A Very Sweet Day – Serbia Mission 2.0 (07/24)

A Very Sweet Day in Serbia Mission 2.0 (07/24)

Most of the HOPE Serbia Team being rejuvenated in Montenegro, and one of our members (Amauche) having already returned back home, Taekyung and I stayed back in Belgrade for various reasons for couple of days. Today (Friday) couple of the boys were supposed to come by around 10:30 AM to take us to the Blok 70 (Chinese Shopping Mall) to purchase few items for next week’s Camp for Serbian youth. By 9:30 AM, some of the kids begun to come to the church and by 10:30 we had 15 of them waiting for us.

The plan for the day apparently was quite lofty. We will go cross the town to the only Korean restaurant in Belgrade, then we will go to Blok 70 for some shopping, then to Delta City (giant indoor shopping mall) to hang out and then see a movie (Inside out). Afterwards we were planning to go to ‘Viva restaurant’ for the amazing burgers that we had yesterday.

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Sixteen of us got on to a bus then transferred 5 times to tram/bus to get to the Korejska Kuca (Korea House) for the lunch. It took us about 1.5 hours and it was over 100 degrees. But we were all in good spirit and enjoying the company. It was a nice restaurant and the food were quite authentic with a decent price. I was surprised to find a Serbian blond lady speaking almost fluent Korean and she was the owner of the restaurant. The food was good and the service was great. I saw number of Korean tourists filling up all the seats on the first floor. Kids knew what to order. Many ordered Lamyun (noodle soup) and Dol-Sot Bi-bim-bap (hot stone rice bowl) along with Kim-bap (Korean sushi with eggs, vegetables & beef). Each dish was around 500 dinars ($5) which is about the price of a movie in Serbia. Then, Taekyung and I realized that they have planned that today they will treat us, and that they would not let us get anywhere near the cashier. And they would not be denied.

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The lunch took us little long, so we have decided to go to the Delta City. While on the way to the Delta City, one of the girls who picked up her text books from her International School lost her books on the way. With her panicking and tracing her way back to find the books, some of us took time to pray for her to find her books. She did find her books. Praise the Lord!

Anyhow, the interesting (?) thing happened while we were transferring to other bus that a bus transportation officers were randomly checking the bus passes of the passengers. The girl who went looking for her books had one of the group bus pass and we got into trouble. They told us to get off the bus and began to threatened to call the police to put five of the us to jail unless we pay 10,000 dinars ($100) as the fine for five people not having bus passes. There were much confusion, language & communication issues (since most of the students were recently immigrated kids), heated words, and blatant racism by the officers (white officers), and conflicting information. The officer told me in her broken English that in her country anyone above 7 years old should have a bus pass. The students contended that her teachers at the international school told them that students do not need to have a pass. Some of the kids were upset and with tears. Others were angry at the unjust treatment. They told me that they were always treated like that. Some of them were born and raised in Serbia but still outsiders.  I ran across the street to get money exchanged to Serbian dinars and I did pay the fine for the five of us. I rather pay $100 than loose time on spending with the kids. The kids felt so terrible that I paid the fine. In the end, everyone chipped in to pay the fine.

We did get to the Delta City just in time for the movie. It was so good to get out of 100 plus degree heat into the shopping mall. They insisted on paying for our tickets. I was looking forward seeing “Inside Out” having heard wonderful reviews from everyone I know. The movie was in Serbian with no subtitles. The story line was clear and the movie was quite understandable, and I have to admit that I still cried watching the movie. I told myself that I should definitely see it again when I get back home.

It was already getting late, buy they wanted to feed us. They did find the amazing hamburger place, and it was even more amazing!  The hamburger was double meat in a tasty bread with tomatoes, lettuce, and olives (I thought they were jalapeno peppers). It was huge bigger than a double whopper, and the meat was so fresh and tasty. Of course, they would not let us get near the cashier again. They would treat us. These were kids 11 to 18 year old. We felt both terrible and thankful. We felt so loved and honored.

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One of the girls (Shinan) kept asking us whether we are coming back next year. She was the girl who has never met a Christian until the camp and who boldly said that she was an atheist. But, she was touched by God, moved by God and now believes that there is God who loves. She told me that she will come to camp next year if I come back. Couple of the kids were the ones who thought of not staying for the evening worship service because we preached about Jesus on Monday night. I saw so much joy in their eyes and I am so thankful at what God has started to do in them. I saw a group of youth quickly becoming a community because of the gospel of Christ.

Taekyung and I spent 10 hours with the students today. It was probably the sweetest day I ever had with teenagers. We didn’t speak same language. The communication was difficult. But, I enjoyed every minute of the time I spent with these beautiful ones. I have come to love these kids and that they came to love us as well. All because of the gospel of Christ shared. Brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

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Serbia Mission 2.0 (07/18)

Serbia Mission 2.0 (07/18)

Serbia Mission 2.0 – IT Team joined the rest of the mission team in Belgrade, Serbia on the Thursday (07/16) evening. After the final morning worship at the Taksim Square, we took the Shuttle to the Ataturk Airport bound for Belgrade. When we got the to ticket counter, a happy surprise was waiting for us as the lady at the counter gave three of us upgrade to business class. Abby has never been on a business class, she was smile all the way. The food was delicious and the best seat in the house (Abby had seat 1A).

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As we joined the team, first thing first. We had a wonderful team dinner together. It was and still is one of our favorite places to eat in Serbia. Meat, meat, bread, and meat again. Yum. We can see as the cook grills the meat for us.

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On our second day (The team’s 5th day) in Belgrade, some of us got the privilege of visiting and spending time with some Serbian youth at a youth center. This is a center where they work with 150 plus youths feeding 3 meals a day, helping with homework, mentoring them and more. What a precious youths. We spent the afternoon with them eating pizza, playing games & getting to know them.

2015-07-17 Group Pic with Serbian Youth Center

On Saturday, some of us took the time to visit the Chinese Market where hundreds of businesses are there side by side. It was a hot day in 100’s. We passed out flyers inviting Chinese youth to come to the camp at the church which starts on Monday. We spoke to number of store owners and buying some great bargains while there.

Then we went off into the town to see the city. We stopped to see the House of General Assembly and then we were off to the Temple of the St. Saba.

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The Temple was beautiful and majestic. Since few of us had the chance to visit the Hagia Sophia while in Istanbul, We saw that they had the exact same shape of an Orthodox church. I think Hagia Sophia was bigger than this temple. In the basement were many paintings of Jesus and his disciples as well as the special exhibits of Russian Romanov royal family. I saw the rich Christian heritage of the people.

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Getting to know someone is the first step to getting love someone.

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Serbia Mission 2.0 – IT Style (07/15)

Serbia Mission 2.0 – IT Style (07/15)

It is already Wed. and third day into our stay in Istanbul. Our hearts are open, Lord, whatever you have plan for us. Soli Deo Gloria.

The breakfast at the Faros Hotel was good.

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We begun the day with worshiping in the Taksim Square. We sang and worshiped God for Him and Him alone. There were few people who were listening in and there was no crowd gathered, but we declared that He is “Worthy of it all.”

We went into the Istanbul Old Town looking to eat its famous “Testi” meal. After searching through many streets in the Sirkeci area of the city. We found our “Testi” at the Salute Pub & Restaurant. The waiter was not aggressive but welcoming, and we decided to eat there. Price was decent but the food was awesome. It was really a great show. He brought out the two pots filled with meat and food and were placed in the pan with fire. When ready, he wrapped the pot with towel on the top and broke the top. He poured the content on our plates and they looked yummy as it was delicious.

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Getting ready the pots

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In the fire

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Pot breaking

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ready and served,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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team pic with the waiter

We went to Topkapi Palace. It was just around the corner from the restaurant. We were advised to to the Place late in the afternoon because the crowd will go down. We  met the Romanian Mission Team again. Two days in a row, we are accidentally meeting some special people… Teresa’s heart was heavy and unsettled as she walked through the Palace especially in the section displaying things of Kaaba and other things.

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Group pic 1 – look at Brock’s facial expression

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Group pic – better

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Amazing View from the Palace

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Panorama Pic from the Palace

We were so tired getting back to the hotel. But, it was an adventure in the city.

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Serbia Mission 2.0 – IT Style (07/14) part 2

07/14 (Tues) afternoon

We took a nice nap break and planned to go out to the Taksim Square and Istiklal Ave for a dinner as well as a time to do street worship. We were looking to Manti (Turkish Ravioli). After a long walk about, we found out that the restaurant we were looking for (Hala Manti) did close down to our dismay.

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Sent Antuan Kilisesi. While walking down the Istiklal Ave, we saw a Catholic church. It was a beautiful church building with many pictures of a Catholic Pope and a Patriarch of the Orthodox Church meeting up (it was 50 years ago) which is a powerful symbolic thing for the body of Christ. The church was very visible from the main street.

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We ended eating at a restaurant in Nevizade Row. Don’t even remember the name but food was okay but little pricey.

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Turkish Ice Cream fun…

 

Teresa had to stop for Turkish ice cream again. She thought this Turkish ice cream vendor/artist was the best and the funniest.  The street was filled with people walking about though late at night…

 

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We then walked back to the Taksim Square hoping that the celebration after the breaking of the Ramadan fast would be over.

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Brock and Abby were bold and sat in front of the Monument of the Republic. They begun to sing praises to God and immediately crowd began to gather.

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Taekyung got to meet people and be friended them.

 

 

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Then, a man came to talk to me while Abby & Brock was worshiping. He asked me what my shirt meant that “hope never stops.” I was initially afraid not knowing who he was. But, I found out that He was a Romanian Christian and a part of a short-term mission team going to Romania to teach on stress management with the hope that it will open doors to share the gospel with the people in Romania.

We also met an elderly Iranian couple who told us that they were praying for us. Apparently a Christian couple. Just in one day, we met up four different groups of people carrying the gospel to the nations.

The gospel is the power unto salvation for those who believe (Rom. 1:16). So blessed and encouraged. An amazing day.

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HOPE Serbia Mission 2.0 – IT Team (07/14)

Day 3 (07/14)

Logging in for HOPE Serbia Mission IT (Istanbul Turkey) Team. A beautiful day in Istanbul and we have decided to head out to the Old Town Istanbul. We took the Metro to Sultan Ahmed Mosque which is called Blue Mosque.

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At the Hippodrome.

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What we wanted to go and see was Hagia Sophia. It is a former Christian patriarchal  basilica, later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi). When Ottoman Empire took over the Constantinople and when they made it into a mosque, they tried to cover up much of Christian heritage. Yet, much of ancient arts are still visible in some ways.

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s-20150714_111616 And guess who I met at the Hagia Sophia. The Lutheran pastor whom I met at the Passport Control at the Ataturk Airport was there with his daughter. Rev. Rob Johnson from Toledo Ohio. I think we will meet again in Serbia. How cool would that be?

 

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We walked to the famous Grand Bazaar. While walking around, we got hungry looked for a good place to ea.

We found this restaurant through Trip Advisor, Donerci Sahin Usta, which had a very good rating. When we got there, it was literally a hole in a wall but there was a line of people waiting for their beef doner s-20150714_133605wrapped with yummy wrap.

It was a great find.

We were tried and decided to take a nap and come out in the evening….

 

 

 

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HOPE Serbia Mission 2.0 – Day 2 (Travel Day)

Day 2 (07/13)

Logging in for HOPE Serbia Mission IT (Istanbul Turkey) Team. We were on a different route than the majority team which went straight to Belgrade Serbia. We were off to Istanbul Turkey before we join the others. Smaller plane, packed, and many many little ones. But we were so tired that we fell like a rock and didn’t notice much.

God has an amazing way of reminding His heart and purpose to us. While waiting in line in Istanbul for the passport control, a gentleman approached us and began a conversation. He saw our Serbia Mission Shirt with HOPE Church logo on it and asked whether we were going to Serbia. He is a Lutheran pastor on his way to Serbia to the town of Novi Sod which is where we will be in couple of weeks. And like us, he will be touring Istanbul for 3 days before he and his daughter head out to Serbia. Our hearts felt so connected by our God’s love and heart for the people of Serbia. I have a feeling that we will see them soon in Serbia.

From Istanbul Ataturk Airport, we took a shuttle (HAVATAŞ) to Taksim and walked to our hotel. Hotel was clean and nice. Close to Taksim Square where a lot of people gather daily connecting to the famous Istiklal Ave.

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Monument of Republic

 

We saw many gathered to break fast from the Ramadan.

 

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First thing first. We needed to eat. We had to get burgers from Kizilkayalar Hamburger. Hamburger was 3 TL and Cheeseburger was 4 TL  (2.5 TL is $1). “I could eat it everyday,” Taekyung said.

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Teresa insisted that we have our desserts from Hafiz Mustafa.

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Keskul and Baklava

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Kunefe

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Of course, Turkish Tea

We took a stroll down the Istiklal Ave before we returned to the hotel to rest. There were literally thousands of people were walking about on that road, people bumping on to others constant…

As Teresa said, “I am just taking all in.” I prayed under my breath that God will grow in me His love for the peoples…

1st day in Istanbul is over. Time to rest for the tomorrow’s adventures in God.

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Serbia Mission 2.0 begins

Serbia Mission 2.0 began with a bang, and we are off. We will be spending most of the 1st day traveling.

There was a Send Off service, Commissioning Service, with whole of the HOPE Church blessing with us with prophetic & encouraging words and much prayers.

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Pastor Mimi anointed each team members with anointing oil to symbolized setting apart for the kingdom work and God’s power.

Being prayed for by the congregation. You will notice the oil on Abby’s forehead from the anointing oil.

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Many came out to see the team off at the airport. We felt so loved and prayed for seeing all those who are standing with us.

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There were twelve of us leaving on 07/12 since two of our team members were already in Europe on their way to Belgrade doing little bit of European tour. Five of us will fly into Istanbul for four days before we join the team in Belgrade. The rest (7 of them) will fly straight into Belgrade to get ready for our first ministry project with the Mustard Seed School children.

Couple of the team pics at the airport.

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We said goodbyes to family and friends…

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Off we go. We choose to CARE for what He cares about. We DARE to do things He wants us to do. And we will SHARE His love everyone.

team - on we go

 

 

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