The fun part about staying for five weeks in a place is getting to feel almost like a local. We were well known at the bakery around the corner where we bought fresh bread for our supper each night. (Our main meal we ate at noon with staff and students in the cafeteria.) We were recognized at our favorite pizza place and my husband was a regular at the coffee shop on the corner. Today I will share a few more pictures of life around town.
My husband and I recently spent a month in Osijek volunteering at the Evangelical Theological Seminary. See previous blogs for pictures of the school, the synagogue turned into a church, and the Cathedral in the town center. Todays pictures feature the old part of town, called the Tvrda (the fort) by locals.
This synagogue, surrounded on three sides by the seminary, was built in 1902. There were once three synagogues in Osijek, Croatia, but following World War II few Jews were left. An Assemblies of God congregation rented the building off and on until the handful of remaining Jews offered it to them for sale in the 1970s. The synagogue was restored as a Christian place of worship that celebrates our Jewish spiritual heritage. In 2002 the choir of the remaining synagogue came to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the building together with the church.
You haven't heard from me in a while because I have been in Croatia and it's not smart to announce to the cyber-world that you are not home. I've been dusting off my library skills to catalog for Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek. I have been here several times before, beginning in 1993 just after the war for independence from the former Yugoslavia.
The library is in a beautiful new building whose glass sides inspired lots of photos
We were members of Primeira Igreja Batista (First Baptist Church) when we lived in Campo Grande from 1979 to 1982 and for many years after. Brazilians are an ethnic mix and many have the blood of slaves from the Portuguese colonies in Africa in their veins. When we moved to Mozambique, Pastor Jonatan insisted that we were their missionaries and kept us on the rolls. We were more than happy to have our Brazilian friends praying for us through the challenges of communism and civil war there.
When we returned to Campo Grande recently, of course, we went back to Primeira Igreja.
We arrived in Campo Grande in January 1979—the same month that it became the capitol of the new Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. We lived there three and a half years before returning to the US, but in that short time we made friends that have lasted a lifetime.
Pastor Jonatan de Oliveira was the pastor of Primeira Igreja Batista in our day. He had a heart for missions. Primeira Igreja supported their own missionaries to many small towns in the interior of the state and Mato Grosso to the north where cattle ranches and soybean fields gave way to the great Amazon rainforest.
My husband works for ICETE—International Council for Evangelical Theological Education—the umbrella organization for the various regional accrediting councils for theological schools. Every three years ICETE holds an international consultation of the leadership of some of the top theological training programs in the majority world. This year the consultation was in Nairobi. My husband asked me to come along to meet all the people he works with.
Nairobi is beautiful at this time of year with jacaranda and bougainvillea in bloom and the smell of fresh-cut grass. (Okay, there are other smells in other parts of the city, but at the Kenya Commercial Bank Learning Center in Karen, those are the sites and scents that predominate.)
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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