Thursday, 30 April 2009

South to Tirana

The last couple of days it has rained and it has been raining again so far this morning. We go for walks in between the down pours, talk with Robert and Mira about all manner of things, read books and keep learning Albanian.

We have just repacked our suitcases, as after an early lunch, (lunch here is normally at 2pm), we will travel south to Tirana the capital. There we will meet up with leaders from several cities. Greeting each other and having a coffee will easily take an hour. Then I guess a report back session followed by one of my favourite meals here in Albania.. mish qengji helli me patate me salad mix..whole roast lamb on the spit with potatoes, which always means chips, never boiled, roasted or baked potatoes, and a mixed salad.

Yesterday the water was off for the whole afternoon, which is particularly galling when it is raining outside.

Overnight we will stay in a 2 star down town hotel, which Ann says could be an experience. Another session together on Friday morning and then we are off again on a journey to Elbasan. where we will be over the weekend. There we will stay in a YWAM house. As I write this in the Internet cafe, outside are a whole number of pigs rooting around in the flower beds for whatever they can get. And nobody sees this as amusing only us!

We will of course catch up on the news from Elbasan and renew our friendships with Ilir and Arjan and Festim and many others we know. Next Monday is a National Holiday just as it is in the UK so we will probably have a day out with some of them on Monday.

We will keep in touch and nextime it will be from Elbasan.

Ken and Ann

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

North to Shkodra

On Sunday morning we were with Robert and Mira at their church. I spoke from Genesis 37 about the mistakes Jacob and Joseph and his brothers made, but mainly that Joseph wore the coat he was given by his father and we need to wear "the coat" our Father God has given us.

Yesterday we travelled to Shkodra, the main city in the north of Albania. It is a university town, is surrounded by rivers on three sides and so historically has been easily defended by its huge hill top castle. It is the most Roman Catholic part of Albania and is also on the shores of Lake Shkodra, the largest lake in Albania and one of the biggest in the Balkans. Because the city is on flat land by the lake there are cyclists everywhere, even women cycling, which is something one doesn't see in the rest of Albania. Mira did not learn to ride a bike until she was 14. Robert met with friends whilst we walked with Mira who bumped into friends all the time as this was where she worked for 2 years.

I often think what images will convey to you that where we are is not like home. Well here, above, is a photo of the centre of Shkodra with the Abu Bekr mosque, which is front of the Orthodox cathedral which is close to the Catholic cathedral. There is also a photo of sheep on the main road into Lezhe.

We had lunch at a fish restaurant beside Lake Shkodra. My fish came cooked on ridge tile from a
roof! Getting this written up has taken time today...the electricity supply was cut off half way through doing this and then when it came back on no one could get the Internet!! Thanks for your comments...keep them coming.

Ken and Ann

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Life in Lezhe..

Well we are here in Lezhe! We flew here from Gatwick with Mira ,Robert's wife. With all of our suitcases and hers, I wondered how Robert would get us to their house, but not to worry, Sokol a Policeman in their church arrived with a minibus to take us to their apartment. We have had a day settling in, buying the fruit and veg; we have had an Albanian lesson Un Jam Ken, I am Ken etc and meeting Mira's brother Mundi who is studying journalism at university. We have already invited Robert and Mira to the Willow Creek Leadership conference as I know they would so benefit from it. We are catching up on the news of their church and other people we both know here in Albania and are talking future plans. Now we are heading off to Shengjin, St John, a small harbour and beach nearby to have a lunch of fresh fish in a small cafe overlooking the blue Aegean Sea! What a good beginning to our time here in Albania!

Thank you for your appreciative comments. When we read them the distance between here and home instantly disappears and it is though we are with you.

Ken and Ann

Friday, 10 April 2009

After many promptings we thought it best to set up a blog to help many of our friends and family to follow us as we journey through the Balkans. Some of you will know that we have been travelling firstly to Albania and now later to Macedonia and Kosova. We will try to keep this up to date but not every town has an internet cafe, and in this part of the world even they can have their power supply cut off. This year we will not fly to Albania until Thursday 23rd April when we go direct with BA to Rinas, the village that gives it's name to Albania's airport.

We fly out with Mira, wife to Robert (photo) who lead a church in Lezhe some 30 miles north of Tirana the capital. We were invited to Robert and Mira's wedding in Vlora last August. It was our first experience of an Albanaian wedding which was absolutely wonderful. It is at least a 2 if not 3 day affair with meals and dancing first at the brides parents house and then at the bridegrooms. Only after everyone is exhausted and had their fill of food and dancing does the groom take his bride away. It is at this point, when the groom formally collects his wife from her parents' home, that they are married! Can you imagine the setting overlooking the deep blue Aegean Sea and a temp of 37C, dancing until you wanted to drop, and food continuously being provided? Well it is to their new home that we will go and spend 4 or 5 days with Robert and Mira and people in their church.