Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Casting Off

So here it is, the end has come. It's been a great journey and I'm thankful to all of you who have walked/read it with me.

The last few days have been an interesting time of working out what's really gone on for me over the last six months. I don't think I've come to any actual conclusions yet. I'll probably be doing something at church in the next few weeks, but if you don't come to (my) church then you'll just have to call me up to say hi.

But for now, here's the biggest thing that I'm taking away with me: I stumbled across a group of girls, young women, who I will never forget and who I love dearly and deeply, with all my heart. I wrote this about them last week as I was preparing to leave them:

I have come to love these girls with a depth and a passion that I never expected. There is a fierceness in my heart for these girls that is burning big and bright for them. I have come to respect them more than they will ever know. I have been inspired in my faith by their quiet confidence in God, their conviction of Him that lets them be drawn away from their family and friends. These girls are women warriors of God because they bring the Spirit of God into homes where He is not welcome, not invited, not encouraged. They stand firm against social expectations and opposition because they are convicted of God's grace and truth. They accept division, pain and rejection because they know that they have died to sin and been raised to the new life of Christ. They are bad asses for Jesus and I love them.

I've left them now and my heart is full of aches and pains. All I can really do for them is pray. So I will, that they will grow deeper in love with Jesus and that they will be eternally strong and courageous. I will pray that they will mature, as women and as followers of Christ who do not waver. I will pray that they are changed from glory to glory, until our final glory.

And so that's all from me. With all my love and God's blessings....

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Return

Well, dear reader, I have returned. My time in Kosovo has come to an end and I'm back in Bromley. It was an interesting week, not the one that I planned or expected, and not the easiest week either. My last few weeks have been pretty emotional, getting ready to leave a place and people that I've really come to love was really hard. I've got one last blog to write with some proper reflections on my time but that'll come during the next week when I've got some time to think and gather some coherent thoughts together.

For now, I'm just going to fill you in on the excitment of the last week. On Tuesday evening Kayla and I arrived home from dinner to discover that someone had tried to break into our house, which was not particularly nice. They didn't get in (which just means they wasted everyone's time and created a mess for me to sweep up) but it did mean that Kayla and I moved out off the house very swiftly and spent Wednesday morning at the police station. Although we did discover that the police station functions quite well, it's just the judicial system that's questionable and overloaded. So it was an interesting little interlude, it just came at a bad time.

And then, to compound the drama, I missed my flight home on Thursday. We drove through some really bad traffic and although I could have still made the flight, the BA people wouldn't let me on, even when I stood wailing that it was my sister's birthday and I REALLY needed to get home. But they didn't let me so I had to stay in Kosovo for another (half) night, getting up at 2am yesterday morning, driving to over the boarder to Skopje, Macedonia, taking the 6:10am flight from Skopje to Zagreb, Croatia, and then from there to London. I was in four countries yesterday, I'm quite proud of that.

So I did eventually make it in time for birthday breakfast with my sister Jess and the rest of the family. And mildy more importantly, going to see Take That last night at Wembley! Oh yes. Here are the Daughters Davis and a sideways Take That sign. From left to right, Lou, Char, Jess, and me. So you'll understand why it was so important to me to get back in time. That was a night I was not about to miss just because BA are mean and the traffic in Prishtina is rubbish.

And so here I am, along with 80,000 other people at Wembley last night. It was wild. And I'm happy to be back. It's not as simple as happy to be back and no longer in Kosovo - I'm very sad to have left, there are some very precious people I have left behind that I will always treasure in my heart. But more on that next time. Stand by.

Also, ps - Dad says I haven't written enough about my knitting. Well, in total I knitted two and a half jumpers (none of which are totally wearable, but some adjustments will do them fine) and a pair of gloves. I'd show you a photo but I left it all in Kosovo because after my flights changed I couldn't take as much luggage. So maybe another time...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

No Turning Back

Today a very good friend of mine took a spiritual swim. She prepared herself, considered the consequences very carefully and took the plunge, literally.

She came to believe the truth that she heard, after she received her Christmas shoeboxes and hung out at Kid's Club, and went to camp and heard and saw the testimony of Jesus Christ in the lives of others.

She learnt to listen to God, to hear His voice, to let Him guide her in the steps of her life. She read the Word, she learnt to worship, she learnt to pray.

She grew, she matured, she experienced. And then, she stepped out in obedience. Once you know the truth, Jesus asks you to declare that you believe it in public, to commit an act of public witness to your friends and family which states "I am a follower of Christ."

She considered what that would mean. It would mean that her friends may fall away, that her family may harrass her, hurt her or even reject her. She considered that finding somewhere else to live might be a result of her action. She considered that there is a price to pay when you step out in obedience to something that might bring real persecution.

And then today she walked in obedience and followed the example of her Saviour. She spoke out in public that she is a follower of Jesus and then she died to her old life, left her sins in the water and was risen to her new life in Christ.

And around her, her family sung "I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back."

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Final Countdown

And so it begins to end. This time next week I will be preparing to spend my last night here in Kosovo, at least for now. I kind of knew six months would fly by, but I don't think I thought it would fly by this quickly.

For now though, I'm being kept entertained by a team of Americans who are here for two weeks working at a day camp out in one of the villages near the town for school children from year 1 to 9. We're having a whale of a time playing games and making crafts around a recycling/care for the environment theme. The village is really beautiful, you get a much nicer perspective on rural life when you visit during the summertime! And as the school is set on a hill, it's fun to watch the children emerge out of the hillside like a swarm of little hobbits. But less hairy.

We're also enjoying some rather fine weather at the moment with temperatures at a pleasant(ish) 30 degrees and expected to rise in to the less pleasant high 30s by the end of the week. Rumours of "33 on Friday but it'll feel like 36" abound. But after the cold winter temperatures, I'm happy with whatever late June produces, and I'm not too thrilled about the prospect of heading home to rainy miserable London.

So anyway, if you're a praying person, you can think of me this week. I'm doing my best to end well, English Class will carry on next week and the final week of Kid's Club is this Saturday before the summer break. Bible Study will also happen next week as usual. A couple of weeks ago they were blessed by my guitar "playing" as we sung some worship songs and this week I assisted a much more able member of the American team, but next week we'll just be back to me again. It's a skill in development I think. But yes, if you do pray, feel free to pray for me. That would be ok.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

My Dad

So today is Father's Day and many of you may remember the little Mother's Day post that I featuring my Mum, and so it is only appropriate that today I feature my Dad.

This is my dad, Stephen Davis (please note the spelling, Grandma gets really cross if we get it wrong). We like to call him Steve. Here he is as a little blonde bombshell. If you don't really know Steve but you see him around and think he looks grumpy/old/austere, I recommend trying to get him to speak. He's very funny, although he does occasionally go by the name Silent Steve. If you get the chance, ask him a question about politics, or football, or my mum Helen. And then wait for him to respond. You have to give him time, he's lived with women for a REALLY long time now, he's got used to being talked out of the conversation. But he's full of wisdom, wit and interesting facts that noone's interested in. He really is worth the investment.

My dad was a police officer in the Metropolitan Police Force (and yes, that is the Queen. And no, not Helen Mirren), faithfully serving the communities of London for 27 years until the second he could retire, which he promptly did. I don't think that Dad loved being a police officer or loved giving back to the community or seeking justice or anything else like that, I just think that he knew his responsibilities to support his super lovely brood of girls and the woman that he loves most in the world. And so one of the things I like most about my dad is that he is a living example that life doesn't stop at retirement, sometimes that's when it starts.

After Dad retired in 2003 (I think) he decided it was time to serve God somewhere else and so he led the way out to Kosovo. It's really his fault that I'm here now. And when he came back from Kosovo I noticed a change - the appearance of a New Testament and Psalms which now lived permanently in his back pocket. And soon after that his study bible started turning up on chairs usually reserved for The Economist or a book on something weighty and boring. And not long after that I realised that my dad had turned a corner of his faith, something that I'm not sure he'd ever quite worked out how to live out best until then. His experience in Kosovo changed him and brought him closer to God, and that's just cool. Especially as he was really old, but ready to change.

But even though it took until he retired and was free to take that risk, he was showing me the character of God long before that. Let me be clear, my dad is far from perfect. But for 20 years he worked at a job he did not love to give me the food that I needed, the clothes and shoes and bags and books that I needed, and the airfare to Australia for my gap year. And of course, uni. He has been the most provisional father I could have needed, faithfully and without grumbling giving me what I needed (and sometimes what I wanted). He has shown me the nature of a faithful father, one who isn't conditional, unsteadfast, or flighty, but is firm, solid as a rock, and full of love. And as I see in him what a father can be, I know what my God the Father is. And sometimes I know what He isn't, when Dad gets stroppy and starts muttering and throwing (little) things around. I know that my God isn't like that, and that's ok.

So Dad, you like Mum have done your bit to show me what my God is like and I am grateful for that. You are a legend. Lou, Char, Jess and I are all very proud to be Daughters of Steve.

I love you!

Questionable hair/outfit Steve

Married Steve

Grandad Steve

Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Week In Pictures

Richard lounging and Amelia getting a free haircut

Sorting out the stove for removal

Transporting school and house furniture as BMS will be giving up the property after I leave

Me and Kayla, catching some rays. Kind of, if the sun had shown it's little face.

Banana, yoghurt and egg. Going for the curl effect.

Happy Birthday Ani!! Chocolate fudge sundae to celebrate.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Village People

One of the really nice things about sticking around in a country for a slightly extended period is that you end up being adopted by local families, and with families come family traditions, and with family traditions come food and travel. So last Sunday Kayla and I were bundled off with Tina (my language teacher) and various other members of her family to take a trip out to the village for a walk and some Fli. More on the Fli later.

First things first, travel. We got to take the authentic Albanian approach to mass travel which was most definitely a first for both Kayla and I. If you've ever suffered through a long bus journey or a trip in a mini bus, just be grateful you had seats. Because we didn't. Why have seats when you can have mattresses on the floor in the back of a minivan? Here we are, packed in and ready for our countryside jaunt. At various points in the journey there were between 5 and 10 of us, sprawled out on mattresses, getting really comfortable with each others feet.

So we set off into the hills for a nice day out
in the sunshine. We stopped off at a friends house which is right next to a little stream/river which we got to adventure over on what I can confirm is most definitely a bridge. Compared to some of the other "bridges" I've seen here, this one is a feat of engineering genius. Then we were back in the van for the next leg of our journey. We stopped again, this time because we'd reached the point where the river crossed paths with the road. We all got out, had a nice little look at the river, got back in the van and drove through the river. That was not the plan of action I had been expecting. It wasn't deep, less than a foot, but enough to be slightly concerned that our mattresses might be about to get damp. They didn't, and the crossing-the-river exercise was repeated several more times before we reached our destination. The other exciting thing was that as it had got so hot in the (unventilated) back of the van, the sliding side door was opened as we drove so we got to see the countryside and the river close up. It's not something I've experienced before, or particularly expect to again, but I honestly loved it. It felt so outrageously opposed to all my ingrained health and safety expectations, I felt utterly wild.

And then there was the Fli. Fli is an
Albanian speciality food, mostly made during the summer because you have to make it over an open fire and it takes hours and hours and hours. It's basically lots and lots and lots of layers of a thick pancake batter cooked one at a time and layered up, which is why it takes so long. It's good, especially with some cheese and roasted peppers. We set down some blankets in the grass and gathered around to feed up, still sitting by the river that we'd just crossed again. It was great! And as we were the guests, we got to go first, which I appreciated.

After Fli came the walk up into the mountain which was at times beautiful, steep, terrifying, and wet. We crossed the river again, on foot, which was exciting and only a little treacherous. After that we went barefoot which added to the feeling I already had that I was in Lord of the Rings, climbing through dell and over mountain. No shoes complimented the hobbit effect, although to clariy, less hairy. We drew the line at carrying on when I had visions of having to ring my boss to tell I'd fallen into a river and half drowned and needed some medical attention. That's not a phone call I'm about to make. So we pootled back, had another drink by the river, and then all clambered back in to the van for the trip home. The nice thing about sitting on mattresses is that lying down on them is pretty comfy too which means sleep is much easier to come by...

But the experience of being bundled into the back of the van made me thinkg quite seriously about another part of the legacy around here - being a refugee. A couple of people mentioned it as they looked in on us, and the stories began to flow of being squashed into small spaces with three times as many people as we had, or of being transported by tractor for the three day journey into the relative saftey of the villages. The family we were with had spent 10 weeks away from their home with various other people all packed into places far too small for so many people. The teenagers who were little children at the time remember sleeping curled up in tiny spaces and being protected by mothers who were leaving husbands and fathers and just hoping it would be alright. The girls who were small but are older now are developing a new appreciation for their mums who spent weeks barely sleeping, sitting up because there wasn't enough space to lie down and because being awake was the only way to protect their precious cargo.

It all made me understand better why war leaves no winners. These children will never forget what they were put through, and their children and their children's children will know these stories. And on the other side, the young Serbs who were sent off to fight for no good reason will remember what they were part of, and their children will know and their children's children will know, and they will have to work out how to live with that. I suppose this isn't news to anyone, but war is no good, and it makes me really cross. So pray for wars to end, and pray for the children, and thank God that Jesus is the one who brings peace.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

What would you like to drink?

Yesterday evening something groundbreaking happened in Vushtrri, Kosovo. Four young men, in a spirit of servanthood and love, planned, prepared, served and cleared up dinner for seven young women. For weeks in advanced they schemed and plotted, menus were drawn up, ties were borrowed, candles purchased, and music chosen. Most of the young women remained blissfully unaware, only obediently changing the time of our usual Saturday afternoon bible study from 4pm to 6pm. I was in on the plan, and Kayla was brought up to speed when she arrived, so we were roped in to secure attendance.

And so it was that as we girls arrived we were met by four dashing young men, spruced up to the nines in ties and shirts (seriously, I've seen about two people outside of church wearing ties, and none of them were 16), ready to show us to our beautifully laid table, resplendant with candles and napkins.

First things first, what would you like to drink? Our wonderful kamieres produced a variety of drinks and proceeded to fill our glasses, making sure at all times that their ties didn't fall onto a candle and bring the evening to a screeching halt. Along with our drinks came a salad starter which was served up for us at the table and then we were left with the assurance that should we need anything, we should just call. We swiftly took advantage of this promise, calling the boys back to fetch us more water, which although in the same room as us was just too far for any of us to get for ourselves.

For our main course we were served what I believe is actually an American speciality called "Chicken Parm". It was good, pasta, chicken, tomato sauce, parmesan. And for dessert, an Albanian dish of chilled cake, banana and sauce, topped with M&Ms. Then came the coffee, although by this point we were so completely plot (full, for you English speakers who don't have much of a grasp on the Albanian language) that we mostly just enjoyed the smell. And that picture of Kayla is her modelling the little favours that we found at our place settings.

And then, to round a lovely evening off, we watched Manchester United be rubbbish against Barcelona. An early sense of patriotic fervour which had led me to lend my support to Man U quickly wore off, although it had been hindered from the start by an inate inability to actually vocalise any support for them.

So there you have it, an evening of service inspired by Christian love from boy to girl. It honestly broke cultural stereotypes which exist both here and at home, although it is more deeply engrained here, that the women serve and the men eat. The boys were just so great, so generous and hilarious. I will happily write them all glowing references if they choose to go into the catering business.

It's better for me to avoid showing
faces on this blog, so you'll just have to come to church for the picture in it's full glory. For now, you'll have to make do with the ties...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I Want to Ride My Bicycle...

...and so I will, because I am the proud
new borrower of a shiny, not very new, bike! Woo! I'm looking forward to breaking down some walls (metaphorical, not literal) since grown up women don't ride bikes around here. But then, since I am unmarried and without children I don't really count as a grown up woman anyway in these parts, so I'm just playing them at their own game. One day I hope one of the men who watches me in amazement as I either ride a bike or drive the truck falls over his own feet. I'm just saying. Anyway, the nice German missionary couple who live locally gave Kayla and I a couple of bikes because they had them and thought we might enjoy them. We did on the way home, and I managed to actually stay on it which was nice. It's true, you never forget how to ride a bike.

And what made the journey home even more exciting was the storm brewing
on the horizon! It looked a lot more dramatic in real life than it manages in this picture (that sky is grey, not blue). It had been REALLY hot all afternoon and the storm clouds gathered and there were rumbles of thunder in the distance and the wind got up and it was all really dramatic! And then we rode home on our new bicycles and the dirt roads threw up dust in our faces and my sunglasses got winded into my face and it was SO DRAMZ. And then we got home and battoned (battoned? buttoned?) down the hatches (the outside table and chairs. And I bought my washing in.) And then the sun came out and nothing happened. Disappointing. I like storms. Although I do prefer sunshine.

The other thing that I watned to share with you is that I highly recommend living with a Cosmetologist, if you haven't already tried it. This is me getting a pre-pedicure soak in the foot spa which we just happened to have at the house (honestly). I've got bubbles in my hands because we were experimenting with the various settings on the footspa which resulted in some serious bubble action. It was good. And then, after my feet were all done nicely Kayla cut my hair. And for free. Seriously, I recommend proper consideration of any future housemates.

Yesterday morning Kayla and I went to the house of the lady that Kayla is going to be cutting hair with. She lives just a couple of doors down the road and has a salon that she runs out of her house. We sat and had some tea and between us with our limited knowledge of various languages we talked about what Kayla can do. There will be lots of hair styling for brides and graduating teenagers, nail painting and fixing, face making-up, and also some interior design, which is Kayla's other passion in life. I have every intention of spending time with them together, experiencing the world of hair and make up Kosova style! And in the midst of it all, we will be doing our best to be intentional in what we speak about, looking for ways to try and share what we believe about Jesus with them. I'm excited!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Prom Queen

I'm sorry that this blog is so overdue. May I suggest that you send all letters of protest to KEK, the national power company who have failed miserably this week in their role of providing power to the people. When there's no power, there's no internet. When there's no internet, there's no blog. You see what I'm saying?

The big news of this week has been the arrival of my new roomie, Kayla Richardson, of Happy Valley, California. Here she is:
Kayla is a graduate of Cosmetology school (I didn't know Cosmetology was a word either, but apparently it is) and is in Kosovo to cut hair and educate me on my colour wheel. She'll be working with a local lady who runs a hair salon from her home (not an unusual occurance here) and has a busy season of prom and wedding hair ahead. So far, Kayla appears to be American in the best way and I'm enjoying her company. And the possibility of a hair cut in the not too distant future.

The other big news of the week has been the start of Prom season. On Tuesday, my Albanian teacher Tina was packed of to Pristina looking beyond amazing, due to her natural beauty to which Kayla applied her skillz. We had to wait until the power came on at 6pm before the curling iron could called to action, so the make up went on first, with nails done by yours truly. Tina's friends gathered while she got ready and performed important tasks such as holding the overhead light so that it shone on Tina rather than away from her (ingeniously held by tying a scarf to the fixture, allowing the holder to sit down and have a chat and a coffee.), and holding the curling iron plug in the socket on the wall because it wouldn't stay by itself. And after the make up and hair is done, the dress goes on and everyone gets stuck in to help. This was before the mothers and aunts and cousins turned up to help with tucking and tying and spraying and the like.

And here she is, the finished product: Hotness. It was a really brilliant afternoon, it's a lot of fun to get ready for a big evening out and really, girls are the same the world over. In lots of ways it was a real privilege for Kayla and I to be able to be part of the preparations, and to be allowed into the family home to pimp and preen. I think it's going to be one of my lasting memories of my time here. That or the hair cut Kayla's going to give me sometime in the future, or our possible experience with going for the Balkan platinum blonde look. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Guess who's back??

ME!! Did you miss me??

This time I brought Mum and Dad Davis with me, although to be fair it's more that Dad's finally brought me and Mum with him. Well actually this is Mum's fourth visit so I suppose really they've brought me back with them. Know what I'm saying? Anyhoo, we're all here at the moment, living in my house and enjoying guessing what the weather's going to do. Yesterday hot, today cold and wet. You Brits know the deal. Here is a picture of us yesterday evening, savouring the truly Kosovan experience of a Saturday night spent in the dark. Mum was chilly, Dad was confused. Again.

Since I've only been back two days, not too much has happened to report on except to say that the discovery of Turkish Total Wipeout on TV made my afternoon today. People falling off things into water is funny in any language.

This week will mostly be about getting back into the swing of things, English class tomorrow and an Albanian lesson. My lovely Albanian teacher gently reminded me yesterday that I'm due another test so I managed to persuade to postpone it to Wednesday. That'll be fun, since most of what I had learnt slipped quietly out of my brain during my visit home. Time for some serious revision. And of course the other usual bits, Bible Study, Kid's Club, Church, girls Bible Study etc. Let the good times roll!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Weddings Weddings Weddings

So two things:

1:- It's Easter!! Gezuar Pashke! Jesus is back, the rest of your life starts today!

2:- I'm coming home on Tuesday! Whoopie!! I case you haven't already picked up, there's a major wedding happening next weekend which I am honoured to be attending. Yes, I will be attending the joining together in holy matrimony of Miss Joanne Crowe and Mr Jonathan Fagg. Who else did you think I was talking about? Hahahaha! I'm so funny! I will of course be brushing up on wedding etiquette on Friday by watching the Royal Wedding (which apparently requires Capital Letters), although I expect Saturday to be a much more lovely affair! And, courtesy of online shopping, I think I know what I'm going to wear, which is just nice to know.

Happily, this little break of mine is well-timed. I'm ready to come home for a bit, to see the people I love and miss, to be surrounded by English, and to stock up on proper chocolate. I'll be around at Bromley Baptist next Sunday, sharing a bit about what I've been up to so if you're around come and say hello.

The less happy news is that while I'm home, Eileen will be leaving Kosovo to go back to Scotland to be Scottish again and get a job. Despite everybody's best efforts to keep her here, it is time for her to leave Vushtrri which means that we will obviously no longer be house-sharing together. I'm sad to say goodbye to Eileen, she's a total legend and has been an excellent instructor in the Albanian way. Here are some pictures of her during some of our various adventures.

So, I'll see a lot of you in the next couple of weeks I imagine, and if I don't see you this time I'm only back in Kosovo for 8 weeks after that. It'll be July before you know it!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Copy Paste

My sister Jess is here! Woo! She arrived on Tuesday on the same plane that Carol left on. So it was a bittersweet day.

If you don't know my sister Jess, here is a picture of her and me. I have had a fun time introducing her to my new friends, most of whom have worked out we're related before I've managed to get out "Kyo eshte motre ime" (this is my sister). I don't know why. Oh yes, actually I do, we look a bit alike. In fact, we look so alike that when I introduced her to one friend he said without missing a beat "Yes, copy paste". Accurate and to the point.

I've relinquished control of blog for one week only and allowed Jess some freedom to share her thoughts with you...

I have spent a week with Ali and here are some things i noticed:
People: Man takes cow for a walk, looks at US funny for looking at him funny.
Rules: Don't look at boys. Definitely don't SMILE at boys.
Roads: Why walk on the pavements when you can walk in the road? Who are you? A car. I DON'T care.
Power cuts: Man, i love this show, ooo, it's the one where...oh.
Hanging out all week with Ali: Are you married? Do you have children? Are you tired? Are you twins? Conversation with new friends: -Do you like Kosovo? -Yes. -Do you like Kosovo? -Yes. -Do you like Kosovo? -Yes i love it. -Ok.
Accommodation: I'm going to build a MASSIVE house. And then i'm going to live on the ground floor and just put the stairs in on the other floors. Forget ceilings or walls, who needs 'em?
Jesus: He's around, and being appropriate.
And the last thing i noticed is that i don't want to go home.

Sadly for me, Jess is returning home on Tuesday, even if she has joined the ranks of Davis' who love Kosovo. And on the plane she leaves on, Eileen's dad arrives on. So another day of goodbyes and hellos! And for those of you who are finding that just reading about me is no longer enough of an Ali-fix, you will be happy to know that I'm home on the 26th for 10 days in order to attend a VERY important wedding. See you all then!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Week in the Life

Since I've been here for 3 months now and I've got something of a routine going, I thought I'd just do a nice simple week in the life of me. So we'll start at the beginning.

Monday mornings I spend helping to home school one of the children of the missionary family. This is generally fun/exhausting/intense/educational for me as well as my pupil - I recently learnt how to do long multiplication, which I think I must have learnt a few years ago but I'd totally forgotten since. Monday afternoons are filled with English Class which I blogged about a few weeks ago. Last week was Spring Break so we had a extra special class which we spend painting our nails, knitting and putting on face masks. Good times. After English is my first Albanian lesson of the week, which is usually interesting... I'm getting there slowly I think, although by "there" I mean the very basic conversation. But it's more than I had in January so it will do!

Tuesday mornings I help with the school for special needs children, which you're all familiar with. There are only two more weeks of school left so I'm not sure what I'll be doing with all my free time after April! I'm sure I'll find something. Tuesday afternoons are usually free for language study and baking or cooking for the evening. Before Bible Study we share dinner with the other internationals in town, alternating where we have dinner. If we're not hosting dinner, we're baking, or vice versa. It's good, I like honing my culinary skills and I think my team mates don't mind...

Wednesday morning I go back to my home-schooling role, usually sticking around for some lunch before coming back to the house for some more language prep before my lesson in the evening.

Thursday mornings are spent at school again, and then Thursday afternoons are free. Carol and Eileen play on the music team at church so they go in to Pristina for practise in the evening. I'll either go with them for the fun of getting out the house, or I'll stay in and occupy myself some other way. The exception to the Thursday rule is the first Thursday of the month when the female missionaries in the country get together for lunch or a trip out. Last week we visited Prizren which is a couple of hours away by car. It was a really nice day out, the weather was cracking and it was good to spend some time with other people and in a new setting. This is me standing on the wall of a Fort up a hill. It was good exercise getting up there that is for sure.

Friday is officially my day off, but since the pace of life here is pretty gentle I don't usually feel the need for an actual day off. It is nice to know I don't need to get up for anything though so I usually appreciate that bit of the day. In the afternoon, the leaders and helpers of the Kid's Club meet to prepare for the meeting the following day and I go along for the ride. It all happens in Albanian so I don't really know what's going on, but I like to go if I can to support what they're getting up to and spend some time with them all. I do still owe you a Kid's Club blog, coming soon...

Saturday is cleaning day so I do my bit of the hoovering and dusting. Fun times. Then it's Kid's Club for a couple of hours and later on in the afternoon the girls and I do Bible Study together. We finished reading Ruth a couple of weeks ago and last week we watched The Blind Side. Next on the agenda is Esther which should be interesting. I'm enjoying working out how the girls here see the world differently from me and how that impacts the way they interpret the Bible. Something surprising usually comes up!

Sunday is church, obviously, so that's a trip into Pristina for the morning. Here are Carol (clarinet) and Eileen (piano) doing their thing. We usually go out for lunch after church and today we went to a restaurant on a hillside in the beautiful sunshine and spent a few hours eating and drinking coffee. I will be completely outraged when I get home and can't get a coffee for 1 euro. Shocking.

So that brings us back to Monday and the cycle begins again. Actually things are changing a bit around here so the routine probably will be changing too. On Tuesday Carol is leaving and returning to England which will be sad for us, and I think for Carol too. But my sister Jess is coming in on the plane that Carol leaves on so we're doing a swap. I'm excited that Jess is coming, she is bringing me creme eggs! Woo!

Here are some other pictures of various weekly activities. Enjoy.

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