Follow the Journey Team to Macedonia
Zdravo! Te sakam Mama and Tato! (Hello, I love you Mom and Dad!)
Our experience here in Macedonia so far has been incredible to say the least. We've seen the beauty atop the mountains when we went to Matka, we've experienced the heat as we walked the streets, and we've gotten to know the culture and the people as we've begun spending time with them.
Macedonia as a country is amazing and I've definitely fallen in love with it like many others of my team. The people here are genuine and easy to talk to. Each member of our team has been thankful for a few native Macedonian friends to help us navigate and experience life here in the country of Macedonia.
Not only have we enjoyed getting to know the people and learn each other's languages, but we've grown through teaching English! Personally, I have been blessed by my students and my co-teachers. I have been helping to teach the Advanced Kids Class. My students are around the ages of 10-15, and I love helping them learn! Not only have we been able to help them learn, but I have learned a lot from them and how to better facilitate a learning environment. Before I came here I was really wrestling with whether or not I could see myself pursuing my current major: Counseling. Naturally, I didn't mind the major, but I struggled to envision myself day after day in an office one on one with another person leading them for a short time out of problems and towards a stronger identity. Certainly, it's a possibility, but honestly it doesn't bring me joy to think about that. I love discipleship (which is not counseling), and during these past two weeks I have LOVED the classroom setting.
I'm thanking God for finally showing me what I love and what He has given me a passion for. I definitely am going to come back to the states and seriously consider changing my major. Praise God for clarity, and my team has been nothing but encouraging! Thanks guys!
Anyways, our time here has been such a blessing. This country is so SAFE. Crime rate is very low and I love that a small group of us can walk around at night and not need to worry about much. The culture here doesn't start until 9 or 10 o'clock am, and ends around 1-3am... this is my kind of culture! Being a night person has had huge benefits here in Macedonia. Granted that the days are hot, it's more reasonable to be outside at night. Another interesting cultural difference is the amount of cats and dogs you see running around outside. I see at least 8 stray cats a day and 3 stray dogs a day.
All in all, I'm extremely grateful for my new Macedonian friends whether from English classes or elsewhere. They are all close to my heart and I look forward to trying to keep in touch. I know that when we leave parting will be sweet sorrow for our team and the people here! Bittersweet. I hope to come back to Macedonia again someday. "Third time's the charm!"
Who knows if I'll leave that time? I wouldn't mind staying, as I'm sure some of our team agrees. Thank you to the Jackson's for hosting us and teaching us what it's like to be immersed in another culture/people/country.
Looking forward to the rest of the week!
Love to all at home,
Today has been a relaxing sunny day. We started out with our daily devotions which Daniel Crocker taught to us. We all encouraged each other as we tossed a stress ball around and told each other something that encouraged us in each person. Then, the team did a bit of their lesson plans for tonight. Then we all had a leftover amazing lunch of rice and drum sticks prepared by a Native Macedonian. Later, all the girls are going out on the bus to downtown Skopje, where we were once before. We are just going to get coffee and shop a bit. Yesterday we taught English and then went to an ice cream shop. Many of the past students met us at the ice cream shop, so they could speak with us because they knew we would be there. Then, we went to the newer mall to get food and look around. It was fun and we are getting to know each Macedonian a bit better each and every day.
I will talk a bit about my English class which is advanced children. These students can surprisingly speak very good English. We have done topics such as past, present, future; questions; food; and other grammatical topics. We play games to teach them these and we also do role plays in front of the class to get them to understand. Tiffany, Tim, and I have also implemented a no talking in Macedonian or English when other people are talking to try and subside the talking so we can hear each other. It has worked fairly well. Overall, the class has gone well.
I love Macedonia. I have been here once before when Phil and Lynn were planting the Mother Church. I am excited to see everyone again this Sunday. Meanwhile we are building relationships for a house church on their new part of town. A daughter church they are calling it. So the relationships we are making in the English classes could have a long term outcome for God’s great Kingdom. It is exciting and I only hope that we continue the great effort we have made so far and will continue to make next week. This is done all in the name of the Lord. I am learning so much and getting to know new people even from home that I may never have gotten to know had it not been for this trip. I will continue to be stretched with each new experience we make. Tomorrow we are getting to go back to Lake Ochrid. I am excited! This is all for now as we are now going to go downtown!Bekah Noel
Such a simple word, and a bit vague I suppose, but it is a word that has been continuously thought or verbalized by me and the rest of my teammates.
One of my favorite things to do is learning of other cultures and simply just observing people who are different than I. I am in the perfect place to do exactly that! Macedonian culture is so rich in relationship and hospitality. In such a short time I have already been warmly welcomed into other people's homes and have enjoyed genuine conversation with the people here whether through a Worship service or passing out flyers for our English classes.
Today our team is eagerly looking forward to beginning our first English class this evening and we are preparing, anticipating good connections and successful classes! We will be teaching three different levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. We will be teaching students from ages of 9 and up. We are all so excited to see all of our preparations and planning actually take shape and happen.
6.9.13Today was by far the most exciting day so far and probably the day in which we have learned the most about the Macedonian People first hand. We first spent the morning and afternoon hiking up a beautiful and breath-taking mountain outside the capital city of Skopje. A main river in the area was at the base and we had to take a neat little boat across the river to get to the trail for hiking. It was a steep climb and took some time to get to the top, but the experience was worth it. We were blown away by God’s creation and the mighty works of his hands. To look down and across the mountain top was exciting and humbling. And along the way we got to experience nice mountain flowers and creatures like lizards and giant beetles. Also, at the top there was erected still an old Byzantine church that was kept from being destroyed many centuries ago. However, the best part was having worship and prayer with the team on top of the mountain and praising God for Macedonia and His Creation.
Afterwards some of us took a public bus home. This was a unique opportunity for us to see the Macedonian culture right up front. Many more people use public transportation in Macedonia because it is affordable and easier than paying for their own vehicle. So it was crowded, as you can imagine. Gabe, the son of Phil and Lynn Jackson (who are our missionary contacts and leaders) helped us through the process. But while on the bus our team experienced something that really stood out to us. The bus got stuck when trying to turn around in a very tight location that was highly crowded by traffic and other people. The interesting thing we learned was how much effort the community took to help the bus get maneuvered around. They worked together and were very kind. The funniest part was watching someone hot-wire a parked vehicle that was in the way and parked it somewhere else so that the bus driver could turn the bus around!! It struck me because it seems in America that people are often afraid to help other people in public and we sometimes would leave someone with their problem because we are too embarrassed to try and help. We are very individualistic while these people in Macedonia have a better sense of community.
This sense of community was even better demonstrated after our orientation when we had a prayer and worship time with the church plant in the evening. Only a few Macedonians, which I could number on one hand, came to join us. But the great part is their love for each other in the body of Christ. They take on each other’s burdens and consider each other to be family. I was very blessed by the interest they all had in our team as a new part of their family.
Afterwards, we went through four 14 story University dorm buildings to give out flyers with information about our conversational English Classes, which start tomorrow evening at 6pm. I cannot explain how much this activity helped us to learn the culture of most Macedonian college students. We learned how each person interacted differently with us but most tried to speak English (and we tried to speak Macedonia, but did not do as well). Not as many seemed interested in the free classes we are offering, but we will see tomorrow how many people come out. Overall, the experience of talking to Macedonians in their own environment was beneficial for us to see what their interest and personalities are like. I really believe that God is going to form great relationships between us and some Macedonians within the next two weeks through teaching English.
Thank you all for reading our updates and praying. We look forward to sharing more about the new friends we will make and all the learning that will take place here. Keep informed.
Well today has been an incredible start to our agenda as we headed out of Macedonia and traveled about 3 hours away into Greece. On the way we stopped at a little bakery shop for some breakfast and it was a shock to the senses. Our typically sweet USA meals had nothing on the less sugary type meal with a bit more salty. We spent the entire day walking around getting to see and hear more on the history and where it relates to in the Bible. This is to include actual ruins still standing and road locations. We had an amazing lunch: some authentic Greek Gyros. After that we had a chance to continue sight seeing and find some souvenirs. We traveled back to Macedonia later tonight and enjoyed a nice chicken sandwich followed by a nice walk back to the house we are staying at. Thanks so much for all the prayers.
In Christ, Nicole
We are here in Macedonia...after a late night, arriving to a morning here, we are still up and getting settled to new culture and time change. God is so good, we had no issues in the airport, made all of our flights, very encouraging! We would ask for prayer for health and adjustment for our bodies and a perspective that is focused on others. We will keep you updated as we keep going. Praise the Lord for his specific answers to prayer already!Tim and Alicia Carver
6.5.13 - 6.23.13
Leaders: Tim & Alicia Carver
Team Members: Daniel Crocker, Stephanie Jackson, Kaitlyn McNally,Bekah Noel, Nicole Valentino, Josiah Weaver, Lauren Winter, Tiffany Wolf