After our goodbyes to Edi and Arta we made our journey to Elbasan in the heat. Now a quicker journey than coming as we are travelling literally down hill most of the way. Korca, because of its altitude is known in Albania as an apple growing area, with mile after mile of apple trees in blossom. Through Pogradec, where we will hold the Youth Camp in July, Qafë Thane, Perrenjas, Librazhd and onto Elbasan. Then time to collapse and cool off from the heat, and then Ann gets the washing machine going!
Sunday morning found us saying our farewells to the people in the Elbasan church, but knowing we will be here again in July with Ida Sinakoli from our church before going to the Youth Camp. Liam and Dave Betts with Josh Grimmett and Ben Weeks will also come out with is and they will go to Korca to be with Edi and Arta before the Camp.
In the evening we had a meal at Ilir and Rudina's house, with their 3 daughters, again finalising conversations before.....the power went off! When I first came to Albania this was a regular occurrence. ( I remember being with Ann staying in the Grand Hotel in Korca and it had NO electricity and NO water! Not exactly Grand. ) The city of Elbasan was plunged into darkness, only cafes or restaurants with their own generator had power. And it started to pour, absolutely pour with rain as it can do in Mediterranean countries. Nothing else to do but wait for the rain to stop and power be restored which happened eventually. Final farewells and we walked home.
We had arranged to meet up with Mirjana who would like to come on our Academy year of training. She and Jorida, who also wants to come, are part of Shaban's church in Tirana. We have known them for several years through the Youth Camp and the worship training Colin Boyle and Dave Betts have done. So a bus ride, 30 Lek, 20p, however far you go, into the city centre and we had lunch together and talked through the possibility of her coming on the Academy.
A phone call to Tomorri and Miranda, who we had met at the Elbasan conference, and they repeated their invitation for an evening meal at their home. They lead Victory Church here in Tirana. So just before 7pm, Tomorri picked us up and brought us to their apartment that they share with Miranda's two younger sisters. Accommodation in Tirana, like any capital city, is expensive and so Miranda's sisters live with them until they can get a secure job and save for their own place.
This was the first time we had a real conversation with them and could hear their life story, where they met and how they come to lead the church. Miranda comes from a village near Elbasan and so knows all the people we know and a load more. Miranda prepared some superb food, with the help of her sisters and we had the joy of eating their hard work. Again, Miranda is keen that some young people she knows from their church in Tirana and from the village church her brother runs, could come to the Youth Camp. This we said is mainly a matter of para, para, money, money, but we promised to look at this and be in touch with them.
So late at night, gone 11pm, we made our Goodbyes, looking forward to when we may next see them. One more nights sleep, and then it is time to pack our suitcases, head for the airport and fly back home. Another time in Albania endeavouring to help the Church here to grow and build the Kingdom of God has come to an end.
Ken and Ann.
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