Today was a fine day, as good as any might be.  I rose with the sun and enjoyed some breakfast alone while reading over the passage in Romans I am preparing to preach on this Sunday.  I have grown very fond of the honey here and I add it to my coffee and my yogurt.  I heard once that if you eat local honey you will become immunized to the pollen in the air.  I have always had allergies before coming to Albania.  Honey, real honey, cannot be found in grocery stores.  You have to purchase it from a special vendor or through a personal contact.  I have found that whatever is required for the acquisition of this ancient elixir is a small price indeed.


I arrived at the job-site and found that the construction of the outbuilding which will house the church’s back-up generator was not going according to the plan I had outlined.  The sun was baking down on us; making technical conversations about construction practices and theories through an interpreter a patience bending mind-bleeder.  Aside from my four workers, there is an additional team of four men on site this week.  Their noise and interruptions, opinions and jokes seemed to heap the frustration higher and higher as the morning waded forward through chest deep soft clay.  I decided to free myself through the art of task delegation and walked to the nearest cafe.


After lunch, Ervis and I contacted a back-hoe operator to begin work on opening up the last trench to connect the sewer and rainwater systems of the church to the main system for the city of Fushekruje.  I took a great deal of satisfaction in watching as this work was done.  The final steps for completing the first systems we began work on back in April were now being taken.  In the States it is known that one should “call before you dig.”  There is a simple phone number attached to this premise and it is a good practice to be in the habit of.  We warned Salvator that there was a city water line in the path of his trench and this was, of course, no problem.  I don’t know if Salvator could feel his back-hoe tipping off balance toward the work when the claw of his Caterpillar hooked the stout, plastic line; I could certainly see it.  The pipe was punctured in three places.  Fortunately it was not charged with water.


With that out of the way, Salvator took no additional precautions as work continued.  He soon found a second water line which was smaller in diameter and ripped it in half.  Eventually all of the workers made it out to our trench to offer opinions and to make observations.  I was in no mood for idle chatter, but was prepared when Edison strode out to the edge of the trench we were all working in and observed loudly “you broke a pipe.”

With Fatjon as my translator, the conversation went like this.  “What do you mean?” I replied.

“The pipe there, its broken.”

“What pipe, where?  What are you talking about?”

“The pipe you are standing next to,” Edison insisted.  “Its broken.”

“Now I see it,” I said.  “You must have the eyes of an eagle to have noticed it.  Everyone else has been working out here for hours and yet you are the first to see it,” I said unsmiling, letting my words sit flat.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used humor to disarm a new acquaintance in construction.  It is good to know that some things are not lost in translation after all.