We had three months travelling around New Zealand at the start of the year, beginning in Auckland and going as far south as Dunedin. We especially enjoyed getting to know our grandchildren a bit better. It was also such a pleasure to be in New Zealand when our son Shaun proposed to Tiana. They plan to get married on the January 6, so we will be making another quick trip back to New Zealand for the occasion.
It has been very encouraging returning to our church in Tirana, Albania, after three months away. Here's some of those encouraging things:
New people. One of the first things we noticed was quite a number of new people that weren’t coming to church when we left. One family has moved to Tirana from Berat and are now living in our area, and have joined the church. Another woman lives near the church and recently became a Christian. The thing that we noticed most about her is how hungry she is to understand the Bible.
Bible study groups. Our Bible study groups continued while we were away, and both groups finished Book 1 in the Life of Christ series we began studying with them before we left, and now they are now ready to move on to Book 2. A new Bible study group is going to begin with the new church members.
A new vision. Erion, the pastor, has been praying about a new vision to develop the main church building into a ‘community centre.’ Here in Albania there's not a lot for young people to do, so the vision is for a centre where they can go to learn or practice English, learn a musical instrument or just to hang out together with other Christians.
Outreach to Poliçan. Erion took the men to visit Poliçan regularly while Murray was away. They continued to build relationships with the group the men were meeting with, and Erion managed to develop some other relationships as well.
Welcome to David and Anne. Soon after Féy returned, our ECM team in Albania welcomed a new family from Germany. David, Anne and Leonora stayed with us for their first month while they found and prepared an apartment. David is a psychologist and Anne a midwife. A lot of people in Albania suffer from a lack of hope, both for themselves and their country. David and Anne’s vision is to use their training in connection to the church to help to develop hope. Their desire is to invest in youth and young families to help them practically, as well as help them find a new home in Jesus. For the next year or two, their focus will be on learning Albanian as they prepare to serve here in Albania.
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