Sunday, October 30, 2005

Linked on Google

I made an interesting discovery this morning.  In a small twitch of vanity I Googled “missionary” and “Kosovo.”  The second hit down was with a link to my post “On diplomacy and hand grenades.”  I’ve got mixed feelings about this.  This site is primarily about the war on terror, which is fine.  I have to be honest and admit that when we heard about this hand grenade incident I didn’t really consider it “terrorism.”  When you live in Kosovo it’s “just one of those things” that happens.  Periodically we hear about car-bombings, friends who are police that find anti-tank mines under their cars, other random bombings, etc.  Usually these things are connected with organized crime, adolescent war-hero worship or national aspirations.  I really don’t believe that any of these have to do with Islamic extremism, but maybe I’m just being na├»ve.  In almost every act involving an explosive there seem to be deliberate efforts to avoid casualties.  Bombs go off in the middle of the night while people are safely away from UN buildings, as a common and specific example.

This last incident with our missionary friends is a little bit different.  The hand grenades were place in such a way that they would detonate when the car moved, obviously with the occupants inside it.  These folks aren’t diplomats, police officers or soldiers.  They are evangelical missionaries sharing the love of Jesus Christ.  They’ve lived in their community a long time and have helped number of people economically, spiritually and emotionally.  Who did it and why remains a mystery.  It certainly was no accident, no mistaken identity.  And it does create a little anxiety, to be honest.  But terror?  Nah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In the News: 10 Bangladeshis seek asylum in Kosovo

The word refugee is commonly heard in connection with Kosovo, but not in this way.  In a strange, ironic sort of first, Kosovo yesterday was presented with its first asylum seekers.  That’s right, thirteen people from central Asia are seeking asylum here!

Thirteen people from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are seeking asylum in the UN protectorate of Kosovo, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.
"Ten people from Bangladesh, two from India and one from Pakistan arrived on a flight from Istanbul on Monday. They have sought asylum in Kosovo," said Shpend Halili, a spokesman for the UNHCR in Kosovo.

"It is an unusual case and a new experience for Kosovo," which has no system for dealing with such cases, Halili told AFP.

Monday, October 24, 2005

In The News: UN council endorses start of Kosovo status talks

Big stuff today from most of the major media outlets.  The UN has endorsed moving ahead with final status talks for Kosovo.  As you know, Kosova is still legally part of “the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.”  It may not be for much longer, however.  People here are pretty optimistic that they’ll be independent within a year.  It’s going to be an interesting next few months.  Most believe that talks will begin very, very shortly…within the end of the month.  It appears that most of the European countries and the US are more or less leaning towards some sort of conditional independence.  Naturally, the government in Serbia is opposing this ardently.



UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council on Monday embraced U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation that international talks be launched to decide whether Kosovo gains independence or remains a Serb province.

"The council offers its full support to this political process, which would determine Kosovo's future status, and further reaffirms its commitment to the objective of a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo which must reinforce regional stability," said a statement adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in anticipation of the council statement, said he would name a special envoy this week to lead the talks and added it was likely to be former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, as expected.

Before the council vote, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica warned it that Belgrade ruled out a process that could result in Kosovo's becoming a nation.

In a letter, however, Kosovo's prime minister, Bajram Kosumi, told the council that Kosovo's government in Pristina and the vast majority of its people felt the province should be granted independence.

In an apparent shift from past insistence on a complete break with the past, however, Kosumi added that Kosovo would welcome "the continued presence and involvement of the international community in our development."

In an interview with Reuters in Pristina, Kosumi said he expected an international "observation or advisory" mission after talks as "a psychological and practical guarantee for ethnic groups that their rights are observed."

The southern Serb province bordering Macedonia and Albania has been administered by the United Nations since Serb forces, accused of ethnic cleansing in a war with separatist guerrillas, were ousted by NATO in 1999.

Three months of NATO bombing that year forced Serbia's then leader, Slobodan Milosevic -- now on trial in an international tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes -- to withdraw his forces.

Some 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians died and 800,000 were expelled into neighboring Albania and Macedonia.


More than six years later, Kosovo Albanians are impatient for the independence they thought they had won in 1999. Most are fed up with a U.N. administration perceived as overbearing and unable to revive an economy crippled by war and neglect.

But March 2004 Albanian mob riots against Kosovo Serbs killed 19 people and destroyed hundreds of homes, undermining Kosovo leaders' stated commitment to a multiethnic


Diplomats say the West, though publicly refusing to back any particular solution, is preparing to push for "conditional independence" in talks that could last until spring 2006.

The West has all but written off Serbia's offer of broad autonomy as unworkable as the province's 90-percent Albanian majority flatly reject any return to Serb control, they say.

Kosumi's letter said Kosovo's final status "should be that of an independent state with the borders of Kosovo as they currently stand with neither partition nor cantonization."

Kosovo should be "a multiethnic, democratic and law-abiding place, which exists in peace and cooperation with its neighbors in the region and with the wider world," Kosumi said. "Within this broader vision, we are ready to elaborate more precise details of how Kosovo should be organized in both its institutions and its constitution."

Serbian premier Kostunica, however, called on the council to ensure Kosovo remained part of Serbia.

"I am convinced that the international community, embodied in the United Nations, will not succumb to threats of violence and permit a dismemberment of a democratic state and the undermining of the most basic principles of the international order," he said.

"I am convinced ... that no democratic and free state could accept this under any circumstances," Kostunica said.

Two key U.N. envoys, also appearing before the council, acknowledged Serbs and Kosovars were deeply divided over what the eventual fate of the southern Serb province should be. But they argued that resolving the issue would ultimately benefit both sides and bring more stability to the region.

"We all know that the positions of Belgrade and Pristina on the issue of Kosovo's status are far apart, but it will remain so until and unless it is resolved by an internationally managed process, and the sooner that is done, the better for the citizens in Kosovo and in the region," said Soren Jessen-Petersen, the province's U.N. administrator.

U.N. special envoy Kai Eide said he believed there had been a change in the region and Pristina and Belgrade now had a "shared expectation" that the status talks would begin.

"I am convinced that all will benefit from clarity with regard to what Kosovo will be," he said. "Such clarity will also remove an element of instability, which today hampers the political and economic development of Kosovo as well as of the region."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

In the News: Kosovo Continues to Bury War Victims

We just missed this yesterday on the way to the airport to pick up my mom for a visit.  As I’ve posted before, every few months more Albanian bodies are “discovered” in Serbia and returned to Kosova.  Naturally the rest of the world has long since forgotten the war in Kosova…there have been too many other global tragedies since then.  The people here are reminded several times a year, however, as the remains of their loved-ones are returned in boxes.

Relatives attend the burial of 30 Kosovo Albanians October 21, 2005, who were killed during the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and separatist guerrillas and buried in mass graves 350 kilometres north in Belgrade. The funeral took place in Kosovo Polje, just outside Kosovo's capital Pristina after the remains were returned from Serbia. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

Friday, October 14, 2005

Diplomacy and hand grenades

As I always say, it’s been an interesting week…or several weeks in this case.  The news this week is popping with stories of final status talks while at a colleague’s house a hundred and fifty kilometers away, hand grenades announced a different message.  This week the UN inspector issued a favorable report regarding the “final status” talks for Kosova.  That means, according to various sources, that the diplomatic talks on Kosova’s future will begin shortly.  People here are pleased, though certainly no one will be happy with the final outcome.  It’s impossible to do anything that would please all parties at this point, but that is the nature of negotiations.


While that was going on, we also got word that someone threw a hand grenade into the yard of a fellow missionary in a town about 150 kilometers from here.  The hand grenade exploded about midnight, shattering a number of windows but hurting no one.  Then, the following morning they found another grenade placed by the front tire of their vehicle, rigged to explode when the vehicle moved.  Praise God the second grenade was found and the various authorities were summoned and the grenade removed.  We used to feel, as American missionaries, that we would probably never be hurt except by accident, or mistaken identity…now, not so much.

Car registration...finished.

I finally finished the vehicle registration process on our new Mitsubishi Pajero today.  Having done this once before on the mission-owned Izusu Trooper I understood the process.  Now all I have to do is go back to the insurance company and purchase insurance for Macedonia and Albania, which I couldn’t do without plates

I also visited “the boys” three brothers who frequent our church.  I had never actually been there before for a visit, though I’d dropped them off several times.  As a team we’ve been struck by how much more we need to be in the homes of the people, so it was a good visit.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A solid week

It’s been one of those weeks where I just feel like saying, “that was god stuff.”  It wasn’t a great, spectacular week.  Thousands didn’t make decisions for Christ.  Miracles didn’t happen.  But the “long obedience in the same direction” was more or less manifest.  Melissa, my dear wife, is off in the States for some much needed doctors consultations, so I’ve been holding down the fort alone.  Like most husbands, I probably don’t realize just how much I rely on my wife until she’s gone on a trip.  I’ve had a number of people tell me over the years that trips a one secret to a good marriage.  I even have one good friend tell me that frequent trips actually “saved” his marriage.  I’m not sure I’d go that far, but my appreciation for my wife sure increases in her absence.

For instance, I got a lot of insight into what her world is like as I took over Madison’s home schooling for the week.  I have new-found respect for all home-schooling parents as they take responsibility for educating their children.  It is easy to forget what you know as an adult.  Five plus five seems so obvious to me!  Two plus eight is clearly the same as eight plus two.  I guess it’s not obvious when you are six years old.  It is a good reminder to “keep the cookies on the bottom shelf”…to make information easily accessible to people in my life.

It was also a surprisingly solid ministry week.  I wasn’t expecting to get much done with Melissa gone.  But on Thursday we took “church on the road” again, this time to the “girls house.”  The two sisters are solid members of our little core group.  There family members…mother, two sisters, and a brother…are not.  The sisters took a courageous step by inviting us to “do church” at their house with their family members.  Solid.  Also, our new “staff translator” came a long for the first time.  After Bible study she and Di went off to supper and had some great conversation.

What’s it take to make a solid week?  Good kingdom investment.  Whether it’s in my daughter education, our core groups developing evangelistic heart or coffee with a team mate.  I don’t have to see miracles (though I want to see thousands come to Christ), but I want to spend more weeks like this, seeing God work in little ways each day.