first things first

A blog about whatever crosses my mind, ordered by importance.

March Project

We love momentum

March 13-17 was a big week for us. We invited a group from Louisville, TX To join us for a week-long momentum building project. This group had an amazing impact, we drew in well over 100 people for the seminar, and our social time was a big success as well. We got a lot of new contacts and, as was our goal, we will be following up with them over the coming weeks.

The group featured Paul Henry, former finance director for the Kimberly Clark corporation, as well as Quentin ‘Pete’ Peterson, a retired 2 star air force general. As you can imagine these two drew quite a crowd of people who wanted to hear them speak! We advertised Paul for the anchor seminar on Wednesday March 15, but one of our partners Adi Muço organized a separate event for Tuesday night just for military members. I wasn’t invited personally but I heard it went great!

Seminar on Wednesday

On Thursday the 16th, we reserved the whole afternoon for coffee. This was a great decision in my opinion. It helped us to solidify some relationships with a couple new people who came to the seminar. I went with Paul Henry to his two scheduled coffee appointments. The first was with a guy who is an atheist, but loves discussing various viewpoints. He’s searching for a job right now so was very interested in the theme of the seminar. After a while Paul was able to turn the discussion to spiritual things and we got halfway through the four spiritual laws with him before the conversation turned again. Our second coffee was with a friend of one of our consistent comers who is a young entrepeneur. He had a lot of questions for Paul about business, but at one point Paul asked about his spiritual journey. The guy said he believes in God but that he’s in control of his own destiny. He brought a friend with him who said that she is searching but doesn’t know what she’s looking for. We invited her to come to the ladies’ meeting that was happening later. She got connected there but we haven’t followed up with her yet.

One other idea we had was to ask our American team to prepare something to share with the staff on Thursday morning. This turned out to be a really great idea! Charlie Ridenour, executive pastor for the church in Louisville, gave a great talk on developing volunteers. We recorded it for all the staff to see and uploaded it to youtube. Take a look!

On Friday we had a party! We love parties. The American team prepared some “minute to win it” style games. The Albanians loved them! They did not love however the sweet tea that I made. Almost every glass was still full of sweet tea at the end of the night. We also had guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, chili, and cornbread. I particularly enjoyed the food, even if the Albanians didn’t! We also presented the American team with some gifts as a thank you for their hard work.

Party night The American team

Building on the momentum

The next week, after all was said and done, Genti and Erjona invited all of our partners for a thank-you dinner at their house. There we had a good discussion about the future of Leader Impact in Albania. All of them were sharing their vision of seeing this movement grow all over Albania. This is a very compelling vision and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m proud of all our partners and very excited that I get to work with them for the rest of this year.

Appreciation dinner

I’ve been thinking a lot personally about how I want to commit to this vision. I’m coming up on the end of my 2nd year on STINT. After 2 years, CRU requires you to commit to joining staff or to leave. You can’t do STINT indefinitely. So, I’m at a big decision point. Not only do I have to decide whether to join CRU, I have to decide whether I want to commit more to Albania or to Dallas for the forseeable future.

I’ve been praying a lot about this, and still things aren’t 100% clear. I’m not yet certain whether I’ll join staff, I’m also pursuing other employment options. However one thing is clear - I want to be part of what this team is doing here in Albania. I have a strong desire to come back and live for another several years here to see this movement grow, and also to help the local church grow so that it can support all the new believers who are coming to know Christ personally. There are a lot of structures that need to be built up, and some mentalities that need to change.

Right now it looks like my path forward is to come back to Dallas in August of 2017. My intention is to spend one year there, and in 2018 to come back to Albania for another term. If I join staff I’ll need to go through several trainings next year, and also raise support. So far as it is up to me - if the LORD Wills - I’ll be back in Albania in August 2018 in order to help Sotmëria acheive their 2020 goals.

Church Leader’s Conference

One other neat thing I should mention - My friends Will Noll, Matt Rial, and Lucy Chang have invited several Albanians to come to Dallas for a kind of “reverse mission trip”. They are raising funds to take 5 people from our church “Guri i Themelit të Shqipërisë” (Cornerstone Church Albania) to the Watermark Church Leader’s Conference in May. We think this will be a great opportunity for them to see what the Church can look like here in Albania, and get some more ideas for ways the church can serve it’s members.

If you’d like to support them, you can make a tax-deductible donation here: Camino Global Account for Guri i Themelit Church
Please add “Watermark Church Leader’s Conference” to the Note line.

If you’d be interested in meeting the group that will come, especially if you’d like to help show them around at The Porch on May 2nd, we’d love to have you on board with this project! Send me an email.