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Snapshot of Albania
The official language of Albania is Albanian. Albania is a largely irreligious country, with less than half of the population considering religion to be important to their lives. Islam is the largest religion in the country, with nearly 60% of the population being Muslim. Another 16% of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic or Orthodox), though it should be noted that a significant proportion of both Muslims and Christians are not particularly devout. Traditional folk music plays an important role in various festivals and ceremonies, such as in weddings or holidays such as St. Lazarus Day. Many regions also have their own styles of traditional clothing and dance. Soccer is Albania’s most popular sport, though basketball, volleyball, and tennis are also somewhat popular. Lunch is the main meal in Albania, and most meals center around dishes made using meat and vegetables. Mediterranean herbs and spices (oregano, rosemary, black pepper, etc) are frequently used in cooking. Salads using fresh vegetables are also commonly served. A variety of desserts, including baklava and rice pudding, are also popular.
Snapshot of Kosovo
The official languages of Kosovo are Albanian and Serbian, which are also the two main ethnic groups present in the country. Kosovo’s population is mostly Muslim, though most ethnic Kosovo Serbians (who are mostly concentrated in northern Kosovo) are Christian – primarily Orthodox or Catholic. Folk music (both Albanian and Serbian) continues to be quite popular in Kosovo, though pop, hip hop, rock, and jazz are also popular. One important aspect of traditional culture is Besa – the idea of keeping one’s word/honor, as well as helping those who are in need. Kosovo’s cuisine is strongly influenced by Albania and Serbia. Meals in Kosovo generally use different types of meats and hearty pies. Proja, a type of cornbread, and baclava, a pastry, are also popular dishes.
*Macedonia is also part of the Adriatic South Mission but does not currently have a mission presence*
The church has been in Albania for about 20 years and Kosovo for about a year and a half. There are a little over 2,000 members in Albania. Albania is a district, but is pushing forward to becoming a stake by April 2014. The district consists of 10 branches.
Albanian food consists of a lot of rice, beans, salad and meat such as veal or fried meat balls. A lot of their foods come from Italy and Greece. Some of those foods include pizza, pasta, sufllaqe (meat cooked on a vertical spit and served on a kebab). A popular drink is dhalle which is a type of Albanian buttermilk. Baklava is one of the most popular desserts in Albania. It is a pastry that is typically covered in syrup.
Cars or Bikes. Many people travel around in vans because they do not have enough money to afford their own cars. In fact, most people walk or use the bus.
Safety is not too much of a problem. Like anywhere else, be cautious and obey the mission guidelines. Always stick with your companion.
Two of the biggest events in Albanian culture are weddings and funerals. There is a lot of tradition that goes into both of those- embrace it!
PO Box 2984
Rr. Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Perballe Postes Nr. 22
What items were hard to get or not available?
“A lot of popular things from America like peanut butter, American candy, regular American food- can be hard to find here. Many times missionaries have their families send packages with these things.”
– Tanner Pierce
What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, pizza and qofte. Qofte is a meatloaf usually made of beef or lamb mixed with spices and onions.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
What was most surprising about the culture?
“The most surprising thing is how open people are here. They aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Also surprising is the lack of rules here. Even though there are laws, traffic laws for example, most people don’t follow them because no one enforces them.”
– Tanner Pierce
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The kind of people Albanians are. They have a lot different mindsets than most people I have met before.”
– Tanner Pierce