ALBANIA TEAM – Welcome to Albania!

June 30, 2024

Jet Lag and Culture Shock

The team landed at Mother Theresa Airport in Tirana with all our bags and excitement for what we will encounter in our new culture. Jet lag is a reality of International travel, as it generally takes 30+ hours of travel time (pillow to pillow), with very little chance for meaningful sleep on an airplane. Fresh air and activity are important to recovering more quickly.

Our first accommodations, Hotel Verzaci, is very near the airport and so the team simply walked the 1/4 mile distance, while Pr. David drove the baggage over in a rental car. It is a family-owned business that has hosted SON teams many times over the last few years and so we feel very welcome and cared for.

Friday was spent in team devotions and final orientation and training for the mission field. Naps were also a highlight for the weary travelers, but not before we trekked back to the airport for our first “full-immersion” cultural experience – going to the market, selecting, and buying or own lunches and snacks with Albanian Lek, the local currency. It never ceases to make the uninitiated feel a little like a three year old, holding out your hand with the strange currency, as if to say “How many monies do I have?” 🙂

Eating meals is always a “big event” for the local hosts, as feeding 18 people can be a challenge! The first night we ate dinner at the hotel. On the second evening, we walked back toward the airport for an amazing traditional Albanian meal at a restaurant in the Ark Hotel. No one walked away hungry!

Following breakfast at our hotel, on Saturday, we loaded up in our Furgon (passenger van) to begin the 2-hour journey up into the mountains, to Peshkopi. This is always an eye-opening experience, as driving through Tirana is exciting, to say the least. Traffic is heavy and multi-lane roundabouts seem to morph into inter-woven knots of cars and busses all vying for same, next exit. We are very grateful for our experienced Albanian bus drivers!

We Made It to Peshkopi!

Soon after our arrival at Hotel Veri, in Peshkopi, we reunited with our Albanian ministry hosts, Pastor Ermal & Sarah Lushi, over a light lunch of soup, salad, and french fries. It is always a joy to see familiar faces and to introduce new team members to old friends. We were soon joined by more familiar faces and partners in ministry, who immediately wanted to take us to coffee!

Going to Coffee is HUGE in this culture and is almost always a spur-of-the-moment invitation that should rarely ever be turned down. Espresso, cappuccino, macchiato, or tea, lemon soda, or sparking water are the usual drinks ordered when going to coffee.

Later, we enjoyed a celebration dinner at the hotel with many of our Albanian ministry co-workers before going for a walk on the Boulevard (pedestrian promenade that runs the length of downtown Peshkopi), ate some ice cream, and then nestled in for a good night’s rest.

Sunday morning we enjoyed worshiping at Alfa-Omega Church and then sent everyone out in groups to find lunch with our Albanian friends before gathering to set up for camp at the local high school.

This is the very first time, since our first camp in 2017, that we have been able to host camp at a school in Peshkopi. We are encouraged as this symbolizes greater trust in the community for what the Lushi’s are doing in Peshkopi and how the relationships continue to grow!

Please pray for our first day of camp, Monday morning! Our jet lag is almost over, but a good night’s rest will be most welcome. However, (as this blog is being written) a traditional high school Prom is being hosted at our hotel. This mostly involves very loud, traditional Albanian music that is played at ear-splitting volume levels, until just before midnight. Even though Prom is in the basement level, the sound reverberates throughout the concrete constructed hotel. It’s not wrong, it’s just different; and very much a part of our new host culture. Welcome to Albania!

Call to Action

Here’s how you can stay involved and what you can do!

Pray Continuously: Set aside time each day to pray for the mission trip. Pray for the team’s stamina and health. Pray for the people we will serve, and for the work God will do in and through us in Peshkopi and the Dibër region. Pray especially for the more remote village children and their families, who will join us. We hope many will join us and be impacted by the camps. Pray for people to grow in curiosity toward Jesus and His Good News.

Stay Updated: Follow along on our ministry blog for more updates and inspiring stories from the camp. Your comments and encouragements are greatly appreciated and help us feel connected to our church family back home.

Get Involved: to learn more about the Spiritual Orphans Network, navigate to: and fill out the form to request more information.