Friday 31 July 2015

Photo Friday - 31st July

The view I woke up to each morning.

Church in Albania.

I feel like this can be perfectly described as a "doughnut waterfall" and eating doughnuts two minutes after they've been in the oil? Pretty amazing!

Cory (right) and Erion (left) sharing about people who met Jesus.

Many afternoons were spent with students at the beach - including jumping/being pushed/sliding into the lake!

Walking to small group through streets like this while hearing the mosque's call to prayer ring out.

The last day of English class - I was so proud of all that our beginner students learnt!

And small group - it was an absolute joy and privilege to walk through this week with these girls!

Sunday 26 July 2015

In Albania!

I left my home shortly after 9am on Thursdag morning. After dropping my car at the Yormans' so it doesn't hang out in the town centre while I'm gone, I waited for my first train. 

I was at a little train station so they didn't have signs saying which platform the train would be at - and it turned out I was at the wrong one! So I had to run down a flight of stairs, cross the train tracks underground and then climb a flight of stairs. All with a suitcase, backpack and canvas bag!

Thankfully the train driver had seen me and he waited for me even after the conductor had blew his whistle. I was so grateful!

That seemed to set the tone for my travel here - people going out of their way to be gracious. After two trains I arrived in Vienna and the man on reception where I was stating was really helpful. And it was fun to spend some time exploring Vienna - it was my fourth time in the city, first time on my own so I just wandered around a little. 

I was up at 3am the next morning and after a five minute walk to the bus stop and a bit of a wait I was on the bus to the airport!

My flight was pretty early - so early, in fact, that none of the places in the airport had started cooking yet! I found this out when I asked for bacon and eggs and was sad to hear the reply of the kitchen still being closed. 

However, when the waiter brought me a coffee he said he talked to the chef and they opened the kitchen thirty minutes early for me. I was very excited to eat! 

I flew from Vienna to Istanbul and after a three hour layover, which included some Turkish delight sampling, flew from there to Tirana. I feel like landing in Tirana was a good indication of culture from the beginning - the herd of people in roughly nine lines for the four passport control booths for foreigners was a little chaotic but no one was worried. 

After a long time I eventually got the stamp in my passport and picked up my bag. I then had three hours of being driven to Pogradec. There was beautiful scenery and crazy driving and a nap for me. It was fun to arrive in Pogradec and hang out on Friday night! We also walked down by the lake - so very beautiful! 

On Saturday morning we had a meeting to talk through camp. We're doing a day camp in this town so there will be English class each morning, free time/hang out time in the afternoon and then a programme in the evening where we'll be looking at who Jesus is. 

Unfortunately the short term team couldn't come so Cory and Kristine, the JV missionaries here, asked people they knew to come help. That's why I'm here and including Cory there are eight of us English speakers to serve at camp. 

It was so good to all meet and get to know each other a little especially as well be a team all week. They're currently expecting around one hundred students at camp in the first day, with possibly double that by the end of the week! 

And the prayer for this camp is that we would have students who are searching and hungry and then they will be invited to a residential camp next week. 

The church we're partnering with is a new church plant and it is also hoped that this camp will help them begin. It's so exciting to hear about the growth of this youth group already - and it was fun to experience youth group on Saturday night! It never gets old to talk to young people who are discovering God and the Bible. 

And as well as Bible study groups with young people there is also one for their mums - women who have seen the difference the Gospel has made in their children's lives are wanting to know more. 

I've been in Albania just over 24 hours as I write this and I could write even more than this already long post! It has been so good to be here, to see Albania, to experience the different and beautiful culture, and to hear what God is up to here. I'm excited about what God has in store this week! 

Friday 24 July 2015

Photo Friday - 24th July

A very kind friend sent these over from the UK - I found the packaging hilarious and the chocolate yummy!

The light at sunset is so beautiful!

Old buildings in town.

I cleaned out my purse and found a Chicago transport ticket and a dollar bill! I'm fairly sure both of these are four years old.

What packing for a trip looks like for me..

Late evening runs - because the only time it is cool enough to run!

The start of my crazy travel days to Albania - I left my house at 9am on Thursday and arrived at 7pm on Friday.

And this is where I arrived! Pogradec sits on the biggest lake in the Balkans, and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. 

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Changed lives changing lives

Photo courtesy of Kristine Cramer

This week I'm heading to Albania to be with our team there, see their world, and serve alongside them at a camp! I'm really excited, especially after reading this blog post by Kristine. Please go check out that post and read about how God is changing lives through changed lives in Albania. 

Monday 20 July 2015

Jesus is my King

I love this short, one-minute video as this young guy shares how God has changed him. This testimony was recorded by our team last summer.

We're praying for many more stories like this! 

Friday 17 July 2015

Photo Friday - 17th July

It's been really fun to see all the creative ways people are using the camp theme/design/graphics this year - including as nail art!

A dear friend from my organisation visited on Sunday night and stayed so there was plenty of late night talking and catching up with her. 

The weather has been so hot here this week! So there have been lots of walks and runs.

My routine is to run down to and over the "pink bridge" and then over into Poland, spend some time on the swings and then run home. 

And I'm still exploring new trails near where I live. I love that I live in the centre of town but close to places like this.

Another sunny day meant drying clothes on my friends' line!

The town hall on another evening walk. 

Friday 10 July 2015

Photo Friday - 10th July

Another Saturday morning at the farmers' market in Poland.

Hanging out by a pool with friends on a very hot Sunday afternoon.

Loved getting to catch up with Petra and Erin on Monday! It was a fun way to spend the national holiday.

My shelf in the office.

I found a spider late late one night so this is what happened to it.

And I wasn't able to sleep with just a jar on it so there was a bucket too. Don't worry, I released it the next day. 

Friday nights spent around a fire, roasting sausages and catching up with friends, as the Hughes (a missionary family who lived here for years) were back visiting.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Wednesdays at 9.30

For months now this has been an event in my phone's calendar every Wednesday at 9.30pm. And my youth group has had a prayer meeting every Wednesday night for months, and we were all encouraged to put this reminder in our phones so even if we're not at the prayer meeting we can remember to pray for camp.

And so each Wednesday my phone chimes and I remember to pray. To pray for the leaders of these camps, the local churches as they prepare, the short term teams coming over, the missionaries and interns involved. And, most of all, to pray for the students who will hear about Christ at these camps, many for the first time hearing that there is a relational God who loves them and who died so they can know Him.

Would you join us in praying for camps? This year we have around 113 camps happening across twelve countries where thousands of young people will be challenged to respond to the Gospel. We're praying that many come to know Christ as their Saviour and that as they are discipled they become disciples who make disciples.

Monday 6 July 2015


Each summer I travel a lot to visit various camps and this summer's first big trip was to Hungary last week! I travelled down on Wednesday and back again on Friday so it was a short trip but it was a joy to be able to go there, see our team rock during their first week-long camp in Hungary, and see students hearing about God!

One of the things I most enjoyed seeing at this camp was that every morning students spent fifteen minutes reading the Bible passage that would be spoken on that night. They then spent fifteen minutes talking with a partner about one thing they thought was interesting and one question they had. Then in the evening programme students again had their Bibles open and were being shown how to look for answers and how to read it.

There was just something so beautiful about watching non-believing young people really engaging with the Word of God. And we know the Word of God is powerful and does not return void, so please be praying for the church who were involved in this camp, that they would follow up well with students who were there! 

Some photos of my time in Hungary:

Liz teaching about who Christ is, and how everything is loss compared with knowing Him.

One tall game of Jenga!

The Hungarian language, ladies and gentlemen, and your guess is as good as mine!

Camp was at the Calvary Chapel college in Hungary, which includes this beautiful building.

Preparing for a game that night.

Rob and Liz (the two sitting down) are the country leaders for Hungary and here Rob and their son Caleb are describing what is in the box to Liz and Liz has to decide if they're telling the truth or not. With some crazy things in the boxes it was hard to know if it was true or not!

Rob teaching on the second night I was there.

The building from the front.

Yellow watermelon! It tastes the exact same as regular watermelon but is yellow.

Hungarian roads = overtaking horse and carts! Between a lot of road works and crazy traffic on little roads and problems getting the stickers necessary to drive on Slovak and Hungarian roads it was a long, seven hour, drive down (I was expecting something more like five!).

Thankfully my drive back was shorter! These were my travel companions, as well as Narnia on audiobook! Driving home always seems less stressful because the roads are becoming more familiar, and I didn't have to make stops to buy the car stickers. 

Friday 3 July 2015

Photo Friday - 3rd July

One of the things I've been working on recently is trialling a e-learning platform we're hoping to use a lot! Four of us were recorded teaching on various topics relating to the internship and we're hoping that we learn how to use this tool well to help train and support our interns, short term teams and many others! 

Now that the weather is nice I'm loving going on walks most days in my town.

Kelly is a missionary in Poland and because they needed to grab more badges we got to hang out as we travelled to the office to pick them up! It was so fun and I am so thankful for the time we got to spend together. 

Tuesday marked two years of living in this country! And I celebrated, in part, by going to visit a Edge Sport and Fusion camp in Poland. 

What you will encounter as you travel in Hungary: many horse drawn carts! 

Playing a game as part of the evening programme in Hungary. 

It was an absolute joy to spend a couple of days here in Hungary, visiting their first official week long camp!