What I love about this place is that no one is qualified for anything, but they do it all anyway. And by "qualified" I mean the American version of the word, in which you need to have about 25 years of schooling and several more years of "experience" before you can really call yourself "qualified" for your job. Kosovo has only been an independent country for about five years, and everything is still a little behind, including the schools and the job market. Yet the people here are so inventive that they find ways to make a living. And even when they don't find a job, you can bet they still participate in the national pass time: dressing up and walking the boulevard like you own the place. If you can afford it, you sit down for a macchiato or two, but if not, you just look really good and strut. I tried wearing heels into town one day and completely gave up on it after five blocks. Not quite ready to prance with the European crowd, who apparently have very sturdy ankles.
Probably the hardest part of living here (besides the constant shoe envy) is the fact that Sam and I are unqualified for pretty much everything. I have every confidence that Sam is a brilliant teacher, but that doesn't stop him from having an "I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing!" moment pretty much every day. And I even have my degree in writing, but I still wake up most mornings thinking "how on earth am I going to write 250 pages?" or "is this really the book I want to be writing?". Even normal things are sometimes impossible. I once got in a cab that took me to the other side of town before I realized the driver didn't know where he was taking me and didn't understand a word I said. You really just have to laugh it off and keep going. Otherwise, we'd be curled up in the fetal position all the time. And nobody wants that.
What I love about God is that he always uses unqualified people to do amazing things. On days when all I can do is pull together a decent dinner, I thank God that he only called me to a mildly difficult task. Imagine being Moses or Abraham or one of those guys! At least I'm not in the desert anymore (been there, done that). At least I can go across the street and buy flour (and cheese and pomegranates and lettuce!). And at least I know that the God who called us to this "mildly difficult task" is a good God who wants us to learn well and live well and love well. We certainly do a lot of learning here, and we are growing more in love each day as we encourage one another through the difficulties. Plus, we can live exceptionally well on a budget that is probably less than your monthly rent. We even have date nights with ethnic food and wine! That's the high life if you ask me.
The point of all of this is that we love Kosovo and we love each other, but we have plenty of hard days here. I want you all to know that, because I really want you to be able to pray for us. We need you. On days when we feel isolated, or when we feel unqualified, or when we don't know where next month's rent is coming from. We believe in a God who provides for us and who strengthens us when we feel discouraged. But we also believe very much in the community of friends and family God has placed around us. I cannot tell you how much it encourages us to receive surprise notes from you all. We have gotten support money from the most unexpected places, and it has been such a joy to receive. Thank you to everyone who has knocked our socks off with your generosity. We are so humbled. And we know that even more of you are praying for us. Please keep it up.
Here are some things you can continue to pray for us:
Provision for the future. The money keeps coming in, but we really never know when and how. Pray that we keep trusting God to provide our daily bread here in Kosovo.
Rest. Sam has an incredibly busy schedule teaching and helping with extracurriculars at the school. Pray that he gets rested up and finds energy during his days. After six months of travel and a summer of wedding planning, it seems that a year's worth of tiredness has finally caught up with me. Pray that I will know how to do my best work while still maintaining a restful pace.
Work. Pray that Sam and I will do our work "with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Colossians 3:23). Pray that we would learn how to do our jobs well, despite being unqualified. Pray that we would know deep in our hearts that this work is for God, who loves us and knows who we were made to be. And pray that we would have a deep understanding of God's original design for us, that we may use our gifts to the fullest.
Protection. I know this sounds stupid, but our stuff is breaking, and I'm tired of it! My computer has been a constant source of frustration, and my power cord is on its deathbed. We don't have much here—just what we could fit in two suitcases—so when even one of my measuring cups breaks, it's a frustrating day. They don't have Wal-mart here. And although we like it like that most days, it can be difficult to replace the little things.
Encouragement. Pray simply that we would be encouraged and full of joy in our daily lives. There have been a few setbacks lately, but I for one am ready to have my joy back. Pray that we would receive the fullest that God has for us, without falling into discouragement or frustration.
We love you all so much. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.
Elizabeth & Sam