May 30, 2016
Visiting More People and More Places

For sometime we had been trying to plan to have dinner with  Rafael and Morela Çukaj, and it finally happened on Tuesday, May 17. It was very good to meet with them and Rafael's parents and his aunt in their home--lots of laughter, good conversation, excellent food, and even some singing., and it finally happened on Tuesday, May 17. It was very good to meet with them and Rafael's parents and his aunt in their home--lots of laughter, good conversation, excellent food, and even some singing.

Rafael Cukaj with some of his paontings

Rafael Çukaj with Some of His Paintings (17-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Anyone possibly interested in buying some of Rafael's paintings and wanting to see more photos of them may contact him directly at rafaelcukaj@gmail.com .

Morela serving apple slices

Morela Visits with Elsie while Preparing Apple Slices (17-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Morela, Elsie3, me and Rafael

Morela, Elsie, Me and Rafael (17-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Rafael's parents and Elsie and me

Rafael's Parents and Us (17-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Below are a few photos showing selected details of the rest of the school week (Wednesday through Friday).

"hamburge"rs for lunch at LAC 

Emiljano and Arsen Enjoy Their Hamburger Lunches (18-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

or it can be soup and salad for lunch 

Joana Finds Soup and Salad to Her Liking (18-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

OK, so I get back what I dish out--humor for humor.

the new assistant at the receptionist desk and Mona joke around 

Antoneta and Mona Pose for the Photographer (19-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

At Lezha Academic Center we have had a couple of dress-down Fridays to help raise some funds. These three eleventh graders wanted their picture taken after school as I passed them on my way home. They had chemistry with me during the last class period of the day. 

three students at end of school day 

Rigerta, Risi, and Kristi Spot Me on My Way Home (19-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

As is often our custom, the expatriate teachers from LAC often eat out together on Friday evening. On May 20, there were only four of us--Josh Kirkman, Katrina Schmid, Elsie and I. We met at Jolly's Restaurant.

a salad and muffins at Jolly's Bar 

Salad and Rolls Began Our Dinner (20-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

And again, I got some of my humor served back to me.

Josh, Katrina (having fun) with us for dinner 

Josh Smiles at Katrina's Antics (20-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Saturday, June 21, most of the Albania Mennonite Mission team members took a trip about two and a half hours south to some villages in Lushnjë district where Allen Umble has been living and serving. 

Sofia nearly asleep in her car seat 

Sofia Is Almost Asleep When We Get to the Village (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Near the village we passed the warehouse that was built with support from a grant from Spain and a loan from the Albania Mennonite Mission Foundation. It was originally built to support a farmers co-op in the area but the co-op disbanded before the loan repayment was completed which makes for some interesting dynamics.

a warehouse for a farmers coop 

A Farmers Co-op Warehouse (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Two Mennonite church plants had begun in two neighboring villages back in the late 1990's and early 2000's, but neither exist today.

building where a Mennonite church met 

Brush Grows Up Around One Rented Church Site (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Leon and Martha Zimmerly were agricultural workers and church planters in these villages and were honored by the community with a plaque recognizing their service. The church met in a room of this restaurant prior to moving to the above building across the street.

plaque honoring Zimmerman 

Allen Umble and Dini Shahini Stand by the Plaque (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the son of the family who runs the restaurant

This Son of the Restaurant Owners and I Shared about Faith in God (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

This area is heavily agricultural. As we headed to the village, Ferras, we passed a herd of sheep and their shepherd. 

sheep are herded past our van on the way to another village 

Sheep Pass by Our Van on the Narrow Village Road (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Cut and dried hay awaits further processing. It will either be baled, into rectangular bales, or stacked on a dome-shaped pile.

cut hay is ready for harvesting 

A Field of Cut Hay Drying (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Finally we arrived in the Ferras village at the home of the Koloshi family.

Dini makes quick friends with some young boys in the community 

Dini Made Quick Friends of Several Village Boys (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The Koloshi children knew how to make quick friends of the children in our group--show them new kittens.

Samuel made friends with two kittens 

Samuel Lay Temporary Claim to Two Kittens (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Solenge helps Paulo and Sofia with two other kittens 

Solenge Helps Her Chilldren Enjoy Two Other Kittens (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

I am a farm boy at heart. So I had to capture these cows--one mild cow and four heifers. 

a milk cow and four heifers 

The Family's Milk Cow and Heifers (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Allen and Fatmir meet and greet each other 

Allen and Fatmir Meet and Greet Each Other (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

For our lunch (more like a dinner), we met in the large room the family added to their small  house so that they could hold Sunday School in it on Saturday mornings. The meal consisted of two types of salads, bread, vegetable soup, fli (or flija) [pronounced as if the "i" was a long-e], and more.

lunch is served 

Getting Set to Eat Lunch (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

After lunch and much conversation, we had a short worship service in English, and Allen handed out certificates to the children and their mother for completing the English lessons.

singing together in worship 

Singing Worship Songs in English (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the Koloshi children and mother get certificates for English class 

The Koloshi Family and Their English Certificates (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the wholle group--Koloshi family and visitors 

The Total Group--Koloshi Family and Visitors (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Lastly here are some random (or not so random) photos from our days.

a corn fiedl is starting well 

A Cornfield Growing Nicely Near Ferras Village (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a rose growing in the Koloshi yard 

A Red Rose Growing at the Koloshi Home (21-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

honey suckle vines line the alley to LAC 

Honey Suckle in Bloom Across from LAC (15-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

chicks for sale near the Lezhe mmarket 

A Mixed Crate of Baby Chicks Near the Lezhë Market (26-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

My Bar #2 and pisszria 

Outside View of My Bar #2 Pizzeria (27-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

These are just a few more (actually 31) photos documenting the people and places that form our life here in Lezhë, Albania. Pray that God will teach us a lot and that he may use us for his purposes. 

May 28, 2016
"Because He (Jesus) Lives"

This song has lyrics I very much resonate with--"Because he lives, I can face tomorrow." This song is also encouraging Christian believers in Albania in the Shqip language. Here is a link to how we sing it at our church, Guri i Themelit in Lezhë. 

Because he lives, in Albanain language

Words for "Sepse Ai Jeton" as Projected (15-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On the same Sunday morning that I caught that video, I also captured a few more photos.

Mateo claps in time with the singing

Mateo Sits in His Mother's Lap and Claps with the Singing (15-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Genisa is looking up to me

Genisa, Mateo's Four-year-old Sister Gives Me a Smile (15-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

In the past few months LAC and Elsie and I in particular have become acquainted with some of the personnel at the University of New York Tirana. They invited me to give a guest lecture on my research into the Game of Life on Monday, May 16. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with various persons before the presentation and with the audience during the presentation. 

poster advertising my guest lecture

Poster Advertising the Guest Lecture (compliments of UNYT))

at the end of my presentation

The Auditorium Empties at the End of the Talk (16-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the UNYT buildling in Tirana

The UNYT Building in Tirana (16-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

looking at the Tirana skyline from UNYT

The Tirana Skyline from the UNYT Building (16-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

If we go back a week to May 8, I have a few more photos from church. Robert Cook came and preached at GIT and brought their congregation along. It was a good service where many persons knew each other.

Robert Cook preaching at GIT

Robert Cook Preaches (8-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

many lingered outside after chruch was finished

Many Persons Visited Together in the Warm Sunshine after Church (8-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

two playing chess

Two Chess Players Enjoyed the Beautiful Day, too (8-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The day before, Elsie and I walked around Lezhë a bit and had some ice cream (akullore).

the ice cream sign at Mimosa's

Mimosa's Ice Cream Sign (7-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

ice cream and coffee

Cup of Cappuccino and a Dish of Ice Cream!!!! (7-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Toni and Xhevahir on the street

Meeting Friends (Toni and Xhevahir) after Ice Cream (7-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Norma Teles is always up for warmly welcoming children at church.

Norma enjoys children at church

Norma Teles with Samuel, Sofia, and Paulo (1-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

One of the events we have enjoyed this year at Lezha Academic Center is the fun of celebrating faculty and staff birthdays with a bouquet of flowers and a cake for all to share in eating. Each cake has been very different. Here are a few more photos from these events.

Tone's cake

Teacher Tone's Cake (3-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Tone with her flowers

Ina Looks over Tone's Shoulder (3-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Ina Y's cake

Real Fruit Is on the Top of Ina Y's Cake (4-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Ina Y and her bouquet

Ina Y Peruses Her Flowers (4-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Mona's cake

Mona's Cake Was Also Very Good (2-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Klementina and Mona and her flowers

Klementina Gives Mona a Birthday Hug (2-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Tuesday, May 9, was a busy day for Elsie and me with an Albanian language lesson after school, pizza supper with Xhilda at My Bar 2, and then a round of coffee to celebrate the three months that Betsy and Phil Moyer were with us at LAC. (I have no photos commemorating that event except for a photo of Mia I could not resist.) Thanks, Phil and Betsy! 

Xhilda and Elsie at My Bar 2

A Joyful Time with Xhilda over Pizza (9-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Mia on her mother's lap

Alba's and Tonin's Daughter, Mia, Gives Me a Look (9-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Once again sidewalks and streets are torn up. This time it is for a newer higher power underground electrical cable. It is going right between our apartment building and the one next to us.

ditch for a higher power electrical cable 

Carefully Removed Brick Sidewalk and Hand-dug Ditch (9-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

men digging the ditch for the electrical cable 

Workers Captured in Their Ditch-digging Task (2-May-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

These are just a few of the events and people of our lives here in Lezhë, Albania. This is "because he (Jesus) lives."

"Thank you, God, for all of your love and the people of your family here on Earth!" 

May 2, 2016
Celebrating Birthdays and More

If I thought the first half of April was busy, so the last half was just as busy. Below are just three of the events that fillled some of the time and in very enjoyable ways.

Dini Shahini had a birthday on Friday which we celebrated on Thursday evening by gong to a small restaurant serving seafood in Shëngjin. The plans were a surprise for him, but he (and all of us there) enjoyed the party. I tried to capture a number of persons in informal conversation,. Without using a flash the photos are a bit grainy, but I like the "poses." 

Dini and his birthday bouquet

Dini Accepted His Birthday Bouquet with Surprise (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Klementina and Dini with his gifts

Klementina Poses with Dini and His Birthday Gifts (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a photo of our table group

Gathered at the Table (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the rest of our table group

More Gathered at the Table (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

and the guest of hoor

Dini Excitedly Opened His Gifts (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Bardha and Nikolin

Assistant Principal Bardha and Her Husband Nikolin (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Ina and Julie

Ina and Julie (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Edona and Katrina

Edona and Katrina (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Phil and Betsy

Phil and Betsy (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dona and her mother

Bardha Shares a Loving Moment with Their Daughter Dona (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

earlier Dona played on the photne

Before the Party Dona Plays a Game (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Art rode the riding toy

...and Art Rides the Wheeled Trike (28-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Earlier last week, I picked up a few other images around town.

one of the new garbage trucks

This Year a New Company Is Picking up Garbage (26-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

lunch at LAC

Betsy, Josh, Katrina and Phil Eat Lunch at LAC (25-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Francis Marques preaches

Francis Maques Preaches at the Joint Worship of the Evangelical Churches (24-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

A week earlier on Sunday evening April 17, Lezha Academic Center hosted a reception to thank the supporters of LAC for their donations during the fundraising banquet. Here are just a few photos showing some of those gathered.

three supportive fathers

Misters Barballushi, Lleshi and Maluta Chat (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Phil, Betswy and Orert

Betsy and Phil Talk with Ogert (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the mayor and Klementina

Lezhë Mayer Fran Frrokaj and Klementina Shahini Share Greetings (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

director of the library

Lezhë Library Director Suela Bala Gave Her Words of Support (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the food spread

A Donor Catered the Whole Event (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Bardha and I take each other's photo

LAC Assistant Principal Bardha Paplekaj and I Exchanged Photos (17-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next morning, the students gathered for an assembly before starting any classes at LAC.

students line up for the opening of school

Students Gather Outside before School Begins (18-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Since Stacy Nofziger (Eastern Mennonite Missions) and Janet Blosser and Aaron Kauffman (Virginia Mennonite Missons) were still visiting in Lezhë on Monday morning, they briefly addressed the students. 

EMM and VMMisson personnel

Stacy, Janet and Aaron in Front of the Students (18-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Saturday April 16, the student group from LAC attended the national Model UN in Albania (Duress) and came away with six awards including the Best Delegation in AMUN 2016!

the Model UN students and advisors

Student AMUN Delegates and Advisors Receive Certificates from Klementina (18-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Just over one week ago, on Saturday 23, Elsie and I attended a drama, dance and music  program put on by the Effata school near Lezhë city. 

ticket to the Effata school fundraising program

A Ticket to the Effata Program (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

some of the LAC contingent

Klementina, Adelina, Inda, and Elsie from LAC (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a new friend Rina and Elsie

A New Friend (Rina) and Elsie Chat before the Program (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

young students put on a skit

Two Young Students Present a Skit (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

one of three dance groups

One of Three Dance Troupes that Performed (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

a teaching nun comforts a young student

A Teaching Nun Comforts a Child (23-Apr-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

There are plenty more events, people, and things to document. But these photos illustrate some of the highlights in our activities here in Lezhë during the past two weeks. I am thankful for this holiday, the Monday after Orthodox Easter, which allowed me time to finish this blog post. Check back as you think of us, LAC or Lezhë. 

--©2014-16, Richard L. Bowman

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