by Ashley Henderson
Ryan and Kayla McDonald are the missionaries overseeing the Garden Villa project. Ryan is from San Diego and Kayla is originally from Canada. They married in June 2017 and came to Albania on their honeymoon. While they were here, they discussed the idea of opening a coffee shop. The vision was to create a business for the purpose of providing jobs and supporting the church.
After leaving, it became clear that this was God’s plan for them and they began planning to return. In March of 2018, they moved to Pogradec, a lake town 40 kilometers northwest of Korçë. The church had just bought the building and much work needed to be done. Five months of elbow grease and the cafe was opened in August. As soon as the outdoor seating area was opened, work began on the indoor setting. This was completed and opened in November.
The idea to open a bed and breakfast was born at the same time as the cafe but the decision was made to prioritize work on the cafe. They knew that if they tried to work on both projects simultaneously progress would be slowed. Now that the cafe is up and running smoothly, the focus has turned to the bed and breakfast.
The current plan is to run Garden Villa as an Air B&B. The primary business will be in the summer months because Pogradec is a tourist town when the weather is warm and people come to the lake. There will be five rooms, one master suite, and four traditional rooms. Instead of numbers, the rooms will be distinguished by their color. In addition to the five suites, there will be a small dining room that will double as an indoor seating area for the cafe outside of breakfast hours.
In the last year, Garden Villa has employed twenty members of the church and currently has eleven. When the hotel opens, more positions will open up as it will require cleaning services, a host, and even a security guard. With God’s grace, they will continue to support Albania churchgoers as they attend school, begin families, pursue careers, and so on.
On a daily basis, the cafe offers an assortment of hot and cold drinks so there is something for everyone. Some of the most popular being macchiato, cappuccino, and a variety of smoothies. This summer the kitchen was open for sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. The kitchen is currently closed due to construction. Also during the summer, Ryan and Kayla invited musicians to perform live music on the weekends creating an atmosphere that welcomed long summer nights filled with laughter and friendship. If you ever find yourself in Albania pop in for a treat and a good time.
As the days get shorter and colder, the people’s desire to be at Garden Villa does not dwindle. Even on these chilly fall evenings, you will find many seats filled with people bundled up in hoodies or blankets that Garden Villa provides or huddled close to the outdoor heaters. The indoor seating fills up quickly as faithful customers return day after day.
We ask that you keep Ryan and Kayla and Garden Villa in your prayers. Pray for the baristas and servers that keep the place running each and every day. Pray for the construction crew that is putting in the hours to create a beautiful place to host guests. Pray that the logistics of ordering and delivering supplies goes on without any snags. And finally please pray that financial support continues to come in so Ryan and Kayla can continue doing what God has called them to.
If you would like to be an answer to prayer click here to donate.
Enjoy the pictures below to see how far Garden Villa has come in the last year and a half. Older photos coming soon.