Laba diena, (Good day or good afternoon–your Lithuanian lesson for today.)
Probably most of you have noticed the change in pictures on the header of our blog. For several weeks we have featured a swan on a pond in Lithuania rather than the birds on driftwood in the Gulf of Mexico–which seems rather more appropriate. This swan is one of two who reside, sporadically, on the pond in front of our dorm and directly in front of John and Rachel’s apartment. I am delighted to have them there and have named them Lina and Jonas after the two Lithuanian children in the book we recommended to you recently. (Has anyone read it yet?) Perhaps they already have official names–they are banded so are officially recognized by someone. As it began to get colder here last week, the pond began to freeze and soon Lina and Jonas had only a small area of water to paddle around in. For two days they sat in that one little spot and I began to worry about them. Will they have enough to eat? Can they fly away if they don’t have enough water to get the “running” start they need to take off? They looked very sad. I took them some bread and tried with some success to throw it far enough that they could reach it. They seemed grateful–maybe. Finally, the 3rd day, I called someone at the university to see if someone Lithuanian might call someone else who would know what to do. That done, Jonas and Lina took off to wherever it is they go leaving me feeling pretty silly. I should have known that God would have anticipated that situation.
While out feeding the swans, I encountered a young man walking his dog and we struck up a conversation of sorts. I say this because Dimitri is Russian and his English, while good, is slow and was a bit hard for me to understand. I did find that his dog is named Vladimir after Putin, and he has lived here in Lithuania all his life. He wanted to know if America is free and then, whether it is true that only 27% of Americans have passports. I did not know the answer to that but I understood that he was questioning whether, if Americans are really free, why do so few have passports. In Russia, I understand it is difficult to get a passport so he seemed to be doubting that we are really so free as we think.
Yesterday we entertained our first dinner guests other than John, Rachel, and children. We have been invited out to two homes for dinner and for one restaurant meal and it was time to begin to return serve, so to speak. The very first week we were here, this missionary couple of several years, Greg and Sharon Brubaker (with 2 little boys, David and Eric) invited us to their apartment for dinner–a nice 3 bedroom apartment (but up 3 long flights of steps–no elevator). I wish I could take photos of some of the different homes but it is pretty awkward to bring a camera to dinner and ask to take photos of someone’s home. I am including a photo of our coffee table set for dinner–very cozy, right? The boys sat at the counter and it worked out o.k. though it is certainly not convenient. I had to wash utensils between courses as we have just a few of everything,
Sunday, we joined the children and grandchildren at their church again This meant another long walk to the bus stop and a long,cold wait, this time in snow and wind. Rachel has just introduced the idea of a nursery for the young children at the church. She has been working the last couple of weeks on cleaning and painting the room and collecting and washing toys. It looked very nice. Believe it or not, the concept of a nursery is new here and no parents actually leave their children yet (just 2 Sundays into the endeavor) but they have a nice place to sit with them. The next step is to get parents to take turns watching the nursery while the other parents worship. This time, the translation equipment actually worked so we were able to understand the sermon. After church, they served a meal–sausages, noodles, and cabbage–which provided a nice time of fellowship.
Sunday evening it began to snow again so we decided it was a perfect time to go downtown to the International Christian Fellowship which we had visited once before–the service is actually in English! We thought Old Town would look pretty in the snow and we were not disappointed.
Tonight is the last in the long series of lectures from Calvin College and the speaker will be N.T. Wright, a former Bishop of Durham. The title of his talk will be “How God Became King: Why We’ve All Misunderstood the Gospels”. It should be very interesting and we’re looking forward to it.
Here is yet another photo before I sign off–Noah and Chayah came to Grandma’s for lunch today and discovered these devices that fit over your shoes to give you traction when walking on ice. We have not used them yet but John and Rachel decided we should have them lest we slip and break something. N & C decided they worked very well as crowns so I dubbed them the king and queen of Klaipeda.