first things first


A blog about whatever crosses my mind, ordered by importance.


Continuing Resolve

Lots of stuff has happened this past month! Last I posted I was in the middle of a 2-week break in Dallas. That was a great and relaxing time for me, helped me to prepare mentally and spiritually for these next 7 months in Albania. I saw friends and family and enjoyed plenty of tacos.

When I got back it was right back into the swing of things with a seminar the next day. It was a video seminar, we showed Patrick Lencioni’s talk from the 2016 Global Leadership Summit.
It had already been subtitled in Albanian. The talk was great, but when we asked our partners afterwards for their feedback they said it would be better to have a live speaker in the future. So, as much as possible, we’ll try to do that.

I spent the next week putting the finishing touches on my translation and subtitling of Seasons of Gray, a modern-day Joseph story. This film was made by a small independent studio with the support of Watermark Church in Dallas, and I still had my DVD copy so I decided to translate it as a language project. Seasons Of Gray trailer image We finished the translation and had a small screening as a Sotmeria event. It went fantastic! Everybody was teared up at the end. I went out for coffee with a couple guys afterwards and we talked about forgiveness, eventually leading into a Gospel conversation.

Big Events coming up!

The rest of our time has been spent preparing for the conferences we’ll have next month. We’ll have one conference on Feb 11-12, in which we’ve invited all of Sotmeria’s audience. We’ll talk about love in the context of dating and relationships, and will provide a good time to connect with some of the people who do not regularly participate. Our partners are really excited about this event and have been working tirelessly to help prepare. We’re excited that they are really taking ownership of a lot of the aspects of this conference!

TraNet 2017

At the end of February, there’s another big conference in Cyprus that is being put on by the LeaderImpact regional team. It’ll have staff and partners from all over Eastern Europe. The focus is to help train our partners to be owners of the ministry and to give their L.I.F.E. (Leadership, Influence, Finances, and Expertise) to the mission. We have 27 people going from all 3 focuses of LeaderImpact. Some of them still need to raise support for their plane tickets. It’s going to cost 150 euros per person for plane tickets, plus $100 conference registration fee. That’s a lot when the average salary here is $300/mo.

If you’d like to make a donation to help cover the costs for a young professional, please click here
and write in the comments: TraNet 2017 young professional

Cyprus Here’s hoping Cyprus will look like this when we get there!

What’s next?

What’s next? That’s another question that’s been on my mind recently. I need to send in a staff application by end of March if I’m going to do that route. If I do, I’ll be back in the states raising support next year and going through training. If not, I’ll be back in the states looking for a job. Whatever happens, I definitely want to be back in Albania often, and will try to position myself so that it’s possible to live here again in the future. Whether that’s as a CRU staff member or not, I’m still debating.

There’s also a lot of things to draw me back to Dallas. There’s a young man named Demarcus in Oak Cliff who will be entering his third year of high school. I’d love to be able to be there for him for at least the next two years to help him graduate. I’d also love to help with the continuing efforts of the Watermark Albania Discipleship Trip group. They’ll be bringing 40 people this summer to Albania, and I hope that will continue to grow well.

And honestly, I miss my friends and family. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends get married and seeing other friends have babies this fall. This is the kind of thing though that I expect will follow me the rest of my life, because once I move back to Dallas I’m going to miss all my Albanian friends. I have a second family over here that has a special place in my heart. I’m longing for the day when we are all one in Christ, with no more distance and time to divide us.

I hope to make a decision quickly, to be able to focus on the present. I want to enjoy every moment that I’m here in Albania. This has been and continues to be an amazing experience, and I have grown so much in the Lord through it. Giving up my job to come here was absolutely the right decision.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4