that we can consistently fail to conclude our adventures on this blog.
The only consistent thing is inconsistency.
Erin B, everyone is proud of your A+, particularly in a class with
such a progressive bent.
Erin B, everyone is proud of your A+, particularly in a class with
such a progressive bent.
We will have limited to no Internet, so this could be our only post.
It feels good to have the packs on again!
He's also a nice guy.
I am going up to the mountains today for the rest of our trip and will
be out of contact during that time. I got a little sick last night,
bit I'm feeling better and ready to go camping! Kaiser is going up
with me today, everyone else is coming tomorrow.
Hope you all have a lovely week!
In my first Albanian language lesson, I learned, or tried to learn,
the 36 letters of the Albanian alphabet. Jaji is technically spelled
"Xhaxhi" and while the letter "gj" also seems to make a j sound, the
Albanians insist it is a different sound entirely. The "j" makes a y
sound like in "your."
At the end of the lesson, they made me read sentences by sounding out
words. This proved embarrassing of course, mostly because Tejuta said
I pronounced every word like I was very excited and had a lot to say,
but couldn't get my words out fast enough. It was a spot on
Today we'll be going on a hike up to a restored orthodox church.
Also, we should load our truck for the mountains so tomorrow morning
isn't crazy busy.
Anyway, here's the best story of the day. Erin and Kaiser had to clean
out a tool closet filled with dust, rat poo, and rat poison.
Eventually, I replaced Erin in this job. Kaiser found an old pouch of
rat poison and walked out of the closet pretending to eat from the
pouch of poison. Arnold and Simon freaked out and tried to grab it out
of his hands yelling, "yo, yo, yo!!!" This, in Albanian, is "no, no,
Kaiser said he did it as part of an ongoing lesson to convince our
fifteen year-old bosses that Americans should not be left alone for
more than five minutes at a time.
Also, tonight Erin got hugged by an 11 year-old boy we know from
church volleyball. This was poor behavior in Albanian. But we laughed
Look closely and you can see the family gardens of each property.
Albanians are amazing gardeners, and they need to be because of the
vast quantities of tomato and cucumber salad served.
Across the street, adjacent to the church, is a massive plot kept by
the savagely impressive "Jaji". Jaji means uncle, but that's what
everyone calls him. To his friends, he might be Jajka. Jaji also works
at camp and has been working harder than all of us despite being older
than Sam (maybe) and much shorter than Erin. I'll take a picture of
the garden and Jaji.
Today felt like more breaks than work as we waited for instruction.
Then we were asked to sweep in the attic. Even after wetting down the
concrete I kicked up so much dust I was reflecting on the disastrous
health consequences I might be incurring in the future by sweeping.
This afternoon we lost to Albania 2-1 in volleyball. I had to pick
George and Schroeder up off the court because they broke down into
tears after the emotional last game. Sam was so upset he kicked the
ball over the fence. Erin swore like a sailor and Kaiser just stood
there. What else is new?
We did actually lose. We reacted differently, of course.
Tonight we went back to camp and sang "I've got peace like a river,"
"if you're happy and you know it," and "lord I lift your name on high"
in Albanian, among other songs. The words change, but the hand motions
stay the same.
On our way back, Schroeder apologized for his tearful outburst by
buying us ice cream sundaes. Total cost for five sundaes with mixed
fruit? Five dollars. We love Albania.
Then God provided a camp where I'd get to play an hour a day for a
week on a low net against less capable opponents. It makes my
extremely rusty skills look good.
Even Sam and George are getting into the volleyball games, while
Kaiser and Schroeder have become monsters on the court. No surprise,
Kaiser likes to trash talk. But the kids do, too.
Yesterday, America beat Albania 2-1, and it was intense. This is six
tall adults vs six Albanian jrhi and high school kids. No one on the
Albanian team was taller than our shortest player. I'm glad they took
a game on us, but still can't believe it.
The building and land around the camp was originally purchased so the
church could serve 1000 Kosovar refugees that made Erseke a temporary
home during the crisis in the late 90's. When they found the right
building, the price tag was $15k and they didn't have that kind of
money so they said, "let's go home and pray about it." That night
Mark received a call from a church that had taken a special offering
for the Kosovo crisis and they wanted to give it to him. The offering
they'd raised was $15,000...
During the summer, "the camp" is a summer camp. During the school
year, it is a bible school for college students who want to study with
international students and do mission/ministry work in Albania. About
half the students are from Albania, the other half from all over the
As you can tell, we have a long way to go before the attic is cleared,
and God has to provide the money to do it, but trust me, the
difference is pretty sweet!
Simon is supposed to be the best English speaker but he's the quietest
of the three. This afternoon, I learned he is quite good at volleyball.
Arnold works non-stop and is the biggest jokester of the three. He
also takes Erin's stuff and carries it up the stairs for her. This is
not her choice. Arnold is my go to guy for "how do you say this?" type
Cleo is a slight, wiry little guy that makes me feel better about
wearing a baseball cap. I was worried I was sticking out because of my hat
(I forget that I tower over everyone just about everywhere), so when I
noticed him wearing a hat, I was relieved. Cleo is way stronger than
his size would suggest and I have learned this by lifting something up
to him. When he takes it, he looks less strained than I feel.
Our friends are seated at the far end of the outdoor pavilion where
campers eat and where George and Sam like to take breaks from the
sun. All three are in high school and go to church at Mark's church.
Simon and Cleo never seem to break a sweat, while Arnold is a regular
old Eli Burnham. That means he is an artesian spring.
Tomorrow we "get" to go make several runs to the dump. That should be
The picture shows Schroeder and Kaiser on the five (no make that
seven) hour drive from Thessaloniki, Greece to the homefront in Erseke.
I am tired and I told Jane I was going to sleep an hour ago. Shhh. In
the end, she told me to blog (sharing my phone with Sam is what really
took up the hour).
So in brief, our team is: Sam, George, Steve, Kaiser, Erin &
Schroeder. Oldest to youngest.
The Stoschers are: Mark & Ruthie, parents; Abby, Becca, Jamie &
All in all, an absolutely lovely day of being tourists!
This morning we're having a quick cup of coffee before hitting the
Museum of Natural History. Pictures of dinosaurs coming soon...
But first, it was a looong day before getting out of town...
2:00 am- Spring forward! Lose one hour of life.
6:45 am - Arise for carwash fundraiser for mission trip. Who's the
idiot who scheduled this on daylight savings day?
7:17 am - First kid arrives, 43 minutes early.
8:00 am - Setup and standing around begins. It seems remarkably cold
to be having a carwash.
9:00 am - Official start.
10:00am - Church begins. We have several cars lined up (fifty or so)
to wash in one hour.
11:10 am - We didn't think we'd make it through. The adults were
having a hard time motivating the kids. The kids were having a wet
time doing the work. It may have been hard, I don't know, I was too
busy being a taskmaster.
12:30 pm - Done. Go home.
1:00 pm - Erik, Jane, Brian G, and Steve nitpick through the
inefficiencies of the carwash at breakfast, failing to remember we
made more money than ever before (thank you PCLG).
2:45 pm - Brian G teaches Steve how to ride the 1978 Vespa Steve
bought with Jane's birthday money from Steve for a laptop. You snooze
2:48 pm- Steve successfully rides around the PCLG parking lot (where
everyone in town learns to drive).
3:00 pm- We kick out Brian and Erik, we need to pack.
5:00 pm - Middle School. Jesus was walkin on the lake, Team
Mythbusters trivia (boys rule, girls continue to drool), sardines. Tom
came back after several weeks and the kids had words for him.
7:00 pm - Leave for SFO, driven by Brian H.
7:15 pm - In N Out. Don't leave CA without it.
8:10 pm - Airport arrival.
9:35 pm - Takeoff aboard the purple lit Virgin America flight (it's
like a disco in there!). 5 hours, no food... And pretty much no
sleeping either). Somewhere in there it turns into Monday.
5:00 am - W A-S-H I-N-G... T-O-N, baby, DC! Actually, Dulles
7:00 am - Hotel let's us check in super extra early. We finally sleep.
For the low price of two free lunches, LandShark spoke about the PCT
adventure and showed off our favorite pictures. Caterpillar improvised
some closing remarks that really outshone the rest of what LandShark
had said. That's why I bring her along.
Thanks to Ed LaVeque for recruiting us to come today.