Thursday, September 18, 2008
Reflections on Albania
When I arrived I realized that I had made a mistake, maybe two. The last that I heard, we were going to be meeting in Lushnje, but I was taken to Arvid's place in Durres. This isn't a bad thing, I just realized that I should have been more 'energetic' in driving the communication in preparation for this meeting. Even though I tried, too many things were left up in the air. Partly my fault, partly their culture.
The first afternoon and evening I spent with Arvid, talking over issues, visiting ministry connections with him, and being invited to dinner in the village. Albanian raki doesn't taste too bad after the first few sips, but you really don't want too many sips.
I thought we would be meeting the first night with the pastors of the Free Church of Albania. Apparently, the plan was to start the meeting Tuesday. Not in the morning, but in the afternoon. Everyone had something different going on in the morning. Emi and Roxana were there at the hotel when we arrived. Arvid only dropped me off as he had to head to his grandfather's remembrance meal (the week following the funeral). When Arvid returned about 5PM, still only Emi and Roxana were there. No one had arrived, even though they set these dates for our meeting back in May. Can you tell I was a bit frustrated?
I started asking myself questions about how much money I had spent, the time I had invested and wondering whether I was being a good steward of those things. That thought drove me as I continued on through the week. Here are some of the outcomes: The pastors were exposed to some of the principles of church based training. Some of the pastors were able to teach others these principles during the week.
I had several moments of cultural insight. Watching conversations you can't understand is a great learning tool. Revisiting conversations you thought you understood is an even better one. We had frank, helpful dialogue about partnerships and a vision for the future of the Free Church in Albania. I have some good direction about how to help the partnerships between the Albanian churches and the U.S. churches. They had an opportunity to talk over some questions they hadn't thought of.
In the end, I feel good about how I was stewarding my time and money. I'm really glad I was asking myself the question.