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.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

My Mum

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 goings on here in Kosovo so if you're only interested in the activities of a hardened missionary you should feel free to skip this one.

This is my mum, Helen Louise Davis. I'll be honest, this isn't a new photo. That shock of dark hair has long be replaced by her "crown of splendour" (check it out Bible Buffs - "Grey hair is a crown of splendour, it is attained by the way of righteousness" Prov 16:31). This was taken a really long time ago when they still thought the world was flat and when they made nurses wear those crazy hats. Here she is as a fresh-faced Nightingale nurse, newly minted from the St Thomas' school for girls who like to look after people. She's retiring this year, I think in order to spend more time nursing...

And here she is with my dad, Stephen Davis. This is them in 1992 wearing HIlarious t-shirts that say "I'm in love with a married man/ husband/wife!". No joke. There is a plethora of other photos of serious fashion faux pas, particularly from the 80s. Apparently having children means you don't have time to keep up with fashion or something. Try telling Victoria Beckham that.

Anyway, the point is that today is a nice opportunity to honour the Mums in our lives, so indulge me, I'm going to tell you about mine. As I'm now officially grown up I've been thinking about the things that Mum has taught me. There are some practical things, the tying of shoelaces, the cleaning of teeth, and the making of a cracking Bechamel sauce, but there have also been some more important things.

My mum taught me about being a "strong woman", and it turns out that it doesn't mean being loud, obnoxious, demanding or unemotional. She showed me that being "strong" means having a core of steel, an internal commitment not to waver but to face the storm and ride it out. My mum is quiet and gentle, but she's super-strong and when I really grow up, I want to be as strong as her.

My mum taught me that I am enough. She and Dad never asked me to be anything other than what I am, always helped me to fulfill the potential I was showing, never undercut or undermined me, always encouraged and nurtured me. They always let me know that who and what I am is all I should be.

My mum showed me the power of prayer. Legend has it that when she had four daughters in various stages of child/teenage-hood, she would stand outside our doors in the evening and pray for us. When we were so annoying she couldn't be in the same room as us she waited outside and committed us to God. I've watched my mum cry in prayer and laugh in prayer, pray for people who are hurting and people who are being blessed, pray through births, deaths and marriages, and I've watched her do it consistently for 26 years.

My mum showed me Jesus. In the twenty years since I made the decision to put Jesus on my Friends list, Mum has been one of the clearest examples of who and what Jesus is. She has this seemingly unending supply of grace and love, which she has poured out on me, my sisters, my dad, and so many of those around her, year on year. Her compassion, which has fuelled a lifetime of nursing care, has repeatedly reminded me of the compassion Jesus has for me and for the poor, the broken, and the lost.

So basically Mum, I'm a big fan. And in your words, I am the richest of women. Me, Lou, Jess and Char are the richest of women because we have you, and because you showed us Jesus. How could we be richer?

Happy Mother's Day Mum. I love you.

Little Helen

Hot Helen

Granny Helen

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