I think God has been challenging me on the lessons He has taught me so far this semester. I know it sounds somewhat silly, but it’s like I have a faith final exam along with all of my final academic requirements. The last couple weeks have been very challenging, indeed. They have been good, but difficult. I will attempt to summarize the main points:
100 Days – This past Sunday marked my 100th day away from home. There is now a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions occurring inside my heart and mind. How can the time have gone by this quickly? I have less than 30 days left! Is this real life? How will I pack up all my stuff? What will life be like when I get back home? How can I leave my beautiful little ones at the Baby House? Will I ever see any of them again? Will I ever see my new friends again? What will God do with me next? How can I make sure to continue growing when I get home? Will home be comfortable and familiar like it was when I left, or will everything feel different now? Wow…I was so different when I boarded that plane in Cleveland on January 4th. I am so excited to see my family! I want to show them everything I have learned and share all my stories! Will anyone want to hear all of this? Do the past four months matter to anyone else besides me? I’ve now experienced over 100 days of living intentionally and constantly challenging myself to grow in faith and character…I want to live this way the rest of my life. What does that look like in Bryan, Ohio and Marion, Indiana? God, please give me strength…
Looking at Life Through New Lenses – Alright, here comes a lot of metaphorical speaking. I got new glasses last week (literally). I also spent Friday-Sunday in Estonia and Latvia. Not only did I have new glasses through which to view the world, I also gained a more complete view of life through the eyes of a citizen of the Baltic countries. During our walking tour of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, I stuck up a conversation with our guide, Heli. She is a 23-year-old native Estonian and was an incredible tour guide. During part of the tour, she mentioned that Estonians have a rather morbid sense of humor and typically expect bad things to happen, but they know how to laugh and keep pressing on. While I was talking with her, I said, “So, Estonians aren’t the most optimistic people…” She said, “Hahaha, nope!” I asked her why that was. She said that when you live in a little country on a seacoast, you just learn to expect that everyone is going to want to control you. Estonia’s past has followed a distinct trend: every time it looks like it is safe to say, “Yes, things are going well,” something bad happens. So, Estonians are not very positive people, but they have learned to laugh. This is the important part. Even though I prefer to look on the bright side and hope for good things, none of us can deny that there are times in life when we have to accept a negative reality. In those times, we have to learn to laugh…to see life through Estonian lenses. Laughter helps us make a bright side, and renews our ability to keep looking for the good that is to come. Estonia has experienced an entire past of domination and control. However, they have managed to keep their culture, language, and land. Now, they are celebrating 22 years of independence…the longest amount of time they have ever gone without being invaded by another country.
This isn’t all. Along with my new spectacles and my Estonian view, God has been challenging me to look at my life in new ways. There is so much more to my life that I could ever realize…Before coming to Lithuania, I thought I knew where God wanted me and what I was supposed to do with my life. Now I see so many other possibilities. It is difficult to think that I may have to let go of the things that I thought I was supposed to do. After believing for a while that this was the path He was leading me on, it became my dream for my future. But, I am realizing that God may have had a different idea all along. There are so many ways in which He can use me. I am excited to see which doors He decides to keep open. It’s kind of funny…each stage of my walk with Christ gets harder and harder. He challenges me a little more each day. And yet, I fall more in love with Him in every passing moment, and become increasingly excited about His plan for me. More importantly than seeing life through new glasses or an Estonian perspective, I want to see life through God’s lenses.
Moose Sighting – No joke…I saw a moose today…in real life! I was on the bus, coming back to school from the orphanage, and all of a sudden, this moose nonchalantly meanders across the road right in front of the bus! When we went by, she was only about four feet from my window! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough to take a picture! I am sure that the people sitting behind me probably got a kick out of my reaction. It went something like this: gasp, jaw drops, head swivels to follow moose, giggle, squirm with excitement in seat, attempt to get phone out of purse as quickly as possible, then whisper (not-so-quietly) to self, “Whoa…that was a moose! Awesome!” I was so excited because it was one of my goals for the semester to see a moose. Check!
Baby News – I noticed at the orphanage yesterday that Domantas was gone. The whole time I was there, I wanted to ask where he went, but I did not know if it would be appropriate for me to do that. When he still wasn’t back today, I decided to ask. “Kur yra Domantas?” (Where is Domantas?) The nurse answered, “Ligoninėje.” (In the hospital.) Me, “Nesveikas?” (He’s sick?) Her: “Taip, nesveikas.” I do not have a large enough Lithuanian vocabulary to go any more in depth than this, so I don’t know what kind of sick or how bad he is. I can gather, though, that it is pretty bad. The kids at the orphanage get sick ALL the time, but are usually treated on site. All of the nurses I work with have medical training. Also, there is a quarantine area in the orphanage. So, I know it has to be rather severe for a child to be taken to the hospital. I am going to attempt to find out tomorrow if I can go visit him. Since he doesn’t have parents, I’m sure he has no visitors, and having people come visit can make a big difference in the healing process. I don’t know that they will let me, but I am going to try my best. Please pray for little Dom and that he returns to health very soon!
Fun Lithuanian Fact – We now have more daylight in Klaipėda than what Ohio has during most of the summer. It is 9:15pm as I write this and it is still light outside! The official sunrise and sunset times for today are 14.5 hours apart, but we have over 15 hours of light. It’s a huge contrast to the amount of daylight we had in January!
Okay, I could write a lot more, but this entry is already super long. I will try to be more consistent in my updates for the next three weeks so they don’t have to be so long each time.