Sunday, August 17, 2014

Albania Mission Part 1

As I hand wrote this post last Monday while driving back to Texas from Iowa I mourned the loss of my summer. It has already come and gone and I failed at meeting any sort of blog goals I set. Time simply got away from me and many more important things came up. As some of you know I spent 20 days in Europe this summer. I was on a mission trip in Albania. The goal of this trip was to teach about Jesus' love for His people and to bring truth and light to the lives of children and college students. There were two parts to the trip and fortunately I was able to be part of both. The first week we had a family VBS camp on the beach. During this part of the trip we worked in a village outside the capital of Albania. Our team consisted of a group of Albanians we partner with, four American young adults, our church's missionaries, and two families from our church that brought their young children. The idea was to have a cultural mission experience for the kids of the American families and to test drive how the trip would work with families for future possible trips.

Before I get into the details of how God used us on this trip I will explain a little about Albania. The country was under communism for a long time and has only been out since 1991. During communism rule there was no religion allowed. Albania was deemed an atheist country. Since 1991 and the fall of communism many different missionaries have entered Albania to bring religion to the people. The people of Albania are incredibly loving. They want to invest in your life and know you. They love to sit and get coffee and learn about you and tell you about themselves. In their culture they have a huge focus on investing in relationships face to face. This I love.

The village we worked at in Albania was a small and poor village. The people there do not have many resources. We set up our VBS (vacation bible school) camp on the beach near the village. We rented out umbrella chairs and brought all the supplies to host a successful camp. Thanks to everybody involved with planning, fundraising, and donating, and praying the children were able to have a successful camp! In the morning we started with prayer and praise. The children were all singing in Albanian and dancing around the beach. The sound of 20+ sets of feet stamping in the sand and the joyous voices of praise will never leave me. We spent the next few hours each day engaged in Bible lessons, crafts, snacks, and beach games.

We were able to provide lunch for the children each day of the camp. This was a big deal for them because they don't have access to much food. Their meals are small and not of substantial nutrition. Each day we fed them turkey sandwiches, fresh fruit, cookies, and juice or cola. Lunch was one of my favorite times with the children . We sat in our groups and through motions and sounds and lots of giggles we communicated. It was amazing. Even with a complete language barrier I was able to learn so much about each child. The best day was when I finally got them to understand that I wanted them to copy what I was saying in English. I had my whole group yelling out "You're awesome!" I would quickly tell them back and they would grin so big and cutely say "thank you!"

After the three days of camp with the precious children I was in love. Each of them were so special. I especially became attached to the kiddos in my group. The little boys were so eager to play soccer, use my camera, and wear my sunglasses.

Each day was an opportunity to share the love of Christ with these children. Their eagerness to learn more and more was humbling. Children from the age of 6 to probably 11 were so excited to learn about Jesus. It was clear that God was moving in the village with these children and the families that help reach out to them.

The last day we held a special BBQ and awards night. We all gathered at a home in the village to eat together one last time. After sharing our meal, each child was awarded with a certificate. Cheering and clapping each child went forward to receive their award.

After pictures and many hugs the children walked us back through the village to our bus. Hand in hand with my little friends we made our way to the bus. Many kisses were blown out the window to my sweet David who was nothing shy of an 8 year old charmer who stole my heart.

Tears fell as we drove away. I hope to see them again next year!

1 comment:

  1. i enjoyed reading it. thanks for everything you did here. cant wait to meet again.blessings