Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A CHANGE OF SCENERY

I decided to change up the look of my blog for the holiday season. In December, I will post a Christmas newsletter and information about our work in Macedonia. Hope you enjoy the Christmas music that I have chosen for the month of December, too.


Potted Poinsettia by Shelia


Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving From Macedonia!! (With A Little Twist)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM SKOPJE !!!


We had a great Thanksgiving celebration yesterday. Our Albanian friends, Agim & Habibe and their girls (Sara & Jehona), and Darrell, Kathy, & Alex Smith (our friends and colleagues) celebrated Thanksgiving with us in our apartment. This is one of Agim & Habibe's favorite American holidays. We have celebrated it with them every year that we have been in Macedonia since 1999.


This year there was an added surprise that Kathy & Habibe planned for me. Darrell, Kathy and Alex came a little early to help make the gravy and bring part of the dinner. When Habibe, Agim, Sara & Jehona arrived, they came through the door blowing party whistles and carrying balloons!


Amy had sent them pictures from 1970 -- on, and Darrell worked with them to create the sizes they needed to make this wonderful poster of memories for me.


I was absolutely shocked! We had already celebrated my birthday last week, but it was in a restaurant; and they wanted to be able to give me the poster when we could have more fun with it. So they decided to wait until Thanksgiving and REALLY surprise me!!! I had to wear the Birthday Badge all evening, too.

We had so much fun sharing stories of all the pictures and where we were when they were taken, etc.
Darrell wanted to know if I still had the navy and white "70's" outfit that I was wearing in the photo on the left side of the poster!! HA! I assured him that it was LONG gone!!

We talked to our family in the states on the phone and over the computer phone. Our son and his wife were planning a big Thanksgiving celebration with friends. Our daughter and her family had lunch with another family from their church. We talked with Arville's brother and his mom. In all cases, everyone was planning on watching the Cowboys play Thanksgiving afternoon.

Another surprise was that later on that night (while I was cleaning up and washing dishes) Arville got to watch the Dallas Cowboys play football, too. We have a channel in Skopje that broadcast some American sports to the Middle East, so occasionally we get to watch a football game.

What a memorable Thanksgiving this was!!!
Shelia

Monday, November 19, 2007

A STORY FROM ARVILLE'S BLOG PAGE

Just in case some of you missed the article that Arville wrote about "The Dictionary" from his blog page (http://embracingthewindsoffaith.blogspot.com/), I thought that I would reprint it on our family blog page. It is a story worth retelling anyway.




Agim & I Visiting in Mejzin's Home

I had spoken with Lek by phone on several occasions since the death of his sister three months earlier, but his schedule and mine had precluded a face-to-face visit until the other day. The anticipated 30-minute lunch-break concluded an hour and a half later when his colleagues called wondering when Lek would return to work (no harm done - Lek had put in many extra hours at the office voluntarily).

When we first met Lek and his family in 1998, his sister, Rena, had given me a dictionary of the Albanian language. Both Rena and her father, Mejzin, had written brief notes on the flyleaf, signifying that this volume was a gift of friendship. I had used the dictionary on numerous occasions in the process of continuing language study and had guarded it as we moved from place to place over the course of our almost ten-year residency in Macedonia.

When we received the news that Rena had died, I immediately thought of the dictionary that she had given to me. It was, in fact, the only thing she had of any value, at the time, which she considered appropriate to present to me as a gift. When I looked at the flyleaf again, I remembered the expression on Rena’s face when she gave me the book. She was all smiles. It was one of the few occasions, as her parents shared later, that Rena did have a genuine sense of joy and a smile on her face.

As I reflected on that experience, I wondered what would happen if I offered to return the dictionary to her family as a memorial to Rena. When we made our visit with Rena’s parents, following her burial, I was hesitant, but found the courage to make the offer of returning the dictionary. Mejzin and Zijavere couldn’t speak for the tears that flowed. After they recovered and were able to utter a few words, they said that they would be honored to have the book back again, and that it would be a treasured keepsake for them.

When I was finally able to meet Lek during his lunch-break, I also invited our dear mutual friend, Agim Iseni. (One can take such liberties when a strong, trust relationship has been established). Neither Lek nor Agim knew that I had the dictionary with me. It was my intention to have Lek and Agim collaborate with me in writing a fitting memorial message on that same flyleaf where Rena and Mejzin had written their notes.

Lek had not seen the dictionary in eight years, but when he saw the words Rena had written on the inside cover, he recalled the occasion when she had given it to me. Agim had never seen the book at all, but then realized that this was the special teasue that I had promised to return to Mejzin and Zijavere. Agim and his wife, Habibe, had gone with us to visit the family after Rena’s death, and so he was present when I had made the commitment to return the book to the family.

Collaborating on the message was an extraordinary moment for the three of us. I spoke in English to Lek, who then translated the message into Albanian, while Agim did the writing. The note read, “We remember Rena with tenderness of heart and with gratitude to God. This book was given as a gesture of friendship, and it is being retuned as a memorial to Rena and as a bond of our continuing relationship.”

What happens when people open themselves up to being enfolded by God’s love? My observation is that in the lives of these families what began as a spark is being ignited into a flame.

A Month of Birthdays

November is the month of Earl Birthdays. In addition to my birthday, two of Arville's brothers celebrated birthdays in November, as well.
Here is a picture of Dwight (Arville's youngest brother) and his wife, Joyce. They live in the Chicago area (Carpentersville).
This is Derrell (next to the youngest brother in age) and his wife, Iris, who live in the Atlanta area (Lawrenceville).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE





We just wanted to say thank you to those of you who made a contribution to our Benevolent Fund (Acct. # 80087) through the CBF Global Missions Office this year. These pictures represent another way in which this money is used to help people through a very tough winter. They do not have electricity so the major source of fuel for both heating and cooking is the wood stove. Thanks to you, 20 families have been given enough wood to last through the winter months ahead of us.

THANK YOU!!!

You can make further contributions to this account by sending a check to:
CBF - GMO
P.O. Box 450329
Atlanta, Georgia 31145-0329
(Our names and the account number need to be on the check or in a cover note).

THANKS FOR A GREAT BIRTHDAY!!!


WOW!!! I am overwhelmed. I received so many cards, phone calls, letters, e-mails, and gifts this year for my 60th birthday. Yes, I finally admitted it. I turned 60 on November 13th. As Becky Smith (our ACMT who lives in Germany) told me that the Germans say, "the birthdays that end in "0" are round birthdays" and extra special. Maybe that is the reason I am getting "rounder"??? HA!

Seriously, thank you all for the wonderful ways in which you expressed love to me. Amy sent me a "big" package with DVDs to watch and books to read. I talked to Elijah, Anna & Sophie on the camera phone and they sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Alan & Layla sent me a birthday card before they left for their vacation in Mexico. My sisters and Arville's family, too, sent cards or called me on the phone. So I heard from all the kids and grandkids and lots of family -- and I thought alot about little Nathan, too. My birthday was my "guess date" for the referral - but I will take it anytime now.

I have a few pictures to show you --- since my birthday party was a surprise of sorts -- I didn't have my camera. But I made pictures of the beautiful flowers and gifts when we got back home.

Here are the flowers that Agim, Habibe, Sara and Jehona gave me and a beautiful handmade doilly that Habibe made for me:


Here is the beautiful arrangement that Darrell, Kathy & Alex gave me: (and Kathy took me shopping, as well).

Here are the beautiful earrings that Arville surprised me with:

Thank you again for making this a special birthday.

Shelia

Saturday, November 17, 2007

PICTURES OF ALBANIA

The following pictures were taken during our recent trip to Albania:

SCENES OF THE COUNTRYSIDE

During the time of snow in Macedonia -- everything was green in Albania

FRUIT WAS ABUNDANT


HAYSTACKS WERE IN THE FIELDS



ANIMALS WERE GRAZING (EVEN A LITTLE TURKEY-HERDING GOIN' ON)




AND PEOPLE WERE WORKING



OR WAITING



THEN THERE WAS TIRANA:



I COULDN'T RESIST TAKING A PICTURE OF THIS SIGN THAT
REMINDED ALL OF US OF "TACO BELL" -- IT'S A NEW GAS
COMPANY IN ALBANIA

We lived in Kruja (Albania) from 1995-1997. Kruja is the ancient capital of Albania. Each time we have returned to Albania, we visit Kruja again. We were amazed at how many people we saw that still remembered us (even by name)!! It rained the entire day, but that didn't keep us from enjoying our visit, shopping in the little "antique" shops, and eating a delicious lunch at the Panorama Restaurant.

This the "Skenderbeg Museum and Castle". Skenderbeg is a national hero of the Albanian people --- no matter where they live.