The Death Coaster…

OK, so it wasn’t necessarily a death coaster, but this definitely wasn’t the safest or smartest thing I’ve ever done.

This past Saturday night I went out with a couple of junior high age girls for traditional tea after their nightly meal to break the fast during R@madan.

So, after we sat and talked for awhile, one of the girls got all excited and asked if we could go to this park where they had some carnival rides set up. Sure! I was pretty excited to go with them. It was my first time out with these girls, and they seemed pretty excited to take me to this carnival.

So we walked to the other side of the city, and arrived at the carnival. Well, it had three rides. Not bad for M!trov!ca.

So, the girls headed for the biggest ride there, a kind of spinny coaster thing. It didn’t look like anyone had died yet, and people looked like they were having fun. So, why not?

This year is all about building relationship, and sometimes the best way to build relationship is to do crazy things together. This wasn’t just a carnival, this was opportunity.

However, if you know me at all, I’m not a huge fan of rides, especially rides that can be set up and taken down in the matter of hours. Some people think that adds to the thrill of the coaster.

Me? Not so much.

So, I get on the coaster, and I bring down the bar that’s supposed to keep you safe while your spinning. It doesn’t lock. But it’s too late. I’m in, and the girls are yelling, looking back and talking to me and excited I’m actually riding this spinning wheel of death with them.

I take a deep breath, pray, pay my 50 cents, and we’re off. I hold on for dear life, too scared to even scream. Half way through I realize I wasn’t even breathing, and after I took a few breaths, I relax and realize I’m not going to die. In fact, I might even say the fact that I could have died actually did add a little fun to the whole experience.

And now, I can honestly say I had fun. It was stupid fun, but definitely worth the giggles, screams and smiles with the girls afterward.

I can’t wait until we have our next adventure.

Friends have arrived…

Friends are here!

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Yesterday was such an exciting day for me as Luke and Kiersten arrived! I can’t tell you how good it is just to see some familiar faces and what a great feeling to be able to show people from my hometown what life is like in K0s0v0! I’m so excited to have them here for the next week, and so excited how God is working in their hearts toward m!ssions. I know God is going to show them great things while they are in K0s0v0 and Europe these next weeks.

Please Pray

As part of my support team, I promised to update  you with specific ways you can pray and support the ministry in K0s0v0. Here are just a few prayer requests I would like to share with you at this time.

  • Tomorrow marks the start of R@madan, a holy month for musl!ms.
  • The next month is full of teams coming in! Please pray for strength and energy.
  • For the the preparation for the KLA and the start of the school year in September.
  • For short-term teammates raising support right now in the US, and that they would be able to arrive by this fall. We are in need of teachers to start school this fall!
  • Preparation for teaching this fall. Right now it looks as though I will be teaching music – not something I planned on doing, but I am excited for the opportunity.
  • I am working on forming a discipleship group with some girls from our Sunday gathering on Wednesday evenings at my home. Please pray for direction as we meet.

Never a dull moment…

Well, Wednesday, we had a little excitement added to our day.

bridge-with-out-barricade---south-sideAround 11 a.m./noon, we got word that the the barricades on bridge that separates north and south M!trov!ca had been removed. For years, the bridge, which is a tension point between north and south M!trov!ca, has remained closed and blocked. However, as part of a campaign promise, the Mayor of M!trov!ca vowed to reopen the bridge and did so early that morning around 5 a.m. without fanfare or announcement.

By mid-morning word had gotten out and people were happy, and moving freely from one side to the other. It was truly a historic day in M!trov!ca! We stopped to talk to one woman and her husband about the bridge being open. They are Alb@nian and live on the north side. “I feel free,” the woman said. bridge-barricade-down

Everything was going fine until about 1 p.m.

Angry groups from both sides started to gather on the north and south separated by police on the bridge. Peace was threatened, and the bridge was once again blocked. The open bridge was short-lived.

If you google the M!trov!ca bridge, and read news sources, it will say that the S∑rbs originally moved the barricades in order to build a “peace” park on the bridge. Our news sources in M!trov!ca say it was the mayor and Alb@nians who removed the barricades, which makes more sense. Why would the S∑rbs move the existing barricades just to replace it?

There have been no more incidents after Wednesday. There is constantly a police/military presence at the bridge, and there are workers continuing to work on the “peace” park. I say “peace” in quotations because it symbolizes anything but peace. If anything, it’s just a barricade with a fancier name. The city remains divided.

I found out yesterday that the S∑rbs did in fact move the barricade. 

Busy at work…

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin

Today, part of my job was to look up leadership quotes for some posters I’m making for a group coming in July. This quote from Benjamin Franklin struck me and I wanted to share it with everyone. I don’t know if I’m writing things worth reading or not, but it has been a week of a lot of writing, editing and designing.

P1013661Last week Nad!ne’s English classes ended. That meant a lot of running around, filling out certificates in order to properly recognize all the students’ hard work. Here’s a picture of Nad!ne’s youngest class holding up their certificates. Aren’t they cute?

Right now we have a couple quiet weeks between N@d!ne’s English classes ending, and when new teams arrive.

So, this week, Nad!ne and I have been in the office all week. All day. Every day. And well, we’re a little antsy. We’re grateful for the new little store that opened up recently across the street from the office to give us a place to go during some much-needed breaks during the day.

While the days do seem long in the office without English classes in the afternoon, the power has been on consistently every day and the weather has been beautiful, so they have been productive days! I have been working on Web content, which includes editing pictures, and writing.

poster_mockup_MDToday I worked on posters. They’ll look a little something like this when they’re done. There’s a team coming in July that will be doing some “Lunch and Learn” sessions with business leaders, military personnel, women, and educational leaders in M!trov!ca.

In just a few weeks, our next team will be coming to K0s0v0! I’m excited for the next team coming in! Luke and Kierstin from Calvary will be here with them for a few days during their internship. It will be nice to see some familiar faces.

 

Exploring…

On Saturday, Laura, a new friend who came with the C-stone team, and has stayed the last couple weeks, and my new friend A and I all went to Pr!st!na, K’s capital city. We made the trip in my first Kombi, a sort of mini-van converted into a mini-bus, and spent the day exploring the city on foot.

I was tired by the end of the day, and my feet were blistered, but I had a great time exploring!

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Our first stop was at the statue of Bill Clinton they have. They view him as a hero here in K for helping during the war. They have a street named after him and everything.

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Our next stop was a delicious lunch at a cozy little restaurant. I had some delicious pasta with broccoli. It was a great way to relax and just enjoy each others company.

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After lunch, we went to a cozy little coffee shop, that had a super fun atmosphere. A said it was her favorite coffee spot in all of K. I could tell why…I loved it, too.

Our last stop was a Catholic cathedral downtown. We arrived right at the time they were opening up the bell tower to allow people up to see a view of the whole city. It was a beautiful view of the city!

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So, yeah, I had a great day with new friends. Great memories, and sooo much fun. A was a great tour guide for Laura and I, and I was just excited to see a little more of K. I didn’t think I could like this place more, but it just keeps worming its way deeper and deeper into my heart.

Making new Friendships & Bracelets

Friday night we had a good time at Nad!ne’s weekly game night. This week a new friend, Laura, was in town and was in charge of coming up with games. Instead of games, we had a good time learning how to make friendship bracelets, while we build new friendships. It was so much fun. I learned a new pattern…and brought back lots of memories of making similar bracelets growing up with my sister.

Here are a few pictures of the night. 🙂

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A little taste of home and some crazy animals…

Unexpectedly, I found out yesterday that I had the opportunity to go to Skopje, Macedonia! What’s in Skopje, you ask? Well, a little taste of home, and a bunch of crazy animals.

M!trov!ca, and all of K0s0v0 really, have no chain restaurants. So, the big fun today was going to the mall in Skopje and finding a Dominos and Burger King.  I’m not really missing Burger King, per se…or fast food at all…but it was nice just to have something familiar. And ketchup that actually tasted like ketchup. 🙂

The mall was also really nice and clean, and I seriously could’ve just wandered around for hours. And the mall had a movie theater that wasn’t too expensive. That will definitely be a destination in the future.

I traveled today with the P@dgetts, another m!ssionary family here in M!trovica. They’ve been a huge help to me as I’ve gotten settled here in K0s0v0. I really appreciate their generosity in including me in outings, having me over for dinner, and having some fun cooking new recipes. They’ve been living in the guest house apartment which is located on the third floor of the same house where my apartment in located. They’ve found a house just down the street to rent, and will be moving in as soon as it is finished! I’m so happy that they’ll be living in the same neighborhood. It helps having some teammates close by.

The trip, although it did include Burger King, was also a field trip for the P@dgett kids, because after we had our fast food fix, we went to the Skopje Zoo! For less than one euro, we were able to see a lot of animals. I took some pictures for you to get a taste of our zoo-tastic experience. 🙂

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Some ducks followed us around a bit…

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The hippo cooling off. They took awhile to get into the water…and the kids almost got pooped on when he decided that near the fence was a great place to do that…

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I don’t remember the name of this scary looking bird…

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The giraffes decided to come out side…but didn’t stay out long.

Getting used to…stuff

As of Wednesday, I’ve been in K0s0v0 three weeks! It’s a milestone that makes me smile. I love it here so far.

Yes, there are mild annoyances…like going to the grocery store and not being able to find anything because everything’s written in Albanian, or getting embarrassed when you say something completely wrong and people laugh at you, but those are all minor things that I know will get better over time. Like I said…I love it here.

So, what do I love?

The food. It’s really amazing. I have yet to find something I really don’t like. Not that I’ve ever been a super picky eater (thanks Mom!), but I love that everything is fresh, and I love getting my vegetables from the stand down the street from my house, and my bread fresh from the bakery.

And the people, they’re just friendly. I’ve already feel like I’m making some good connections with people. Nad!ne’s teaching assistant, V, and I went out for traditional tea and a light dinner tonight. We had a great conversation, and I’m excited about getting to know her while I’m here.

IMG_0228[1]My apartment. It’s really just the perfect size for just one person and so nice. I still can’t figure out what all the light switches do, and the  washing machine is in German, so for awhile I wasn’t quite certain I was putting the detergent in the right slot, but thanks to Google translate, I now know the words for softener and detergent in German. But all those things are temporary annoyances. 🙂

Culturally, there is still soooo much to learn here. I can’t even begin to the list the differences because there are so many.

So, what have I been up to these last two weeks? Good question! I’ll post a few photos to show you!

I went on a tour of M!trov!ca with some of Nad!ne’s students. As part of one of their projects, they are required to give a tour and explain the history of the city and K0s0v0. It was a great time, and I really enjoyed getting to know my tour guides for the afternoon. But, after three hours walking around the city, I was a little tired!

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The Bridge

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My tour guides

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Throwing rocks into the river…

And here are some other photos I’ve taken the past couple weeks for you to enjoy!

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Beautiful cherries from the fresh market! So excited it’s cherry season here!

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Nad!ne was teaching a lesson on verbs with basic school supplies to her youngest class.

Aaaand we’re off…

IMG_0205[1]A beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea…

Last week was a lot of culture shock and jet lag, and this week I firmly entered what I would call the “honeymoon” period of living in K.

poster_mockup_MDThis week I started work at the Gl0bal Ne!ghbors office in K, and created my first flyer for Nad!ne! and KLA. It still has to be translated, but I’m posting a mockup of the poster for you to see a little of what I’m doing while I’m here. 🙂

Nad!ne has started me off with quite a long list of projects, and I’m excited to start working on them! Next ‘week I’m starting to work on the branding for the school, and what that will entail. We also have some short-term teams starting to come next week. While they’re here I’ll be working in the office in the morning, and then helping with other things while they are here in the evenings.

After three days in the office this week, I had the opportunity to travel to Alban!a with Nad!ne for a conference. I’m definitely feeling a little spoiled because I was able to see the beautiful Adriatic Sea only my second week here! IMG_0210[1]The hotel where the conference was held was right on the beach, and the conference room where the conference was held was on the top floor with ceiling to floor windows. Just beautiful…and distracting! Tomorrow we’re planning on a picnic on the beach for lunch before we head home to K0s0v0.

One thing I’ve realized while in Alban!a is that I miss my apartment in K0s0v0. In just the short time I’ve been here, it’s already starting to feel a little like home. Sometimes you don’t realize how attached you’ve become to something until you leave. 🙂

Needless to say, getting settled is going well. I’m still getting used to things, but I can’t believe that I’ve only been here for a week and a half.

IMG_0204[1]Last Sunday I was able to make a new friend, A, from church. She’s a recent college grad and we really connected over coffee last Sunday evening. A took me fore my first Turkish Coffee, which was delicious, and the presentation was just beautiful. I’m excited to start building a friendship with A. We’re supposed to get together again this week, which I’m looking forward to.