"Up, Up with People" was a song by the same group as the song title in the late 1960's when I was in college. (I even bought the original album at a concert in Washington, DC, USA.) Regardless of any political agenda that group may have had, the song spoke to me because Jesus in his ministry was all about people. So today's post will feature more of the people in our lives here in Albania.
Thursday and Friday at Lezha Academic Center (LAC) was finals time. After the last final on Friday and some pizza provided by the school, we had our last brief faculty meeting of the semester.
Klementina Chairs the Closing Faculty Meeting of the Semester (29-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
After the last final on Thursday, we had an all-school assembly introducing new and returning teachers for next semester, a celebration of the 80th birthday of Albania post Ismail Kadare, awards for students of the month, and such like.
Ina Yzeiraj Greets the Students (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Returning Teachers Betsy and Phil Moyer (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
New Teacher Julie Cowan (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Students Listen (Mostly) Intently (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Backpacks Are Ubiquitous (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Ismail Kadari, referrred to often as an Albanian poet, according to Encyclopedia Britannica was known worldwide for his prose. So as many othwer schools werew doing last Thursday, LAC, celebrated his 80th birthday.
Ismail Kadare--Torrents of Albanian literature (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Reading Some of Kadare's Poems (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Reciting Some of Kadare's Life History (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Student awards were also given at Thursday's assembly.
Students of the Month (Nov., Dec. & Jan.) (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Most Improved Students of the Semester (28-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Earlier in the week we celebrated the arrival of Julie Cowan as a teacher from Australia.
It Was a Pizza Party at Top One (26-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Guest of Honor, Julie (26-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
The young daughter (Mia) of Albanian English teacher Alba is always a welcome addition to a party. Here she seems to be pondering my taking a photo of her.
Mia and Her Mother Alba (26-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
A few days earlier back at school, I took photos of more people.. This time I begin with Mia's mother.
Alba Gets Ready for an English Class (20-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Marinala Prepares for Her Biology Class of Junior High Students (20-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
My Physics 12 Class Takes an Exam (20-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
In our time here in Lezhë, we have quickly learned to appreciate the friendliness and knowledge of the pharmacists we patronize. The other day they left me take their photo. We hope they and their shop stay in Lezhë for a long time.
Wife and Husband Pharmacists--a Great Team (25-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
We are excited to learn to know the people whom God has allowed to be part of our lives here in Lezhë. We hope and pray they know God's love.
Two year ago today was the first day we saw Albania and lived here. It seems shorter and longer, at the same time. We thank God and our friends here for welcoming us so warmly here and our family and friends in the US for making it possible for us to be here.
Whether it is the weather or other things, Lezhë keeps showing us new things and good things. Here are some samples from the past few days.
This past weekend brought cold weather again. In fact from Monday through Wednesday, the lows have been below freezing. Today it might not be quite that low, but I will have to go outside to see for sure.
As we arrived at Lezha Academic Center on Monday morning, I thank God for Elsie's sharp observational abilities. She pointed o ut to me that the next mountain range beyond our Lezhë hills had snow on it.
A View from the LAC Schoolyard (18-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
And I am thankful for Elsie urging me to buy a camera with a zoom lens. Sometimes one must just focus on the good in life and let all of the other stuff just fall back in perspective!
Thee Zoomed-in View of Snow-covered Mountains (18-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Back on the ground in Lezhë, I did find frozen puddles on the way to and from schoolthis week.
A Footprint in Broken Ice on a Mud Puddle (19-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
This weekend (really Friday) brought Josh Kirkman back to Lezha Academic Center as a social studies teacher. Is impish smile is well known to us from last year.
Josh Kirkman Has Returned to LAC (19-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
I like to document all of the teachers as they smile, ponder, or look bewildered as they prepare for and come back from teaching their classes. The discussions I have had with the Albanian and American teachers have been energizing and fun..
Edona with Ina Preparing for Their Classes (15-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Ina Is Intent on Some Topci (15-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
After school on Thursday of last week, the shy was really dark but the apartment buildings visible from LAC were lit with sunshine. So I grab my camera to record the scene. However, several senior class members had another idea--they wanted their picturre taken. So I obliged and then photographed the sky!
(Back) Gjerg, Gaitan, Armando; (Front) Sara, Evianda, Emnola (14-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
But finally I got the photo of the sky and buildings.
Dark Sky and Sunlit Buildings in Lezhë (14-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
And we did have rain last week before the cold set in this week.
Rain in the LAC Schoolyard (15-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
"Raindrops Keep Falling" (15-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
That rain began on Friday and continued on Saturday with a cold wind blowing through. As we went to find an optician's shop to repair Elsie's glasses, we also made a stop at a meat store we like.
A Store with Well Displayed and Cared for Meats (16-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Sunday morning we were back at Guri i Themelit for worship and fellowship.
Norma, Evianda and Rafael Lead Us in Singing (17-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
One of the Praise Choruses (17-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Joel and Samuel Sharing as Friends (17-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Francis Marques Preaches as Rafael Tartari Interprets (17-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
It has been a good week or more with rain, cold and friends. We have lots we are thankful to God for during these past two years. And we hope and pray that all who read this blog have experienced God's peace and grace, too!
The first week of the new year actually ended on Thursday, but I will run my reporting through yesterday (Sunday). Yesterday morning began as usual with a coffee (and a brioche) at My Bar before we left for the joint evangelical church service hosted at the Baptist church this time. There are four churches who gather like this once a month in Lezhë.
The Worshippers at the Joint Church Service on Sunday (10-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)
Pastor Rafael Tartari Preached (10-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
After a Sunday afternoon nap and as the Sun began to set, the clouds over the apartment building across the street from our apartment showed beautiful purple and orange highlights.
Colorful Clouds Showed above the Building across the Street (10-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
At 4:30 CST, we began a Skype session with our home church (Mount Clinton Mennonite Church) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. They had asked us to share a bit about how we feel God is with us here in Albania. It was good to listen in on and wsing with the congregation ass they worshipped together. Heidi and Holden and their daughters, Sydney and Kiara, were there, and it was good to say "Hi" to them as well as the whole conggregaiton.
A Photo Captured from Our Skype Session with MCMC (10-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Now I'll back up almost two weeks ago. I just had to show this photo of Elsie. I think she was pondering how she shoud repsond to my taking her picture. :)
Elsie While We Waited to Eat Pizza at My Bar 2 (28-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
On Thursday (New Year's Eve) we decided to spend a few days in Tirana dong some walking around and shopping. So we got on the bus at 1 p.m. and travelled to Tirana.
The Bus Gets into Tirana's Heavy Traffic (31-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
After a late lunch (with the restaurant closing at 3 p.m.), we rested and them walked to Scanderbeg Square in the evening. Some of the fresh fruit and vegetable market stands were open, but many shops were already closed for the holiday.
We Enjoyed Seeing the Decorations on the Scanderbeg Square (31-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
On New Year's Day almost everything was closed. We finally found one coffee shop and one fast food place that were open so we could find some food and refreshment as we walked 6 1/3 miles (10 km) around the city from just before noon until evening. However we appreciated seeing the Postbllok park memorial and the opportunity to walk and talk together.
The first event that caught our eye (in addition to all of the coffee bars, shops and stores which were not open) was the men coming out of the Muslim mosque after their prayers. A group of tourists with their guide had stopped to take pictures, so I joined in.
Men Leave the Mosque after Prayers While Prayer Rugs Are Rolled Up (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Pyramid of Tirana (informally, the Enver Hoxha Museum) (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Postbllok Park, a Memorial to Communist Isolation (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Plaque Giving Albanian and English Wording about the Memorial (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Part of the Berlin Wall Given by Berlin to the Memorial (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
A Bunker and Mine Supports (from a Labor Camp) (6-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The View of the Inside of the Bunnker (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
A few blocks away, we headed toward the Polytechnic University of Tirana. In the parking lot of the university, we discovered a small fair was under way.
A Fair Ride for the Yong and Older Alike (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
This King Kong Ride Had a Bit More Excitement (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
In out desire to find a restaurant that was open and a different way back to our hotel, we passed many interesting building including the walls around the American Embassy and more universities. Finally we wondered into any area that was home to one of the hotel's receptionists who happened to meet us as she came from work. She led us a good way back toward the hotel, and we found the rest of our way there as night began to fall.
A Section of the High Wall around the American Embassy (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Lana River Divides a Street as It Flows Through Tirana (1-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
By Saturday there were a few coffee bars open but not many stores or shops. As we stood to leave the bar we were having coffee in, I noticed that the glass door projected a nice colored spectrum on the floor. I guess I cannot stop being the physicist or the teacher!
A Colorful Spectrum Projected by a Glass Door (2-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Our hotel room was a bit cramped to get around in, but the room and facilities were clean and the staff was friednly and helpful. We definitely thank God for these accommodations and new friends.
Elsie Checks out the Snacks from the Grocery Store (2-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Three Friends at the Hotel--the Receptionist and Elsie and I (3-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Bus Ride (and Walk) Home Was in the Rain! (3-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The "Conductor" Helps Persons on and off of the Bus and Collects Faces (3-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Since New Year's Day was on a Friday, the government declared Monday a holiday, too. So Lezha Academic Center opened again on Tuesday. And of course, we had to have a surprise birthday celebration for Elsie and Klementina with beautiful flowers and excellent cake for all.
Elsie and Klementina Welcome Their Flower Bouquets (5-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
All of the Teachers and Staff Enjoyed the Cake (5-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
By Wednesday lunchtime, the rains had swollen streams and rivers enough to cut school short that afternoon and to cancel classes the next day. By Friday the branch of the Drini River running near the open air market had receded back to a normal level.
The Drini River Branch Near Flood Stage (6-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Two Days Later the Drini is Normal Again (8-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
One day as we visited a restaurant in Lezhë for an evening dinner, we were reminded again of how prevalent the idea of good and evil luck is in Albania. Above the door was a horseshoe, garlic and other items to ward off evil.
Good Luck Charms over a Restaurant Door (8-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Thhis past Saturday, we had thought we would spend some time cleaning our apartment and such things. However, hearing that the students would be participating in the first ever spelling bee at the public library that day, we spent a number of hours watching, encouraging and cheering students. Out of the ten students going on to regional competition, six are students at LAC. Go Team!!
One of the Last Rounds of High School Spelling Competition (9-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Peace Corp Volunteers Who Officiated and Organized the Bee (9-Jan-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The new year has started with a bang, literally. (Tirana had more fireworks and fire crackers than I could have imagined.) We are thankful that God has brought us here for this time.
At this time, the beginning of 2016, I will go back and pick up some photos I have taken over the past few months but which I have never posted. I'll roughly group them into the city of Lezhë, Guri i Themelit church, and Lezha Academic Center (LAC) school photos.City Sights
I'll begin with a photo of a street scene of Christmas lights in Lezhë and other photos from the city.
Christmas Lights in Lezhë (28-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
A Qofta (Sausage) Vendor Outside of the Market (18-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Elsie Walking to LAC Past Shops Across from the Market (2-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Vegetable-Fruit Shop Close to the Church (30-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
From the Shop: Apples, Mandarins, Potatoes, Carrots, Persimmon (30-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Here is front entrance to Palma's Market. The back entrance lies just across from our apartment. Friendly people serve us with good food (eggs, bottled water, kaçkaval. cheese, and fresh chicken meat) and help me learn how to order items in Albanian.
Newly-trimmed Palms in Front of Palma's Market (27-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Friday evening after the American Thanksgiving Day, I walked past the Catholic cathedral lit up for the evening. On the way home after eating pizza I was stopped by two boys who tried to beg money but not too authentically. After chatting a bit they wanted me to take their picture.
Catholic Cathedral in Lezhë, Albania (27=Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Cathedral Bell Tower with Lights at Night (27-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Boys on a Cool November Night Wanted Their Picture Taken (27-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Our apartment is on the second floor of this building where the sheets are hanging out to dry.
Our Second-floor Apartment (16-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)An Active Church on
Several of us often gather at My Bar for coffee during the hour before church starts at 10:00 a.m. Sunday mornings. If we sit at a table next to the windows looking out on the street, we can see the church's store front. When Lois King came for a three week visit on Thanksgiving Day, the next Sunday we three plus a friend had coffee together before church. (revised 17-Jan-16).
Lois Having Coffee with a Friend, Elsie and I (Revised) (29-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Crowded Parking Looking from My Bar (on second floor) to the Church (22-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Looking from the Sidewalk at My Bar to the Church (22-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
As we gather for worship at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings, there is a lot of greeting and chatting with each other. The children enjoy taking with each other and just mingling around among the adults or, as in the case below, checking out the drum that Francis Marques during the time of singing. The drum players are sister and brother, Sofia and Paulo Tartari (the Pastor Rafael's and Solenge's chiddren).
Sofia Attempts to Play the Drum (22-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Brother Paulo Show Sofia What He Can Do (22-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
From mid-November until early December, there were eight women from "World Race" observing and ministering at LAC. They were friendly and sensitive in their time among us.
"World Race" Team Sitting in Church (22-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Francis and Samuel Read the Bible Together during Worship (8-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Norma Teles and Elsie Hold Paulo and Sofia during Singing (29-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
We also have good opportunities to fellowship and eat meals with church persons outside of the Sunday morning whorship time. The Sunday after Christmas we were hosted by Zeni and Ana and their son Samuel to pizza and good conversation after church. Below shows when we were invited by the Marques family to their home for a Friday evening meal.
Francis, Me, Elsie, Samuel, and Juliana (4-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
From time to time I am asked by the Pastoral Team to preach during a Sunday morning worship time. Since I know only a bit of Albanian, I rely on an interpreter, and it seems to give some of the students from LAC good practice with their English.
Oriola Interprets for Me during a Sermon (6-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Several new persons have been attending Gui i themelit church. Below is a young man who spent the first few years of his life in Lezhë and has now returned.
Gazlind and I Spare a Photographic Momenth (6-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman) TA Thriving School
As you may know, the Lezha Academic Center is an American-style high school with an English-based curriculum for Albania students who wish to prepare for further education or just for productive lives in business or education. (The schoool also has a small middle school taught mostly in Albanian except for the English classes.) The dream of Klementina Shahini and the supportive vision of her husband Dini, the school has now in its fifth year of operation. Elsie and I are very happy to have been part of the life of this school for the past three years.
Ch (16-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Lining up to pay Mona for lunch and then taking the ticket to Morela at the kitchen window is a common sight as are the school uniforms for boys and girls.
Students Lined up to Buy Lunch (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Teachers and staff are an important part to LAC. Without them and without the students, there would be no school. Since I know the teachers well, I like to take informal photos of them at work and in preparing for their duties
Assistant Principal Bardha and Tutor John Janett Share a Moment (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Bardha Talks with Someone after School (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Sonnila and Adelina Share a Smile after School (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Nikol Prpares for His Classes (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Ina "Y" Ponders the Day (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
On November 18-20, Ann and Jim Hershberger were at LAC to led afternoon workshops on cross-cultural communication. Ann gave a lot of good input with good collaborative learning opportunities from small group interactions.
CJim and Ann Hershberger Beginning the First Workshop (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Faculty Read Each Other's Responses to a Short Surevey (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Bardha Borrowed My Camera and Caught Me Smiling (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Ann Gave More Input the Second Day (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
A Close-up Caught Ann Explaining a Concept (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
One Small Group Conferring among Themselves (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Jim, Ann, Katrina, Elsie and I at Jolly's Restaurant (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Of the many concepts covered is one we only touched on for a brief time in the last workshop on Friday afternoon. This was the first time I heard the phrase "high distance power and low distance power cultures" even though the idea was not foreign. It was apparently first coined by Geert Hofstede, and it is something I will have to work at unpacking with friends and colleagues over the next months.
I cannot forget to include my hysics 12 class. On three different days I captured them in action.
One Lab Group Works Together (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Inda and Armando Measure Their Heights (18-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Left-side of the Class Gets Ready to Settle in for the Class Period (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Right-side of the Class Also Settles In (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
It's Quiz Time in Physics (7-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Inda Diligently Works on Her Quiz (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
After class with a quiz, two of the seniors continued to work on a video for the Thanksgiving dinner and posed with two of the staff members in the lobby of the school. Fun-loving students and staff make a good combination.
Ina "Y", Armando "J", Mona, and Gaitan Share Their Smiles with Me (19-Nov-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Good weather on an early-release days often leads to games such as football (soccer) or volleyball with both students and staff enjoying the fun.
A Game of After-school Volleyball in Early December (8-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
The Volleyball Is Suspended in Air for this Serve (8-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
Where Did The Ball Go, We Can't See It? (8-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
On the last Sunday that Lois King was visiting and serving at the school, she hosted several of us for lunch at a restaurant in Shkodra.
Dini, John, Katrina, and Lois (with Klementina, Elsie and me off-camera) (6-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
In Shkodra Lake we saw several ducks. I think they are Mallards, but they were too far away for me to identify with certainty.
Two Ducks on Lake Shkodra (6-Dec-15; © Richard L. Bowman)
I thought these 47 photos would catch me up on the ones I wanted to post, but Elsie's and my three days in Tirana over New Year's Day have already given me more.
In any case, these do present some good samples of our life in Lezhë, Albania. We thank God for all of the friends we have met and continue to make here. And we wish all our friends and family members a God-blessed new year.
--©2014-16, Richard L. Bowman