Jan – March 2008

Greetings Family and Friends,

Spring is in the air here in Albania, but there is much to share from our wintry beginning of the year! We do apologize for not keeping you informed collectively by way of a newsletter sooner than now, and we thank those who prayed for various occasions as updated by phone or email. We were blessed with a “March Madness” but of a different sort. Throughout the month of March we were visited by various dear friends and family during which the fellowship and new experiences were such blessings to us and to the church. Thank you to all who came and for all who may have provided for their visit. We also praise the Lord for three wonderful years of marital bliss, having celebrated on March 19th! We do have plenty more praises as well as some specific prayer needs, so please take some time to prayerfully continue reading.

 

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow …

  • Faithful Preaching of God’s Word continues on the Lord’s Day as I plan to end the Isaiah 53 series this month. God has blessed the preaching of the Word and the administrations of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The small group is growing in knowledge of the Lord as well as showing signs of becoming a unified body. They receive the Word and respond with much thankfulness and humility. We are enjoying a blessed period of peace in the church.
  • Faithful Teaching and Evangelism continues on the Lord’s Day evenings in our home, having just completed Pink’s Attributes of God, as well as throughout the week as various opportunities arise.
  • Faithful Praying in our personal, family, and church worship to a most faithful Heavenly Father, continuing a prayer fellowship meeting on Thursday evenings in our home.
  • Faithful Growth in knowledge and numbers continues as we have consistently had over 15 worship attendees for the past several Sundays. I continue to informally disciple several men, and Jenny meets with a young lady (Ada) in the church who is eager to grow in godliness as well as practice her English. Ada has also introduced her parents to the church so please pray for their continued interest and attendance. Jenny also meets several of the ladies in the church on Friday evenings at the local café for fellowship and encouragement. A few months ago she bought bread in our neighborhood from one lady (Liljana) who later voiced her faith and now attends on Sunday mornings with her husband (Besnik) and two girls (Rafaela and Manjola). Please pray for them.
  • Faithful Fellowship has continued in ways mentioned above as well as in times past during special occasions:
  • Christmas Eve Social was held in our home with many of the church goers and more as we enjoyed pizza and sweet fellowship!
  • Women in the Church Christmas Brunch was a truly enjoyable time as the ladies enjoyed Jenny’s traditional American brunch along with a study of Mary, the mother of Jesus, emphasizing a proper view and esteem of her.
  • New Year Feasting and Fireworks were quite thrilling as tradition highlights the coming of the New Year more so than any other occasion. Everyone sent their fireworks into the air all evening, including us as we celebrated with our dear Kona parents!
  • Valentine goodies were made by Jenny and given to all the single young ladies to enjoy! This day marks our engagement anniversary, and we were able to celebrate earlier so that we could enjoy making lunch for the Kona’s and going out for coffee, me with the guys, and Jenny with the gals!
  • “March Madness” was a whirlwind of excitement, especially for Jenny in her hospitality and service to our visitors! David Lachman stayed in our home for 11 days, a dear brother who graduated with me from Seminary and now lives and works in Scotland. RE. Tom Freeman then joined us for Easter Weekend, bringing many goodies, and representing one of our supporting churches in GA! Then Frida (my sister) and Caleb arrived from SC and made camp at the Kona’s, staying for 10 days. We enjoyed their fellowship greatly, especially seeing the joy and delight excude from Mami and Babi Kona! During this time plus another week, the sister of Erion Dushi (the doctor), Elisa arrived from Italy to join our fellowship. We have enjoyed her eagerness to grow in the Lord, being blessed by a number of occasions for personal discipleship. Now everyone has arrived safely home, and we are left truly blessed!
  • Easter Sunday was a blessing to all, having much more in number than usual along with Tom, Frida, and Caleb and the new family mentioned above.

 

PROJECTS of PRAISE . . .

  • Two Websites Launched for the Church in Albanian! www.kishareformuardurres.com relays information about our church and the other, www.katekumen.com is the name of the new church newsletter and internet media in which I continue through the Westminster Shorter Catechism questions, publishing an article monthly. I also have most of my sermons on mp3 as well as other translated materials and Jenny’s written Bible studies for WIC.
  • Translation of Dr. Pipa’s Study Guide on the Westminster Confession of Faith is currently in progress! Please pray for its continuation and funding.
  • 1st Albanian Psalmody/Psalter is coming together with hopes of being completed in the next 2-3 years. Together with the help of Leonard Doka, a dear brother in the church, we are averaging the translation and/or arrangement of at least one Psalm and one hymn a week. Please pray for quicker steps to completion and future layout and funding.
  • Women in the Church Bible Study! Jenny is very excited as she now hosts and prepares a monthly women’s fellowship/Bible study in our home, highlighting the various women of the Bible, beginning with Eve. In February the ladies studied Sarah, and in March they covered Hagar with mention of Adah and Zillah. This month they hope to study Rebekah and her nursemaid, Deborah. Please pray for her continued preparations, encouragement, and growth among the ladies attending.
  • Albanian Lessons Restarted! Jenny is also blessed to have another teacher as her previous teacher moved to the States in February. Please pray as she continues to study and learn this language with Bruna, a dear sister in Christ. By the way, Jenny celebrates her 27th birthday on April 18th with mine soon to follow in May!

 

SPECIFIC PRAYER NEEDS . . .

  • Preaching and Teaching of God’s Word on Sunday mornings and in the evening – direction for next Preaching and Sunday school series.
  • Prayer and fellowship as we continue to meet in prayer on Thursday evenings, as I continue discipleship and counseling, and as Jenny informally counsels, meets with ladies, and leads the monthly Bible study for WIC. Pray for wisdom and direction regarding another opportunity for Jenny to teach a women’s Bible study as requested from another pastor and friend.
  • Plans for the printing and publication of Pink’s Attributes of God, having already published it online.
  • Planning for Summer Teams! Our home church in Simpsonville, SC is planning on sending a summer team. Please pray for the specifics – scheduling, team members, topics of study, teaching, growth, evangelism, and overall encouragement for Mission to Albania. If you would like to join or know anyone in your congregation desiring a short-term mission trip, please contact us by way of email or phone as listed at the top of our newsletter.
  • Health Needs in Family – Jenny has clearer answers regarding her health and is now following a strict protocol for several months. This also means a hold on baby-making for some time due to the current effects that would come due to her health issues. Please pray for continued healing, self-control in following a fairly rigid diet in a culture such as ours, and encouragement. The Kona’s continue to have their ups and downs, but please continue praying for their overall physical and spiritual health.
  • How grateful we are for all your continued faithfulness in love, support, prayers, encouragement, and more! We miss all your dear faces and even look forward to meeting new ones as we visit one day. We have been overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity of so many in sending us care packages. Thank you! We look forward to sending more updates of praises in the future as well as keeping you informed regarding our prayer needs. We love you and praise the Lord for you all!