Saturday, March 31, 2007

The American('s) Dream

They say that you are really starting to understand another language when you begin to have dreams in that language. I don't know who says it or if its true at all but I spoke some Lithuanian in my dream a couple nights ago.

So I (Matt) had a dream that I was back in the states for a week on vacation and while perusing through the supermarket I bumped into a middle aged woman with her daughter who said "atsipraĊĦau" (excuse me or sorry).

I then said in Lithuanian "oh are you from Lithuanian?" (Genius question huh?)

She replied in her native tongue, "yes" and then proceeded to ask where the Vodka section was in the store. (there are usually large alcohol sections in most stores here)

I explained where it was and took them there.

Though I really have no idea the interpretation of the dream, for those of you who try to find meaning in dreams. I did however find it fairly interesting and Sharon thought it was quite funny.

The End.

Friday, March 30, 2007

D&D update

Dinner & Discussion has been going well lately. It started off slowly with only 2 Lithuanians coming but now there is a great group of 6-10 students who attend regularly and really enjoy it. They are beginning to feel at home in the group and relationships are growing. It has been a safe place for students to talk about deeper issues, have fun, and hang out. We are really excited that it is meeting a need in the students lives and that we have a chance to build community around a meal and good conversation.

Talk to the hand

Quick observation. The other day I (matt) was watching during our Dinner & Discussion time as we discussed the topic of beauty. We were talking about who decides what is beautiful and how it affects culture when I noticed that the people on our team were using a lot of hand gestures. (not that one). But we have all slipped into the mode of talking with the aid of our hands to help overcome the communication gaps. It was fun to sit back and notice that after 7 months we have got to the point where we don't even notice things like gestures because of how much they have been a part of life. Interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2007

View from on high

So the other day we went to the top of Christ's Resurrection Church which overlooks the heart of Kaunas. The church took 70 years to complete due to Communist occupation. So here is a view over the city and Sharon pointing at our apartment building (which is impossible to see from this picture).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Ninth Fort

Last Friday, our team went to the Ninth Fort which is an old fort in Kaunas that was used by the Russians and Nazis when they occupied Lithuania. It was a sober day as we toured this historic place where so much pain has taken place. The fort was built in 1902 and underwent construction and improvements till the beginning of WWI. After that it was used as a prison for Kaunas. Then during the first Russian occupation in 1940-41 the fort served as a prison for political prisoners of the Soviet Union. It was during this time that the Soviets used such rooms in the fort like "the concrete cell." In this tiny room we are standing in they would force in 10-18 people for 3 hours. They told us that many of the prisoners would faint due to a lack of oxygen.
The Soviets also used other chambers like "the wet cell" seen below where their was naturally a lot of water that slowly seeped in and dripped to the standing water on the floor of the cell. If the cold and dampness weren't enough, the constant dripping in complete blackness caused the prisoner to go crazy after days. The only thing they they had to keep them out of the water was the wooden bed in the background.
Lastly, was the "health resort cell" which was a closet under a metal stairway in the main corridor. It didn't look to bad until you factor in all the prisoners who had to wear wooden shoes. They said the noise was deafening for prisoners locked in their.

The Fort was then taken over by the Nazi's during WWII and used as a concentration camp. If you thought the Soviets were a tough oppressors, well lets just say they were gentle compared to the tyranny of the Nazi subjugation.

As our tour guide said, "These torture cells were only used during Soviet times because the Nazi's just killed everyone." Under their short occupation of three years in Kaunas they reduced the Jewish population in this city from 37000 to 2500. In fact the Lithuanian people cheered for their former oppressor as the Soviet troops pushed back the German's and took over their country again.

In all a horrifying 30,000 Jews and 20,000 other war prisoners were murdered here at the 9th fort. Their bones are still buried in the mass grave just outside the fort wall where they were executed. The Soviets built the huge monument seen below. It stands as a testament marking the execution and grave site. It is rightly an image of people writhing in pain.
Like I said it was a sobering day as we think of all that the Jews, the Lithuanian nation, and many different peoples of this world have gone through. It's tough to see the ugly side of humanity that kills and destroys God's creation. I know it breaks His heart so much more than it did mine that day.