Thursday, 31 July 2014

Academy Students amendment

Folks, I am sorry but in my last blog I wrote my email address incorrectly. It is Fortunately one couple who know my correct address contacted me willing to support one of the students. That is such a help. Even if you can give half the amount say £150 that is a huge help. Any queries or questions do email me. Thank you

Ken and Ann

Albanian Academy Students

You will know that we have had a number of Academy Students over the past few years who have spent an academic year with us benefitting from training and teaching. Several of these have come from Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, and because these are EU countries they do not need a visa. Obet from Zambia who was with us this last year had to get a visa which he did succesfully.

We now have some young people from Albania who have applied to come to our Academy for September and been accepted by us. Now for the difficult bit, the visa application. It ought to be straight forward as Kerith is recognised by our Government as a fully A rated sponsor and are granted a certificate to show this. The certificate number is quoted in their application and everything should fall into place. The photo below shows Megi and Barbara both from Shaban's church in Tirana who have been accepted by us. Megi spoke at this mornings meeting and Barbara wants to Social Justice work with us.

And then we also have Nerila from Librazhd who is a physiotherapist but would like to do Youth work with us. Nerila came to our very first Youth Camp where she became a Christian.

And here is Nesti from Burrel who wants to do Children's work. Nesti is organising all our games and activities at Camp as he did last year with great success.

A real issue for all of them is the one of money for the visa. The visa costs £208 and then the company who handle the visa application for the UK Embassy in Tirana want another £100. It has all gone up in price this last year!

To give you some idea of how this relates to earnings here, Nerila works for 20 hours a week for 3 months as a physiotherapist for £200. From this she needs to help pay her way at home and provide clothes and shoes and travel etc. So the visa fee realistically is outside her ability to pay. Their churches too have little money to help them. I bought a new laptop out this time for Nesti's church. A guy in the UK paid the £540 for it as the church does not have that kind of money. So just for once, I am asking if any of you who read this would be willing to help them with say £300 each? If you will then please email me at k.bothamley@ntlworld and let me know by this Saturday 2nd August and I will sort it for them. Not only do they have to pay the quite substantial visa fee it has to be paid in euros by Visa card, so they all have to open a Visa euro bank account just to do this.

At the least please pray for them all, that the money becomes available and their online applications are succesful. It will mean so much not only to them but to their sending churches. We can play a part here in help build the future church in Albania.

From Ken and Ann


Somebody tell somebody

Last year at Camp the unassuming young man on the right, Tiku, became a Christian. He went home and told his family and as a result 25 of his relations became Christians. So a new church has been started in his home village of Geshtenjas which is on the outskirts of Pogradec, the town where we hold the Camp. Ten of their young people are now here at this years Camp. In the photo he is with Edi Morava who has been to Kerith and was with us in February this year. Edi and his wife Arta lead a church in Korca.

The guy who leads the church in Geshtenjas is Yrri (pronounced Uri) who moved, with his wife Sanna and 3 daughters, from Tirana to Pogradec to lead it. He is on the right in the photo below with Ann and Shaban who leads a church in Tirana.

All this is from God moving through just one guy who became a Christian at Youth Camp. What power there is in somebody telling somebody about Jesus.

Lots of love Ken and Ann



Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Time to eat and Camp at last!

Just to prove that the team actually got to eat their pizza, here are some photos with Imogen, Olu, Jamie and Liam

and one here of Jess and Ben.

and Ann, with Sarah waiting for her pizza.

Ann and I travelled with the young people and leaders from Elbasan on Tuesday morning. Here are some of the Elbasan lads.
We stopped on the way for a breakfast break. Here is one of the leaders Arjan, tucking into a typical Albanian breakfast of pilaf, rice. Just rice cooked with a few vegetables.
and the girls will have the same.
And Camp at last!! Here are some of the Elbasan crowd

and more of the Elbasan guys.

Three of our guys Olu, Nick and Ben with Ann

If Elbasan has a lot of guys, then Korca have a lot of girls. Here are three of them, with Gabriela on the left.

and another group with loads of girls are Librazhd.

Some of you will recognise Miranda, seated, who came to our REAL women's conference in June.Here she is with some of her girls from Tirana. This is Miranda's first time at our Camp as well as first time for many of their church youth.

So by Tuesday lunchtime, people had arrived, rooms were sorted, bed spaces allotted and everyone ready to eat. And the Camp was under way!

Let us see what God wants to do!

Ken and Ann


Team to Tirana

Last Sunday afternoon our team led by our Youth Pastor Liam arrived at Mother Teresa airport, Tirana. They had had an early start meeting up at 3am at Kerith, and then heading to Heathrow to catch their flight to Albania via Vienna. So it was an excited but tired team that I greeted at the airport. All aboard our bus and then several of them just fell asleep including Liam below

and Emily and Sarah

but there are some who are always wide awake such as our guys Nick and Jack.

We stopped in Elbasan for a quick pizza snack and a drink. This restaurant is inside the walls of an old Turkish fort. Here are Emily, Sarah and Jess about to order.

with Ben, Imogen and Jamie.

The restaurant setting is really quite stunning and so many wedding receptions are held here and they were preparing for one when we were there.

But too soon it was time to climb aboard the bus again and for our team to continue their journey to Pogradec where the Youth camp is held. Ann and I stayed in Elbasan as we would be travelling with the church group from Elbasan.

A lot of travelling in one day but getting there on Sunday gave the team all day Monday to recover and find their feet, before hordes of young people arrive the next day, Tuesday, all excited for the Camp.

Do pray for the young people at Camp that God will change their life. In one of my next blogs I will tell just one amazing story of what happened last year.

Love from Ken and Ann.



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Albania via Vienna

Some of the first flights I took to Albania were with Austrian Airlines through Vienna. It didn't take me long to decide against this route as the return flights always left about 3 am from Tirana and my luggage never arrived at Heathrow with me. And as long as one booked ahead in plenty of time British Airways direct flight from Gatwick was much easier and cheaper, and you had your bags with you.

So it was with some cautuion that Ann and I flew this time with Austrian. We decided we would make a long day of it leaving Heathrow at 09.15 arriving Vienna at 12.35 but then enabling us to spend some time in Vienna city centre. Another reason was the BA ticket price. Some schools have just finished for the summer holidays as was evident the moment we stepped into the airport and consequently ticket prices are high. The flight queues were enormous swelled with hordes of children all flying off somewhere with their parents. Even though we were there early, eventually people for our flight were called forward as time was going and we needed to booked in.

All aboard and things went smoothly arriving on time into the very modern Vienna airport. We left some of our handbags at left luggage and caught the train S7 into Vienna city about 30 minutes, and then the undergroud U3 to Stephansplatz. It is like arriving in the middle of London only much smaller in scale. Groups of singing schoolgirls sat in large circles on the pedestrian areas with plenty of space all round them. Here is St Stephen's church.

Time for lunch and as Ann is coeliac this is not always easy to sort (sandwiches, pasta, cakes etc. are out) but McDonalds are a good bet and in the UK will put a burger on her bread with no mayonnaise without any problem. And so it was this time with a McDonalds hoving into view within a few paces of walking down Karntner Strasse. We were headed for the Wiener Staatsoper and a guided tour round the Opera House.
Come 3pm and we were separated into groups depending on language, German, Japenese, Italian, Spanish or English. Off we went on a most interesting 45 minute tour. My photos just don't do it justice. As some of you will know, parts of the building are original, like the staircase below, but other parts were rebuilt in the 1950's as a result of bomb damage from the 2nd WW.





One of the aspects that impressed me most was the behind the scenes, behind the stage storage space. It is huge, absolutely huge, enabling them to change scenery quickly. The stage itself can be lowered 10 metres to clear it and then be raised with fresh scenery in place.

After this a break was called for and I knew just the place. The Hotel Sacher is just across the road from the Opera House. It is famous in Vienna for the Sacher torte and I just had to have one with my coffee. Ann cannot enjoy such treats, she is coeliac remember! So cakes, pastries and biscuits are out unless made with gluten free flour. But Ann can eat the chocolate on top of my cake!



Time soon enough to retrace our steps and head back to the airport for our onward flight leaving at 22.20 arriving in Tirana at 23.50.

And time too to eat again this time at Henry's in Vienna airport and time for a snooze for Ann.

Not to be out done I found a good place to lie down! there are several of these chaise lounge in the airport lounges. All I needed was my own pillow and I would have stayed the night! (My grandmother used to say "Don't stand when you can sit, and don't sit when you can lie down." She lived to be 94)

And here is another good idea! In one area there is this artificial fireplace with cosy chairs round it. It looks so homely. I spoke to a lady with her son aged about 5. She said "Whenever we pass through Vienna airport my son insists on coming and sitting here." I am not surprised.

And then one of the joys of travelling is meeting people. This couple saw the chaise lounge and also thought what a good idea. We got talking and they are from Wanganui, NZ returung home after going to a wedding in Portugal. Later this year Ann and I will travel to see my sister in Auckland, NZ and so we talked about the sights we had seen in NZ on a previous visit. And who knows, tthis time we may get to visit Wanganui!

And so we arrived at Mother Teresa airport in Tirana, Albania just before midnight to be greeted by Iir Kochi from Elbasan and a waiting taxi. Now the last leg of our journey and finally we tumbled into the apartment, unpacked our cases and then fell into bed at 2am, just 21 hours after I woke up ready for the day.
Lots of love from Ken and Ann
PS Sorry we have not blogged sooner but have not had internet connection until today.