Week Twenty-Two

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve is a major holiday in Albania- much bigger than Christmas.  It is a time for Albanian families to be together and celebrate.

Our neighbors followed Albanian tradition and bought a live turkey on New Year’s Eve morning.  It was a big fat bird that the kids turned into a pet; they even named him “Fred.”  They put a leash on him and walked him around the front of the house like he was a new puppy.  The fun ended early, though, as our neighbors killed him in the driveway and starting preparing him for supper.  Of course the kids weren’t around for this part, but later that night when “Fred” found his way onto their plates there wasn’t a lot of bird eaten.  We may be seeing the beginnings of temporary vegetarians.

We spent the early evening with our American neighbors (the Stire family)- we played games and relaxed.  It is always fun to spend time with their family and it is a blessing to have fellow American missionaries so close (praise God for His mercies!).

In the evening we went to the Meci’s for dinner and it was a HUGE meal.  As is Albanian custom our plates were already loaded full before we even got to the table.  When you looked at the table all you could notice was the astounding variety and quantity of food before us.  There were breads, different types of meat, hard boiled eggs, Greek pudding, tomato slices, fried potato wedges, qofta, and so much more.  Our neighbors are so kind and gracious and treated us like kings the whole time.  Albania hospitality is up there with anywhere in the world.

Anyways, as Scott looked like his head was going to pop from all the food he had eaten, it dawned on us that the turkey wasn’t even on the table yet.  The turkey and stuffing was brought out and huge slices were put on all of our plates.  It was fantastic.  Anisa had made two types of baklava so that was our dessert.  It was a delicious meal to say the least.

As it got close to midnight, we watched from their balcony as the entire city skyline lit up from fireworks.  For fifteen solid minutes the entire sky is lit up as people from all over town shoot huge fireworks into the sky.  The big fireworks that are illegal to own in the US are sold in all the little markets in Tirana and the night sky showed it.  Every direction people were shooting every type of firework into the night.  The “Block” (the center of the downtown area) seemed especially lit up and we got a great view of the whole thing.  Funny enough, despite what seemed to be a rather lengthy and spectacular affair was much shorter than in past years.  Apparently a major fireworks manufacturer had one of their warehouses burn down and they were harder to come by this year.  Plus we heard speculations that a rougher economy hurt the show as well.  But as far as we were concerned, New Year’s Eve in Tirana is a pretty fun way to bring in the New Year.

While we can’t understand how everybody doesn’t gain twenty pounds over the holidays here, our first New Year’s celebration was so much fun and quite a memorable experience.  Thank you so much to the Stire and Meci families for a great holiday celebration.

May 2012 be a year dedicated to the service of our Lord and King and may God bless you this next year in knowledge, wisdom and fellowship in the Spirit.

In love,

The Kemps

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:5-11, NASB)

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