It’s hard for me to even know where to start with this post. I will give you the facts, then open my heart wide…
Several months ago I went with my roommate and other friends, to an informational meeting about a trip to Albania to work with the local church there and Campus Crusade. There were members of CRU, from Albania there to share with us what God is doing there and the vision of what will happen with the Summer camp that would take place during July.
It was pretty much in that meeting that a band of 10 brothers and sisters solidified as a team and started to grow deep rooted friendships and trust together. God truly uses those whom he calls.
It was said at different times and by different members:
"We have the best team we could have asked for!" I could not agree more! :)
*NOTE* I did not take as many pictures as I normally do. There were times I put the camera away to connect better with the kids.. So if I missed your beautiful smile, please forgive me :)
Team Albania 2014
The only information we had to go by was what was shared by the team from last year and it was drawling us to go! So we started to raise support, throw BBQs..*mmm Gordon's BBQ*..., Sent out letters for partnering opportunities, started meeting together as a team, and trusting in God's work and will for everything.
You maybe reading this and thinking:
"Until recently, Albania was a Communist and officially Atheist country. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the fall of Communism in the country. Today, Albania is not a nation that is unreached, but a nation that like our own faces the struggle to train up the next generation of followers of Christ. There is a great need to reach out to this generation, particularly the college students."
- Gordon Burgett 2013
Will Noll Gordon Burgett Jeff Welskopf
Last years team(shown here), did a great job of putting together the ground work for this trip, bridging from what they did last year!Will did a great job of handling the logistics of the trip and creating the dialogue with the team in conjunction with Gordon and Jeff. They also brought this year closer to the staff because of the relationships they already established last year.
Getting to Albania was a fun adventure too! With layovers in DC and Vienna, our travel time was about 26 hours.
Danita had no idea that someone was just as interested in that blow pop as she was :P
With a 6 hour layover in DC, a few of us decided to go see the free Flight museum down the road and meet Gordon's family. Will and I were like a kids in a candy store when we got around the planes.
Jeff and Lucy hanging out in DC
Into the flight of Vienna, I did not sleep a lot. I think it was the excitement of getting there to Albania, and the clever banter from Matt and Bryan. It was around 5 am when I noticed we we're flying over Ireland. It made me think about my good friend Stephen and family who live there and was praying for them. I then got up to see the leg room that Matt acquired when I caught a glimpse of the sun rise out of the only window open in the back of the plane. I got out my camera as fast and quite as I could to snap these. The guy sitting there didn't speak English but he understood what I was trying to do and was a good sport about it. It was gorgeous and made my day.
I thought it was interesting that once we left DC, the sun never fully set on our travel until after we reached Albania.
Sun peaking on a bed of clouds just over Ireland.
Out of the window from the back hatch of the galley.
When we got to Vienna, we had nothing to do but sit and rest. We found the "Relaxation Room", which had these firm, black, leather couches you would probably sit on in an Apple store in Europe. Soft enough to sit on, but not to stay forever ;)
Aldo introducing the Dallas group Team Icebreakers
The Ice Breakers team works together to figure out a dance..
I have nothing but good things to say about Aldo, his wife Blerina, and the staff of Campus Crusade in Albania. Aldo did a great job of keeping the discussions focused, engaging, and Christ centered. He and the staff know how to have fun too!
During the week there were 4 days of study in which Patrick taught on 2 Timothy. Patrick did a great job of teaching from the text and what Paul was communicating in the text and also leading the discussions after smaller groups had a chance to discuss what they were learning. Listening to the young mind explain back scripture was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Patrick teaching Making Life Maps. Life Maps are a picture of specific moments of these teens' lives, put down on paper. I think my favorite part of this was listening to some of the stories in more detail and understanding more about their culture and how they grew up. For some, Jesus was a glorious focal point in their lives and very recent even.
Dionis! This young man was kind enough to translate many many times during our discussions or when I was listening to what was being said in Albania. I am also thankful to Orlanda and Elsina for doing the same!
Sometimes we listen in a focused way :)
Will and Eugen play a song
More games and dancing. If you love to dance, Albania is the country for you to visit. If you don't like to dance, coffee is abundant to sit and enjoy as well.
Happy Birthday Alma!
**I know what you're thinking.. "Is that Bryan trying to whistle and eat pasta at the same time?"** Heavens no! ;)