Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas In LT

Well I must say its different being in another country for Christmas. Both Sharon and I have been away from our families on Christmas because we do the every other year with the family for Christmas thing since they live a few hundred miles apart. But this year is different because we aren't with family at all. Its great that we have phones to talk with them for cheap but its weird not being there, we miss them and all our friends at home. However, God has given us a team who we love and that is becoming like family. We are learning to take care of each other and since we spend so much time together doing the same things we are getting to know each other pretty well, even the little quirks that are so lovable and frustrating.
So we had a big Christmas dinner last night and I barbequed a big ol' roast.

Side note, my neighbors think I am crazy. First of all, Lithuanians don't bbq much and second they sure don't do it in winter. So often they see me out on my 3' by 4' balcony bbq-ing in the dark with my head lamp on. They stare at me all the time, in fact I even caught one woman staring so she looked away real quick and then went and turned off her lights so she could keep watching what the silly American was doing.

Anyway, we had a great dinner and then played games. Today we all met at Peter and Jen's for brunch at 11 and had another great meal together. We played more games and hung out it was a great Christmas. Here are some picts we took.

Merry Christmas to all, we love you and miss you!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Curiosity and something about a cat

Here is a fun little story about life in Kaunas.

So, we moved into our apartment and a week or so after we moved in I was going through some of the manuals the owner had left for us concerning the heating system and other odds and ends. There was this little key chain looking thing with a button on it. No one told us what it was or what it was for, so naturally as any curious boy would do, I decided there was one way to figure what it was. Push it. As I did I heard a click in the utility closet. "Must work," I proudly thought to myself. I was also taking note of my keen sleuthing skills as I pushed the button again to hone in on the target. Yep, the clicking was definitely coming from this 1' x 2' white box on the wall. As I inspected the suspicious box, I told Sharon, "Huh? Kinda looks like a control panel for the security system." Just as I got out my screw driver to see if in fact it was such a panel, I heard our entrance speaker ring, notifying me that someone wanted me to buzz them in at the stairwell door so they can come visit us. I nonchalantly said hello and was met with frantic Lithuanian on the other end. I explained to the mystery person that I didn't speak Lithuanian. They usually don't bother after that but this guy was persistent. Sharon ran over to the window to see who it might be but couldn't tell from our angle on the 3rd story. As I was trying to figure out what he wanted, I heard a walky talky type noise and realized these guys were most likely security and that my deductions of that box were in fact correct. So I buzzed them in and within seconds I had some very serious and concerned armed men at my front door. Employing my logic up to this point, I showed the guard the keychain still in my hand and said, "This must set off the alarm," and though he didn't understand the words he agreed with my amazing ability to put two and two together. Next, we had to get our passports to prove to them we actually lived here, and after quite a fun little situation, all was well.

We learned two very important cultural lessons that day. First, our security system is indeed active and working . . . and second, I am smarter than the average bear.

Now my little key chain buddy has a new home in the utility closet hanging up where no one will mistake his purpose in life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Turkey Day

So it was quite a Thanksgiving. You see it all started when we slept in on Thursday morning, a good start to a long day. I (matt) went to the store to get some groceries around 1 then came home and prepared for THE JOURNEY. I got all the stuff together that I was to bring (2x11 pound turkeys, ceramic casserole dish, spices, bottle of olive oil, bottle of wine, laptop, bag of briquettes, our unopened bbq, and tools to assemble the bbq) aka 65lbs. I loaded up the backpack and set out on the 1.2 mile journey to Peter & Jen's place. Once I got there the boys did the some assembly required stuff on the bbq and then we got the birds on around 5pm. Melissa, our friend working for Crusade in Germany, arrived in Lithuania around 5 and then got to Kaunas, our town, around 9. The birds were a little slower than I anticipated but we got them done at 10pm or so. Dinner then commenced between 10 and 10:30. It was so late when we were done that no even thought about all the desserts that were made. But, that was ok because the team from Vilnius came on Friday to have our team cook a Thanksgiving dinner for them. So we got to do it all over again the next day. We had a great time with our friends on both days, and we got a lot of turkey.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Priesthood of all believers

(Be warned this is a long one) We got to meet with Sharunas who is the priest/chaplain for Kaunas Tech the other night. He was at an alpha course meeting which is a video series used all over the world to teach people who are interested in understanding the basics of the Christian faith. Anyway, he is a cool cat. No really, he is the hippest priest I've ever met, Rayban reading glasses salt and pepper hair and all (kinda reminds me of Tim for all you CDF folks). All this was an answer to prayer and as many of you know we were praying to meet and partner with a priest here in K-town. He is excited about what we are doing and would love to work together in the future. Sweet.
All this coupled with what our team has been reading for our Bible study in the Old Testament has helped us better understand what our role here in LT is. Basically to pray. Let me tell you how we got to this ingenious conclusion. You see in Exodus 19 God tells all Israel to come up on Mount Sinai and into His presence to be a kingdom of priests. God wanted Israel to be priests to the world around them that didn't know God. Israel however rejected that invitation and instead wanted a mediator between them and God, i.e Moses. Leviticus then goes on to show the role of priests and how they come to God on others behalf.
1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we Christians are a royal priesthood. We are to be what Israel rejected back at Sinai. We have been invited and given access into God's presence. We are also to come to God on others behalf. Thus one of our main roles here in Kaunas is to pray for those around us who do not know God. I must tell you that it breaks my heart that there are many students and people who we come in contact with have probably never had anyone pray for them by name or face. So, some are called to be a priest as a full time vocation, like my new friend Sharunas, but we are all called to come before God on behalf of those around us.

1st Event

One of the goals of our team is to have a ministry that puts way more time and energy into personal relationships and not as much energy into events. But we also need to meet people to start those relationships, so one of the things we will use is events as a way to meet students, we are not sure if it will work. Our goal is that our energy will transition into meeting with students on a regular basis and walking with them through the stuff of life.
Enough explaining, our first event went ok the other night. We had 7 students come to the film festival (not quite as many as we had hoped, but thats ok). We had a great time talking about the short films, what they meant, and how they impacted us. In all it was a good 1st event and we learned a lot. We have a better idea of what to do and what not to do in regards to being relevant and working within the LT culture. Another one of our goals was to be students of this culture and we are definitely getting a chance to do that. Here is a picture of some of our friends that came the other night.
Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

We get to unpack the bags

Well, we got an apartment this last week and the first thing that I (Matt) did was unpack all my stuff. It was fun to see what I had packed in some of those suitcases a month and a half ago. And honestly it was nice to not have to dig through a bag everyday for clothes, which we started doing back at the end of July when we moved out of our house. Thus I am truly praising God for this place.

Here are some pics and some of the cool and quirky aspects of our place. First, Sharon really wanted a nook where she could spend some quiet time. She got it. This great chair overlooks our busy downtown street from the third floor.

Next, I got a urinal. Yeah, thats right dog, my very own flip top, macho, pee place. I have to admit that I didn't pray for it, but yeah I'll take it.

Lastly, we got a lime kitchen, interesting yet cute.

Thanks so much for all your prayers. Really.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The common cup

MATT - Well today at church we celebrated communion and I was thrilled. (Ok for you Catholics reading this feel free to just shake your head and laugh at us funny Protestants) Anyway, I was thrilled that we used the common cup as we celebrated the Lord's Supper, which means we all drank for the same cup. I know that this freaks many of you out, especially with our germophobic american hypersterile culture, and you are thinking that I'm crazy but let me explain. You see I think that communion is an act that binds us and celebrates that we Christians are one in Christ. It is a time when we find solidarity in Jesus. It is a time when all the walls and differences between us are broken down as we come before God. When there is no race or social status, one and all are united to Him. It is a time when we look back to what Jesus did for us on the cross and remember His sacrifice for our sins. It is also a time when we look forward to the wedding feast of the Lamb where we will celebrate our union to Jesus for eternity. Wow, I love thinking about this stuff. Anyway, I think that a very real illustration of these things happens when we come to the common cup of Christ. When young and old, black and white, rich and poor can drink from the same vessel, this unites us in more than one way.

(Interesting note however, We were at a Jesuit church a couple weeks ago for mass and they only celebrate communion with the bread and not the wine. Apparently they stopped using wine during the times of the black plague around the 1600's ish and the tradition changed then and thus only the body is given during communion.)

SHARON - Ok, so I've just read Matt's post. . . and I need to let you know my perspective of this morning. As I walked up to the front to take part in the common cup, I kept thinking, "Lord, I know that this is a symbol of the wedding to feast to come, and really I am excited about that. . . really, . . but Lord, they only use grape juice here at this church. . . Isn't the alcohol in wine supposed to be what kills all the germs ? . . .so. . .um. . .does it still count if I just let my lips touch the juice????"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Day in The Dorms

Well yesterday we were at the dorms again at Kaunas Tech University and Sharon and I were knocking on dorm room doors doing surveys. We were asking students some questions about themselves and about life. We had a great time talking with and listening to different students as we tried to understand what its like to be a university student in Kaunas. Two guys stood out though. They invited us into their room and we sat down on their beds to talk. We explained who we were and that we were trying to get to know students and get an idea of what they thought about spiritual things. We asked them some basics about themselves and then asked some harder questions, like what happens after death, who was Jesus, and what is your purpose in life? We all had a good time talking about these questions and joking around and when they were done answering, one of the guys ran through the list of questions on us to see how we would answer them. It was great to tell them who we think Jesus is, the hope He has given us, and all that He has done in our lives. I (Matt) am hoping to hang out again with these guys soon and show them more of the Jesus I know.
On the way home we hopped off the mini bus (form of public transportation consisting of a van driven by crazy man that weaves through heavy traffic) and got a kebabai (meat substance and cabbage wrapped in a tortilla like shell) and went for a walk in the park where leaves had accumulated. We sat down to watch the leaves fall as we prayed for all the students we met and to talk about our day. As we chatted I enjoyed my kababai and I thanked God for the animal that He created with which they used to make theses tasty treats, whatever that animal may be.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Livin' in Senamiestyje (Old Town Kaunas)

How amazing is it to be here in Kaunas living amongst so much history and beauty. It is a great time of year as the warmth from the summer fades into the crispness of fall. The leaves loose there life and begin to burn with the colors of autumn and we get to stand back and watch natures show. Though their is amazing beauty all around us we also find ourselves not as enamored with all the cute and fun things the culture greeted us with. In fact its easy to get frustrated with daily stuff that is small yet gets to you. Case and point, cobble stone streets are adorable, until you walk them every day and have almost twisted your ankle 5 times. Yet in all we are still very excited to be here and are thrilled to see how God is going to change this town as He ushers in the Kingdom of God more on this earth, and more in Kaunas Lithuania.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Games We Play

I have been confronted lately with the realization of how I can play games with God. Sharon wrote in our last update how a good apartment came along and we felt that God was telling us to give it to the other couple on the team. Since then I have a new found, though inconsistent, sense of justice that keeps growing everyday. Let me explain, you see when I do something wrong and my sin surfaces, I rely on the fact that we do not have a contractual relationship with God. Namely, that He does not treat us as our sin deserves, but is patient and full of grace. This is a truth that I would die for. However, contradiction has surfaced yet again in my life and I have had thoughts that God should reward us for thinking of the others on our team instead of ourselves. This is also known as a contractual relationship. So when things are in my benefit I find myself wanting a contractual God who treats me as I deserve.
Truly though I praise God that He loves us unconditionally, despite my inconsistencies.
So will we find a sweet apartment? I am not sure. I know that God does not owe us one. He is good however and loves to give good gifts to His children. But sometimes these good gifts are not always the “blessings” we think they should be. Sometimes they come wrapped in frustration or pain and they do not seem good until years later.
We are praying for a good apartment where we can feel at home though.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Apartment Hunting in LT

Today is Thursday, our fourth day of apartment hunting. To be honest,
this week has been an emotional roller coaster ride. We have found
two of the four apartments that our team will need. One was perfect,
everything we were hoping for and more. But the more Matt and I talked
and prayed about it, the more we saw that the apartment was the answer
to Peter and Jen's prayers. So today as they are signing the papers
to the new apartment, and Kellie is settling in to the other
apartment, Matt and I are still praying that the Lord will provide a
home. . .hopefully soon. It feels like we are walking the fine line
between not wanting to seem like picky Americans to our Lithuanian
leader (who has taken a week out of her work schedule to help our team
hunt for apartments), and yet hoping to find a place that our hearts
can be at home. I wish we had taken pictures of the first few places
to give you some perspective of what our options have been like. ☺
We sure would appreciate your prayers as we continue the hunt. My
(Sharon) biggest challenge has been trying to hide my disappointment
over giving up the apartment we were going to have so that Peter and
Jen will feel free to enjoy their new home. It's amazing how
seemingly "little" things like apartment hunting can tap into the

So, I've given you one prayer request. Let me close with a few praises:
• Renata – we have been blessed with a wonderful Lithuanian Agape leader.
• We have had beautiful sunshine our whole time here in Kaunas.
• The two apartments we have so far are in the same complex so Peter
and Jen, and Kellie and Tiana will be close.

Today is Friday morning. . . we will be looking at 1 apartment today.
(It was going to be 2 but one just cancelled. . .unfortunately it was
the one on the street on which we were hoping to find a place.) The
song playing on ipod right now is "Blessed be your name." The chorus
is "You give and take away, blessed be your name." . . . hhmmmm.

We looked at one apartment yesterday. . .pretty small and cramped. It
is interesting that when the Lord allows us to go through hard times
it is His love that we are quick to doubt - at least that is where I
found myself yesterday. I ended up reading through some old entries
in my journal and ran across the one I entered on the day the Lord
confirmed to us that He wanted us here in LT. I wrote something about
the fact that He brought us here to share His love - and that this is
something we could only do if we knew how firmly rooted we are in His
love. . . and then it made sense why the first thing I'm struggling
with is doubting His love and goodness. Anyhow, all that to say that
the Lord is reminding me of how long and wide and high and deep is His
love and that He is preparing a place for us.

Thanks for all your prayers! We are so thankful for each and every one of you!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Well we finally made it to the city that we will call home for the next 2 years. Its a weird feeling knowing that this place I've never been and this language I don't understand will be my home. With so many cultural differences it will take awhile before we feel at ease here, but it will be a good experience that stretches us beyond what we thought we could take.
The town is nice, right now we are temporarily staying in an apartment on one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. So there are always people walking up and down the street looking at all the shops. The street ends at the huge and beautiful St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral which was built in 1408.
The people are beautiful and into a lot more fashion than we are used to in the Northwest (stiletto heels everywhere, and on cobblestone nonetheless). They tend to be a lot more reserved socially, but once you say labas (hi) then they warm up and are very friendly and even go out of their way to help you. An interesting example is that no one talks on the bus, its like an unwritten rule that once you get on you become mute, but on the streets people are talking and walking hand in hand.
The food seems to be good too, different, but good. There are a lot of Italianish dishes in most of the restaurants. I say "ish" because its not quite Italian, but its still loaded with carbs and tasty. The national dish is cepalini pronounced zepalini. It is a grated potato that is cooked in lard a few times and then packed around a chunk of meat and lard and then boiled and covered with liquid lard and bacon fat. So I figured I had to try it because the Lithuanians rave about it. It was . . .interesting. I liked the taste. Really. The gummy consistency of the potato and the 1/4 inch of grease sitting in the bottom of the bowl were different but in all it wasn't too bad. I could feel my arteries hardening as I ate. The thing I can't figure out though, is how these people can eat these things often and stay so thin. I could only put down one and a half and I know a four year old girl can eat like 8 of them. P.S. the photos are coming, internet issues.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane...

Well we left last Sunday from PDX and landed in Lithuania on Monday afternoon. We are going to be in Vilnius, the capital, for a week. Then we will head off to Kaunas this weekend. The city is beautiful and the weather was too (on Monday and Tuesday). Wednesday however the tide turned and the rain has set in (kinda reminds us of Oregon). Right now we are drinking in the culture and are frustrated by the language. To be honest it feels a lot like a short term trip as we walk around town seeing the sights and learning how to ride public transportation. The thing we have to remeber is that this is a marathon and not a sprint, like a short term often is. We had a chance to get into the dorms of Vilnius University the other day and got to talk to students about Jesus. Many were open to talking about Him. It was cool.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Living in Transition

Its been an interesting last few months as we have lived in the netherworld of going. Its a weird place of leaving but not having left yet. Its a balance of living in the moment and looking forward to what will be, of living in houses that aren't yours yet trying to feel at home, of excitement to see what God will do and yet trying not to hope for too much. Its funny that at times we have been so focused on support raising that we forget that we are even leaving, but this last Friday we purchased one way tickets to Lithuania. It is becoming more real as we are getting ready to leave on September 17th. God is transitioning our hearts from here to there, from raising support to making disciples. We are excited and scared to leave. We know it is where God wants us right now but that doesn't mean its not tough to leave family & friends that love us and have poured into our lives in so many ways. We will go, and it will be life changing not only for the Lithuanians we meet, but also for Sharon and me, and for those that send us.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A week of training in Colorado

Sharon and I went off to Copper Mountain CO. for a week of training with Crusade and just returned last night. I have to say that we were really pleased with the conference. It was a great time with our team as we grew closer together and let each other into our lives more. We also got some great training and found that we really like Crusade as an organization both theologically and practically. Another highlight was hearing the president of Crusade talk about what God was doing all over the world. Wow, it was moving! During the week, God just profoundly impressed Lithuania on our hearts. We know that it is going to be really tough but we are ready to go. It was a good conference.