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Some of the team
Widow with 10 children
Shipe and his little family
The site of the new building project
By Kenny McKee
Joan and I have travelled to many places around the world with Language Recordings UK over this past ten years and have met and fell in love with people from many country and cultures.
Just last week we flew out of Gatwick with a team from Smile International and Blythswood Care to Pristina the capital city in Kosova. We didn't know what to expect. Years ago we had seen the television pictures and read about the war in 1999, but since that date had heard nothing much about the country or its people.
About 6/7 years ago on my return flight from a recording trip to Macedonia I met Clive Doubleday from Smile Int. We shared about each others work and over the years became great friends although we never got to see each other much. His heart was and still is to help the widows and orphans after the trouble there.
He mentioned later if we had anything recorded in the Goran language. He said they were a group of about 30 to 50,000 speakers living in 28 villages on the Kosova/Albanina border. They are shepherds and hunters and are great cooks apparently. There were no known believers among them. Since that time of our first meeting together my wife Joan and I always had in our hearts the Goran people. We never knew about them or what they did or where they lived, but always we prayed for the Goran people, that somehow we would get to record something in their own language so they could hear God speak to them in a language they could understand.
Two months ago I met Clive again at a Balkans Region conference and the first thing we said to each other was about the Goran people. Clive said he was taking out a small team in April and would we go to see what The Lord would open up and perhaps meet someone who could help us. Clive said he would contact a Norwegian pastor/doctor and see if he knew of anyone.
We arrived there at the Smile centre on the Monday evening and the next morning in walked a guy from the Goran people, with an Albanian evangelist called Fatimere who had travelled 23 hours by bus. The Goran man was called Mukin and he had become a Christian believer 2 months ago and had come to record in his language for his folk. We were so excited and we began to record using a young girl translator Trina. After 2 days we had recorded some material in the Goran language. I could tell he was excited about the materials he was speaking. This was all so very new to him. It was wonderful to spend time with this new believer who is so hungry for God's word and to his new life he has experienced.
We were able to supply him with lots of humanitarian aid, Albanian Bibles, CDs, cassettes in Albanian, tape players, clothing, a guitar, pens, pencils, note books, hats, scarves, shoes for his 5 children, blankets. The villages are nominal Muslim and he wanted to distribute materials to those in need. We packed up a car with all this stuff and drove for a few hours to near his village where the road ended. He said he had to walk about 30 minutes to his home but he would call his son on his mobile and get him to bring the horse and cart to transport his "precious cargo" home. We laughed at this, his son with a mobile on a horse and cart...the old and the new.
We asked him if he would like to come to church with us on Sunday and told him it started at 11 am. On Sunday he arrived early at the centre with all these new clothes on which he had received from the Centre. He was so proud and excited. He had left early by bus and taxi. When he saw the friendliness of everyone at the church and the lovely music and the preaching he was really touched and had never been to church before. He was able to listen in his second language of Ship. Later the pastor gave him some 6 or 7 sermons on cassette in Ship and also a small walkman with new batteries. He was so delighted.
On our way home in the afternoon we visited a church where around 150 children were attending and singing praises to God and playing games. They were all mostly from Muslim families. Our friend was so blessed to see this amazing sight.
During the week, other things we did at the centre involved a widows day. There are over 10,000 widows, many of whom are in their late 20s and early thirties. During 1999 the men were lined up and shot, the houses torched and the young girls and women raped. Since the media left people around the world have largely forgotten these lovely folk, but God hasn't and he has raised up faithful people who endeavour to support and encourage them. Unemployment is around 75% with young people no hope of getting work. Those who do work earn maybe 25 Euros a month (approximately Â£17 sterling...$34 US).
The widows day at the centre when they come from a meal and relax, hear a short Gospel presentation and then are sent home with food, blankets and all the aid they can carry. The Biblical principal of helping the widows and orphans is in operation through these aid guys and it was such a honour and privilege for Joan and me to help out in a tiny way.
Most of the widows wear black and have little chance of remarrying. They are almost obliged to look sad all the time as part of the culture. We got them playing some games like musical chairs and pass the parcel and hooky pokey, which Joan led. It was real fun. A problem is that the graves of their husbands and son and brothers are outside their houses. This is like a constant reminder of their despair and hopelessness. Other are buried in mass graves. Others have never been found and many of the children and teenagers are still waiting for their daddies and brothers to return.
One family we visited with 10 children ranging from 14-to maybe 24 all live in the home with the mum. Although they have literally nothing they are so hospitable and got out a guitar and began Praising the Lord in English songs. Our friend Clive had been able to rebuild they house, with 2 bedrooms and a living room. About 6 of the daughters live in one small bedroom...2 beds side by side like the 3 bears story, the 2 boys in the other and the mum and 2 girls in the living room on sofas. She really would like to have an upstairs with some more rooms for her family. There are so many needs like this all over the country and it's impossible to do everything but it's a wonderful start. Many of the kids and women have trauma and stress related problems.
As we were driving from the airport after our arrival, Clive was telling me a about a need they know about. The house involved had some problem with the roof. I asked him what was the problem with the roof. He said "there isn't one." We began to laugh but really we were touched by this enormous need. Later in the week we met the family.
The husband is blind, and he and his wife have has 4 young beautiful children. They live literally in a scrap yard, in a building with no windows. Everything they own they have been given by our friends....they had nothing of their own. Now they are being forced out of their house in 2 weeks time by the owner who is building something on the land. The blind man has a home which has the brickwork done with holes for the windows and doors. It is single floor house with no roof. We prayed at the site and asked the Lord to provide in someway this impossible need. They need Â£10,000 to make the home liveable, by plastering the walls, putting on a second story for bedrooms, put in a bathroom and kitchen, add heating and a few other major things. In faith we have told the builder to proceed.
We chatted about the project later and decided to call it "one in a hundred." If we can get 100 people to give Â£100 we will have the amount needed. Or if someone would provide a smaller amount this would go towards the cost of a door or window.
This is not a Language Recordings project, as it is not our policy to make our needs known in the mission here, but this is over and above and we feel it is a really urgent case. I stress again it is not a Language Recordings UK project.
About 4 weeks ago Kosova got her independence and we pray that the UN and other organisations will pour in aid and development to this place. They need industry and commerce, jobs, medical centres, schools, colleges, social service and invar structures.
We intend and are planning to return to Kosova in the autumn and hope to take a small team with us, to do distribution of these new recordings in the Goran language, but also to distribute aid to the needs of the widows and orphans and Romany folk living there. We are also planning to do more recordings in the Goran language.