first things first

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

Euro Trip!

Budapest Parliament

The best part is it’s only half over! I’m writing this post from the home of my good friend Aldo Rustemi, in Tirana the capital city of Albania. So much has happened, and so much more is to come. It’s awesome :)

Wien, Österreich

We began the trip in Vienna, where we went sightseeing just the three of us (me, Lucy and Chris). Vienna in the winter is amazing, especially when there’s snow on the ground.

Schoenbrunn Schönbrunn Palace at night

We saw Die Zauberflöte at the Vienna opera house, standing room tickets are only like 3 Euro. But you have to get there early. We had a bad location for the first half and couldn’t see anything, but we were able to change locations at the intermission.

It was fun to go touring with friends, but the best was yet to come.

Budapest, Magyarország

We took the train to Budapest and arrived at night. As we took the taxi to the hotel we could see the beauty of the city. I love the way they light the national monuments at night, so you can see them above and contrasted to the rest of the city.

The Danube at night

And of course the best part was hanging out with all our good friends! On the 31st we met Csaba & his wife Virag, Peter, Almos, Mari & Mesi at a coffee bar the first day & had a great time catching up. Csaba, Mari and Mesi then took us touring around the city. We saw the parliament building and the cool monuments there. Chris and Lucy took a bunch of pictures.

We went into the city around 10:30 PM and walked to Deák Ferenc tér. People were shooting off fireworks all over the place, lots of people jammed into the square to celebrate. Everybody started counting down and then a whole bunch of fireworks went off. It was an awesome time! I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We bought some kürtös kalács from a street vendor, and that became Chris’ favorite phrase for two days.

After all the fun of just hanging out and sightseeing with friends, we headed to the train station to get to the rest of the trip.

Tiranë, Shqipëri

We arrived late afternoon in Tirana, and quickly met our friends Skerdi and Anila. Lucy is staying with them, I am staying with Aldo and Blerina. We caught up about all the cool ministry opportunities they have going on. Later in the evening we met up with Genti, who told us all about his new job in Skopje, Macedonia. He’s leading the CRU team that is ministering to ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. It’s very difficult, tough ground there. He thinks it’s one of the most unreached people groups in the world. Nobody around there knows anyone who is a Christian.

The next day we met up with Afrim for coffee, and talked about digital ministries. He’s wanting to reach out to the professionals and young adults who are creating content for the internet in the Albanian language. He’d love to teach a class or facilitate a gathering so that they could reach those people for Christ, and through that get more Christian content out on the internet in the Albanian language. As C.S. Lewis once said,

We don’t need more people writing ‘Christian books,’ what we need is more Christians writing good books.

We had coffee with Ulli the next day. He was interested in the way we do ministry through The Porch, how we reach young working adults. He’s part of a new ministry that CRU Albania is starting towards executives and working adults. It’s a very interesting new ministry, one that we could definitely be a part of. We could even have a separate missions team oriented towards that ministry. For my personal skillset, there seemed to be a lot of overlap with what Afrim is trying to accomplish.

It’s been a great few days in Albania. Between the great friends, great coffee, and great fun, it’s been an excellent time. I’m excited that I still have 3 whole days to enjoy it! I’m also excited to take all these ideas back to the team in Dallas, and discuss how we can continue to expand our partnership here.