Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care...

So on Christmas, Sharon and I had the team over as well as Judit, our German friend from church. It was a simple day in that we had a tasty meal, watched a movie, and played some games. BUT by far the best part was stocking time. My wonderful and thoughtful wife wanted to carry on the team stocking tradition that we started last year. But since we have been quite busy lately, we didn't actually buy the stockings till Christmas Eve as we were frantically getting some last minute things done. Sharon selected stockings for each person, cute furry ones for the girls and long masculine tube socks for the guys.

However when she was putting them up on Christmas morning before everyone came over, Sharon made a startling discovery! What she thought were extremely masculine, rugged, hearty, tough guys socks, were actually women's tights. The stores were closed however, so the show must go on.

So Jason and I got tights.

We all decided that it was a pretty funny mistake and that we better take some photos to show off our new stockings.







Monday, December 17, 2007

A Little Catching Up To Do . . .

These last three weeks have felt like a blur . . . so many full days . . . so many memories. I feel like I have some catching up to do. I'll start back on . . .

Tues, Nov 27 Friends Arrive
Our WSN friends from the Crusade office in the Northwest came to visit with our team for a few days.

Hanging out with Mike, Matt & Krista was a great time of encouragement and insights for our team. We were excited that their trip overlapped with one of our Agape Nights so they could get a glimpse into our ministry here.


They also introduced us to a new game that we have really enjoyed: Ticket to Ride (Europe Edition)





Wednesday, Nov 28 Agape Night
This Agape Night was my (Sharon) turn to plan. I decided to use a tool that I'd first learned about in one of my coaching classes at Western Seminary. The tool, Visual Explorer, is used by coaches worldwide for leadership development and can be used in a variety of ways. I was so excited to use it here in Kaunas, LT for for the purpose of evangelism/spiritual development!


I displayed the 200+ photos on our walls and windows. Then I put on some music and gave everyone some time to choose two photos - one which described where they are at in life and where they would like to be. Next, I divided them into small groups to share about their photos and the reasons they chose those photos. After that, I brought the groups back together and shared the gospel. Then they went back to the "gallery" and chose two more photos - one which described where they are at with God/in their spiritual journey, and one to describe where they would like to be. Then back to the small groups for more sharing. I closed with having them fill out a response card explaining what they'd learned and if they would be interested in meeting with an Agape member. I also gave them the option of getting a copy of the photos they had selected (great for follow-up).

Though this tool is a bit expensive, I highly recommend it for churches and ministries everywhere!! There are just so many different ways it can be used. (Note: They are willing to give a discount to non-profit organizations.)

Then, (this was pretty exciting), while Matt Mikalatos was here in LT, he was writing an article for a magazine about one of Crusade's new evangelism tools: Soularium. Soularium is a packet of 50 4x6 images and comes with questions which can be used in a survey. Basically, it is a portable version of Visual Explorer designed for evangelism. After a student completes the survey, they are given a card with the website for Soularium. . .where later they can check out answers other students have given around the world!! They can also specify to view responses given by other students from their own university. (All responses are entered in a way which maintains anonymity.) Again - a great tool that I highly recommend!! We have used it several times already when out doing surveys. Matt (WSN) and my Matt headed out to campus one afternoon to give this new tool a try and were really amazed at how deeply the students shared as they described their photos!

Pictures are powerful and can help bridge the gap between different cultures and languages. They tap into a deep part of our souls and ironically make it easier to share more deeply - even with those closest to us. (Last week, Jason used the cards as a apart of our team prayer time - to help us know how to better pray for each other.)

Friday, Nov 30 Rock-N-Rollo
On Friday night, Matt and I headed over to a Rock-n-Rollo party that the Catholic center put on. Fun times! Great networking. Here are Juri and Paulos having a blast.


Friday, Dec 7 Girls Slumber Party
Kellie and I hosted a slumber party for the girls from our church. Originally it was going to be for about 5 girls - 12 ended up coming! A few came early to help make dinner. After dinner we had a "spiritual talk" and then watched some movies. Why do we call these kind of events "slumber parties" anyways?! I did not get much slumber but had a wonderful time! (Check out Kellie's blog for more photos.)

Wednesday, Dec 12 Tiana leads Agape Night
Tiana used her knowledge of experiential learning to help explain the Christian life. Our German friend, Judy shared her testimony, and Kristina did a fabulous job translating for Tiana!

Friday, Dec 14 Matt's Birthday!!
For something a little different, we (Kellie and Jason joined us) drove in to Vilnius to celebrate Matt's birthday. We had heard of a restaurant that was pretty good - that turned out to be quite the understatement! Markus Ir Co served us the BEST meal we have had at any restaurant in Lithuania. What a great way to celebrate a birthday for someone who loves cooking!

Have I ever mentioned that Matt's name means "Gift from God"?? Well, he truly is God's good and perfect gift to me!! I love you sweetheart!

Monday, November 26, 2007




This is my man . . . and I am so thankful for him!

Not only is he an amazing cook, (boy did I get lucky!), he is an amazing friend!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Surveys with a Father

This last Tuesday we had the honor of going to the dorms and do surveys with Father Šulčius, who is the chaplain for KTU. We have wanted to partner with the Catholic ministry for a awhile, so it was fun to get to partner in this way. I (matt) was interested to see how students would respond to a priest knocking on their door, since they are shocked enough that we come to their rooms to talk to them about God. Students were a bit surprised at first and some even tried to frantically clean their room, but Father did a great job at relating to students and putting them at ease since he is very fun and easy going.

We were so excited because we want the Catholic ministries here in Kaunas to see that evangelism works. We have told them how we go to where students are at and tell them about Jesus but they have been cautious because it is so bold, and quite honestly scary. But I must say that Father eagerly jumped right in and did a great job!

If the churches in Kaunas (Catholic and Protestant) become active in evangelism then we have worked ourselves out of a job and thats our hope.

Please pray that we would continue to partner with the Christians of Kaunas to tell everyone about our amazing God who loves them so much.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A "Goodbye" that is not forever



Anyone who knows me (Sharon) knows that I hate saying "goodbye." In fact, it is more likely that you will hear me say "see you later" than "goodbye." So, last Thursday, with a big lump in my throat, I waved "See you later" to our wonderful friends Peter and Jen at the Vilnius airport. In true Morrow fashion, I waited and watched at the security checkpoint until I could see them no longer, and then gave a final wave just before they rounded the last corner. The five of us who remained ate a delicious lunch at Dublinar; then we drove back to Kaunas. The drive home was pretty quiet - I think I might have slept through a good part of it.

I felt a wistful sadness (that's what happens when people get in your heart). . .
. . . but no despair (I'll see them again in just a few months).

Matt and I spent a quiet evening at our flat that night. Later I skyped with my sister Lynn. . .and learned that my 95 year old Aunt Mary had passed away just a few hours earlier. (Aunt Mary was my grandpa's twin sister. Growing up, all my grandparents lived either out of state or in Australia. Aunt Mary lived across the street, so she was very much like a grandma to me.)

I was again struck with a deep wistful sadness . . . but no despair!

You see, my Aunt Mary knew Jesus as her Savior and loved Him as her Very Best Friend! For those who follow Jesus, this is not a "goodbye," it is simply a "see you later." We will meet again in Heaven one day - I can not fully express how much peace and hope that gives me!

Later, Matt asked me how I was doing, knowing that my day had been filled with a lot of loss. I smiled and said, "Well, I feel like there is a big party going on right now in Heaven that we are missing out on, (kinda like what we felt last Christmas when we were away from our families). Aunt Mary no longer feels pain, and she is hanging out with my Grandpa and Grandma and so many of her friends. I wish I could be at the party; I wish I could see the expression on Aunt Mary's face as she recognizes her friends and family. I wish I could hear what Jesus is saying to her - to this wonderful lady who always worked her fingers to the bone to help and serve and give to others. Aunt Mary always did like parties - I just wish I could watch her at this one.

I guess I'm glad that this is not a goodbye. . .it is just another "see you later."

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy/Sad

Last night was one of those happy/sad kinda nights.

We had a good bye party for Peter & Jen (they leave Thursday).

So, it was happy. . .
. . . fun games, happy memories, tasty food, so many people

and it was sad. . .
. . . cuz we're really going to miss them!

I (Sharon) keep telling myself, "Just enjoy them while they are here - you can feel sad later."

4xS



So yesterday was a day of S's.
First it was Sunday and it Snowed, I also gave a Sermon, but in the end we were Sad

It started out as a great morning. We woke up to a light covering of snow on the ground and it was a brisk beautiful day. Sharon and I got ready for church as normal, but we were especially excited that morning because our good friends Nerijus and Vaida were coming to church with us for the first time to hear me (matt) preach. The service went well and I had a great time talking about the importance of obeying God. Not in a "The Bible says to!!" kinda way, but instead as following the One who loves us and wants the best for us, be it easy or hard. Our friends found it to be fascinating I think.

Then later that day we had a good-bye party for our team mates Peter and Jen. We had Agape students, and friends from church, as well as the Agape staff from Vilnius come to bid our "see ya later." We had fun celebrating good friends who did a great job here in LT. It was sad but we are excited for what God has for them next.





Monday, November 05, 2007

Oct. 31 '07. . .Halloween. . .Agape Night

Our topic: death (not an easy topic in a country with such a high suicide rate)

Since it was going to be such a difficult topic, we decided to mix in a little of good ol' fashioned American fun and had people wear costumes. (See below for some photos.)

Questions included: What do you think will happen after you die?
Have you every had anyone close to you die?
How does what you believe about death affect how you live?

To be honest, the atmosphere in the room was a bit nervous and awkward as we discussed this difficult topic - most of the people in the room had lost at least one friend or family member in a tragic way. But as hard as it was to talk about death, it still opened the door for us to share WHY we do not fear death and where our HOPE comes from. It was a good reminder for each of us as well that this world isn't our home and that we do have HOPE!

Ok. . . now you gotta check out these photos. . .we did have fun!







Matt & Me











Peter the slick car salesman












Nerijus & Vaida looking quite sassy!







Couldn't decide on the best caption for this one. . .

. . .either "The gang's all here"

. . . or "Jen, what exactly are you doing?" :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Refiner's Pot

Malachi 3:3 - "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

My (Sharon) friend Deedra and I used to talk together often about the illustration of the Refiner's Pot. How God is like a Master Silversmith who will "turn the heat up" in our lives so that the dross (sin) will come to the surface - so that He can remove the dross (sin) . . . which results in Him being able to see a more clear reflection of Himself in us. (see below for a more detailed version of the illustration.)

I liked this illustration because I liked the idea of being able to reflect Him more and more clearly as time goes on. What I'm finding though, is a lot more dross than I thought was there! And before I can be a more clear reflection, I become a very hazy reflection as the dross comes to the surface. And I also find I have a very STRONG desire to "blame" the dross on my surrounding circumstances. But if I do that, then I'm saying that the dross is not really my sin. . . when the bottom line is that God waits for me to call the dross for what it really is (my sin) before He takes it away.

Sigh. . .becoming more like Jesus is a painful process. . . but I am so thankful that He is patient with me and loves me enough to surface the dross in my life so that I can be a more clear reflection of Him.

Here is a copy of the story about the Refiner's Fire that I found online:

Malachi 3:3 - "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says:

"He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Date Night

Each week Sharon and I try to set aside Friday night as date night. So last Friday night we had our friends Nerijus and Vaida, who are students that have been a part of Agape this last year, over to join in our date night. We decided to make a truly authentic American meal for them. ¡Nachos!

We had a great time preparing the condiments and teaching them how to stack everything to achieve maximum flavor potential. After sharing in the tasty experience we watched a movie together. We had a great time and so did they.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Taste Test

So, to let you into some of our team life, one of our traditions here in LT has been to meet for staff meeting and then have dinner together as a team. Last year we decided to have taste tests as a part of team dinner so that we could get to know different foods and products here in LT. So, over the last year we have done numerous tests (chocolate, crazy fruits, crackers, cookies, cake etc). The rule is that the person hosting dinner that night gets to pick the item to test and everyone brings something from that category. A few weeks ago I picked crazy cheeses that people have seen in the deli section but were too afraid to try them. It was fun, we had a funky green one called darby sage and some stinky selections too. One of the odoriferous samples was orange, moldy, and the girls weren't to fond of as you can see. I (Matt) however loved it and savored the so called stink. I won't mention who has the refined palette on our team.






Tonight it was Kellie's turn and she picked gum. So we all brought different types of gum to test. Here are some fun pics.
Just so you know Stimrol won out over Hubba Bubba.




If you have ideas of things we should try for a new taste test post a comment. We're always looking for new ideas.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coldness




The days of wearing long johns and bundling up in blankets are back!

I think they came earlier this year.

This is a photo of Matt wearing a jacket I have lovingly called "Big Red" - a gift from some friends back home.

PS This post was written by Sharon

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Summer Team



It has been over two months since the summer team left Lithuania. We still talk about them all the time - what an encouragement they were to us personally and also just how much they helped us kick off the new school year. We were able to meet some pretty amazing university students during their time here.

Bob & Anita - Thank you for all that you did to help make this trip a reality!

Paddy & Noah - What a joy it was to meet you both and to get to see your hearts for the Lord!

Erin & Julie - oh my sweet friends, words can't fully describe how much of a joy it was to have you both here!

There is so much more I'd like to write to describe what the time was like. . . in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out this video our friend Hugh put together for Coram Deo. He does an awesome job at capturing the summer team's time in LT!! Thanks Hugh for all the hard work you put into this!!

Lithuania Update

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The First Agape Night

Last Wednesday we had our first Agape night for this school year. It went really well!




Nine students showed up and we had a great time eating dinner and discussing the topic of humor. Jen was in charge of the theme for that night and she chose to use a format called "story of the soul." This is a Crusade idea for small groups that is built on the premise that there are elements of our lives that show us that our souls are telling us a story which points to God. So we looked at and discussed different pieces of art and media that related to the topic of humor and why we find things funny. After much discussion about the topic, Peter suggested that we find humor in things because we are made in the image of God, and God has a sense of humor. I think the students found it fascinating and were stretched in their understanding of God. It was a good night, I am excited to see what will happen in this area of our ministry here in Lithuania.

The bump is dead!

After our first Agape night Benji was ready to burst open so us boys gave him a little help.





Then Jason and I killed Benji this last weekend. We spent 8 hours on Saturday ripping up part of a hard wood floor with a hammer, screwdriver, some allen wrenches, and channel locks! It wasn't till later on Saturday that I purchased a chisel, hand saw, and crow bar to aid in our efforts. Then on Sunday we spent 4 hours putting the floor back together again. But, we beet the bump!



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Idomu...

Idomu (E-doe-moo) is the Lithuanian word for interesting and one must stroke their chin in a pondering sort of way when it is said. Anyway, here is a story I was reflecting on the other day and found to be just that.... interesting.

The first day we did surveys at Kaunas Tech when the summer team was here was frustrating. This is because there were four of us who tried to get into one of the dormatories but the lady who is in charge of letting people in did not want us going into her dorm. It should be noted here that for the first time ever we had the proper documentation and official permission needed to get into the dorms. It should also be noted that the office of the administrator, who is in charge of all the dorms, was located across the hall from this lady and they had told us we could go in. So if there were ever a time that we should have been able to go into that dorm and talk to students, this should have been it. But she still refused to let us in even after talking to her boss who said it was ok.

The four of us in my group went to another dorm builiding on the other side of campus and we had no problems getting into that one, in fact the lady who lets people in was happy to have us. The four of us split up into two teams and started knocking on doors, handing out welcome back gift bags, and talking to students. It was a great day and we had some amazing conversations.

The next day we went back to finish that dorm. Sharon and Pat got to talk to a room full of Freshman guys. One of the guys seemed irritated by any questions about God and shared his frustration and doubts openly. They had a great conversation about life though and told the guys they needed to meet Jason. The guys came to the bowling and billiards event that night and they got to hear Jason's story of when he tried to commit suicide and found God in a miraculous way. They were all full of awe, doubt, and questions but that one student in particular found a friend in Jason. Since then he has come to every event we have had and Jason and myself have become good friends with him.

Looking back on that first day doing surveys and getting shut out of the one dorm and going to the other was quite Idomu don't you think? We might not have gone to that dorm if not.

God had other things planned. I love it when He does that!

Benji

Many of you know that last month we had some water issues in our apartment. (If you didn't know, go back to the Aug. 22 post). Well, when the initial flood happened we didn't know it, but it did a bit of a number to the hardwood floors in our living room. Luckily they weren't in stellar shape to begin with, but ever since that day some lumps have been growing in our family room due to the wood getting wet and expanding. One of them in particular has continued to grow to a height of almost 2 and a half inches. It has gotten so big that we decided to give him a name since he has proved himself a force to be reckoned with (quite a tripping hazard). So, one day during a meeting Jen called him Benji and it stuck. You see Benji has become a speed bump of sorts in the middle of our apartment and thus an honorary member of our team. Though quite an annoyance at first, we have come to love and marvel at Benji. And since I am a cup half full kinda guy, I figured that if we need a little extra money here and there we can just charge some skateboarders admission to our living room cause our floor is starting to look a bit like a skate park. Life is fun.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kick off

Well, we successfully kicked off a new school year here in Kaunas with the help of the summer team from Portland OR. The team consisted of 6 people from 3 different churches in the Portland area (Good Shepherd, Coram Deo, and Imago Dei). We handed out welcome back gift bags and did a lot of surveys in the dorms at the 2 major universities in town and got into some great spiritual discussions with students. We also had events for the first four nights of school. The first event, which was a goofy field game night, got rained out so we met at a local university pub and played pool and watched basketball. Though it was not what we planned, it was what God planned because the 16 Freshman guys that showed up loved it. Just so you know guys rarley come to Agape events because most students aren't interested in spiritual things especially guys, so to have 16 show up was unbelievable for us. The next night was bowling. We found out 2 hours before students were arrinving that the bowling alley would not let us bowl because we advertised their name on a flyer. Anyway, we ended up playing pool and watching basketball again, which was good because 20 guys and 1 girl showed up. On Wedneday we did a photo scavenger hunt around the city and the students loved it. Thursday was the Agape party and 20 students, guys and girls, showed up and we had a good time hanging out. Though I think it might have been the first party some of the guys had been to where there was no alcohol, and yet they still had a great time. It was an amazing two weeks with the team from P-town here and I (Matt) can say that God is deffinitely up to something, I am excited to see what He has in store this semster.




Wednesday, September 05, 2007

summer team fun

A team of 6 from Portland OR arrived on 8/26 and has been helping us kickoff the new school year. Its been great to have friends here to show them what our lives and ministry look like in Lithuania. We have had a great time hanging out and doing ministry together. The last few days have been amazing as we have been in the dorms asking students questions to find out if they want to talk about spiritual things. We have also been inviting them to events we have planned each night this week. It has been amazing to see guys show up to the events. On Monday we had 18 guys come. On Tuesday 20 guys come and Tonight (Wednesday) we had 10 guys and girls show. Just so you know, this has never evenly remotely happened here in Kaunas. So,it has truly been an exciting week, one which I will write more about later. Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pipe Dreams


Well, a little over a week ago, we came home from church to find a huge puddle of water in our apartment. Apparently while we were gone a pipe in the wall between our bathroom and utility closet broke and leaked a lot of water into our place. Luckily, a guy who lives under us on the first floor (we live on the third) saw water dripping in his living room and turned off the water for the building. So after figuring out the problem and shutting off the water for just our apartment for a few days, we got a plumber to come take a look at it. He told us that it would be a month before he could come fix it. He did come back the next day to disconnect all the plumbing in our apartment except one spigot so that we have some water though. Well after a day of planning Sharon and I headed to the LT version of Home Depot and rigged up a system so that we have a hose from the spigot that can reach the kitchen sink so we can do dishes, the washing machine when its time for wash, and the shower for personal hygiene time. Though I must admit that its a bit cold since there is no hot water hooked up. My new theme song for shower time is "take my breath away" for all you Top Gun fans.
In all its a fun adventure, and I must give Kudos to my cousin Jaime and her boyfriend Jeff who just came to visit for a few days and especially to Jeff who was brave enough to take a shower.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Remembering. . .and Making New Memories

August 9, 2002
5 years ago this past Thursday was the best day of my life! I am humbled by what a "good and perfect gift" God gave to me in Matt. I love you honey!



August 9, 2007
So, how does someone so creative, fun, and adventurous choose to celebrate a 5 year anniversary? Well, since our friends Peter & Jen also celebrated their 5th anniversary just days before us, Matt and Peter came up with a plan for the four of us to celebrate together. . . rather than writing out the whole story, I'm going to let these photos do most of the talking. . .

















Yup. . .a ride in a hot air baloon!!



It was amazing watching the baloon get blown up.











It was HUGE!


















There was a quick scramble to get in. . .



. . . and then we were off! (Jason was on the ground taking photos of the set up and lift off.)














Jen and me moments after lift off.













Peter - faithfully recording this memory.



The views were breathtaking.













This red baloon took off about 5 minutes before ours did.











A photo taken of our street as we passed by.



It was amazing how low the red baloon flew over the bridge near our flat.








About an hour after take-off our trip came to an end.

Sad. Yes. But the adventure was not over yet. . .

The baloon crew took us back to the park near Peter and Jen's flat and told us that anyone who goes higher than one meter is now a part of a special club. They had us all kneel, gave us diplomas, and a new name and title. I was dubbed the "Duchess of the Quiet Castle" and Matt was the given the honor of "Earl of the Festival and the Sun."

And no - not over yet. . .

. . . as we were kneeling they had each of us lean forward while they baptized us with earth, fire and water.

This means they took a chunk of our bangs, lit it on fire, poured champagne over it to put out the fire, and then smeared a little mud on our forhead. Really - I'm not kidding. (I'm hoping Peter's video of this turned out.)


Ahhhh yes. . .this is the stuff memories are made of!


Thank you my love for filling these past 5 years with such wonderful memories!