Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Monday, May 13, 2019
Monday, March 04, 2019
Even though you haven’t heard from us for a while – we are alive and well! At times, life flows like a slow river and there’s not much to tell, other times the currents of life carry us too fast to even remember the outside world exists…
In mid-September, the school year started with Eva in 3rd and Oliver in 1st grade. Oliver still misses the fun he had in kindergarten, yet he’s excelling in school. Eva started having English classes, and there’s something new even for her, as they are taught British, not American, English. Eleonora (almost 4) still mixes all three languages in one sentence, and Zigmas (17 mos), who has become quite vocal in the past few months, entertains us with his Zigmish.
For quite a few years now our church has participated in Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan’s Purse. We see the shoe boxes, which perhaps many of you joyfully and prayerfully have packed full with gifts, being received by gleeful kids in Albania. This year, we had the joy of distributing 400 boxes. Although proselytizing of any religion is illegal in Albanian schools, we were invited and accepted very warmly in 3 village schools in our region, even met with thankfulness for spreading the Good Christmas News in Muslim villages. The visit that stands out the most is to a school higher in the mountains, which has 3 teachers and 11 students in total! The school building stands above the village, yet it’s future is clear – soon it will be closed and students transferred to a bigger school in a nearby village. In Albania, there are many abandoned villages, because people have moved to bigger villages or cities in the lowlands. So we get surprised to still discover communities tucked deeper in the mountains.
Last year, we rented a building for gatherings in the village of Goskova, and the Korca church youth have started regular meetings there. Now our presence is more noticeable and opportunities for spreading the Gospel are greater. To celebrate Christmas, three separate events were organized – for the children, for the youth, and for the adults – all seeing the building fill up! Our church youth leader Vilson has taken on the responsibility to lead the ministry in Goskova, and has been doing it with obvious dedication. We are praying – and ask you to join us – for a team that would work in the village exclusively, so that nobody would be stretched too thin while wearing too many hats.
And now the cherry to top off the cake… You might remember that a few years back we arranged for The Jesus Storybook Bible by S. Lloyd-Jones to be translated in Albanian. Even more so, I, Vita, have always dreamt of seeing it in my mother tongue, Lithuanian. With many years of translating experience up my sleeve, I initiated the project and translated this amazing children’s Bible. The dream of 8 years came true this January, when the translation reached the bookstores. I’m extremely excited (and proud too), and have been hearing great reports from fellow Lithuanians!
Thank you for reading – and partnering with us!
Sean, Vita, Eva, Oliver, Eleonora, and Zigmas Mason
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Monday, April 21, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
The other day I was browsing through an advertisement paper and amusing myself reading the addresses of some major appliances' stores throughout the country. A few of my favorites read: "Main avenue, "Xhevdet Neprevishta" neighbourhood" (in Lushnje), or in Elbasan: "Qemal Stafa" str., apartment building next to the former military base." (Mind you, these are large cities.) More often than not an address is "somewhere close to something former." So learning an address for a newcomer like me the enlightenment is double: I learn both where a certain store, office etc. is and, for instance, where a flour factory used to be.
With the advent of democracy in 1990, city planning in Albania went off the hook. Years later (some) illegally built structures were demolished, and some cities regained their shapes, yet others (like the capital Tirana) remain a maze.
The street name signs are in place, but if you want to find us in Korca, forget our address. You'll have more luck looking straight above the cinema (former cinema, to be more accurate), just below the water depot, and behind a tall green house. Alternatively, ask where a known writer Vangjush Ziko used to live or mention our neighbour's from across the street name.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, September 16, 2011
Recently, as I’ve complained to a lady about jumping the line in front of me, she apologized explaining, “I thought men were waiting on the right, and the women on the left.” (Whereas I was lost somewhere in between.) How strange, thought I, and quickly started recollecting my recent queuing experiences. To my surprise, in most cases I could picture men crowding on one side, and women – on the other. Could it be yet another sign of Muslim-rooted gender separation? I inquired a friend of this phenomenon. And yes indeed, she confirmed that during the communist times women and men would form two separate queues. And at that time there was a lot of waiting in lines.
Now who would have thought that there is some logic in the absence of a queue (despite the wide-spread queue jumping)!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
We hope you are all doing well and recovering from all the end of the year festivities! More so we hope that Christmas brought you deeper meaning in life through a greater understanding and awareness of Jesus who came to earth for us all. We hope too that through Him you have found greater hope for this new year!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
We all love hearing big success stories; water turning into wine, dead being resurrected, mountains moving... The big stories of the little people are brushed off. I’d like to share with you a vivid illustration of Albanian Gypsy culture, and an impressive example of courage and faith.
A lady, who I’ll call Ada, is in her early thirties, like we, but her life has been very unlike ours. An older sister to two brothers was born and grew up in Korça. The smart girl truly enjoyed going to school, but when she reached 15, the parents decided to marry her off to a man almost twice her age. As it is common here, Ada moved in with her new husband and in-laws. Way too early she learnt the joys and hardships of the adult life. Barely 16, she gave birth to a baby-girl. Almost ten years later she had a son. A typical life of a poor Albanian Gypsy woman: marry early, raise kids and toil at home for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky, the in-laws treat you decently. But Ada wasn’t lucky. For an unassuming outsider, her husband creates an appearance of a quiet and nice person, yet his addiction to alcohol marred the life of the woman and her children. When he gets drunk, he turns violent.
Ada has been quietly suffering for years, as everybody in her family and neighbourhood would bluntly echo that we all must carry our own burdens. Years went by, Ada found Christ and peace in her heart, yet the abuse both towards her and the children only increased. As soon as Sean heard of her situation, he started encouraging the lady to find a place of her own, and promised the church’s support. It took over a year to work up the courage. She wasn’t wary of any revenge from her ex-husband. She had to fight a bigger monster called Culture. “What will people say?” too often towers above the wellbeing of your own children. In the people’s eyes, a woman leaving her husband commits a bigger crime than a husband, who instead of providing and caring for the family, wastes all the money on alcohol and constantly beats his wife and children.
First Ada moved in with her parents. They let her stay, but didn’t let her forget the shame she had brought on the family. Later, Ada’s brother with his family also moved into the two-room flat, and the living space became tight. Albanians don’t typically care about private space much, but the reproaches never really ended. “You just have to suffer,” they would tell her. “Everybody gets their share of suffering in life, and you must endure yours.” Even though both Ada’s in-laws passed away in the last year or so, and she had divorced her husband even longer ago, the culture wouldn’t let her get loose from the past.
Finally, Ada took her two children and moved out to a small two-room flat, leaving her parents and brother’s family more room, and getting more peace of mind. Working six days a week as a cleaner Ada makes a mere $120 a month. When I tried to convince her she should cook some meat for her anaemic daughter, I received a blunt reply, “Who can afford meat?”.
Ada’s determination is impressive. She has to fight the silent fight not only with the culture monster, but even with her own family in order to… protect her children from the abuse and provide them a safe and stable home! It’s difficult to be a single mother anywhere in the world, let alone in such a male dominant culture as Albania. Even more than Ada’s strong will I admire her trust in God – when she is stressed, tired, worried, when things seem hopeless, she chooses to rely on God and throw all her burdens on Him. She has some relatives in Greece and would love to emigrate. And I cannot blame her. Who wouldn’t want to escape the clutches of poverty and sometimes merciless culture? And unfortunately, her story is not really unique.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We are in Lithuania, which means we are on the brink of holding our little gift in our arms! We are waiting axiously, although the baby seems to be quite comfortable and content to stay in there. Just a couple more weeks to go...