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
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