October 30, 2015
Sunday Morning Worship and More

We have again started are usual gathering for coffee at My Bar before Sunday morning worship time at Guri i Themelit (Cornerstone) church.

Elsie and I have Sunday morning coffee with Dini

Dini, Elsie and I Enjoy Coffee at My Bar (25-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

At church we do a lot of singing. Many of the songs are translated from English, but some are more truly Albanian. 

we sing an Albanian song

Singing an Albanian Gospel Song (25-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

The best translation for the first verse shown above is:

God blesses my soul,
and you doo not remember His works?
He's the one who cures
and saves from death.T

For this I used Google Translate and my sense of how the English should flow, but I should check with one of our Albanian friends to refine my wording.

Solenge and Elsie join in joyful singing

Solenge Tartari and Elsie Join the Joyful Singing (25-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

After the singing and collecting of the offering, we usually have a sermon. Pastor Rafael Tartari preached from Proverbs 6:16-19 on the "Seven Things God Detests." 

Pastor Rafael's seven points summarizing his sermon

Rafael's Summer Slide for His Sermon (25-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

1. Proud eyes
2. A lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
4. Heart that devises wickedness
5. Feet that be swift in running to evil
6. A false witness that speaks lies
7. Anyone that sows discord among family

After the worship service and greeting everyone with God's "peace," some of us went for suflages at Castro's restaurant, a block or so away from the church. These pita sandwiches of chunked pork, tomatoes, lettuce, and French fries with a special sauce are like Greek gyros. They are some of my favorite foods!!

Elsie and Katrina enjoying lunch and conversation

Elsie and Katrina Conversing over Suflages (25-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Tuesday as I walked to Lezha Academic Center, I took my time to watch the water main construction that is continuing in Lezhë.

new vallves in the new water main

A Set of Valve in the New Water Main (27-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

I also took time to capture a Morning Glory flower on the alley to the school. It reminds me that sometimes we need to get up close to someone to see their beauty of their life. 

the beauty of a morniing glory

A Morning Glory Shows Its Beauty through a Chain-link Fence (27-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

And I also photographed some old and new staff at LAC. 

Marinela, Ina and Ina converse at LAC

Marinela, Ina (from last year) and the New Ina Y. (27-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

It has been almost two weeks that we are here already, and we are getting settle so that it feels like mush longer. Thank you, God, and thanks to our friensds.

October 25, 2015
Old and New Friendships and Experiences

This week, our first back in Lezhë, we have been renewing many friendships and meeting and experiencing new people and events.

Late yesterday afternoon on our way home from some shopping, we met one of the brothers who runs the Palma's Market just across from our apartment building. Petrit Balla and his wife had been in the US this summer for five weeks and was glad to see us back in Albania again. He speaks Albania (and Italian), and we speak English (and just a little bit of Albanian), but some how we did some communicating. Petrit was sitting at an outdoor table at Monde's Pizza, newly moved into the a first-floor shop in our apartment building, so he invited us to coffee. I had met his wife earlier this week in Pallma's when I had bought some eggs and bottled water. It was good to see them again and to be warmly welcomed back "home."

Petrit Balla and myself at coffee

Friends in Arms--Petrit and Me (24-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie also meets our neighbor

Coffee with a Neighbor Shopkeeper (24-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Tuesday I took a photo of the living/dining room in opur apartment just to remind everyone what it looks like as we live in it.

the living/dining room in our apartment

Our Apartment Getting Set Up (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

That afternoon we chaired an Albanian Mennonite Mission Field Council meeting with Allen Umble (team leader), Dini Shahini and Rafael Tartari. In the evening Allen called all of the ministry team in Lezhë together for a time of sharing joys and frustrations and for prayer. At that meeting we learned to know ShaRon Foster better. She is here for two months to help Norma with the Joshua Center and to learn some Shqip (Albanian language).

Julianna and ShaRon at our missionary team meeting

Juliana and ShaRon Listen to the Sharing(2-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

Mother Theresa Day was on Monday, and Tuesday we stayed home due to rain and tiredness. At noon on Wednesday we walked to Lezha Academic Center (yes, I can walk there with a cane to help me). We were able to stay for a faculty/staff meeting after school. We are getting back into the swing of things. I'll work on computers and other things before beginning teaching at the start of second quarter on November 16. Elsie has already begun to work on organizing the library. 

Klementina leading a faculty/staqfff meeting at LAC

Klementina Leads a Faculty and Staff Meeting(2-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

Below I have tried to capture some of the rain and rain puddles which show up so quickly during rainstorms. Being so close to sea-level does not help with drainage. 

rain puddles in the park near our apartment building

"It's a Rainy Day" (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

It has been neat to see how well done is the revised bridge in the center of town and the one block of street that has been paved with concrete bricks. And work continues to move forward with the new water lines being put in throughout the city. This week they began to get ready to pave the torn up ashpalt.

road work continues on new water lines

Water Mains Work Continues (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

a main street is ready for patching

A Street Gets Ready for Patching (2-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

And of course I could not resist trying for a photo of the ever-present house sparrows that seem to own Lezhë. By the way, it looks like Klementina will be able to bring my Canon SX-30 back with her when she returns at the beginning of November. In the meantime I am using the Panasonic DMZ-TZ3 which we had brought along for Elsie to use. I am thankful for her willingness to let me use it for now!

sparrows are still ubiquitous

Ubiquitous House Sparrow(2(24-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

Overnight today we moved from Daylight Saving Time to regular Central European Time. The extra hour of sleep was nice, as we are still trying to get completely over our jet lag. Check back for more later.

October 19, 2015
We Are Back in Lezhë!

After a busy week and day of packing and being with friends and family, we headed toward Dulles International Airport from Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA, at 6:15 p.m. local time on Friday, October 16.

(I inadvertently left my camera in Dennis' and Alice's car, who were so kind as to take us to the airport, so my photos below were taken with my cell phone which does not handle low indoor lighting very well. So please for give the low quality.)

our plane from Dulles to Istanbul

Inside Our Turkish Air Plane (16-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

After nine and a half hours in flight, we arrived at the Istanbul international airport. As we waited in the area where persons needing wheel chairs were, we met a man and his wife from near Mumbai, India. They are papaya (and other fruit) farmers. They were travelling with his parents, returning from an extended holiday in the US.

waiting passenger--a farmer from India

Farmer from the Mumbai Area of India at Istanbul Airport (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman) 

the farmer's wife also waits

Farmer's Wife Awaits Their Plane Arrival (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

Then after a wait of three hours, we arrived in Tirana, Albania. Two hours later we were in Lezhë getting settled again into our apartment. OK, we essentially fell into our beds for a good night's sleep!

we arrived at Albanian immigration

Albania Immigration Control at Tirana Airport (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next morning we did our usual visit to My Bar for coffee before church. This time since we did not have breakfast food, we also ordered two brioche pastries. In Albania they are flaky with either chocolate or fruit jam fillings.

Worshipping at our church, Guri i Themelit, while in Albanian felt just right.

Dini opens Sunday morning worship

Dini Shahini Opens Our Time of Worship (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

pastor Rafael challenges in his sermon

Pastor Rafael Tartari Shares His Sermon (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowmrtaurian)

That evening at dinner time, Dini and Klementina Shahini invited us for coffee at My Bar. It was great to begin to catch up on events and people in Lezhë. 

Dini and Klementina host us at My Bar for coffee and conversaiton

Sharing with Dini and Klementina over Coffee (20-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

One item we did bring along from the US is a new sweatshirt for me that reads, "Never underestimate a grandpa with a physics degree.." So you all be careful now! 

my grandpa with a physics degree sweatshirt

My Favorite Grandpa Sweathirt (7-Oct-15; © Richard L. Bowman)

I am sure that in the next few days I will post many more photos detailing our activities and sights here in Lezhë. We thank God and our friends and family for all of their support and prayers.

--©2014-15, Richard L. Bowman

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