Saturday, July 17, 2010

Update from Heather in Albania

A week ago we put Younger Daughter on a plane to Albania, via London.  After 7 days we have a wonderful update from a remarkable girl.  Ok, I am biased.  Sue me.

There she is to the right in the orange shirt and shorts, in a photo taken earlier this week.  So far from home, but so close in our hearts.

Update from Heather!

Hey Friends & Family:
Heather here! Hope you all are doing well back in the States. Your prayers and thoughts have really reached us here in Albania, so please continue to do so. This past week has been eventful and for the lack of a better word, amazing! When we arrived in Erseke, we all were too exhausted we didn't have time to soak it all in. However, as this week has progressed, we ALL have had time to adjust and enjoy this different but fascinating country.

As a team, we are working at a camp that the Stoscher family owns. The camp is a 15 minute walk (exactly) from the Stoscher's home. This past week and the next, junior high students from across Albania attend the camp to have fun and learn about God. For me, I started the week with the job of "accommodations" which involves cleaning throughout the camp. In the late afternoon, Emma and I would head back to the church for the neighborhood playground/devotion time. The Brits (which I am sure you have read about from Emma or Devon) run the program with games and a group devotion for about an hour and a half every week night.

I absolutely love helping out during this time. The kids are so kind and welcoming although you have almost nothing in common with them. After just one afternoon with them, Emma and I had several kids run up to us and give us HUGE hugs when we first arrive at the church. Although the communication/ language barrier has been the most difficult aspect of the trip, that doesn't stop us or the kids from connecting. Wednesay night we all attend the community "walk about" (which Emma mentioned). It was such an interesting cultural experience to be amongst the entire community. During the "walk about", the Brits started to dance and form a circle. The Americans (Team California & Seth from Seattle) joined in and we created a GIANT circle. The Albanian people looked as us like we were crazy, but also found us amusing. I am sure they think we are just weird foreigners. :) After a bit of dancing, we all headed over to a tennis court size carpet soccer field that is considered to be "indoors". We then played an intense but FUN game of soccer from 11:15pm-12:30am. (We all woke up sore and exhausted the next morning).

Thursday and Friday I worked in the kitchen almost all day peeling, washing, and cutting all types of food. I have never experienced so many flies in one area before in my life. During the afternoon, I helped with the crafts at the camp. We made bracelets, bracelets and oh, more bracelets. Every night, the children gather after dinner into the hall for a group meeting of singing, skits and a talk. Our team stays for the songs (all in Albanian or Sheep as the language is called here) and skits. The children are so passionate and excited about singing to God and presenting their skits to the entire camp.

Although we have no clue what is being said, there is a feeling of love and God's presence in that hot and sticky meeting hall. Last night (Friday) was the last night at camp for this group of kids. We had dinner and they gathered in the hall for a slide show and skits. Outside by the trampoline and ropes coarse, us Americans and the Brits set up a bonfire to celebrate the last night. We lit the fire and all the kids came out from the meeting hall in tears. The entire camp gathered around the huge fire and sang and hung out for about 25 minutes. Almost every single of the 130 kids at the camp were sobbing. I think this emotion struck all of us and proved that this week is so important and memorable to them (Just a reminder how important our presence is here).

This morning (Saturday), the entire team except for Isaac and I, went out on hike for about 2 hours. Isaac and I went back to the camp to help Seth on the roof (they are building a new roof on part of the camp). We installed fiber glass as insulation for the building in the heat of the morning. Never been so itchy and uncomfortable before! Then we all meet back at the house and went to a fabulous meal in town. Now, we are resting and waiting for a thunder storm to clear so we can head back to camp and go on the ropes course. Tonight, there is a yummy dinner and some traditional Albanian dancing on our schedule! So excited!

I can't tell you all how much fun I am having here. I have never felt such a sense of community and simplicity before and it is so refreshing. We have befriended almost everyone we meet from other American's, the Brits or the Albanian's. We all have found friends outside of our group and its so wonderful how close people get in such a short amount of time. I can't believe we only have about a week left but I am going to enjoy every minute of it. Shout out to Kel, the parents, Ella and Lib.  Missin you guys and my bed!

Mirapafshim (goodbye in Albania)
If you want to see photos and other updates, go to the Albania Blog, here.
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