On the 20th of June two UK teenager boys, David and James, arrived from Pakistan (both sets of parents live and work there). They were ‘loaned’ to a number of different project during their six weeks here. From English and Sports camps in Durres alongside the ‘Burimi Centre’, to feeding projects and a football outreach camp with IPA church here in Tirana, along with a number of other activities, and not forgetting the odd day out touring Albania. All in all they enjoyed their stretching time here in Albania and the youth group that was launched off the back off the football outreach still continues. We thank them for all their efforts and we pray for their protection in an unsettled Pakistan and that their final year in High-school is a super productive one.
This summer Shkendije didn’t run its own camps as we’ve done in previous years because we were hoping that this summer would see the launch of the ‘Spark the Urban Outreach project. Never the less it was a joy to help a number of other camps, with training and materials for their children’s summer outreaches we helped to serve over 500 children.
Spark Van’s arrival
On the Evening of the 17th of August, Brian Whiley and Robin Stephens, our two experienced drivers, set off from the UK with the newly fitted out Spark Van. They travelled through France and Italy and then caught the ferry in Bari on the evening of the 19th arriving in Albania on the 20th. We were so very grateful for the drivers, it’s safe arrival, all those who have prayed for and invested into the Van and worked on the Van. Photos and the journey can be seen on our SPARK the Urban outreach Campaign page on Facebook.
Since the Van’s arrival we’ve been on an uphill journey… After flying through the adversary of Albanian customs we hit a hurdle with the Albanian transport registration department – since the VIN number could not being found on the chassis! Knowing the van was not stolen or dodgy it still was a month’s worth of ping ponging from different offices with different processes (and bucket loads of patience) before we finally got the Van registered and on Albanian plates – “Praise God !”. Then Brian, one of our drivers, kindly put a few days of work on the Van… but there’s further work still to be done.
Vali’s return and Shengjin
Vali started her maternity leave in January so the work in Shengjin was pruned back to minimum. Robert Cook (Pastor of a Church in Lezhe) helped to continue the young girls Bible study through to the summer and Vali continued to do the odd visit when possible to keep up the contact with the Shengjin community. Our Centre was closed at the end of the year and most equipment that was transported to Tirana, other materials like the computer course equipment was donated to a children’s learning center in Bathore on the outskirts of Tirana, they are working with children with learning difficulties and who are economically challenged.
As schools returned this autumn and Vali’s maternity leave ended she has returned to part time service. The 5 teenage girls (Jenny, Manda, Renisa, Klejdia and Kesandra) all of whom are ‘on team’ are meeting with Vali each Saturday for a study/mentor time together and each Monday she continues the children’s discipleship meetings. We enjoyed a team BBQ with the girls to kick off the season in Shengjin. There will be a monthly outreach in Shengjin with the van starting. A church plant is still needed in Shengjin. Please pray for Shengjin
Our big focus right now is recruiting new team in Tirana and gaining new financial and prayer partners for them. There were nearly 50 applicants, which we short listed to 21 for interviews. We are now down to the final 10 for a practical phase, which with the Lord’s help we’ll discern who are ‘the ones’. It’s not been easy making the decisions of who goes through, since the task hasn’t been just to see who might be good and experienced at the job, but also there’s the all important faith and calling element.
Finalising the work on the Van, will continue this month. It needs to be ready for Christmas outreaches.
Preparing new children’s teaching materials and training sessions for new children’s workers who will be partnering with the ‘Spark the Urban Outreach’ project.
Praise and Prayer
For the Van’s safe travelling through Europe to Albania, Thanks to Robin and Brian.
For everyone that has given and has prayed into the ‘Spark the Urban Outreach’ project.
For Vali’s return to the ministry.
For Vali, continuing the work in Shengjin.
For wisdom in the present recruitment process for new team in Tirana.
For sponsor and prayer partners for the new Albanian staff, taking a step of Faith to come onto team.