September Update

Greetings from Klaipėda! Here’s what’s been happening…

Decisions and Transitions

In our last update, we shared the difficulties of waiting on campus for our new off-campus apartment to be available, as well as the uncertainties surrounding the kids’ schooling and our search for a vehicle.

We moved into our new apartment on August 27, concluding a long relocation process that began when we moved out of our home in Hatfield on June 21! We enjoy our new home very much; there is plenty of space, and all the necessary furniture. Our landlords, Aistė and Tadas, are graduates of LCC, and Aistė has now worked at LCC for many years in various capacities. They live close and are very helpful and attentive, working on their evenings and weekends to improve the place for us. This past week, Tadas was here for three hours, past midnight, working on a plumbing issue–even climbing down into the sewer to get things straightened out.

Here is a video tour of our new place.

Our car is a 2011 Ford S-Max from Denmark, with five seats and plenty of trunk space. Here again, there is no way we could have achieved this goal without a great deal of help. One Lithuanian friend put us in touch with this fellow who imports used cars, and went with Benj to translate as he test-drove the car and got it inspected. When we faced a cash-flow issue (only cash accepted for car purchase), expat colleagues withdrew the daily maximum from ATMs and lent us the money. Finally, because we cannot register the car until our visas are approved, another friend registered the car for us and will then “sell” it to us in October.

Getting the items we need to establish our home is much easier now that we have a car (can’t drag home a shoe rack on the bus!). It sure makes getting to school on rainy mornings a more pleasant experience. Daniel is disappointed that we are not riding buses as often, so we still try to leave time occasionally for bus adventures…

We were able to settle on a school that seems like a good fit so far. It is an adjustment for us all, having been homeschoolers over the last few years. Daniel is in the first grade and Elizabeth in a preschool class. Although the work is very easy for him, Daniel enjoys attending and seems quite comfortable with his classmates and teachers in spite of the language difference. There are several English-speaking staff members and students to help him when he needs it. He has classes such as gym, dance, music, math and science, along with English and Lithuanian, which involves a lot of handwriting. Elizabeth has struggled a little adjusting to the schedule of school everyday after being home with Mom, but she enjoys the activities more each day. Both kids eat a Lithuanian lunch at school, but are still finished by 1:15pm.

Daniel is also trying soccer in the evenings, and he runs with Corrie regularly. Corrie and Daniel ran a 5k at LCC’s community day, and Benj played “bubble soccer” (here’s a video of what we mean, though it’s not a video of Benj).

New Semester at LCC

We are just starting Week 4 of the semester. I (Benj) am still figuring out my new responsibilities as director of the CFHF, but things are settling into a bit of a rhythm. We now have a page on the website (lcc.lt/research) and some great speakers coming this semester. But the real work will be facilitating connections between LCC faculty and outside partners who can conduct research projects that contribute to the mission of the university–and working to obtain funding for those projects. LCC is a small university, but we seem to have a niche working on topics related to migration, mobility, refugees/IDPs, and trauma/therapy, from a Christian worldview. These are all significant topics for Europe right now as refugees and immigrants continue to arrive and settle, as the UK prepares to exit the EU, and as anti-immigration political parties gain traction in many European parliaments.

We sense a vibrant spiritual life on campus this year. The chaplains lead a very active prayer ministry, and many students and faculty are leading Bible studies on the book of Ephesians. Corrie keeps busy while the kids are in school by taking a Lithuanian language class, running errands, and enjoying some extended time to read, especially the Bible. She has joined a women’s Bible study on Thursday evenings with other LCC faculty and staff.

Besides the course on Isaiah, I am supervising a senior thesis for a Theology major and a senior project for a Theology minor; both are writing on very interesting biblical topics. A very interesting experience so far has been leading a cohort of sixteen freshmen and PRIME (pre-university English program) students in First-Year Student seminar (Corrie and Benj together, with a student leader). The last two weeks, the students presented for 5-7 minutes with PPT on “Three Events that Shaped My Life.” The students hail from Australia, Kazakhstan, Albania, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, and Iraq. We were both surprised and touched at how vulnerable the students made themselves in sharing about their lives. The most heart-wrenching moment was when a PRIME student from Iraq presented her most significant event: her village was attacked by ISIS in August 2014. You could have heard a pin drop in the room. We are looking forward to getting to know these dear young people over the semester (and beyond).

Prayer

– Pray that the kids would learn Lithuanian and feel comfortable in school.
– Pray that Benj would continue to grow into his role with the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing.
– Pray for meaningful relationships with students, and with other faculty and staff members.
– Pray that Corrie would figure out God’s specific plan for this period of life. Pray that, among other things, she would experience a sweet time of spiritual refreshment after some pretty crazy years.

Financial Support

We are thankful to have raised all of our regular salary for the first two years of our ministry. Please also consider making a one-time donation toward the other needs below. For more information on how to support our ministry, click here, or contact me directly.

Some companies (including Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon Mobil, and others) match contributions made by employees or retirees to qualifying charitable foundations. If you would like your company to match your contribution to the LCC International Fund on our behalf, please contact us.

Regular Support Commitments Received: $17,576/year (100%)
Non-LCC Teaching and Preaching Travel (Including Ukraine course) Received: $1580 (100%)
Outfitting Fund (one-time expenses) Goal: $4,368
Received: $3,282 (75%)

Our new contact information is available here.

We appreciate those of you who are praying for our family through this time of transition and tumult. God continues to be faithful.

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About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, living and learning in Eastern Europe…an Old Testament professor and former liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth…eldest sibling to three, brother-in-law to Josh and Hannah…uncle to Marshall.
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