Summer 2012 | World Vision: Albania
|Her:||If you don't mind me asking... Are you a Christian or a Muslim?|
|Me:||I'm a Christian.|
|Her:||So good! Can we please have a coffee together? I really want to ask you some questions!|
|Me:||Of course. I would love to answer any questions you have!|
|Her:||I have so many questions. I want to learn more about Jesus!|
|Me:||I would love to tell you about him! Let's get together for coffee sometime before I leave for Tirana on Friday, okay?|
|Her:||Yes. I will find you before then!|
I’m working on my big project for my internship now — to produce a book of photos and vignettes that document the work of the youth groups that World Vision is working with here in Albania. I have 4 weeks to do overnight visits to 4 field offices, interview 20 people, write vignettes for each of them, take/edit photos for production, and finish working with a graphic designer to come up with the final design of the book, then send it to printing. I started contacting everyone last week to find dates when I could make my field visits, but I haven’t heard a word of confirmation from anyone. There’s SO much for me to do in this VERY short amount of time, I’m starting to feel really discouraged and nervous.
PLEASE PRAY that God will work a time miracle with my schedule and work a peace and strength miracle with my mind, heart, and body. Also pray for good, prompt communication with the people setting up the interviews at the field offices, since my hands are tied unless I hear from them.
I used my lunch break today to volunteer in the abandoned infant ward of the maternity hospital today. I spent the hour trying to soothe a 2-day-old baby boy named Ervisi, a tiny little man with creases on his forehead from a constantly furrowed brow. He was underweight and hungry, crying and trying to suck on my arm the whole time. I asked the nurses for a bottle so I could feed him, but the power had gone out and they hadn’t been able to mechanically sterilize the bottles, so they told me he couldn’t have one: “Why don’t you take him outside where the flowers are instead? The sunlight should make him happy.”
As if sunlight will fill a hungry baby’s tummy. He’s two days old! Give the baby a bottle.
It was all I could do to stay calm and respectful as I continued to request they wash a bottle by hand so the poor child could eat. My persistence eventually paid off and I was able to feed him and rock him to sleep.
Jesus taught that there are rewards for giving a cold cup of water to a little one. I’m sure that Jesus counts warm bottles of formula, too.
A lot of my friends here in Albania are changing their profile pictures on facebook to black ribbons in honor of the people who died in a tragic bus crash yesterday. The details vary depending on your source, but the main story is that a bus carrying about 50 students from Elbasan skidded off a cliff and crashed to the ground 80 meters (approx. 260 ft) below, killing at least 13 and severely injuring many more. Several of the girls on the bus were known to be strong believers, members of a church and the Campus Crusade ministry in Elbasan. This quote (translated from the original Albanian) is from the facebook page of one of those girls who is said to have died in the crash.
I’m sure there a lot of people out there searching for answers to the hard questions burning their hearts and minds right now. I’m sure there are people struggling to see the goodness of God and His faithfulness. But Dori had it right. If you have questions, the Bible has answers… and the church has support for those who are hurting and doubting.
—For the people injured inthe crash who are in critical condition at the hospital, that God would work miracles and heal them despite the vast shortcomings of the Albanian medical system.
—For the families and friends of those involved, that they would be comforted, and if they are Christians, that their faithfulness would continue.
—For the testimonies of those who were killed, that God would do mighty things through them and make Himself known, bringing glory to His name.
Just so you can get a feel for it, I’ll let you know that I’m sitting here on the couch in my family’s living room, listening to the nighttime street sounds of Tirana and the quiet churning of the dishwasher in the kitchen. My sister Emily is sitting across the room from me listening to some Nickel Creek. It’s so good to be home with her again.
But yes! Here are the key things that happened this week. :)
Monday and Wednesday, I went into the World Vision office to get things set up for me to work there. Monday was just a couple meetings with my supervisors to clear up expectations and such, and then Wednesday I actually went in to work. However, we found out that I wouldn’t be able to come into the office again until my contract was completely sorted out… and there have been some issues with that. It’s really complicated and the details aren’t that interesting, but what it comes down to is this: since I’m receiving college credit for my internship, I have to be on an actual internship contract, which requires a work permit and a ton of extra legal paperwork. But World Vision needs me in the office to help out ASAP, so we’re doing what we can to get a volunteer contract set in stone (much easier, but still takes some time) so I can at least work, even though I can’t claim college credit for it just yet. That should be settled sometime this week, hopefully Tuesday.
As a volunteer/intern, to begin, I have two main projects: I am assisting the Advocacy Manager with the logistics for an advocacy workshop that we will be hosting the first week of June that will educate World Vision staff from countries all over the region. I’m also working on a video production project to showcase the personal stories of a group of Albanian youth in the town of Dibra who have taken the initiative to make a change in their community. After those are completed, I will be doing field visits, photography work, writing/editing articles for the Communications department of the Albania office, and even traveling and helping with a summer camp! Looks like the summer I have ahead of me will be full of adventures!
Aside from my time spent focused on World Vision, most of what I’ve done is spend a lot of quality time with my family. Grocery shopping with my mom, delicious back-to-back cappuccinos and a movie date with my dad, and lounging around the house talking and giggling with my sister. The family has gotten me hooked on the TV series 24, which we are watching together as a family (so I can’t watch ahead and see what will happen next!).
I got to go to church last night for the first time since I’ve been back, and due to most of our worship team being at the 20th anniversary celebration for Campus Crusade’s Albania ministry, I was asked to sing and help lead worship. Looks like I might be joining that ministry this summer. If you’re interested, you can watch our church services being streamed live here on Saturdays at 11:30 AM (Eastern US time). They’re still posted after if you miss it and still want to watch!
Well, it’s midnight, so I should be headed toward bed. Prayer requests to come soon.
Well, after two surprisingly comfortable and uneventful flights, I made it safely into Tirana yesterday afternoon with no lost luggage or anything. I took the evening to settle into the room I’m currently sharing with my sister at my parent’s house, eat dinner, and catch up with my parents on everything that has been going on recently. Sleep came very easily last night, and I managed to get a full night’s sleep despite jet lag.
Then the nausea hit. One of my friends I spent some time with during the 24 hours before my flight had been sick with a stomach bug, and apparently I caught it from her. So today, I’ve been in bed and on the couch doing my best to keep down saltines and sprite while my wonderful mother has taken care of me.
Tomorrow will be another day of rest to make sure I’m well before I go in to the World Vision office on Monday to meet with my future bosses and discuss details for the summer. :)
Thank God for:
—my safe journey
—my wonderful mom and dad who are here to take such good care of me
—His provision in every circumstance
—that my family won’t catch this bug
—that I recover quickly and am able to go into the office on Monday
—that the status of some health issues I’ve been battling for the past month will improve soon
Plane tickets have been purchased! My trip dates are May 10 through August 2. Details are beginning to be fleshed out. It’s becoming real.
-I’ll be able to get everything done in time this week during final exams.
-I will be able to get plenty of good sleep and rest.
-I will have the strength to say goodbye well to my graduating friends as well as the friends I will be parting with for the summer. Due to my MK life, goodbyes have always been especially hard. This week is proving to be way more emotional than I thought it would be.
-God will prepare my heart for the ministry He has laid before me for the summer.
-I will process the transition back to Albania with grace and flexibility and patience.
My love to you all,