Monday, 16 December 2013

Hurmë and people

One of the other fruits in abundance at this time of year is hurmë. In English we know it as Sharon fruit or Persimmon. They can be yellow in colour through to red or orange colour as below. They are the size of a large tomato and have to be bletted before they can be eaten. That is to say they are left until they appear to be over ripe. They begin to appear bruised or even going bad, but they are not. This is the time to eat them. You can eat them whole or cut them open and then eat the insides with a teaspoon.

On Saturday afternoon we want to Librazhd to meet the young people from the church there and speak with them. We have seen this group grow from from 5 to over 30 in number with several of them now at University in Tirana. Here is Ann with Erlisa who leads the group, and then photos of some of the youth. Our young people who have been to Youth Camp over the years will recognise many of them.






Then it was back to Elbasan to meet the young people at the church there who were practising their items for the Christmas meetings.

On Sunday morning I spoke at the Elbasan church and then some of the children rehearsed their parts for the Christmas meetings.



After this we had lunch with another family Ilir and Donika, Daniel and Lysania.

Then a meal in the evening with the church leaders Ilir and Rudina, when we talked through many things including their plans for next year and their request for us to help them develop their children and youth work.
Today, Monday, saw us having coffee and lunch with a couple from the Newfrontiers Bedford church, Ron and Sue, who have been here for 3 months helping the church. We caught up with Arjan in the afternoon and then with Blerim and Rudina with their daughter Amaris.
Now it is dark. Time to go and eat, then pack our cases ready for the journey home tomorrow.
Gezuar Krishtlindjet! Happy Christmas!
Ken and Ann


Friday, 13 December 2013

Catching up is SO important to do

Having seen Robert and Mira on Tuesday, Tomor and Miranda and Mira, Ida's sister and Ilir and Rudina on Wednesday we knew we were off to a good start on catching up with people which, especially in this culture, is SO very important to do.

Today Thursday saw us go back to Tirana by minibus to meet up with Niku and Tani, below. Their mother Elvera died of cancer in the summer, and Tani along with his father Shaban and Halil, another leader, lead the Bethel Church in Tirana. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose ones mother at their age. I have just lost my mother, but my mum was 94 and lived a long and fruitful life. We had lunch together, caught up on news of the church and how they were doing personally and prayed for them.

Then it was back to Elbasan in time to catch up with Edi and Arta below, who lead a church in Korca. We had coffee together and heard all their news. Their church is growing with 130 on Sundays including children. They have taken on a further large room which they have divided in two for children and youth work.

Edi has recently been in Milan and met 3 church leaders there. He is hopeful that some of their youth together with some young people we know from Skopje, Macedonia may come to our Youth Camp in July next year. This could all prove very interesting when it comes to translation!

Another phone call and we went back to our apartment to meet Ilir Qelemeni and give him some presents we have brought for him and Donika and their children.

Tomorrow we will catch up with another family we love dearly, and then head to Librazhd to meet the young people from the church there. They are a great bunch and very close to our heart. Then return to Elbasan and meet with the young people from the church here that we support. We have brought out a laptop for the church and some money so that they can buy some guitars for the young people to learn guitar with.

Let me close tonight with a couple of Christmas themed photos, the lights in the main boulevard in Elbasan and a Christmas tree!!
Ken and Ann



Thursday, 12 December 2013

It is December, so it must be oranges!


Ann and I are back in Albania again. With the death of my mother and Ann's father in recent weeks our time in Albania had to be put back until now. Usually we come in early November when it can still be warm, but December marks the start of winter as it does with us. The days are still sunny and bright but a cold wind blows from the snow topped mountains. But as it is December the orange trees are full of ripe fruit as with this tree in one of the main streets in Elbasan. The markets are full of fresh mandarins and oranges at 45p per kilo.


We flew in on Tuesday and met with Robert Cook who took us to his home in Lezhe where we met Mira, his wife, and their daughter Emily, and caught up on all their news. Then on Wednesday morning we caught the bus back to Tirana and met Tomor and Miranda who lead Victory church in the city. They took us lunch which we did not expect. Again it was good to catch up and to hear their plans for their personal lives and the life of the church. We hope Miranda, photo below, can make it to our ladies REAL conference in June.

We were joined by Mira, Ida Sinakoli's sister. Ida is an Albanian young lady in our church who many of you will know. Naturally, Mira was full of questions about her sister. Mira is engaged and plans to be married next year. Then to the furgon, the minibus, that brought us to Elbasan and to the apartment where we usually stay.

The evening was spent with Ilir and Rudina the leaders of the church we support here in Elbasan, having a meal together with them and their 3 daughters Sara, Eliada and Abigaila.

Like many families they are getting ready for Christmas. This is still a new venture for many here as Albania has for hundreds of years been Muslim and in communist times it was the New Year that was celebrated. Even now of course it is the commercial aspect of Christmas that comes to the fore as with these decorated Christmas cakes. Christmas trees and street decorations are now to be found in most towns and cities.

Now at 4.30pm, as I write this, the sun is going down behind the snow topped mountains. The sky is pink and blue, clear and cold. Stars are already shining. Darkness will cover us in a few minutes as there is virtually no twilight. And it will be cold. Homes here are built for the summer heat, not winter cold. Heating even in shops and homes are inadequate for the task. I once visited a maternity hospital here in Albania in winter. None of the wards were heated. Only the babies in their incubators were kept warm. The mothers slept in their clothes and coats in bed to keep warm. Now we must go to eat before the restaurant gets too cold and we shiver as we eat!
All our love,
Ken and Ann
PS The fruit available tells you the time of year. So oranges tell you it is December, September will bring grapes and October/November pomegranates and so on all through the year.