This week we rant a Secret Agent camp at Burime, with over 45 kids attending we had so much fun. Each day one of the team shared a part of their story about God, linked to the memory verses. Today, the last day, to complete the kids training we gave them a chance to share their stories. It was incredible as so many of the kids wanted to share how God had answered their prayers, changed their hearts, helped them, guided them. Here are a few highlights because it is too good not to share. It’s so incredible to see them enthusiastic to share what God is doing, to hear them standing in front of their friends and peers declaring the works of God. What an incredible honour to be a part of these lives that are going to make such a big difference. And to everyone who has supported us and enabled us and the other missionaries to be here I hope seeing this you can see what a massive impact you are having, we may be the hands but you are the heart.
Artiola is an important part of the Teen group run by the Welseyan team. She contacted me by facebook and asked if she could help us out at Burime, she lives on the same street. As we know Artiola and her family we were delighted to have her help, she was great all week getting involved in everything, always ready to do something, join in, jump around and have fun. An amazing blessing to us.
Shared her story how God had answered her prayers
Shpetimi shared his story how he was born prematurely and his life was in great danger and so he was named Salvation. He knows he was kept safe by God and given this name because God has saved his life for a purpose
Shared how he has only just started coming to Burime but has learnt about God and know has God in his life. He shared how one day we talked about asking God into your heart and praying to God and so he went home and prayed and asked God into his life.
Shared about how she had not been very nice and didn’t have a lot of friends but by going to Allan and Sheri’s bible study she heard about how God cared for her. She asked Him to change her heart and to help her with her friends and now she tells us how she is so much happier and has some great friends.
Shared how she came to Burime when a friend asked her. She had never been before and when she came she heard all new things about God, things she had never heard before and never knew. She was so excited she asked God into her heart and her life has changed.
Matilda wanted to share a bible story about Adam and Eve and how God had helped even when Eve was naughty…. , she brought her bible, bookmarked the page but she can’t read yet!!! We shared how precious the bible is and what a great example Matilda was that she really wants to be able to read the bible and to share the stories of God.
Grace came along and helped at the camp, she was a great agent but she definetly doesn’t keep God secret! Grace is such an encouragement and example of the difference God makes in your heart and life, she is so much fun, so caring and …. the rest is restricted, confidential!
007…. we almost had too much fun!
Often life here has become our normality, having made a quick trip back to the UK many, many things there felt very uncomfortable because they weren’t our norm anymore (did I ever tell you about my total meltdown in Asda?!)
Today though was a day I hit the reality of living here in ups and downs…. grab a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive (oooh that would be nice!)
Yesterday I spent three hours putting together the presentation for this morning’s Gazoo Bible programme for kids. It involved creating a great animated story (translated) as the main point of the story and an interactive computer game for the final fun activity. So this morning at 7.50am we set off for home school (not at home!) and had quite a good morning. At 9.30 I went next door to run the Gazoo session. We had three new boys, which was great news. I registered them asking their names and date of birth. It took at least five attempts for the first boy to understand my simple question… what is your name, when is your birthday? The second boy I asked (now already knowing what I was going to ask) should have been easier and I got his name no problem. But when I asked his birthday he said he didn’t have one. I asked again, knowing some people here don’t celebrate birthdays but presuming he just hadn’t understood. No, he responded again he just has New Year (the Albanian equivalent of Christmas), no birthday. I checked, do you mean your birthday is at New Year? No, his friends said, he doesn’t have a birthday. One of them then prompted him that maybe he had been born in February. Yes, the boy seemed to think that was a possibility, so we wrote February as a month, any idea as to the date? No, no, no. He just didn’t have any idea when he had been born, no one had ever celebrated with him the fact that he had been born, the importance of him, who he is. I told him I thought he was really important and that I knew the world had changed the day he was born, he had changed history because he is alive and I would like to celebrate the fact he is alive. Together we decided that we would celebrate him being alive on February 14th, the day of love as I hope if nothing else this morning he will remember that there is a God who planned for him to be alive and loves him.
Still reeling a bit from this we played the first game and then the electricity cut out meaning all my great multimedia work was for nothing. Ah well, we carried on and had fun. When we got home we discovered that we had no water in our tank soon followed by our electricity cutting out as well. I smiled when I checked with the neighbour if they had electricity… you live in Albania they said! I know and today I have been reminded!
(this was the shirt the boy wore to one of the Summer camps that says “Believe” on the back!)
This week in Burime we will be looking at the story of Jesus clearing the temple, his anger was righteous as he saw wrong in God’s house.
It can be quite an eye opener at times living here and learning about the corruption and how it affects lives. The children are expected to pay the teachers to get grades… it only takes a little thought to see the problems this creates particularly with the poverty in families we work with. The disinterest in learning. The lack of opportunity for education. The lack of opportunity for the future. The mistrust of ‘authority’. A few of the teens we work with are really good at English but don’t get the top grades because their families can’t pay. It doesn’t matter how much they study they won’t be given the grades. They correct me when I tell them they are really good, “No I only get ‘okay’ at school”, I will argue with them telling them their true ability but they can’t hear past the numbers on a report sheet and what they have been told before. I love to then test them and ask them questions and to hear them answer without fault and then to say “You see, you know all of that, you are very good.”
To look at justice in a country where water supply is paid for depending on who you vote for, school grades are given depending on how much you give the teacher and the prime minister was voted in with some election boxes remaining unopened once he was in the lead is a challenge. But it is also a need, particularly in this election year, particularly with young people who need to know the truth about themselves and particularly in a place God sees such injustice.
Really excited at the start of this month to be planning ideas to promote community pride with Loving the Lagjia (the name of the area or neighborhood).
The keneta area is looked down on by so many people, including some people who live here and we want to help the kids we contact to have some pride for their neighborhood. So we will be running activities including a girls valentine karaoke party, clean up the streets time and poster competition for putting rubbish in the bin not just dropping it on the street. This may not seem like much but when the local authority doesn’t provide any litter collection services and so the black water canals is the general dumping ground to get kids to think about putting their rubbish away appropriately is quite a challenge. So lets hope by march we can start Spring with some fresh hope and new pride.