Bold new adventures at age 69 are not very likely – at least bold new adventures not involving medical procedures. Three months ago I was slightly down in the dumps over purposeful living. Sure, I’m retired, but not really tired. Where in the Bible is the chapter on being retired?
Then, out of the clear blue sky, son John lets me know that Lithuanian Christian College International, where he is now teaching, needs an econ professor for the second semester. (His blog is Through the Door, in case you’re interested.) A week or so later a local private school offered me a position IMMEDIATELY due to a quit. Statistically, I believe this is known as a poisson distribution, where nothing happens, and then everything happens at once.
So, what to do? LCC, being a mission school, does not pay its faculty, The local school pays, but not very well. Then there is the small matter of house and dogs to be left behind if we head for Lithuania for five months. Bonnie wrestled mightily with her comfort level at doing this. (Leaving her home while I went was a non-starter). Thanks to neighbors and friends at church, we feel matters will be left in good hands, so decided to take the leap. At least we didn’t have to raise support, as missionaries (including John) usually have to do, because the Social Security checks just keep coming. Thank you taxpayers!
Having made this decision – and wrestling with many beauracratic matters with the very able assistance of the folks at LCC – a number of thoughts intrude themselves. It’s been nearly fourteen years since I’ve set foot inside a college classroom. I guess it’s like riding a bicycle, but I remember my shakiness on taking up bicycling after a lot of years. I’ve taught macro a million times, but International Political Economy is a new one, with much to reflect upon before appearing in front of the first student. New material, however, is as much fun as it is a challenge.
Then there is the slight matter of a totally different culture from rural Michigan. Siena Heights did have its share of international students from time to time, but only one as I recall from Lithuania. None from Russia, or the Ukraine, or Belarus. One from Poland. So my exposure to students from behind what was the Iron Curtain has been limited, to say the least.
John and other faculty members speak highly of the students LCC attracts, but indicate there are serious challenges. They are all relativists to their bone marrow. Nearly a century of official atheism has taken its toll. Jesus said you shall know the truth, and it shall make you free. But we’re talking here of regimes that maintained there is neither Jesus nor truth.
But that is the mission of LCC, after all, to provide a high quality liberal arts education, on a North American model, built on a Christian foundation. It is a very different kind of mission from that of feeding the hungry, curing physical diseases, and digging wells for fresh water in third world poverty. None of these students are in poverty, disease, or dirty water. LCC intends to reach some of the best and brightest for Christ, that they may go back to their countries and make a profound difference as they acquire leadership roles.
I learned to be humble after 20 some years of teaching about how big an impact a teacher can make on a student’s life. Sometimes it is profound. Other times, the majority of the time, if the truth be told, pearls of wisdom easily roll off the duck’s back. Here I will have contact for one semester. It is a challenge I approach with great concern.
Other thoughts come to mind. You might wonder what the picture in the header has to do with anything. Birds sitting on a bit of flotsam would seem to have little to do with Christian liberal arts education in Lithuania. In fact these birds were on the hot sunny beach off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico one week ago when Bonnie took the picture. One week from now we’ll be in Klaipeda, cold, wet Klaipeda. What a world where you can go from Yucatan to Lithuania in less than a day, if you can get the airline schedules right. Not so long ago it would have taken months.
Bonnie and I haven’t lived in an apartment for 35 years or so. We are told it is a very small apartment. No car. No television. No dishwasher. No clothes dryer. (I think of these mundane things – Bonnie.) But thanks to our children, we will have a lap-top. Time to get some reading done, I think, and for Bonnie some writing.
Maybe the creature comforts are a bit less than we’re used to, but serving Christ is never about creature comforts. To manifest faith, it is sometimes necessary to step out of the boat and walk to Him.
Bonnie and I hope, as you read this, you’ll be able to share just a bit with our progress across some occasionally rough water.