This year has truly been a journey and an adventure. I remember last year(2014), sitting in Tirania and excited about the awesome week we had, and how God moved in the camp. The whole team of 10 was ready for the next trip in just 12 months!
This year, 20 people went to Albania, and 8 of which were from last year!
One of the big successes of this trip was the team dynamic and friendship we made before the trip began. We modeled this from last year and see the positive effect in grand ways. On top of that, many of the team serve at Watermark Community Church.
We first held informational meetings that spoke of the trip and what God was doing in Albania. We then met to discuss more and finding out about new interest in the trip. SO we settled on this fun and amazing team of 20 featured below ;-)
Such a fun team!
We spent several months planning the trip, travel, what our days will look like, past stories, etc. Along the way we grew as a team and started to raise support.
I want to say..
Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!..
for supporting our whole team on this trip! Your prayers and financial support made this trip possible!
Hundreds of teens heard the Gospel in 2 cities of Albania! They heard several times.. They heard it at coffee get-togethers(we call Coffees), at table discussions, and in full Gospel presentation.
20 students put there faith and trust in Jesus Christ!
"Wait...When was this?"
Let's rewind a bit. You may remember seeing an email from me or many others referring to a trip to Albania..you looked at a map.. outside of America..googled it.. ahh yes. Got it!
We started a 24 hour travel process on the 1st of July, 2015.
Team photo by Lucy Chang
I read a lot on the plane going. I couldn't sleep much.
Landed in Austria after a flight from Chicago. One more leg to Tirania.
But what stop is not complete without the famous "Relaxation Room". Couches soft enough to sit on..but not stay on haha.
We landed in Tirania after 24 hours of travel. I was eager to see old friends and see just see the city again!
I knew I would not be in Tirania as much this trip, so I grabbed a gelato and walked to the Cru building where I walked into the gym with a smile so big, if i didn't have ears, it would over-lape in the back.
Great to see my friends Orlanda, Armela, and Erin. Billy Wand sat in on a discussion..a little jet lagged but so glad to see young teens talking about the characteristics of a loving father.
They had just finished the 1st of 3 illustrations of the prodigal son. I was blessed by what I had heard. It gave me a reminder of the young culture I just walked back into.
I saw Aldo in the hallway(seen below) and headed, with the team, to a brief orientation.
I regret not getting the her photo, but I also met a lady named Lindita for the first time. She was kicked out of Hungry for spreading the Gospel. She told the Turkish government: "If you kick me out, I'll send 5 more".
We spent time with the kids and staff for the rest of the day. I put away my camera for the night.
Friday was a full day in Tirania. The team played games and had coffees with the a staff member and a group of kids.
*Coffees are a great way to develop relationship and ask questions about faith, and share the Gospel in Albania(and anywhere else).*
My first of many coffees in Albania was with the fun trio. Young Albanians are friendly and very receptive. It maybe because I am an American, but there is calm, and open dialogue that is common in Albania.
It is a culture shift at first, for me, coming from America, where many initial relationships can be more surface-based longer.
I ran into my friend, Fatmir on the street. I call him "The Happiest Man in Albania", he always has a smile and positive attitude.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful - Proverbs 15:13
Little Amanda is getting soo big!
There was a small memorial to English Soldiers RAF from WWII that was interesting.
We had a field day style outing that had a few team activities. This was a fun time. This was a great way to interact and get to know the kids and have fun too!
I thought it was cute to see baby Amanda listen to whatever the ladies were discussing.
We went to the city square, known as Mother Teresea Square in Tirania.
During a set time, the roads close for people to enjoy walking and riding their bikes. We passed out flyers for the RPJ camp and to dialogue with the young culture. After I talked with a group of young guys I saw Jeremy with a big group around him and talking about the camp.
He did a great job of engaging the locals so quickly for his first trip out of the country.
Having fun too! #Duckface
When we got back to camp, I saw my good friend Dionis!
Dionis spent a lot of time with me last year, helping to translate for me and coffees with our team as well! Dionis you are a great friend and brother!
Saturday - The off day before camps
We took that Saturday, July 4th *`MERICA!* as a day to tour other parts of Albania. We first went to Berat. Such a lovely town. You could just feel the history around you. Old men in big groups playing and watching chess and playing dominos. I love how so many of the older men still wore clothing from 30-40 years ago and even with hats.
Berat Castle is a fortress overlooking the town of Berat, Albania. It dates mainly from the 13th century and contains many Byzantine churches in the area and Ottoman mosques
Cute kid that kept waving at me. Precious.
Not far from this walk way, we went into a small church where beautiful, old, bibles and paintings were preserved and kept for centuries. Many were hidden in the floor to keep from being destroyed by the invading Turks. We couldn't take photos in the space there.
After a lunch then headed to the coastal city of Durrës. It's been a while since I have walked 10 miles in a day. It was a good tired.
Tons of photos of the setting sun. It was so pretty to see!
This concluded the night as we headed back to Tirania to get ready for church on Sunday, and for our 2 teams to prepare for the camps to come in Tirania and Elbasan.
We were exhausted, but also very excited to see what God was going to do in the week to come!
**Still working on** Continue to Part 2 Here >>>>>>>>>>>>