Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring semester 2013

We’ve completed our first year at LCC!  We’ve fully settled in this spring semester, which proved much less chaotic and exhausting than the fall (not having a condensed teaching schedule made quite the difference). 

Teaching this semester was very enjoyable.  All my classes went well, but I’ll here mention my Christian Classics course.  We read selections from the writings of Augustine, Athanasius, Calvin, Barth, and many others, discussing the theological contributions of these works and their relevance for today.  The students appreciated reading the ‘classics’ and class discussions were always lively and engaging!  Some days the conversation continued on after class into lunch!

This semester Sara and I have many opportunities to invite students into our homes to eat together and share our lives and faith with them.  We have developed mentoring relationships with several students and look forward to continuing this aspect of our ministry when the students return in the fall.

From music nights to sporting events to panel discussions, the semester was full of campus events.  One highlight was a panel in which I participated: “Disciplines in dialog: philosophical, theological, and psychological perspectives on evil.”  I joined my colleagues Ken Stoltzfus and John Milliken in a stimulating conversation about evil from the Christian perspective.  Students seemed to respond well to the event and it certainly was a great time for us professors!


Another highlight of the semester was graduation—my first as a professor. 




We’re traveling in the States this summer for a few weeks, then back to LCC for the summer for some research time and preparing for fall classes!



I was headed to Latvia on a recruiting trip for LCC and it made sense to bring the family along, too, to take in some of Riga.  Great town!


We saw some interesting churches and other sites.


A rotation of large rooster statues have sat atop Riga Cathedral for many years- this one was on display.


With little ones, we spent a good bit of our time in parks.



And chasing pigeons!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Taking Kate to preschool

Kate has recently started preschool 2 days a week and absolutely loves it.  It is difficult to convey just how exciting it is for her, even now after several weeks when one might expect the newness to have worn off.  The preschool is housed at a local church in the nearby area, so Kate and I get to take the bus there.

First we walk through campus…


Then we walk down a long sidewalk…


After a while Kate will say she wants to get on my shoulders, which has become a regular practice…


Then we wait at our bus stop…


And then get on the bus to school!


Congregational Development Conference at LCC

Last weekend I was one of many speakers at the 4th annual Congregational Development Conference here at LCC.  Clergy and lay leaders from all over Lithuania gathered to worship together and think about various issues confronting the church.

This conference was refreshing for me in many ways, but perhaps most so because of the focus on local church life and practice.  You see, most of my time is spent focusing on questions of the “What should we say/think about…” sort.  What should we say/think about the impeccability and temptation of Christ?  …about free will and God’s sovereignty?  …about baptism?  Such is the mental life of a theologian.  As much as I can, but not as often as I might like, I get to discuss questions of the “Given our theology, what should we do regarding…” sort.  (I do realize that this is a somewhat artificial distinction, in that our theology ought to lead to our practice and our practice always shapes our theology.  But still…)

The focus of the conference was on the latter sort of questions, which was very enjoyable.  Theology is and should always be for the church, and if it’s not, something’s gone wrong.

More details on the conference can be found here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Returning to Klaipėda

A complicated work visa situation meant that we had to leave Lithuania for an extended time.  From just before Thanksgiving until Jan 23rd we were back in the States with family.  I did most all of my grading during a few weeks in Dec (not recommended) and we got to spend a lengthy time over the holidays with family (highly recommended).

On Jan 22nd we departed from O’Hare.  It was the day after MLK Jr. Day, and perhaps that goes some distance in explaining an airplane that was only 15% full!  We had to cram into the last few rows of the plane during takeoff and landing to balance out the plane’s weight distribution.  However, once in flight we could spread out and we basically had the plane to ourselves…


Some makeshift tents helped the girls sleep…


I suppose the advice is to fly SAS the day after MLK! 

Then layovers in Stockholm and Copenhagen.  Stockholm airport had a “fairytale house” play area that was fantastic.




playing at Stockholm airport.mpg_000018885

playing at Stockholm airport.mpg_000072038

We landed in Lithuania without any big problems, other than being very tired.  The girls couldn’t even stay awake for the short trip from the airport to home.



The last three days we have been battling jet lag and only today have we begun making progress.  We’re looking forward to regular sleep schedules and resuming our ministry here at LCC: I start teaching in full-force on Monday!

Friday, November 2, 2012

“Daddy, I want to go to the pool. BIG SLIDE!”

For about a week, this conversation has occurred in our home multiple times daily:

“Daddy, I want to go to the pool.  BIG SLIDE!  (anticipating my already overly-repeated answers) …in two days.  That’s fine.”  After a while I didn’t even have to say anything, the conversation just happened.

So we had some credit card bonus points to spend and needed to get away for a few days over Fall Break.  A Hotel-Spa-Indoor Waterpark in Southern Lithuania called Grand Spa Lietuva did the trick.

It was cold outside, but the grounds were very pretty. 

However, the real interesting bit was the indoor Aqua Park.  They didn’t allow cameras, so here are some images scalped from their website:


The 3 meter wide waterslide was a big hit with Kate (below, random people in image taken from their website).


The children’s pool was fantastic for both girls- Charlotte especially.  We spend several hours each day swimming (below, more random kids in picture from their website).


children pool


It was quite a nice place, and Sara had a pleasant massage.  If you’re ever in the Baltics and are looking for an getaway, this is a great choice!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kate and Charlotte’s first art exhibition

This is art week at LCC, which has proved quite enjoyable.  Last night I joined some very excellent musicians from the student body onstage during the “jam band” event.  Tonight there was an art show featuring work from students, staff, and faculty.  Kate was very excited about seeing her contribution, and Charlotte even managed to have a showing.  (We asked each of the girls what they wanted to title their work; Kate went with a more postmodern-ironic angle and called hers “The Painting”, while Charlotte went the more primal-visceral route and exuberantly called hers “Ma-Da-Daa”.)