One week in Elbasan down, one to go!
Playing darts at our house
On Sunday, we led the Roma church services. At 4, we had an hour-long program for the children, and then at 5, we had another (slightly shorter because it rained) service for the adults. We shared a story and did some crafts with the kids, and shared testimonies with the adults.
The children at the children's program
Crafts with the kids
Crafts with the kids
Every morning from Monday until Friday, we helped with the Feeding Program. The gate was opened around 10:45, and we did various activities until about 11:45-12 (sports, face-painting, girls did hair and nails, trampoline, etc), then the food was brought to the base, and the kids all brushed their teeth and washed their hands before they came in to eat. There are about 40 kids from age 3-15 that eat, but other kids do come just to play sports and games.
Parachute with the kids
Getting their faces painted
She was obsessed with my beard! Before she started crying that is...
One of the base leaders with some of the Roma kids
We play volleyball almost everyday!
Washing hands before lunch
Brushing teeth before lunch
Lunch! It's a loud and messy affair!
Waiting for the last kid to leave - he's always a slow eater!
The Roma community has been a unique experience to live in so far! The people are very friendly, kids run up to us when we walk down the street to hug us, and high-five us, parents wave to us, greet us – very friendly atmosphere! But very poor too – we are living in a very impoverished area, multiple generations of family live in one home, often grandparents, their children and grandchildren (sometimes even great-grandchildren). Girls are often married by age 13, which they see as normal, and something to be desired (by some). The children are also pretty wild at times, they hit each other on a regular basis when things don’t go their way – this is a common issue seen in all generations, parents and grandparents hit their children to correct them, to stop them from crying, etc. But they are a very relationally based community, helping each other with construction and whatever needs they have! That’s the Roma way of life.
One of the nicer buildings in the area
Some members of the team with the Roma kids
One of the team members with Roma in the community
One of the Roma kids in the Feeding Program
Since we are living on our own as a team, we have to take care of the house just as a family would. We have been divided into work duties to care for the place, meal prep and cleanup, and meal planning/buying the food.
Meals together as a team!
This week, we have also celebrated 4 birthdays, 3 trainees (mine!) and 1 staff member, so we’ve had lots of cake!
In the afternoons this week, we’ve spent our time on prayer walks, house visits (meeting the locals and having coffee with them – I got to try some Turkish coffee, so that was interesting!), intercession with the staff, prayer meetings with the Roma Christians, and went to a local Christian university to share testimonies and spend time with the young adults.
One of the grandmothers with her grandchild
Playing volleyball with the local Christian university
One of our prayer walks took us to the top of a mountain!
A random stray cow walking up the mountain
On Saturday, a group of us went into Macedonia (another country) to Ohrid for the day. The drive through the mountains was pretty neat, and in Ohrid we ran into the DTS from the Durrës base, which was pretty amazing! We also got the chance to climb up the hill to an old fortress, and I got to try some Turkish tea. I was really glad to have the opportunity to explore a bit, since we haven’t had too much time to do that on this DTS!
Durrës DTS - it was great running into them!
This is an ancient bridge that used to be part of the ancient Roman road - it's very likely that the apostle Paul walked across it on his travels! Pretty neat to see!
Got to visit an old fortress!
On top of the fortress overlooking Lake Ohrid
The fortress from further down the hill
I accidentally made a friend by petting her - she followed me around the city for a good 15 minutes or so!
- Grace within the team – living in close quarters brings out some stuff that wouldn’t normally be brought up!
- Grace with the Roma children – while they are fun, they can also be exhausting and demanding – pray that we have grace to continue to love them and not distance ourselves from them
- Continued guidance for the next two weeks that we still have here in Albania