I have never travelled much on my own, to a place and people I do not know. Reflecting now I was excited, but a little nervous. I was still jet-lagged from a previous trip, so was able to sleep for much of the journey there. After my luggage had been lost I was so glad to be welcomed by a Northern Irish voice and face in Olive Wilson. I don’t remember much of the journey to Bitola, other than it was very warm, and that Macedonian was not going to be easy for me to pick up. It was great to arrive at Alex’s house, to have food, drink and bed. I slept too well that night.
The weekend in Bitola
My luggage arrived the next day with minimum fuss. After a shower and change I began to feel normal and human again. On Saturday Alex introduced me to one of his Students from his German classes. We bonded quickly over a mutual appreciation of football. He was a qualified dentist, working for free just to keep his license. He was travelling to Germany for three months to work in Mcdonalds. This is all too common in Macedonia, where the government are very much in control and there are simply not enough jobs.There is an exodus of young people leaving the country just to find work. What a challenge faces the missionaries; to disciple and encourage young people seemingly destined to leave the country. On Sunday I went to the church in Bitola and shared my testimony. I was made to feel most welcome and was encouraged by the warmth of the christians there. I invited the church out for a picnic, but not many were free. Those who were enjoyed a time of fellowship in a beautiful meadow, with stunning views of God’s creation.
All too soon it was time for me to leave Bitola and travel to meet Pastor Jimmy in Stip. I arrived on the Monday afternoon and we made plans for me to speak the next day in the some of the villages Jimmy is working in. Spend a minute with Jimmy and you are enthused. Spend a day and you are energised and envisioned by his passion and love for the people of Macedonia and the Gospel. It was a privilege to partner with Jimmy to share the Gospel with the people we met. I was aided by two interpreters who were very gracious when I spoke too quickly or not clearly enough. I’m more comfortable speaking to children, so was pleasantly surprised by a good number in the first village. It was a new experience for me to be interrupted mid-meeting by a lady who had a question, but aside from that the rest of the meetings went smoothly.
This trip gave me a flavour of Macedonia, and the work of M.E.T. It is most definitely a flavour I would like to experience again.