The last four days have been busy, busy, so I thought I would show you a picture of calmness. We were on the road from Pogradec to Tushemist near the Macedonia border with Lake Ohrid just out of camera to the left. Quiet, utterly still, with snow on the top of the mountains. We went to see a hotel in Tushemist where we may hold the 18-30's weekend in July. We look round the hotel of course, see the bedrooms, restaurant area, the meeting room, and then talk money with the owner.
Time for lunch with Edi beside Lake Ohrid. After lunch we journeyed back to Elbasan and saw another likely hotel for the 18-30's. They emailed us their prices and now we take everything into condsideration, talking to people who have stayed at these hotels, the locations, one by the lake another on the outskirts of a city, how good is the food, and so on. There will be another round of bargaining over prices, such is the way here, before we make a desicion.
Friday was wet as Ann and I walked through the rain with our umbrella to catch the bus to Tirana to meet up with Miranda and Tomor. Travel by bus is cheap for us, 85p each for a 1 hour journey. We meet them at the stop near the Carrefour hyper market where we went for their food shopping. Albania is full of little corner shops selling your immediate necessities, but they are being superseded by Italian supermarkets such as Conad and Orti or the French giant Carrefour. Then to their home and then off to Mount Djeti. I have wanted to go to Panorama Restaurant on Mount Djeti from when I first came to Albania but had never made it until now. There are signs in the city centre of Tirana to Djeti but after 1km they run out and you are left guessing how to get there. Now we travelled with Tomor and Miranda who knew the way to the cable car. It was a 20 minute cable car ride up the mountain into the mist and rain. Mount Dajti is 1613 metres 5292 feet.
Now at 2pm it is time for lunch. Lunch here is eaten later than the UK. Here are Ann and Miranda pouring over the menu.
One thing we had was this salad for four people.
Expressions of appreciation are often spontaneous here in Albania as Ann found out yet again!
Bottle brush flowers in bloom.
We walked from the restaurant for 1km or more enjoying the fresh air and spring flowers to be found at this height to the Panorama Restaurant and time for a coffee. Then a minibus back to the cable car as the mist thickened and rain fell, back down the cable car and out into sunshine and home.
We are talking all the time about the forthcoming Ladies Conference UNIKE, how many ladies are coming, the arrangements, how Miranda is much less stressed than last year as she knows what is coming, about their church and themselves and Albania in general. After an evening meal we talked until midnight and then rolled into bed.
Saturday morning Tomor and I continued talking about their church until it was time for us to go. Edi and Arta Morava picked us up and took us to the Stephen Centre in Tirana. This is an American founded small hotel and coffee bar cum restaurant originally as a place for missionaries to meet up. You can always find Christian ex pats from all over the world catching up over coffee and lunch. They do a good hamburger!
Edi and Arta who ran in a church in Korce, have moved to Tirana and intend to start a church here. (Edi's father was seriously ill and was in hospital here and Arta's work increasingly meant she worked in Tirana so it made sense to move.) This was their first real get together with 3 families and 2 single girls. So this is the very beginning of something that we look to see grow and have impact. We worshipped, prayed for each other and brought prophetic words, and I spoke briefly.
Then lunch with Edi, next to Ann, and their son Mikael, and nearest is Miga with Arta. After we journeyed back to Elbasan with Edi who was travelling on further to his home town of Korca.
On Sunday morning we went to the church we support here in Elbasan run by Ilir and Rudina Koçi. We have given them money from our Gift Days to help them do further work on their building. Trying to make pictures of a building look interesting is a bit difficult, but we are just so delighted with the work they have done since we last saw the building in November last year. Here is Ilir with Ann in one of the rooms that will used by children.
At the moment the children's work is in the basement, with tables all set out like this with say 40 children.
Also in the same basement area, and at the same time, some of the girls are learning steps to some Albanian dances.
There were 70-80 people present and growing in numbers with a good sense of God's presence, a love for him and each other. They can all see, obviously, how their building is changing and that is helping to build a good sense of excitement and vision.
Lunch with Ilir and Rudina and their girls and then in the afternoon Ann went to the 40th Birthday Party for Suzanna. I have photos of this but I will show them another time.
Home eventually in the rain. And then a nice surprise. Blerim and Rudina, who are part of the church and whose apartment we rent, brought us these lilies picked from her mothers garden,