This first photo is looking out my apartment window to the city of Rijeka, Croatia. The Adriatic Sea is in the background.
After a week of being in the country, I think I've finally recovered from the jet lag... it was soooo harsh. I was just tired all day. And remember
how I always get grumpy from being tired? Just imagine me, tired for 5 days. Yeah. That was rough. For all.
My trainer is Sister Peterson. She is a hoot. She is from Texas and is lots of fun. When we were on the bus from Zagreb to Rijeka, she said, "Oh its just a party in Rijeka. Youre just gonna love it. " She's pretty right.
(NOTE, The night that Catherine flew to Croatia, I (Judy Chauncey) was awake late, and I "googled" some blogs I found from the sister missionaries in the Adriatic North. I found myself really liking the stories and the feeling of the writing from this Sister Brianne Peterson, and I hoped she would be Catherine's companion - And since music is a big part of their lives, I'm glad to report they have already sung together!)
Mom, Its funny you said you hoped she'd be my companion, because she had a feeling she would be my companion, and I had a feeling I would come to Rijeka. So obviously, we were all feeling this. Haha...Something is going right.
I dont know why I was under this impression... but for some reason, I assumed that everyone here spoke English? Like, my MTC teachers said, "Oh don't worry, almost everyone speaks English." So it wouldn't be a big deal, everything would be okay, I could be okay and speak to people... BUT YEAH THATS NOT TRUE AT ALL. Maybe if they realized I was Amercian, they would try and speak English, but they just don't. And I'm in Croatia. So everyone here SPEAKS CROATION. #iznenadenje. It is the weirdest bit of culture shock to be here and realize that no one speaks your native tongue. Even weirder to realize that YOU cant speak YOUR native tongue and be understood. I can understand everything my companion says... But I cant understand much of what everyone else says. This lady in the internet cafe this morning started bossing me around with something, and I just stared at her. It was awkward. It is fun, but a little scary.
So I've had this crazy life for the past few days. Apparently Sister Peterson has never seen ANY of this stuff happen to anyone, yet when I get here, all this crazy stuff happens. Like, the first moments I step off the bus, we meet a Mormon dude from Provo. (You never met Americans here) and so that was fun. And then this crazy drunk lady comes up to us and starts yelling at us to get out of her country (uncomfortable for everyone, also never happens). Then, on Saturday we had this crazy meeting with a guy named Dragon (yeah actually almost everyone is named Dragon) and I dont even know what happened there... there was lots of Croation, and he talked about how he was leaving the church, and then how he was kidding, and then that he was serious, and then that he was kidding, and then that he was serious, and so on and so forth...and he fed us this meal, and I couldnt even tell you the last time they had washed the plates and cups. That was freaky. And then there was some 80s Serbian music videos involved... (yeah we just have no idea)
Also, don't ever let Grandma Chauncey come here. It smells like cigarettes and B.O. all the time. She would hate it.
Anyway, so even though there is crazy weird stuff, there is also crazy awesome stuff!! Ive met some amazing people. Our branch here is super small, but its so close knit. Everyone loves each other like family. Theres a little boy here named Roberto, and he doesn't speak a lick of English, and I can hardly speak Croation, so he teases me a lot. He speaks really quickly in Croation so I can't understand him. But I have decided its fine to just be a sass back to him, and so I speak very quickly back in English. Somehow, I love him. He is so funny and so fun. He makes friends with everyone. He and his brother are the only members in his family. I think he is only 10. That is so inspiring to me. I met his Mom the other day. Everyone here is so kind. And they all do that European, kisses-on-both-sides-of-your-face thing. That was kind of awkward, but hey its cool.
We also had dinner at an American woman's apartment last night! AH! Its this lady named Mary (not her real name) from New York, and I could finally talk to someone. We had such a good time. She was a chef for a while, so she is an amazing cook. She fed us this WONDERFUL dinner, and we had the first discussion with her. We told her it was for practice, because Im super bad (which is true, but we also wanted to have the first discussion with her) and she actually gave helpful feedback, AND we had a good discussion. She is totally great and so much fun. And I told her about the dirty plates at Dragons house, and she just laughed and laughed because she could totally relate. She made me feel normal.
It was super cool yesterday. We were walking home from Mary's house (And there was this crazy thunderstorm outside, Dad, you would have loved it), and we were going to go tracting for a bit before we headed in for the night. And we were just going to tract inside our apartment building, because it was raining. We walked by an apartment building on the way, and Sister Peterson just stopped and said ... "You know what, there is this young woman that came to English class once.. and I really think we should find her" "Okay cool, do you know where she lives?" "No, but we need to find her" So we RANDOMLY walk into this apartment buildling and Sestra Peterson said, "Okay we just need to go for it." And we start knocking on doors. We knock on 3 doors, and no one answers. Then there was this door with obviously lot of people behind it. I was about to say "Hey lets not bother them..." but I decided to not say anything. Good thing, too, because there, opening the door, is the daughter of the woman we were looking for. WE FOUND THEM. JUST LIKE THAT.
The whole family! And we had this incredible discussion about the nature of God (okay they had the discussion, and I laughed when I understood the jokes) and then they made me and Sister Peterson sing for them. They were very impressed. We got along super well, and they invited us over again tonight, and gave us their numbers. This is going to be good. I can tell.
We have to go to Slovenia today... We cant be there for long, dangit ..../ But it will be an adventure. Okay. Thats about all for now. Pictures on the way!!!
Mary, the chef from the USA, just walked into the internet cafe. Yesssss.