Albania blogs!

After a few long flights and layovers we have finally made it to Albania and God has taught me many things along the way. We were welcomed by our host, George, who has taught us practical work skills, and skills we need to grow spiritually. From training camp, to the first night here, the idea that sticks out to me is being intentional with others and God. In a foreign place with new faces and challenges it can be easy to distance ourselves from God and the people around us. Our team decided as a group that being intentional would be one of our goals for this trip. I’ve tried to incorporate this into my time here by listening to others, choosing to engage in conversation to learn more about my teammates, and setting aside time for prayer, bible study, and journaling. By choosing to help feed the pigs or wash the dishes after meal time, I have learned more about my teammates. By listening in my small group or team time, I have learned more about myself and God. God is able to speak and work in me when I choose to be intentional.

Written by Corbett

WE MADE IT!!!! I was so excited to finally arrive in Albania. The first day we got to rest and explore the property we are staying on, however the next day the work began. As we split up into groups, my groups only goal was to pull out two trees. The first one we got out in about twenty minutes and was great. The next one looked like a big dead pineapple sticking out of the ground. We tried everything in the beginning, but nothing seemed to work. We worked about 4 hours that day on that one tree, pulling it with a car thinking of ideas to burn it out etc. Our hands, and in one case forehead sore from getting stabbed by the leaves and hacking away. By the end of the day everyone else seemed to have done so much work and I just hated that dumb tree. The next day we slowly made a little more progress but it still didn’t feel like much. Finally after two days of pulling roots and digging we had a tractor come and rip it out. I felt so much accomplishment!

Written by Zoe

I came to Albania expecting to do farm work, but not with the expectation of cleaning ten pig pens. It was Allison and I who cleaned the extremely smelly and fly infested stalls. We both switched jobs back and forth from spraying with the hose and pushing the poop with the broom. Honestly, at some points I wanted to give up, mostly because I’ve never done anything like it. But my wonderful leader Allison was next to me, encouraging me through it all. I’m looking forward to the different experiences I will face every day, because I know the Lord wants me to try new things, and this definitely was one of those things.

Written by Gavin

I know the importance of putting my trust in Lord, and how much I NEED to, but it’s just so dang difficult to give up my plans and walk in faith. Even though it’s detrimental to my faith and relationship with the Lord, something is there stopping me. It’s this feeling of control that I almost always have to have, this feeling that I’ll be lost and scared out of my mind without a typed out, step-by-step, minute-by-minute itinerary for life in my hands, a feeling of the unknown. Over the trip, I’ve realized this has become one of my greatest weaknesses in both my spiritual and earthly lives, and do you know what has been happening? The Lord has been moving within me, pushing me to let go and telling me to let loose. He has given me the verse Psalm 56:3 to remind me that in every moment and through every doubt, He is there. With this reminder comes a realization that I don’t need to worry or have everything mapped out, but rather just be caught in the simple pursuit of the Lord, focused on following Him and loving His beautiful people to the greatest extent. As I approach the next two weeks of the trip, I hope I can do just that and say YES to the Lord and all of His marvelous plans and adventures.

Written by Haeley

Sunday July 2, 2017

3:45 PM

Today, I relaxed and prayed with the Lord. My fascination with the foreign display of clouds overran my mind as they spoke no language, but released so much beauty – they are cross-cultural worshipers of Christ. My silent question to God rose up, “If your creation reflects you, then what characteristic do the clouds show us?” A silly question that did not receive an answer.

9:43 PM

Later that night, I lay on the stony pavement staring up at the unfamiliar star patterns. That night they were veiled in intricate patches by moonlit clouds. Their beauty stole the attention away from the back staged stars. Once again, even though they were arranged in their nightgown, the clouds begged the unanswerable question of what small part of God could be reflected in them. The question again went silently unanswered.

Monday July 3, 2017

3:47 AM

With a BANG, I was violently shaken awake by a clap of thunder directly next to my ear. I got up and closed the billowing sheet acting as our door. I lay back down. Silently, the room lit up brighter than possible. Immediately following came an even louder GRUMBLE CRASH ROAR. Overwhelming awe pinned my back to the thin mattress.

6:56 AM

I sat on the ground for my time with the Lord. My eyes rose to the clouds before me as I witnessed their steady march in valiant triumph across the skies as their feet continued to rumble across the skies. As I peeled open my Bible, Yahweh pulled my eyes to the passage from the previous morning of the ark being brought into the LORD’s newly erected temple. “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple” (1 Kings 8:10-11.) The Holy Spirit revealed the answer to my question. Whether they are yelling or resting or smiling, the clouds serve as a mirror of God’s character of awe inspiring power. I encourage you, even as God seems not to answer even the most simple of your questions, just trust Him. Wait for Him. He will answer in the most masterful ways if only we would listen and be patient.

Written by Mikayla

Throughout this past week and even before the trip started I continued to hear God call me to Be Still. Throughout my walk with the Lord I’ve had a hard time listening to Him and thinking before acting on a lot of my decisions. My failure to just stop and listen has caused many issues to arise. I am far from fixed in this struggle but as they say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I’ve been praying and reading a lot of Proverbs, {“ My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge”- Proverbs 5:1-2} which has taught me a lot about wisdom and asking God for wisdom in any situation, and truly trusting His answer. I hope to grow even more during this trip and after we have gone home. It has been so amazing to see the world and the beautiful people God created around the world. It is so cool to see how different people are in different cultures but how rudimentary people everywhere are the same. I have also felt really called to international missions, specifically working with and pouring into Muslims. I am not sure what this means for my future and where God wants me, or when, but it will be a growing period while I wait for his guidance and answer. I love working with people but I also really love to serve people with physical labor and projects, something to make someone’s life easier and to bring the love of God to all. So far this trip has taught me a lot about who I am and how to appreciate the simplicities of life, like toilet paper and sittable toilets, and also appreciate all the people placed purposefully in my life. I have no idea where I will be in a few years or even months but I am so excited to see where God tells me, shows me, and takes me!

Written by Taylor

My favorite quote is, “Expectation is the root of heartache”, by William Shakespeare. This quote came to my mind during training camp when Don gave us his talk on “expectations”. It’s totally normal to go into ANYTHING with expectations but I’ve often found disappointment

Written by Asa

I took a leap of faith coming to Albania with the sole intention of positively impacting the lives of children here, spreading and sharing the love of Christ with them. 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 says, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” While I was extremely excited by this opportunity God presented me, it took some mental preparation in the days before going to Albania because I am typically relatively private in my faith and relationship with Christ. So after two and a half days of training camp, I was ready to begin our 18 hour journey to Albania and share God’s love with the children at the camp. Three international flights and a lot of airplane food later, we were in Albania. We arrived at our ministry location and immediately crashed due to pure exhaustion. For some reason, the next day I woke up expecting to be immediately immersed in the activities of the camp with the children, I was wrong. The first week of our ministry here would actually be helping with improvements at the location and working at the farm on site that sustains the ministry. This looks like anything from working for hours in the sun trying to take out a giant dead tree to shoveling copious amounts of poop to milking a feisty goat. You, like I, may ask, “How is this sharing Christ?” Well, I’ll tell you. Sharing God and his love is not only found in the use of direct or literal words, but in actions. While yes, proclaiming His name means verbally sharing the Gospel with others, I now see it’s so much more. You can see Christ in a smile on someone’s face while cleaning a (very) strong-odored goat pen. Christ is in the hard work under the sun tearing out and planting trees. Christ is in the courage it takes to be vulnerable in a heart to heart conversation with someone you met a week ago. Christ is in the laughter shared while attempting to feed some angry pigs. Christ is in the helpful hand reaching out whenever I am struggling with a job. Isn’t it amazing that sharing God’s love can be through such simple yet meaningful actions and “seeking his face” can be looking for these actions in others. God is a part of everyone whether they know it or not; therefore, simply through loving others we love Christ. God is truly the goodness in all of us and it is our duty to let Him shine through, for we can share God just as much in our actions as our words.

Written by Megan

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