Trip Start Jul 23, 2007
27Trip End Aug 23, 2007
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The kids proudly showed us their photos, as Albanians always do when you visit them. They're so sweet! And the grandmother too- every morning and evening she shuffles up to us, gives us a gummy grin, and mumbles in Albanian- apparently something along the lines of 'You have beautiful eyes', 'May you live long' and 'I hope you live as long as me'. Bless her, we don't understand a thing, just smile and nod. Oh and guess whether we should be saying Po (Yes), Mire (good) or often the word of choice, Falemnderit (thank you).
The team meet at the castle from our scattered locations for a team talk and to plan the children's meeting for the afternoon. We spend a good time praying/sharing verses from that morning- seem to have rather a lot. I think we've all found our faith in God has been strengthened already by the week we've had in Albania. After lunch we head to the castle museum, which gives the history of Albania and their national hero Skanderberg. Can't remember the details, but long story short, Skanderberg held off the Ottoman Empire for many years and won many battles across Albania. He's their national hero, and there are statues of him all over the world as it's thought he prevented the Ottomans from getting too far across Europe.
In the afternoon, we headed to Trev and Kaye's house to play in the yard with the kids that are invariably gathered there. They look a bit wary of us and hover by the side, so I thought the best way to involve them was for 3 of us to start throwing a ball in a circle. Gradually, the more confident kids come to join in, and with a little persuasion, we get about 15 kids playing. Once we've got their trust, we play some other Albanian games. When we're getting a bit tired (I'm sure they could go on for hours!) Clare tells them a story.
Joel was a young boy who loved toy boats. He spent hours and hours lovingly building this boat, and when it was finally ready, he proudly set it sail on the lake. A big gust of wind came though, and blew the boat away. He was so upset, he ran straight home and locked himself in his bedroom. The next day, he was walking into town, when in a local shop window, he spotted his boat- with the name he had inscribed on the side! He rushed in and gladly handed over all his pocket money to buy the boat back. Moral of the story.... this is like what Jesus did for us: lovingly made us, then paid everything to buy us back. Bertie translated for us, and they were captivated. Adults were leaning out of windows all the way up the apartment building to hear and see what we were doing, was great!
We had put up a table in the corner of the yard, and took the kids over there next. We gave each of them a paper plate, and had them write their name on it. They then used foam shapes and glue I'd taken out with me to make funny faces- message being they're all individual and God loves them all! There were some really good ones, and you could see how much they appreciated having something to do, and having something to take pride in. Even better, Kaye comes down at the end with an armful of books: the story of Joseph in Albanian and 'colour the New Testament', which apparently she'd had for ages and was waiting to give them out! The kids loved them and crowded round her trying to get one, before running to sit down and studiously pour over it.
After a bit more ball-chucking, Lucy and I headed back up to the house. Eni sat outside with us, but the rest of the family had to sit inside on the sofa because they only had 3 chairs. We also found out that the mum had just started her annual 15 days (!) holiday because her husband was returning for his twice yearly visit on Saturday. Now we felt really bad, and insisted when he return we'd go on the sofa. After dinner, Rudi got out a box of dominos and looked hopefully at us- so we played for about half an hour.