My role in this world

Zurri, our former landlady, and Naomi

A guest post by Naomi

Vicki asked if I would be willing to share a bit of my life with you. Thanks.

Let me first introduce myself and my family to you. I am a 53 year old woman—married for 20 years to Leon—the mother of 4 children ages 12-18. I have a nursing degree and am currently living in Albania with my husband and children.

I was 32 years old when Leon and I got married. Leon had been a single pastor for several years before our marriage. When we married I immediately became a pastor’s wife. Four years later he was asked to be president of Rosedale Bible College.

Catholic village women in the center of Tirana

We moved with our two small children to the Rosedale community and Leon served as president of RBC for 11 years.

We then felt God calling us to serve Him in Albania and have been involved in leadership training among the believers there for the past 4 ½ years.

Anisa and Elisa learn to make deviled eggs at a women's meeting

Throughout the seasons of my life several questions continue to present themselves to a greater or lesser degree. Some of these are:

  • What is my role in this setting and among the people already established here?
  • Who are my friends?
  • How does God want to use my gifts here?
  • How much time can I spend in ministry outside of the home and how much time should be spent at home caring for the needs of my husband and family?

Elisa, Hannah, and Anisa at a Christmas service

As an American woman in Albania I am warmly received. But I feel as if my family and I are watched very closely. This creates a tension that is both positive and negative. I recognize that a big part of our ministry is role modeling—as a family and also as an individual. I see myself in this setting as a servant and a facilitator. I am here to serve them and to help them do as much for themselves as they can—especially within the work and leadership of the church. I am very limited culturally and linguistically.

Roza and her mother-in-law, Dila

But I can demonstrate God’s love and introduce new ways of thinking. I can be a positive role model for marriage, family living and godly womanhood.

A village woman at a wedding

So as I go about my daily activities—home schooling the children, taking trips to the market, visiting in the home of friends, riding the bus or walking the streets with Leon or the children, dealing with frequent loss of electricity/water, or participating in a church worship service—I am aware that my life has influence.

Valli with her daughter, Evianda, and their friend Evisa (R to L) at church camp


But then, is that not true for each of us no matter where we are?

Valli and her son, Joelli, swinging at the family camp

The Albanian culture is a warm culture and relationships are important. I consider it a gift to have many Albanian women who I call my friend. Two of these women are accountable to me in a mentoring relationship. Some of these women I interact with in the church setting. Some I visit in their homes, sharing the love of Jesus formally or informally.

During a baptismal service at the beach women gathered around Norma, the Brazilian woman in the center, to pray for her upcoming furlough in Brazil.

One of these women has been a believer for several years and we occasionally spend time praying together. She goes with me when I visit women who are hurting or who have recently lost a family member. Her own son was killed as a young man and she openly shares how God has been with her during this experiences.

Dancers in traditional dress.

As a mother of young teens in a foreign culture the challenges are many. I have asked many times, “How far can a child be stretched?”   Two of the major issues we have dealt with are loneliness and lack of meaningful things to do. But we have seen the benefits of living here as a family—both for our children as well as our ministry.

A village couple coming home from the fields.

Many times people say to us, “You will never know what it means to see you functioning as a family.”

So we press on, knowing that God is a big God—a Redeeming God, and He will use what we offer to Him to accomplish His plans.

All pictures were taken by Hannah and belong to Hannah Zimmerman Photography.

A village women who sells onions, garlic and goat cheese along the side of a street

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2 Responses to My role in this world

  1. Kristin Bucher says:

    Hi, Naomi! I enjoyed reading about your world. Thank you for sharing. I can relate and am inspired by your life and example. 🙂 We’ve been thinking about you these past couple weeks and all that you have been through. Continued prayers and love sent your way all the way from here.

  2. Darlene says:

    Beautiful pictures, Hannah! I especially liked that last one. Naomi, your post makes me wish all over again we could come visit you. I would so love to see your world there. Our prayers are with you!

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