Castle Pines teens touch lives in Albania
By Julie Montoya
People say that traveling abroad as part of a mission’s outreach changes lives for both the traveler and the people they meet on their journey. That couldn’t be more true for four Castle Pines teens who were part of a team of students sent from Valor Christian High School to Albania, to spread the word of God through art.
A total of thirty-two students and five chaperones spent ten days in Tirana as an arts-based outreach mission group. The students, including sophomore Alyssa Montoya and Emily-Lynn Warren from Castle Pines, performed for the Albanian people through song, dance, music, and theater. The group traveled with equipment ranging from stage props, to large woodwind instruments, and they were welcomed in Albania with open arms.
The students teamed up with New Life, a group of Christian missionaries living in Tirana, who guided the students every step of the trip.
Warren and Montoya engaged Albanian locals as part of a team that brought classical music and theatrical performances to the streets, where locals came out to dance, sing, and take part in the festivities. Montoya described her participation in the street performances as, “Such an amazing experience! It was so great being able to make people laugh, especially since you knew that not all of the jokes would translate, but they laughed anyway. They were so kind and attentive.”
The students held large theater performances and taught dance numbers and songs on several college campuses where more than 400 Albanian students were engaged. Many of the students met for coffee in small groups and discussed freely their own faith and asked questions about Christianity.
Warren found people to be very receptive. “The people there were incredibly kind and welcoming and they loved to simply listen to our stories. It was evident that God had been working in their hearts for long before we arrived and they were so open to hearing the gospel message. Getting to build relationships was a privilege and I will never forget my friends there.”
The students also had the opportunity to visit Albanian castles and museums and learn about the culture of the region, first hand. The majority of the Albanian population is Muslim, but their warmth allowed the kids to express their own faith in God. Surprisingly, many Albanians were touched by the kid’s passion and wanted to learn more about Christianity. The entire trip was passionately summed up by Montoya, “It was absolutely incredible and I’m so blessed to have been able to go.”