April 24, 2016
Seeing Persons in the Midst of the Crowds

We seem to have a busy first three weeks of April. And for that reason I have not gotten to my always interesting task of posting photos on my blog. So here goes with 32 photos. Enjoy us for a slice of our life in Albania.

One interaction we enjoy and wish we knew how to deepen it is with the children in our neighborhood. They like to say "Hello!" and "How are you?" But most of them do not seem to understand much English beyond that. While on the other hand, we are slowly learning more Albanian language, the emphasis needs to be o n the word "slowly."  

girls gather around a park bench neqar our apartment

Girls Gather in the Park Next to Our Apartment Building (28-Mar-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

boys of the neighborhood gather in the same park as the girls

Neighborhood Boys Also Gather in the Park (28-Mar-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a large group of kids in the neighborhood wanted their picture taken

A Large Group of Kids Poses Two Weeks Later (10-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Coffee time can be a way to meet persons whom we already know or new persons. The photo below shows Allen Umble meeting a family he had not known until we introduced them that morning. The Lleshhi family has had a daughter and a son at Lezha Academic Center, and another son is presently a student there.

on a Sunday morning Allen Umble and us meet an LAC family

We Introduce Allen Umble to the Lleshi Family (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

After preaching at church on Sunday, April 3, and eating sufllaqe with several of us, Allen took Elsie and I for dessert at the ice cream shop which James Bergey had given some help to during his and Mary's time in Lezhë several years ago.

ice cream is being served from a small ice cream parlor

Ice Cream Being Served on a Warm April Sunday (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

later that Sunda a Roma child and mother wanted their picture taken

Later a Roma Child and Mother Wanted Their Picture Taken (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

A week later at LAC we had a faculty meeting and team building event.

faculty meeting on a Monday

Klementina and Alda Finalize Our Lunch Orders (11-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Klementina leads the faculty meeting

Klementina Leads the Faculty Meeting (11-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Alda with her birthday flowers

We Celebrated Alda's Birthday at the Faculty Meeting (11-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Tone with her birthday flowers

Friday It Was Tone's Turn to Celebrate Her Birthday (15-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Backing up two weeks, when Klementina and Dini returnd from her board meeting a LCC International University (Lithuania), Allon Lefever also came for a visit. A number of us had Sunday evening dinner with him. I appreciated some time to converse with Allon on Monday over our lunch at LAC finding out more about him and his life.

dinner with Allon Lefever

Sunday Dinner with Allon Lefever (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie as the person directing the library planned April to be a reading contest month for LAC students. 

poster iviting students to read

Elsie Made the Poster; I Drew the Boy (7-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

two students check out books for the reading contest

Two Students Check Out Books for the Reading Contest (4-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Having dinner with Alan Lefever gave me some time to look out over the city of Lezhë from a higher place--Jolly's Restaurant on floor 12 of the tower.

looking at our apartment building

Our Apartment Building (left) & Moyer's (right) (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Swinging to the left, my camera found the building where the church is located in a first-floor storefront. It is directly across the street from the light-colored van parked just to the left of the center of the  photo below. Our apartment building is now on the right of the photo.

church in building in the middle

Guri i Themelit Church Is on First Floor of Building in the Middle (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

From the Jolly Restaurant, the horizon was unobscured that evening, so we could see a nice sunset. Zooming out with my "super-zoom" camera gave even a more colorful view. 

sunset from Jolly Restaurant

View of the Sunday Sunset from 12 Floors Up (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

zooming out gave an even more coloroful view

Zooming in on the Sunset (3-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Two weeks later at our usual Friday eating out, Robert Cook joined us as his wife and children were away visiting family. We ate pizza at Top One and after we finished eating we chatted awhile with the owner who has a daughter at LAC. Mr. Malluta and Robert wanted a picture together, so I obliged them but the lighting was a bit low.

Mr. Maluta and Robert Cook

Top One's Owner, Mr. Maluta, and Robert Cook Pose (15-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Tuesday evening of last week, we had dinner with Janet Blosser who is the Mediterranean director for Virginia Mennonite Missions. We appreciate her understanding and compassionate heart and her wisdom from living in the US and Italy. We have been working with her and Lyn Suter of VMMissions as we prepare to be interim team leaders for Albania Mennonite Mission people and projects for the next 10 months or so upon the retirement of Allen Umble from that role.

glassed in elevator in the Jolly tower

Janet Blosser and Elsie Wait for the Jolly's Glass Elevator (12-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Janet, Elsie and I at Jolly's Restaurant

Sitting and Talking after Our Meal (12-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

By Saturday Aaron Kauffman, from VMMissions, and Stacy Nofziger, from EMM, had arrived in Tirana, and we were all heading there from around Albania for an AMM workers meeting.

As we entered the busy urban area around Tirana, I was again impressed with all of the people. As the taxi driver told us a few weeks ago, the city was designed for 250,000 people, and the population is now over 1 million. By trying to find good data for this, I discovered that the Albanian Instituti i Statistikave estimated 617,112  persons in the urban area of the Tirana prefecture on January 1, 2016. Regardless of the exact numbers, Tirana is a crowded place with too many vehicles for its streets and parking spots.

Albanian eagle statue

Albanian Eagle Statue in Center of a Roundabout in Tirana (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Saturday traffic at Tirana roundabout

Saturday Traffic at the Albanian Eagle Roundabout (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

street past the Italian library

The Street Past the Italian Library toward Stephens Center (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Fracis and Juliana and son Samuel kindly offered us a ride to Tirana. Then while they took a walk we went into the Stephens Center for lunch. Saturday lunch is a busy time there.

Elsie observes the people around us at lunnch

Elsie Observes Other Diners at Stephens Center (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The meeting of the AMM Foundation board in the morning was just wrapping up with lunch, so our full AMM meeting would not be starting for awhile. So we took a brief walk outside, too, and then joined the others in the downstairs room. I bought some ice cream for Elsie and me, so we could join in the eating.

a shop selling only eggs in Tirana

A Shop Selling Only Eggs Near Stephens Center (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Eden Figures I'm OK to Interact With (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dini and Rafael smile for their photo

Dini Shahini and Rafael Tartari Pose for a Photo (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie and her icecream

Elsie Enjoys Her Snickers Ice Cream (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Finally we had all eaten our full, and the children were under the care of two young persons from the Lezhë church. So the whole AMM group of workers joined for a time of private Bible reading, celebrating of persons who were finishing their stints in Albania, and reporting from all of our areas of ministry with prayer for each one.

Janet leads us in meditation

Showing about Half of Our Group as Janet Leads Us (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

we ponder the Scriptur and listen to God

Solenge Tartari and Other Ponder the Scripture and Listen to God (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

After five years as team leader, Allen Umble was terminating his role AMM. He has lived and served in Albania for around 20 years. 

Allen displays his retirement gifts

Allen Displays His Gifts--a Traditional Hat and Çifteli (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Rachel and Chris Bucher were also completing their time in Albania (at Korçë), a three-year term. Their gifts were a "bag" with the Albanian flag motif and a qeleshe (or plis). 

Rachel and Chris Bucher

Rachel and Chris Bucher and Their Gifts (16-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

There are so many friends we have made in Albania, and we thank God for each of them. But I especially honor Allen Umble and Rachel and Chris Bucher and their children as they leave Albania after some years of service. We pray that God will lead each of them in clear ways into their next stages of living for him.

--©2014-16, Richard L. Bowman

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