Vince and LaVonne Ramella (Sid, Bradie, Justin)

Serving in: Istog, Kosovo

Program name: transForm (long-term)

Serving since:
2013

Vince and LaVonne Ramella and their three boys, Sid, Brady and Justin, live in Istog, Kosovo, using their strong relational skills to connect with people and form friendships while studying the language and culture.

As pioneers in a predominantly Muslim culture, the Ramellas are building relationships with numerous persons in their town through their everyday activities of splitting wood for the winter, learning to process peppers for the winter, sports activities, sharing coffees or tea time, and finding people who want to speak English. Istog is the location of a milk-processing plant begun as a joint business venture through VMMissions and Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) over five years ago. The Ramellas have built upon the goodwill created through that. As pioneers, they are presently the only Christians in their town.

The Ramellas relate to an evangelical congregation in nearby Peja, and Vince participates in KPEK, a network of Evangelical mission workers in the country. Their strong desire is to share the light of the Gospel as they learn together about being followers of Jesus.
 
From their featured Worker Profile in the Winter 2016 issue of Transforming:

Assignment:
Our current assignment in Istog, Kosovo, is to build relationships while modeling a life lived for Christ, learning culture and language. We are in this particular community because of a milk collection project that began about 10 years ago between VMMissions and EMM. Our assignment is not with the collection center, but rather a result of the relationships that were established in the process.

Biggest joys and challenges:
Oftentimes our challenges and joys stem out of the same experiences. It is a huge challenge living in a community where there aren’t other believers, but it is an incredible opportunity to rely on Christ for strength and nurturing. Seeing all around us lives without the hope of Christ generates a greater incentive for us to be his light and share his love. Learning Albanian is tremendously harder than we imagined and is the most consistent challenge for each of us. But when we can enter into a conversation with understanding, what an incredible reward for the weeks and months and even years of struggling to learn. Understanding and appreciating the culture has been a challenge; particularly concerning schedules—here relationships and image are critical. We’re still learning the balance between when to do work and when to build relationships.

A typical day:
Vince: A typical day may involve minor maintenance issues to chopping wood. Coffee and tea with friends and neighbors is a certain and important staple. These times also prove to be beneficial in language practice and study as well. I schedule time for reading and prayer, to always remain available to God’s nudging.

LaVonne: A typical day has some mixture of my homeschooling our kids (grades 3, 6 and 8), tea with our friends and neighbors, and some form of language study. There is always a lot to do; in the evenings I can relax and unwind.

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