What a year huh? Way back in January we were planning our biggest trip yet. With multiple teams and multiple projects in Albania and Hungary, we were excited to get back into the swing of things and planning for an exciting summer.
And then God sent COVID-19. Cancelling the trips this summer had us feeling really down:
There's a purpose in everything God does! Though we were sad to not see our friends during the summer, we have kept in touch with them through a weekly Zoom call. Through this weekly touchpoint, and God's provision, we got an opportunity to send a small team in October!
Our team was able to spend 1 week in Tirana helping the High School ministry with their outreach. Then, over the weekend, we helped introduce Watermark's re:generation curriculum to the leaders of CRU Albania. Most of our team has been through re:gen and seen the difference that biblical recovery can make in our lives, and we're exited to see how it can help our friends!
With the high school team, we were able to share the Gospel to over 50 students during our Saturday Afternoon meeting, as well as connect with and encourage many students throughout the week. We took a trip out to Elbasan and Peqin as well, to encourage many students there in their faith!
Over the weekend at the Re:Gen retreat, we each shared our testimonies with our Albanian friends who are in CRU Leadership. We got to share about the benefit we have seen in our lives from going through Re:Gen. While we recognize that Re:Gen is not the Gospel, because we care about our friends we desired to share this tool with them. Since we've returned, 4 couples have decided to go through the year long curriculum with us!
Despite challenges with passports, and Covid exposure, 4 of us were able to go in person! The other 10 joined us remotely via video conference. We also joined one person already in-country, our dear friend Marlie Austin who is spending the year teaching with the GDQ International school in Tirana!
Here is the whole team that participated this year:
- Will Noll
- Gordon Burgett
- Allye Foster
- Matt Rial
- Chris Hyland
- Madison McGill
- Marc Flores
- Joseph Woodard
- Amy Smith
- Jason Smith
- Carrie Beckner
- Stephanie Sims
- Joanne Gray
- Morgan Asbill
Why would we travel during a global pandemic? Because God is Sovereign even over disease. We love our friends. And we don't want to waste any opportunity that God sets before us. If God is moving in Albania, what else could be more important?
Of course that's not license to be reckless. We have taken plenty of precautions to make sure we don't accidentally spread a deadly virus to our friends. We spent the two weeks leading up to departure under a voluntary "stay at home" directive.
Even despite our precautions, one member of our team contracted Covid before the trip. By God's grace, he recovered in time to comply with the CDC's guidelines of 10 days isolation post-symptoms, and was able to still go on the trip! Those closest to him also got tested, and none of them ever caught the virus. During this whole event we were in close contact with CRU, Watermark leadership, and our Albanian friends so that they were well informed, and could voice any concerns.
We're excited for the next season of ministry! Prayerfully we'll get to go next summer as well, if the Lord wills! As we continue helping our friends through the Re:Gen curriculum, we're excited for the changes we'll see in their lives and ministry as well! Please continue praying with us!
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)