first things first

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

The first 3 months

I want to spend some time in this blog post unpacking what I’ve felt, what I’ve learned, and what I’ve found here in the past almost 3 months since I came to Albania. I really can’t believe time has gone by so fast. There’s so much to do, and so many new friends that it’s never boring. Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life? I can’t answer that yet. But I have met so many people here who have devoted their lives to missions. Is it worth it to do so? They would answer unequivocally yes.

It’s interesting how the concept of home changes. In the past, when I came for only a week or two at a time, I couldn’t wait to get back to my own house & bed in order to relax. Now, my house and bed is here in Tirana, and I don’t have the same feeling of wanting to “go home”. Certainly I’ll enjoy visiting my parents for Christmas, but that hasn’t been “home” in this sense since I graduated university. My old room has even been repurposed for my little sister :)

My friend Juliana Jones just finished the world race. That seems much more difficult to me than to go to Albania for a year. She spent a whole year without any place to call home. Another friend in Albania, Genti, went on Expedition all around Eastern Europe a couple years ago. I asked him about it recently; he said it was very difficult, but he learned to rely on God more.

I definitely understand what he means. I’ve been praying a lot more than I used to. I’m constantly being shown how much I don’t know. Every situation is new for me. I recently taught a class to some computer science students as an outreach to a new university. It felt great, because that’s one area where I feel that I know what I’m doing. Every other area in my life right now, I have to learn as I go. It gets exhausting!

My Albanian lessons have been going very well. I’m convinced God has given me a gift to learn Albanian quickly. It’s going to take a long time yet, and I’m impatient. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. After every lesson I feel mentally exhausted, but I keep pushing on, because the most difficult things are the most rewarding.

A lot of people have been telling me that one year is too short to see a real impact from your ministry. One told me, “less is accomplished in 1 year than you think, but more is accomplished in 5 years than you could imagine.” These thoughts, as well as wanting to learn the language, are causing me to lean towards staying for a second year. As of now, if I think about going back to Dallas, I couldn’t imagine going back to my same job with my same house. I could see myself going back to Dallas, and finding a job in ministry or somehow living below my means, in order to live among the needy. There’s plenty of areas in Dallas where people need to see the living Gospel. Someone told me once, “it’s easy to get used to comfort.” I don’t want to get used to comfort. I want to invest my whole life for God.

So, I’m excited to come back in January and continue this mission! We have some things moving now. I can’t wait until I can share the Gospel in Albanian! I’ll probably mark it on Facebook as a life event.

Some of the highlights from the year so far:

Talking to some students about Open Source software, the Gift Economy, and the Greatest Gift: C++ Talk

Rick Howard came to visit, and told all these young professionals that they can be leaders! Young Professionals with Rick photo by Cheryl Boyd

Making new friends over American Football: Pal watching Texas A&M football

This is how wild Albanians get for soccer! Albanian fans at a soccer match

It’s been a wild ride so far. Thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to come here, and everyone who has been with me on this race so far.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 11:32-12:1