It is said that there was a great immigrant to America in the late 1930s.  This man had numerous ideas and theories including the idea that time is relative.  If anyone reading this has lost a full day this week, then you and I are experiencing this phenomena first hand.  I’m so glad I’m not alone.  I suppose I could view it as a blessing to have one less day of sitting at my desk shuffling bytes and making certain that I was copied on all of the email traffic to other people within my firm.

Email chains are important.

Tomorrow we are hosting a conference for both students and missionaries in Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania.  A man named Astrite has put it all together through an organization called Smile International.  Astrite and his wife Emily are students here.  Astrite has the only stories I’ve heard so far about first-hand beatings by Serbian soldiers during the Serbian occupation of Kosovo in the 1990s.  He said that the beating on his bare feet with police batons was the worst, and I believe him.  Unlike so many people who have suffered at the hands of faceless, nameless, uniformed men sent to murder in the name of nation; Astrite shows no sign that he has any anger around what happened.  “The war,” may as well have been a natural disaster like the tsunami in Japan last year; no one to blame.  I am challenged by his ability to forgive.

Astrite takes his instruction from Jesus Christ.  I still remember the time you did that thing.  No, that other thing.  You never apologized for that.  I am blessed to have a man such as this to be a living example of what Jesus was trying to convey to people in Matthew 5:44.

Albania is a nation of people who could conceivably have a grudge against any one of two dozen nations and nationalities.  Its location on the Dalmatian Coast of the Adriatic Sea has made it an inviting target for both foreign settlers and the armed forces of neighboring nations since the beginning of historical record keeping.  What most invaders didn’t realize, however, is that the Albanian race has operated a lot like the United States Marine Corp for most of that time.  You are more than welcome to take a shot at a marine battalion, but it will end badly for you.