Sarajevo, I love you!

Being in Bosnia has been absolutely wonderful. With a couple of exceptions, and presuming things go smoothly tomorrow, I'll have somehow managed to visit everyone I wanted to see! I don't have enough time to write much now, and I'll have to wait until I get home to put up more pictures (although I haven't taken too many - digital camera or no, I'm still my old non-photo-taking self, I'm afraid).

On Wednesday, I'm joining Drew Matter and his crew on the train ride up to Zagreb. I fly to London on Thursday, and Atlanta on Friday. Traveling is wonderful. I'm hoping I don't get lulled back to sleep when I return to America. Anyone know what's been happening on Friends?


Sarajevo from a hill
Sarajevo, from a hill above the library.

This is a picture from my first day in Sarajevo. The city was covered by fog/smog, as well as by a blanket of snow. Unfortunately, my feeling that there is less optimism and hope now than there was three years ago is turning out to be correct. I have had people tell me they would happily leave to go anywhere that would give them a visa, just so they could work. When I've told people my opinion that what the country really needs is just one honest man as president, who will do what is right and set a standard for doing so, the reply has been that they fear no such honest politician could exist. Is there no one righteous, not even one?


Nonetheless, there is still lots to love about Sarajevo. This is a picture of the view from outside Lawn's house, looking over Velesici, and up to the top of the hill, at "Hum". I'm not sure if Hum is the name of the hill, or of the interesting radio tower at the top. Drew Matter said when he saw pictures of it, he thought, "That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life," and that when he came to Sarajevo and saw it, he thought, "That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life." Here's a closeup:

Hum, Closeup

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours wandering around town with my friend Ada, catching up on the last three years. It was wonderful to see her again. She is doing well, and seemed even happier and more buoyant than I remembered her. We walked from Skenderija (a mall) to downtown and back twice, and then stopped in to check out an art exhibit that we found in Skenderija. Here's a couple of pictures:

Mary Ann and Ada
Mary Ann and Ada. Mary Ann is a friend of Ada's, who she was meeting to hang out with. I thought this picture turned out really nicely.

Ada and Zellyn
Ada and I. Oops. I guess we should have taken one sitting down, so we'd be about the same height. Oh well. This way you get a glimpse of the mountain behind Skenderija, with houses climbing up it.

Andreja and Chris
Here at last, a picture of Andreja and Chris. Sorry it's a bit blurred - I took it at the studio while they were having the real pictures taken, and didn't want to use my flash and disturb the real photographer!

Finally, the coffee update. Sorry. I've completely lost count. No more coffee updates! Although, when I hung out with Ada, we didn't dring coffee - she doesn't like it!


Oh. Two more things. For those of you with fast connections or who don't mind waiting, check out Trent's portfolio. Very cool. http://www.ald.utoronto.ca/~hunter_t/ - click on the folder in the bottom left corner.

And, a quote I saw a while ago in a horribly geeky interview, which I thought was interesting:

A thought. I would say that "to want is only authentic when it's translated into an action". There is something wonderful in God's creative process (you can check that in first chapters of the Bible). When God says, "Let there be light", he creates light. The greatest problem of artists is that they say, "Let there be art" and do nothing. :)

In Bosnia - quick update

Chris and Andreja's Big Fat Croatian Wedding was wonderful. The actual wedding activities lasted about 12 hours, from four in the afternoon, until about four in the morning. Much eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and general celebration. I felt lucky to have been invited, and I'm sorry to all you many folks who would have liked to have come but couldn't - I was thinking of you and wishing you could have been there. I'll post some pictures when I get a chance.

Last night was church, and apparently there has been some amount of buzz about my coming to visit. It's really quite strange - I don't feel like I warrant that much excitement! Most of the people from my old church in Atlanta are not here at the moment - only Dani and the Jones family. But I have more than enough Bosnian friends to visit! I'm going to consume litres and litres of coffee, I can tell!

I got to drive back from the wedding with Dani, which was wonderful. We talked and talked and talked, catching up on three years of all sorts of everything. Oh, and I found I had managed to lose her car registration somewhere in the craziness of driving back to the airport to find my lost luggage, changing for the wedding, and finding my luggage again at 4:30 in the morning. That made border crossings and police checks nervous and painful, and meant she has to go through some difficulty and complication to get things straightened out. Oh dear. Sorry, Dani!

Today was my first full day in Bosnia. And it certainly was full. This morning, I had coffee with Asmir (who's staying here) and Sutka (who came to clean) here at Lawn's house. Then I went off to give Dani my passport so she could get me registered at the police station. She was at a cafe, so that involved more coffee. Then, Asmir and I sat and had lunch at another cafe until his language lesson with Caroline. (Coke this time, not coffee!)

I went walking downtown, and climbed up the hill to get a view of the city. Unfortunately, in winter it's largely obscured by fog/smog. Maybe it was that, and lack of any kind of green plants, but it felt like the sense of optimism and new recovery of three years ago has dissipated, and life is just ticking over. Then again, it's hard to tell when you're wandering around a city by yourself, in winter, in the early afternoon on a Monday. It's quite strange to be back - the city has changed, and I certainly have changed, and I suppose I'll have to get to know it again. Many of the hopes and dreams and thoughts and wishes and fears I had when I last saw all these people and places have passed behind.

I figured if I could find my friend Ibro hanging out at the bookstore cafe (coffee) where Dani told me I might find him, he would help me to understand what's going on in the spirit of the city. He's an art student, drinking coffee, studying aesthetics, and plotting to change the world. It was good to see him again, and I had to drag myself away from our conversation. I can't wait to see some of his art.

So, one conversation about beauty/truth/globalism/art/family/Sarajevo/politics/life later, I was walking back home, wondering where meaning and beauty comes from. Do you recognize it, or create it? Maybe it feels like you created it while you were working hard to find it. If you recognize it, then maybe you have to look hard before you see it sometimes. And maybe you can find beauty or ugliness in most things. I think this is going to be my Polyanna year, playing the "glad game" - find something to be glad about in everything

Six o' clock brought dinner with Drew Matter, and a chance to catch up for the first time in - oh, ages - probably since college, four or five years ago. Ten Cevapi and a glass of yoghurt at Zeljo (first day, Chris!), and I felt like I'd arrived for real. After stopping in at a cafe (coffee), Drew and I went back to their place, and played piano and sang and praised God.

As I said, it's a bit strange coming back to Sarajevo. But nice. I have no agenda, no plan, no work, and no schedule. There's absolutely nothing I'm supposed to be doing, and no goals except to relax, enjoy myself, stay close to God, and manage to visit all my friends. And to somehow be a tenth as generous to everyone as they are to me.

That's it. Except for one public service announcement: If you have friends over in here in Bosnia, write to them, call them or email them. Now. They need to know you're thinking about them. Living here can be difficult, and news from home infrequent.


St Paul's, and the Millenium Bridge
St Paul's, and the Millenium Bridge

Nothing much to say. Today, I went for a walk at lunchtime, around St. Paul's, and across the Millenium Bridge. It's amazing how much building is going on. The skyline is ragged with cranes.


Cranes against the sky
Cranes against the sky, Docklands, London

Years ago, Dad gave me a blue bookmark with Joy Dawson's Principles for Effective Intercession printed on it. I've had it in my Bible for about as long as I can remember, and I probably need to re-type and re-laminate it before it frays away completely. Joy Dawson suggests that you should ask God to clear out your own thoughts, feelings, desires, and imaginations for what you want to pray about, and pray whatever God puts in your mind. Pretty scary, huh?

What if the important things don't get covered?

Sometimes the important things, evidently, are simple: Why don't you give your friend Stephen a call? Now.

Usually, I'm too busy thinking about the things that seem important to me at the moment. My mind ends up feeling like a rubber band, when you twist it up tightly, hold each end between finger and thumb, and move your hands apart and together. As it shortens, it suddenly jumps into knobs and kinks and coiled bumps. As you stretch it, the knots are pulled out again, as the tension increases.

For me, a big part of growing older is learning not to do that. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."



Snowing: View from the Office
Sweet. It never gets old.


This Way
Traffic Light Tree
I like this one - I caught sight of this from a distance while wandering around the Docklands, and just had to check it out. It pretty much describes how I'm feeling right now, big-picture-wise.


Wow. I hate this job. 8:40pm on Saturday night. I'm beginning to see why people start their own companies. Everything else being equal, I'd rather work like crazy to solve some stupid problem that I caused than work like crazy to solve some stupid problem somebody else caused. Or even better, eliminate the somebody else, and don't cause the same stupid problems over and over (and over) again.