September 28, 2016
Looking Back and Forward

The other day I was going through some photos and found some "odds and ends" from our time in Albania that I want to share with my blog readers. Hope you enjoy them.

First I will share some photos of events that occurred in July when we spent five weeks in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. On July 14, Virginia Mennonite Missions had a potluck meal and commissioning for the new TranSend volunteers in Jim and Ann Hershberger's barn just outside of the city of Harrisonburg. Alex and Anna were committed to work at Lezha Academic Center and with the young people at the Guri i Themelit church there.

Alex Rubel at the commissioning for TranSend volunteers

Alex Rubel (Ukraine) Plays Guitar with Some of the Tobin Family (14-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Anna McMullen at the TranSend commissioning

Anna McMullen (Ohio, USA) Share Her Christian Faith Story (14-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

A few days later, we had a lunch together with Dini and Klementina Shahini who were visiting in the US during the same time slot we were. So we had some good fun being friends in both Lezhë and Harrisonburg. But close friends are close friends wherever and whenever you find each .

Dini, Klementina, Elsie and I oautside of Panera Bread 

Myself, Elsie, Klementina, and Dini Enjoying Our Time Together (19-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Klementina laughs as they pass us on the five-lane street 

Klementina Shares Her Laughter (19-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

That same evening we gathered with Elsie's siblings and spouses for a meal together at Dave's and Carol's home.  It was a good time with family.

Elise's two brothers and sister and spouses

Dennis, Alice, Bonnie, Jim, Dave, Carol, Elsie and Me (Behind the Camera) (19-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

For several days our meals were shared with friends and family. Our pastor from Lezhë, Rafael Tartari, was visiting in Harrisonburg so people could become acquainted with him face-to-face.  

Rafael and Elsie and I at lunch

We Ate Lunch with Rafael at Bowl of Good (20-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The following day, we met for lunch with the controlling board of Virginia Mennonite Missions which oversees our service assignment in Albania. That day they were honoring Allen Umble for his almost 20 years of living and service in Albania.

Allen Umble holding his plaque

VMM President Aaron Kaufman Presents Allen Umble with a Plaque for Service (21-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

To help commemorate Allen's service with VMM, I have pulled together a few photos from the last two and a half years. He is a gracious team leader, a true friend to Albanians, and great host. 

Allen and Dini stand in front of the plaque for the Zimmerly's

Allen and Dini Stand by the Marble Plaque Honoring the Zimmerly's Work in Lushnjë District (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Allen and Fatmir exchange hugs 

Allen and Fatmir Share Mutual Hugs (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Allen cooking a meal for us 

Allen Works up a Meal for Elsie and I in His Apartment (4-Apr-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Thinking of food, I remember well the meal the Koloshi family pulled together for the missionary team in their home on the second-to-last Saturday in May. There was soup, salad, fli, roasted meat, and cornbread plus plenty of sodas, tea and other refreshments and dessert.. 

a feast of a meal at Fatmir's home 

A Very Tasty Meal Provided by the Koloshi Family (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

A few weeks later back in Lezhë as I waited for my friend and colleague, Josh, I captured a street cleaner at work. 

looking down the street by the church 

Parking Was at a Premium on the Street in Front of the Church (15-Jun-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a worker cleans the street 

A Street Cleaner with Cart, Garbage Can and Broom Moves to Clean the Street (15-Jun-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

sweeping the street 

This Street Is Literally Swept (15-Jun-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Even though we will not be returning to LAC, for this year at least, I am teaching a physics course to LAC seniors. It is fun and challenging and takes a fair amount of time. Anybody want to join us?

PHYSICS 12 in Moodle

The PHYSICS 12 Class in Moodle (28-Sep-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

And by the way, I have not yet had surgery to fix either my hip or my back, and the pain keeps growing as the days go by. But we are thanking God that I have gotten appointments to see some surgeons who will do the surgeries after they evaluate how much I need them and what the surgeries should involve. So we wait and try to learn more of the peace and patience that only God can give.

September 2, 2016
We Have Been Back in Virginia One Week Already

On Friday, August 26, we flew from Tirana, Albania, to Washington, DC, USA. This was five months early for us because my hip and leg pain and numbness were advancing faster than I could cope with. If, as I am guessing, some of this pain is from a ruptured spinal disc, than getting aid sooner than later is imperative. So we said good-bye to our friends in Albania with deep regrets and were welcomed back by our family in the US. We do not know all that God will be leading us through in the next weeks, but we are trying to learn to trust in his wisdom and timing.

A week and a half after we had returned to Lezhë, Pastor Rafael and Solenge Tartari invited two college juniors, who were home for the summer, and Elsie and I to their home for supper. There was good food and excellent conversation as we talked about issues the students were facing in their lives.

hosted by Rafael and Solenge

The Lasagna Was Ready and So Were We (11-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Xhorxhina at the Tartari's

Xhorxhina Will Study at Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA) (11-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Irana holds Sofia

Irena Will Study at Bluffton University (Bluffton, OH) (11-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next week after Irena and Xhorxhina left for the US to begin their junior years at the university level, a new teacher and support staff person arrived in Lezhë to work at Lezha Academic Center. We had met Anna McMullen and Alex Rubel in Virginia in July, and it was good to meet them again now in Albania.

Anna and Julie at Kristi's

Anna (L, with Julie) Will Specialize as a Music Teacher (17-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Alex and Elsie wait for our meal

Alex (L, with Elsie) Will Specialize as Campus Pastor (17-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next Sunday, August 21, was our last one in church. I was hurting bad enough to stay home, but I definitely wanted to say good-bye to people. And I was very glad I took the courage to attend our last meeting at Guri i Themelit.

Evianda does live interpretation of the worship into En glish

Evianda Prepared to Do Simultaneous Interpreting (21-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Gazlind and Toni wait for the worship to begin

Gazlind and Toni Wait for the Beginning of Worship Time (2-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

At the end of the service, Pastor Rafael called the congregation to prayer for Elsie and I. "Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this act of caring in Christ!"

the congregation prays for Elsie and I and my helath issues

Prayer for Our Travels and Return to Health (21-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman, with Francis Marques)

"sisters" share with Elsie during the prayerr

Sisters in God's Family Supporting Elsie (2-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman, with Francis Marques)

On Tuesday evening, Klementina Shahini, LAC director, and Bardha Paplekaj, principal, hosted Elsie and me for a fish dinner. Again good food and very good conversation. Bardha's daughter, Dona, is always a lot of fun even though we do not understand each other's language.  

Klementina and Bardha host us for dinner

Klementina, Dona and Bardha Converse (23-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dona and her mother Bardha

Dona and Her Mother (23-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next day Alda picked us up at our apartment and took us to LAC to say our good-byes to the staff who were already working there, even though school does not start until September 12. A few students and recent graduates were also hanging out there.

Gledys poses for me

Gledis (a freshman at Canadian Mennonite University) Posed for a Photo (24-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Inda and her mirror image at the school

Inda (also going to CMU) Smiled for Me (24-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie does some final work in the libraray

Elsie Had Some Library Tasks to Wrap Up (24-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Anna gives Elsie a hand in the library

Anna Gladly Gave Elsie a Hand with Some Jobs (24-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Early Friday morning (1:30 a.m.) we left Lezhë for the Tirana airport. From there we had a layover in Vienna, Austria, for four hours before a 10-hour flight to Washington, DC, where Elsie's sister, Alice, and her husband had kindly agreed to pick us up. Three hours later we were in our house in Harrisonburg, VA. 

the line at the Tirana airport at 2:30 a.m.

Long Lines Waiting to Be Checked in at the Tirana Airport (26-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

take off from the Vienna airport

Taxing for Takeoff at the Vienna Airport (26-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Saturday and Sunday, we had the opportunity to spend some time with our daughter Heidi and her family, Holden, Sydney and Kiara.

Sydney is busy with a toy fire engine

Sydney Plays with Some of Grandma's and Grandpa's Toys (27-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Kiara enjoys playing with toys

Kiara Is Happy with New Toys, Too (27-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the Byler family during the dedication of Kiara at church

The Byler Family at the Christian Dedication for Almost One-year-old Kiara (28-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Sydney and her mother Heidi in the restaurant

Heidi and Sydney Explore a Hands-on Shapes Book While Waiting for Sunday Lunch (28-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

We were glad to be back in Lezhë, Albania, even though it was for only three-and-a-half weeks. For all of those whom we met and said, "Good-bye," we share a deep-felt thank you. For those we did not get to meet in person, we share our regrets and wish you God's best in the year ahead.

August 9, 2016
It Has Been One Week Already!

Yesterday (Monday) afternoon at 4:30, Elsie reminded me that we have been back in Lezhë, Albania, for one week. And she was correct to almost the minute. So here are some photos commemorating our trip and return to Lezhë. 

Even though my leg pain was rather pronounced on Sunday morning, it was very good to be back at a church service at Guri i Themelit with many of our friends.

friends gather to talk before church begins

Friends Chat as We Gather for Church (7-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Besnik and his wife Dafina

Besnik and His Wife Dafina Worship in the Service (7-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Rafael preaching the sermon

Pastor Rafael Preaches on "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (7-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The week before we left Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA, we filled with time with family and packing. Elsie's sister Alice and her husband Dennis Brubaker had kindly let us live in their basement apartment for the five weeks we werre in Harrisonburg. So one evening the four of us went to Qdoba's for dinner. The food and conversation were very good.

Elsie (L) and her sister Alice share conversation at a restaurant

Elsie (L) Chats with Her Sister Alice (28-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

As grandma and grandpa to 10 grandchildren, we tried to get our fill of quality time with them and their joyful antics and love. But, alas, we could never get totally filled. :)

Elsie holds Kiara and Sydney 

Elsie Hugging Kiara and Sydney (Heidi's and Holden's Children) (29-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

As we return to Albania, how long we will be staying will depend upon how long and how well I can cope with my leg pain from a hip that needs another replacement, for a third time within two years! So please pray with  us for God's wisdom and healing. 

me on my crutches 

Me and My Crutches--to Balance the Forces on Each Hip (30-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Sunday afternoon when we got on our flight from Washington, DC, to Vienna (Austria), we discovered our seatmates were a Muslim mother and her 19-month-old daughter from Richmond, Virginia. So we became surogate grandparents ffor the flight. It was good fun!

Elsie and our seat mates chat on the plane 

Elsie and Our Seatmates Talking (31-Jul-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The day after we arrived back in Lezhë, I took a photo of the outside of our apartment, just to show my blog readers that we are back to normal. Our small kitchen is behind the brown roll-up paper curtains. They are rolled down to better keep the bright sunlight and heat out of our apartment.

our apartment building 

Our Apartment Is on Second Floor (2-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

I like eating food--old standards and new items, too. However, it has taken us a week or so to get over the jet-lag imposed by our bodies experiencing the six-hour time change between the eastern US and Albania. So by Wednesday we were still verry mixed up, and I was eating fried eggs for breakfast several hours after noon (notice the brown-colored light filtering in through the pulled curtains). I know of brunch (breakfast-lunch), maybe this should have been "lupper" (lunch-supper).

lunch-supper with breakfast foods 

Fried Eggs and Some Iced Tea I Made for a Late Lunch (2-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

By Saturday evening, meal times were more normal. I made this potato, sausage, carrot and onion skillet meal for that evening.

sausage and potatoe skillet mal 

A One-skillet Meal for Saturday Eveninga (6-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

As we came back from eating pizza at Besa's on Wednesday evening, we stoppped at one of our usual fruit and vegetable ships to get a few items. We enjoy shopping in the small shops.

a vegetable and fruit shop near our home and the churcch 

Elsie Selects the Carrots She Wants (3-Aug-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

"Thanks you, God, for bring us home to Lezhë again, and we trust you to lead us through the next weeks and months."

--©2014-16, Richard L. Bowman)

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