Here are 4 of the girls on the Alpha course, mentioned below, Alketa, Dorina, Florinda and Sejada.
Lee spoke to about 50 youth at Bethel Church, Tirana on Saturday night. Sunday morning Shaban and Tani took Lee and Tom to Kruje, the most touristy place in Albania, the only place really where you can buy souvenirs. Then after lunch they spoke at a Sunday meeting in the afternoon at Shaban's church. I spoke at Rob and Mira's church on Sunday morning and then prayed over everyone present.
I spent part of the afternoon being educated in billiards Albania style! The balls are numbered 1 to 15 and the winner is the first to score 61. You hit the balls hard as you can and there are no penalties!! No points deducted or given to your opponent if the ball goes off the table or you hit the wrong ball first! It is just brute force!
We have a young lady in our church in Bracknell from Albania called Ida. Ida had asked me to see her sister and parents as she has not seen them face to face for 6 years. So on Monday morning I went to see them in Tirana with Rob who acted as translator. As you might imagine it was an emotional occasion. So for an hour or more I was privileged to be the human link to their much loved daughter. We all shed more than a few tears. Love and greetings were exchanged. I wont show you any photos here. I think it is right for Ida to see them first when I get home. Needless to say I was privileged to receive lavish Albanian hospitality including lovely fresh fruit and a glass or was it two?, of raki.
Then onto a centre on the coast near Durres that might possibly be a place for next years Youth Camp. Now we had said farewell to Rob and Shaban and were travelling with Edi who had come from Korca. We looked round the centre and talked this through, the pros and cons. Time again to move on so farewell to Edi until we will see him on Friday, and for us to clamber aboard the first minibus, furgon, we could catch by the roadside going to Elbasan. We arrived in Elbasan almost as the sun was setting at 5 pm. Straight to the apartment where the guys stayed last August to drop off our luggage, and from that to a Youth Alpha planning meeting with the team from the church in Elbasan led by Ilir. Tom and I left Lee talking to the team planning this, and we headed off to buy our food and water for breakfast and the days we are here. An evening meal and then we all dropped into our beds at 8pm completely tired out. I couldn't tell you the last time I went to bed at 8pm. But it had been one of the most tiring, perhaps emotionally draining days I have had in a long while. A 6 am start, 6 hours of travelling on poor roads, and 4 meetings with nothing to eat until we stopped in the evening. No wonder we were tired.
But it is amazing what a good nights rest can do! We were new men yesterday morning! We had a planning time and prayed and then headed off to the pazaar to buy fresh new seasons mandarins and white grapes. And then lunch. Qofte, Greek salad and chips. Then to catch up on e-mails in the Internet cafe before going off to the first evening of the Youth Alpha that started last night. A number of students from the University turned up and Lee led the session. Questions flowed at the end and it had definitely been a worthwhile evening. This is the first time they have run a Alpha course here in Elbasan and is a direct follow on from the Youth Camp.
Here is Ilir, on the right who leads the church in Elbasan, with a couple of guys on the Alpha course. The guy on the left is Mundi who came off the street to hear Ethos play in the Skampa Theatre last July. As a result he came to the Youth Camp, got born again and is coming regularly to the church in Elbasan. That is brilliant isn't it?
I have included this photo of Tom just to show he is thriving here!
Finally for now, do you remember the incident of Andy Jackson and choosing the wrong door back in May? As a result they kindly painted a warning on the door "Danger Dog", in Albanian of course. Would have Andy known the difference?
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