Last week I had our carpets picked up so they could be cleaned. The man came to my house and took them and we requested to have them delivered to the new house so we could put them in storage for the summer. I gave him general directions on the phone and asked to meet him in front of a store close to my new house. When I got there, I could not find him. He called and was telling my what to look for, but I could not understand his Albanian on the phone. I went into a local store and explained to the store keeper what was happening and asked her if she could talk to him so I could find him. She spoke to him for a few minutes then took me outside and pointed to an ambulance. Really? That is my carpet delivery guy? Indeed it was. The back of the ambulance was loaded with all kinds of carpets all rolled up for delivery!
One of the most intereting facts I learned about the family of my friend’s landlord is that the oldest son has an arranged marriage. He only met his new bride a few times before they were married. The marriage was arranged because the younger brother had met a young woman and wanted to get married, but in this culture the oldest brother must be married first.
I tend to think of arranged marriages as a thing of the past. But many countries around the world still hold on to this tradition. In my Western mind set, an arranged marriage may even have a negative connotation. But there are many Albanian women who welcome an arranged marriage to a good young man, from a nice family. And there are even still older women who are known for their match-making. It made me think about how Albania is changing so rapidly on the surface, but down below there are a number of cultural roots that hold deep.
How do you learn to live with a man you have just met, married and moved in with his family? This brings all new meaning to learning to live together. Who cooks? Who cleans? Who has authority in the house? What happens when a young man is a new Christian and his family wants to arrange his marriage to a young woman who is not a believer? This is happening to another young man we know. How does he honor His father and his mother and honor God is his faith? These are not easy questions but they are the ones we seek to find with a God who is grace-filled and loving.
It is opening my eyes to the process of learning to live together. Just this morning, I broke up a fight between Tyler and Austin. We had to have a long talk about learning to love and respect each other, even when we don’t agree or when we don’t like what the other person says or does. It doesn’t get any easier the older you get. Even if you are not under the same roof, learning to live together is a life long adventure.
We are in the process of moving. We have been living in a 2 bedroom house for the last 4 years. Yes, all three of my kids share a room. When they were smaller it did not seem like such a big deal. But as their little bodies grow and they actually take up more space, it has begun to feel more crowded in our little house. We have struggled to find a place for everyone to do their homework, and work, and cooking. Learning to live together is a process.
Last night some friends had us over for dinner. They are here short term and live in an even smaller house. More like a 2 bedroom apartment. Much smaller than our place. They also have three kids… they all share one room. They also home-school their kids. Can you feel how cramped their place must feel??
Their Albanian landlord lives in the apartment above them. It has an identical floor plan to their apartment.
Their 2 grown sons (in their 20s) also live with them.
Both of those sons are married and their wives live there too.
One of the is expecting a baby.
Three couples, two bedroom apartment, one baby on the way.
In no way, can I compare the complexities of learning to live together as a family of 5, with what they are doing, learning to live together as three families…. with more on the way. I still have a lot to learn about living together.
Outside of Tirana prices for just about anything you want come way down. I guess it is that way in most big cities. Those who are willing and able to drive out a little bit can find a better price on merchandice.
So a few weeks ago we took a road trip toward the mountain town of Kruja to see what was out that way. Furniture stores. For long stretches of road there is nothing but furniture stores. But they have an interesting twist. No doors.
Seriously, some things just make you wonder…
Mother’s day (also known as Women’s day) was celebrated here in Albania on March 8. It is a day to celebrate the women in your life, not just mom’s. Albanian’s celebrate by bringing flowers and small gifts and women gather together for a “girl’s night” out for lunch or dinner, dancing and celebrating together.
Jadyn’s preschool honored mom’s by having a Mother’s Day program. Her preschool is a group of families in our church who have gathered together to hire a teacher. They meet in the living room of one family’s home 5 days a week. Jadyn goes three days a week. Their teacher is Vera. Vera is trained as an early education teacher here in Albania. Vera only speaks Albanian so you can imagine how quickly Jadyn’s language is developing when she is immersed in this environment. Sponges, I tell you! Those little minds learn fast!
So here are a few highlights from the evening. Don’t miss the videos at the bottom!
Here they do not really teach small children to sing, instead they learn poems and chants like these.
But they did give Jadyn and her friend Lydia and opportunity to shine!
Happy (early for us American’s) Mother’s Day!
I read Cindy’s post today, and I had to share my Red Sea Moment. For this is an exact description of the deliverance I have felt this week under God’s hand.
One of the greatest fears of a missionary mom can be related to medical services in the country where you are serving. We have become very spoiled in America, receiving the highest quality medical care the world has to offer. We might even consider ourselves medical snobs. I admit that indeed, this has been one of my greatest fears in moving to a developing country. What if something happens to one of my kids? Who do we call in an emergency? Who can we trust to provide us with the best standard of care? Medical education is still not what it needs to be here in Albania. Many doctors have been trained outside the country, but many more have not. Corruption of the system and bribery for quality care are still the norm. Equipment is not always the latest technology and medical supplies can be in short supply.
In the midst of all my fears, God parted the waters and we walked on dry land. As Tyler went into surgery for an appendectomy, I was at peace. We were on hallowed ground, standing between the walls of water that could have crashed in on us at any moment. And yet, they did not. There are so many things to be grateful for:
Robert had the thought his mind, clearly the work of the Holy Spirit, that Tyler had appendicitis on the night he became so ill. I was dismissive. It’s only a virus, I said. God’s providence in that one thought planted in the mind of my husband has been so evident. The “what ifs” still roll around in my mind.
Dr. Linderman is an American general surgeon. He and his family are here serving as missionaries here in Albania. His children attend school with ours. I can honestly tell you that once Tyler was under his care, I had no fear for him and was completely at peace. I knew that without a doubt God had placed him there, in that moment, for us.
The newly opened American Hospital, named for quality assurance, no association with America and not American run, is where the surgery was done. I don’t know what I expected but this was not it. While it was small, the facility was modern and well equipped. We even had a TV and fridge in our small private room, the only one of two on the floor.
In the midst of our storm, God showed up. Mighty as ever, determined to fight for us. When my first instinct might have been to shake my fist at him and ask “Why couldn’t you just let us serve in America where it is safe?!” (see Exodus 14:10-12), I remember how Moses answered the people.
“The Lord will fight for you,
you need only to be still.”
He still shows Himself as what He is… faithful.