Monthly Archives: March 2008

Women of the Harvest

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A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend the Women of the Harvest Conference (womenoftheharvest.com) in Dbrovnik, Croatia. If you are like me and every time a country is mentioned outside the US you need a geography lesson, know that you are not alone. Keep in mind when you look at this map that Albania is the size of Maryland.

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WOTH is an organization that provides support for North American women who are serving cross-culturally. The WOTH retreats are held in two international locations each year and take only 75 attendees. I attended with 16 other women who serve alongside me here in Albania.

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I made several new friends – there were 6 gals that I did not know at all that went in our bus load. One woman, Virginia, is 78 years old, a retired school teacher. She is here living for just one year, home schooling a Korean boy in a smaller town outside of Tirana. She is really something! She was married and divorced earlier in life, no children and this is the 12th year she has lived overseas helping missionaries school their children. I did not get nearly enough time to hear all of her stories and adventures. She is not sure if she will be back again. She has some heart problems and doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone. She is an inspiration. Amazing….

The conference speaker was Mimi Wilson, author of Holy Habits. She was wonderful and I learned so much. They had some great games – we did a white elephant gift exchange with gifts they brought us from the States. Things like pie filling, cake mixes, pecans, peanut butter, Lucky Charms… etc. It was quite a fight to see who got what! I came home with Lucky Charms and instant oatmeal which made all the family happy! We also had a funny story telling time which was hilarious to hear everyone’s crazy stories about things that have happened to them in the country where they serve. One lady told a story of her daughter falling in the sewer in India because the drain cover had been stolen. UGH! That could really happen to me here! I got a pedicure, a massage and a haircut! YEAH! And I slept like a baby. It was a truly blessed time.

My retreat was sponsored by someone I did not know who paid the $600 fee for me to attend. Isn’t that amazing? I can not tell you what a GIFT it was to have this time away to meet with other women who share my heart, my dreams and my struggles cross culturally and to just be pampered! If you want to learn more about how you could sponsor a missionary for this retreat, click here.

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Brutally honest

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Today I am directing you to my friend Bex’s (short for Rebecca) post. Bex is a single 23 year old young woman living in North Africa. We met two years ago at the training school for our mission organization. Her post today is totally honest about the difficulties she is facing as a Jesus lover in a land where loving Him comes with great cost. You need to read her experience in her own words.

quotation-marks.jpg” The other day I was walking down the road in a long skirt and long sleeve shirt with a head scarf and it was about 115 degrees and dusty and some guys were busy yelling about me being a foreigner and I caught myself telling God – “you know, I’ve been here seven months and I don’t really love North Africa that much yet, I could still leave and never look back and never cry much.” And I heard God ask me – “but do you love me?” And I’m not in North Africa because I love it so much, but I’m still here because I love God…and that’s reason enough.” Read the rest of her post here.

Robert and I were talking today about needing to “demystify” what it means to be a missionary. Before we moved to the field we had a lofty idea of what it means to be a missionary. That you have to have it all together to be used by God. Every day we are seeing that it is really so much simpler than that. It is willingness to be like Bex, to be molded and used by God, even in a place that is hard. I have a lot more to say about that … I will save it for another day!
Please pray for our friend Bex today!

Road Trip to Saranda (Part 3): Oasis

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While in Saranda, we took one day to venture south to Butrinti, the site of ruins from the ancient city of Butrint. It is a 23 km park, one of the most beautiful and well preserved places we have seen in Albania. Some of the ruins date back to the 6th century. And spring was in full bloom. We wore short sleeves and enjoyed the sunshine and blooming flowers. I only wish we had taken a sack lunch to stay a little longer. We even enjoyed the smell of freshly cut grass! After choking on the smog in Tirana, we had forgotten what a heavenly smell that was!

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Road Trip to Saranda (Part 2)

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Back to our road trip to Saranda….

Our efficiency apartment in Saranda was owned by the uncle of our friend Toni.  The rooms both had balconies that faced the beach that we rented for $20 per night. 

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Each had  a bathroom and three single beds along with a kitchen area for us to cook our meals.  I had asked Toni in advance to ask a few specific questions so I would know what I would need to bring from home to prepare.  There was a water pot and small skillet but I was glad I brought along my big skillet from home for making one pot meals.  We did also make spaghetti which was an interesting adventure to try to figure out how to make noodles and sauce with only one available burner. 

 

Since Saranda is not an enormous town we were glad to be able to make our own meals.  There are restaurants but many were either out of our price range or serving the same traditional Albanian foods we can get in Tirana.  We had fun walking on the boardwalk and collecting rocks and looking at the boats.dsc07997.jpg 

The boys had a blast climbing rocks along the shore and Jadyn came home loaded with pebbles from the beach in her diaper.  This is the true measure of a fun day in my opinion. dsc08058.jpg

We were also super blessed to have Jennifer come along.  Jennifer is from our home church in Norman.  She was here is last summer with the team and has come back to serve at the orphanage for 6 months. 

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Could you believe?

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It is the morning before we know the glory of our Savior alive, again!   I was thinking this morning of all the Easters in the past and what makes this one different.  What makes tomorrow unique for us as believers?  It is that it happens again.  Christ comes again.  Over and over, He rises from the grave after taking on all of my sins and dying on the cross.

For so many people tomorrow is just an ordinary morning.  Here even more so, only a small percentage of Albanians will be celebrating His resurrection.   His name is hardly known here.  And I wonder what will make the difference for them.  What will be the window that opens their eyes to His glory that comes in the morning?

Several years ago (I am dating myself here), I sang this Twila Paris song in church.   I always wanted to sing it again in front of people who really matter to me (family, close friends) who are not believers or ride the fence, so to speak.  I wanted somehow to shed this outer part of myself that gets in the way of His glory.  Could they believe if I really was like Him?  If I lived all the words that I said?  Do you feel that way?  Do you want for those close to you to see Him through your eyes?  I do.  I pray every day that I can take off this shell that I live in and just be transparent so they could see what I see!  Could they believe if I held my opinion and quietly led?  Lord, let is be so, especially today!

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Could you believe?

He was a friend to sinners
He was a gentle man
Beautiful, humble master plan
His voice could pierce the darkness
Quiet an angry sea
I hear Him saying follow me
I look in your eyes and I tell you these things
But somehow I know that it’s hard to believe

Could you believe if I really was like Him
If I lived all the words that I said
If for a change I would kneel down before you
And serve you instead
Could you believe

He was the Lamb of mercy
Undying hope of men
Waiting for love to come again
He is the light of heaven
Radiant Prince of peace
I Hear him saying, “Follow Me”
I look in your eyes and I tell you these things
But somehow I know that it’s hard to believe

Could you believe if I carried my own cross
If I saw that the children were fed
If for a moment I held my opinion
And quietly led Could you believe

I am meant to be a pure reflection of the truth
So above it all I pray that I will not obscure the view

Could you believe if I stood here transparent
And through me you could see his eyes
Could you believe if you saw right inside me
and there was no disguise
Could you believe if I was really like him
If I lived all the words that I said
If it was clear that I held in my heart
What I know in my head
Could you believe, could you believe
Looking at me, could you believe
Could you believe?

Road Trip (Part 1)

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Hello again, blog readers! After a short hiatus and time away from Internet, we are all back home again and ready to tell of our latest adventures. Between that, slowed internet  at home and a stomach virus, it has taken me a while to get back to the computer.  I have taken two road trips over the last month. One to southern Albania with the family (+ Jennifer) and one by myself and 16 other American women to Croatia for the Women of the Harvest retreat. So I will tell of adventures and things learned over a couple of posts!

We took a short road trip to Saranda in southern Albania at the end of February.   We just had the ghetto car (the one we bought for $500) fixed (about $160) and then drove 200 miles which took 7 hours over some of the worst roads we have ever traveled. There were a lot roads that looked like swiss cheese.

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Many of the roads were curvy and mountainous so it was slow going. There were more than a few times that I gasped, held my breath, or grabbed on to the “oh crud” bar. I only really became nervous when we passed a headstone or monument along the road. That was about every 200 yards! It seemed they were everywhere! Obviously we were traveling roads where there have been many accidents.

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Side note: Someone told us a couple weeks ago that these monuments along the road are not from accidents along the road but to mark the places where people died in the chaos that broke out in Albania 1997. After a series of pyramid schemes that nearly everyone put their life savings in, the economy in all of Albania collapsed. Citizens then raided bunkers that still remained from Communism which stored weapons that the government had failed to secure. There was shooting in the streets and fights among neighbors. Foreigners and missionaries were evacuated for about 6 months.  This monument is dated a little later than that period so it is unclear what might have happened to this man.