Mission to Montenegro newsletter

Blog entry for 17 May 2021

May 2021 Mission to Montenegro Newsletter

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!”
Luke 24: 5a, 6b

Grace and Peace to you in the name of God our Father!

Hallelujah! Our Messiah is a risen Messiah! Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb. 7:25) With such a hope and promise, we seek to share the good news here in Montenegro.  Rejoice with us in a few highlights from the past month:

  • For Easter Celebrations on May 2, Stan preached from Luke 24, highlighting the varied post-resurrection encounters Jesus had with His fearful and downhearted disciples: comforting, teaching, explaining, exhorting, and loving them into fuller understanding and joy.

Festive Easter Celebrations with Friends and Family

  • In our regular morning service, Stan has begun John 2, most recently preaching on the significance of the beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, [which] manifested His glory; and [how] His disciples believed in Him.  In the evening, we are continuing through Hebrews 11. We are very excited that we've seen a couple of new people coming fairly regularly.  Please pray that they would draw near to Jesus unto salvation.
  • The first two episodes of Osnove Istine (Basic Truths) have been published!  You can find them on both our FB page as well as our YouTube channel here:  Biblijska hrišćanska zajednica, Nikšić Videos. We give a big thanks to Peter Stonelake for his hardwork in editing and polishing them.  Please pray that God would use this series to encourage young believers and seekers to look to God, His Word, and His people for truth and growth in sanctification.

  • With Covid cases falling and vaccine distribution increasing, plans for autumn are starting to be made with two mini-conferences scheduled for October.  This summer we are hoping to have university student and sport outreaches, but they will be primarily planned and hosted by locals plus our BGU interns.   Please pray that all our hoped-for events will take place.

With great love and appreciation for your ongoing prayers and support,

Stan and Vicki Surbatovich

Snapshots: Behind the Scenes Look at the Reality of Life:

Last time, I described Stan’s hopping on a plane with our passports in hand, getting visas locally, all by the grace and goodness of God.  BUT!  That grace and goodness makes itself known in even the small details of life.  I’ll share one instance exemplified by that innocent little phrase: “passports in hand.” If only it was as quick and simple as all that!  The getting of the passports was an adventure in itself.  

In general, the process to get a passport (at least pre 9/11) was:  get a photo, send it in with application, and voila!  Passport received in the mail.

But passport photos couldn’t be just any snapshot; one required an authorized passport-sized (2”x2”) photo, specifically “a high resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixelated”  according to official US State Department protocol. There were photobooths which do this, but we chose to take the family to a local studio which advertised a passport photo special, ready in 5 minutes for one low fee. Perfect! 

We made our appointment, stressing that we were a family of six in hopes of avoiding unnecessary waiting which will be best for everyone.  Plus, we made a promise to our crew that we will celebrate with a rare treat at McD’s, Happy Meals for all, with time to play in Playland.  So everyone was on their best behavior in joyful anticpation.

We showed up at the strip-mall studio as scheduled.  A perky young woman had the chair, the muted back drop, the camera 10 feet in front of said chair, all ready to go.  We presented ourselves in order of age, grown-ups first, then the 6, 4, 2 year olds. We adults established the routine, the children followed: Hop on the chair, obey the call to “Smile!”, sit still for the “click”, then hop off. One person’s photographs were developed while the next one was taken.  Boom, boom, boom.    In less than 10 minutes, we were almost done.  Only the baby was left.

Only? He was a charmer at 8 months but not yet able to sit up sturdily yet, much less able to “Hop on.”  As the photographer got started with him, I began to think that he must be the first baby the woman ever had to deal with in getting a passport photo, because she is not quite sure how to get him on the chair.  

But then Perky Photographer decided that since he was strapped in his carry-about car seat, she could make use of it as a way of propping him up.   We needed to unstrap him (no non-clothing items can be visible on the person), to place a bland cloth behind him, and then to balance him in his seat on the chair.   I hovered nearby nervously hoping he wouldn’t decide to pitch himself out.

The photographer took a picture and printed it out. Shaking her head, she came back, did some camera adjusting, took another picture, then printed that one out.  She studied these prints, ruler in hand.  After 5 minutes of watching Perky Photographer bouncing back and forth fiddling with the camera, taking pictures, printing them out, and shaking her head, I peered over her shoulder, saw the snaps, and wondered why we couldn’t use any of those.  I ventured a “Well, I like this photo, why can’t we use it?”

She explained. And now I knew our real problems had just begun. 

 Not merely does a passport photograph have to be a certain size, the head “must measure between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 - 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.”  Who knew?  Not me. While the photographer had the camera well-placed for that desired dimension for adults and even children, a baby was a different matter.  He was lower than a sitting child, his chubby face much smaller, especially as his head was rather crunched in a no-neck fashion due to the car seat.  

She moved the camera closer, she moved it up and down, trying to get his head to be the right size within the 2x2in restriction, but she can only get SO close without violating the “must not be blurry, grainy, or pixelated” mandate.    And not only does the head have to be those dimensions, it must be relatively centered in the frame which explained the ruler.

Ten photos later, and she was finally satisfied.  GREAT! We’ll take it and go on our way.  McDonald’s here we come! She sighed and shook her head.  “No,” she explained.  “The head is now the right size, but both ears have to be visible.” I looked back at the photos.  She’s right.  His head was turned just slightly so one ear really can’t be seen.

I volunteered to hold his head straight.  I was met with head-shaking again.  No, that wouldn’t do,  No other person’s body parts can be on or around the face. 

Ok, then.  I straightened the little man up as best I could, turned his face forward, stepped back, the photographer zoomed in, lifted up her light, and snapped the shot. But he’s an eagle-eyed kiddo, with quick reflexes, and every time she lifted her lamp with her right hand to illuminate, his eyes (and face) followed. Hence, the One-Ear shots.

Fortunately, he was an easy-going, relaxed baby, so he was having a great time with this game, despite the flash going off in his face every few minutes.  I secretly pitied the cranky baby (and parents) who must otherwise endure this.  

Our 10 minute photo session stretched out past another 30 minutes with one photo after another rejected—one ear, closed eyes, blurry— and Perky Photographer was Pouty now and at the end of her limits.  She stated that she would give it one more try, one more, no more, one more, and that’s IT.

We had visions of having to do this all over again another day and knew that wasn’t happening.  We came up with a plan.  The kids would stand behind the photographer waving and keeping the baby focused on them, Stan would hold the light so the photographer’s arm wouldn’t have to move it (thus drawing his attention), I’d steady the head just so, and if we timed it all right, it might work. 

And thank God, thank God, thank GOD, it did. Photo printed, ruler whipped out to check the measurements, eyes open, ears visible. Glorious Success!

We gathered our brood, pocketed the photos, paid the modest fee, and were on our way out when I spotted all those discarded takes.  He was adorable even if one-eared.  I asked if I could have them? The photographer stopped in her tracks.  Her eyes bored into mine.   “THOSE will cost you forty bucks,” she snapped. Now it was my turn to shake my head, and I sadly resigned them to the trash bin.

We beat it out of there. The kids were ready for their promised Happy Meal & McD Playland time, and Stan and I were past ready for a cup of coffee.  And the photographer?   Well, I glanced in as we passed leaving the parking lot, and I’m pretty certain she closed shop up early that day, right after we left…..

Original link: https://christianitymontenegro.blogspot.com/2021/05/may-2021-mission-to-montenegro.html
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