This morning, like so many Sunday mornings here, found me waiting early for Kurt and Stephanie to arrive at school. The three of us, along with four Italian pastors, headed into Fushekruje for church on the second floor of an apartment building near Buyar’s Cafe.  On the ride up there most of the communication was done via Italian.  It has been a revelation to have English, the only language I have ever known, become obsolete in most situations.  It is like I am only equipped to make purchases with a currency which has lost its’ value.  I now have to barter with an empty purse.

At church, I stepped out to use the nearest restroom; located at Buyar’s Cafe. He was the only person there, so I stayed for a coffee.  He has in his mind that my name is George, spelled Gjergj in Albanian.  Gjergj was the given name of Skenderbeu who is the most celebrated Albanian in all of history.  I’ve decided to let his mistake lye.  After a few minutes of conversation, I went back to join the singing.  I realized this morning that I am at home here, I feel at peace.  I enjoy the worship at the church in Fushkruje as much as I would if I could understand every word.  It is the spirit of the worship that moves, and it was moving this morning.  The speaker today was one of the Italian pastors.  He spoke on Jeremiah chapter 6.

After the conclusion of the sermon, I was tapped on my back by a woman called Fatima.  I have met her a few times before.  I mentioned a woman some weeks back who asked me to pray for the healing of her hands.  After that first prayer she looked at me and simply wrung her hands, feeling no difference.  I felt like I had administered a placebo.  Today I was surprised to be asked again by her for prayer.  I held her hands tightly today, and there was a palpable energy from my head downward as I spoke to God.  “Only you can heal Lord God, and I pray for the healing of this woman in the name of your son Jesus.”  After a few minutes of praying together, she was delighted to inform me that she had felt something, and that her hands did feel better.  She asked through an interpreter that I pray for her whenever I pray.  I told her I would.  More than a few times after we parted did I see her talking with someone from the church while looking and pointing at me.  I have never been the conduit of something like this before.  Later Fatima was sitting with a woman in a white head scarf.  With permission, I took their picture.


After Fatima, Alban asked me to pray for him, and so we prayed.  There was another man who I had never seen before, sitting in the back row. I went to him and prayed with him.  I can not say how humbled I am to be a part of the Body of Christ.  As church concluded, I felt like a part of this congregation for the first time.  It takes time to find comfort in a new home.

Pastor Gezim has been the thrust behind our getting deeper connections with the churches of Italy.  After church in Fushekruje we went to his house to have a meal with the fifteen Italians who are visiting for the week.  Perhaps growing up with a bus system which allows for no limit to the number of people who can board a motorized vehicle has given the Albanian people a higher threshold of comfort when it comes to packing into small venues.  24 of us sat and broke bread in Pastor Gezim’s 4×6 meter dining room, spilling into the kitchen.  His lovely wife and daughter provided a delicious pasta as the first course.  Tomato, cucumber and olive salad followed with thick slices of rotisserie, slow cooked pork.  Ice cream was the finish after a brief interlude of fresh peaches and cherries.  With permission, I took their picture.


As clouds hurdle the Balkan Alps I am reminded of the beauty of God’s creation.  Looking across the land to an avalanche of moisture pushing up to the sky in a display of contrasting laws, I took a few moments to process the beauty of a gift so temporary and so beautiful.


It is beautiful here.