first things first

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

6 Months and Counting

We’re moving into the spring now, and as I’m preparing to go back to Dallas for a 1 month fundraising trip, I thought I’d reflect on where we are after 6 months.

Towards the Goal

We have a growing number of contacts now, young professional believers who have been joining us for seminars and other activities. We’ve had a couple of vision casting meetings with them too. Word is beginning to get around that this is a place to continue what they were doing with student ministries. Most of our volunteers were formerly part of Jete Studentore (CRU’s campus ministry), which is a very good thing.

At our most recent meeting of believers, we asked the young professionals to think about a crazy dream that they wish God would perform in their city. They wrote them down and prayed over them, and took those dreams home with them. We reminded them again of our vision and challenged them to consider the needs of the community around them.

“Dream casting”

Sitting to my right in the above photo is my good friend Adi Muço. He was one of our first volunteers and really gets what we’re trying to do. He’s invited many of his friends to come to our meetings, and we together have shared the Gospel with a couple of them. Unfortunately he was just recently transferred to another city for work. We pray that He’ll be as effective there as he has been with us here.

Another who gets it is Alba Rukaj. She’s been deeply involved with practically every meeting that we’ve had. We’ve relied on her help in planning & executing many events, especially our social times which are great places to introduce new people to our community. We’ve been extremely blessed to have her. We’re praying for more young professional believers like her and Adi who will take hold of the opportunity to win, build, and send among their fellow young professionals in Tirana.

Recent Events

This month’s seminar was a partnership with Veritas Forum and Jete Studentore. We invited Mark Crawford from the American Chamber of Commerce, and Genci Shehu of New York University in Tirana to speak. They talked in a Q&A format on Leadership & Integrity. “Veritas forum 2016”

For our social gathering in March we went to see a musical put on by high school students in Colorado. It was a gospel-centered musical, performed in the old Communist congressional palace. We really have an amazing God, who will turn a building previously used to pass laws banning religion into a venue for sharing the Gospel. "‘Fame’ singing her song"

I also had an opportunity to go to a Church Leader’s conference in Durres. It was a fairly typical conference with nothing too ground breaking. My favorite part was the talk on time management. I can do a better job prioritizing my time use. The worship was also good - it was good to get away and just spend some time worshipping. At one point we sang “Oceans” by hillsong. It was a different experience singing that song in a foreign language.

Getting out and having fun

Back in early March I went up to mount Dajti, which overlooks Tirana. It had just snowed earlier that week, there was still plenty on the ground. I took a good hike, but not all the way to the top. You can see some pretty good views up there, over Tirana all the way to the Adriatic Sea. If you look hard enough you can even spot Durres. “The view from Dajti”

I got about a dozen Albanians to fill out March Madness brackets, and we had a party to watch some of the first round together. Noone picked the champs, but our tourney did come down to the final game. Gedis was in the lead since he picked Villanova to go to the championship game (but he picked them to lose). However, Adi’s girlfriend picked UNC to win the whole thing, and if they did she would have won. “March Madness”

My friends sent me an awesome care package full of snacks! It totally satisfied my craving for tortilla chips until I can get back to Dallas 2 weeks from now. I probably gained a couple pounds from all that candy but it was well worth it. Thank you so much Lauren, Ron, Chris, Matt, Cynthia, and Joseph! BTW a couple of my friends really liked the habanjero salsa. “Delicious care package!”

And of course I also went to a Football match here in Tirana. Partizani (based in Tirana) was leading Skenderbeu (from Korça), until the final minutes. The match ended a 1-1 draw, but all the hometown fans were extremely disappointed. This photo was taken right after Partizani scored their goal: “Partizani’s lone goal”

Ready for a break!

Things are going well here, but I’m so ready to go hang out with all my Dallas friends! My immediate plans upon landing are to go to Torchy’s and eat some tacos & guacamole. I’ll be having two barbeques as well, more information to come. It’s going to be a good time, I just hope it doesn’t go by too fast!

Till then, I’ll keep on keeping on with this beautiful team: “The LLM Team”