Friends, our final weeks in Albania have come and passed in a flash. Circumstances didn’t allow us to let you in on the move beforehand, but we want to make sure to catch you up on the last little bits before the next move (to Cedar Rapids, that is). It was an emotional time for us– feeling all the bits of excitement to be back in our home country, and all the waves of sadness to be leaving our friends and the city we grew to love.
Our last weeks were pretty crazy, too. We had our two summer teams to watch over like the parents we happily felt we became, Elena had a planned trip to the states for a wedding, Nathan and the summer teams had a week-long beach camp and a following beach vacation, and then our friends David + Steffi made it over to see us and Montenegro days before we moved. Whew! It was a whirlwind.
To pick up where we left off before, we finished the outreach strong with a soccer championship and a fashion contest.We even managed to climb a small mountain somewhere in there!
After that week, Elena jetted off to the U.S. for the wedding of one of her best friends, Lauren. She spent about a week and half catching up with family and friends and reveling in the wedding festivities.
While Elena was away, Nathan, the Albanian staff team, the summer teams, and some Albanian students went to a beach in the south for a week. They taught English classes, shared the gospel, and chilled hard. They had a blast sweating it out, swimming, and even climbing another small mountain (or at least trying). After the week long beach camp, they basically repeated their beaching in a vacation format in Ulcinj, Montenegro (summer teams + Nathan).
Elena returned just in time to get things in order and pick up our friends David + Steffi from the airport. We took a few days with them to explore our neighbor in the north, Montenegro, and the cities Budva and Kotor were astoundingly beautiful. We took the next few days to show our friends around our ‘hood and community. It was a fun way to take a final look at what God had done in us and in the people and city around us during our year there.
Our friends moved on to Italy and we took the next four days to pack, clean, and move our lives back to Iowa. By the time the summer students left we felt like proud parents. They even made a rap video about their time in Albania. Its a fun peek into life in Shkodra, especially because the rooftop scenes were shot on our apartment building’s roof!
So weird and so great, right? Our church family at Guri i Themelit sent us off graciously with a goodbye night and we spent quality time with our Albanian team that week just having fun. All in all, we felt we left well and were ready to set our eyes on the next thing God has for us: Iowa. And specifically, Cedar Rapids.
We’ve had about a week and half back in the states are really adjusting pretty well. We’ve already found a place to live and have met some of the staff at Veritas Church Cedar Rapids where Nathan will be the Salt Director. We are so excited to be a part of this growing church and love on students in this new city.
You can check out this awesome community here: http://veritascr.church/
You all have supported and loved us well during our Albanian adventure and God has done a ton in our hearts through this time. THANK YOU. Your prayers are felt and so welcomed. We love you all. And in case you are wondering how to get in touch to hear more about our time in Albania and the next step for us- Facebook or email works well ’cause we haven’t gotten phones…yet.