Dear Reader,

Hello.  Today I traveled alone for the first time to the center of Tirana from Sauk.  This might not seem like much, but it was a victory for me.  I met with Alban by the clock-tower which is the last stop for my particular bus.  Alban is the minister in Fushe-Kruje who I will be working with, it is his church we are building there.  The most significant achievement for the day is how I am feeling now, at the end of it.  I feel more accustomed to the way things are here, and more like a part of the team.  This morning I passed Sprout off to Nella and Parek for the day.  They are two of the twelve students attending this school, they are engaged, and they are very cute.  They aren’t quite as cute as Sprout, but what kind of a bar is that to set for mere human beings.  You should have seen the excitement on both of their faces when I lifted the lid to Sprout’s makeshift domicile last night.  They took an immediate interest in the animal, showing her the greatest care.  Later, when Parek was feeding her, I saw that he was crying; the people here are so very sweet.

At the church today I could see a place for every member of the El Salvador Missions Team from all three years.  Here were Ed Harowitz, Chelsea Cook, Andy Sewrey, and Kaye Straight detailing paint around the trim.  Mary Bechen, and Mark Giles laughing with Kris Bates, Hannah McHugh, Joel Domingo and Laura Bolser while painting the walls and ceilings.  Tony Zimney, Stacey Carpenter, Conner and Ed Davilla, Brianne Owings, and Miranda Tyus chasing kids around the soccer field.  Me setting tile with the help of Chet Owings, my dad Joe, Jason Straight and Matt Weitkamp. Lara Severn-Schadee, April Mower (sorry if that’s changed my dear, no offense intended to you or John), and Donna Corallino are getting on amazingly well, mixing setting the grout in the floors.  It would be an honor to serve with this group in any country.

Fushe-Kruje means the “Field of Kruje,” which is the name of the city most famously known for being the point that the forces of Skenderbeu repelled the invading Turkish army on three different occasions.  Skenderbeu is called Skanderbeg in when talked about in English.  If you aren’t familiar with his story, its kind of a Moses meets William Wallace, throw in some George Washington overtones, and you’ve got a lasting image on which to build your people’s identity.  The symbol of Albania, the double eagle with the star of David flying over top, is emblazoned on the chest of Skanderbeg in every artistic rendering you will find.  The flag of Albania fly’s the eagles to this day.  My host Alban and a man called Vissy, who will be my right hand in the months to come, graciously showed me around Kruje today.  It is about a third of the size of Assisi, and under-traveled; two attributes which make it a real treat to visit.

I love you and I hope you are well.  Good night,