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!



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