I really miss Albania. I feel like I have discovered gold! That is, of course, people who love Jesus and show this openly to their community. I also miss our team, but there’s always WhatsApp!
We were six from across Australia. We met face to face for the first time in Doha, Qatar. Internet team times were okay, but we were still apprehensive as our planes from Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney converged on this airport, en route to Athens. The team in Albania welcomed us warmly and invested a huge amount of time in us.
We joined in the activities of the Agape Church in Tirana, which reaches out to both Islamic and Roma communities. Everywhere there were children to play with, adults to talk to, relationships to be made. We soon learned that to Albanians relationships have a high value. You are always greeted warmly, and when leaving you must properly farewell everyone. So you need to remember to leave early enough for all the farewells!
Albanians also love to dance, traditional and modern. Just turn up the music! We joined in but couldn’t keep up. We all loved the country. Perhaps it was because we experienced a remnant of the old world, where people mattered and communities celebrated. Formerly an atheistic state, the church now grows slowly and freely.
At the end of three weeks the team knew each other well and had grown to appreciate the contribution each brought. Faith, knowledge, grace and enthusiasm bubbled in the team. I was amazed as each brought their testimony to a variety of groups; among homeless people in Greece, Roma people in Macedonia, the youth of Albania, there was the Spirit. Some thought their testimony would not relate to people so distant in culture and experience. However, telling people how we came to know Jesus is powerful across all cultures.