Wieder Unterwegs

Sunday, 8th February, 2015
Sitting on the floor of Tirane Airport. Sarah is reading ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ to me, while Ashley eats Haribo Berries, Joshua plays on his Kindle, Bart reads, Marina sits, and the others recline on their rucksacks baggage in various attitudes. Having arrived at the airport at around 7.30 to see Kellie off on her earlier flight, we discovered we can’t check in till nearer our flight (at 11) so we get to catch up on sleep and all that kind of thing.
Reading ‘Fellowship’ makes me so contemplative about journeys and our hobbit backpack lives that I want to stare at the passing grey clouds and think about where we’ve come from (this airport) and who we are now, passing through it again. In the circle of it I know i’m not the same.

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
And I must follow, if I can….

Right now the Fellowship are trying to decide which of dangerous roads to take- Caradhras having fought them off, and Moria being equally ominous. (I don’t know why my 6 AM brain thought it was important to tell you this; but as I typed, I will post.) 

To the sea, to the sea
The endless waves that whisper in
Have brought their words to me
And I can’t stay

But this time i’m as excited and curious to go back to England as I used to be as a little MK coming back on furlough. Nah, not like that. I can’t wait to see friends and familiy and spend almost two months there with my DTS (post-DTS travelling included), and I feel a combination of travel excitement and something that might be the joy of being home-ward bound. England still isn’t quite the Shire to me. Like the Elves, I think the sea, or the spirit of it, will always call. But that doesn’t mean I won’t love being there and feeling the unfamiliarly familiar. Tesco and Pret a Manger and memories that are good, now I’ve been away for five months. And this is the most important thing- it’s not the end of the adventure.

I was getting fearful about my non-existent plans, post-DTS. I realised I was doing my best to fill the empty months with all sorts of adventuresome plans- mostly to fill the space in myself that I fear will return when I go home. But God gently reminded me that he loves me. He’s the one who’s made me with a love of freedom and adventure and he’s not going to leave me or abandon me. Wherever I am, I can be living life to the full. I remembered everything I’ve done over the past few months and how my creativity is restored and I see God’s joy in all the brushstrokes of the sky. Therefore, I will trust him with the next few months, even if it’s not easy. And if the prospect of a four-year commitment to Oxford, in the most pressurised and mainstream of environments, frankly causes my wandering heart to quail

I think Albania will only seem real once we arrive in England. Seven weeks! I have loved it here. Things I will miss:

Going food shopping for the team and buying fresh produce and olives and raisins per kilo. Garr. 😥
The sound of Shqip
Folk dancing
The fresh bread in the bakeries…
The beach and picking up shells by the YWAM base in Durres
Views of the mountains
Albanian cuisine. Yes, I know. Stuffed bell peppers, bean soup and byrek- filo pastry with spinach….
Taking my shoes off at the door to someone’s home… (I’ll still do that anyway…)
Albanian hospitality and faces. I love these people. I think I could live here and I hope to come back.

It seems so strange to me that seven weeks ago we stumbled off a plane and stood sleepy-eyed waiting for Dag, the pastor of the church we worked with in Fush Kruje, to pick us up. I was extremely tired from a 24-hour journey and a very long pack the night before, which dulled any apprehension or irritability I may have been feeling. I was standing in a completely new country, faced with the prospect of going to church in an hour, armed with what I’d not got rid of in my slow-motion whirlwind of cramming my life of three months, into a 20-litre rucksack and my violin case. As well as my team. And a few Albanian phrases I was afraid to use in case I was pronouncing them wrong.
How have my relationships, possessions, and I myself changed since then? Clearly my Albanian was better, second time around in Nene Tereza Airport- we even had to remind Anthony that ‘faleminderit’ (thank you) wasn’t going to work in Istanbul or Stansted. (I might just keep using it though.)
To start with the simplest thing, probably also most relieving to my team and leaders, my packing time is down to a mere two hours from the entire day it took me to pack when leaving the boat. Also my bag is quite sleek and beautiful, with no sandwich bags hanging off it! Still looked like a hobo in my sleeping bag in the coach station but I can’t help that… 

Monday, 9th Feb: Cafe Nero, by Victoria Street Station….. hour 24 exactly since I woke up to start this journey. Still around 6 to go, provided we find the rest of our team and… and…. make it to Holmsted! So pray that Kristin gets through security! Now I have to go and find food but hey, I’m back in England. 

Over and out.

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