Category Archives: Vlashaj

Girl Talk


A group of Floridian women landed in Albania this weekend and 12 hours later were hiking the hillside village of Vlashaj to get acclimated to their new community for the week and acquainted with some of its female citizens.

In one day we visited six homes and heard six stories.  We heard stories of years of menial labor (37 years of digging fields, in one case), years of work abroad to support one’s family while missing her children’s formative years.  Years of living under the roof of an in-law who hurled curses and inflicted beatings.  Stories of mothers whose children are their sole source of love, security, and identity but have moved away, leaving them to bear burdens alone.  Stories of children forced by economic circumstances to take on more responsibility than most to help the family.

We met women who have a palpable excitement over the opportunity to have a break from everyday tasks, from caring for elderly parents, for a reprieve from an air of hostility in their own homes.  We were asked, “Can you make the retreat not just one day but 7?”  Others said they were looking for fellowship and fun and to meet new friends.  Another said she wanted to spend time with women in prayer. 100% of them said they had never done anything like this before. 

We were in homes of plenty and homes of want. In each home we were welcomed and served.  Acquaintances were made, family photos and testimonies shared, tears shed, and prayers prayed.

We came back to our little team apartment above the ministry center better understanding where our hosts are coming from. We were amazed to witness Spirit-driven conversations, how He weaved together pieces of our personal stories into mutually relate-able experiences that transcended cultural divides.


We can’t wait for more days like these!  Thank you, Lord, for this privilege!  What a JOY! Oh friends, hearts are soft.  We are expecting great things.  


Because of the reputation of my father, I was warmly received by this gentleman whom we passed on the road…

You might recognize him from his portrait I captured here  He didn’t recognize me… you can’t tell but he’s nearly completely blind (and 93 years strong).

re-posted from the Waggoner’s blog



[hr]Most of you will remember one of our youth from the very beginning of the ministry in Vlashaj. No one had seen him for a while in the village ministry, but to my delight, Jamille (not his real name) attended our meetings this week, and it was a great time to reconnect. He has run the full course in Albania – graduating from the University and immediately going into unemployment. His story is not uncommon. Please pray for Jamille that his degree would open doors for a career.

Jingle Jangles

[hr]Today some of the village ladies will see the fruit of their labors.  The international craft bazaar is going on at the Sheraton Hotel in Tirana.  The jewelry and cards made by the women from Vlashaj are being sold alongside donuts, paintings, and lots of other goodies. An earlier craft sale at the US Embassy netted about $200 and hopes for today are to top that amount.

Thanks to Lynn, Len, and Vera for managing the booth!

Ladies Bible Study

Shpresa has started a village wide Ladies Night for every Wednesday evening. Since I knew we would be here in Albania this week, I asked Shpresa if I could share a lesson with the ladies.  I used the text of I Peter chapter 1 to tell the women that God had chosen them to inherit His offer of salvation and blessings which includes the living hope that we have through Jesus Christ.  Just as I was beginning the lesson, the lights went out.  This isn’t something completely foreign in a village of Albania.  It was just that I mentally hadn’t prepared for this situation and what my plan would be.  A quick prayer of “help” was said and the evening progressed by the flickering light of the candles.  The message of salvation never goes unchallenged in a world filled with darkness.  The message couldn’t have been more clearly presented that evening, and with or without electricity, the Spirit will use that message to reach the chosen.


It is so much fun to work with the ladies in the village that are making greeting cards to bring in a little more income for their families.  For the past several weeks they were working hard on making Christmas cards.  If anyone is interested in buying any of these cards, just respond to this notice and I will send them to you ASAP.  They sell for $1.50 apiece.


“Cheese” it

Cydil had the opportunity to bring much kaboom, flash and crackle to the village. It reminded everyone of the big explosion. Planters is so thankful to have Cydil’s talent on board for a personal photo shoot for many of the inhabitants of the village. Most dressed up in their finest and we haven’t seen that many teeth in a long time. We’ve got one great picture of model, Mandi, being photographed by Cydil being photographed by Mom. The light explosions were simultaneous and it looked like the fourth of July in the end of November in Vlashaj.