Tonight is our last night but that doesn’t mean we stop!
Today we set off to find a little more about the city I’ve been living in with a visit to a amphitheater about a mile from us. The sun was lovely and it’s very easy to forget it is just a week until Christmas Day.
We then walked down to the sea front, we’d managed to go nearly week without acknowledging that we were on the coast, so we took a few minutes to once again enjoy the sun on our faces while we walked.
The boys in our group grabed a bargain on sunglasses!
Once we’d had lunch we were then off to another town about an hour away to meet with two Brazilian men who are running a football mission.
I have to see were totally overwhelmed by how many children were waiting for us as well as their eagerness to get a gift. But once again it was truly an honour to support the men working their as well as thei families. It can’t be an easy job! At the end of our time with them we prayed with them, for protection and wisdom.we retuned home for a chilled evening as we pack ready for our extra long day tomorrow!
Wow! Day four! I have to admit this blog post is being written in bed. These are long but rewarding days.
Today we were up and out by 9:15 to load up the cars once again with more fabulous Christmas boxes, food parcels and then ourselves to set off to meet more lovely Albanian children and families.
Before we got into the city we went up a mountain! Well, it was an easy group activity, piling into cable cars to get to the highest point of the capital. Here we had the treat of a hot chocolate so thick it was like custard. We then looked over the whole city and prayed for city as a whole, the churches and the government and people of the city.
After a fun ride back down the city. [The fun was the young people creating a new version of songs in their own style!] We spilt into two teams again and armed with 100 boxes each we went to meet two churches.
The church we joined was hosting their children’s meeting. Easily 50 child in a small room all keen to meeting with each other and us. We sang songs, shared our stories and listened to their own. We then gave out our boxes. It’s a little crazy, you want to do your best, give out the right boxes to the right age and sex but you are also aware time isn’t on your side when you have over 75 pairs of eyes looking at you. All the gifts are greatly received, even when you don’t speak each other’s language you can still make a smile mean more than a friendly face.
I was expecting to dash off and meet the rest of the team once all the boxes had been given but we were in for a treat. We got to hang out with the teens of the church, they were sharing their songs and raps they’d made, encouraging us to join them. (We dug out our memories of the song Shackles to sing as well our more rehearsed lighthouse song).
It was great to see the group laughing, chatting and hanging out in a safe place as well as sharing their stories and faith with us.
Once we’d said our goodbyes we were off for a relaxing evening at a restaurant, filling out hungry tums with pizza and pasta and our minds with giggles, games and more laughter.
And now we are back ‘home’ resting up for our full day tomorrow!
Day three is already done! We can’t believe the time is going so fast. Each day seems to be spilt into two, which makes us feel like we’ve had four full days in Albania rather than just two. Today’s plans started with us thinking about how to help host a church service in the capital city in the afternoon. However this changed fast when we realised that the service was at 6pm and to wait all day wasn’t a good use of time so we jumped into the cars and left with a boot full of shoebox presents.
This was the first time we got to give out the boxes. The houses and flats of the families are very tired looking but the children had smiles for us.
The connection to this area was a local missionary pastor who has been getting to know the local children and families by teaching football. So we went to their homes and asked if they had children and if we could give them a gift.
We were nervous, we wanted to share happiness but didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. We soon learnt that the mums we met loved being able to give gifts to their children and the children we met and saw opening their boxes were full of smiles and and gasps of joy looking through what they’d revived.
One of the things I noticed was how fast the sweets and chocolate went, nearly every child we saw open their box we saw later with chocolates in their hand. Children across the world have the same priorities it seem!
Once more we piled into the cars and had a break eating lovely ice cream at a bargain price of 50p for three scoops!
Our last journey was to the church where we were going to help host the service. This was where we were going to have to be a little brave and get up the front. The youth team were amazing, stepping up to act out the parable of the shower and the sung ‘My Lighthouse’ with much enthusiasm!
We’ve made it home and settling down to share the 10kilos of BBQ meat we’ve ordered!
So yesterday was packed full!
The morning saw us check and sort out all our Christmas show boxes ready for easy pick up for the rest of the week. We made a boy pile and girl pile and could see while there is a few less boy boxes there wasn’t as big gap as we first thought.
Once complete we got back to where we are staying to have a pizza, or two. 25 in fact! The different in cost here in Albania from the UK means eating together is a lot easier.
With lunch out of the way we split into three teams, piled into cars and picked up a local mini bus driver all headed to the capital Tirana and to meet three different churches.
There was a little problem of directions and missing phones which lead to a little more waiting than necessary so we sadly missed out on one church.
Some of the team then went to hand out food parcels and really enjoyed the children’s singing. The other team then went to a church meeting with teens and ladies.
There is quite a lot of thinking on the spot while we are here as well as a need to be willing to do thing out of our comfort zones. I’m sure we will get braver at the week goes on!
In the evening we went to a fish restaurant, it was great to sit as a team and have fun chatting and eating together.
We’ve had a great day and look forward tomorrow, we are learning fast that planning isn’t that easy and taking things as they come is better.
We started at 2am on our journey from Bristol To Albania today and our sleep pattern is very mixed up but a brilliant start to a very special week.
Here is our view from the plane as we came into Albania.
Once landed we piled into another mini bus to get to the city we will call home. Today is just about chilling out and getting a little used to the culture here before we set off in teams tomorrow armed with food parcels and shoe box presents.
This evening saw a take away kebab with chips inside and photo fun in the city centre.
Now it’s an early night ready for what tomorrow holds. I can’t wait
It’s our last day before we set off. Here is today’s prayer point:
Everyday in our run up to our trip we are asking for everyone to join us in praying. Here is today’s prayer point.