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.

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