Wednesday morning saw the band setting up their equipment and doing sound checks with plenty of time and no problems like lack of electricity. The photo below gives you some idea of the main meeting hall with just the band in it.
Late morning saw people begin to arrive firstly from Librazhd
and then from Elbasan
quickly followed by Burrel and Korca, Lezhe and Tirana. Last year we had about 80-90 at Camp. This year we are nearer to 140, so the numbers have increased significantly. If you saw the bedrooms you would see bunk beds everywhere! The afternoon began with lunch, here it is at 2pm, followed by free time and then the evening meeting. Below are Amy, Natalie and Heather all set to greet people, hand them their bangle with our slogan on it Jeta ne Fitore...Life in Victory just before the evening meeting when the first session began.
Worship was followed by a clear, well illustrated and powerful talk from Liam about the chains of sin that hang round us but have been put on Jesus in our place. Many people responded to what he said and several young people became followers of Jesus for the first time
Here is Amy praying with one of the girls..
and here are some from Librazhd responding
and others from Elbasan, with tears.
Thus morning Thursday, saw Robert from Lezhe talk about what the Bible says about living in victory. Robert was relevant, humourous and powerful.
Thus was followed by a break, and then a couple of seminar sessions which all our team were involved in leading before lunch. Here is Amy with some of her girls leading a seminar on prayer.
This afternoon the team are having some down time. This is there 6th day on the go and Lee thought it good to take them just a few miles away across the border into Macedonia to Sveti Naum, Saint Naum, a world away from the conference and its intensity.
Finally a word about posting comments. You may not know, but you can send us comments and we read them and then decide whether we publish them publicly or not. My sister from New Zealand for example sent me some personal comments, that I didn't make public. We love to receive your comments as it tells us at least someone is reading this! Lots of love, Ken and Ann
This is Monday morning and some of the guys tucking into breakfast. It is a case of stretch or starve but I think they all manage to eat well.
It is a time of impromptu fun, praying for the day and Matt singing worship songs to us.
Later on Monday morning we headed off, just half an hour down the road, to Librazhd, where Ilir and Donika lead the church with Ladi and Ornela. Some of you girls may remember Donika and Ornela being with us for the REAL conference. As soon as we arrived a thunderstorm broke, and it absolutely poured with rain. So we had our drinks in a cafe owned by Tani, a guy in the church who is involved in the worship. He sang to us and then Flori from Korca, who travelled with us. When the storm abated we went to the Culture Centre, pictured above, and installed our equipment. This is when we found out there was no electric power at all, and wouldn't be until 3pm. So we went and had lunch. The guys did their best late afternoon to set up as there was still no power! This was getting outside every one's comfort zone! Lee was beginning to make plans as to how we could hold the concert outside. We had given out leaflets earlier in the afternoon and young people were turning up for the concert, but still no electricity! At last at 6.45, 15 minutes before we were due to start power was restored! All the guys were now rushing around getting everything done and trying to do a sound check as youngsters poured in.
Here they are sorting things before the concert got underway at 7.30. A minor miracle! There were about 150 or more teenagers there which gave it a very different feel from the concert on the Saturday night. There was lots more noise from the crowd, but this time with a smoke machine and coloured and flashing lights! Again the whole concert was very well received. The drama was powerful, the band was great and Lee spoke excellently. many came forward to talk with our people at the end and one guy prayed to be a follower of Jesus. There were lots of good conversations and one could tell the concert would be a talking point amongst the youth of Librazhd for quite a while. A meal afterwards and then back to Elbasan at 11pm.
This morning, Tuesday, it was time to leave Elbasan, load up the minibus and head off for Pogradec where we will hold our Youth Camp. Here we are about to set off, team, suitcases and equipment.
After 2 hours this is where we have come to! Pogradec beside Lake Ohrid. On the far side of the lake is Macedonia. The guys have unloaded all the kit, found their sleeping spaces and walked into town and had lunch. Now it is set up time, then an evening meal and pray for tomorrow. I am excited but also my heart aches as I think of 130 young people who tomorrow will begin their journeys from all over Albania and some from Macedonia and Kosova, to a Camp where God can change their life! Some will have their lives changed eternally and for others it will be another step along the path to knowing Him better.
Well there is just so much to say as we have been so busy in the last 3 days. Saturday morning was sorting ourselves out and then going to the Skampa Theatre to set up at 6.30. It was full on. There are always to language considerations, transporting the equipment from the apartment to the Theatre making sure nothing was left behind, setting it all up talking through the programme, meeting Flori from Korca who also sang and so on. Elsa, a friend of ours, arranged for Lee and some of the team to be interviewed on the local Radio Station and for them to play live in the studio!. The Radio Station said they were impressed.
Doors opened before 7pm and we had an excellent concert that was very well received. Ethos played, then Flori sang 3 songs in Albanian, then Lee spoke with the drama sketch as well. The drama was very powerful and applauded by everyone! The friends I spoke with thought Matt was great in leading the songs, the sound of the band was excellent and the words of the songs very powerful. Lee, above, earned his money as we would say, and everyone was just so pleased he was with us to do what he does so well.
Sunday morning saw us at church with Sam here on drums,
and Matt leading in worship,
This morning, Monday saw Ann, Amy and Natalie on the way to the guys apartment for breakfast having bought the bread and milk.
At 11 am we loaded all the kit into the minibus and we were off again now to Librazhd and another concert tonight.
Here are Paola, Arselda and Nerila, 3 of the girls from Librazhd who were at the Youth Camp last year who became followers of Jesus. After a thunderstorm!! we went to the Culture centre and set up the equipment but there was no electric power at all! So time for lunch.
So here are Amy, Zak and Matt at lunch. Now we are about to go and hold the concert. Please God change peoples lives! Lots of love, Ken and Ann
Well here we are all loaded up in the new minibus and ready for the off to Gatwick Airport. If it is not packed now it is too late! I almost lost count of the number of guitars we brought out here. Enough for the band plus 3 others for the church in Librazhd and one for Edi in Korca. Plus cymbals and when we arrived at the airport in Albania we added to our kit a keyboard and a mixing desk! We don't travel light. For some reason Ann and I were upgraded on the flight to Club Class. So we had the use of the Club Lounge and a wonderful meal and service on the flight. Some of you will know Ann is coeliac and for the first time she had a meal she could eat! But when we got off the plane in Tirana, we were met with a wall of heat!! I know it is coming but I still find it hard to believe it until you stand the top of the steps as you get off the plane and suddenly you are engulfed in the unrelenting heat.
It was really great to be greeted by Ilir from Librazhd who was there with Elmaz our minibus driver.
This is unloading at Gatwick.
After a 2 hour drive from Tirana to Elbasan we left the guys in their apartment and then Ann and me and the 3 girls went to a local hotel. We chose it because the bedrooms are air conditioned. Finally we got to bed at 1.30 am! Everyone must have slept okay as here are Dave, Stuart and Liam looking pretty okay this morning after breakfast..
and here are the girls Heather, Amy and Natalie
I called in on our friends Arti and Vali who insisted I had a glass of raki and a Turkish coffee, this is before breakfast! I went to meet Elsa, above, who has helped us advertise the concert we are holding tonight. She is phoning the radio station she runs a programme for and they agreed straightaway for Lee and some of the team to go and be interviewed live and to play some music. That is happening now as I write this blog.
Ann has just boiled herself an egg for breakfast with Sam..
and this is the theatre where we hold the concert tonight at 7pm. I am looking forward to an amazing time. Elbasan will have had nothing like this before, and I am thinking about all the good conversations and impact I am sure the team will have tonight and the life changing event it will be.
And here are some of the posters about the city that advertise the concert. Thank you Sarah! Now it's lunchtime and then time to rest from the heat a bit and talk through the programme for this evening. We'll keep you posted. It is so good to be here again in Albania! All our love, 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