Friday, 21 April 2017
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Last Sunday morning we were again at the church in Elbasan where we spend most of our time and who we as Kerith church support. Since we were last here they have now moved into their new hall for their Sunday morning meetings and with the children they already nicely fill it. The next step, probably by September, will be for them to have all the children out from the beginning of the meeting.
Monday, 27 March 2017
Last Friday Ann and I got a furgon, minibus, to Gjirokaster in southern Albania. We left Elbasan at midday and travelled for almost 4 hours for 1000 Lek each, about £6.50. We travelled to see Jorida Doce a young
woman we have known for 10 years. Jorida was a teenager when we first met, but has been to University and now is the manager of a Christian childrens home in that city. Here is Jorida with Ann. We think that she is
an outstanding young woman with leadership gifting. She wanted to come on our Academy a couple of years ago but was not granted a visa. We chatted at length about the small church she attends in Gjirokaster and the tasks she is being asked to do and her hopes and dreams for the future. As we talked we walked through the old town part of the city. Gjirokaster is known for three things in Albania. Firstly it is a city built entirely of stone, which is sometimes then covered in plaster. Not a brick or breeze block in sight. Stone walls, stone tiled roofs, roads made of cobblestones and NOTHING, I mean NOTHING is on the level. You either walk uphill or downhill, never on the flat. It is so steep in parts that you can literally fall over onto the roof of a house, roll down the roof onto the roof of another house and so on. Secondly it was home to the best known Albanian author Ismail Kadare. I have read a number of his books which I have found very helpful in understanding Albania. And thirdly, it was the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the communist leader who ruled Albania for many years.
This is what some of the buildings and roads look like.
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Today Ann and me with Ilir Koçi have been to Ohrid, Macedonia and back. In May Catrina Benham speaks at the two day ladies UNIKE Conference in Tirana, Albania. A week later Catrina will be speaking at our first ladies Conference in Skopje, Macedonia that will gather women from Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Should she fly home from Tirana (there aren't direct flights every day) only to fly out again a couple of days later to Skopje (again there aren't direct flights daily). All round we decided it best that Catrina travel on from Tirana and stay for a few days at Ohrid, Macedonia by the lake of the same name giving her time to catch up with herself. Ann and I have been to Ohrid a few times and know what a nice place it is for a few days. Other people are catching on. WIZZ air now fly here to the Saint Paul the Apostle airport and the Rough Guide recently named it as one of 20 best places to see in Europe on a budget.
Бог да те благослови
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Whenever we are in Elbasan we do our best to visit Arti and Vali and their daughters Era and Elsa. We rented an apartment from them the first time we came to Elbasan and we have remained friends. Each time we go we are offered Turkish coffee and a glass of raki and something to eat. They know Ann is gluten free so they offered her some ballakume Elbasani which is made with maize flour. But no raki for me, because I am taking penicillin for my infected foot.
I asked Elsa for her help in buying a cheap phone to use in Albania. My Albanian SIM card for some inexplicable reason doesn't work in my phone. Earlier I had gone to a Vodafone shop in Elbasan where mobile phones are displayed with prices shown and asked to buy one. Their answer? We don't sell phones! Sorry about the pun. But Elsa knew where to go, to a Vodafone shop run by a cousin of hers and a cheap phone was duly bought. At last I am in contact with the the rest of Albania!
Next stop was to travel to the neighbouring town of Librazhd to meet and speak to the young people of Librazhd Community Church. This is the door to their building
and here are some of the young people with Ann. At the front next to Ann is Nerila who was one of the initial 5 young people we met from Librazhd who came to our first Youth Camp and became a follower of Jesus. Now she is living and working in Tirana.
Friday, 17 March 2017
Ann and I are here again in Elbasan, Albania but this year a little earlier than would normally be the case. One of the key events in 2017 for us is that my sister and her husband from Auckland, New Zealand come to stay with us in mid May for 6 weeks. This has made us look at our diary and plan accordingly. So here we're in Albania in mid March a month or 6 weeks earlier than usual. We left the grey skies of the U.K. on Wednesday morning and have arrived to blue skies and sunshine and warmth in the day. 18C at midday, but the clear skies mean a low of 2C at night!. Ann has been to the pazaar, open air fruit and veg market (bazaar is a enclosed market) and bought local fresh strawberries, all ripe and juicy.