Our time in Tirana
We arrived in Tirana and received a very warm welcome! Pastor Shaban and the church family are such a lovely bunch of people. These guys meet like family spontaneously at his house throughout the week to eat, worship and genuinely share life together. I spent the first few days resting as I had a terrible cold along with other team members, but we managed to get medicine, praise God! Shortly after we arrived in Tirana, I met one of the youth from the church, Aurora. I enjoyed trying her home made Baklava which was delicious! The youth here are truly delightful to be around and I see so much treasure in their hearts. These are the next generation and we are so excited to see how God is going to use them for His glory here in this nation! We spent time with them throughout the week chatting, walking, worshipping and led a few workshops in music, photography, English and I.T which they enjoyed.
On Christmas Eve we celebrated with the church and enjoyed Albanian food, dancing and singing! I also met Eddie, the man who wrote a song very close to my heart ‘Mos Ki Frike’ which means ‘Do not fear’ from Isaiah 41. This is a song that I used to sing with my best friend at Bible school and it has encouraged me ever since. It’s a small world! On Christmas day we ate at a local Kebab restaurant which was an interesting meal for Christmas but fun 🙂 Then we visited the Sky Tower! This is a beautiful way to see the city from a birds eye view! For New year’s eve we went to visit a Norwegian/American family who have been missionaries in Albania for some time. They are doing marriage counselling and ministry to encourage and support families in Tirana. They shared some of their stories with us and we had a great time of fellowship and saw in the New year from their balcony as a finale of fireworks went off all over the city! I have never seen so many fireworks going off at one time! Josh and I really enjoyed this along with the smiling animated faces of the rest of the dts team!
On the last evening of our time here in Tirana, we cooked a joint meal in the house with the youth. This was a really special time, eating, chatting and sharing songs and dances from our own nations. We had a lot of fun and it was very sad when we had to say goodbye the following day. Before I came here I asked someone very wise if they had any advice or tips for our outreach to Albania. This person has lived in Albania, planted a church and raised up local leaders, has a Bible college degree and been to seminary, and yet this is what they said…
Love the people, that’s all you need to do
I have found this to be the most simple and yet the most powerful piece of advice! I have really enjoyed experiencing a relationship-orientated culture and learning to go with the flow and love people in a much deeper way. Being from a culture which is driven by the clock, has a big focus on projects, making plans, setting goals and getting numerical results, I have seen a big contrast here, which has swept over my heart like a breath of fresh air! A culture which prioritises people over time, family over individualism and friendship over success . This time for me has been truly inspiring! One which I will never forget! During our time here in Tirana, Josh and I have really enjoyed these people and got a strong sense of God’s heart for this nation. I truly believe that God was in the midst of every time of fellowship with these people, and my prayer is for Hope, Truth and the love of God to flow into every place across Albania, and through this many will come to know Jesus now and in the next generation.