Sunday, 2 December 2012


I am with Liam, our Youth pastor here in Tallinn the capital of Estonia. It is 59 degrees north, a bit further north than Inverness and Aberdeen, as far north as parts of Alaska, so the days are short. (Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, further south than anywhere in South America or New Zealand.) We have had a couple of days here for Liam to see a few sights and get the feel of the culture of Estonia, (the apostle Paul did that in Athens) so that he was all the better equipped when meeting last night with the young people from the main Pentecostal church at their meeting called Terminal.  The photo is of Virge who comes from Estonia and was part of our church, Liam and the youth pastor Ivo. 

It was brilliant. Excellent worship, then Liam spoke and there was a really good response to what he brought. Liam was straight to the point, "tell your friends about Jesus, as He can change their life", "you are God's messenger to many". We had a good time with their youth pastor Ivo and his wife and we will meet up again on Monday just before we fly home.

Now today, Saturday we are travelling 4 hours, inc a short ferry journey, to Kuressaare Virge's home town where we speak first on local radio, then have lunch with the pastor Alur and his wife Marvi at their home, then talk to church leaders, have tea and then meet the young people from the church.

Here is Liam with Tiina who translated for us and Walter who runs the radio station.  Tomorrow we speak at the Sunday morning meeting. I am blogging this whilst having breakfast of rice pudder, rice porridge, like rice pudding and coffee. Sophia, Mike and Virge's daughter is gurgling and making noises as 1 year olds do. At the same time I am reading our names in the Kuressaare newspaper. Liam is billed as the "noortepastor" , youth pastor, pronounced naughty pastor!

Please pray that we have an effective time here in Estonia.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Sunday lunch in Kukes


This is my first attempt at writing my blog using Blogsy. Any errors blame me

The photo above is of the whole kid that was placed on the table along with several types of goats cheese, salads, chips and corn bread for us to devour.


This second photo perhaps gives you a clearer idea of some of the spread. No that is not HP sauce in the bottle but beer from Korca.

Sitting down to eat was Nadi and Sofi, Ida, her sister Mira, Elsa, Nida, Nadi's sister from Michigan, Gezim, who gave me a bottle of local blackberry raki, Elsa, another girl and Ann and me. So here is a photo of the girls after our meal. What you cannot tell from the photo is that we are half way up a mountainside overlooking a huge reservoir with mountains surrounding us and the hot air from the mountains blowing down on us. The temperature was 43C, but fortunately we were in the shade.

So we have from l to r Ann, Sofi, Ida, ?, Elsa and in front Mira and Nida. After lunch it was time to go back to the hotel, shower, have a rest and get ready for the evening wedding party. You will appreciate that for the girls to get ready took a while. Ida said she would be ready for about 8, but when I phoned her just after 8 the girls were still at the hairdressers!!

Then it was off to the final wedding celebration along with 300 other friends and relatives! An evening of dancing, eating, singing and celebration until 3 in the morning. More to follow..



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Final wedding party!

After lunch on the Sunday afternoon it was time to return to our hotel and a bedroom that is air conditioned-wonderful! A chance to cool down, have a shower and a brief rest before getting ready for the final event. The wedding parties started last Wednesday! We were collected and taken with Ida to the final wedding party with 300 people present. Food was already laid out on the table and the eating and drinking and dancing began. If you have ever been to a disco or similar then you will have experienced when the noise from the sound system vibrates your internal organs. Well it was like that when we walked in the door! There is a formality to the occasion with different family members being seated in the right place and the bride and groom are at a table overlooking the whole proceedings, but they stand up all the time, yes all the time, as a mark of respect to everyone present. The bride looks miserable, which she is supposed to do, as she is leaving her parents home. Part way through the evening her father came with about a dozen other family members. That are clapped as they come in, are seated and fed whole roast lamb, exchange pleasantries with the grooms family and them after a while leave, again to applause. The women's dresses are a sight to behold. Only photos will do them justice. All the women on our table had 2 dresses for the wedding party that night and changed half way through the evening. Sofi, declared that she had bought 10 dresses with her for all the wedding events. As the women are all dark haired and darker skinned than Ann, they wore vibrant colours. Silver, gold, orange, crimson red, royal blue, purple and so on. I am told they are bought on line or in Albania or I know they are easily obtainable in Kosovo only a few miles away where dresses come from Iran and Turkey. The dancing, similar to Greek style, is done holding hands in a circle always moving anti clockwise. You never dance on your toes, it is always with a flat foot to the ground. Different men and women lead the dancing, sometimes it is the fathers friends who dance, then the mothers friends and so on. Songs are sung to the music all the time. At specific times the groom and then the bride and groom dance in the middle of the room and they are showered with money, notes, no coins! Food keeps coming and drinks are replenished immediately. Eventually at 2.30 am the bride and groom leave and go to his parents house for the night. And this is where they live until they go to a house the groom will provide. If he had insufficient money, then they would live with his parents and the bride would be at the mother in laws beck and call. That is the custom in Albania and has been for centuries. This results in families building many storied houses, 4 stories is common, with parents living on one level and their sons with wives on other levels. And so to bed! Hot and tired. But up in the morning and after breakfast, topped up my mobile phone (I have an Albanian SIM card), and then had coffee with Nadi, Sofi's husband who had kindly booked us a seat on the bus back to Tirana. Kukes and the mountains and the stifling heat were left behind with memories of a wonderful wedding and new people we had met. PS the blog has been written from my iPad which is great in one way in that like now I am using a hotel wi-fi to send this and I don't have to hunt for an Internet cafe. The down side is that I haven't yet worked out how to add pictures to a blog when sending from the iPad. From a computer no problem, just down load photos from our camera and then up load them to the blog. So sorry no photos as yet as we have been on the move from event to event and meeting one person to the next,without getting to an Internet cafe. But photos will be added. Love to you all, Ken and Ann

Sunday, 15 July 2012

It's only 43C outside

Such a lot has happened since our last blog last Tuesday. The Youth Camp has come and gone, and our team of Liam, Dave, Pauline and Neil are now back in Bracknell. Dave speaks in the 10/10 this evening. Yesterday, Saturday morning we all piled aboard a forgon and headed home for Tirana the capital, a 3 hour journey in the heat. Ann and I got out and the team of four speed off to Rinas the airport to fly home. Ann and I have stayed on for a couple of reasons. Firstly we have been invited to a wedding in Kukes. Ida and Sofi and Nadi who come to our church have a family wedding and we are invited. This is an occasion not to miss. Forget English weddings that happen in one afternoon and evening. This is more of a biblical event where the wedding lasts several days and one begins to understand how one could run out of food and wine. After a brief lunch, we boarded a bus, slower than a minibus with soft suspension so you feel youa re on board a boat, with a gentle up and down motion most of the time. The hotel owner comes from Kukes, so when we explained we were going to a wedding there nothing was too much bother. Our suitcase were put in the back of a truck, we piled in the front and we were taken to pick up the bus. Just over two hours later we arrived in Kukes to be greeted by Ida. I cannot explain how wonderful it was. We have known Ida now for several years and like you we see her at church in Bracknell on Sunday, but now we were seeing her for the first time in her home country of Albania. An hotel had been arranged and we settled in. I ought to add that when Ida greeted us she was half-way through getting ready for the evenings event. That means her hair had already done by a hairdresser with like a small lace veil on her head, not covering her face at all, and full make up on. Not the Ida you normally see in Bracknell! A while later we were called and joined the procession from her family's house to the home of the groom. Ida and several of her family were dressed in traditional costume. Ida and her sister wore a Tirana costume, others the clothes of Trepoja or Kukes. We followed the young men who led a sheep, that would later be slaughtered, cooked and eaten, followed by the women and girls some of whom carried trays of food to be eaten and finally brought at the rear by two Romany men playing a drum and clarinet like instrument. Arriving at the house the music continues for several hours whilst mainly the women and girls dance in a circle holding hands. at one point Ann and I are invited in the house, men to the right, women in a neighbouring apartment to the left, to have a drink and a few nibbles of food. Then the groom appeared in a silver suit and wearing silver coloured shoes! He led the dancing for a while and all the women and girls were on their feet joining in the dance. The grooms party of about 12 then left for the brides house. By the time they had retuned in the small hours of the following morning, Ann and I were in bed. Now today, Sunday, we have toured the town of Kukes, had coffee in a restaurant 7 floors up with a good view of the city, and been invited out for lunch. Kukes became known outside of Albania in the Kosovo crisis of 2000, when hundreds of thousands of Kosovan Albanians fled into Albania and were encamped here. As a result, Kukes as a town, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Nadi and Sofi invited us out to lunch with Ida, her sister Mira and other family members. There was a wonderful array of salads, tave, (like a soft cheese cooked with liver), chips, corn bread, a whole variety of different goats cheeses and finally a whole grilled kid (young goat). The setting was fantastic looking across from our table outside to the mountains with the lakes that have been man made damming the river to create hydro-electric power. The hot air blowing from the mountains descended on our table and on us! After all it is only 43C outside!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Our 4th Youth Camp in Albania

Sunday evening saw Liam, Neil, Pauline, Dave and Ann and me head off to Gatwick to fly out to Albania. We have left the wet, wet, wet of England behind and now are enveloped in HEAT, HEAT! HEAT. Elbasan, the city where Ann and I spend most of our time in Albania has been enjoying 40-43C every day for the last month! Arriving at midnight we spent our first night in Tirana the capital. Then after breakfast we boarded an air conditioned minibus to bring us to Pogradec via Elbasan. In Elbasan we stopped off for a coffee break and giving us the opportunity for us to catch up with Ilir Koci who leads the church we know and to have a brief time with Blerim whose apartment we rent when we come here. It was opportunity too for the other four to head off to their favourite fast food haunt and have lunch. Dave and Liam have been here now several times and know their way round Elbasan. For Pauline and Neil it is their first time to Albania and to be thrust into the unrelenting summer heat and a very different culture to our own. Lunch over, it was on and upwards climbing into the mountains until we came to Lake Ohrid and Pogradec. Because of the heat there were far more people swimming and enjoying being by the lakeside than we have ever seen before. Having settled into where they are staying in the Nehemiah Centre, we went to the hotel where Ann I stay for an evening meal together. The setting is almost idyllic, looking out over the flat calm blue lake towards the mountains of Macedonia only a short distance away. The border is just 15 minutes by car. Now today, Tuesday, the young people from 5 churches have arrived, from Burrell, Tirana, Elbasan, Librazhd and Korca. It is great meeting young people and leaders who we know and being introduced to new faces. Already now in our 4th year we have young people coming whose lives were completely changed at a previous Youth Camp and are now firmly embedded in their home church. Our prayer for others is that this time will be a life changing moment for them too, when they become aware in a real and deep way of God' s personal love for them. Registration and lunch over, they will chill out, (how do you do that when everywhere is so hot?)and be ready for our first session this evening when Edi from Korca speaks. A big change this year is that we did not bring out a band, rather Colin Boyle and Dave Betts have been out here a couple of times in the last year preparing, encouraging and teaching the guys here so they are now ready to lead our worship at the Camp. I am sure they will serve us well. Time to go and hear them and worship God! Lots of loves from a very hot Albania, Ken and Ann PS photos to follow

Monday, 21 May 2012

Local radio, a leaders meeting, youth and Sunday

Saturday morning at 9 o'clock saw us on our way to the local radio station.  Alur and some of the leaders who visited us in March had spoken about us on the radio a couple of weeks previously so our visit to the station was eagerly anticipated.  Why had these English people come to Kuressare? We were able to speak at length about our church and what we do, about the budding relationship with Alur and Marvi and the church in Kuressaare that they lead.  How lives had been changed through the many outreaches we run in the community and the change brought about by God's love for all people no matter their history or background. 

Sue spoke about her particular reason for coming and the mums and toddlers work she has been involved with for many years.

After an hour and a half at the radio station it was time to walk to the church building for a leaders meeting.  Below is a photo of the church building.  It is surrounded by land on both sides and behind it that also belongs to the church. 

And opposite the church building is this building, a former Russian barracks.  It is big, and lies empty and the local people don't know what to do with it! 

From 11 o'clock we then had a leaders meeting when they plied us with questions about getting people involved in serving in the church, what would be the next step for them as a church, gathering teams and so on.  There was a great sense of expectation, vision and passion for the future allied to reality.  I believe there is a great group of leaders here and it was thoroughly enjoyable to be with them and talk with them.  No awkwardness, just a great sense of ease and people who are on a mission.

After lunch, it was time for a break.  Sue went off to explore Kuressaare castle and we had a swim in a pool! After a meal Ann and I then went to meet the young people of the church at their 7 o'clock meeting.  (Sue carried on talking mums and toddlers with Angela). 

One of the noticeable things here is that many people are really tall, both girls and guys.  And so I found it at the youth meeting.  I was surrounded by young men all taller than me, and that doesnt happen very often.  I have seen several people literally head and shoulders taller than me! No wonder volleyball is their national game. 

Sunday morning brought us to the church meeting at 11am.  I spoke on serving in the church from Mt 20 v20-28.  Many churches that have experienced communism when everything was centrally organised and initiative was stifled, struggle to involve people as everyone looks to the pastor to do it all.  I spoke into this talking of Jesus who had a team of 12 to impact the world around him, and how we can all serve in the church and how the church needs this if we are to impact the society around us.  Then it was time for lunch together, and then catch our bus back to Tallinn, a 4 hour journey.  Farewells are never easy, and ours certainly wern't as we left many behind who we have grown to love and appreciate.  But I am sure we will see them again.  Four if not five of the ladies want to come to our womems REAL conference in June

We enjoyed trying to get to grips with the Estonian language.  Some words are pretty straightforward and others seem next to impossible.  The bus station,  bussijaam, is one of the easy ones.  From Tallinn bus station we got a taxi to the airport, saw Sue checked in for her return flight, absolutely delighted that she had been with us and been used so well to share all that she knows about mums and toddlers.  That she has impacted people here is no doubt and  I believe lives will be changed eternally because of her visit here.

We stay on a a couple more days to meet other leaders and then also head home.  What a wonderful time and way to use our lives.
Love from Ann and Ken

Mums and toddlers

At Friday lunch time we were taken to Alur and Marvi's house where we met Marvi and a number of the ladies who are interested in running a mums and toddlers group in the church.  It was great to meet up with Alur and Marvi again after their visit to us in March and to see where they live.  Whilst we ate a wonderful spread laid out for us, Sue spoke to the ladies about why and how we run our Sparklers group. 

There was great interest and loads of questions.  I wanted Sue to get to meet the ladies early on in our visit as I knew there would bound to be questions that Sue could answer as the weekend progressed.  Her session went on until late in the afternoon, when it was then time for us to head for the church and a meeting with many of their leaders and people.

Alur and the leaders who came to visit us had been impressed with how many projects we run that reach out into the community and impact our town.  They asked me to speak about this, what we do, how they had developed, where the ideas came from, how we organise and administrate it all, where we get our volunteers from and so on.  We had a break for something to eat, evening meal time, and then carried on with questions and answers back and forth until well on into the evening.  All the time Riina our translator is working hard, hardly having time to eat!

So it was time to call it a day, Sue to return home with Angela where they carried on talking about mums and toddlers and Ann and me to our self catering apartment.  Being as far north as the Orkney Islands, it is still light way past bedtime, and this is rather confusing even for us who are used to light evenings.  We climbed into bed at the end of a very good day and it is still light outside! 

I had read in a book before coming about a strange thing they have here in Estonia, and now I have seen it.  One sees buildings with the sign Pood outside.  It is pronounced Pod, as in pea pod, and it means Shop. It doesn't have on it the type of shop it is or the name of the shop like Tesco's extra or Subway or whatever, it just says Shop.  You have to go inside to find out what they sell. How strange is that!

What we did last Saturday in the next blog!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Tallinn old town and Kuressaare

I had every intention of writing a blog before now, but apart from our first morning it has been full on. On Thursday morning we had a look round some of the old town with Sue so she could see some of the  buildings that have been wonderfully restored after the Communist era. In many ways their buildings are similar to what one sees in Prague or Krakow but none the less, the nooks and crannies, the cobbled streets and courtyards give Tallinn an attractive look.  We have used as our guide book the Bradt Guide to Estonia, and on the cover it has a picture of a door.  And we came across the very door!  Here are Sue and Ann outside it. 

Sue has apparently always been taken by men who are in shining armour, so she had to stop by this one!

Yet another colourful door, outside the House of the Blackheads!!

Part of the old city walls.

And then back to our hotel for lunch.  I had sult, my grandfather called it pork cheese, pork meat in jelly, with boiled potatoes, horseradish and mustard.  Just to perk it up!

On Thursday morning we had a brief walk around some more of the old town. There is something different and attractive around every corner. More of the narrow streets, 

knit wear, winter pullovers, hats and mittens, being sold beside the city walls,

one of the stalls at the flower market

and yet more of the city walls.

It was time for coffee and a bite to eat before Ain Vares' son Vilu arrived to take us to Kuressaare. We loaded up and were on our way. Mile after mile of spruce and fir and silver birch trees on flat countryside. Soon though we were going aboard the ferry for a 20 minute crossing to the Island. Even Sue said she could manage 20 minutes on a boat especially as the sea was as flat as a pancake. The Baltic Sea has a tidal range of about 6 inches and is far less salty than the open ocean. I have drunk some of the sea water just to check!
Here is Riina on the left, our interpreter for the whole of our time, she did a marvellous job, and now must be completely worn out.  Next to her is Marven and Vilu.

By late afternoon we arrived in Kuressaare and we stopped of at an Irish pub for a meal. An ice hockey match was in full swing on the tv between Finland and the USA, and the pub was crowded with noisy Finns. Kuressaare is a spa town and very popular with Finns and Swedes in the summer season from now until September. Then we went to the home of Kalmer and Angela where Sue is staying. This couple were part of the team who came to Kerith in March. And we went to our apartment. Just time enough to freshen up before going to the first of our many meetings.  We will be in touch. Ken

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


By the time you read this my wife Ann, and Sue Davis, above, and me will be on our way to Estonia from Luton Airport.  You may know that we had 6 leaders from a church in Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia visit us in March this year.  This is the home church of Virge Maton, who is married to Mike who are part of us. The pastor Alur and his wife Marvi came with Kalmer (worship) and Angela (children), Ain (artist and leader) and Karin (youth).  They saw most of what we get up to, and though they did not see our mum's and toddler's work called Sparklers, they believe this is what they want to run with.  So we are travelling with Sue who has been involved with Sparklers for more than 20 years, who will share her experiences.
We stay in Tallinn overnight and then we will be on our way on a 4 hour journey, including a short ferry crossing, to Kuressaare.  The island is as far north as the Orkney Islands and the weather will be similar to here, a real mixture of showers and sunshine and it will be cool.
Please pray for us as we build relationships, share with the people from the church, speak on local radio, and for Sue who will be experiencing Estonia for the first time.
We look forward to blogging from Estonia.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Shume urime per ty, shume urime per ty..

I forgot to mention that last Friday was Colin's birthday!  So when he started the evening session here in Elbasan, we sang to him "Shume urime per ty", Happy Birthday to you, same tune just Albanian words! 
The photo above is from Saturday morning showing some of the girl singers from Tirana and Elbasan.

They are increasingly using young people which is what we like to see, so here is Daniel from Librazhd

And this is Elizier, who is about 8 years old. She has an amazing ability to draw especially animals and make them look lifelike. Blerim, the man we rent our apartment from is a Christian and an artist and has her as a student and speaks highly of her gifting in one so young. She remembers details he says of how an animal should look, better than most adults.

Lunchtime on Saturday after Colin and Dave's sessions consisted of byrek, see below.  It is filo pastry filled with either spinach, meat or cheese.  When you have a good one, preferably home made, it is superb.

Here is Dave hard at work this time on the keyboard and not guitar!

After the Saturday session finished about 2.30, Liam and Colin and Dave set off in a forgon with some of the guys from Korca to go there, a 2.5 hour drive.  I thought this would be good experience for them.  They get to see another city where they have not been before, another church they have not been to before and opportunity to spend time with Edi and Artina who lead the church there and be with their musicians and singers.  Edi gathered his guys for a session with Colin and Dave on Sunday morning and afternoon, with a short break for lunch.  Liam spent time with the young people and with Edi talking through the Youth Camp in more detail, and Liam spoke to the church on Sunday evening.  (Sorry I don't have the photos, they have them!)

On Monday the guys left Korca and headed for Elbasan but stopped off at Librazhd to meet some of the young people from the church there. (To those of you who have been to the Youth Camps Librazhd is the place with the rickety bridge across the river!) Dave and Liam know many of them from our Youth Camps. They had a great time catching up and looking forward to the next Camp. Then back home to Elbasan and a meal at the home of Ilir and Rudina who lead the church here.  They live in an apartment on the 4th floor with their 3 girls, Sara, Eliada and Abigeila. 

And so to this morning.  After breakfast Liam and Dave caught a forgon for Tirana to meet up with Tani and some of the young people at the church there.  Colin and I had a look round some of Elbasan, then lunch and it was time for farewells to Colin and see him on his way back to Tirana and then to the airport ready for the flight back to Gatwick and your cold wet weather.  It is hard to think of it, when we have been enjoying 30C and blue sky.
It has been a brilliant time, and everyone has spoken so highly of Colin, Dave and Liam and what they have brought to the churches here.  They have left an excellent legacy and I know will be welcomed back with open arms. 
Ann and I have 2 more days here and then we too will head for home.  We look forward to seeing you soon. All our love.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

God knows Lydia doesn't like the sun...

and so we had rain and some sun whilst she and Gita were with us, but the moment the guys arrived, Coiln, Dave and Liam we have had blue sky and SUNSHINE!  Here are the guys with Ann in the centre and Lili from Burrel who travelled with us on the forgon from Tirana to Elbasan.

We are staying in the same apartment we usually use that gives us wonderful views over the city with the mountains still topped with snow in the distance.

Colin and Dave began their first session on Friday evening,

with Arjan translating for Colin

and some more of the musicians and singers.  As Dave has been out to the Youth Camps before and Colin came to Elbasan last November they now know most of the people they are talking to.  It is also great to see friendships being built and renewed amongst the singers and musicians from the different churches.

After a well received first session, it was time for the guys to eat (no shopping!) and return to the apartment.

Saturday morning saw a 9 o'clock start that will go through to 3pm.  Here is Visi from Korca on the drums,

with Lindita, called Vila, singing, with Xhuljo on electric violin and Geni on guitar all from Korca.

and just to finish for now, here is a photo of Diti, Mirjana and Jorida from Tirana.
This morning Liam is with Lili from Burrel, Ilir from Elbasan and Ilir from Librazhd and Edi from Korca talking about and working out the programme for the Youth Camp in July.  I had better get back to see how they are getting on..Lots of love Ken

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lydia and Gita in Albania

 What seems like ages ago, but is only last Thursday, Lydia and Gita and Ann and I left Gatwick bound for Albania.  Lydia and Gita are here to help several churches develop their work amongst children.  First in our time here was meeting the Roma children that Shaban and Elvira work with from their church in Tirana.  Lydia introduced them to games with her multi coloured parachute.  We played these indoors as it was pouring with rain outside.  As you can see the kids loved it!  A quantity of materials were left with the leaders for their use with the children.

 Here is a photo of Lydia and Gita with the children present on that day.  Numbers vary quite a bit, but they are taught to read and write, fed and helped with clothing and they also hear  the news of Gods love for them through Jesus.

 And before we left they had a time to pray with the leaders of the work with the Roma children.
Then it was time to catch a minibus to Elbasan.  After leaving our things in the apartment in Elbasan we were ready to eat, so fast food was the order of the day,

 which went down well with Lydia and Gita!  Then the task of getting our food from the supermarket for the next few days, and settling in ready for the gathering of children's workers on Saturday. We had an evening meal with Ilir and Rudina who lead the church in Elbasan, to catch up with them and hear how their church is doing and learn of their expectations for the next day.

 Children's workers came from Elbasan, Librazhd and Korca, which is almost 3 hours journey away.  Here are 3 of the leaders from Elbasan, Adiana, Yeta and Blerina taking it all in.  What Lydia and Gita had to say was a great encouragement to the childrens workers.  Gita was able to speak about her experiences of running childrens work in a country that also has little money and not many resources readily available.

 After a busy day we had an evening meal.  The roses seemed a good foreground for a picture of Gita.

 Sunday morning was time for the children's work to be put into practise as Lydia and Gita spent time with the children whilst I spoke to the increasing numbers of people being gathered in the church.

 On the Saturday evening Gita ordered prawns, but was surprised when they came all displayed like this.  All quite a cultural change for Gita who is from Lithuania. 

 This photo is of the time Lydia and Gita had on Sunday morning again with the parachute.  The Elbasan church have a large basement where the children gather, ideal in the hot summers but very very cold in winter.

 All the activities were interspersed with cups of coffee. Here is one venue they like at Divina, a revolving  coffee bar high above the city of Elbasan and a place that commands wonderful views of the surrounding mountains that are still covered with snow.

 On Sunday evening we had a lovely ,meal at the home of Ilir and Rudina, the church leaders. 
On Monday it was time to show Gita and Lydia some of the sights of Elbasan.  These include the Ethnographic Museum, which may sound tiresome, but it is in an old Ottoman house with a beautiful balcony and with rooms decorated as they would have been in times past.  It is a good introduction to Turkish Muslim culture that has prevailed here for almost 500 years.

 Here they both are on the via Egnatia, the old Roman road from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul), that runs through the centre of Elbasan.  We then toured the old town that is encompassed by the walls of the former Turkish fort.  The electrics leave a bit to be desired, but this are is home to the oldest Orthodox Church in Elbasan and to the oldest Mosque.

 Being with 3 women is very different to being with the guys, Colin, Dave and Liam who will come out this coming Thursday.  The girls are shoppers!! We seldom walk straight pass a shoe shop or clothes shop!

 Finaly, for the moment, here is a photo of the refurbished Skampa Theatre.  It was very badly damaged by fire just after our concert there last year.  Nothing to do with us of course!  But it has been very wonderfully and beautifully restored.  We send our love from us all and we look forwarsd to seeing Colin and Liam and Dave here in 3 days time.  Tomorrow it is time for Lydia and Gita to pack their bags, travel back to Tirana and fly home, their wonderful work well done!