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

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