have people drop in at your house anytime of day and night and not be upset, family is very important, well that's all for now. Hope all that receive this if fine, Love to all. Dovidenja!

In Christ,
Sandy Rowland