Marriage and Kosova – One year In…..
Hard as it is to believe, it’s been nearly a year since Angela and I got married and moved out here from Scotland to Gjakova, Kosova. The time has flown by. It really does seem like it was only last week we were saying our vows, packing our bags, and saying our goodbyes. During that time, we’ve had many ups and downs, made new friends, and frequently found ourselves out of our depth. We thank Christ for those of you who have kept us in your prayers during this last year (despite our lack of contact!)
So what have we actually been up to? Well, the reason this is our second prayer letter in 12 months is because of our busyness, so I’ll just give you the highlights:
- The Smile Centre:
Having dropped in at the deep end last year, the biggest challenges to the running of the Centre included dealing with the plumbing and the power cuts. We now have enough hot water for everybody and with the batteries and inverter in place, we now have power even during power cuts (a light in every room, plug sockets, and internet!). We’ve also managed to organise the aid in such away that the Centre is more like a residential conference facility which stores aid and less like a storehouse with beds.
We’ve had the pleasure of hosting 2 incredible Gap year students, Pete Gardiner and Jess Fok, for 7 and 6 months, respectively. These guys were a welcome addition to the team and served Christ faithfully with a number of our partner churches and NGO’s here in Gjakova.
- Teams & Shoeboxes:
We’ve been joined by teams of all ages of short term missionaries from Britain who have taken part in the ministries and work of the churches here in Gjakova. We’ve delivered Christmas shoe boxes of gifts to schools, kindergartens, churches, and villages around Kosova, Albania, and Macedonia – but don’t get us started on those border crossings!
- Aid arrival, sorting, distribution:
The biggest challenge to Smile’s humanitarian aid work is the culture of “aid dumping” on – and the “aid dependency/expectation” of – some of the Kosovar people. We received a 40 tonne lorry full of aid in December and, thanks to amazing volunteers from the local churches, have spent the winter months sorting the aid in the Centre, which will enable us to do targeted distribution so that the aid gets to those who need it most.
- Easter Week and Sponsored Widow’s Days:
During Easter, most of the Kosovar churches participated in a week long programme here in Gjakova. We cleared roads of rubbish, gave blood, taught in schools, hosted
dinner for and distributed aid to local Kosovar associations for the blind and prisoners of war (Angela and I even tried to teach some of them to Ceilidh!). The week culminated at the local Cultural Palace (a theatre) where we had invited those we met during the week to join us for an Easter service held by some of the Gjakovar churches.
We have also been able to host day events at the Centre for women sponsored by Smile’s Widow Sponsorship programme. We thank Christ for those of you who regularly give so that we can provide these women and their families with aid and a day of fun and fellowship at the Centre.
- New friends:
During our year here in Gjakova, we have been supported by some really great friends within the local Christian population around Kosova, and been encouraged through seeing Christ at work within the Kosovars and Internationals – yes, even the English 😉
- Each other:
In true complementary fashion, neither of us could have done this job without the other. We are thankful to Christ for having each other to lean on. It hasn’t always been easy, but when one of us has been down, the other has always been there to encourage and pick up the slack. This is definitely a 2-person job (at least!).
What next? Things to pray for wisdom about:
- We will continue to visit the women sponsored by Smile’s Widow Sponsorship programme in their own homes, both to get to know them and their families and to determine how best to serve them in Christ;
- Usage of the Smile Centre has increased during our time here, but we would love to see the facilities used to their fullest potential;
- The global financial crisis is hitting charities hard, and no-one is immune. Please pray for Christ’s provision and guidance for the distribution of more aid as we identify the physical and spiritual needs around us;
- As we plan for the summer teams’ activities, please pray that Christ will be guiding the right people to come and serve in Kosova – there’s still time to come!
- Angela and I will be returning to sunny Scotland on 5-15th June to go round churches to raise awareness and support for Smile’s work here in Kosova. After this “Scottish Roadshow”, we’ll have 2 weeks off to catch up with friends and family and recharge before heading back to Kosova.
Personal Prayer Points
- Christ would continue to build our relationships and deepen our fellowship with each other, and our new friends in Kosova;
- That the churches in Kosova (& GJakova, our town) would grow in greater unity in Christ, with each other and witnessing to the culture;
- For Smile International (and other charities) for Christ’s provision of resources to meet the increasing needs of the people of this beautiful country, as the financial crisis affects donations from the UK.
We thank you for your continued prayerful support. You can follow our work on Facebook or at our blog, https://maxfields.wordpress.com; and we would also ask you to consider supporting our work here in Kosova financially, please visit the www.smileinternational.org website for details on how to give or come out and join us.