Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Birthday to me....!

This is my 60th Birthday dinner celebration...with very special friends, and amazing Albanian grilled meat and veggies for dinner.  It was a beautiful afternoon...much laughter...precious friends, and Giradelli chocolate brownies courtesy of Julie for dessert.  What a very special blessing...!

Monday, October 9, 2017


Cannabis Energy Drink.... this just makes me laugh to see this truck driving through the middle of Tirana, in a country that has very harsh penalties for being in possession of "cannabis"....

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ronald in Serbia....!?

During our recent drive to Vajta, Hungary to attend the Foundations Conference at CCBCE, Nela, my PT intern and Dorina, the receptionist at ABC Health Center, were able to experience Serbia and McDonalds for the first time. Being American, and wanting a quick lunch we stopped there  both on our trip toVajta and our return trip back to Albania. you are thinking..."So what...?"  

Well, it was not that long ago that the US was bombing Serbia for war attrocities against Kosova.  Then to discover Ronald McDonald out balloons and taking photos with anyone who wanted one...was pretty funny. I don't think Nela and Dorina fully understood the "american cultural icon of Ronald"...but they were game to have their picture taken.  (Note...eastern european children would not even take a balloon from Ronald)  

It added a few extra laughs to our trip...which is always good....! 

By the way...the french fries were just as I remembered, and the McCafe had some amazing coffee, that helped the remaining 8 hours of our 15 hour drive home to Tirana. 


Friday, May 5, 2017

The Police in Albania....!

Recently I took a trip to Greece, and I had several surprising interactions with the police and the Greek border patrols.  

On my trip to Greece, I was pulled over in a small town in Albania, about 30 min from the border.  The road was blocked off with signs saying "STOP, Police".  So...I slowed down and one officer put his hand up, palm facing me...and I stopped.  The officer came up to my window...I was looking to be sure I had all of my documents in hand....and he said, (in Albanian), "Why did you stop?", "What do you need?".  I am stopped me, what do you mean "Why did I stop?".  There was a short dialogue to determine he didn't want to see my documents, and he told me to leave. I left...! 

A short time later I was crossing the Albanian border and the agent asked me, "Is this your first time in Europe?"  I told him no, that I have been living in the Balkans for nearly 10 years. He then said to me, "Why are there no stamps in your passport?"  "What?"   Then I realized I had a new replacement passport, and explained to him that the US Embassy in Tirana recently gave me a new passport. He said ok...stamped my passport and sent me to the Greek side of the border.

The agent there, asked me, "Where is your "visa" for your car?"  "My What?".  I had all the insurance, all the inspections...everything, but no "visa" for the car.  She told me that she could not let me into Greece without it. So....I went back to where I keep all my important car papers, and found a piece of plain paper with blue stamps on it and dates...that was my "car visa". She stamped it and sent me on my way.  

Whew....!!!  It is always an adventure driving in this part of Europe.  Who knew that I needed a Greek visa for my car...?  I didn't even know that I had it or what it was for....!  I will keep stopping when the police hold up there hands facing me...even if they don't know or understand why I stopped...!  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Crutches and Feet

Today at ABC while treating a very sweet 82 year old gentleman, Fevri,  I provided 2 major Albanian language blunders...!  

përtac= lazy            pateric=crutch
dhëmbë=teeth         këmbe=foot

So...I was asking Fevri, in Albanian, if he had hip pain, knee pain and foot pain so I could assess his ability for walking safely. I mistakenly asked him if he had any pain in his "teeth".  His daughter quietly told me, "my father doesn't have any teeth.". Then Fevri looked up at me with a great big toothless smile...and of course we all started laughing. moving on.

I decided to try a pair of crutches with Fevri...He was doing great, much better than I thought he would be able to do. The only problem was...."ME". Everytime I told him an instruction or something about how to use the crutches...I used the word..."lazy". No one said anything to me until after Fevri and his family left ABC...then my intern, Nela, began telling everyone what I had said.

The seratonin levels at ABC were running high this afternoon, everyone got a good laugh at my Albanian blunders...!  Oh well, it made for a fun day...hopefully I won't make this mistake again...but I am pretty sure there will be more language blunders in the future! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

One more question....

Often when I am working with patients, I will ask them "Do you have any other questions?". This week, an Albanian soldier stopped and said, "Yes, I have one more question."

"When are you going to pray for me?"

Well, I told him that, "no problem, I can pray for you." He explained that he heard that ABC Health center prays for each patient and he didn't want to leave before I prayed for him.

So...Nela, my intern, and I prayed for him. 

As soon as I said, "Amen"...he began praying for Nela and I, and for ABC Health center. 

It made me smile as he explained that he has been a believer for 10 years and it was his pleasure to pray for our work. 

A precious "God surprise"....!

Thursday, January 12, 2017 is still cold outside....!

So the last week we have continued to be trapped in this "freezing cold" weather pattern. This morning...about 2" snow and ice, these photos are from my apartment.

This area of Albania is so not used to "freezing" temperatures:
  • My landlady mopped the tile in our ceramic tiled courtyard yesterday, it was 28 degrees. I was so relieved when I made it down the stairs, also covered with ceramic tile.  Then I hit the "icy" courtyard would have made for a great video.  I had trouble finding a place that was not "icy" to even stand up. Does Charlie Chaplin come to mind...? Praise God...only bruises...again.  (Two weeks ago...I fell on the wet, ceramic covered stairs outside...that was very scary and painful) 
  • The lady that cleans ABC Health center...routinely mops everything. Yesterday, she mopped the tile courtyard, the w/c ramp, and the tile steps leading into ABC...about 5 minutes before patients were scheduled to arrive.
  • ABC Health center has not had running water for one week now...we use the bathroom at the neighboring coffee bar. Pipes are frozen, not broken.
  • There are many broken water pipes...old infrastructure and it is not strong enough to withstand the freezing temps...which leads to large sheets of ice on the sidewalks, and streets. is a good day to stay inside, I have food, water, somewhat warm in my 52 degree apartment, warm lap blankets to snuggle on my couch, a hot water bottle...but I am more comfy than many, many other people in Tirana.

And...yes...I am still smiling....! ;-)  
Yes....I still love my life here...!  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Brrrr....Baby it is cold outside...! Baby it is cold inside....! is cold outside and cold church.  It was 28F yesterday afternoon at 4pm, our church meets in the evenings, the building heater was blowing cold air. Guess how cold it was during service. We had 6 brave souls, the "frozen chosen" come for service...and we were thankful for the blankets and the little foot carpets.

In my apartment, praise God I got my heater repaired the first part of December. In the mornings, my apartment is about 52F...I am able to get it up to about 60F by the end of the day. Yes...lap blankets, hot tea, hot water bottle, long underwear...and warm jammies are doing the trick.

 Tirana is in the grip of a "deep freeze" weather pattern. Our average high and low temperature for January is 52 F, and 36F.  On Saturday, we had a high of 29F and low of 19F, Yesterday it was 36F and 19.7F, today we are forecast for 35F and 16F. Add 30-40%  humidity and a 3-4mph breeze...and you have cold

For an area not used to "deep freezing" temperatures...schools are closed, water pipes are breaking and leaving an icy trail in the streets and sidewalks, and the plumbers say it is too cold to repair the broken pipes.  There are still several fresh lemons hanging on the tree in my yard...hmm...?