Wednesday, December 26, 2007

From Herzegovina Back to Belgrade

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Back at the monastery, we stopped in the bookstore and picked up a few gifts, including as much wine and rakia as we thought we could get away with carrying on the plane.

Bishops Gregorije and Atanasije and most of the monks of the monastery were standing outside with Bishop Maxim as he prepared to leave. When we pulled in, Deacon Zoran’s wife commented that it looked like they might go play soccer!

I said, “Who?! The monks?” She said, smiling, “Oh yes. And guess who always has to win? Bishop Atanasije. They give him the ball and let him kick it into the goal.” The whole place was filled with this kind of simple joy. It was amazing.

Finally, we went to take the bishops’ blessings as we left, and they let me get a photograph with them (see top). In that photo, Bishop Atanasije had just given me a “beating”—he jokes that he’s infamous for beating deacons.

Then we were off. Again, we drove out of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and into Croatia. This time, we stopped at a lookout over the famous seaside city of Dubrovnik (see the second and third photos of Bishop Maxim and Pelagia taking in the beautiful view.)

Then it was back across the border into Montenegro, and the short ferry ride over to the airport in Tivat (see the last photo of Yulia as we waited for the ferry).

The plane was supposed to leave at 4:10 and we arrived at 4:05. By God’s grace, we made it! The plane from Belgrade was about 30 minutes late, so we actually were right on time.

When we got back in Belgrade, we had parked our car in the airport garage. Bishop Maxim was late for a meeting, so we offered to take him wherever he needed to go. He wanted to drive, though—wow, that was an adventure! ( :

We told him that if he hadn’t become a bishop, he would have made an excellent taxi driver! ( ;

Finally, we were back at Lepa and Nebojsa’s house, where we met up with Brendan and had a lovely dinner and conversation.

Early the next morning, Thursday, we headed back to Greece, all of us convinced that we must come back very soon. The drive was about 9 or 10 hours because of the holiday traffic once we hit Thessaloniki (normally it’s about 8 hours). After dropping Brendan off, we arrived home around 9 PM, exhausted. Our neighbors, the Lillies, had very kindly prepared us dinner to welcome us home.

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