Lizzy Foulkes has returned to Canada from serving for 9 months with AFM (Adventist Frontier Missions -- )where she was based in Vlore working mostly with English classes and public health evangelism. The following description of an ADRA project was about a week-long stint she spent in a different city and is a re-post of an email she sent to her friends and family at home.
Greetings again from Albania. And Happy July!
I've just returned from having joined the last half of a two-week mission project in Korçë, a city five hours east of here, working on an ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency – www.adra.org) project with a team from Ireland. The project is to refurbish the joint school/clinic building in a smallish village called Kloc (klotz)
15 km outside of the city. But, we never got to the refurbishing stage – that wasn't in our plans from the start. We were the destroyers, the deconstructors: deplastering the walls with pickaxes, taking down the roof, collapsing the plaster-and-bamboo ceilings, taking out the doors and windows, stripping the old wiring, leaving just the foundation and floor and double-brick walls. (Oh, and the Turkish-style toilets.)
Then in the evenings we would shower and clean up and help the local
Korçë church with health expo programs. Another two teams (from Italy and Croatia) are coming next month to finish the school/clinic and make it sparkly and new and usable again.
It was actually a really refreshing change to do some sometimes-taxing physical work after so much… less-physical work.
Two of the things I've learned from helping on this project are that:
destruction is often harder than construction; and, there's almost always something to be torn down before something new can be built up. And neither of those points applies only to physical structures.
The team was really great and it was wonderful to spend the week with
them. Trips like that have got to be one of the best ways in the world to get to know people – sleeping under the same church roof, eating at the same table, worshiping and praying together, travelling in cramped vans for hours on end, working under conditions that show people entirely unmasked (figuratively – there was so much dust from the plaster that we actually were wearing masks part of the time). Most of
the team wasn't actually Irish, although a few of the retired guys who were would occasionally break out in Gaelic whilst chatting amongst themselves. Most of the rest of the group was from Romania originally, and then there was a Hungarian speaker and a Malaysian guy, a few Albanians and N.Americans too. I won't be forgetting them.
After having lived in Albania for over nine months it's easy for me to think I've become used to it, to think it's no longer novel, and to take being here for granted. But working out in Kloc showed me a culture of this country that I previously wasn't really familiar with and showed me lots of things I hadn't seen before. Albania may be smaller than the state of Maryland, and it may have a national population less than that of most major cities, but, I am learning, it is still incredibly diverse in geography and in people, and still has lots, and lots, of things to teach me yet.
In a week I'll be home. I have so much to tell. My attitude for awhile was, "Woo, only X days left!" but it's morphed into something now more like, "Aww, only X days left…" It's one of those bittersweet things I guess. An ingredient of life. I'm working on finishing up the projects here that I started and on saying final farewells to everybody too. Since the last email, Jan and I have been putting on a four-session healthy cooking school series for women in the community. The last
session (for now at least) is tomorrow and I still have some write-ups to finish for that.
If you were Albanian, and this wasn't an email, this would be when I'd shake your hand, kiss both of your cheeks, and wish you "Mirupafshim!" and maybe a "Kalofshi mirë!"
But I'll have to settle for simply writing ciao, wishing you all the best, and adding a take care in there too.
For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: "It
might have been!" [John Greenleaf Whittier]
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where
the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your
souls. [Jeremiah 6:16]
**The images on this site are from Lizzy's Flick'r site <--click here to take a tour of her great photos. She also wanted me to mention that the delicious looking quinoa soup is just a picture of some of her own food back in Canada and looks unlike anything she ate in Albania.