Yesterday we went on a roadtrip with our friends Gerta and Enli to one of our field sites, Dibra. It was a 4.5 hour drive from Tirana, so Enli picked us at 6:00am. We started the journey looking out our windows at a blood orange moon and returned at 8:30 pm staring again at the moon, full and white. We looked at it in wonder and honestly, couldn’t believe the day we just had.
Dibra is a municipality with many small villages. We spent our time in one very poor village. The roads were narrow, steep and windy. The scenery was beautiful with rocky snow capped mountain surrounding us on every side. While you were walking to people’s homes, you dodged numerous donkeys carrying firewood for people’s stoves. Most people had electricity, but few can afford to use it for heat. Rather, everyone uses wood burning stoves in their homes for cooking and warming.
So we met with the manager of our programs, and she took us to a local school where a classroom of sponsored children were waiting for us. We brought them markers and papers for coloring and they were super excited! It was refreshing to hear their sweet voices and laughter. We talked to some teachers who were very happy to be working with us … however, they were openly skeptical about us being a Christian organization. More than 90% of their community is Muslim and they’ve had bad experiences with people trying to “convert” them in the past. Our team kindly listened and are resolved that the “quality of their work, will be the platform to their witness.” (thanks, Kenny Isaacs)
Next, we went to visit some children in their homes. Each child had a different issue that we were there to talk about. For instance, one girl was having problems learning in school – her family was ashamed of her problem so they didn’t want her to go to school. The girl’s teacher also didn’t want her to go to school because of her problems learning. Fortunately, this young girl insisted that she continue going because SHE wanted to. We went to encourage her family – the mother listened and responded – the father didn’t want to talk about his daughter at all, simply his own electricity problem. He wouldn’t look at Genta, but only Elton because he was a fellow man. His oldest son would barely speak during the entire visit, even when we were playful … and the youngest son isn’t in school because the parents do not care to send him yet.
Another little one wasn’t able to go to school because her parents didn’t have money to buy her a nice, warm outfit. She was absolutely the most precious thing ! Phil immediately adored her. It was her birthday and her mother was very sad because she didn’t have money to bake her a cake. She only had the legs of a cow a neighbor had given her to make some soup. Heartbroken, Phil saw an opportunity to send a little girl back to school. He and Genta made sure that she had a nice outfit, a jacket, and a few supplies so that she could go back to school … and she did go back the very next day. PRAISE the Lord!
The other visits were very heavy on our hearts as well. We again saw the consequences of poverty. Children aren’t going to school. They are stunted from malnourishment. Domestic violence abounds in homes. The burdens our team in Dibra bear each day are heavy. Phil and I can visit and go back to Tirana, but people like Genta stay and serve the children in this community every day. We admire her. Please pray for her and our team in Dibra. That they will give their burdens to Christ every day. That they will be strengthened, comforted, and given wisdom as to do these very difficult jobs. That they may communicate Christ to this lost community and that Christ will soften hearts and bring salvation to the people of Dibra.
One last note, the church in Dibra consists of 20 members, 7 who are active. Please also pray for this church.
Thank you for praying with us.
PS. We forgot our camera – sorry !