Monday, October 22, 2007

My son, Timmy, was lamenting the fact that he didn't have a bicycle the other day. When I reminded him of the fact that if he had one all of the neighborhood kids would all be asking to ride it or trying to take it from him, he got this resigned look in his eye and said, "I guess I really don't want one after all." It's hard to have things in an area where other people don't.

This made me think of Nene Teresa, ethnically Albanian though born in Macedonia. She, like all of those in her order, took a vow of poverty. While very noble, I think it very practical as well. If you are inspired to help the poor, and believe that the best way to help is to live in their community, it is truly uncomfortable to enjoy your "riches". I say riches loosely, as luxury is in many cases in the eye of the beholder. What seems like necessity to one may be a luxury for another.

Not only would it be in some ways more comfortable to take up a vow of poverty, but then when everyone asks you for money you can say in perfect sincerity, "I don't have it to give you but I can help you rebuild your house with my time and effort".

All I can say is that it's not easy being a have living among have nots. It's a tension that is with you every day and with everyone that you interact with, like standing on your toes all day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The grape stomping gang

Dave at his best

Monday, October 8, 2007

These are images from one of my favorite European cites. Can you guess where? Budapest!Every time I have visited I have come away refreshed. I love the colors. I know there are still some remnants of the communist era, like big grey apartment buildings, but just look at the tiles on this roof. It makes me happy just looking at them. But it's not only the place. I have a friend, Virag, she and her husband Csaba are such an example and inspiration to me. They came to Albania with their kids, facing down the disapproval of both of their families, to help Albanian youth. They came even with great difficulties, health, education for their kids and much more. For several years we met weekly encouraging one another and sharing our woes. She had to return to Budapest due to health and other reasons and I miss her greatly.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

It can be easy to be negative and see only the ugliness, both the physical and spiritual that are so prevalent here. It's easy to be so overwhelmed with the ugly that you can't see anything else. How very sad that is when that happens.

Beauty, diversity, squalor, all are part of my life here. It just depends where your eye lands and how you interpret things. It takes God's grace every day to remind me to see the beauty in the people and in all it's unexpected forms.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. ~C. S. Lewis

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
~C.S Lewis

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Here they are, all my lovely family.

This is Dave making his wine. He's still outside at the is very moment (10pm) working on the white wine. He did allow the rest of us to help a little.

Though at times it can get frustrating having to shop almost everyday for things here, I still enjoy going though the open market. It can be beautiful and full of those bright colors I so enjoy.
My sense of what's beautiful has changed over years. I guess time spent being bombarded by scenes like this one has given me an appreciation for bright and in your face colors. It makes me happy to see the cheerful kaleidoscope of color.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Arggggggggg! The stupid Internet is throwing a fit today. I can't stay on for more then two minutes. Grrrrr! Ah well, such is life. Maybe tomorrow I can get some pictures up or maybe even look at the comments. It's all a great mystery.

How does one truly help the poor. You want to give financial help or physical help of some kind. In many instances though, that kind of help is no help at all. Tomorrow they are still in the same difficulties. Then there is the fact that there is limited resources that one couple can give. Who do you give it to? The ones you don't give it to are bitter and jealous, the ones you do give to are never satisfied. You know that it won't get better for them unless something changes inside them. Somehow their motivations or outlook on life needs to change . It's true that there are outside things that affect their ability to prosper, ethnicity, education, work opportunities or lack there of. Yet, that's not really the problem. It's a problem of spirit. Lack of hope and inability to love one another. Poverty of spirit is something that the rich and the poor have in common.

Monday, October 1, 2007

This is our electrical situation, need I say more?

She has seen two world wars. She has stories about how nice the Italian solders were to her and how jealous her husband was. She tells of the food they gave her and the flowered tent. Her life has not been an easy one and much if not all of it has been spent traveling and begging. I have been visiting nene (or Grandma) for the last five years or so. Last week she fell and broke her hip. It makes me so sad. There is little hope for her. She is too old and poor for the doctors here to do anything for her. Her family keeps her at home in her little shack. She lays in pain, unable to move much. It's not a pleasant way to go. I'm sure her family would just like to see it over with. She's old after all. She's so afraid of death. There is so little we can do. I have brought her pain medication, but it's only a drop in the bucket of her need.