A New Beginning and Goodbye to Sarajevo

Tara Canyon

Tara Canyon, Bosnia-Herzegovina

This trip with Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) to Podgorica and Sarajevo has been an extraordinary one.  Like I said in yesterday’s post, Sarajevo is the halfway point—25th of approximately 50 European capitals.  And Sarajevo calls itself The Heart of Europe.  It’s also the place where East and West meet in Europe.

Plus there has been a heavenly shift on this trip.  Prayer has gotten easier, the burdens lighter, and the work more fun.  We functioned more effectively as a team, despite past glitches with the issue of unity.  Our love and respect for one another has grown as we’ve come to recognize each other’s giftings—which brings us back to teamwork.  We’ve learned how to rely on each other’s strengths.  In Podgorica we were seven—four OCE regulars and three who joined us.  Here in Sarajevo we were 25 – 40, some only attended the meetings in the church, but several also came along to prayer walk with us.

Even with new people (and the locals, who are always new), this time we worked so well as a team.  Frankly, it’s a relief to know that I don’t have to carry the full burden of this ministry myself.  I know that I couldn’t do it alone.  So I work in my gifts and let the others work in theirs, and that way the burden is light for each of us.  But this is a remarkable group of people who don’t try either to self-promote or leave the whole burden on others.  Over the years and several trips together, we’ve learned when to come forward and when to step back and let another teammate do the work, and usually the locals blend in nicely, adding their prayers and prophecies in their own language.

So today was the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, here in Sarajevo.  We went down to the bridge where the shots were fired, arriving at 10:00.  There was a place in the street that was open for the team to enter, and once in, the crowd closed around us and many people walked through little gaps in our group of about 25.  One woman had made a flag of a lion roaring, and shared a vision of a roaring lion.  I had a vision of a lion stepping on the head of a dragon.  Different people took turns holding the flag, and almost as soon as we were in place, people started asking about the flag, and it became a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus.  Even news reporters from different countries came up to us, asking about the flag.  I spoke with a reporter from Italy and another from Hungary.  A couple of reporters recorded us singing and dancing.  For the first time, I was completely uninhibited in public worship.  It was wonderful.  Then someone from the City of Sarajevo Museum drove up with the Archduke’s car, parked it in the middle of the crowd, and cordoned it off.

Then we walked to the fountain in the middle of the Old Town Square, prayed some more, and walked to the East-West divider, and prayed some more.  From there we walked, worshiping all along the way, to Parliament Square.  We said some final prayers there, and then said goodbye because almost everyone was leaving town immediately afterwards.  Many people from previous trips to the Balkans had joined us here, so it had been wonderful to see them, but sad to make our goodbyes.

Two of my OCE teammates and I remain in town for another day, so we went to lunch together.  Tomorrow I will take an early bus to Belgrade and fly back to Milan from there.  It will be a long day of travel after more than two weeks away from home.  Although I will be glad to get back home, it’s hard to leave my friends—co-workers in God’s Grand Plan to save Europe.  Our next trip will be in September, and the adventure will continue.  God is good!

Lion flag

 

Redeeming Sarajevo’s Bloody Past

Muddy riverThe muddy river

So much about Sarajevo has amazed me.  First was Corrie’s personal story of war (The War—History Becomes Real), then we learned some surprising things.

Sarajevo is Operation Capitals of Europe’s 25th capital out of an estimated 50—this marks the halfway point*.  And the interesting thing about that is that the tide is turning, so prayer has started to become much easier.  Places that you would expect to be hard places to pray (like Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has a Muslim majority) have become easier to pray in.  And sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ has never been easier.  Evangelism is not the focus of OCE, but when an opportunity to share the love of Jesus presents itself, we are faithful to do so.

In fact, we had a surprise this morning when a Muslim man from Bosnia’s most radical sect knocked on the door of the church and asked for someone to tell him about Jesus.  This was during our morning prayer and strategy session before prayer walking in the city.  The pastor of this church had answered the knock, and told the man about Jesus—which he received eagerly.

For me, the Muslim coming to church was a personal confirmation because just this morning, I was, oh well not really praying, but sort of musing in God’s presence about the seriously religious Muslims (which seem to be a minority here).  And God showed me that some of them are sincerely seeking Him—and of course, the Bible says that when we seek God, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

What we do is prophetic prayer, so it’s often accompanied by prophetic acts.  We pray as the Holy Spirit directs us.  So when we went out to prayer walk in the city, a young couple heard us praying by the river where it flows into the city.  One of our local believers noticed their interest, so he greeted them.  They asked about our prayers, and he explained about praying for the city.  They asked what we had thrown into the river.  And he explained that it was salt to purify the river, and how only the blood of Jesus can purify us and save us from our sin.  They were so happy that they started laughing.  The woman was fanning herself with her hand (Pentecostal-style!) and laughing.  So he made an appointment to see them tomorrow and promised to give them Bibles and a copy of the Jesus film.

In this land where death has reigned for so long, the Author of Life has come to bring life and hope.  Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife—which happened here in Sarajevo.  I feel that Sarajevo has passed through a door, and today starts the true history of Sarajevo—a history of life and love and hope in Jesus Christ.  God is good!

* Nobody can say for certain exactly how many countries are in Europe because there are countries that are not universally recognized, like the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (which is recognized only by itself and Turkey), Transnistria (which is recognized only by itself), Kosovo (recognized by all the world except Serbia), Wales, Scotland, and the Channel Islands (which are self-governing regions of the UK), the Faroe Islands (a self-governing region of Denmark), and all the countries that sort of straddle Europe and Asia: Turkey, Russia, and Georgia.

100 years Sarajevo

The War—History Becomes Real

War museumSarajevo War Museum

Greetings from Sarajevo!

Upon our arrival we were met by a missionary couple, Gerald and Corrie.  Gerald is American and Corrie is Dutch, but now an American citizen.  They took us to Old Town Sarajevo for an authentic Bosnian dinner.  After our delicious meal, we went for a Turkish coffee, but found the Turkish coffee shops full of noisy soccer fans because Bosnia was playing in the World Cup.  So we found a regular coffee shop.  Over coffee and dessert, Corrie told me their war story:

We were missionaries here for five years, and I had thought that we would always stay here.  We had three small children, the youngest two had been born here, and I was pregnant with the fourth.  We knew that war was a possibility, but the news media minimized the threat.  And besides that, they had signed the treaty, so we didn’t really think that it would happen.  But regardless, in war or peace, we were determined to stay.  We were young and the call of God for Sarajevo was so strong for both of us that really, we were in denial about the serious possibility of war.

Nevertheless, we needed to go back to the US to raise support and meet with our church, and the best time would be for two months beginning in April, so that we could be back for the summer because summer was an important time in our ministry.

Rachel, an American who had lived in Israel, had just come to help me with the children, and she would stay in the house while we were gone.  We went with two empty suitcases because there were many things that we couldn’t get in Sarajevo, so we intended to buy things to bring back.  We never imagined that we were leaving for good.  So we left and two weeks later, war broke out.

I felt so bad—almost guilty—for having left, though I know now that it was God’s plan to rescue our family.  I was concerned for our friends and neighbors, and of course for Rachel.  Contact was impossible, all communication was cut off.  On TV, we saw the tanks entering town in the very park where our children played.  It was surreal, and I tried to understand what I was seeing.

At this point shouting filled the street—Bosnia had won the soccer match, and the street quickly filled with flag-draped, cheering fans.  Corrie smiled at me, and continued:

Since we couldn’t come back to Sarajevo, we lived for seven years in the Netherlands, before finally moving to the US.  Gerald traveled back once a year, doing what he could here.

We visited Sarajevo after the war, not knowing what we would find.  Rachel, having lived in a war zone, had gotten herself out safely.  But our friends and neighbors?  Information was slow in coming, and in many cases, we never found out at all.  One family from the church had gotten out and moved to Germany, close to the border with the Netherlands, so we were able to visit them while we lived there.  We had heard about another couple from church who moved to the US.  And a friend who was also pregnant had been taken in the night to the hospital, and gave birth there by candlelight.

We found our house with the door and all the windows missing.  All our things had been taken, though we found a hand juicer in a corner, and the familiarity of the object was jarring.  Then I went upstairs and began screaming for Gerald.  All our family pictures were strewn all over the floor, taken out of the albums.  We gathered them like lost treasure.  Those were the only things, besides the washer, that remained—and the washer had been gutted for parts, like an abandoned car.  A few days later, we returned to the house and found that even the empty hull of the washer had been hauled off.

So our children grew up in the States.  Then last year, Gerald told me that he wants to move back to Sarajevo.  I didn’t feel ready to move back, leaving our children there (and a daughter in Holland) but after much prayer, I agreed, and we moved in August.

I was speechless at first.  It was a very sobering thing to arrive in Sarajevo and find that the house across the street from our lodgings with bullet holes all over the façade from when the soldiers with Kalashnikovs had sprayed the area with gunfire—especially knowing how recent that war was.  But it was another thing altogether to hear this personal story of war and God’s miraculous rescue of this family.  Imagine what might have happened if they had stayed.  They might have lost the baby (and mother!) or Gerald might have been killed.

And this morning, Corrie brought a friend to meet me.  She has been friends with Radosta for 26 years.  Radosta recalled with smiles how she had carried their youngest in a baby backpack through town.  Radosta would sing and the baby would lift her hands in praise.  Reuniting with Radosta had been a real joy and a blessing for Corrie.

God calls each of us into divine partnership with Him, and for those who answer His call (unless He has called them for martyrdom), He shields them and their family from harm.  God is good!

cemetery parkThis had been the park where Corrie’s children had sledded down the hill.  Now it’s a cemetery for those who died in the war–including their first convert to Christianity.

Worshiping with Laughter in Podgorica

TitogradTitograd–AKA Podgorica

Greetings from Podgorica!

This morning, after a strategy meeting for prayer walking in Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro), we met with some missionaries over coffee.  They explained the particular challenges for the church here, which boiled down to suspicion and division.  They couldn’t stay long, so we prayed for them, and blessed them in their ministry here.

Meanwhile a couple of teammates went to talk and pray with a newspaper man (a Christian) who is a former minister in the government, and who likely could have a future role in the government of Montenegro.  The teammates who went to his office were one who has a special calling to pray for government, and the other is a missionary in Albania, and thus, the only teammate based in the Balkans.  By coincidence (or as I’ve recently heard it termed, “God-incidence”), both are Norwegian men.  The rest of the team went prayer walking in the center of the city.

Our walk took us down to the confluence of the small river that runs through the city center and a larger river.  It is a really beautiful spot on waters that are sparkling clear.  We found a small cave into which a small stage has been built.  But it looks as if the site has long been abandoned, and probably used as a teenage hangout for drinking and drug use.  The stage has been torn up and there is broken glass everywhere.  Nevertheless, the natural beauty of this place is undeniable.  We found there a couple of girls who had set up easels and were drawing.  The Holy Spirit spoke to us of this place as being a place of worship and the release of creative gifts.  So we included worship in our prayers there.  It was there that the Holy Spirit revealed hope to me.  I felt such hope for this city and this country.

Then one teammate told us of a statue that spoke to her of the powerful weapon that worship is against the enemy.  It is a statue of a man holding a guitar in one hand, with his other hand raised to Heaven, and under his feet is a skull.  So we went there for more prayer and worship.

On the way back through the city center, we were surprised to find our Norwegian teammates.  They told us that the half hour appointment with the newspaperman had been extended to 50 minutes because he was so interested in what they had to tell him.  They prayed for him, prophesied over him, and showed him things in the Bible that he found very encouraging.  Needless to say, they were likewise encouraged by the meeting.

At that time, we split up, some going for lunch, others for a rest.  Afterwards, we met again for a more formal debriefing of our morning’s adventures before beginning our afternoon adventure on the hill: Gorica.  Podgorica means underneath or at the foot of Gorica.  In the Communist Era, Podgorica had been renamed Titograd, for Tito, dictator of Yugoslavia—and the name remains in some parts of the city.

A little way up the hill is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War II.  Honestly, it looks just like an altar.  From there, it is obvious that the Communists, despite protesting that that they worship no god is a lie because they worship death.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is an altar to death, and there had been a spirit of death that has reigned for a long time over this city.  Our Balkan teammates both felt headaches coming on as we mounted the steps to the tomb.  They prayed the headache away, and it left immediately.  So we used our God-given authority and broke the death spirit’s hold on this land.  We also sang a worship song, and the heavy atmosphere lifted.

Farther up the hill, closer to the top, we found a couple of benches which were great places overlooking the city.  So we rested there before continuing up the hill.  At the top, Gorica is flat, and from there we couldn’t look down on the city.  There at the top, I felt a headache coming on in a different place from the side where I had always gotten migraines.  It was clearly a spiritual attack, but I just prayed it away, and it left immediately.  We prayed some prayers at the top, repenting for the blood-guilt upon the land, and performing a prophetic act by pouring a little wine into the soil to cover the blood-guilt with the blood of Christ.

Then we went back to the benches to pray, prophesy, and proclaim over the city.  Again, I felt hope rising in my spirit for this country.

At the foot of the hill is the oldest church in Montenegro.  It had fallen into disrepair, but is now being repaired, and restored.  Behind the church is a graveyard, with stone sarcophagi, many of which lay open and empty.  One even had a tree growing out of it.  That is a strong symbol of resurrection, and resurrection brought to mind that repeated feeling of hope.

In the evening, we went to meet with local believers: a couple who are expecting their first child in a few weeks, and the husband’s mother.  We got together for the purpose of encouraging them, but also to worship together.  As we worshiped, laughter broke out, first in the husband, then spreading to all of us.  I prophesied a joy anointing upon them and their house, rippling out to all the neighbors and across the city.  Also, I prophesied that their baby girl will be a worshiper—which was immediately confirmed by the wife.

So this was an amazing day, full of hope and worship and laughter.  God is good!

The Prince bows to the King of Kings

millenium cross

The Millennium Cross – The biggest cross in the world (sorry Rio!)

On the schedule was an item that said Prince Philip of Prussia would speak.  I wasn’t sure if this was an actual prince or if he fancied himself a prince or if he had taken the name Prince like the singer.  In any case, I was curious.

At the appointed time, a thin, well-dressed man came to the stage.  It didn’t even occur to me that this might be the prince because he’s a man that you would never pick out of a group as being royalty of any kind.  In fact, he seems almost too humble and unprepossessing.

He introduced himself and his family tree (follow the link above, and you can read all that).  Prince Philip became a believer at the age of eighteen, and is now a pastor.  He spoke of his great-grandfather, William II (also known as Kaiser Wilhelm), and the start of World War I.  Although he was deeply shocked by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, it was a war he never wanted.  When you understand the family relations, you will understand why he didn’t want the war: he was the eldest and best-loved grandson of Queen Victoria.  In fact, the rulers of Russia, Spain, Norway, Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Greece were all his family.  So it’s easy to understand why he didn’t want war in Europe.  But the generals insisted that it was necessary to respond to the assassination quickly and with power.  The tragedy is that William II was a believer, but he lacked the faith to seek God for the answer.

Banner over me

So because of his great-grandfather’s lack of faith, a war resulted with over 37 million military and civilian deaths.  And William II abdicated, opening the way for Hitler (obviously, I’m over-simplifying for the sake of brevity), and the deadliest war of all time, World War II, with an estimated 30 – 50 million military and civilian deaths.

Then came a moment when the whole hall was so silent that it seemed that we scarcely dared to draw a breath.  Prince Philip drew a deep breath and stated his desire to repent on behalf of his family for Europe’s bloodiest century, and asked our forgiveness before God.  I was sitting in the first row, and I don’t know if I was first, but I didn’t see anyone before me leap to their feet faster and begin clapping.  Then the whole hall was on their feet, clapping and clapping for several minutes.  The conference leaders went up on stage and surrounded Prince Philip, and the applause went on and on.  My hands were aching, but I could not stop.  I applauded his courage and integrity, and my willingness to forgive such a man.  And I wanted him to know that he is forgiven.  Well, obviously, he knows that God forgives, but I wanted him to know that I forgive, too.

Trumpet globe

Finally, the conference leaders each embraced Prince Philip, stating their forgiveness on behalf of their nations and their families.  It was one of the most moving moments I’ve ever witnessed, and I feel certain that it changed the spiritual atmosphere over Europe.  Now, I believe, Revival can happen here.  God is good!

world in Skopje

 

Reset!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere he is!  Alexander of Macedonia!

When I arrived in Skopje yesterday after three hours in a bus on windy mountain roads, I was pleasantly surprised to immediately meet friends in the lobby of my hotel.  Then came the unpleasant surprise that the hotel had overbooked, so instead of a double with my good friend Fifi, I was put in a five bed dormitory room with four strangers.  But of course, I realized that God’s people here in Europe all know many of the same people, so even if we didn’t have a previous connection with each other, we know the same people, and were able to expand each other’s networks a bit.  So that helped me to reset my attitude from annoyed to interested in meeting my new roommates, each of whom was here for the very same purpose: attending the European Trumpet Call.

So, soon after arriving, I took a walk downtown with Lars and his family.  Lars is Norwegian, but he has lived in France for many years.  He has a French wife and has raised a family in France.  Joining us was their friend, Monica, and also with Gerda, who were two my four unexpected roommates.  Both Monica and Gerda had requested single rooms, so we were all in the same predicament.  Lars and I had been to Skopje before, so we showed them Skopje’s major cultural overkill in the form of too many statues too close to one another, and some of them much larger than usual, like the statue of Alexander the Great—or Alexander of Macedonia, as he is known here.

Lars had a leaders meeting to attend for the conference, so he left us to our sightseeing.  Gerda noted that she had not eaten since breakfast, so we went to a good cafeteria under the shopping mall in the center of town.  This is a place where you can get real Macedonian dishes at a very good price.

As we ate and talked, a man at a table nearby overheard French, and asked about where we are from.  We told him: Brigitte, Stella, and Monica (Lars’ wife, daughter, and friend), from France, Gerda, from Germany, and me from Italy.  As we finished our meal, we spoke about the conference and about prayer.  I noticed that the man listened intently to our conversation.  Then he asked if we had tried ajvar, a Macedonian salad made from roasted peppers, garlic, eggplant, and colored red from paprika.  So he ordered us a plate of it.  We all tried some, and it was delicious.  He said that sometimes it can be quite spicy.  I told him: “Fa-la,” which means thank you.  He corrected with a much longer phrase, saying that fa-la is actually Albanian (or Serbian?  I don’t remember now).  Nevertheless, I have found that whenever I say fa-la in Macedonia, people understand that I’m saying thank you.  Having by far the youngest brain among us, and being also the least travel-weary, Stella took a mini-lesson right there, learning a few useful words and phrases.

Stella used those words at our next destination: a Christian-owned ice cream shop.  We enjoyed our dessert, and now the conversation became mostly French.  I was so tired by now, from travel and walking, that I just listened to it like the lovely sound of water in a rocky stream.

When we got back to the hotel, I went to our room, where two other women had joined us—both of them from Germany.  So then, after a brief period of including Monica and me, the conversation became German.  That was fine with me, and I went to bed with the murmuring of German, and fell instantly asleep.

This morning I woke up feeling very rested, having slept an astonishing eight hours (astonishing for me!), and got a coffee in the breakfast room.  Despite having had a good night’s sleep, I woke up in a bad mood, thinking about what a terrible hotel it was for overbooking, and the dormitory room had no way to close the bathroom door because of not having a handle.

But during my prayer time, God gave me Colossians 3:1: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God,” (emphasis mine).  OK, thank You, Lord!  And I reset my mood from annoyed to grateful.  You know, I’m always happiest when I’m grateful.  I just need to remember to stay grateful.

The breakfast room filled up very fast, and Gerda, Katerina (one of our roommates), and Jillian (a friend I hadn’t expected to see here) all sat with me.  Katerina had been feeling ill last night, so I asked her if she was feeling better.  She had better color in her face this morning.  She shrugged and said, “Somewhat better.”  I told her that I would like to pray for her, and she said OK, but suggested that we wait until after breakfast.

After breakfast, Katerina was able to move into her single room, and in the meanwhile, I moved out of the dormitory room and left my suitcase at the front desk until my room would be ready.  I told them that I would move into my room during the lunch break.  Then I saw Katerina, and she invited me to her room to pray.  What I had thought would be a ten minute maximum prayer turned into a few hours, as I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  So I missed the morning session, but that was another reset.  I reset my schedule and priorities for the morning to do what God was leading me to do: pray for His daughter.

Katerina, three other friends who had just arrived, and I had lunch together in the hotel.  Then we went to change money and shop for things we had forgotten.  I needed toothpaste and mouthwash, having only packed the last bit of a larger tube.  That happens when you have one trip right after another.  I had neglected to check my supplies.  Then it was back to the hotel for a rest before the evening session.  And I found that Fifi had arrived.  I laid down and put my feet up as we caught up on each other’s travels and life.  Fifi’s travel schedule is pretty crazy, like mine, so we have a lot in common.

Halfway to the conference center (a fifteen minute walk from here), it began to rain—and not a little bit.  It rained buckets.  I had a small umbrella, which I shared with Fifi.  But we both wound up getting soaked anyway.  At the conference center I met many more friends—some that I had met in April when I had gone to Albania and Kosovo, and others that I had met years before, but had not seen since.  The evening session was worth getting wet for, and the walk back to the hotel was mercifully dry.

Then I did a dumb thing: I checked my email just before going to bed.  I got a message from my accountant, telling me that she needed some information that’s got to be turned in by June 30.  Of course, it’s information that I have back in Milan, but I won’t be back until the 29th.  Normally, I try not to let stuff like this bother me, but at about 3 AM, the bars must have let out, and a big bunch of people were congregated under our window, talking loudly.  I tried to roll over and sleep through it, but then the message from the accountant started to add its voice.  So I got up and took my Bible into the bathroom (so as not to disturb Fifi).  And I repeated to myself God’s earlier message to me: “Set your mind on things above.”

But after praying and giving the worry to God, I opened my Bible, which “randomly” came open at Isaiah 33, and I read:

Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.  Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.  Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.  In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: “Where is that chief officer?  Where is the one who took the revenue?  Where is the officer in charge of the towers?”

Isaiah 33:15-18 (emphasis mine)

Needless to say, this was powerful reassurance (with a Rapture scenario included—“dwell on the heights”!).  So once again, I reset my mind from anxiety mode to rest.  God is good!

Prayer Walking in Skopje

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Greetings from Skopje, Macedonia!

After spending our first day in prayer, worship, and planning, we spent yesterday out in the city.  First we went to Mount Vodno, to pray at the Millennium Cross over the city.  The Millennium Cross is the world’s biggest cross.  But we didn’t get to see it up close because the cable cars up to it were down for repairs.  Instead we found a scenic overlook area where we could look down upon the city as we prayed for it.

Then we divided into 3 groups for prayer walks:

  1. The University, The National Theater, Art Museum
  2. The Government Buildings, The Holocaust Memorial, a missionary businessman’s businesses, and the Bridge over the River Vardar in the center of town
  3. The Methodist Church, The Orthodox Church, A Mosque, and the office of a Social Worker

I chose to go with the church group.  The Methodist Church is the oldest and largest of the evangelical churches in Skopje.  There we prayed for unity among the protestant churches and unity with the Orthodox Church.

From there we walked to the office of the Social Worker.  Kati had shared with us the day before about the struggles in the family sector.  Macedonia has many grave family issues, but few Social Workers and even less money.  In fact, the government does not hire new Social Workers when one leaves.  Instead, the work simply gets shuffled to someone else in the department—whether that person has any experience or knowledge about Social Work.  And with all this institutionalized chaos, the need continues to grow, and more and more people come in looking for help.

As I listened day before yesterday to her explanations about the system, I could see the pain on her face.  I know that if it were in her power, she would help every person who comes in for help.  She was so grateful to have us come in to pray for her.  It encouraged her very much.

From her office we went across the bridge and up the hill to the mosque on top of the highest hill in the city.  There we sat on benches outside the mosque and prayed.  Then we went back down the hill and across the river again.  By this time we had walked such a lot that I was really exhausted.  We stopped at a coffee shop owned by the pastor’s friend.  While the pastor was talking to his friend I ordered a coffee and sat down.  Then the pastor came over and said, “OK let’s go!”  I slammed down my espresso macchiato and followed him to the Parliament building, where we were meeting with the two other teams.  With some caffeine in my system, I felt revived—thank you Italy for the afternoon coffee habit that revives me!

We prayed at the Parliament Building and then went to dinner.  There had been a sort of tension when we came to Skopje, and after our day of prayer walking, the tension was released.  That made dinner a much more relaxed time.

As I looked through my pictures of the day, two of them struck me.  The first is the statue of Alexander the Great, who the Macedonians call Alexander of Macedonia.  The second is the picture of Millennium Cross as seen from the city.  The first celebrates the accomplishments of man, while the second celebrates the victory over sin, sickness, and death—something that only God could accomplish.  God is good!

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