Thursday, March 10, 2011

catching up!

David's new hat :)

Well there is no easy way to do this getting more than 2 months behind! So, a summary and some pictures to fill in details will have to do.

We started the year with a week of Christmas break, the boys still having time off of school and for the most part we did too, until Friday when our semester began at LCC.

At LCC it was a time of change for us since the president of LCC was not returning and it was not explained very much why not- just that the board and he came to an agreement due to diverging views. And so the process of adjusting to new realities, accepting new people which is always a reality each semester at LCC, and gearing up for the semester and a Christian workers conference sharon was directing at LCC in February.

Here David got stuck in a hole and Gregg had to go and pull him out (back of our apartment)
We continued to have cold enough weather that the blanket of snow remained until the end of January, though the relief was not enough to melt it all then either. Only now do we see quite a lot of ground among the piles of snow that remain from clearing snow on roads and sidewalks.

One notable day- Saturday January 10, Gregg was away at a pastors' retreat that weekend and after the boys and I had been at LCC for "football" practice (soccer for Americans) which one of the LCC students volunteered to coach, we came home by bus and during the remaining walk home we encountered a man on the icy snowy ground. It was hard to know what was going on with him. He seemed inebriated- which is not exactly uncommon here. Yet, he claimed he was not and he did not smell of it. I helped him up and then after we went our way he fell again. And then when I suggested calling the police or ambulance, since I did not have a car, he adamantly refused. And he got up. Unfortunately later we saw him fall again and another person with a car was able to stop and help him.

But the notable thing was really at lunch following that when Erik all of a sudden said, I wish God would make me good. We had talked about this before in evening bible story time, that it is God living in us that helps us to do good things. And he knew something of inviting Jesus to live in your heart, though we were not suggesting he do that just yet, so that he could understand more. But when I explained at this lunch time that when he was ready later to ask Jesus to live in his heart and to forgive him for the bad things he does, that was not good enough. Do it now! he demanded. So, I prayed for him to repeat out loud, rather a long prayer to make sure he was serious. And he had no trouble repeating.

I wondered afterward if that fact that we stopped and helped the man connected in some way for him. He has criticized us other times if we do not help beggars sitting by the stores or other places- citing the good samaritan story which he figures we don't quite believe if we don't help.

At any rate, though Erik was a little doubtful that the prayer really did something at the time since he did not feel differently, he was still eager to let dad know when he returned Saturday evening what he had prayed. It really did mean something to him!

And it really seems he is changing. Now, I am not sure I have been close enough to kids that really experienced significant change from accepting Jesus like this. Kids I have known are average kids with their own childishness. And it is great that they accept Jesus, and they will have a hopeful future and likely avoid some of the pitfalls that result from lack of faith later. But in this case, a boy who was regularly struggling with desires to do bad things, who was regularly afraid at night, and who regularly resisted our guidance, is now generally pleasant, sleeping in his own bed regularly, and experiencing just the normal childishness and struggles for independence that kids have. Thank you Lord!

And then it was Birthday time- Erik turned 7 on January 27

The second annual Congregational Development Conference took place at LCC on Feb. 25-26. It brought together active believers from various denominations and from across Lithuania. I consulted Lithuanian pastors and priests for input on the program, invited speakers, coordinated publicity, registration, and conference details. So when conference time came I was glad to hand of the moderating to one of the pastors we know from Vilnius Free Christian Church, Arturas Rulinakas. There were about 75 participants with a small percentage of them from LCC as well. The conference helps us to better understand the context we are working in and it gives the Lithuanian leaders and Christian organizations representatives a unique opportunity for networking across denominations.

Another activity that has been and increased part of my schedule this semester is the Community Bible Studies International study on Joshua, Judges and Ruth that i help to lead with 2 other women. The study is in English, but gradually the studies and training materials are being translated to Lithuanian through the efforts of the country leader Marieta Smith. My experience with the studies over the last 2 years and my connections in the Lithuanian church communities are part of the process of getting the word out about this really helpful resource. It is designed for training lay leaders to lead bible studies, a rather novel idea in Lithuania so far.