Sunday, February 24, 2013

Smelt Festival - Caitlin from Wheaton

Last Saturday I went to Palanga for the Smelt festival that is held there each year (smelt are little fish). Travis, Ashlee, Anna, Samantha, Jessica and I took the 30 minute bus ride to Palanga on Saturday morning.  It was fairly easy to find the festival in the town because everyone was walking towards it.

There were many tents which had works by various artists. There were toys, jewelry, cookware, and a lot of knitted mittens and socks. There was one artist who had woven baskets, chairs, and hampers. There were even child-sized tables and chairs. What caught my eye the most were baskets that looked like you could put Moses in and send them down the river. Why do we put babies in those giant carriers?  Shoot, just put them in a basket.

Baskets. Photo by Caitlin

On the bridge. Photo by Caitlin

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Makes a Risk Taker? - Dan from Bethel

“I am a risk taker!” That is the motto of Study Abroad Lithuania program.

Recently as I was riding a bus from Klaipeda (where my school is) to Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania) I read a book by my pastor called “Risk is Right.” The book is actually a chapter from another book of his that he has expanded. The book caught my eye for several reasons, studying abroad in general is a risk, my plans to backpack are risky, but most importantly the call to follow Christ will mean a life full of risk. 

Risk is an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury. In coming to Lithuania I am losing a semester of comfortability, familiarity, with friends at Bethel. I have now instead plunged into a sea of uncertainty and relative instability. Ultimately most decisions are made with a false sense of security. Often I told my mom before coming here that I was just as endangered every time I go for a spin. But that doesn’t mean I dive head first into any pool of opportunity.

The act of taking a risk is either foolish or wise. When the danger is not outweighed by the outcome then the risk is usually worth it. If the risk is merely for the self exalting purposes and for selfish pleasure then the risk is not just idiotic, but also sinfully destructive.  If my motivation in being here is founded in some sort of lust for adventure, American heroism, or to build a courage of self-reliance, or to earn God’s good will through spiritual work, than I am on a path to destruction. My drive and motivation to take risks—again, action in which I may endure injury or loss— should be for something worth it, not some whim or boyish dream. My risks should be founded and grounded in Jesus Christ because He is of surpassing worth as the all-providing, all-ruling, all-satisfying God.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

When I find my sufficiency in Christ I can take risks knowing that my feet are firm held by His grace. I can take the risk of going abroad to study. I can take the chance of pursuing a woman. I can share the glories of Christ with a stranger on the bus or with a family member who doesn’t know Christ but knows my frailty and failures. I can apply for a a job. I can take physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual risks when Christ is payoff, my fullness of joy and my pleasure forevermore.

The cost of being a disciple of Jesus means death. Death of pride, death of making my self look better than I really am, and death of a “comfortable life”. When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die. He says, “Take up your cross and follow”. I am risking everything if I am truly following Christ. But really, this is not a risk. I know how the story ends…

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot, missionary and martyr

HERE is the link to the book.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Užgavėnės - festival for pancakes and spring!

In the main square of Klaipėda. Photo by Elizabeth

Užgavėnės is a traditional Lithuanian festival celebrated to mark the end of winter and to welcome spring. It is usually celebrated 6 weeks before Easter and symbolizes the beginning of lent. It is an old tradition that is still cherished today. Nowadays Lithuanians prepare a lot of pancakes and little kids go around their neighbors and ask for pancakes, sweets and pocket money. Usually there is a festival in town's center accompanied with traditional dances.  

This weekend a group of Study Abroad Lithuania students went to town's square to observe and experience this unique tradition. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend trip to Vilnius - Dan from Taylor

Gedimino Prospektas. Photo by Dan

Risk takers. Photo by Dan

Friday, February 8, 2013

Life in Klaipėda - Courtney from APU

Klaipeda. Photo by Vilma
In our exploration trips through Klaipeda we have seen all kinds of people, buildings, and history. I really feel that Europe is the place I want to be. Everything about it is simplified and time seems to go slower. It is not the fast pace lifestyle of America. There is a focus on relationships here like I have never seen before. The bonds between friends have more value than in the states. For what I have seen so far the city is full of peace and promise. There is hope through the restless winter. Everyday is brand new. Maybe it is the snow that reminds me of the clean slates we have in Christ. I understand more and more each day of our opportunity of saving grace and how we can renew our souls in Christ each morning.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Obstacles - Samantha from Eastern

I finished my first week at my internship; it’s not very easy but I really want to do well. I’m working in a school in town and I’m helping to design an afterschool program for the kids. If I was at an English speaking school, this would be super easy but, because of the language barrier, this is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I want to get to know the kids so that I can see what they would like to do but because I can’t talk to them the job is really tough. The teacher that I’m working with is really sweet but she isn’t very sure of her ability to speak English, so that’s another hurdle for me. There were times this past week when I didn’t think I’d be able to do it but by the end of the week, the kids were excited to see me and that makes it worth it. If nothing else, I’m going to be able to make staying after school a little more enjoyable for kids and I’ll pick up a few new words along the way (they love to help me with my Lithuanian!). I know this won’t be a waste even if it’s pretty tiring.