Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to the past few days.
We arrived in our new ministry site in Skopje, Macedonia on Thursday evening. We met some of our hosts (the SEND Int. team), settled into our new lodging site and caught some much-needed sleep after eleven hours of traveling by bus, train, and vans. Friday morning was basically a day of orientation, familiarizing ourselves with our surroundings, and taking care of needed personal things.
Saturday nine of our team members traveled by cab to another of SEND’s church plants where they were trained and certified as English as a second language teachers. That took up most of their day. The rest of our team got showers, emailed home, took much-needed naps, organized their packs, had a quiet time, worked on their scripture memory, met in their discipleship groups,….generally did self-care.
In the evening, once we were all together again, we went out for dinner together, and returned back to the hostel for a time or worship together with music, sharing and prayer, and then went to bed.
Sunday, we had breakfast, worked together on our Scripture memory, spent an hour in quiet time, and then walked to the church about fifteen minutes away. At SEND’s Word of Hope church, I preached a message (with a Macedonian translator) about heaven from John 14, two of our team members shared their testimony (with translators), and the drama team performed one of their dramas.
After some fellowship, we walked back to the Hostel, prepared and ate our lunch and then took cabs down to the city center of Skopje. There we walked along the river, which is lined with shops and outdoor cafe’s, seen MANY statues, the birthplace of Mother Teresa, and explored both the “old town” of Skopje (mostly a Albanian Muslim population), as well as the newer part of the city….constructed AFTER the devastating and deadly earthquake of 1963. We ate gelato ice cream and learned about some of the culture and history of this beautiful city.
We then took cabs back to the hostel for dinner and some of the team headed over to SEND’s Crossroads church to help out with their service (with the message, testimonies, encouragement, etc.). We ended the evening together with a time of reflection and worship back at the hostel.
Trying to help the Word of Hope gain credibility and acceptance in their community, all this week… in the morning we are painting over graffiti, doing much-needed yard and trash clean up, and other “beautifying work projects.” In the afternoons we will be doing our quiet times, discipleship group meetings, laundry, rest, etc. Our evenings are being used to teach English classes, make balloon animals for children in the nearby park, and use volleyball, basketball, soccer, and frisbee to begin to make relationships with others who live in the area. From there we hope to learn about their beliefs and if, and as the Holy Spirit leads, to eventually point them to Christ and the Word of Hope Church.
The SEND Int. team have been working faithfully in this area for many years, they know the needs, and are a wonderful source of knowledge in helping us understand and minister in the best way possible to this beautiful culture….that needs Christ.
While staying in Skopje, Macedonia our ministry partners, SEND International has arranged for us to stay in a small but nice little hostel not far from the two church plants we are working with and the city center. It has food stores, a laundromat, and other important businesses nearby.
It is very convenient, but very small. It is an old apartment that has been reconfigured into a small hostel. It’s safe, clean, and in good condition. It has five sleeping rooms, two bathrooms, and a small kitchen and dining area that the 21 of us are using for three meals per day.
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It’s a real challenge living in such close quarters, but we are learning to work together and make the most of what we have. We basically eat, sleep, shower, and do our worship in this place. The bulk of the day we spend away and out doing ministry at the church plants and in the community.