Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Rain in Spain...

The Rain in Spain was insane after we got off the Plane. Well maybe not quite insane because it did not maintain. It did however cause disdain in our brain which made our attitudes wane. I must refrain so as not to complain, but I do wish that I had some Lidocaine to numb my pain. (pretty impressed that I used lidocaine huh?)

Anyway, we are finally back from our travels. We had a great time and are also glad to be back in our home. Here is a little update on our time away:

Weather - Well, for once the weather forecasters were right! It started snowing in Lithuania the night before we left for Spain and snowed off and on while we were gone. We did get to come home to snow though! And the weather in Spain went from the mid to upper 60's down to 50's with some sweet storms. Oh well, Spain was still beautiful and the conference was great!

Conference - This was a time for all the Campus Crusade STINTers (Short Term INTernational) from Europe, Russia, North Africa, the Middle East and the "stan" countries to get togerher and be encouraged. Most STINTers spend a total of 10 months in-country (unlike our team which is doing 22), so by the end of January, which is about the 1/2 way marker for their commitment, they are pretty tired. The purpose of the conference is to allow STINTers to get out of their country and be renewed. This happens through great Bible teaching, debriefing the last 5 months, discussing what's going well and what's not with a coach, and working on team building exercises. The conference also helps everyone to see the big picture of what God is doing all around the world even though it might not seem like much in their own town. Our team got to discuss strategy with other teams. One highlight for us was getting to sing worship songs in English! The experience of singing inEnglishh with 250 other Christians brought many on our team to tears.

Us - The conference was also good for Sharon and I to talk with others all over the world who are going through the same stuff as us and even the same struggles. We also were reminded what an amazing team we have!! We are coming back with a renewed perspective, and are excited to get to partner with the Lord this semester in Kaunas.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Planning Week and other stuff

Well we just finished a long week of planning and I must say, it went swimmingly. Though long and arduous days at times it was a great week. We planned our goals for the next semester and figured out how and where we will focus our time and energy.

I am really excited. We are going to start a dinner and discussion night at our apartment. It will be an informal dinner hang out time and then we will have some topic to discuss. It should be pretty relational and I'm am excited because we got to do a similar thing at our church back home the last 2 years. It will hopefully be a safe place where students can get a decent meal and enjoy some community. It will be open to anyone, and our hope is that the students we already know will invite their friends. From this then we can pursue deeper relationships with individual students. So that's just one of the great ideas our team has planned.

Other items on the docket are community "deed days" where we share God's love for the community in deeds. Kellie is going to be starting an English corner for students wanting to practice their language skills. We hope to be involved in an Easter celebration that some young people put on here in Kaunas. So please pray that God would use these avenues to meet the spiritual and physical needs of students in Kaunas.

Ok if you want something else to pray for cause you're one of those folks who loves to pray, here's one. As many of you know, Lithuania is supposed to be really cold during the winter. Students told us that it would stay around -10 C (which is about 14 F for you non metricites) and dip down to -20 C or more every now and then. So needless to say we were ready to get tough here in LT. But as luck would have it, this has been one of the warmest winters in like 200 years. The Lithuanians love it, but the Oregonians hate it. We want snow! Sure, we have had flurries here and there but no real accumulation for more than a day. And here is the kicker, we go to Malaga, Spain this next week for a Crusade Stinter Conference and it's supposed to snow here in LT while we're gone and it is going to be mid 50's and rain in Spain. And yes it has been mid 60's and sun the last week in Malaga. Oh well. We are still looking forward to the conference and hopefuly some snow in February.

Here is a shot of the one day we got a 1/2 inch and it melted later that day.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sometimes He does what it takes to get our attention. . .

This is a long one. . .so make sure you have a cup of coffee nearby :-)

Last week our team had the opportunity to go to a retreat with the Agape team from Vilnius. We had been hoping for opportunities to get to know them better, so this proved to be a wonderful chance to do so. But what I want to tell you about in this post is my (Sharon) bus ride to the retreat. It turned out to be one of the most powerful times with the Lord that I have had here in LT.

Wednesday, Jan 3rd I woke up excited to go the retreat. But as I began getting ready for the day I became overwhelmed with feelings of anxiousness and fear. At the time all my reasons for those feelings felt quite justified. Looking back on them now I can see that they were way out of proportion and really it was Satan doing his best to distract and discourage.

So I climbed on the bus just feeling like I needed a bit of alone time and wondering where all my morning people teammates get all their energy anyway. I went and sat in a seat by myself and plugged in my ipod. And even though I wanted to just sit and stew I knew I needed to hear truth. So I began listening to a sermon on podcast by James Allison. Have you ever had one of those moments when you KNEW the Lord was trying to tell you something? I soon realized that I needed to be paying attention to this message!

Let me back up a little.

Tuesday - The day before I had read II Chronicles and was struck by the story of King Jehosephat in chapter 20. He and his little army stood before a vast and mighty army - and though he was scared, he stood there and declared the power of God and begged for God to help Israel.

Wednesday - As I began listening to the podcast I realized the Lord was trying to get my attention. James was preaching on II Chron 20 - the story of King Jehosephat. He talked about how we should respond when life seems out of control and we become overwhelmed with fear and anxiousness. Rather than tell you the whole sermon suffice it to say that I knew that my response to this message needed to be worship. (You really need to check out this podcast!! I'll give details below.) So, my act of obedience was to worship despite the feelings of anxiousness and fear that remained. I immediately began to feel his peace. A few minutes later, Matt began waving at me trying to get my attention. He pointed outside where a man was driving a horse-drawn cart. The cart looked ancient - like it came right out of Lord of the Rings. In a split second I heard the Lord reminding me of everything from Lesson One in Gracestoration (discipleship material). This whole lesson revolves around the illustration of a horse-drawn cart and the main point of the lesson is - will we give our burdens to the Lord or will we stubbornly keep holding on. I sensed the Lord asking me if I was still carrying my burden since He ws already carrying the weight of it anyhow. How ironic that the only time in my life that I've ever seen a cart like this was on this bus ride! I am so grateful that the Lord sometimes shouts instead of whispers so that we will hear Him over all the other "noise" in our lives.

I could write more to this story. . .but blogs are supposed to be short. :-) If you are needing to be encouraged with some grace-filled truth please check out this podcast by James Allison, pastor of Grace Chapel in Wilsonville, OR. The date is Dec 5, 2006 and it is entitled The Valley of Blessing. He doesn't go into details on this podcast but you should also know that over the past several years he and his family have been through a LOT, including having his little girl diagnosed with leukemia. I could tell you more about how he has been such an example of living out God's truth - but I'm not writing all this to build him up - just to point you in the direction of encouragement and truth.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

52 months ago today...

So, I know it has been a little while since we have last posted a blog. . .it has been a very busy couple of weeks. . .we’ll post an update to get you caught up in the next few days.
But until then - I just had to post this pic of my adorable husband fixing a light switch here in our apartment. (Yes, Adam he really is fixing it, not just posing for the camera.) It seems every time I turn around he is fixing something here - putting sealant around the shower drain, creating a nifty little clothes rack since we have no dryer, figuring out what that “strange noise” was coming our of our kitchen sink. . .my list could go on and on.
52 months ago today we said “I do” . . .and I’m so glad we did! He truly is “above and beyond anything I could have asked or imagined” and I love him!!
. . .did I mention he is a great cook too??? :-)