November 30, 2014
Catching Up. Does It Ever Happen?
A. Thanksgiving in Albania

Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday in November is an American holiday. And since Lezha Academic Center tries to introduce its students to major American holidays, the school gives the students a short day of classes on Wednesday and vacation on Thursday ands Friday. So Thursday morning found Elsie and I eating an early lunch with some visitors who came to see Katrina and then after that whole crew left for some days in Montenegro, Josh, Elsie and I had brioche and coffee in the Net Center. 

after coffee with Josh

Coffee, Brioche and Free Books (27-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

On the way out of the Net Center we stopped and bought some bread at a ship we appreciate. Elsie really likes their rye bread, very mild flavor.

bread ship in the Net Center

Bread Store in the Net Center (27-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

The previous evening (Wednesday) LAC students and their parents were invited to a dinner in celebration of Thanksgiving. There was good food and good conversation (when one could hear something other than the music) and some people enjoyed the dancing. There were also several videos in which current and past students thanked the LAC staff and teachers, their parents and God for giving them the experience of a quality education at LAC.

Dini and Klementina sit at the head table and take it all in

Dini and Klementina Enjoy the LAC Thanksgiving Party (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie and two pparents enjoy viewing the activities from our table

Elsie and Two Parents Sample the Food (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

all ages ansd genders dance in circles

Dancing as a Group Chained Together (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

the women dance past some empty talkes

Empty Tables as Many People Dance (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Elsie and Dini keep a watch on the activities

Elsie and Dinni Watch Over the Activities (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

visiting with Fafael and Morela 

We Visited with Morela and Rafael as Things Wound Down (26-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

B. Attending the ELTA Conference in Berat

On November 14 and 15, ELTA (English Language Teachers Association) Albania held a regional conference for the southern part of Albania in Berat. After several of us had made presentations at a similar conference in Lezhë back on September 26 and 27, LAC presenters were invited to give presentations at the Berat conference.

While we waited for a bit at LAC at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, I took the photo below of the last quarter Moon that was positioned above the school. Soon after that we left and arrived in Berat sometime before noon. 

last quarter moon over the top of the school in early morning 

Last Quarter Moon Just Above the LAC Building (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

After resting a bit, we went for lunch ands stopped to see the surrounding view from atop of a neighboring hotel. There was a group of men observing a serious game of dominoes. then we had a group photo taken, and I enjoyed catching the one beelow of assistant principal Bardha and her husband, Nikolin. After that we made our way to the dining room where we ate lunch together.

men in Beral playing a serious game of dominoes 

More Men Watch the Game of Dominoes Than Are Playing It (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Bardha and husband Nikolin pose for a photo 

Bardha and Nikolin Have a Weekend Away from their Children (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Silva (center) and her fiance and another visiting teacher 

Silva (in the center and a teacher at LAC) Sits Next to Her Fiancé at Lunch (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

The ELTA conference was hosted by the private Albanian University - Berat with campuses in Tirana and Berat. It started about one decade ago and is now up to 9000 students on all campuses.

We attended the first session which began late on Friday afternoon followed later by a dinner for all attendees. Then on Saturday morning, I gave my two presentations: "Real Education Involves More Than Just Teaching to a Test" and "Effective Education Means Interactive Learning." Justin Rittenhouse also gave a presentation on Saturday, ands many teachers attended several sessions. 

University of Berak where the conference was hosted

One of the Entrances to Albanian University - Berat (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

title slide on teaching is more than to the test

First Slide of One of My Presentations at the ELTA Regional Conference (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

title slide to teaching is interactive

First Slide of the Second of My Presentations at the ELTA Regional Conference (14-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

As I walked back from the conference to our hotel after being on my feet during my presentations on Saturday morning, I envied the pizzas that had their own taxi while I had to walk! :) 

But I had Elsie and a cool drink at the end of my walk while the pizza only awaited to be devoured! 

pizzas get to ride in theri own taxi while I walked

A Gasoline Scooter Billed as a Pizza Taxi (15-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Ellsie and I enjoyed a cold drink after my two presentations

Elsie and I Enjoyed Talking and Drinking a Cool Soda in Warm Sunshine (15-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Later Dini bought some flowers as a gift from us to Bardha on her "29th" birthday. Later as we gathered for a group photo, she immersed her face in the wonderful fragrance of the flowers.

Klementina gives some flowerrs to Bardha as birthday wishes from us

Bardha Receives her Birthday Flowers form Klementina (15-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Bardha smells the flowers while we gather for a group photo

Bardha Enjoys the Fragrance of Her Flowers (15-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

As we approached Lezhë from the south on our way home, we saw a wonderful sunset over the Adriatic Sea some few kilometers to the west.

a sunset on the way back to Lezhe

A Colorful Sunset over the Adriatic Sea a Few Kilometers Away (15-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

C. Sharing Scenes from around Lezhë

Here are a few photos from a variety of places in Lezhë.

Elsie was so exited to finally be able to hold baby Mateo that she was reluctant to share him with me. Even though our grandchildren are all older than Mateo, seeing Elsie hold him brings back lots of good memories. 

Elsie holds baby Mateo in church

Elsie Holds Mateo at Church (16-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

On Tuesday evening, Nov. 18, after a meeting at My Bar, I stepped outside to streets covered with water to several inches deep. So to get to our stairs, I took off my shoes and walked through the water in stocking feet. Then I tried to capture a photo of the water, but the flash lit up the out-of-focus raindrops that were still come down fast and furious. The next mooring the yard at LAC was still under water as was the freshly plowed garden next door.  

rain came in torrents on Tuesday, Nov. 18

A Rain Storm Dumped Several Inches of Standing Water on the Streets (18-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

water sits in LAC's backyard and the neighbor's garden

Water Stands in the LAC Yard and the Neighbor's Garden (19-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Martin Rhodes and Jim Hershberger from Virginia Mennonite Missions visited with us short-term missionaries for severral days from Thursday through Monday. 

Jim Hersherger (2nd on left) and Martin Rhodes (on far right) visit LAC

Jim (second from left) and Martin (on right endd) Share Lunch with LAC Staff (21-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

At one of our gatherings during this time, I captured smiles on Elsie and Melanie. 

Elsie and Melanie stand together in the cold

Elsie and Melanie Caught with Huge Smiles (21-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

a boy deminstrates hixs origami frog can hop

Some Neighborhood Boys Showed Us Their Origami (here a jumping frong) (21-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

That Saturday Elsie and I went to the Xhari's electrical appliance shop to buy an electrical mixer and a hair dryer, and of course to drink some coffee and to have some good conversation. 

Mrs. Xhari and daughter Armelda host us at their ship

Mrs. Xhari and Daughter Armelda Talk with the Coffee Server (22-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

a small excavator works to smooth out the banks of the Drini

A Small Excavator Begins Work along the Drini for Some Promenades (22-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

That evening Martin hosted all of us for dinner at Jolly's Restaurant on top of the tallest building in Lezhë. And the elevator guard said we could all ride safely in the elevator. So we all packed in.

Jim, Martin and the American teachers in one elevator

Elevator Packed Full and Safe! (22-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

On the way home from a very good dinner, I finally saw a garbage truck emptying the garbage bins along the street sides.  

a garbage truck empties the garbage bins along the street

Garbage Trucks Work Only at Night (22-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

After the joint worship service at the Baptist church on Sunday, November 23, we were invited by some of the young people from our church to share coffee and some good conversation. It was a great time of good fun.

young adults invite us for coffee after church

A Shot to My Right in the Coffee Bar (23-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

more of our group at the coffee bar

A Photo to My Left in the Coffee Bar (23-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Last Tuesday we again began our Albania language classes as American teachers. I hope I can be disciplined enough to pick up significantly more vocabulary and a touch of grammar. 

Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving we gathered to learn more Albanian

After-School Albanian Language Lessons Led by Klementiina (25-Nov-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Life here in Lezhe has been good but very full during the past few weeks. This two-day holiday from teaching at LAC has given us some time to catch up on rest and for me to get some things such as this blog post completed.

We are looking forward to what God has in store for uus this week.

--©2014, Richard L. Bowman

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