Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Befriending a Bosnian...

For those of you who don't know, I am taking a Spanish class on Tuesday nights. Tomo una clase de espanol los martes :) See? It's working! The class is through UVA's continuing ed program, and its not for credit so it attracts a great range of people with many reasons for taking the class. One is taking it to help her son through high school Spanish; another woman promised herself that when she finished her phd she would do two things: learn to play the violen and learn to speak Spanish.

My favorite reason so far, however, is that of Azur. Azur is a middle-aged Bosnian man who is taking the class with his girlfriend, Kate, so they can have a common language! He is learning English alongside Spanish by taking this class, and he and Kate have quickly become my favorite people to talk to admist our confusion.

Tonight I got time to talk to Azur during our break and after class. He left Bosnia in 1996, after being a soldier in the Bosnian war for two years. Time out: Azur is over six feet tall, with greying hair down to his waist, bright eyes, a slight build, and missing a few teeth. When he said he was a soldier I involuntarily laughed. "I know, I don't look like a soldier do I?" Azur said in response. He then went on to explain that in his country, when the war with Serbia and Croatia began there was no way to escape.

Bosnians were landlocked between their two enemies, and as Azur put it "You had to stay becuase you couldn't get out. And you had to fight because you had to live." He doesn't strike me as the type who would sign up for military service, and he confirmed that as he spoke of the need to protect the women and children behind him.
I had mentioned that I knew Charlottesville was a national refugee center because our church has tried to reach out to refugees in the city. Azur was surprised to learn that I went to church... when I invited him to come visit Trinity he said "I do not go to church. Where I come from people get made fun of for going to a church or a mosque." When I assured him that he could come without being mocked, he replied "I grew up as a Communist." We continued our conversation about church after class, about the tension between "religion" and "just God"... between guilt and grace. I am looking forward to future conversations!
How often on a Tuesday evening do you get to talk to a refugee from Bosnia who has killed people simply to stay alive and who now plays chess to make money?
Welcome, friends, to Charlottesville.
** for more information on Charlottesville's refugee program check out this article:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Apple Harvest Festival Fun

So it's been months since I last posted. Although many ideas cross my mind, I never seem to actually sit down and update what's been going on in my life or share some thoughts. I will try to be better on behalf of my sweet friends overseas who love to catch up!

Even though it's 90 degrees today in Charlottesville, the fall festivities around town have begun! This morning Clark and I met up with Stephen and Kathryn Trivette and their little girl, Savannah, to go to Carter Mountain Orchard. This weekend is the orchard's Apple Harvest Festival, complete with giant pumpkins, local vendors, live music and of course their famous apple cider donuts.

I had never been to the orchard before and I was literally jumping around like a 5 year old when we arrived! We listened to a bluegrass/gospel band for awhile and then took off into the orchard with Savannah atop Stephen's shoulders to pick apples! In his pursuit of the perfect apple, Clark climbed several trees, knocking down about a dozen apples for every one he actually picked.

In the past two years, I've grown to LOVE living in Charlottesville and the combination of a small town and urban life. Today's adventure to the orchard was a sweet return to country roots, though! Speaking of sweet... all those apples went into this pie!

my very first apple pie... completely from scratch!
dang gina its good.