Thursday, 28 April 2016

The sun does not shine every day...

Yesterday Sunday it rained, with thunderstorms, most of the day. On Monday it was still wet but we needed to go shopping. First to a Supermarket for the necessities of life, coffee, jam, honey, green peppers which are now in a dish and waiting to be roasted, butter, milk, eggs etc. And then some unnecessaries but nice. Having said that, it is not true. Ann is coeliac and therefore so many desserts she cannot eat because they have flour in them. So we called into the Pastiçeri Milan for meringues and lokumb that Ann can eat, (and a zup for me). There is no photo of the zup, a small trifle, because I have already eaten it!!

Then through the rain to a coffee shop, and then on again through the rain to the market. Here are the peppers ready to be cooked.

Here is another zup, just to show you what they are like.

After lunch on Tuesday we went to the church building to see Ilir and look at the building work they have done. On the way we met a funeral cortège. As it is a Muslim culture here, people are buried the next day after dying. You can just tell your employer you need the day off and every understands the situation. There was a long line of cars following the coffin and then two bus loads of people. Many people don't have a car, and so a bus, provided free of charge by the bereaved family, will take you to the bereavement parlour, the only way I can describe it, where after filing by the coffin, you are given a free meal. Another reason why a lot of elderly people go.

In the evening we had a meal at Ilir and Rudina's home, with yet another wonderful meal cooked by Rudina. Here is Rudina with her youngest daughter Abigaila. Ilir and Rudina have two other daughters, Sara and Eliada who are both now as tall as their mother. They are at that stage of teenage life!

One of the things Rudina cooks is this, below, aubergines with tomatoes, onions and garlic in olive oil. I cannot describe how yummy it is.
Ann in the kitchen with Rudina and Abigaila.

We have had quite a lot of rain since we have been here. The mountains around Elbasan are high enough and the nights cold enough for it to snow on the mountains, and so in the morning we can look out from our balcony at the snow capped mountains.

Now it is Thursday morning, and I will send this off quickly as Edi Morava is about to come and pick us up on our way to Pogradec. There we will finalise the accommodation for our 18-30's weekend in July. We have held a Youth Camp in Pogradec for the last 8 years but now time has come to hold an 18-30's weekend as those who once were teenagers and came to Camp have grown up! They have been to college or university, have jobs and are moving on in their life and their needs have changed.

Do pray that we find as good place just right for the weekend and for safety as we travel. Tomorrow Friday we travel to Tirana and meet up with Miranda to go through all the preparations for the up coming ladies Conference UNIKE. Please pray for this, all the ladies who will come and our ladies from Bracknell who will come with Catrina Benham.




Saturday, 23 April 2016

Back in Elbasan, Albania

Ann and I are now in Elbasan. We had the final session yesterday morning of the Newfrontiers European Leaders Conference that we have been at in Athens for four days. We lunch together and then people went on their way home to the 30 or so countries represented. We ate with Edi and Arta and Ilir and Rudina. Arta, who is organising the bookings for the UNIKE Ladies Conference in Tirana in 2 weeks time, said that we have over 300 already booked in. Wow, that is so good especially as this year the first day of the Conference on Friday is not a Bank Holiday as last year. On the next table to us was Tomor and Miranda Ajeti who travelled with Annie and her husband from Lushnje. Annie was one of the translators last year and will be there again this year. UNIKE is a Ladies Conference that Miranda Ajeti from Victory Church,Tirana organises. We held our first such Conference last year and we look forward to what will happen this year. Catrina Benham from Kerith Community Church with a team of 8 ladies will fly in in just under 2 weeks time to speak and be involved in the Conference.
Ilir and Rudina and 8 others from Elbasan (including Sokol a BIG guy who is the Elbasan mayor's bodyguard and comes to Ilir's church) travelled back to Elbasan overnight by a 14 hour bus journey arriving at 8am this morning, Saturday. Ann and I are too old for that lark and we flew with Aegean Airlines for an hour and a quarter from Athens to Tirana. Blerim, whose apartment we stay in, met us at the airport and brought us to Elbasan. We travelled with Robert and Nicky Thursfield, who are retired church leaders and teach at a number of churches here in Albania. They were met by Robert Cook at the airport. We have known Robert for 9 years, married to Mira, and they lead a small church in Lezhe in the north off Albania.
When we got into our apartment we met with Blerim's wife Rudina and their 3 year old daughter Amaris. Rudina had been to see her mother and picked the lilies from her garden that you see above to put in our apartment. We quickly unpacked and then headed off for some fast food before bed.
This morning, we gathered our thoughts, had coffee and went to the pazaar, the fruit and veg market. So here is what we bought. Lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and yes, strawberries, all locally grown. We could have bought cherries too, but I resisted.

This may give you a clue as to how much warmer it is here than in the UK right now. Temperatures last week at 30C, were what they would expect in June, though today it is cooler with a shower of rain last night.
Ann is cooking bolognaise sauce right now, add some spaghetti and we will have something to eat!
I will now run through what I am speaking on at church tomorrow morning. This will be the first time we have been at the church since they were joined by another church, that split away from them 15 years ago. It is almost unheard of here for churches to come together. So often churches split and split again. In society here there is no real understanding of how to sort differences or how to agree to disagree and still remain friends or work together. So the church with childrens work and youth work has doubled in size to about 70-80 people. It is the church here in Elbasan that we have given money to recently to help them finish the building work on the ground floor, so we really look forward to seeing the work that has been done, meeting people we have known for many years and making friends with new faces.
Do pray for us and the upcoming UNIKE Conference, that many women be encouraged in their faith in Jesus and others come to a relationship with him for the first time.
Much love,
Ken and Ann