by Ashley Henderson
Summertime is the peak of all ministry activity with the church plants firing on all cylinders. To help with this, a variety of teams come from all over the world to do work projects, English camps, VBS, street preaching, etc. From July 13-27 a combined team from Michigan and Indiana in the USA came to Sheqeras to serve through an English camp and VBS.
The team consisted of seventeen members led by Armando and Mary Jane Kurili. Armando is from Korce and up until last year hadn’t been in Albania since 1992. Last year they brought the team for a week and realized that one week was not enough so this year they split the ESL and VBS between two weeks. They began each morning with a three-hour English lesson for three levels: beginner, intermediate, and conversational. The entire curriculum was written by a member of the Michigan church that came last year and teaches ESL on Wednesday to a group of Albanians.
Activities did not end at noon but instead went until mid-afternoon. Through fundraising, the group was able to buy lunch sandwiches from the proprietor of a cafe in Sheqeras. Lunch was usually followed by some group games and dancing; both American and traditional Albanian music. After the music, everyone would gather in the church to hear one of the team members speak on a topic chosen by the pastor, Sokol.
The topics covered were the love of our heavenly father, how to spread the gospel in our lives, following the example of Christ, and the power of the death and resurrection. Each day, the students broke into three smaller groups for discussion and prayer. The American team witnessed some very convicting moments among the teens as they realized what changes they needed to make in their lives.
On Thursday, the classes were held at one of the pools here in Korce. The day started with an hour of English and was followed by swimming and fellowship for the rest of the day. Some of the group played volleyball in the field and others played water polo or monkey in the middle. This day of fun in the sun was the highlight for many of the kids and staff.
After spending the weekend refueling in Tirana, the team returned to Sheqeras for a week of VBS for the younger population of the village. The theme of this week was to be crowned with the characteristics of Christ. Courage, Humility, Compassion, and Perseverance. There was a bible story and God points to go with each day.
On Monday, they promoted the week of VBS with a festival in the schoolyard. There was music, games, face painting, snacks, and two bounce houses. Many of the smiling faces at the festival attended each day of VBS. They ended the week with a fun day on Friday with more face painting and water balloons.
In addition to the main events, the team served in a few other ways. On Wednesday of the second week, the ladies of the church all met for their bible study. The American team joined them and gifted them with hand spas, shoulder massages, and hair braids. On that same day, some other members of the team painted the walls of the churchyard a fresh white.
About half of the team members were here last summer and we hope to see many of them again next summer. To see photos of all that they did, check out the gallery below. They also have a team blog that you can read here.