Snippets from Sarah in Slovenia
Surviving lockdown in Ljubljana, Slovenia
I’m sure none of us really foresaw what the world was going to be like. Personally I knew it was serious but I hoped, maybe naively, that it would blow over pretty quickly. Clearly that has not been the case, and, like all of you, I’ve had to work out how to live and continue working whilst the world around me has been shut down. Here are some edited snippets from my blog, which you can find here.
Mid Crisis: April - May
I’ve been so grateful that I don’t live alone. What I've most appreciated is spending time with and getting to know my housemates better. I enjoyed watching my housemate making an advert about the joys of using our mop. One housemate and I started a game of 'hide the balloons in the other's room.' (which requires creativity since we're inside together most of the time). We've all had our ups and downs but it's been great knowing that they understand and that we can support each other through the frustrations of this period.
I’m also so grateful for the internet. My whole job is meeting up with people, so initially the idea of lockdown made me think, ‘But that’s my whole job?’ Yet it’s amazing how quickly we adapt. I continue preparing and leading my three one-to-one meetings each week and we’ve started having our youth group on Zoom.
Life moves very slowly when you're stuck inside doesn't it? Each week, there isn’t much new to tell people at home.
Braving the supermarket was a surreal experience, and I'm seeing signs that I need to get outside for my own sanity. Yesterday I caught myself thinking "fish must be really fit since they have to keep swimming all the time…"
On the up side, before the lockdown my language learning was being pushed to one side a bit so having a bit more time and my language lessons online has meant that I’ve been able to focus more on my language skills.
Thinking through future questions: How all this affects my return to the UK in August? Postponing my parents' trip in June meant they couldn’t take back my extra suitcase…. trying to make plans for the future in this very uncertain time.
On a miserable wet day in Ljubljana I sat in my room reflecting on the first few verses of Psalm 37 which start: “Do not fret.” I looked up out of my window and saw that amongst all the greyness and the bare tree branches, one tree was in full blossom. What a great picture and reminder that although the world around us may be falling apart, God always keeps his promises that these days will pass. His promises of hope and blessing are the anchor that we should be holding onto.
Leaving Lockdown: June
My first "normal" week in a long time! Summer is coming and life is slowly getting back to normal here in Slovenia. It definitely seems like the worst is past. It's amazing how great the little things are, sunshine, going out for coffee and ice cream, meeting in person… the waiters at my favourite coffee shop still recognised me and knew my order!
Our church has started gathering together in person again and we’re meeting up face to face during the week. Of course there are still certain measures in place but overall life feels almost back to normal. One thing that's changed is that it's now more acceptable to meet up on Zoom or Skype if it’s difficult to meet in person. The weather was bad for my language lessons in the park so we just had the lesson on Skype again. I feel like it gives more flexibility to life.
Over the last month a young woman from another part of Slovenia became a Christian, found our church's details online and joined our ladies group Bible study… It's great to see how God is still working. Coronavirus has not and will not stop his work!
On a national level, Slovenia has dealt with the threat very well, but that also means that it perhaps has not led to people re-examining their lives in the way it seems to have done elsewhere. The virus has not affected many people personally and so they have not felt the need to change their lives or think about what happens after death.
Preparing to Leave
This certainly isn’t how I thought I would be spending my last few months in Slovenia. Having a pandemic happen towards the end of my time is probably better than it would have been at the beginning! It definitely would have been a lot more difficult for me but everything is still so up in the air, it makes planning these last few months quite complex.
Having waited so long to restart meeting together, now we are approaching the end of the school year and many meetings will stop for the summer break. The time has gone by so quickly and I'm having to start saying goodbye to meetings and programmes I have been involved with for the past two years! Moving back to the UK is feeling closer and a lot more real!
I’d decided to stay through the summer so that I could help out with the camps my church runs, the youth camp in July and the church family camp in August. We’re still planning for those to happen… we’ve already had to cancel so much.
I’m now definitely starting to look towards my return to the UK. During my time in Slovenia I've seen God working in my own life, smoothing the path for my future. I'm excited to get further training and being equipped to come back and serve in Slovenia long term. The plan is to spend the year studying, learning and developing a network of people who will partner with me when I come back to Slovenia in 2021 to serve long term.