Water, water everywhere


It has been a busy April for us. I have been preparing the IGCSE Biology class for their exams in May. I hope and pray that all their hard work will be rewarded and trust God that they will stay in good health throughout this term. Looking back on this academic year, we know of 3 serious illnesses causing hospitalisation amongst the 139 students at GDQ, and pray that there will not be any more. It has to be said that the healthcare available in Tirana is good and all the students concerned made a successful recovery.  A highlight for me has been a trip I organised to a large, brand new hydroelectric power plant just over an hour’s drive South of Tirana, in Banja village. The school’s Albanian driver, Gjerjie, had never been before and was not sure about the route. However, he managed to convey to me afterwards (in English) that it had been a good day for him . The students were able to experience first-hand what hydroelectric power was and how God has blessed Albania with this resource.

Elevate, the Friday worship and discipleship time, is continuing to challenge students. I still occasionally take small group discussions which happen in tents around the school. As the weather is starting to warm up (it is 31 0C today), the tents get pretty warm! At these times, students continue to share their burdens, anxieties and hopes and it is a privilege to lead them.

I have also started to help, once a month, with the children’s work on a Sunday morning at the local Baptist church. The children are mostly led by the pastor’s daughter, Priscilla. She is a dynamic, passionate and articulate 14 year old, who has a heart to reach her generation in Tirana. Several of the children, including Priscilla, speak fluent English and all of them seem to appreciate my British flapjacks. The Baptist community in Tirana is currently supporting a church just outside the city, because the pastor recently went to be with the Lord. This pastor, Fatima, was a Brazilian missionary, but felt a calling to serve in Albania and had been here for 15 years. The church has to find its way without her leadership now, so we pray that a leader will be raised up and trained from within the congregation as they continue to grieve.


Part of the challenge of working in unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances, is learning to adopt new strategies and ways of working. Possibly one of the expectations at GDQ is for the music-teacher to be an experienced choral conductor. That is not my strongest suit, but it has resulted in my having a go from time to time. In March, two of my classes, Grades 4 and 5 represented GDQ at an event that brought together students from five other International Schools across the region, the Tirana Association of International Schools (TAIS). Each school performed one song  and then combined into massed ranks of nearly a hundred, to create the TAIS Choir 2018. They then performed four more songs in two parts to round off the evening. The event went well and gave me the opportunity to meet other music teachers – always a priority for me – and more importantly, the chance for students to come together and sing to a significant-sized audience.


A similar event, albeit on a grander scale, happened over our Easter break when Debbie and I took six sixth-form students to Vienna to perform at the ACSI Honour Choir concerts. We mentioned this in the last blog. This time, the music was much more complex (singing in up to eight parts) and from some challenging repertoire including Bach, Mendelsohn and Bruckner. The students learnt so much from the experience and really enjoyed singing together and catching up with friends from across Europe (they had travelled from Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany and Russia). The concerts comprised of extremely moving and powerful programmes of contrasting items that formed an act of worship in itself, under the direction of the Choir Director, Tim Sawyer.


As the concerts took place, inevitably, many in the audience sought to capture the moment, by holding up their mobile phones. This came straight after the morning service in which the reading had come from the account of Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Christ on the first Easter morning. It struck me that when Jesus told Mary not to cling to Him, it is a call to live in the moment, to live in the now, rather than to try to hold onto it. The music couldn’t be captured by tiny screens and mobile-phone microphones. In the same way, we need to live every day in the moment and for Him.