Apparently there was a wedding or some sort of celebration going on next door to our hotel last night. They were having quite the happy time! We fell asleep listening to the sounds of laughter and loud chatter. But, i don't think any of us expected what was coming next!
About 1:30 this morning, the sounds of music woke me up. Well, I'm sure it woke a lot of us up! It was a Roma Band -- sort of the Macedonian version of a Mariachi Band. They stood in the center of the street in a circle playing loud and happy! Cars honked and drove around them, people stood in the sides of the street watching. those of us in the hotel either peeked out the window and took pictures or videos, some of us rolled over and went back to sleep. Mike was one who whipped out his video and captured it on film. Wendi has uploaded some of this to YouTube with a Facebook link and I am going to try to get the link here as well. We all had a good laugh about it at breakfast this morning.
Devotions this morning were led by Mike and the one thing that he brought out was that discouragement is a choice. That is profound when you think about it. We are all as a group in a much better place and we know it is because of the prayers of all of you back home.
so work at the sports hall continues... half of the crew is painting today, the rest laying tile in the upstairs rooms. Let me tell you a bit about these rooms...
for a long time this sports hall was used for some pretty inappropriate activities... not the kind of sports you ever see on ESPN. There is a lot of corruption present in the city of Strumica. Organized crime, prostitution, drugs.... so there is a TON of hope riding on getting the sports hall renovated and used as a tool for outreach ministry.
Already much has been accomplished. Ryan and his coaches work with boys and girls, and its not just about basketball or ping-pong. there are character lessons being taught as they love on these kids and encourage and offer them hope. The location of the sports hall is amazing. the park is right behind the center, a soccer stadium is across the way and there are common roads that bring traffic by constantly.
by the way, on Saturday there will be a basketball game playing for what we would call 'state championship". ABA, (which stands for Adonai Basketball Academy) will be playing and they stand a VERY good chance of plaing first place in all of Macedonia! whoo hoo!!
The gym is used daily by kids and grown ups, shooting hoops. The long range plans include playground, cafe, even a medical center to name a few. But all of this is being funded by the generosity of others. donations of material and labor, in addition to cash are how this will be accomplished. Labor, such as our team is providing is essential to getting the work done.
The rooms I mentioned, previously used for prostitution, are being renovated into beautiful dorm rooms, that will be able to house mission teams and others as time goes on. If these rooms were done, then traveling teams such as ours would be able to stay here, making the cost of the mission trip more affordable as hotels would not be needed. Being on site would be more effective as well, time wise.
There are 4 rooms a hallway and a bathroom that needs laminate flooring as it's next step to completion. Wendi happens to be a professional laminate installer and she is chomping at the bit wishing she had the materials at hand right now. However, until the money is provided, the floors will sit unfinished. the cost would be around $3000 US to purchase. We are sending letters asking for donations to cover the purchase of the flooring. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could even still get the flooring while we are here and install it before we go home!? we can hope. Pray and hope.