Saturday, May 31, 2008

I like this quote . . .

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

Lao Tzu

Pretty cool huh? - Sharon

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rusty Done Died

Its true unfortunately... on Saturday we lost Rusty. We knew this day would come and we were preparing our hearts for it, but that didn't make it any easier. No one likes saying goodbye. But I must say the relationship has been a long and fun one and in the end we were glad that we got to be a small part of Rusty's life. Sorry... its just so hard to express my thoughts and feelings in a blog post.

It all started a year ago when Peter and Jen decided to buy a Lithuanian friends 1988 honda civic for a premium price of 280 dollars. Then when the Hibbs family left to go home in November they sold the car to us for a little less than they paid. We got many good months out of Rusty and she was definitely a blessing to our ministry. This takes us to the present situation and the fact that our car has been having problems for awhile. The transmission started sticking a month ago and Rusty had some troubles getting from first gear to second. I took her to the mechanic who literally laughed at me when I asked if it was worth it to fix her. It was then that I knew the end was near and we all began bracing ourselves for the day when the little car that could... just couldn't anymore.
That day came on Saturday after the women's conference when Rusty finally decided to give up the ghost. We were driving some supplies the 5 blocks home from church when I felt the transmission give out. Using my Jedi skills I kicked her into neutral and we coasted for 2 blocks or so until I met my worst nightmare, a red light. As cars flew around us, Sharon steered the rest of the way while I pushed the last half block through the heart of the city to our apartment.

I guess it was all for the best since gas is up to 6.90 a gallon and Rusty will move on to a better place, which by the way is the metal scrap yard where I can get 130 dollars for her.

I would love to think up a little eulogy for Rusty about when life hands you a lemon you make some fun drink from it but my heart is just too heavy at the moment.

Ladies Conference Post Game Report

Wow! I am so proud of our team! The Lord worked through each one of them is such amazing ways! Here is a glimpse into the day:

Tiana has a gift for giving people a warm welcome and making them feel at home - so she led our welcoming committee. This comes so naturally to her that I don't think she realizes just how gifted she is in this. (She used this time to train two other girls in how to give a warm and effective welcome.)

We opened with a skit (led by a couple girls from the InnerVarsity group here). I wish I had a photo of Polina, Ugne and Tiana doing this skit, but I was busy running the slide show. Next we played a quick game of Bingo to get them mingling - this was something like controlled choas.

Next, Kellie spoke on True Beauty and let me tell you - she spoke powerfully and vulnerably. The girls were listening to her every word! Then, Kristina shared her testimony and included a powerful gospel message.

Oh, by the way, ask Kellie sometime what she used as her opening illustration for her talk - it was awesome! ;-)

After this morning session we headed down to the youth room where the guys had prepared a special Italian lunch, complete with candles, flowers and Il Divo playing in the background. Did I mention they even wore ties! Seriously - they went all out!

Kellie led a special pampering time (Satin Hands by Mary Kay - sooo nice!)
Tiana handed out door prizes.
Then we headed back upstairs where Jason, Matt and Edgaras shared their thoughts on True Beauty. The fact that men were willing to speak on this topic with the ladies had a deep impact.

2 o'clock came and we needed to end, but Edgaras had a question for any ladies who could stay a little later: What do the men of Lithuania needed to hear? Oh man! They didn't hold back. Wow! But we know that Edgaras could handle it - in fact he is the kind of guy who would really go home and think deeply on what the ladies said. Who knows? Maybe he'll hold a conference for men sometime in the future!

Matt - The conference was a hit! Our ladies did an absolutely brilliant job! Everyone seemed to be quite encouraged from the day. (you can tell I titled this post)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sometimes. . .

. . . the craziest things happen during team Bible study.

Two weeks ago, during our study of I Peter, we came to the section that talked about women having a gentle and quiet spirit. . . and things began to get interesting. . .

Sharon: So many women have said to me, "Oh I wish I was quiet like you, but that's just not who I am. I guess I'll never be spiritual and beautiful in the way that is described in this passage.'" But that's not what this passage is talking about!!! Guys, what do you think about this passage?

. . . What they had to say was amazing! . . .

Sharon: Kellie, what are you thoughts on what they said?

Kellie: If I'm ever teaching at a women's conference, you guys can come talk at it.

Jason: Well, next time you teach at a conference, just let us know and we'll come.

Sharon: If only the ladies in LT could hear your thoughts! I know it would really impact them.

Matt: Well, don't you like to plan conferences?

Sharon: Well yeah. . . but we leave in a few weeks.

Then we all began to brainstorm about "what if" we could plan a conference in the next few weeks.

I knew I had to try to explore the possibility, so . . . the conference is tomorrow from 10-2.

Here are our three goals for tomorrow's time:
1. To communicate God's heart towards women - from women's perspective and from some men' perspective too.
2. To put some of our key students/contacts in the "1st chair."
(See 3 Chairs by Bruce Wilkinson. Note: Used to be titled First Hand Faith)
3. To facilitate an opportunity for Christian groups in Kaunas to cross-pollinate.

What an adventure! Would you please join us in prayer?

Our Last Agape Night

On Wednesday we had our final Agape night. Jason selected the topic of manipulation for the evening. "Does God manipulate or love us?" was the question he ended with, which fostered some provoking discussion.

After the discussion I asked the students if any of them were interested in taking responsibility to continue the ministry that has been started here in Kaunas. To my surprise almost all of those who came were interested in working to further what God has started. Now we are trying to figure out the best way to transfer leadership to a few students. So please pray that we can do a good job empowering them.

As I looked around the room I saw a group that God had brought together in a journey to get to know Jesus more. People who have found a safe place to wrestle with some of the bigger questions of life and spirituality. It was fun to watch as students stayed late trying to soak up one last bit of the community that has been built over the last year. It was a good and yet sad night as we wrapped up one portion of our ministry and yet there was an air of excitement to think about what it could become as students take over.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Wednesday was crazy. We decided to move our Agape night event to the girls apartment because we had limited water at our place. But Tiana woke up sick and mid way through the day went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep. So, we changed gears and decided to have our dinner and discussion at our place again.

The evening went really well and Kristina did a fabulous job. She allowed us to enter the heart breaking story of her childhood and teen years. Then explained how Jesus has given her hope, made her a new person, and allowed her to forgive those who have hurt her. The night was powerful as we watched God work, thanks for your prayers.

Also our water got fixed after a couple days.
Side Note for those of you who care about construction, the plumber flush cut all pipes going into the floors and walls. Then they surface mounted all new hot and cold water lines for our apartment. I think its a temporary fix till we leave and then they'll tear the place apart. Here is a shot in the bathroom of the shower and urinal.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Water we waiting for

Yesterday was a busy day as Sharon trained two German missionaries in how to do disciple women and I prepared for our staff meeting.

The morning went well . . . until 11:30 when our doorbell rang.  As I opened the door I was greeted by our neighbor from below exclaiming, "Vandens! Vandens!" . . . which is Lithuanian for water.  Through my keen translation skills I knew she meant that water from my apartment was leaking into theirs.  I ran downstairs and sure enough liquid was steadily dribbling through their ceiling from my bathroom above.  So I promptly shut off my water main and we waited for my landlord and the plumbers to arrive.  

During the long and arduous afternoon that followed, four plumbers congregated in our bathroom and finally decided that a water pipe definitely had broken somewhere in our concrete floors. This meant that they would have to start tearing things apart the next day.  My poor landlord was so down knowing she is also liable for damage done to the neighbor's flat below.  I tried to console her, but the situation looked grim. This is the second time our water has self-destructed in the last year, and the previous bout took 1 1/2 months until all was functional again.  

The demolition team arrived at 8:15 this morning to start the process.  We are praying they will be able to fix the leak today because this evening is our Agape night dinner. Which by the way is exceptionally exciting since one of the students from our ministry is leading the event for the first time.  I know Kristina would love your prayers for tonight.  We are looking forward to what God will do through her!

Here is a sweet pic of our ladies. 
Kristina is the one in back.

This is my new found plumber buddy pondering the problem in our bathroom.

Monday, May 05, 2008

All the Options

Wow!  What a week!  After a 12 hour bus ride, we arrived back from our vision trips in the wee hours this morning.  We return with hearts full of excitement about the possibilities ahead of us, and curiosity as to where the Lord will choose to lead us next.

Our journey began in Dublin, Ireland with a visit to Kelly and Kate, a couple who head up Crusade's work there.  They, along with a newly arrived missionary named Stephanie, are pioneering work on Dublin's 3 major universities.  Sharon and I loved spending time getting to know the team and the culture in which they live and work.  (Just so you know the fish and chips, as well as Guinness, were "magically delicious.")  As we got on the plane to come back to Lithuania we knew we could see ourselves being a part of the ministry there. 

When we got back to LT, we had two hours to shower, repack, and get to the bus station to travel the twelve hours to the Czech Republic.  Upon arrival, we were greeted at the train station by Laurie Jackson, an old time friend from Good Shepherd who serves as a missionary in Slovenia.  We spent four days getting to know what Josiah Venture was all about and honestly, loved it!  Not only was the content of the conference great, but the dynamic community shared between that group of 150 or so missionaries was amazing.   Interestingly enough, the life and culture of Slovenia sound so similar to what we have experienced in Lithuania.  We walked away from the J.V. conference knowing we would feel honored to work with the team in Slovenia and would be excited to start a ministry with university students in Ljubljana. 

So, we have 3 amazing possibilities in front of us: a church in Portland, Dublin with Crusade, or Slovenia with Josiah Venture.  Would you please continue to pray with us that we would clearly see and hear where the Lord is calling us next?

Thanks for being a part of this journey with us! 

Here are some photos from our trips:


Kate, Kelly, and Stephanie