Once Youth Camp begins it is full on for 3 long days. After breakfast and morning devotions there is the first session with worship and 3 speakers each for 10 minutes, each one is a youth leader in their church, and then games for 2 hours in the heat 35-40C, lunch then free time. The evening meal is at 7pm followed by a meeting with worship, leaders from different churches being interviewed and then Liam our Youth Pastor speaking. Here is Megi from Tirana speaking on the first day at one of the 10 minute sessions. The band members are from the Albanian churches, but they had no drummer so our very own Jacob Benham came to the rescue.
After the morning session there are games organised by Nesti from Burrel. How does this guy think of these crazy things to do year after year? Fortunately most of the games involve water, and as it is so hot clothes dry in minutes. And when you are young, who cares?? Here is one crazy game. Holding up a young guy off the ground, one of the team, on a chair and walking him towards a paddling pool with balls in it that he has to fish out. A good job I wasnt sitting on the chair. I dont think they would have lifted it!!
And another one. Running and then sliding along a plastic sheet covered with soapy water!! That looked great to me.
Or this one. Climbing a rope ladder tied to a tree in the local park with a small bucket of water in your mouth to empty into a bigger bucket in the tree.
What makes Camp are the young people themselves and here a few photos of some of them.
Our guys Jack, Nick and Sam below
Miri a leader from the village of Kajan, in the blue shirt centre, and Matilda, a leader in the white cap, from Victory Church, Tirana, and their group.
Matilda and some of the girls.
And some of our guys, Nick, Sam, Jacob, Nick and Ben enjoying their ice creams (akullore) with Edi Morava who organises the Camp.
I recognise Paola from Librazhd in the yellow top.
What makes the Camp is not just the young people but God himself moving in power in a persons life. Here is Liam speaking on the first night of the Camp bringing the good news that God loves us, and that we can know him in a personal way through his son Jesus.
After speaking there is always time to respond to what has been said and pray for one another.
The three days go quickly and all too soon it is time to say our farewells. Friendships have been formed across the churches and the Nations, that continue on FB, but more importantly lives have been changed. Only afterwards do leaders tell me how wonderful and worthwhile it has been and how some of their young people have become Christians or made a move forward in their walk with God.
We had so many young people this year, more than ever before, that I have begun to think we must have a Youth Camp just for teenagers 13-18 years, and a separate weekend away for students and twenties. For the first time we had a leader and 4 young men from a church in Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, the country that borders the north of Albania. The guys had been Kosovan refugees, so were Albanian speaking. Some of the young people have been coming for 8 years now from when they were young teenagers, and though they are no longer teenagers they come because it is the best Camp they know. Time has come I feel to do something fresh, challenging and relevant for them. Please pray about this as we seek to serve the young people of Albania in the best way we know how.
So on Saturday morning, we all went our separate ways. Liam and the team stayed another night and spent some time together as a team, and then caught an early flight home on Sunday via Istanbul. Ann and I returned to Elbasan and i spoke at the Sunday meeting. Another wonderful, fruitful Youth Camp was over for another year!
Much love from Ann and me.