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!