Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Convict (dorm) in Tirana

Meet Kleya and Alexia with their dad Tani.  These little girls and their father happened to run into us the day we visited the dorm in Tirana.  This dorm or 'convict' pronounced "con-veeckt" is a place where orphans go that age out of the orphanages in Albania.  This man, Tani has lived there with his wife since she was 15.  At age 15, orphans can no longer stay in orphanages, so if there is no family to take them in, there are "dorms" available for these teenagers to go to.  Tani and his wife have lived there for 22 years.  They have no one.  Now, when we think of a dorm, we think of a college dorm with an RA where students are monitored.  Erase that from your mind and imagine an unsupervised slum of sorts with no adult supervision.  Squatters are left alone to find an empty room which they come in an inhabit with their humble belongings.  This family of 4 lived in a one room apartment.  Kleya happened to have slept late that morning and was home from school... it was a gift from the Lord to meet her. 

Here enters the story of Paloomb.  Paloomb is a 20 year old living alone in a tiny room the size of a closet.  Here is talking with Alda, he called us back over to his window as we were leaving.  He was surprised that a group of people would come to talk with him, just to visit.  He has desires for his life to be somebody and shared all he wants is a family to love him.  Alda vowed to go back and visit him soon.  I am certain she already has.  He has lived there for 5 years, and he said in those 5 years, no one has EVER come to check on him.  Every belonging was neatly arranged and he was even sweeping his humble room.  He said he would do anything for a family.

This was on the wall outside of Paloomb's room...

These are just two stories of our journey in Albania.  Please pray for these special people as we will be also.  We are all forever changed by meeting them.  Please pray for Alda as she plans to begin a bible study there in the convict with these families.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


American soil never felt so good.  Yesterday afternoon around 3:20 PM, we touched down after an almost 12 hours flight.  (Minus Karen J and Abby H who stayed behind in Rome, Italy for an extra night and return home today)... we are all home.  We cannot thank all of you enough for the prayers we felt while in Albania.  While I am still processing it all, I think at the moment I am personally in culture shock.  My home seems HUGE to me, my toilet seems extra clean to me, the bathtub I soaked in last night seemed like a spa, and my bed.. well, my bed never felt so much better.  I would bet the rest of the team would agree.. Home never felt so good. 

Hopefully over the next few days I can begin to finish telling the stories of our journey as well as post pictures.  Now that I am home and have better technology and Internet capability, I want to share the rest of the story with all of you.  Remember,  mission trip is never over once you are home...please pray that all of the lives we were honored to touch will SEEK the NAME of JESUS!

We love you all!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Women's Retreat in Berat

This is a group shot of the beautiful women of Berat, Albania, Disciples of Jesus Christ church.  You will also see "mama Karen" in the back.  They are holding their craft of homemade sugar scrub that Karen led with them while at their retreat day. 

With the help of the pastor's wife, Megina, we booked a restaurant there in Berat and treated these women to American chocolate and peppermints, door prizes, games, testimonies of God's work in our lives, teaching from Beverly, lunch, and so much love from all of you... THIS is what we came for... to love of these women, give biblical teaching, a day of fun, and love.  You all made this happen.  Thank you, thank you for all the help raising the funds to give this retreat.  The restaurant gave us the wedding room, which was breathtaking.. white table clothes, white slipcovered chairs with giant red silk bows,  it was beautiful.

So many stories to tell just from this one day.. many of these women have never even eaten in a restaurant like this.  Several were from a neighboring village that drove in by taxi, many had never had a day away from their children, some even brought their babies.  You would not believe the ppositive feedback these women gave.  Their gratefulness in multiple hugs and kisses said it all.  It did not matter that many of us could not even speak the language.. God's love was evident in all of their lives and we knew it.  They even sang praise and worship songs in their own language.  How can I put into words on a blog the sound of a foreign language to me singing praises to a common Savior?  It was music to our ears, and we just worshipped right along.

God is at work in that city.. even the waiter assigned to us for the day, spoke later to some members of our team that he had never heard so seen such beautiful words spoken about Jesus.  What a lesson that we never know who may be effected by our witness... we were there to lead a women's retreat and the male waiter was even moved.. maybe even seeds planted and the Lord will lead him to this christian church in his own community.  God is so Amazing! 

We are thanking him for so many lives touched and changed, mainly ours!
We are in Italy tonight, awaiting an early departure for Georgia.  There is so much to tell and I just can't do it justice.  Once home and settled, I will post more..

Thank you to all of you that have been checking on us and praying.  We sure have felt the prayers!  We are all exhausted and ready to get at me to loved ones.  Please pray for a safe flight tomorrow and a great re-entry back into the reality of motherhood and being wives?

We love you all!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Night time in Berat

The Lord has provided Internet.  Somehow, someway.. each day, He has provided a way for me to communicate with all of you.  I want to stay unplugged with what's going on in USA, but each day, I think about how can I communicate all the things we are tasting, seeing, smelling, and living each day here in Albania.  There are no words to describe all God has revealed to us on this journey.  I would like to share a favorite from today.

This afternoon after a long morning, we went back to the church here in Berat.  We have a small room we have been meeting in and using as our home base here while in town, (at night, we are staying in church member's homes-you will have to ask your loved ones about this when they return-too much to tell )  after meeting and planning in our little room this afternoon, we were invited up to the worship room of the church.  Each Thursday afternoon at 4:00, church members gather after work and school to pray.  This would be similar to a Wednesday night prayer meeting at home.  Well.... this is like no other prayer meeting I have attended.  First of all, songs of worship were offered to God.. Our God, the Chris Tomlin Song was sung in Albanian, I just sang right along in English, however, the beautiful harmonies and melodies of praise and worship in another language than my own, reminded me of what heaven will be like.  These people here have lived through oppression of communism, they are surrounded by mosques, they have family members who are not believers, but they worshipped away...lifting songs of praise as hard as they could.  We Americans, were ALL drawn to tears.  It was a very beautiful moment.

For our prayer time, a wonderful lady named Marcela, (we have decided she is their church's Ms. Andrea'-love you Andrea' ) Marcela has curly hair, almost a beautiful red, and a fiery passion for the Lord.  She read scriptures from Timothy when Paul offered encouragement.  To see her encourage her fellow believers was moving.  She then would give a specific topic to pray for.  After that, church members would pray aloud, in unison... if you have never seen or heard this done, it is beautiful.  Beverly, our host missionary explained this style of prayer came out of the evangelical church movement in South Korea... At first sound, it also reminded me of what heaven will sound like.  The God of Gods can hear all prayers in all languages at one time.. so we offered in English, while they offered in Albanian.  Some major prayer concerns for the church are (if you will pray at home?)... a church building they can buy, a church van so they can pick up believers in neighboring villages, for their pastor and his family... then, the most moving moment of all was when they asked our team to stand in the center of the circle, while church members prayed aloud, in unison for us.. for energy, for unity, and for health while traveling.  NOT  A DRY EYE FROM THE FPC team!!!  Praise the Lord for this amazing gift of fellow believers lifting us up in prayer.

Tonight, we took an evening walk through the streets of Berat, we prayed at the new university, then headed across the bridge and prayed for the entire city.  God is at work.. tonight, we are back in homes again settling in and getting rest for our Women's Retreat tomorrow.  Would you pray for that tonight?  Abby, Dawn, and myself will speaking, Karen will lead a craft with the ladies, and Beverly will be teaching the women as well.  Please pray for the logistics, a time of encouragement for these ladies, and for all of us to rest tonight.  Several team members did not even sleep or settle last night.   Hopefully, we can update later.

We love you all!


We are here in Berat. We found a place for lunch that has wifi so this will be brief as I am typing on an iPhone. We had a wonderful morning in a school and a hospital.

It was a very big deal we were allowed in the school at all. Remember this is a country that is out of communism 20 years ago. In the school we passed out small first aid kits and dental kits. These students were very receptive to all of us. Of course we were not allowed to speak of our faith , however this is wonderful for the church here as they build rapport with the community.

In the hospital, we went to the children's floor and passes out small toys, coloring books, crayons and mints. Here we were able to pray with families. Many have been told by the doctors there they have no diagnosis for their child. They were all grateful for the prayers and many mothers were in tears as we offered God's peace and comfort. Many just needed a hug.

The most touching floor was the maternity ward. We prayed with new mothers. Many are 2-3 women to a room including family members. In hospitals here the family brings the patients bedding and food. Many doctors unfortunately work on a bribe system so many patients go unseen or are forgotten. Several rooms had 4-5 women. These were women on bedrest and some had even suffered miscarriages. It was a blessing for us to pray with them. The women of the Disciples of Jesus church were with us in groups and would translate for us. Beautiful prayers to our common Savior!  Praise The Lord for his provision on all of us!

We love you all!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday... We are still going strong!

This is Biku and Aida.  They are the only houseparents of Eagle's Wings at this time... They are really pioneers here in Albania.  A set foster care system is really unheard of here in this country.  Please pray for this special, Godly couple.  They are seeking to serve the Lord in a country where they feel very much hopelessness and corruptness.  We loved getting to meet with them yesterday for several hours and hear their story.  I know many of you will be praying for them as well and would love to put a face with a prayer!  Alda, the executive director of Eagle's Wings is currently working with church leaders here to find other couples that are willing to take in girls (some who want to escape trafficking), in a foster care style set up.  She has met with 10 couples, these families are truly pioneers.. please, please pray this system will spread like wildfire as orphans are basically on their own at age 15. 

Today we are meeting together with Beverly to work and discuss Eagle's Wings' and  their current set up, situation, goals from a business perspective and all they are facing here.  Please pray for this organization and for financial support that God will provide!

When we leave here we will be checking out of the hotel and traveling south to Berat.  We will be arriving late afternoon to Berat and visit a castle there that is said to be built in 1200 AD.. this will be a treat.  During communism's harsh reign here, many, many buildings were torn down for government block style buildings, while Berat was named a historical city.  Many of its buildings remain and is said to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.  We will be staying in homes of church members there and doing work with church members.  On Friday, we will be leading a women's retreat which we are thrilled about.  This is our biggest project while here and cannot wait.  Would you be praying to prepare our hearts, Beverly's heart as she prepares to speak, and the women's hearts that they will be receptive to hear from the Lord.  We want to shower them and love of them.. we have brought many treats, gifts, and presents but most importantly, the love of Christ to share with common believers!

We love you all.  I hope to add pictures...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Long Day

It's been a long day here in Tirana... so much to tell but we will at some time later.

A quick summary:
Several a dorm style housing building that is for orphans that age out of regular orphanages.  One lady lives there with her husband and two children... there is no where for them to go.  This was a hard visit for many of us.  These would be compared to a slum or condemned building in the United States.  The people we met with were just grateful for the visit.

Another group attended a women's bible study that would be compared to a MOPS study.  Those that attended were inspired by the women's knowledge of scripture.

In the afternoon:
One group met with the houseparents of Eagles Wings and had a fabulous time hearing their call to serve the Lord.  The father also serves for Bible League and they are planting churches all over Albania.  God is at work in this country!

Another group did the in home visits at the Roma Gypsy Community.  This left them speechless at the conditions.  Nurse Abby was able to provide medical advice to those there and a listening ear.

We will be traveling south to Berat tomorrow. 

Please help us pray for a few names we met today.  Kleya and Alexia, two girls we met in the dorm community.  Tani, their father.  And most of all, Pullumb, a 20 year old living in the dorm and was speechless that anyone would even come to visit him.  Most of all, he wants a family that will love him.  Alda, the executive director, will be visiting him again.  And the parents of Eagles Wings', Biku and Aida.

We love you all!