As I type, a steady rain is falling in the village, but no one is left in a tent!
Because of YOU, we have been able to provide on-site containers/trailers furnished with bunk beds and mattresses for 9 families to have warm, dry, and safe places to sleep this winter. Several other families have found temporary rental accommodations in nearby villages and YOU are helping to cover those costs as well until they get back on their feet!
Because of YOU, out team was able to serve 60+ hot lunches 6 days a week for 2 months! Last Saturday was the last of these lunches, not because of a lack of funds, but because of a lack of need! Praise Jesus!
The Church in Vlashaj has also been blessed to distribute soap, detergent, hygiene products, blankets, clothing, food boxes, and so much more. The surrounding communities have taken notice and seen that the CHURCH is the difference.
Now we are working to transition from the immediate crisis and aid into long-term development and growth! This process will be a lot longer and will require more wisdom, but we are committed to it. The church of Vlashaj has been the conduit of hope and help to the community, and the church isn't going anywhere! Stay Tuned!
Use your finger to move the video in any direction to see a 360 degree view! Best viewed on your computer.
Thank you for considering Planters on "Giving Tuesday" this year. It is through your faithful gifts that Planters has been able to respond to the current earthquake crisis and can remain in service to our Albanian neighbors!
Sarah sent a newsletter recently about the Community Center/Soccer Field project that has begun in Vlashaj. We are about $15,000 short of being fully funded, and an additional $22,000 would allow for some huge upgrades like solar heating and the top-of-the-line turf. One will lower operating costs, and the other will increase potential revenues!
The last 48 hours have continued to be busy in Vlashaj! More temporary housing has been built and after a rough night of rain some of the original structures have been improved.
The stress level for everyone is still very high, but our young church met Friday night to worship together and kid's clubs occurred Saturday morning as well. In an effort to provide a bit of a break for these kids, the Planters team cooked hotdogs and snacks and played games with the kids. Those from Vlashaj felt comfortable enough to come into our structurally sound center to eat and play. The house we rent in Metalle isn't any worse than it was before the quake, but the kids there preferred to say outside which is understandable!
Yesterday, we sent an appeal revealing that the homes were condemned for 4 of the 5 knitters for the www.handmadeinalbania.org project. The response has been humbling as more orders were made to support these families! For a short time, the traffic overwhelmed the bandwidth and the site was down. We are back up, so if you got an error earlier, try again! (www.handmadeinalbania.org)
As our needs have increased, so has God's provision through God's people! The official word today is that there are 25 families in Vlashaj that have been left without a home.
We set a goal of $10,000 by December 15th to allow us to provide tangible support and you responded by meeting the goal in less than 36 hours!
The supply of tents our staff were able to find was exhausted after helping 5 families (we are looking at other possible sources), so today Mandi and Arjan purchased plastic and wood to build makeshift housing. Tonight more families are sleeping protected from the elements because of your support.
Also today, the first floor was poured in the new ministry center/soccer field! Why continue building while many are in the midst of demolition?
So on this Thanksgiving, we thank God for his provision through you and we dare to dream about a brighter future in Vlashaj!
It is getting dark now in Albania. This is the first night since the 6.4 magnitude earthquake and five families from our village don't have a home that is safe to sleep in tonight. Thankfully Mandi was able to secure enough tents for four of them and the fifth will be sleeping in the first floor of the ministry center! (Our facilities were damaged superficially, but are safe!)
Because of the regular faithful supporters of Planters Seed Foundation, we have staff on the ground who were able to access the situation and respond immediately! Thank You!
We have created a giving page with the goal of raising $10,000 in the next month to help in emergency aid and to help begin the reconstruction. Prayerfully consider joining us as we reach out to our neighbors!
In the coming days:
Isaiah 58:12 (NIV)
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
The largest earthquake in Albania in decades hit around 4 am on Tuesday, November 26, 2019. At this writing, damages and loss of life are still being determined in the first light of day after the earthquake.
Our ministry center in Vlashaj is only 5 miles from the epicenter, and our staff and neighbors are shaken physically and emotionally. At least 5 families in Vlashaj have been left homeless, and Planters is looking into tangible ways to offer support to them and others in our community during this time. We have created a giving page with the goal of raising $10,000 in the next month to help in emergency aid and to help begin the reconstruction. Prayerfully consider joining us as we reach out to our neighbors!
God is doing a new thing in Albania, and Planters Seed Foundation is working on this new website to better share about it. Starting in 1993, David and Sarah vanOrman began traveling to Albania to teach farming techniques and share the Good News door-to-door in the villages surrounding the capital city of Tirana. Planters Seed Foundation was formally recognized in Albania in 1995 and the staff of PSF has been sowing the seed of God's word in Albania ever since.
In 1999, PSF first entered a village between Tirana and Durres named Vlashaj. This village is still not even named on Google Maps, but God often uses the small and insignificant in the world's eyes to accomplish his purposes. Years of weekly kid's clubs and Bible studies led to the formation of a local church which continues to grow.
God often uses the small and insignificant in the world's eyes to accomplish his purposes.
Believing that God was working in Vlashaj and that eventually the church would outgrow the converted village house being used as a ministry center, Planters purchased the field adjacent and waited on God's direction for its use.
More than 5 years ago a seed of an idea was born over coffee with some Planters staff. The challenge before us was finding a way to better reach out to men while also working to move the local church in Vlashaj to a place of financial independence. Through prayer and counsel, Planters Seed Foundation decided to purse building a multi-purpose facility that would sever as a church and education space as well as a commercial indoor soccer field and fitness center that would provide enough income to maintain and grow the ministry!
In March of 2019, plans for the Vlashaj Family Center were submitted for approval and construction is planned to begin in May! The new www.planters.org site will be the place to watch the progress of the build and follow what God is doing and continues to do through your partnership with Planters Seed Foundation in Albania!
In Albania, the one who holds the keys hold the power! Every gate and every door has a lock with a unique key! As we have served in Albania, we have searched for keys to reach our neighbors for Christ. Planters has used farming, kids clubs, English classes, after school programs, and many other activities as keys to reaching out into the Vlashaj community, but we have struggled to reach men!
We learned that some men were avoiding entering the building known locally as the ‘Jesus Center,’ so we moved our men’s Bible study to the local cafe. While that made our group less intimidating to some, it still was only once a week and was limited to those who were already interested in a Bible study!