So for the second time since we arrived in Kosova, we flew out from Prishtina airport back to Scotland, with a quick changeover at London Gatwick. Arriving late Friday night, we stayed with friends in Glasgow and visited old friends at a church in Edinburgh. We shared a bit about our work and motivated people to pray, before we drove up to Aviemore on the Sunday evening.
Monday: Kincraig, near Aviemore
Angela’s bit: We were welcomed by the church where I grew up to share at their regular missionary prayer evening. These people are so faithful in their prayers, I know that they have been praying for me since the age of 9 when I first started going to church. This group meets once a month to pray for the work that goes on around the world and have committed to add us to their list of missionaries. We had a lot of fun during the day, going up to the top of Cairngorm to visit a friend who works there for some lunch (the highest restaurant in Britain) – the views are stunning, on a clear day you can see across Scotland to Ben Nevis. On the day we visited however, the 8th of June – summertime – the clouds came in and it started to SNOW!! Very exciting! I went out to play, of course – it had snowed heavily over the weekend and the staff had built a snowman. I asked someone to take my photo as otherwise I didn’t think people would believe me.
Paul also enjoyed the scenery, this was his first time up the hill – I think the carrot cake secured his love for the place though.
We were also able to catch up with my brother, which was great. We spent the morning together, then he came along to our meeting in the evening too, helping us to set up and clear away. I don’t get to spend much time with him, so it was great to have the day together, praise God.
We drove the 300 miles through the beautiful countryside of the north of Scotland mainland, catching the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness in the Orkney Islands. The ferry crossing itself was smooth and uneventful, only taking about 1.5hrs from port to port. We stayed with my mum and her husband Ali, and our first port of call was to BBC Radio Orkney to do a pre-recorded interview with Dave Gray’s morning show “Around Orkney” to advertise our two speaking sessions. I’d almost forgotten how great the Orkadian accent is!
The following evenings we spoke at two churches, Kirkwall Baptist and Christian Growth Centre, where we were warmly welcomed and people took great interest in the work that we are doing through Smile International in Kosova, and praising God for the growing church there.
Travelling south – Ang felt a bit sea sick on the ferry (although coffee and a bacon roll helped!) and then drove all day to get to Glasgow, arriving just in time to catch the last 10 minutes of our friend Rachel’s VSO fundraiser concert. We were also able to stop off en route to visit Ang’s cousin Natalie and her husband Craig who we haven’t seen since before they got married in August, so it was great to see them in their new home.
Ang writing: We really enjoyed our Kosovan Coffee Morning at St Silas Church, the church we were attending before we left for Kosova. We shared some Turkish Delight, Kosovan praise music, a slideshow of our work and a video of Smile’s work in Kosova, and had the opportunity to spend time chatting to people who had come to hear about Smile. It was a great privilege for us to meet some Friends of Smile from Renfrew who support Nake, one of our Sponsored Widows in Kosova. We were able to show them some recent photos and pass on news, as well as taking a photo of these friends to show to Nake when we return at the end of the month. Special guests, Mike and Diana, were able to join us for this – they have spent a lot of time in Kosova with Smile and are involved in the Girls’ Brigade. The first Balkan Company has just been established, in our home town of Gjakova, and we’re excited to see how God will use this to encourage the young girls who have started going along weekly.
In the afternoon, we were able to go along to the Girls’ Brigade European Conference 2009 to meet some of the Girls’ Brigade leaders who are coming to serve with Smile in the summer. We are looking forward to hosting them (all girls – Paul’s starting to panic!), and know that they will be a great blessing to the local community. They will be assisting with various activities in and around Gjakova, including kids’ clubs, family visits, and fellowship with local Christians as well as having the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful regions in Kosova for some deserved rest time!
We participated in th worship service at St Silas Episcopalian (Glasgow) in morning, having the opportunity to share how Jesus is transforming our lives and the lives of those we meet in Kosova through the Kosovan churches. St Silas generously donated several boxes of clothes for children that will be a great blessing to some of the families who we support – our next lorry is due to come at the end of the year and all donations of new clothes, blankets, shoes, craft materials, toys, games etc are greatly appreciated – for more information see http://www.smileinternational.org/aidguidelines.htm
In the evening, we spoke at St Cath’s Church of Scotland (Edinburgh) – this is the church where I (Paul) first attended many Alpha courses as an atheist over ten years ago. The people back then were friendly, welcoming and happy to answer my questions about Jesus and am happy to report the atmosphere is still the same 😉
We ended the night driving through to Stirling to stay with our friends Judith and Lawrence, who’ve generously agreed to put us up this week.
We’d like to thank everyone who gave generously during our visits and for your prayers. Angela and I feel very blessed by the number of people taking an interest in the work we are doing with Smile International. We are thankful for the new links with the above fellowships who have agreed to support us faithfully in prayer. We’ll update this blog regularly with our news and prayer points, but let us know if you would like to receive our personal prayer letter by email as we will not disclose the more sensitive areas of our work over a public website.
It’s been a hectic week and we are both now looking forward to a bit of R & R before we return to Kosova on the 29th June.