Well here we are in Elbasan! Albania's 3rd largest city. We had an excellent time in Tirana, meeting the leaders from the other churches, catching up on their news and praying with them. Ann was right, the downtown hotel was an experience with a Turkish toilet. When Albania became free and people got more money the first thing they did was to replace the Turkish toilet with a western one. Ann has given me permission to say that they are not her favourite experience but they do strengthen the leg muscles! I will say no more. Another picture to convey that things are a bit different here is the photo taken on the way to the Internet cafe of Ann and the lady with the red wedding dress. There are lots and lots of wedding dress shops all in the same street and a huge variety of colours pink, purple, cream, etc all of course suit their dark hair and olive skin. This morning we went to church here. There were loads of children. Many in the church are in their 30's and 40's so lots of their own children and they also run a Kids Club on Saturdays. It was good to be here again and meet many we know. Their church building is proceeding well. We have just given some money to it to enable them to install windows and doors etc. We prayed for our Youth band that comes out to Albania in July. In addition to the Albanians we are looking at them being joined by youth from Macedonia and Kosova. We were at Arjan and Blerina's for a meal last night. Another wonderful meal with fresh fish, olive and orange salad and so on. Their children are learning English and already know how to ask for ice cream! The day is filled with bright sunshine getting hot midday say 25C then thunder clouds forming and down pours follow. From our apartment we can see snow still on the mountain tops about 6500-7000 ft. Yesterday we went to the pazaar to buy our fruit and veg. Ann loves it. Lovely local cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes, (already) and peppers, oranges etc. It is a great experience. Finally for today, the top photo. It is so Albanian to see men sitting in the park playing chess, backgammon, cards, talking and drinking coffee all day whilst their womenfolk clean the house and prepare the meals. Each village and town has an area like this called seshi burra, a flat area of land, in a very hilly country, where the men meet and used to resolve differences by fighting. Just to keep you learning Albanian burra is men and gra is women. We are now off to buy a colander and a bottle of fresh pasteurised milk. Milk is either UHT or bought from a farmer you know and you boil it yourself. We have found a shop that sells pasteurised fresh milk! Wow! We will be in touch. Ken and Ann
Some of the varied Books I've read recently in no particular order....
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. Another one of those books I wish I could have read 20 years ago. Excellent about how to achieve organisational health.
The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. very helpful in helping to understand Orthodox history and thinking. The Orthodox Church is the main church in Serbia and Macedonia.
Austria-Hungary and the orgins of the first world war. Helps with the historical background to the Balkans. The Powers at work then are still at work today, politically, economically. Samuel R Williamson Jr
Bradt Guide to Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia etc (excellent and sometimes the only guides avaiable for lesser known countries)
Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes. Opened my eyes to see the Gospels in a new way. Kenneth E Bailey