Serbia- April 2011

Greg and I moved to Southern California to work with Nick Vujicic and his organization, “Life Without Limbs” during the months of January through July of 2011. So in April, I went with Nick’s operations manager, Elizabeth Gavrilovic to a Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Serbia which is the country of Nick and Elizabeth’s family heritage. Life Without Limbs wanted to build connections for future events and I agreed to go and help with training of the volunteers (Short Term Missionaries aka- STMs) and to also help wherever needed. Even though I am always excited to help lead and traing volunteers at a family retreat, a piece of me was a bit hesitant about Serbia. I’ve just always been drawn to Africa as a Nation and I’ve always pictured my missions trips being there.

But once in Serbia, the people stole my heart. All of the STMs jumped into training wholeheartedly. Some were just a bit apprehensive because of their lack of experience but they were willing to learn. When the families arrived, they soaked in the love and were overjoyed with the attention showered upon them. An STM named, Vladimir was partnered with a young teenager who had spastic cerebral palsy which affected all of his limbs. Vladimir had little experience with people who had disabilities and when I showed him how to dance with Eric, spinning him around, taking Eric by the arms and pulling him and rolling his chair in and out, just having fun with him, Vladimir’s eyes got huge and he was obviously unsure. Each time I came near them, I encouraged Vladimir. He grew more and more at ease each day. By the third day, Vladimir and another STM actually picked up Eric’s wheelchair and swung him like he was in a hammock. Eric giggled with excitement. On the evening of the talent show, Vladimir got up in front of everyone and danced with Eric amongst lots of cheering and clapping!

The families were so appreciative and kind. During their free-time, someone had brought beads to make jewelry and the women made bracelets for us to express their gratitude. In their limited English, they did their best to thank us for coming to their country to show them such love and support. Marriages were strengthened, families were encouraged and people received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Serbia has wedged itself into my heart, taking its place right next to Africa.


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  1. Oh my gosh! How I would have loved to be involved with this! I have many connections to Serbia! I work with Cherish Our Children International ( COCI ) which has an office in Belgrade. In December 2010 we adopted our son Axel from Serbia, and in December 2011 our son Asher came home from Serbia as well. Like our 15 year old biological daughter Angela, both our Serbian sons have Down syndrome. But what I want to see most is families who have kids with disabilities get SUPPORT so they don’t feel like they have to place their children in institutions or foster care, instead bringing them home to be part of their families. My neighbors work at a Joni & Friends camp every year and sing it’s praises!

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