Monthly Archives: February 2008

Cards anyone?

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Yesterday was Egli’s birthday. Since his family lives in Pogradec, we invited a few friends over for dinner and games to celebrate. We were a combination of English and Albanian speakers, with many different levels of proficieny in the two languages. For example, Jennifer just arrived a week ago from our home church in Norman to serve here at the orphanage for 6 months. The extent of her Albanian is po (yes), mire(good), and falemederit (thank you). On the other end of the spectrum, not everyone could understand Robert or I giving directions in English so a little translation was needed for the details.

We played a game that my grandparents, aunts and uncles have taught me called “Oh Heck!” (there are other versions…). Robert and I taught Egli and Gretchen a month or two ago and they have since taught others so when it came back around again, Dovi was giving directions in Albanian. You have never seen anything so funny in your whole life! I wish I had video of all of us trying to get a word in edgewise to explain the game to the newcomers, each in our native language. Imagine 7 people all trying to say something in their own language and be heard and understood by others who don’t have all the nuances of that language while also asking their friend next to them “What did he say?” trying to get a quick translation. It was comical. I think I asked the names of the suits of the card (hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds) at least a dozen times. “Kup” for heart is the only one I remember today!

But after the evening was over, we were so thankful for this handful of people (Toni, Egli, Dovi, Visi and Jennifer) that are committed to youth ministry and our church so faithfully! We are here to serve and help them find all that God has for them in their ministry. But in the process they minister to us and our family in ways that are so precious. It is so hard to put into words how our hearts are full when we have a night like this that is fun and life giving and it looks so much like our ministry in the US with a few added cultural quirks. God is good!

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Egli and Dovi are laughing at me because this was the only candle I had in the house: left over from Jadyn’s first birthday!

Cultural Encounters of another kind

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Some days I think we have just too much culture. Here are our two encounters from Wednesday of this week.

On Wednesdays, Robert usually lets me sleep in. It is the one day of the week we don’t send lunches to school with the kids (YEAH for Food to Go day!) so he can handle breakfast and the getting ready routine! So I blissfully slept until about 9:30! As soon as I was up, he headed out to talk to Zeman our landlord. Last night we overloaded the circuit upstairs. We have been running the heaters upstairs a lot at night the last few days and the circuitry is probably old and could not handle the wattage. The power went out twice while I was IN the shower and once when I was drying my hair. We kept turning more things off as we went until we discovered that the circuit was burning at the breaker. Eek! End of power for upstairs for the night. I read my book by flashlight for a few minutes and then called it a night! While he was gone (having his own cultural encounter at the coffee shop in attempt to communicate the household repairs needs), our neighbor Bona and her son Armando came over for a few minutes (the other children were in school).

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They were returning my plate from Valentine’s day. The neighbor kids had come over after school and we baked Valentine’s day cookies. Culturally she can not return my plate empty (we have done this several time….it is great!) so she baked some sweet cookie like biscuits for us! I was horrified to have her here on the morning I have slept in and done NOTHING …. toys, food, dishes everywhere… what are you going to do?! Today she was telling us that her daughter Uendi (Wendi) has been asking for her to buy another baby for their family like Jadyn. Uendi complains all the time that she wants a baby! Like Jadyn… why mommy? We need a baby like Jadyn! Uendi got a new baby doll last week for her birthday that she has named Jadyn. Yesterday she threw the doll down on the couch and said “Go to sleep Jadyn!” It is very culturally odd to them that Jadyn sleeps so much in the afternoon and that all the kids go to bed so early. Anyway… we had a good visit, looking at these pictures I had taken of our last visit and with promises to give them prints of the pictures!In the meantime…. Robert has been to the coffee shop and told Samir about the problems we are having with electricity upstairs and the water tank. About 30 minutes later, Zeman comes and very animatedly describes the problem as we already know it. He repeats himself several times, trying to say the same thing several different ways

  • you have used too much current,
  • you can not run both heaters and the water heater,
  • you only need one heater in the children’s room,
  • when it is cold out you should have the children sleep in the kitchen and the baby in your bed
  • it is burnt!
  • Look it is black from too much current
  • Look it is defective!
  • I will have to buy a new one!

Remember that each of the phrases are spoken with a lot of force, animation and loudly so he knows that we have heard him. Even after we both have said “we understand!” he says, “they don’t understand” and we go through the whole ritual again. All of that to say…..it is fixed. He had to buy a new breaker and installed it today and told me all these things again when he came back.Can you say, “too much culture”?

Side note: I have gained a whole new respect for those who move to the US and attempt to learn the language. I will have a much greater level of patience with those who are struggling to acquire the language!

47 outside, 61 inside

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It is 47 degrees out today (might be warmer in the sun) and only 61 in the living room.  Sheesh… I’m chilly.  Last night I could see my breath in the bathroom.  Did you know that when we first moved here someone told me that missionaries were more prone to urinary tract infections during the winters here because they “hold it.”  When your rear end sticks to the seat you’ll know why!  I have to constantly remind myself that it is warmer outside and if we would all bundle up and go for a walk we would warm ourselves up!

Who’s in control?

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I made a confession to our team leader yesterday. I don’t really like living here in Albania. It is hard to say the words… even harder to type them and see them in print. The confession came with tears. Von made an observation which strikes at the core of all I feel when I breathe that statement quietly in the night. It feels like a betrayal of my husband’s call to Albania. Surely God was WRONG when he told Robert to move his family to Albania. (Did you laugh… I did when I reread this later!)

I read a bit from Girl Talk today. Nicole talked about the control our “feelings” so frequently have on us!

When it comes to my fluctuating feelings (which spike at a certain time every month) I sometimes feel like [my dog] Bailey on a leash. I often follow my feelings around in circles, forgetting that I am the owner and the leash should be on my feelings instead.

I am frequently on the wrong end of the leash. Running around more like a chicken with my head cut off spurting the result of my hurt feelings on top of others as I go (good image, huh?). In my quiet time today, I really felt the Lord speak sweetly to my heart, rest in the place you are now. Be still and know that I am God. I have some hurt feelings that are hanging on from an old wound. I end up carrying it around like a security blanket. Yet God wants me to release it to him. The question is of course, I am willing? YES, YES, YES

My friend Holly wrote to me recently, “If you are not radically committed to the idea that this whole endeavor is not just about the people you are trying to reach, but the process that God is taking you through…well, it’s just enough to make you want to run away to an all inclusive spa and never come back!” I know that God has us here for a purpose. And I am more and more convinced that the purpose has more to do with the development of His character IN ME than in others. And the truth is the last time I checked God was still on His throne and there is not ANYTHING that can knock Him off. So I am choosing to reign in my feelings and let his rain pour over me.

What about you?

A new site

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Drum roll please…. for those of you who are faithful readers, we FINALLY have posted the new and improved http://www.journeytoalbania.com.  We were having some difficulty with posting, memory on our hard drive and rss feeds.  All those have been fixed but creating a new site with wordpress.com (which by the way we LOVE).  This will make it much easier for us to post new updates and ministry news!  YEAH!  Visit the new site and subscribe today!