Category Archives: Day by Day

The realities of day to day life in Albania

Back to Blogging

Standard

It has been almost 9 months since I wrote on this blog!  Yikes…. where did that time go?  We have had a very busy several months which would take too long to catch you up on so I am going to settle for the highlights and get back to the story-telling of our ho-hum lives that we find fascinating!

Sept 3- We arrived back in Albania and moved into our new home.  Imagine our surprise when we discover the porch, the entryway and the kitchen had been painted pink in preparation for our arrival. 🙂

Sept 6- The boys started 4th grade!  They are back at GDQ school and love their teacher(s) and their classmates.  They have the largest class in lower school, 14 kids from 8 different countries.

Sept 13- Jadyn started her new Albanian preschool (kopesht).  We are very grateful to have found a wonderful, small preschool near our home.  Jadyn goes everyday for a few hours and enjoys her time with her Albanian friends.  She is very close to becoming my official translator.

Sept 21- I began teaching music K-5 at GDQ School.  I love it…. it has been several years since I was in the classroom and I have missed it.  I love all the fun things we get to do with music and I love youtube.com  It is the greatest invention for the music teacher.

ALSO in Sept- The Loft Youth Ministry moved into a new location.  So Robert and Egli have been busy moving, painting, building and organizing for our new location.  We have had a huge number of visitors to the Loft over the course of the fall.  Check out pictures of our new location and ministry happening at journeytoalbania.com

AND THAT IS ONLY SEPTEMBER!!  Since it is already March, I clearly have much more to fill you in on…. stay tuned!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Transition time for MKs

Standard

This year, I have been organizing gatherings for a group of MK girls.  MK stands for Missionary Kid.  This precious group of girls range in age from 12- 18, most of whom are connected to our ministry at the Loft.  When it became apparent this year that we were not going to be able to offer small groups in the native language (English) of many of these girls (based on age ranges, number of leaders available to lead groups, and Albanian ministry begin our primary focus), I began to meet with these girls once a month for fellowship and heart checks.

We started with 6, then the next month there were 10, the next month there were 15.  There was obviously a lot of need in this group to fellowship with one another outside of their ministry connections.  It has been hard to go very deep with the group simply based on the age ranges and the sheer numbers, but I do think that it has meet some emotional and fellowship needs that they have had.

Tonight we met for the last time and I marveled at the changes we are going to experience in the group over the next year.  Summer time is a big time of transition on the missionary field.  It is a time when people come and go for all kinds of reasons.  Here’s a list that may give you a little insight into the transitions these girls are up against these next few months.

  • 2 girls are leaving for the US permanently.  Their families for different reasons are leaving the field.  One of them has never lived in the US.
  • 1 girl is going off to college after living here for the last 4 years.
  • 1 girl is returning to Finland for HS having lived here and attended English speaking school for 4 years
  • 2 girls (sisters) are going to the States for 1 year furlough with their family.  Their family does this once every four years.  They are home-schooled here and will be in the States as well.
  • 2 girls are going to the US for 6-8 month furloughs with their families.  One will be returning in February, for the other the plan of return is unknown.
  • 4 girls are leaving between the months of April and July and staying for varying lengths of time in the US.  All are returning in the fall.
  • 3 are staying the summer in Albania.

Whew… can you imagine the turmoil of change in the room.  Would you pray with me for these girls and the places God is sending them all over the world?  Would you pray for their parents as they lead them to draw closer to Jesus?  Would you pray for their hearts as they say goodbye, temporarily or permanently (though only for this life!) to friends they may have had for a lifetime?  It has been a great joy for me to share a little piece of their lives and I know God has great plans in store for each of them.

Chickens and Hens

Standard

For as long as I can remember, my mom has had chickens and hens.  Not real ones, mind you, the kind you keep in a flower pot.  But she has them I am sure because my grandmother had them and my great-grandmother had them.  I always thought it was a strange name for a plant.  This weekend I found my own variety… they are not exactly like the ones at my mother’s but beautiful none the less.  I discovered them growing wild here in Albania.  We took a trip to Mount Dajti last week when Robert’s sister was here and they growing everywhere on the top of the mountain!

So yes, we do live on the other side of the planet….

but some things here are just like home.

Birthday parties and Hatchbacks

Standard

Jadyn’s birthday was last week (March 31).  Bless her little 4 year old heart …. it went by with only a hug and a “Happy Birthday” and we canceled her party.  You see that was the day we brought Tyler home from the hospital.

So Friday we made up for lost time and took the children from her class to the Kolonot – Albania’s version of McDonalds but serving pizza.  Did you know that Tirana is the only European capitol that does not have a McDonalds?  There were 6 children, Tyler and Vera, their teacher and I.  It was a great time.

The whole gang!

A present from her brothers... she calls it her "Treasure Chest"

Decorating it was a big hit!

Birthday cupcakes!

But what does that have to do with a hatchback you ask?  Well, it would not be a typcial day in Albania if I did not have a story to share.  A friend brought us to the Kolonat in her vehicle (mine was having a few overheating problems) and dropped us off.  When we were all finished, we were going to get a taxi.  Vera went out to the road to find one but couldn’t so she ended up talking to a man standing on the corner and asking about getting a taxi.  He spoke right up and volunteered.  She came back and got us and this what he drove up in.

3 adults, 7 kids, 1 Hyundai = A Great birthday party!

A must for living in Albania:

LEARN TO GO WITH THE FLOW!

EDIT:  Sorry, I must note that the car we were in did NOT have four doors.  More like this:

Hatchback for 10

Post Op Recap

Standard

Sunday evening recap: After dinner, Tyler complained of stomach pain.  We talked for a few minutes and settled on him going to bed and coming to find me if he had any more trouble.  About midnight, he came to our room crying of pain in his stomach.  He gagged a bit and I thought he was going to throw up all over me!  Thankfully, he did not.  We waited in the bathroom a bit, but nothing came.  We laid down together a bit for about and hour.  Then he really did have to throw up, violently.  It must have been so painful because, unknown to us, his appendix would have been inflamed at that time.

Monday morning: He was still complaining of stomach pain.  I made him some toast and we settled him on the couch.  He had still not eaten anything but I had him drink some water and take a little Tylenol.  I was thinking it must be some kind of stomach virus.  After Robert finished at a meeting he called and suggested I look up the symptoms for appendicitis.  He had had a thought in the night that maybe it was Tyler’s appendix.  So I looked up the symptoms on the Mayo Clinic site and indeed he had 8 of the 10 symptoms, including the tenderness in the lower part of his abdomen when pressed.

11:00am Robert called Dr. Charles Linderman, an American missionary doctor who is serving here.  He and his family have been here almost 10 years and they have 5 children, including a daughter adopted from China.  He works at the newly opened private “American Hospital” named to give it additional credibility here in Albania.  He is Board Certified in the US as a general surgeon.  We have met with him before regarding Robert’s back and talked with him when Robert’s mom broke her leg.  We believe he has a good finger on what kinds of surgeries can be done safely here and would help us with the best course of action.  I had a tremendous amount of peace from the beginning of the process because he immediately told Robert that if surgery was necessary, he could perform the procedure.

11:30 am We made plans and arrangements for our other kids and drove to the hospital.  Dr. Linderman had called ahead for us so they were expecting us and brought us in right away to run some tests.  I was comforted right away that this hospital was very modern (although small).  We had blood work done and an ultrasound to confirm it was appendicitis.  He was in surgery by 2:30 and done at 4:00.

The results: He spent two nights in the hospital.  They even had a chair that folded out into a bed so I stayed the first night with him (the nurses were in and out monitoring his temp and IV) but of course did not rest well.  Robert stayed the second night and they both slept well since he was no longer on the IV.

Thoughts on the hospital: Overall, we had a good hospital experience.  The capable hands of Dr. Linderman of course made a difference.  Having been around lots of nurses, however (mom is nurse, aunt is a nurse, Robert’s sister is a nurse, several good friends are nurses), I could tell a distinct difference between what Albania considers a nurse/ doctor and what we as American’s would consider a nurse/ doctor simply based on knowledge and level of education.  It seemed clear to me that the nurses here were more what we would consider a nurse’s aid.  There level of medical knowledge was limited.  In addition, none of the nurses who cared for us were more than 30 years old.  I thought that might be because older nurses have kept their jobs in state hospitals and younger nurses are more likely to take the newer jobs in newer facilities.  I have nothing to base that on, but…

The total cost: So are you curious?  The grand total was 1300 Euros which came to about $1800.  That includes all the tests, ultrasound, anesthesia and hospital stay.  We think our insurance will pay it at 100% since we could have opted to be evacuated if we had wanted.  I don’t think the 1300 would have even covered the plane/helicopter ride in that case.

So here are a few pics to recap the week.

In the Kitchen

Standard

Here in Albania I cook a lot more than I did in the States.  Not only are there less “pre-made” items, which certainly translates as less “convenience” items, there are many items we were used to in the States we can’t get here at all.   There are also fewer  places we eat out as a family – not a lot of fast food (American style anyway) and not many restaurants that we all like.

So… I spend more time in the kitchen.  I really believed I knew how to cook from scratch.  I had not even scratched the surface.  🙂 Here’s a rundown of what I made today:

IMG_1391

Banana bread: 2 loaves- one for now, one for the freezer.  I needed to use up all my over ripe bananas.

Chicken stock (later we turned it into chicken soup): We like to eat rotisserie chickens as a quick meal when I need a break from cooking.  I save and freeze the bones and skins to make chicken stock/ broth which I can’t buy!)

Maple Syrup: It’s just sugar and water, people!  Easy and cheap.

Granola bars: This was a new one.  I subscribe to a healthy snacks list from Allrecipes.com. There was another recipe that came in the e-mail this week that called for sweetened condensed milk which I can, in fact, get here, but I found this one for which I had everything in the cupboard.  Robert and I think they turned out great but the kids were not so impressed.  I’ll keep trying!

Egg noodles: These were for the chicken soup that we eventually made out of the chicken stock.  This made three batches.  One for today and two for the freezer.  I still can’t get the noodles as small as my grandma’s.  I guess when I am 96, I’ll have it down.

IMG_1390 IMG_1397

Whew… that was quite a day!