Novi Sad, Serbia

What an amazing long weekend in Serbia! Jim was invited to be the key medical speaker at the first-ever gathering of young Christian medical professionals and students in Novi Sad. And I was able to accompany him.

Ever since we first met Klara Dudas at an HCFI Prayer Week several years ago, she has invited us to visit her in Serbia. But we really had no purpose and no time to simply go. And then last fall she came to Ukraine as a guest speaker at the international Christian medical student conference. She mentioned that she was planning a conference for the next year and would love to have Jim (and me!) take part.

It was our pleasure to stay as guests in her home along with another American couple now serving in Hungary. Ron and Jean Seck were also key speakers at the gathering.

Though many many people had been invited, the providence of God limited the attendance to the four leaders! It seemed crazy at first, but by the end of the weekend it was clear why they were the only ones — major organizing and planning for a successful Christian medical fellowship needed to take place. And not even the leaders had all been in the same place at the same time before this weekend.

Instruction and hands-on practice checking ears — and tips to make ear exams for young children easier than you’d think — plus great instruction for leading Bible studies as well as research showing the connection of faith and medicine filled the allotted time. Meals together, attending an event with inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic, walks along the narrow mountainside road…the laughter, the conversations, the awe of God’s creation, the unity of being brothers and sisters in Christ…all made the time together so precious.

At the conclusion of the conference, Ron and Jean Seck, Emil and Klara Dudas, and Jim and Marianna spent a lovely afternoon at the mammoth fortress on the river bank. We even took time for coffee on the terrace overlooking the river. Simply delightful.

We attended the evening service of Klara’s church (great translator on duty!) and attempted to ‘read’ and sing along with the praise songs. Fortunately much was very similar to Ukrainian…just spelled with different letters!

We couldn’t go home without visiting a specific ice cream shop where all the ice cream — with quite a variety of flavors — is all made on the premises. Small scoops allowed us to each try way too many flavors!

One of the highlights of the weekend: While we were sitting at the outside table placed on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop, we watched a group of young boys gleefully racing in the street. At one point they stopped in their tracks and just stared at our group of six enjoying such a sweet treat. No hovering. No begging. No pained faces. Just watching from a distance. Suddenly our host Emil jumped up, waved his arm for them to follow, and he bought them all ice cream cones. Heaven on earth! Needless to say, by the time he finished buying treats for the first group of boys, others were soon to follow. And also received the frozen delight.

That’s just the way our hosts rolled. Giving. Giving. Giving. Turns out they give away 50% of anything they make. Wow!

A privilege to serve these admired and respected servants of the Lord.