Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ladies UNIKE Conference in Albania Day 2

The ladies were there in number again on Saturday, including some who could not be there on Friday. In the centre of this photo is Anila, an Albanian young woman who lives and works in London and who came to REAL at Kerith last year and so wanted to be part of the UNIKE conference in Albania. Either side of her are 3 sisters, Ema, Suzana and one whose name I have forgotten! Sorry!
Below is Jorida from Tirana who would like to come to Kerith Academy in September.

These girls from Bethel Church, Tirana were the singers at the conference, Edi, Mirjana and Jorida.

This is Megi, with Ann, also from Bethel Church who wants to come to our Academy too.

Another couple of young ladies who also go to Bethel Church.

Four girls from Victory Church,Tirana,the church led by Tomor and Miranda Ajeti.

Three of the girls we know well from Elbasan, Jeta, Sara and Xhersi, pronounced Jersey.

Time to start and they were all soon worshipping God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Catrina's 3rd session and also hearing from Sarah Farley, it was time for lunch. On return from lunch all the women were served hot or cold drinks and fruit tartlets.

Here is Esther with 2 ladies...I can see Sarah Farley and Ann in the background...

and Esther again with L to R, Lesley, Iris and Glynne. These 4 ladies from Kerith were part of the team of 9 that flew out from the UK.

Miranda, on the right, who had the vision and passion to make this ladies conference happen.

A really good group of ladies from a church in Lushnje, a town south of Tirana. Annie, in the red jacket translated for Catrina.

Ema on the right with 3 girls from Kruje.

Time then for the last opportunity to worship God together...


Catrina speaking and being translated by Annie.

The time together ended with many of our girls telling briefly of how God had worked in their own life in various situations. Catriona Mitchell asked people to respond to God's love for them and led them in a prayer of repentance and asking Jesus into their life.

Penny Lander wondered if some ladies present, had for whatever reason become lukewarm in their faith or distant from God and wished return to God again. Many responded to that.

Time to say thank you from us as a team to Miranda and her many helpers and then say our farewells.

Here are Sue from Bedford who spends time with her husband Ron in Elbasan, Sarah, Rudina from Elbasan and Lisa.

And finally, Catrina and Ann with girls from Librazhd. They are Nerila, Paola, Arselda, all who became Christians at our youth camp, and Erlisa.
I am so conscious that I can only take photos of people. I cannot capture with my iPad the work that God has done these past 2 days in the ladies hearts. That some have made a commitment that will change their eternal destiny I have no doubt, and many others will go on in their walk with God with renewed vigour. All have been graciously challenged, and our ladies have given a wonderful example of working and relating together and telling how God has been at work in their lives.
UNIKE has been absolutely brilliant, because we have a brilliant and wonderful God. Thank you for your prayers,and we look forward to hearing of the impact these 2 days have had.
With much love and a grateful heart,
Ken and Ann



Saturday, 2 May 2015

Ladies UNIKE Conference in Albania Day 1

After all our planning, thoughts, prayers and discussions, the first day of the conference had arrived. How would the registration work and the serving of teas and coffees and so on? Would all those who had booked come? We need not have feared. It wasn't long before the courtyard area was full of ladies arriving. Registration is so much easier, when with the help of good warm weather, it can all be done outside! All the ladies you see in the photos are part of the largest Christian womens conference anyone has seen in Albania.

All of our girls helped in the registration or giving out of gift bags including Iris, below, with one of the Albanian ladies.

Pretty quickly the meeting room began to fill...

Women from churches Ann and I have no connection with came to hear Catrina.
And others we know well such as these ladies from Elbasan below,
and these young ladies from Librazhd,who have been to our youth camp several times, together with Megi, front left, from Tirana.
The conference began with worship and then a session from Catrina before lunch. Lunch was a leisurley affair giving people time to find the fast food places and cafes that suited them. On return coffe, tea and cold drinks were served with a chocolate eclair.
Then worship, a dance, Catrina speaking again and then the day concluded with prayer for one another.
I could have taken literally dozens of photos of delighted,very happy women who had thoroughly enjoyed the day being in God's presence, hearing Catrina, meeting old friends and making new, being challenged and encouraged and being part of something very special.
For our team of girls, they wanted to take a leisurely stroll back to the hotel, but making sure that we passed an ice cream place on the way. Even better, we came to a patisserie that served not only ice cream but a wonderful selection of mouth watering, deliciously tempting, cakes and chocolates! We just had to go in!
A rest and shower, and evening meal in an Italian restaurant and a very good day had ended.


Friday, 1 May 2015

Ladies UNIKE Conference in Albania part 3

Thursday saw us all aboard a minibus bound for Elbasan. This is Albania's 3rd largest city of 125-150,00 people and the city where Ann and I spend most of our time when in this country. It was an opportunity to get out of the capital city, see some countryside and meet Ilir and Rudina Koci who lead the church in Elbasan that we are most closely connected to.

No sooner had we arrived than it was time for coffee or cold drinks in the sunshine.

Ilir and Rudina joined us so we then made our way to their church building.

Ilir and Rudina showed the girls round the premises including the kitchen and basement that we as a church have helped kit out. Here are Penny, Catrina and Ann in the main meeting hall. It makes me think of some of our people who have been here over the years...Lydia Harris-Lane and Catherine Felgate for childrens work, Colin Boyle for worship, Liam Parker and Lee Layton-Matthews for youth work, Ida Sinakoli an Albanian young lady in our church, and Simon Benham and Andy Jackson. And now nine of our ladies who have come to be involved in a Ladies Confernce!

We saw too the rooms they would like to finish off so that they can be used for childrens work. Here are Lesley, Esther, Iris and Catrina outside the building.
No visit is complete for most women without a look inside someone's home and so Rudina invited us to their apartment. On arrival this was part of the spread we were met with.
Hospitality is a given here and not be lavish in offering food and drink would bring great shame to them.
Here are Lisa, Sarah and Lesley feeling at home...
and Glynne, Iris and Penny.
After our drinks and nibbles,it was time to slow walk through the city centre and take in the wedding dress shops and other sights along the way.
Lunch was in the grounds of a former Turkish barracks, Real Skampis. This has been the setting of many a meal with the youth team that come out in the summer. Many of them, and others too, will recognise the gardens which form an attractive backdrop to this photo of Ann and Rudina.
We all sat round a long table and enjoyed the freshly cooked food.
Ilir and Rudina, below, who lead the church, are a delight to know and great to work with.

We felt as though we could have sat and talked for ages, but we needed to return to Tirana, city of 800,000, before the rush hour traffic really snarled the road, and so we made our way back to our hotel.

After a break it was time to do some work. The girls had all played different parts in ordering, collecting and buying several items to bring out to Albania and then make up small bags that would be given out as gifts to the ladies attending the confernce. The bags contained a necklace, handcream and a scripture.

Showered and changed, an evening meal together and our day was done. The first big day of the conference, the day we had all been looking forward to, planning for, praying for and dreaming of for months now lay just one nights rest away!

What had God got in store for tomorrow!