Kanjon Mrtvice

Mike here. We went for a hike this Wednesday to a place called Kanjon Mrtvice. Mrtvice is pronounced Mert-vi-ts-ey. ( All j’s are pronounced like y’s.)  It is an hour and a half away on the winding, mountainous, tunneled road to Belgrade, Serbia.

On the way to the actual canyon part of the hike, we came across a farm and a nice old man who was standing there on the road. He had a white lab that reminded me of my old dog, Wowser. He also had a small, yappy black dog that barked at us the whole time that we walked by the farm. We saw that he had another, vicious looking dog, but that one was tied to his kennel, so we weren’t to scared of him. The farm also boasted around 20 chickens that we could see, and a great deal of sheep that we did not see, but what we did see was the evidence of there being sheep. Lots of sheep. We heard their sheep-bells, too. I think they should all be placed under the category of “cowbells”.

Down the road a bit was another farm, with more hay and sheep, and a small cat that came out and graced us with her company. The farm also boasted a giant German shepherd that barked a great, deep moaning sound. These were both what families call village property, a land holding that has probably been in the family for more than a hundred years.

We stopped earlier than planned because the heavy winter snow had fallen right on our path and, glacier-like, had not melted yet. Our guide, Peter Stonelake, was able to cross it,  but for the rest of us without boots it would have been risky. I was a little disappointed, but everyone else was relieved.

On the way back to our car, I was the only one to see an asp. It was a meter-long black snake that was about an inch around with a yellow stripe on its back. Peter warned us the small black snakes are the most poisonous and not to barre their way of escape (he’s British).

Village Farmhouse

Saturday School

Mike here. This Saturday I went to a friends school here, called the Stojan Cerovic Gimnazija. We went on a Saturday because there was a Big Snow and they couldn’t get to school for a week.  Danica (pronounced DAN-neetsa) is a friend of the Surbatovic’s, and who I met last time I came here, invited me to her school to see what it’s like. I was welcomed into her Chemistry class. However, the math teacher was more strict and did not let me in because she didn’t have permission to have a visitor in the class.

This is a picture of Stojan Cerovic Gimnazija. Danica told me shortly before entering that the place “smelled like a cigarette factory”. I believed her the moment we entered the first of the double doors. The students there thought I was hilarious. A couple of people walked up to me and gave a fist bump. Apparently that’s an American thing and when I gave them fist bumps back the entire hallway roared with laughter. They knew I was American first off. How do they tell? I wonder if it’s the clothes or that my skin is much lighter, or the hair color. Maybe the eyes are a dead give-away. I was told later that they could tell because I walk differently than they do. Hmm.

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Church and School

Hello from Montenegro! (This is Mike writing.) Today is the 13th of March, a Tuesday. 

Church here in Montenegro is very interesting. Thank goodness we have translators who know english and Serbian extremely well (“Thank you” to Pete, Danijel, Milijana, Jelena and Andela). They sat in front or behind us translating the reading and preaching and prayer requests with minor difficulty. I would be lost on the first sentence. But then, I don’t know Serbian very well.

Peter (left) and Danijel (right) our worship leaders.

We sing in Serbian as well, and that is interesting too!  Mom likes the practice of learning all the Bible words that you can’t learn from our beginning language program.  The spelling is purely phonetic, and each letter has one, consistent sound. “Gospode” is Lord. Sounding out some words is difficult, words like ‘srca’ and ‘gdje’. My computer INSISTS that I am spelling those wrong, but, you know computers. Montenegrins do not have Y’s. Instead they have J’s. So, you can figure out how to pronounce that second word.

This is our toasty school room, and my couch, before the renovation.

The Surbatovic’s are bonafide homeschoolers. Or, one might accurately say, ‘hardcore’ homeschoolers. And I (Mike) have joined their clan. We hang out in the warmest room of the house, all of our chairs gathered around the fireplace, with our schoolbooks in our laps, lounging on the Lazboys.

First is math, *always*, and next is whatever subject sounds fun to you. I have noticed that your math always seems less interesting than someone else’s math. This morning I read ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’ for my Overseas British Literature class that I miss dearly, and then did a biology study guide on sponges. The live ones. Catchup time!!

Dad worked out in the workshop (photos pending) and Mom tried to stay out of the way and take pictures, failing to get the latter. Oh, well, maybe tomorrow. Also working in the workshop are three other men who also go to the Church. They’re names are Milan (pronounced Mee-lan), Miko (pronounced Mee-ko) and Rade (pronounced Rah-day).

Now it is time for lunch, and I am starving. Thanks to everyone reading this blog and I hope you can bring other people to read this! Thank you for your support and prayer.


The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins…

(Richard signs in:)

Here we are, waiting at LAX, waiting….waiting…..2 more hours waiting. Good experience so far. Nice polite people at United. Soon we will be on our way to the Big Apple. We plan on picking up a taxi and going downtown to experience Manhattan. I think it’s kinda scary to be among all those tall buildings ( I grew up on a farm ) but I guess that is what adventure is all about! End for Richard.

Why Montenegro?

(This is Julie) Yes, Montenegro seems like a remote place—could you even find it on a map?–but it has become near to our hearts. Here’s the connection:


Sixteen years ago our church sent out the Surbatoviches—friends of ours with young children at the time—as missionaries to proclaim Jesus Christ to the people of Montenegro. Through those years we have prayed for them and the people in their community from afar. Last summer Michael and Julie visited them for 10 days with a team from Faith Community Church Oxnard.

We loved everything about the ministry and people there. We hosted a Vacation Bible School, met many dear children, became friends with the teens and enjoyed the hospitality of the believers and neighbors in Niksic. And our family saw a need that we might fill personally.

The Surbatoviches have built a large home to accommodate the many visitors they host. It is not completely complete, which, though strange to us, is common there. So Job One for us is to be the catalyst for completion of their home. In the process we hope to share in the opportunities for gospel ministry in their home, the church community and the community at large. And we are asking that the Lord would make us useful and encouraging in every possible way. Will you consider praying for us and this endeavor. The Lord does mighty things in response to our prayers. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom! (Luke 12:32)

We have arrived in Niksic!

We thank the Lord for a safe arrival through all the stopovers along the way! Stan picked us up at the Podgorica airport for the last leg home to Niksic.  Today we woke up in Niksic after a warm, welcome night’s rest at the Surbatovich home.  Everyone here is well and wish you greetings.  Josiah, Mike, Milijana, Stan, Vicki, Richard and Julie.

We arrived with 5 out of 6 pieces of luggage, which is pretty good!  Lana’s bag took the scenic route, but was delivered this evening to our door.  Thank you, Lord, for the simple rescues.

This is our first actual post, so we are still working out the kinks!  We will post again in another day or two with notes and photos from our journey here.