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