Thursday, May 29, 2008


Every year when the roses begin to bloom, Agim trims the rosebushes at the school and sends me a bouquet. (This is almost a tradition now). He knows how much I love them!

He told Habibe that he read somewhere that people who love other people and God --- also love flowers --- especially roses. What a compliment, huh?

Here are a few pictures of this year's "first" bouquet. Aren't they beautiful??

Shelia ---
May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Habibe's Birthday in May

May 13 is Habibe's birthday so we took her and the girls to dinner -- at the same time that we took the youngest daughter shopping for her graduation dress and shoes (Kathy's and my gifts to her for graduation). Here are a few pictures of the event:

Habibe Holding Jehona's Shoes

Downtown Skopje

We have this joke from the time that we went to Albania last year on an educational trip for the kindergarten. Habibe and Kathy shared a room and Habibe slept with 2 pillows --- simply because she had 2 pillows in the hotel room -- so she could. We called her the "princess me dy jasteks (with two pillows)"--- kind of along the lines of the princess and the pea under her mattress. HA! Anyway, it stuck! And occasionally we remind Habibe that she is a princess. So here was her birthday gift from Kathy and I: A handmade sunglasses case (with sunglasses) with the word "Princess" embroidered on the case AND 2 Pretty Pillows for her bed. Of course, she cried!! She was SO surprised that we had come up with such a unique gift. Here she is with her gift:

Habibe Iseni

I am amazed at this woman (Habibe Iseni) and her love and concern for others – even at the same moment she is going through some very difficult times herself. She has recently had to move from the house that she and Agim have lived in since they were married (a long story in itself – and another cause for stress in her life), and to watch as it was torn down. Agim has recently lost his job – which not only affects their financial situation, but also Agim’s self-esteem. Both the girls would like to go to college, but with finances like they are, it looks like they will have to quit school in order to find employment.

And yet, with all of her personal problems, she is concerned for others. Yesterday, she was rejoicing because a couple that she has known for years – who were told they could never have children – found out that they were having a son in about 6 months.

She is concerned about Fatime and her family. Fatime was diagnosed with acute leukemia about 3 ½ years ago. When Habibe told me (2 years ago) that the doctor said to Fatime’s mother, “The government will no longer pay for health care for your daughter. We cannot waste the money on a child who will die anyway”, we found a way to provide the medication for Fatime (through the Benevolent Fund Project account with CBF). Fatime has lived two years after the doctor said this horrible thing to her mother. But last week, Fatime developed an infection and is in the hospital. The test results have not come back yet, so Habibe was worried for Fatime and her family and what they might be facing.

She was a "little down" (as she calls it) a couple of weeks ago, and instead of feeling sorry for herself, she took some clothing and food that I had given her to a Roma (Gypsy) family in our neighborhood!! I guess that will get you out of a depression pretty fast, huh? Now we have a relationship with this family and are going to visit with them before we go to the States for our CBF General Assembly meeting in June.

So many times during our time in Macedonia- and through the war-torn years of Kosovo and Macedonia, I have said to myself that I wish I had the strength of Habibe. It seems that wherever I am (in Burkina Faso, West Africa; Tours, France; Gostivar & Skopje, Macedonia) there are those women who make such a difference in the lives of others that I find inspiration for the way to live my life.

Perhaps because I have been reading Winnie Williams’ book, “The Price and Privilege of Being A Woman: Encounters with Global Women Who Search for Justice and Compassion,” I have been remembering those women from other countries who have had such a profound impact on the ministry that I do. From Sara ToĆ© who lost her only daughter and her husband to sickle cell anemia and hepatitis and continued to raise 3 beautiful sons on her own and to help other women who were in her same situation, to Joelle Blot, professor of the French language and friend to many missionaries over the years, who raised her children and then adopted a teenager who no one else would help, to Margarita Gavrolovski (a Macedonian doctor) who provides medical care to thousands of Albanian women in Gostivar while living in Skopje and raising 2 children, to Habibe Iseni whose story is recorded above.

What examples I have been privileged to follow !!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Must See Movie

I ordered this film from Amazon and it is waiting for me at Amy's house. She and Christopher watched it and said that, even though it was a difficult and heartwrenching film to watch, that it was also inspirational.


Monday, May 26, 2008


Last week was Graduation Party Week in Skopje. Most high schools in Macedonia don't have an actual graduation ceremony. Instead they celebrate in their homes and then go to a graduation party for their class.

Toshe (Brane & Margo's son) had his graduation party on Tuesday night and then Jehona (Agim & Habibe's daughter) had hers on Wednesday night. Here are pictures from both events.

I made graduation cakes for both Toshe and Jehona.

Here is Toshe's:

And There Was Lots of Food

All of the family was present (in their small apartment in Skopje). It was a wonderful celebration.

Toshe, Brane and Margo (before Toshe got all dressed for the party).

Toshe and Margo's Mother

Toshe and Brane's Mother

This is the icon from the family church in Gostivar. This is the year that Brane's family keeps it in their home so it was at the center of the table.

Maria, Brane, Toshe and Margo

Shelia and Toshe (he calls me his "aunt")

Uncle Arville Helps with the Tie

Toshe Is Ready To Party

Brane Finally Gets To Eat

WE asked Toshe if "Life Was Really a Bowl of Cherries" now !!!

Arville & Brane Visit After Toshe Is Gone

Then the next night - it was Jehona's party.
Here is her cake:

Her cousins (Belinda and Elmira) were at the celebration. These are Advije's girls (Advije is Habibe's sister and works at the kindergarten).

Cousins of Jehona & Sara - Sara is serving cake.

And here is Jehona -- all dressed up for the graduation party.
What a beauty!

And Here Is the Proud Mom:

And Dad, too !!!

Elmira and Belinda love to have their picture taken, especially with Arville.

And then we want to say, "Congratulations" to Terry (Arville's brother in Texas) & Elaine Earl's granddaughter, Tiffany. She also graduated from high school this month.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Amy With Sophie and Nathan

This picture was taken at Anna's school musical program this past week. I decided to use it because it was the most recent one I have of Amy.

Congratulations to Amy for completing her Master's Degree in Public Administration this week. She has done this while caring for four children, moving to a new home, adopting Nathan, participating in many church functions, and still graduating with honors.

We just wanted everyone to know how proud we are of her and her accomplishments.

We love you, Amy,
Mom & Dad

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Here are pictures from our trip to the flower market. We had a couple of really pretty days and then it is cold again. So I decided to go ahead and make this posting --- it is fun to look back at the warmer days of April. HA!

Here are some pictures of the wild flowers (especially the wild poppies and roses) growing in the fields.