Tuesday, 5 July 2011
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
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
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
Sunday, 19 June 2011
I love you!
Questionable hair/outfit Steve
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Richard lounging and Amelia getting a free haircut
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.
Saturday, 4 June 2011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 fa...
As today is Mother's Day I've decided to be topical and write about my mum. Let me say now that this blog has nothing to do with goi...
Another week of shoebox delivery is well underway. The British team arrived on Monday and the last two days have been spent in schools aroun...
Yesterday evening something groundbreaking happened in Vushtrri, Kosovo. Four young men, in a spirit of servanthood and love, planned, pre...
On Friday we ventured out of the town to deliver some shoeboxes to schools in the villages in the hills. The first school we delivered to w...
Friday was the last day of shoebox delivery and the first day of snow! We ven tured out for one last time into the hills to deliver a final ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 on...
I would like to introduce you to some of my new friends, officially called "The Girls". Yesterday they came over for some coffee,...