Tennis and Footbal Camps

In a previous article, a group from Christ the Rock Church was mentioned. Some members of the team put together a program for people with disabilities which you can read about here. The other part of the team ran football camps for two weeks. The first was in Pojan and the second in Korca.

Each day was filled with drills, games, and matches. They learned basic and intermediate skills and strategies for moving the ball on the field. At the end of each week, they had a championship game and the winners were awarded a trophy. The boys were also given athletic shirts by the English team as gifts.

At the time of the football camp in Korca, there was a beginner tennis camp going on for the girls ages 10-12. A coach from America put together activities and games to teach the basics of the game. The girls learned hand-eye coordination, groundstrokes, volleys, serves, and keeping score.

Throughout the week, the girls competed for candy during games, Their favorite game to play was called jailbreak. If they made a mistake they would put their rackets down and run to the other side of the court. In order to get out of jail and back in the line they had to catch the ball before it hit the ground a second time.

On Wednesday the group went to the pool to cool off after playing all morning. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. At the end of the week, the girls put their new skills to the test in a tournament. The semi-finalists won a medal and a jump rope while the champion was given these things and a can of new tennis balls.

The coach received positive feedback about the camp from the girls and it is possible there will be another camp before summer ends. Please pray that these camps will always be more than just learning to play sports. It is always about bringing kids to Christ and getting them involved in the church.

Bringing The Gospel to the AZIL

Every year for the past twenty years, a group from Christ the Rock Church near Bristol, England have come here to Korca to minister. They work with the residents at a government-funded home for those with disabilities and run futbol camps in Pojan and here in Korce. You can read about futbol camp in another article.

The program at the Azil was all about seeing the wonder of God in nature; in the rain, snow, sunsets, rainbows, and flowers. Each day consisted of a lesson about one of the things above and a verse to go with it. They would do a few worship songs and then do a craft that they could put up in their room or give to a friend. There were a few days that the team would take the residents out for something special.

They went to the park a few times and played with frisbees and kicked the ball around. They went to the arcade to play air hockey and bumper cars. After the arcade the group enjoyed dessert at one of the restaurants near the park. On another day they went to a local village called Voskopoja to visit an old monastery and to enjoy a hike in the woods. The residents enjoyed the nice weather and being in nature.

One day each week the team took some residence to the pool for the evening. They swam, had dinner, and an ice cream treat afterward. They had a blast swimming and playing with the floaties. You see all the fun they had from the photos below. The two weeks that the team are here is all about fun and having special experiences with the residence, but more importantly it is about sharing the love of Christ.

The stigma towards those with disabilities is just now starting to break and we want to make it dissolve. For many years, parents would keep their children in the house for fear of bringing shame upon the family and pain upon their child. Changes have been made recently, but so much more needs to be done. God loves everyone because we are His creation and we want to show Albania and the world this very truth.

Summer Team In Sheqeras

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.