We are in Kosovo! It's not even been a week, and we are already deep into our new life here. Sam has begun teaching at Prishtina High School, and I (Elizabeth) have been playing with our European kitchen—sometimes without running water—and writing. We have already met lots of wonderful people through the school and the local church, which is conveniently located right next door to our apartment. Last night we even had Bible study with a variety of English-speakers from America, the UK, and Kosovo. It was a very refreshing time, and we were glad to be around so many people with their hearts set on Jesus.
Life here is at once simpler and more complicated. Sam tries to get all of our logistical needs met (new phones, bank accounts, etc.) using a combination of the little Albanian he remembers and his formidable skills at charades until someone from the line inevitably helps translate. And I spent the majority of our one-month anniversary disassembling our front door (or rather, our friend's front door, since we haven't yet moved into our own place) because it was locked open. There were tears, followed by a burst of the typical Ketchum woman can-do attitude, after which I googled "I can't unlock my front door!" and started putting olive oil (my next-best substitute for machine oil) in the lock. But hey—I got that door to close.
Despite various obstacles, we are enjoying the simple joys that Kosovar life offers. A hot, full-pressure shower has become a treat, and we thank God for how often our electricity is on. I have discovered the great pleasure of buying fresh vegetables at the open market, where they offer—get this—pomegranates! Never in my life have I seen a pomegranate being sold on the street, and it makes me feel really fancy to know that I could go around the corner and buy one for less than a Euro. Sam's real treat is that he can buy a super-cheap macchiato at the school every morning. And every time he comes up with some clever tactic to get his students to think deeply, the joy is all over his face. We are certainly happy—if a little tired and a lot bemused—where God has planted us.
Psalm 37 has in many ways become the mantra of our time here: "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" [verses 3-4]. Nowhere does it say worry or feel guilty or work harder. Jesus tells us to go ahead and enjoy what he has given us. Sam and I really struggled with the decision to ask for support, but once we made the decision, we knew the only way we could live it out well was to receive with gratitude and enjoy the blessings. Friends, we are so thankful for your support, and we are having a wonderful time living out what you have made possible for us. May God bless you a hundred fold and give you the same joy he has given us.
I'm sure Sam will write soon about the wonders and frustrations of teaching at Prishtina High School. What I can say is that I have found writing to be one of "the desires of my heart." I never realized how much I wanted to write as a profession (despite studying it in college). I never really allowed myself to consider it an option. But God knows my heart so well, and I am so happy that he intervened and told me to (wo)man-up and do it. The book is inching along, but I try to spend a good 3-4 hours a day on it, and the ideas are beginning to flow more regularly. I am really looking forward to having an extra room in our new apartment to make my "writing den." It will also mean we have room for guests...hint hint!
For now, we ask that you continue to pray for our health, energy levels, and sanity as we adjust to a new culture. We also would ask that you pray for provision—financial and otherwise—and that you listen to God to hear in what ways you might be part of what we're doing. Above all, pray that our joy would increase and that no evil scheme would rob us of our gratitude.
Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us, and feel free to let us know what's going on State-side or wherever you are! We miss you, dear friends, but we leave you in the capable arms of God.
Love, and more love,
Elizabeth and Sam