Flying high when the earth shakes

Flying high when the earth shakes

Yesterday I realised I made an error with a holiday booking, the accomodation was two days less than the flights. That is really not like me! I was glad I discovered it before we left our accomodation, got to the airport and had to camp out for two days but as I looked for an alternative every way seemed a dead end. The airline wanted more to change the flights than the cheap rate I got them for. The accomodation was now fully booked. Every other possibility was coming up at hundreds of pounds, which when you are a missionary family and have spent days trying to save every penny to make a holiday a possibility is VERY annoying! I came up with alternative accomodation but with the same firm but wasn’t what we wanted or what the kids had been asking for, but better than nothing or better than expensive right?
I emailed the firm my proposal.
We had been thinking about what to do for children’s day, but hadn’t really got far with plans. This morning at the kids club we ran out of chairs, table space, crafts because of the number of kids there…. not even all the ones registered! Two weeks before children’s day and I had to tell the kids to stop bringing their friends and relatives! Imagine!
This week we have to get our residency papers in, this in itself is the worst bit of being a missionary here… beyond not putting the paper in the toilet, way worse than the mosquito bites, more awful than being away from family and friends… yes that bad!
So in the early hours as the earthquake woke me up it was just another thing. I lay awake for a while, thinking, too hot, too worried about sticking my leg out because of the mosquitos, listening to the ridiculously loud frogs, the rooster crowing, the ducks quacking.
The earthquake didn’t bother me… I wasn’t afraid, wasn’t worried. The holiday situations didn’t bother me either… I wasn’t worried. When we were once again inundated with kids at kids club I wasn’t bothered….
Perspective… we will get to go on holiday, our forms will be submitted, the kids will all keep coming (and probably bring their friends!) and if it doesn’t? If the earth shakes and the skies crumble? Its all more than okay.

I got an email from the holiday place, they can extend where we are staying for no extra cost. We have an incredible possibility for children’s day which is beyond what we could have imagined and for more kids. The forms are all coming together and …. well we’ll wait and see.
Sometimes its good to remember that its just not worth stressing over, it won’t change because of worry, it won’t alter because of a sleepless night. I know that is easier to say sometimes, but for today I will say it, I will choose to fly and I will choose to trust.

Simple Blessings and Value

Simple Blessings and Value

Love this blog, today it was so exact… what do we say are our blessings or where are our blessings?

The problem with blessings in things is when they are gone we aren’t blessed or we don’t see other people being of the same value because they don’t have the blessings we have.  I know that is NOT TRUE!

I have friends who do bless me so much, whenever I get to spend time with them I come away encouraged, realising my value, realising how great God is.  Why?  Their house is simple, the mum is an amputee and the dad significantly disabled.  The dad tries to work fixing TV’s but he doesn’t have all the equipment, so he takes the TV’s to a shop to check them, but their car is so wrecked it is illegal to drive.  They don’t have money for holidays, they don’t have a savings account, they don’t have laptops or ipads, they were just able to buy beds for the girls who had been sleeping on the floor…  do you know what? When I go to their house I never see what they don’t have.  They have such an incredible life, happiness, peace, joy…. God flows out of them, touches everyone they meet.  They give, they live they trust and enjoy and are BLESSED!

Yesterday with the kids at Burime (we live in an illegal settlement built literally on swamp land) I asked what would make their life better, the answers…

a diamond

a house

health

family

Yes things, a diamond and a house, but the house is what most of us take forgranted, a basic.  With these they would feel blessed… they could have said anything but this was their answer.  Blessing is not in things, blessing is in the heart, seeing God in everything, in everyone.  Appreciating the basics of life, breath, being.  Knowing hope in the middle of a swamp, having faith in the worst prognosis, finding provision in the bottom of the flour sack.  My life has been blessed and I am definetly not against having things, having nice things, having good things and do believe God gives us and loves to give us these.  But they are not where my blessing is this morning, drink you coffee, have a think.  How blessed are you today?

Has Anyone Thanked You?

Yesterday we needed to go to a supermarket.  So we went to one in a very small shopping mall.  It is in Durres but in the five years we have lived here we have never looked around it.  As we did Matilda discovered a small soft play area.  Of course came the question… Can I play?  To be honest it looked rather dirty, scruffy, dimly lit.  There was a man there with apparently his two young children a girl and a boy.  No one else.  She ran ahead not waiting for the answer.  She began to run up the slide and over the soft play area, bundling down into the ball pool, giggling and laughing.  The other little girl said something to her but Matilda did not respond.  Her dad tried to explain to her… she is English, she doesn’t speak Albanian, she speaks English.  I corrected him, “Yes, she is English but she speaks Albanian and English.” The dad was surprised and told the girl to carry on, this time with Matildas attention they began to chat, play and interact.  The dad asked where we were from and what we were doing here.  We explained about Burime, that we run a centre for children and teens on the Keneta.  “Has anyone ever thanked you?” he asked.

Now that was not a question I was expecting or fell into the normal run of questions and so I was taken aback for a moment.  Then I thought.  I didn’t really know how to respond.  In fact each morning at the end of the session the children want a hug before they go, no longer satisfied with just saying goodbye or shaking a hand, now one by one I have to hug them.  They line up waiting.  Almost every week at least one child will write a note or make a card to say how much they like Burime, what a difference it makes to them.  The teenagers come along, eyes sparkling, sometimes with mischief, but mainly with a sense of enjoyment.  We get twitters and sometimes emails telling us people are behind us, love what we do.  But thanks? Has anyone thanked you?

Not so often.  Was my reply and straight away he said “Well I am thanking you, thank you for coming here.”  That was nice.  It meant something.  But actually I don’t know it meant more than a hug, more than a note, more than a tweet or a prayer.  The word thanks is great to hear and goodness do I encourage my children to use it more.  But actually as I thought about it, thanks doesn’t feel necessary.  We aren’t doing something that requires thanks, that suggests a recognition of something noteworthy.  We are just being us, we are having an amazing time, having incredible experiences and learning so much. 

Thanks goes to those people who are slogging away to make this possible.  The little girls who make cakes to sell at church to raise money for some crafts.  The generous couple who paid for three weeks of summer activities.  The people facing unemployment who still give ten pounds.  The person who asks not for presents but gives their birthday money to pay for the rent on the centre.  The teen who gives up their Saturday wages to make a difference.  The family who say I can’t give any more because I am sponsoring a child.  The couple that read a newsletter and give money because they understand.  The church that takes an offering and raises the money for kids to go to camp.  Every single person who has given from 2p to thousands to change lives they may never even meet.  Thats where the thanks goes.  To all you heroes who are even reading this because you care enough. 

Thank you.Image

Hitting Reality today

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!)Image