This will be dedicated to all the beautiful people I encounter throughout my journey. Check here weekly to see if I have introduced you to anyone who has peaked my interest, made me laugh, or helped me opened my eyes.
Mladin is basically the reason I am here in Croatia. He is the missionary I am working under. I want to tell you more about this man. For starters, he is not just the preacher at Varaždin Church of Christ, but he is the president of the 13 Churches of Christ here in Croatia. (The funny thing about that is Mladin was not even the one who told me.) For that reason he stays pretty busy, but not in a worldly manner. NO. He stays busy for God. Coming to work on Mondays on his day off, and having meetings, meetings, meetings all the time. He is a very important person to this congregation, his peers, his country, and now to me too. Mladin Dominic, YOU, my friend, are going to be a person I will keep in my life. Thank You brother, for your humbleness, servanthood, and leadership. Such beautiful qualities you are great at expressing.
The Haynes Sisters
Carly Carroll and Sarah Sells aren’t REALLY sisters, but by the way they acted you would assume so. These two ladies both attend Abilene Christian University and are pretty phenomenal for multiple reasons. Carly (on the left) is a Music Theatrical major and likes to tap dance, sing, and make fart noises with her arm, (seriously). Sarah is an English major who’s hobbies are swing dancing, cooking groundlessly, and eating endless amounts of bread, (seriously). My relationship with these ladies developed from your tradinal blank slate, to a picture with some scribbles, to some ripped pages at times, but ultimately a photo worth a thousand words, such as the one you see before you. As I write this post I smile just thinking of the indescribable times I had with them. I’m very delighted God chose these ole ACU Wildcats to bring more joyful faces to my life.
Mateja makes me laugh gleefully. There is just something I can’t figure out about her that just makes me shake my head out of laughter. Maybe its my corny jokes that she sometimes doesn’t get, the times she is so focus she can’t hear me speak, or just the beautiful spirit God has given her that makes me glorify God in my silly little chuckles. But, WOW GUYS! Her spirit for endurance is beyond words. The amount of different responsibilities and ideas running across her mind are twisted. I literally can’t describe to you how focus, determined, and especially energized she is. Only the people who know her would understand. But I write this post to say I know her strong characteristics of being on fire for God is what I greatly admire about her. I hope we can not only appreciate those who have her gift, but try to at least mimic the character they are so exquisite at.
Zvonko, Amen! Everyone needs a Zvonko in their life. My relationship with Zvonko is pretty different from most of the people mentioned on this page. I don’t speak Croatian and he doesn’t English, but we still understood each other…(most of the time). My friendship with him is living proof of what the Church is. It’s people of different backgrounds, different views, and different languages coming together to unify for the Lord. Which is what happened at the Varašdin Church of Christ. Zvoko is a man of God. I’m filled with joy as I write just wishing you could encounter the Christ-like spirit I saw in him. I got to know Zvonko, but not directly. I learned about him through his children, friends, his passion through worship, his character while mowing the lawn, and his style when he was relaxed. I just truly adore my brother Zvonko and the leader God has made him. He is known for being the Man of Prayer at their congregation. You can see by the photo inserted how he is committed. I had to sneak a picture of his Bible, because I was captivated on how he treated this Gift from God. I use my cell phone at church services to read God’s Word. But I learned in Croatia, from God, through Zvonko that there is something miraculous and honorable about carrying an album telling us about God’s love. As small as it might seem to some folks I’m going to do my best to bring my Bible to church services. It might be easy for some people, but I like everything on my phone. But it seems I need to put pride away to carry something that carries a story more valuable than myself.
My sister Danijela, such a kind and gentle spirit. I enjoy the compassion she has for people and especially children. She was the caretaker of the congregation. One gift that I saw God has given her was the ability to clean. I know that seems like an ordinary skill. However, Danijela truly made cleaning up an art. You would simply have to see it in order to believe it, because me describing it you would take the essence out of it. I do want to add how she is very humble and its very easy to see. I know a lot of humble people, but when it comes to cleaning or doing certain task, don’t you want to take credit for the work being done? Aren’t you sometimes prideful for the work that was accomplished? The long hours of repetitive and tiring work, on the ground scrubbing the shower floor. Danijela is one of the people God is talking about when he says “The last shall be first”. She lives to serve. I found her to be a very VERY positive example. I asked her how its possible for her to keep going when she is tired and she said (paraphrasing) We’re not working just to work, we’re working because we love helping the people and God gives us the strength to continue going. Thanks Danijela for that sweet piece of wisdom.
Anja has a very interesting story. One of those story which seem like it was Divine Intervention. Anja had a mentor, very close mentor and she was from Croatia. Her and the mentor faded from each other, but through that Anja had an interest in Croatia. Within a year Anja became fluent in speaking Croatian, along with English and her native tongue, German. Anja is a musician and teacher for the recorder, harp, and oboe. She resides in Germany. I met her through the LST retreat week. It was also pleasing getting to know her. What I can easily see in her is her authenticity. She not going to pretend she agrees with you when she doesn’t and she not going to act to be someone else. There where times when she was just blunt with me: “I’m not in the mood”, “You’re talking to fast” and many other situations when she spoke her mind, but did so in a way where people listened and weren’t offended. Being her tour guide for Varaždin was a pretty interesting, because there aren’t too many people I can converse with for a whole day and not get tired of talking to, but Anja was an acceptation I will never forget.
Andrej & Nina Lovše
I adored being around Andrej and Nina. They are truly perfect in their own way. They’re story of how they found Christ is quite inspiring. Nina was at the time of her life where she was seeking God, during that time she found Andrej. They began dating, however Nina told Andrej she is looking for a Godly man. Andrej went off to Medical school and Nina stayed her hometown. During that separation they where still dating. Slowly Andrej became more fond of God until literally one night while study God’s word he had an epiphany and found the truth about Christ. He called Nina, who was back at home struggling with her walk with God. He mentioned to her how he was ready to get baptized and to get married and to totally give his life to Christ. Nina was shocked and also suspicious on how serious he was. While asking a series of questions she became convinced and in a matter a time he was baptized and married. I believe it is easier to see God shape their lives compared to others, simply because they allow Him to. Andrej is one of the European leaders of an organization in Slovenia called JosiahVenture.
Dijana & Elizabeta Petrekovic
Dijana and Elizabeta. No habla Ingles. These two are the other people I grew closer with without using a common language. My time spent with these two was precious, pure, and simply loving. It all started with the ten year old Elizabeta. I was kinda thrown off with this little girl following me, but I couldn’t resist her coping my every move. We quickly became friends. Of course she’s speaks Croatian and can’t comprehend things due to her age, but God has NO barriers. I “somehow” (GOD) became friends with her and it was so beautiful words aren’t enough to express the joy I felt around her. She’s a child and it’s just encouraging to be around them. My relationship with Dijana was different since she also didn’t know english, however I can’t do the poking games I can with her, like I can with her daughter. We tried to communicate multiple times which was always funny. We learned the best way for us to get to know each other was through our translator Zeljka. (See Below)
Zeljka & Evan Pothorski
Evan and Zeljka. These two (three) helped made me feel at home. Everyone is Croatia is welcoming, but I really felt it with these two. I only got to hang out with them a few times in my journey in Croatia, but each time I was with them it was a memorable experience. Evan used to be a barber for a long time before he gave that up and decided to team up with his wife Zeljka and go and play street performers. They did this for many years, which covered these living expenses and which allows them to live comfortably in retirement. Evan was an expert at playing the mandala and Zeljka was the master at the accordion. I sadly never got to hear either one of them play, but who knows? There is still a possibility I’m going to see them and maybe then I hear them play these exotic instruments.
My beloved brother David. David is studying to get his doctorates in Theology. I didn’t get to bond with him as long as I wanted, because we just met a couple of days before this picture. But I met him long enough to see he is a true servant of God. We converses about many things, school, gardening, theology. I VERY much enjoyed listening to him speak. He is the one who reminded me about how people can idolize entertainment. Which is one of the reason I decided to write a post about it. I am very delighted that I met David and REALLY hope it is part of God’s will for me to see him again.
Vlado is another beautiful soul who had a huge impact on me in a short amount of time. My brother here is the minister in Vukovar. Vukovar is the last town on your way to Serbia. The town is right next to the Daube river which is what separates Croatia from Serbia. Vukovar is a very special place. What Vlado is doing there is pretty historical. Vukovar is town where people lost homes and loved ones died. The war happened in 1991 for 87 days. The town, today, is still recovering from the war with Serbia. The town has a mixture of Croatians, Serbians, and other nationalities. The issue is that there is a strong aftermath of tension between the two counties, very similar to to how segregation was an issue in America. Sadly, the same way there is still some tension between White people and Blacks people, there is also tension between Serbians and Croatians. I say all that, because the congregation Vlado preaches is one of the few places in the town which has unified both of the two nationalities. Which is SIGNIFICANT! The church should be the place where people of all nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds can come together. Which is exactly something Vlado is casually reaching.
Dragetz, Dragetz was like the neighborhood “mailman”. He often brought the newspaper, Coca-Cola, bread, and even cherries. Other than bringing food he apparently was a well known guy around the community. Dragetz is a very simple being, which is said in a positive way. Conversing with him might be complicated, but he is simple in the perspective of easily satisfied. Of course this is what I believed in my short amount of time over there. But I still found it easy to please him compared to others I know of or even compared to myself at times. So it was very refreshing to see a man who could be tremulously pleased with the smallest things in life.
Bok! (hello, in Croatian) Don’t be misguided, this native from Croatia has a Texas driver license and can probably be your tour guide for around New York City. The second day I was there was when I met Jura (pronounced Yurrah, which means George in English). Which frightened me, because I didn’t know if he spoke English at all. So I waited for him to greet me. (I blanked out on the English word for hello). During my stay in Croatia I got to Jura very well. Turns out his is a military man, translator, oboe, bassoon, and clarinet player (along with more instruments), and the another minister at Croatia. I will have to pocket the rest of the gifts this man has, but meeting him was uplifting. I enjoy knowing how someone across the oceans, which a slight different perspective of life than mine (other than speaking the gospel) can have the same passion for our Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m very thankful for my beauty he has brought to my life.