After far too much silence from this blog we are more than ready to update you on the crazy happenings of the last month or so. We managed to fit in Thanksgiving, a Christmas service, connection group Christmas party, ladies craft night, team Christmas party, midnight premier of Star Wars, a bunch of time with friends for Christmas, gate-crashing a televised Albanian singing contest, a quick trip to Macedonia, New Years in Tirana, and our first visit in an Albanian friend’s home. This may explain our lack of blogs over the last few weeks, but I’m sure you’ll forgive us. We’ll fill some of this in with pictures, but we can’t possibly show you everything we’ve been up to, so here are our personal highlights:
Elena | Getting away to Macedonia was such a peaceful time. Walking, talking, and drinking good cappuccinos along with the license to be just tourists made for true rest . We feel so blessed to be able to live in Europe so near to beautiful places! It also turned out to be a really great time to process the last couple of months and give us new excitement and vision. I also really loved getting to experience our first New Years with our good friends the Docis in Tirana. New Years is THE holiday of the year, so come midnight, there are fireworks 360 degrees around you and it is magnificent. And spending it with people we love wasn’t so bad either.
nowhere but somewhere (no man’s land between Albania and Macedonia).
winding around the old Ohrid streets at night.
Nathan and the patron saint of Ohrid.
walking out onto the lakefront bridge with a friendly pack of wild neighborhood dogs.
enjoying the sunset at the idyllic St. John’s Church in Ohrid.
celebrating with half of the Docis in Tirana.
“emergency medical treatment” after Elena stepped on a nail in Tirana (no actual puncture, no actual treatment).
gate-crashing a televised Albanian singing contest with the Docis
Christmas lights in Skenderbeg Square in Tirana.
Nathan | Christmas celebrations in Shkodra were awesome! I got to preach at our Christmas service, which was a huge honor. Students were already off of school for winter break but many stayed in town to celebrate with their church family. That night we celebrated with our staff team by playing a white-elephant style game and then eating at a great traditional restaurant. The icing on the cake for the season was our first visit to a community member’s house. A man I’d met in our neighborhood invited me and Elena over to celebrate the New Year. He and his family are from a Muslim background and don’t speak any English, but he’s friendly, hospitable, and willing to work through the language barrier. We got to meet his wife, mom, and two cute daughters. There were definitely times where language failed us, but it was an encouraging and life-giving experience nonetheless.
the men of Team Shkodra:
Nathan, Gusti, and Kujtim
the women of Team Shkodra:
Elena, Era, and Angji
the Guri i Themelit Shkodra Team
Shkodra’s huge Christmas tree.
just us for the Christmas Celebration.
For the New Year, we are looking forward to the great things God will do in and through us. We are excited to start afresh with renewed vision and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of many guests this year (start you trip planning now, ya’ll).
And we’re looking forward to more warm cuddles with this girl: