Thursday, 23 February 2012

Albania Update 1

Hello World!

I hope I find you all well. I'm in Albania and I'm loving every second of it (Except for waking up, I'm still a bit tired from my over-night stay at the airport).

I'll give you a little brief of my days so far. I have been making a video diary as well, but that will appear sometime when I get back.


Flight from Gatwick was delayed but otherwise I had no problems. I arrived in Albania at 2pm and Geoff and Shirley Townsend and I set off on our journey down the country to Gjirokaster. We stopped for some food just outside Tirana and we stopped in Fier to see Will Niven, a missionary working for AEM. We arrived in Gjirokaster at 8:30pm. I sat and chatted with Shaun and Jen Thompson. Shaun took the opportunity to destroy me in chess. I put it down to my half-existent state.


Every Tuesday morning there is a group seminar for people who are preaching in the coming week. It was great! I saw my good friends Reni, Geni and James for the first time since I've been back. There were some people that I've met before but don't know so well. This was really interesting. As a group they are working through Ezekiel for their own edification. James is preaching on the conversion of Lydia next week so we discussed that and we also discussed Philip and the Ethiopian. James translated for me.

The blokes often go out for some food after the meeting. We went to a little eatery called 'Florida' where we have some pita breads with meat and fries. It was gooooooood. It was like a kebab meat but you could see what it was! I think it was lamb? I'm not 100% but it was less of a mystery than British kebabs.

During the meal, my friend Reni asked if I would like to come to his town Delvine. I thought about it for a few minutes as he doesn't speak a lot of English and my Albanian is pretty shocking at the moment. But we always seem to get by. So I said yes. Second night of my trip to Albania and I was experience the famous hospitality already! It was a great night. Reni's wife Blerta had her brother and sister-in-law to stay. Her brother's wife is English and they both live on Corfu. So they provided translation when descriptive gestures weren't enough. (I prayed for the gift of tongues but received the gift of gestures).

In Delvine, I saw my friend Edi and we all caught up and it was a great time.


I got on the bus back to Gjirokaster at 8am (having finally changed my Euros to Lek). The roads a pretty good now and no unexpected sickness came about. When I got home I started preparing my sermon for Thursday's talk. I am speaking on Jesus washing the Disciples feet in John 13. The student group are looking at Characteristics of Jesus from the Bible. So I will talk about Jesus the servant King. Lori, James' wife, will translate.

I ate with Shaun's family and I was given Albania's biggest potato!

After lunch I continued working on my talk. Then went for a walk around the town with James. He showed me the old town and pointed out the highlights. Such as 'This is where the communist HQ was.' As we were walking James started to talk about a drink called 'Milky Salep'. It's quite hard to describe. We went back to James' house to drink some. He describes it as having the texture of Wall Paper paste... this is quite an accurate description!

After milky salep and some good company we went to the mid-week meeting at the church in Gjirokaster. We sang some songs, prayed some prayers and Shaun gave a talk on Romans 2. Very good!

Following the service, Vini and Mandi took James and me out for a drink and to watch some football. We chatted I got confused as there was a lot of joking. But we had a nice time.


Went on a few errands with Shaun and while we were walking down the main road we bumped into a lot of people and I knew a fair few of them. We saw Vasil in the street who we haven't seen for two years. We went for a drink and caught up. We hope to see him again before I leave. I've been praying for Vasil after he didn't come to camp this year. A real answer to prayer, thank you Lord!

I've finished my talk now and am preparing to deliver it tonight.

Coming up:

Bible Study on Saturday
Walking up the wide mountain!
Going to the castle in Vasil's village

The magical Mr. Stevie tour:

On Saturday, James and I (with a few people from Gjirokaster) are going to Tepelene to see the 'Albion' club which is mainly made up of campers! I have been asked to do a concert (HAHA!). We will sing some camp classics and some of Mr. Stevie hits such as the muffin song. I am looking forward to this, it should be a lot of fun. James and I are thinking about learning the 'Magical Mystery Tour' song by the Beatles and changing the words slightly. It's going to be great.

I think that's all for now! I'll keep you posted on what I'm doing as much as I can!

Monday, 6 February 2012

The New Year so far......

This year has shown promise of great and exciting things!

  • February: At the end of February I am going to Albania for a few weeks to see friends and to see what the work is like when it's not in the summer and on a camp site.
  • Alpha Courses: As one Alpha course ends we have seen some fruit from the work as one of the guests has become a Christian and another has grown in her understanding of God and of Christ. This is fantastic as we only had these two guest. 100% success, I'd say. We have started another Alpha course which is for students. This Alpha is 7 weeks long and covers everything found on the Alpha course but is condensed into a much shorter time-frame. On the first week we had 18 people! On the second week we had 18 people (some of them were different) and we shall see how it goes next week. Some of the people from the first week couldn't make it but want to continue. Others might have dropped out. Even if they have dropped out they heard the gospel and seeds were planted. And I'm sure God will use them according to His perfect will. I am giving the talk this week which is entitled, 'How can I have faith?'
  • Church life: Church is going great. There is a lot going on. I have mentioned the Alpha courses (above) and we are continuing with our monthly music night at Costa. Hope @ Costa has been really fun and relaxed over the months. Basically, we turn up, play music, drink coffee, listen to a short testimony, munch some cake while listening to more music and then go home. We're happy, Costa's happy, everyone's happy! I am preaching once a month in church and I am really enjoying preparing and delivering my sermons. I preached on 'Scripture' yesterday. All the Hope church sermons are available at There is a lot of good stuff on there. Over the months there will be more stuff happening, DV.
  • Albania: Just as the year turned, I made a major decision. I have decided to go to Albania to join the Albanian Evangelical Mission (AEM) for a longer period of time. I have worked with the AEM on their summer camps for several years and I love the people, the work and the culture. There is a great need for workers there and I feel that God has been calling me there for some time. Now is the time!!!! My brother is getting married in August and my good friend Alice is getting married in September. Because I wish to attend both ceremonies the earliest I will be able to leave will be mid-Sept. This leaves plenty of time to plan, prepare and fund-raise.
  • Fundraising: I have been thinking about different ways that I could raise funds for Albania. Over the years I have written several songs, most of them are humourous, light-hearted and surreal. I have a few more serious ones and the odd Christian song. I have already digitised a few of them and intend to record the rest. I will sell this album to raise money. Who wouldn't want to listen to my songs knowing that the money they spent on them is helping advance the Kindgom. If you have any ideas of how I could raise money then please tell me! It has never been my strong point. I have learnt over the years that asking for money is never a bad thing. It is a hard thing! But it isn't a thing to be embarrased about. Many Christians are very generous and have a heart for mission. This is God because God has a heart for it as well. I confidently believe that God will provide all that I need. I don't mean that God will make me a rich man because I am doing work, I believe that he'll give me enough money so that I can survive. Biblically, we never see NT missionaries being wealthy and I don't expect to be either. Sorry, I managed to find my self on a rant. That was fun!
  • Motorbike: I have been riding around on my motorbike for the last few months and it's great! I really enjoy riding it. It is now winter and it is wet and cold which is suprisingly tedious! I look forward to the days where I will be riding between mountains in the glorious sun with the wind rushing through my helmet's air-vents. Zoooooooooom!
  • Students: I reglarly meet up with various students from Church. This is great. Many of them are struggling with things which I have struggled with in the past (and sometimes still struggle with). Some students come to ask about what the Bible says. These are the students I love the most! My advice is rubbish but the Bible's advice is perfect! Brilliant stuff is the Scriptures. Some students might not understand a passage of Scripture and ask me to explain it. I enjoy this too! Who wouldn't?! One theology student has asked me to help with his exegesis on John 12:20-26. This is for his essay. Some say that this might be cheating! But others (like myself) would say that this is research. It also means that I can get my Greek on and translate it giving me a good understanding of the passage. Fun fun fun.
Not much else to say at the moment. In a few days time I will post my sermon on Scripture for people to read. It is pretty straight forward teaching and there is a lot of stuff in it. I fear I may have lost people during the sermon as there are 3 main points to the sermon and each point had 3-4 sub-points. Opps!

Speak to you all soon!