We see many of our friends and family relying on their fitness trackers to keep up with their steps throughout the day. Though we don’t have one (yet), we thought we’d look back and update you on some of the steps we’ve taken over the past six months. Don’t worry – it won’t add up to 10,000!
We arrived in Albania on Friday, August 25, and began the school year at GDQ International Christian School on Tuesday, August 29. Those first weeks were a whirlwind of unpacking, shopping, meeting people, and learning our way around the city of Tirana. Even with Google maps we’ve managed to get lost a few times as we’ve walked around the city. Thankfully, we haven’t yet gotten on the wrong bus!
Being Head of Secondary Len walks back and forth from our high school campus (9-12) to our lower school campus (K-8) several times a day. It’s only a ten-minute walk but it can be an adventure getting past the loose geese in an empty lot. Apparently Len’s briefcase comes in handy as a shield! Though Betsy stays at the lower school campus, she gets her steps in going up and down from the staff room and printer on the first floor to her office and classroom on the third floor, as well as frequent trips to the nearest grocery store.
A huge step in our journey these past months was Len graduating from Columbia International University with his Master of Education in Administration in December. Though he wasn’t able to attend his actual graduation ceremonies, he was surprised with a “ceremony” complete with hood and stole during a Friday morning staff meeting at GDQ. It’s been a blessing to work alongside the rest of our K-12 staff at school. Many have come to serve here from the United States, but others from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Finland, South Korea, Canada and Albania. Though our instruction at school is in English, numerous other languages are represented in our school community. As we begin more formal language training in Albanian, we are hoping that our having learned Spanish will help us in understanding some of the grammatical rules and constructions. But we are more than a few steps away from being able to hold a conversation in Albanian!
Besides learning culture and language, we are learning much about our students at GDQ. Our 137 students represent more than 20 different countries. Some have lived all their lives in Albania. Others, like us, only arrived a few months ago. Some are already planning to leave at the end of this school year, either temporarily or permanently. Most have had numerous experiences with transition in their lives. Wherever their steps might lead, we are thankful to have this opportunity to walk alongside them as they learn and grow academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. As the GDQ International Christian School vision statement says, our goal is that of “educating international children to have maximum influence for the glory of God in their lifetime”.
A recent highlight that led our students to take steps in drawing closer to God was our Middle School Retreat. We spent two nights and three days at a campground outside the city. Activities included games of hide and seek, hiking, basketball, ping pong and other large group outside games. More importantly, as we learned how to have an unbreakable faith, the Lord moved on many hearts during our worship and small group times.