Saturday, June 28, 2008

Almost Didn't make it Back . . .

This past Monday was the day . . . the day that the 5 of us left the place we have called "home" for the past two years.

Our hearts were filled with a whirlwind of emotions:
- sadness, knowing that many of the new friends we have made we will never see again
- excitement to see friends and family in the States again
- emotionally drained from the past month of goodbyes
- stressed, hoping we had thought of everything we should have to pack up our homes in LT
. . . the list could go on.

So, Monday afternoon came. Our moving truck/van was to arrive at 3:30, giving us plenty of time to travel the hour and a half to the Vilnius airport. At 2:30 the guys were getting ready to bring the girls' stuff over to our place so that all the luggage would be downstairs and ready to load. But at 2:30 the sky turned black. . . the season of thunderstorms had begun about a week earlier. So, the guys decided to wait 10 or 20 minutes until the downpour passed. It was a good thing they waited. What followed was the craziest little storm I've ever seen.

The rain came . . . mixed with huge chunks of marble sized hail . . . and the streets were instantly flooded.

Yup - that is hail that you see floating in the water in the street.

The storm only lasted maybe 25 minutes . . . but the damage was done. Cars began turning around to avoid the sections of street that were now flooded. Some still ventured through. Many stalled because of the water intake to their engines.

We began to wonder if our moving van might get stuck in traffic. As 3:30 came and went we began to worry a little, knowing our tickets to Germany were non-refundable.

Here is a photo of some of our teams luggage waiting downstairs (remember, this is the luggage for just Matt, Jason and me). We still needed to get the luggage from Kellie and Tiana. We decided at this point it would be better to just load up our stuff once the van arrived and then drive to the girls place.

And then our van arrived. . . except that somewhere there had been a breakdown in communication within the company we had called. Though we had communicated that we would each have 75 Kg of luggage, this is what arrived:

It was smaller than a mini-van.

Our stress level began to rise as we remembered the fact that Monday was a Lithuanian holiday and it had been difficult even to find one driver willing to take us to Vilnius.

To make a long story short, after several rather tense conversations between the company and our Lithuanian co-worker in Vilnius, (who had made the original reservation for us), another van soon arrived and we were on our way.

There is more to the story of obstacles faced on the way back to the States but that is the most exciting part.

But, once we made it on our connecting flight from Germany to Portland we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the journey home. Luftansa gave perhaps the best inflight service I have ever seen.

We touched down in Portland and were more than a little overwhelmed (in a good way) with the huge crowd of friends and family waiting to greet us at our gate. There were signs, balloons and flowers - and many tears, smiles and big hugs.

Thank you so much to each of you who made our welcome to the States a moment we will treasure forever!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yard sale

The last few days we have been trying to sell/give away stuff to friends from our ministry and church. I guess it gives people some solace when missionaries leave because they get rid of stuff for dirt cheap. Seriously, its been fun to bless students who don't have much with things they could use.

One week from today we will be in Portland. But there are still some important things to be done besides packing. We have an important meeting on Friday about continuing the ministry here in Kaunas. A couple of students(Kristina & Edgaras), love what Agape is doing and are interested in carrying on the work here. They will meet with the national leadership on Friday to work out some details.

** Please Pray **
That we can encourage and hand off the ministry well, and that God will empower these students in and amazing way.

This is Kristina, she has been a huge encouragement to us the last 6 months and a big part of the ministry here.

This is Edgaras a great guy we have gotten to know and appreciate. Quick story about him. A few weeks ago he got me to eat raw pork at a BBQ we were having. He told me that it was safe and all Lithuania's do it, and was serious. He ate a huge chunk while I could only choke down a small piece. Oh well.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

June 7, 2008

What a wonderful day filled with so many fun memories! Matt started off my birthday by making me breakfast and later taking me out to a nice dinner in the evening. But the VERY BEST part of my day was when he gave me my gift:

A book filled with special notes from so many of YOU!

Words can not fully express how much this meant to me! Thank you for your thoughtfulness, encouraging words, and so many fun memories!

Agape LT Staff Retreat

This last week we went to a retreat with the Vilnius staff - a time to get away, reflect, relax, remember and to just enjoy each other. Here are some pics from our time together:
We first met at Gruto Parkas, a park filled with statues that used to be on display all over Lithuania during Communist times. Of course, how fun would something like this be if we couldn't strike a few poses with the statues?!

Game Time

Agape Lithuania

We closed out our last night (Agape Kaunas) with a time of Deaf Kareoke - and EVERYONE participated! :-)

I love our team!