Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday January 29, 2009

Christy and I went to the Stephens Center this morning to meet with some of the women we trained last July. We sat and just got caught up with a couple of them. It was so nice to see them again.

After that Evis, Christy and I spent an hour buying some gifts. It was fun.

We then left Tirana and went out to Bethora for a Farewell Celebration for Christy. Oh my goodness. The room was full with all of the women that Christy has ministered to the last year and a half. As soon as she entered the room, they all stood and applauded.

As always, Christy and I went around the room and greeted each women with the typical Albanian greeting; a kiss on each cheek. Immediately they began to shower her with words of gratitude. One women read a note of appreciation and of course Christy was quite moved. They than gave gifts to her and to me as well.
Christy spent some time telling them how much they have impacted her life and how they will always be with her. She finished by telling them how much she loves them and how much God loves them. Again, it was beautiful to watch and of course i was in tears as well. I was worried about her crying and I think i cried first. No surprise there for those of you that know me well.

Then the party began. They had tables full of food, everyone ate and then the dancing began. Oh my goodness, it was so much fun. Most of the time they had Christy out their dancing with them and i was filming the video. Then they got me out there and we had such a great time. They love our Christy so very much and each one of them wanted time with her. She of course was out there dancing and having a great time. A couple of young teen boys came in and did some break dancing. At the end of the dancing time, I told Christy lets do some swing dancing, she had never done that, so we did it and the women loved it. We got a standing ovation. We got pictures.

You cannot be part of an experience like that and not be changed. It is clear that Christy has made an impact on their hearts. She is amazing.

Wednesday January 28, 2009

Our last day of training the managers for World Vision. We got started in role plays right away. We wanted them to have as much time as possible to practice. We discovered they were really good at this as well as the first group. It was great fun for us to work with people that were so willing to learn and grow.

It is clear that they will use these skills as soon as they can. We had some people report that they already used the Active Listening skill with their friends and they loved it.

We learned an African Acknowledgement of Appreciation (i cannot tell you the real name), so you will see a picture posted that shows them teaching us. It was funny.

We are so grateful to World Vision for this opportunity. Christy and I both have met some incredible people. At the end of this training, they presented us with a lead crystal paperweight as a gift from both groups. It is beautiful.

We of course want to thank them as well for they were all so engaging and treated us with such love and respect. To you all we say THANKS!

Tuesday January 27, 2009

Second day of training for the second group of Managers for World Vision. We spent some time today reviewing their comments on their self discovery.
We got started on doing role plays, they really got into the exercises. We asked them to use a real life situation. Each manager was asked to be a mentor and a mentee. After each role play we discussed the process. Some of this group had personal mentors and had some understanding.

The second day of training, is most fun because it is starting to make sense and they are really starting to use the new skills they are using.

I tell them that the mentoring skills are really a life skill and they will find they can use these skills in the work place and in their personal lives as well.

It was a great day. Unfortunately, I am not feeling well, I have a respiratory thing going on and it was clear my voice was giving out. Please pray.

Monday January 26, 2009

We began the second week of World Vision Manager training today. We spent the day giving them an overview of Mentoring and they spent time day taking Spiritual Gifts inventory and the DISC personality test. From the comments we received they were very excited about their own personal discoveries. They began to see how important it was for them to know themselves well before they could use the skills to mentor someone else. They wanted to take extra time to research the results more in detail, so we encouraged them to read the remaining information and come tomorrow with their comments.

Christy and I did role plays on different personality styles, showing them the wrong way and of course we had some fun with it as well. Then did the role play where the mentor respects the mentee's personality style and has learned how to manage her style so the mentee receives what they need while meeting. This role plays begins to show the importance of doing self discovering in order to be the best mentor you can be for the mentee.

We ended the day with an overview. It was a great day.

The Weekend

We spent the weekend on the compound. Maddie had a fever and needed to stay home and get well. So, I finished "The Shack" a book i highly recommend. We rested and watched some movies. They have a limited number of television channels, so we have watched movies most evenings.

Matt and Christy are getting ready to leave Albania soon after I leave, so they are also busy doing last minute details. It is clear that they have made an incredible impact here, all you have to do is talk with the people that have know them. God has used them in a wonderful way.

Friday January 23, 2009 Visiting the Women's Prison

We went to the women's prison in Tirana. This prison is right in the city of Tirana in the middle of a neighborhood. We were not allowed to take pictures of the facility on the inside except for the room we were in for our meeting with the women.

This was the first time for me to visit a prison, so it was an experience to go through the security and get padded down before entering. It was pouring down rain that day, and the umbrella we had been using broke. We met up with the women we trained last July who work for the prison ministry. In our group was a male pastor, a women from the church brought her guitar to lead worship. So their was 5 of us going in together.

Each of the women have block rooms with doors out into a courtyard. They dress in street clothes and are required to do all of their own laundry. The women who are in this prison are their for a range of issues. We went to a meeting room where they meet each week for worship and a lesson. I think there were around 15 women that came. Some of the women we met were in prison for reasons that was hard to understand. We saw how God had begun to restore these women and how difficult it must be for them. I shared with them Romans 8 where it states "that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ". I could see that God's word never returns void.

Christy had been going to the prison and meeting with these women and when we arrived they were so very happy to see her. The pastor read scripture, we worshiped in Albanian (I must say, not knowing the language in worship, never matters) it was wonderful. One of the women we trained last July did some one to one mentoring during the meeting in front of the group. As i stood there i was overcome, realizing how the training last July was being lived out in front of me in a prison and making an impact in the lives of these women who for some will be locked up for a very long time. I was amazed with what God is doing.

Then Christy spoke with them and she began to weep in saying goodbye. She wanted them all to know how much she loves them and how much God loves each of them. It was beautiful to watch.

As we were leaving, I was reflected on how these women love Jesus and had joy even though they are behind the walls of prison, where they are apart from their children; their families and their homes. Seeing that makes you take a good look at your own heart. The people we went with are amazing and serve these women with the love them like Jesus.

January 22 Primary Mentor Training

Meeting with Primary Mentors at the World Vision Office

Christy and I spent the day presenting the primary mentor training for those chosen to be the lead mentors for World Vision. This training allowed us to go more in depth mentor training as well as give the primary mentors opportunity to work through their questions and do additional role plays. We had a great time working with them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Day with World Vision Albania

World Vision Managers Group #1

Today was the end of the first training for the managers of World Vision Albania. We had a great day together. Christy and I have been so blessed to work with such an incredible group of people. They have worked hard the last 3 days and have made a commitment to used the skills they have learned. Tomorrow we do additional training for the primary mentors chosen for the managers and staff of world vision. This training gives the primary mentors additional time with us to role play and understand the process at a much deeper level to start the mentoring program for World Vision Albania.

At the end of the day today they all wanted us to send their love to you all and to thank you for praying for them.

Blessings to you all, that is all for tonight.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009 2nd Day of Training

Role Play

Evis and Christy role play

What a great day! We worked together in different role plays. We worked through the different phases of the mentoring process; the Matters of the Heart section and the "Journey to Hope" section based on Romans 5:3-5.  

We had volunteers role play along with us and then at the end of our training we had the managers pair up and work through the process with their real life issues both as a mentor and mentee. We know that as they continue to use the skills that they have learn that it will provide a positive result for them in the workplace as well as with the people they serve in the country of Albania.

Just to let you all know in America, the people of Albania greet you by kissing you on both cheeks every time they greet you. I shared with the group today that when i came here for the first time, I wasn't sure which side to start with and there were times that i would bump someone head. They had a great laugh and come to think of it they have yet to tell me which side to begin. HA! It was great fun.

I understand for most of you in Ohio that the last week has been sub zero temperatures, i guess it was a good time for me to be gone. Here in the Tirana area it has been in the 50-60's during the day and down in the 40's at night. There have been some days it has been high 40's. So, for me there has been no need for a coat. YEAH!

We are so honored and blessed to be a part of this experience and are very grateful to God what He continues to do. Tomorrow is our last initial 3 day training for the first group of managers, it will be a very full day, training them to go from the initial meeting with a mentee to well into the process helping the mentee discover a new way of living into Hope.

God's blessings to you all,
Mary & Christy

Monday, January 19, 2009

World Vision Training Begins Monday January 19, 2009

The group preparing to trust each other

Christy setting up the ice breaker questions

Today was the first day of the Mentor Training with World Vision. What a great day! We spent the day with the first set of 15 of their managers. We laid the foundation of the training and they took spiritual gifts inventory and the DISC profiles to help them discover for themselves how God created them. We introduced a section on "relating to others" and Christy and I role played how 2 different personalities work together in this process. If that wasn't funny. We did it so that we could show them the extremes. It worked. I then introduced the formal mentoring process and Evis and I role played the different sections to the process. What incredible work World Vision does here in Albania. These are very dedicated people.

The training with this group will last 3 days, so tomorrow we will begin the day with us introducing "Journey to Hope" process based on Romans 5. We believe it went very well and of course I had a great time.

Bethora January 16, 2009

Christy and I went to the home of Evis and spent the morning with the staff and volunteers of Global Care. These were the women we trained last July. It was as if time had stood still, we all greeted each other with such excitement. We used the time to allow them to talk about how they have used the training to work with the women in Bethora. They are amazing women.

We then left for Bethora and spend a couple hours with the women of Bethora at the Center, just as we did last July. They greeted me again with such love and hospitiality. I felt so at home with them. We played games and laughed alot. Evis then explained that each of them were wonderfully made and created with great purpose. We talked and i could see that many of them didn't really understand what their purpose might be. We talked about the difference in what they believe about the men in the United States and the men in Bethora. We told them that they shouldn't believe everything they see on TV. HA!

These women there love our Christy so very much and are very sad that she is leaving soon. There will be a celebration in Bethora for Christy before I leave and I am grateful I get to see them show their gratitude to her. It was a great day. God continues to show us what is really important.

Thursday January 15, 2009 in Lezhe

Christy, Evis and I went to Lezhe. World Vision (WV) has developed a project in this village to train women to loom. World Vision purchased looms and has trained these women and will continue to work with them for about 2 years to help them develop the trade and to learn to create a business to sustain themselves. The work they are doing is beautiful. Christy and I both had the chance to be taught how to loom. It is not easy work. You have to be able to do a number of things at the same time. I have great respect for their abilities. The colors they work with are very bold and beautiful. We then had the opportunity to have coffee with the group of 25 of the women. Christy had already been there and of course they all love her and were very excited to see her again.

The purpose of the visit was for us to review what they do and the products they make for us to consider helping them find a way for the women in the United States to have access to their products. We see great value in the products and will keep asking God what He would want us to do. They were all wonderful. We then went into the town and went to a shop where similar products were already made. Beautiful things! We had lunch at this little restaurant and had the best chicken noodle soup i have had in a long time. We had a great day

Back in Albania January 13, 2009

Sorry it has taken so long for the first entry. I arrived in Albania on Tuesday January 13, 2009, the flights were great. As i stepped out to the crowd waiting, Maddie came running to me with a bouquet of flowers and a huge hug. It was great.
I arrived safely but unfortunately neither of by bags did. So, for the first night I wore a tshirt and basketball shorts. Thank goodness, no pictures were taken. HA! One of my bags arrived on Wednesday and the second arrived on Thursday. It is a unique experience wearing the same clothes 4 days in a row, washed of course.
Wednesday the 14th, we spent the day at the house allowing for me to deal with some serious jet lag. I wanted to sleep in the day and stay awake at night. It truly does take days to get adjusted.