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.
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!