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Skopje is pronounced “scope-ya,” in English.  In Albanian, it is pronounced “shcoop,” like a person with a lisp might order a single serving of ice-cream.  The city is undergoing a face-lift and attractions are being added at a rapid pace.  More and more, the city center feels like a Las Vegas venue with a Roman theme.  Gigantic, cheaply made statues, gaudy venues with paper-thin facades, and “history-lite” plaques crowd the area near the bridges over the Vardar River.  Bronze-plated-blight dots every horizon, gigantic men ride gigantic horses, scholars and artists are depicted in brass, huge white globs with sharp edges sit atop marble facades.

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Just a short walk up the river from the center is a place of quiet; an expansive park named Градскиот Парк (City Park).  It has plenty of shade and a tranquil feel.  Navigating Skopje, like navigating any city, is simple (if you know how to do it).  As the missionaries here have become more familiar with their surroundings, their guided tours of the city have greatly improved.

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City Park is a venue I had not found during either of my first two visits here, and it is the kind of place, like the park at the top of the hill in Split, Croatia, that I will always seek out when the opportunity arises.  Sitting with Pastor Ervin and a young man named Agim, I was content.  Betuel, Nardi, Hektor and one of the pastors from Brazil played a version of “keep away” with six-or-so Macedonian young-men.  Pastor Jose took a nap on the lawn.  The women in the group sat together by the river; talking about what people talk about.

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There was not a bit of strife; the only stirring came from an occassional, light and wonderful breeze.

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