Well, spring is officially here and that means it’s almost too hot for me to move! The temperature so far has been regularly 25-30 degrees here in May…………….
Friends from Scotland
Our friends Judith and Averil came out to visit us this month. Judith was here for 5 days and Averil was here for 2 weeks. They brought with them a surprise stash of goodies for us as well as my collection of Amazon packages which get delivered to Conor’s. Both were well received and I think I had all the comics read (6 months’ worth of various titles) by day 2 of their visit 😉
It was great to have the girls here. They got to meet some of our new friends and see some of the work which we do here as well as some of our favourite spots in Kosova. We took them to Prizren to the old fortress and up Qabrati hill here in Gjakova. Our personal favourite has to be Mirushe waterfalls, about 25 mins outside of Gjakova, which is an excellent walk in the country as well as a fun climb along the various tiers of the waterfall.
Visit to German KFOR hospital
While in Prizren, Ang and I went to the military hospital at the German KFOR NATO base as Ang has not been sleeping well for the past couple of months and her energy levels have been affected by this. They took some blood tests and thankfully there is no sign of anaemia (no need for the endoscope!), but we are awaiting the test results for her thyroid. Being on a German base, where many of the soldiers spoke German only, was quite entertaining, but they were all very nice and the treatment is of a very high standard.
Angela writing this bit: Last week, Averil and I assisted with a kids’ club in a village not far from Gjakova, where a local pastor and his team have been working for a few months. In the past, the club has been held in the house of the only believer in this Muslim village, but this week as more than 60 children had come, we held the club outside. We sang songs with actions, and played games with the kids, after one of the youth workers told a story about Jesus. Unfortunately, a Muslim man from the village got upset that we were holding this club, and called the police. Two officers arrived, and confiscated our i.d. cards, stating that our work was illegal…
Fortunately however, we have a contact in the police who I was able to call – after spending some time with him shortly after we arrived last year, he gave us his personal mobile number and said we could call him, day or night, if we ever have any problems! He made a phone call to the village police chief to explain who we are and that the work we do is good. We had to drive to the local police station to collect our i.d., and as we were approaching, the storms clouds drew in and we drove through the heaviest rain I’d ever seen, as well as loud rolls of thunder and bright flashes of lightning. In the police station, we were able to show our NGO paperwork, and explain that we did have permission from the families to be in the village, and the police were very understanding. In other countries, my experience/perception is that being a foreigner in these circumstances is not helpful, but in Kosova people have a great respect for those who have come here to help, and I was happy to be able to talk a little to them. I explained in their language that we wanted to do things the right way, that we are here to help and not to cause problems for them. They returned our paperwork with a warning to be careful in that village, but thanking us for the work that we do. On the drive home, the storm had passed over and there in the sky was a beautiful rainbow – God’s promise for His people.
Conferences at the Centre
We’ve had 2 conferences at the centre this month. The first was a 6-day residential conference run by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The local Kosovar churches were invited to send representatives who wished to receive further training in children’s work. It was a great week to have friends (old and new) from the local churches here in the Centre and while they received this training.
The second was a non-residential conference organised by our friends at Samaritans Purse for the local Gjakovar churches. It was a 3-day course of teaching by representatives of Simply The Story (STS). This conference was for helping everyday Christians to share stories from the Bible that would be inclusive to people who were non-literate (ie. not just people who can’t read, but people who don’t retain much information through written words only – usually about 60-70% of any given population).
Both conferences were fun for everyone despite involving a lot of hard work and pushing people outside of their comfort zones. We are always pleased to have conferences at the Centre because it means we can employ two local ladies as cooks to cater for our guests. These ladies are normally out of work so we are pleased to be able to offer them (and any Kosovar) work when we can.
Blind Association & Smile Sponsored Women
As well as continuing to visit our Smile sponsored women in their own homes, we were able to support the Blind Association of Gjakova this month with some humanitarian aid in the form of clothes and toiletries for 32 of their poorest families. We hope to continue building this relationship with them with our teams in the summer.
As we won’t be organising the teams this summer (this will be organised from the UK), we will be focusing on three main areas which you can join us in praying for Christ’s guidance and wisdom for us:
1) Marketing the Smile Centre to the Balkan churches
2) Continuing and developing the Smile’s Sponsored Women’s Projects
3) Creating and developing new Centre-based projects
Please also pray for our energy levels, as the heat affects us both (it’s only going to get hotter!), and also for a resolution to Ang’s disturbed sleep. And for a pony.