He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. ~Psalm 107:7-9
Greetings from Albania! It’s been a little over two months since I returned here for a second year of teaching. Frankly speaking, I’ve had a rather grueling time getting two new classes planned and sorted as I go, but God has faithfully supplied the energy and encouragement to push through into the school year. Most of the challenge has been adjusting to the rigorous AP Physics curriculum, as was expected. Hopefully, now on the other side of our weeklong fall break, things will have gotten into a more manageable groove, and I can hope that the 70-80 hour work week crisis mode will be behind me for a while. Prayers for efficient use of time and decent sleep are appreciated!
On top the fatigue and long hours, it’s no surprise that I’ve spent some weeks under the weather. Last year I never took a sick day, and I’ve already taken two so far. Special prayer is appreciated for a strange new series of allergic reactions that has happened several times in recent weeks in which my lips and fingers have swelled in different places. Twice I’ve had to get an IV antihistamine injection. They’ll want to run tests , but I’m doubtful we’ll find the cause; I’m just hoping that episodes of diminishing severity indicate whatever this is is on its way out! Throughout all of this I remain deeply grateful for the wonderful support and encouragement I receive daily and weekly from my friends here, including the students themselves—this is meaningful work, and there’s a lot of love and care to go around in our community.
Despite the ferocious time sink of planning for new classes, it has been arguably a good start to another school year. Some faces from last year are gone, but in their places are new friends and dedicated co-workers with the same passion to equip these students and live out Christ’s love. One significant change this year is having my GDQ colleague Kyle join Sajmir and myself in our apartment (they share a room and I pay more rent). In many ways this is a reunion, because Kyle and Sajmir were housemates the year before I arrived. In fact, we have a new hub in the apartment building where I live, sort to speak, with three units housing GDQ people close together, including my new boss Len and his wife Betsy, who’ve already had us all over for a game of Settlers of Catan. Please pray for those two as they continue to adjust to a new country and culture. They’re already experienced veterans of overseas work with their own MK’s all grown up, but I’m sure this move is a lot to adjust to, especially in a place of leadership.
For fall break, back in October, several of us piled into a van and toured much of former Yugoslavia, driving north through Montenegro, much of the Croatian coast, up through Slovenia (with a bonus day in the Austrian alps), then back down through inland Croatia and Bosnia, visiting the city of Sarajevo on the way home. It was a fun and eye-opening experience, and I now feel like I know the region that surrounds me much better. The legacy of heartbreak and loss is heavy in some places of this civilizational crossroads, and the menace of future heartbreak seems noticeable. In many ways it was a good reminder of why we are here. Please pray for peace in the Balkans and surrounding regions, and for open hearts to consider God’s heart for the nations.
The trip was valuable and fun, but it hardly provided the rest and logistical catchup that I need. At the beginning of break Kathy, our de-facto TeachBeyond leader here, forwarded a very apropos email about the difference between good tired and dangerous tired leading to burnout. Most of the academic year is still ahead of us, and I need to pace myself better. And, despite my trying to focus on my present tasks and God’s present provisions (and eternal promises), the question of whether to commit for a third year looms. I reflected to a friend recently that I have a history of working very hard, “unto the Lord”, then struggling to see what I would call worthwhile fruit. In this pattern my faith and obedience are tested. Please pray against the temptation to resent my current life trajectory: I have so much to be thankful for, but the enemy knows where to press me. Sometimes it can be difficult to simply chill and trust God—a skill I thought I had developed over the years but struggle with now. Peace with my own sense of place would do wonders.
Quarter 2 is upon us. I certainly hope to get another update or two out before Christmas/New Years. Thank you again for all your support, prayers, and friendship. My cup runs over, and you’re part of that extravagant love I receive from our good King. May he be known more and more over here!