Posh London street to be blessed with Montenegrin footfall

I must admit I love it when the underdog manages to ruffle the feathers of a few supreme peacocks.  This article from the London Evening Standard describes a row in some posh London back street with lots of clean white houses.  It all centres around Montenegro moving their embassy to the street without planning permission.  Probably not the wisest thing to do but the objections are very funny, if not also very sad.

“We don’t want emotionally unstable people attracted to the street”

A few responses from me:

  • Who do they think they are?  Is the way of the world that if you are rich enough you don’t have to see normal people with normal problems?  Very sad.
  • As if a bunch of upper class London residents are not going to be emotionally unstable already!?
  • Did they not read the client list of the hotel at the nearby Baglioni Hotel – Beyonce, Jay-Z and Lindsay Lohan.  I’m not one to judge but the objecting residents may want to pass similar concerns on to Kensington & Chelsea Borough Council about this establishment also!
  • I assume the complainants haven’t don’t much research and so their concern about ’emotionally unstable people’ may just be the tip of the iceberg.  Let’s hope they don’t get into conversations with any visiting Montenegrins – as it does take a bit of getting to know the Montenegrin way to realise that what can appear to be some blazing row about to explode into violence, is in fact just a helpful discussion to help understand one another’s perspective.  Nothing to worry about but a little alarming when you are in the middle of it.


Mind the gap

I hate it when I don’t blog for a while.  I really enjoy writing but it’s almost been two months – without checking that’s probably the longest I have been without posting since I first started in 2007.

I have had lots of things I wanted to write about – a wonderful and intriguing trip to Montenegro, girls lost in Nigeria, stuff I’ve read in the Bible, books I’ve read, UKIP, the Premier League run in……

……but I just haven’t had the mental energy to sit down and get something down.  So I’m just getting one post out there this morning in the hope that it smooths the way for my brain to get psyched up for another post in a day or two.

Cultural Perspectives: United States on Montenegro

The second post in the Cultural Perspectives series is written by Vicki Surbatovich.  Vicki is an inspiration in godly obedience, patience and hospitality.  I have learnt so much and experienced so many great times with Vicki and her family.

Nearly eighteen years ago we moved from sunny Southern California to Montenegro with the desire to bring the gospel, the living Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to this land.  We moved to a city with no evangelical church, no known evangelical believers, and no welcoming committee.    From being part of an active, loving, living fellowship, we were abruptly  on our own, a lone Christian family desiring to love and serve the Lord, and we knew we’d  experience both delights and hardships and learn many lessons.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned (and am still learning) is to view this life, this ministry, these years from God’s perspective:  Do not despise the day of small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10a, NLT).  As much as we would love to be able to report that as the Word is being preached faithfully, thousands have come to know the Lord and are being added to the church daily, we can’t: That is not what God is doing at this time and in this place; that is not reality.

This is reality:   After all these years, there are only five registered evangelical churches in the whole country.  When we hold our yearly All-Montenegro Believers meeting, where believers from every church and those believers scattered about the country join together for a day of worship and fellowship, there are fewer than two hundred people gathering.   Think about it:  Fewer than two hundred in the whole country after twenty years of ministry.  Pretty pitiful, at least by man’s standards.

But we do not lose heart, we do not despise the day of small beginnings because the verse continues for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zechariah 4:10b, NLT)

In the beginning, for years, we hosted all the Bible studies and meetings at our house—there was nowhere else to have them.  Now we are able to go from house to house as different families host our mid-week meeting and our Sunday services are held in rented facilities.  Back then, we were the only Christian family (husband, wife, and children) in the fellowship—all others were divorced, widowed, or married to an unbeliever.  Now there are several young families, committed to the Lord, raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Formerly, we were the worship leaders: my husband strummed the guitar and I led the singing—he was the only one who knew how to play and I was the one who knew the songs.  Now our singing is led by gifted, godly worship leaders.  We are blessed beyond our greatest imaginings.

All this is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.  Do not despise the day of small beginnings for this is the day that the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Where is Montenegro?

Where is Montenegro people ask?

The answer of course is that Montenegro is at the top of England’s group!  I must say I am extremely proud of Montenegro, I love that country so much!

I think a draw was probably a fair result but it was clearly a more useful point for Montenegro than England.  The difference between the actual result and a win for England was the same as the difference in the passion between the two teams.

Group H

  1. Montenegro   14pts
  2. England   12pts
  3. Poland   8pts
  4. Ukraine   8pts
  5. Moldova   4pts
  6. San Marino   0pts

There is only one nation in the world who has played England at least three times and never lost…..any ideas!?  Not bad for a country whose population is less than the number of registered footballers in England!

I’m not sure how long the video below will stay on YouTube but if you want to relieve some of the passion from last night click below:


True Medal Count?

A few times during the Olympics our ever enthusiastic BBC TV and radio presenters commented that we were on top of the medals table when you consider the number of medals we won in proportion to the size of the country.  I noticed Hungary were doing well, and that New Zealand had a handful of medals, and I knew that their populations were significantly smaller than that from which Team GB sourced its talent from.  I couldn’t help myself, the statistics obsessed nerd within got the better of me and I did some number crunching and worked out how many golds and how many medals overall other countries would have won proportionally if they had the same population as the UK.

Number of Golds Won

1.   USA  –  46
2.   China  –  38
3.   GB  –  29
4.   Russia  –  24

Number of Golds Won Proportionally

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Bahamas  –  176
3.   Jamaica  –  92
11. GB  –  29
25. Russia  –  10
28. USA  –  9
48. China  –  2

Total Medals Won

1.   USA  –  104
2.   China  –  87
3.   Russia  –  84
4.   GB  –  65

Total Medals Won Proportionally 

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Jamaica  –  276
3.   Trinidad & Tobago  –  189
10. Montenegro  –  100
23. GB  –  65
33. Russia  –  37
49. USA  –  21
74. China  –  4

So, a lot of countries in reality did even better than the wonderful Team GB.  That’s not a bad thing, just nice to know that there must be a lot of very satisfied sports fans out there from other nations!  If you want to know how other countries fared let me know and I’ll happily divulge more numbers.

However, there were six countries with bigger populations than the UK who didn’t manage a single medal between them. They are Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam and Congo and together they have double the population of the United States.  I think this is sobering and should remind us that for a vast percentage of the world’s population there are not the resources to put into enjoying the Olympics.  As the celebrations die down we need to remember that there are things in this world that should take a higher priority than sport.

Scottish Independence and The Balkans

This is a fascinating article in The Economist comparing Scottish independence to Yugoslavia pre 1990.  The piece does not give any answers but rather raises questions and issues that are intriguing.

I particularly think the point near the end where the article says those in Yugoslavia were told everything would be the same but they would be richer is interesting.  Anecdotally I have been told that, in Montenegro at least, people are now worse off then they were in a united Yugoslavia.

Personally, I speak with absolutely no political bias and am certainly uninformed but I would be very sad to see Scotland leave the UK as they make up a colourful and vital part of our culture and identity.

10 reasons to love Montenegro

1. Mountains.  They climb up to 2500m, they pour down straight into the sea, they deliver spectacular views as you drive through them and even when you’re walking in town everytime you lift you’re eyes they’re there in front of you.

2. Hardly anybody speaks English. This gives such an authentic experience of a country.  If you’re going to make the most of Montenegro you have to get stuck in, make some embarrassing mistakes (one Easter whilst tring to decline an egg I managed to say something along the lines of my balls don’t work!) but it really helps you understand the people and culture.

3. Sexism.  I am prohibited from doing the washing up (due to gender).

4. Children run.  I really think we don’t see enough children running around freely in the UK.  Few things give me more enjoyment than seeing little children run just for fun.  In Montenegro you come across a lot more kids playing in the street and they do a lot more training for competetive sports.  Rada’s niece is only 10 years old and training four or five times a week for basketball.  I went to watch a couple of days ago and some of the lads there can seriously shoot some hoops!

5. Rambo Amadeus. Check this out for a quality Eurovision entry from Rambo Amadeus this year!  Come on UK lets get behind Montenegro when it’s time for the voting later in the year 🙂  The lyrics are in English you just have to listen carefully.

6. Wood smoke.  Whenever I catch the aroma of wood smoke in England I can close my eyes and feel like I am taken straight back to Montenegro.  Almost everyone burns wood for heating and cooking and I love the smell as you walk the streets.

7. Strong communities and families.  I am sure there are other countries who have equally strong communities and families but I have never personally experienced it like I do in Montenegro.  I love getting involved in and witnessing the little things – calling cousin to pick us up in his taxi, shovelling dung for the communal vegetable patch, helping Ujak (uncle from mother’s side) unload breeze blocks from the lorry for his house he’s building himself.

8.  Food and drink.  I am fed and watered ridiculously well in Montenegro.  Every visit is accompanied with choice of drink (beer or rakija are the expected options for men) followed by a great spread or main meal.  Montenegrins are so hospitable!

9. Soaps.  The soap operas shown in Montenegro are hilarious.  Usually courtesy of Turkey, Mexico or India each one is guaranteed to have someone in a coma, an over the top wedding, a kidnapping and emotive orchestra music.  I don’t understand most of what goes on but that just makes them even funnier to watch.

10. Finally, a very personal reason – Montenegro is where I met my wife so all over the place I find great memories rekindled of those first weeks together and many memorable visits since then.