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Sunday, June 20, 2010

God Is In Control

What is self reliance?
We are taught from an early age that we must learn to do everything for
ourselves. We must become independent. We must not rely on

We are alone and on our own??

Wow this is some heavy lifting for the young- for anyone at
any age. I can recall putting this on
many applications and it was the headline on my resume for years:




However, I must admit now that none of these descriptions
fit me and they were not true. In fact,none of these describe any of us if we were to look deep into our inner self. There some of us may find a spirit
and a soul. This is our essence of life. It is the force which keeps each of us alive and kicking.

For those who believe -- really believe and have a personal
relationship with God He is the only Being who is a Self Starter and fully
Independent. Before there was He Was and
is to come- Jesus Christ. Jesus Spoke everything we see know and feel into
existence. Nothing that is now ever was until He spoke it into existence.

I will restate what I tell everyone I know as I fulfill
God's Great Commission: We are born into this world with no pockets, no credit cards and no worldly possessions. We leave the planet the same way. God does this so "None can boast” Each us must Honor His Grace and give all Glory to Him. For it is by His grace that we have anything. And anyone who does have some temporary
worldly possessions really does not have them;
You did not bring it here; you cannot take it with you.

Therefore, everything you have or will ever have is simply
"Borrowed" from God. He graces
some more than others.

Then there are those who have material goods via ill gotten
means. Mostly we see these people making
“Idols” of the things they own. These
“Things” become their God. Thus the Evil
one supplies too but he does at a great price.

Usually the cost is your soul, if you cannot make back into
the Light of Jesus. Your reward for these false idols of material comforts on earth is eternal separation from our Creator- God Almighty!

The Devil provides these things to people to take their worship from the Lord Jesus; He is substituting the desire we should all have to worship the Savior and replacing it with the worship of material goods.
Worshiping Jesus and gaining salvation is for all times. Worshiping material goods lasts only in this life time, and you cannot take these things with you.

We must all guard against having or possessing "material goods or money lest they become the: false Idols" we worship as we forget that anything and everything is
created by God via the Savior Jesus Christ.
In the end, as it is revealed in Revelation, Every knee shall bend and
every tongue shall acknowledge Christ Jesus.

No one is an Independent Self Starter. No one can say "I earned it and it is

All you possess is merely borrowed for your short time here
on earth. So do not boast of it or Lord your possessions or status on earth over others

Next time you are in the shower, look down and see if you
are a special being who was born with pockets full of money attached to your
thighs. Please respond ASAP to my Blog

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Return to Work In Kaunas

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Returned to Kaunas Saturday.  All students were out for weekend and end of Spring break.
Today I found out we lost Gedies.  He will not be returning and he will remain in Vilnius.
We all pray that he keeps up with his Bible studies and continues in the Student Survival Kit.

However, God is always throwing a curve because this afternoon I met and distributed books to other students.  One, Purlita, must work outside the country like many Lithuanians.  She is a part time student who is doing a work study in Great Britain.  She did take a book and confirmed her belief in God, but she could not tell me much about or relate to this Jesus Guy.

Three boys, Valdamas, Myazes and Alexander received the Student Survival Kit Christian student study guide.  I was very happy they responded so well.  Of the three Valdemas spoke English the best, so he acted as the interpreter for me where the others could not understand.

Two other girls also joined us in the conversation:  Margureta and Lena.  Of these two.
Margureta was the doubting Thomas.

“What are you doing here anyway?” She asked in a skeptical and unbelieving way.
“I am here to give you something free.  Would you like that?” I said.
That depends on what it is” said Margureta, and then she said something to her two friends in Lithuanian I did not quite understand.
Yet I could tell from the laughter of the other girls it was probably something not nice about me.

“No this is a free gift.  No strings attached” I said quickly;

“You do not have to pay me are or do anything at all.”
They all were wondering what it was and why some old American guy was giving something away.
I reached in my bag for some hats.
As it turns out, these girls were  were very polite, but the hats were not their style.
“Ok, take one for your boyfriend then.”  They all laughed at that suggestion.
“What about one for your brothers?”  They shook their heads.
Then I have another gift for you.  Can you read English?” I asked.

“Sure Sure!” they replied proudly. They looked through the books for another five minutes and we discussed what they knew about God and their relationship with the lord.
They were all Catholics and they believed in God and Maria they told me.  It was a good chance to ask more questions about their personal relationship.  Also I told them I would be back and that I was on campus all the time if they had any questions.

I returned to my flat an hour later to pray that a least one of them would be there at the appointed time to hear more about the concept of a personal relationship with Christ.  I had hopes that some would come to our meeting this week.  My time was growing short here and I felt an even greater urgency to make a permanent mark on these students.
They are in a kind of gray zone.  They have had an exposure to God through the Catholic Church, but no real follow up in knowing Christ as a personal Savior.  Most notably they have no idea of what is in the Bible and they almost don’t believe it when the Word is read to them.  They seem so skeptical as if the words I am reading from Matthew or Psalms or I Corinthians or I John are things I am making up.
Today I have made up my mind to purchase a Bible written in Lithuanian.  I hope that convinces them this word is real.  If they can read it in their own language perhaps I may help.

Ekaterinburg, Aspect, and the Homeless

Easter Sunday started for me with the daily prayer walk. I was the only one who showed that day. Others were mostly sleeping after the Midnight mass celebration of Easter at the local Orthodox Cathedral. It was a moving service filled with Russian Tradition, icons and ceremony such as the singing, Chanting, bell ringing and candle light worship. The highlight of which was the procession of all present around the cathedral holding a lit candle which had started is
with a light from the Orthodox High Priest and continued in a chain reaction effect in the crown culminating in a Hugh candle light service
We left English Camp after re-loading all the equipment and materials used in the various productions. There were two truck loads of some very heavy equipment.

He group loaded up on a large tour type bus with the folks from Kentucky and a few of the local people who live in Moscow year round. Most were volunteers, one was the wife of the project director for Aventura . It took us about an hour and 30 minutes to reach the north east metro terminal that would take all but us folks from Florida back to their hotels of destination places.
Our group remained on the bus to the Gama Hotel across from the famous Moscow outdoor market. There we dropped off the extra bags we could not take to Ekatrinburg and the took the Orange Line Metro from Rizhskaya to the Brown Prospekt Mira station then the green to Voikovskaya near where I stayed with my Host Family for a week.

Upon arrival we went to the Metropolis mall one block away. Here the team ate mostly American food while I had an ice tea and headed for the Internet café[ 50 rubles for 30 minutes] with very slow speeds.

After the allotted time we went back to the same Metro]green] and rode it to the end of the line Rechnoi Vozkal and there caught the155 local bus to terminal D at Sheramatova airport.

We had arrived at the airport around 11 30 Pm and our flight left at 1 05 AM.
It took us most of the time with passports, checking a few bags and the gruesome Security inspection. We boarded a nice modern Aeroflot 326 airbus to Ekarinsburg, Arrival was on time two hours later, though due to Russia having 11 time zones and they had just lost 2 that very week, we arrived in Ekatrinsburg at 5 00 AM Monday morning.

We were greeted by Igor and Ivan with a large van and Igor’s own car.
Another hour of driving and we finally arrived in the Shelter.
Needless to say we all were looking for a bed. We had tea and cakes and hit the bed.

Around 11 15 AM me Joe and Andrew the other two males of the group were roused up for “Brunch” Soon after Addie laid out or plans for the day.

Addie, Christie, Chantel and Gabby got in the van with Igor and Natashia and headed for the streets. The source of the members in the Shelter, and the location of many, many other homeless people.

The people who receive food and some clothing live under ground in the central hot water heat duct system. For years the Soviets have maintained a system where they build large central heated water systems that serves a large number of buildings in a specific area. It is efficient in that there is only one source of heat for the buildings and it eliminates duplication of multiple heating systems for each building. The down side is that there is one central control for the heating of, say a thousand flats, and there is no individual control for ones particular flat.
As far as the people we are helping, they find ways to “break Into” these duct systems and the are able to stay out of the extreme cold. However, these are dangerous places where many bad people hang out, so it is never safe to live there. Another point is that it is very unsanitary. Most of the people we saw were sniffing glue and other strong solvents like lacquor and Urethane to get high. On our arrival so many of these people emerged from out of thin air knowing that the mission was there to provide food and clothing. Within minutes after arrival we were surrounded by young boys and some older men, two younger women and on this day two Gypsy women who were the mothers of about 5 of the boys.

I brought some baseball hats that were donated by my wonderful Selah Bible Study Group. The kids were so excited that they were getting the hats and food. Look at the faces here and it is heartbreaking to know that this may be the first time they have smiled in a long time. At first it is depressing to see the conditions they live in, then you feel you are really making some small difference in the changing the hopelessness of their lives. They ate up the soup we provided and devoured the bread. This is one of the best meals they probably get all week. Please Praise God for the tireless efforts of the volunteers who do this week in and week out. We asked Igor and his wife how they were able to do this and see the same people over and over and see that their lives of many are not do not seem to be making a permanent change. They told us that if they can help even a few survive and have the Hope of God that He will improve the life of just one then they have fulfilled their mission. I have never seen such an unselfish love for others as I have seen at this mission. And it is true that some do come to the shelter and their lives do change, So there is always Hope and the Love of God that this work is making  a difference.

After we left we visited three other places where many people shared a small room in a flat where there was a common cooking area for three other flats along with a common bathroom. The conditions were deplorable, but at least they were inside a building. However, they still were faced with living in conditions where many of the other people [often as many as 20-30] were also drug addicts and street girls and undocumented folks.

On our last stop we met a girl who had been pregnant several times, and Addie pointed out that she was pregnant again. Another girl there was all white and wane and had cut off her hair in a very jagged style. Addie showed a photo of the same girl a year earlier and we could hardly recognize as the same person. Life on the streets is difficult and it wears on you. [please see for photos by Addie]
Many of these people are killed and there is no record of them. So it is also the mission of the Shelter to help document these people so they exist within the legal system. Think about it, if you had no birth certificate or address or other form of identification would you exist in America. No! Well the system is worse here, and the government has no desire to document these people for to do so would require that they face pressure to help them or give them some sort of government funding. So these people are not just homeless they are nameless and in the eyes of their society they don’t even exist. If it were not for the efforts of our mission they would remain hopeless and helpless. So think of this next time you are asked to support the efforts of Mission Possible.
This girls girlfriend had cut marks all up and down her arm. Conditions of the people and places were so bad I had never seen anything like it. Again I thought of Praises and Glory to the people from the MP shelter who do visit these people at least twice a week and give their time and Love to care for them.

The next day we drove the 130 mile trip o the shelter in Aspect. This is a place where mothers are given shelter and training and where they can come with their babies. All of them face some sort of addiction to drugs or alcohol. The facility is very clean and has a Godly set of rules for the addict mothers. Volunteers help tech them  to properly care for the babies. All of these children were adorable and they were reaching out for us. It made me cry to see them.
The program is yet another testimony to the wonderfulness of God’s work in this area of the world. People come from all over Russia to be here because it is a model Shelter and very well run. Physicians volunteer to come in and check the babies and mothers health. There is a staff psychologist who evaluates the women and recommends treatment for their addictions. When a mother comes in she is not allowed off site for at least the first two months lest she fall prey to the temptation of drugs and Alcohol. Again, the Praise in my heart was for the unselfish giving of the staff who work tirelessly to help out the mothers and children. Just look into the faces of these children and you can see God at work in their eyes. The hope here for me was that these children have bee saved from a life of living in an underground duct bank filled with the evils of drugs, alcohol and sexual abuse. Worse would be the possibility of an early death.

We loaded up the van and headed back to Eketrinsburg to a another church function. This time it was to visit the Tuesday night service held by the Church of the Living God. The service is held in a rented movie theater. This church gathers up homeless boys and girls in the neighborhood and provides them with a service and a small meal. Our mission here was to entertain the children. I am so proud of the talent and efforts of the members of First Baptist. They gave a wonderful performance of song, Dance and a skit with a great moral about keeping away from temptations. Sorry, I can’t sing or dance. I could only give moral support and interact with the children.

They were all thrilled with the performance and all asked a lot of questions about where we live; do we have cars; do we make a lot of money; is there really a lot of shooting in the streets; do we know Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone? They were non stop with such questions.
They especially liked the young ladies in our group and wanted to get their email address. Again, look at the faces of these boys. They live in the streets and have to fend for themselves. They have no home or parents. Yet to see a smile on their faces to me is a miracle. Just one smile from destitute kids like these made the whole trip worthwhile.


Easter 2010

I gave up a lifetime Lord
Seeking only self reward. 
I have wasted Years
Living them in tears
While you were seeking me!

            And who am I...
            That you reach out and try
            To save me from my sins?

Now my heart has opened up
To your Loving Touch!
And I can see the beauty of Your Love

You've paid the price for me
So I could finally see
The wisdom of your Love!

I gave up a lifetime, Lord,
Seeking for myself alone...
Ignoring all Your signs toward Home.

You are ever Faithful to me
You sought me when I hid...
You the God of the Universe!!

How is it You Will do this for us?
Why do we ignore You so?
Why don't we listen?

You are in our hearts at birth
We have only to look within,
And listen to Your Word
To overcome our sin.

For You are Great...
You are Kind...
You Give Life
You heal the blind!

What more could we ask for?
You Have saved us from the FINAL WAR.
And gave us Life Eternal Lord!

So though my life was wasted on me.
You finally set me free...
To see the You are King and Majesty.

Thank You God for saving me.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Eve the Bunny and Egg Hunt

Russian_English Camp is going quite well.   Last night we enjoyed a wonderful prayer rally and many Russian students attended.
Games and activities are fun filled but very hectic.  The leadership here is spectacular.  Each of them, Greg, Kyle John, Donna, Addie , Ginny and the Russian volunteers from local churches and organizations have planned out an intense and yet entertaining schedule for these young people.  I am also amazed at the talent shown here in the stage productions and music.  The most amazing thing is that it all happens so fast, and the creativiy of the people making it happen is unbelieveable.

The skits are wonderfully funny but with a message for the students.

It is so amazing how they create all the music and videos and mix it with current activities of the day.  I have a difficult time just doing this blog and it pales in comparison to the works I see here every day.   God has truly blessed this effort with some of His finest people.  I am very proud to be even a small part of His work.

Monday, March 15, 2010

God Sightings Comments

Hi fellow followers.  I like this format [God Sightings Daily Web Post] and believe it gives a great daily regiment for reading God's word.
I find the comments from Pastor Larry very encouraging and I always read them right after the message.  The format is good for me and better than having a paper book I could and have misplaced last year.  I am not an i-Pod user, so [sorry Josh] my thumbs are too big and the print too small for that format.  My group here  has seen the site and they like it.  I am trying to get one of them to sign up and see if it works the same way here,  It should.  I might add too that I find comments from fellow followers very interesting and often they stimulate new ideas about the reading I had not thought of before.
This is one of the best sights for organization and navigation.  Though sometimes it seems a little slow. :))
Your Brother in Christ
Baltic-Russian Mission

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Binging His Message Home

Sunday I had a wonderful opportunity to visit a local family and share the message of Jesus.
Vytautas, a student here in Kaunas lives with his mother Loreta and his grandmother Birute in a
nice flat outside Kaunas proper.  This is in the Smiliai district  upland from the city to the WNW.

Upon arrival  I could smell a delicious aroma from the kitchen.  Turkey with delicious mushroom sauce;
mash potaotes, peas,and  cabbage.  We talked a few minutes; made introductions and had some wine.
I brought flowers for the ladys since it was Woman's Day in Lithuania.  A day to celebrate all women
Moms wives, sisters, girlfriends--all women.  They do not have an offcial Mother's Day.  Woman's Day
is a legacy holiday from the Soviet era.

Birute is a very interesting and well educated woman.  She was genuinely interested in my perspective
on Lithuania as an American.  She was candid in teling me that Lithuanians were disappointed with the way America treated them after WWII.  I was familiar with the history, and responded by telling her that things would have been quite different had the US given General Patton his way and let him march into Moscow.
She responded with the lament that their small country suffered under the USSR for 50 years because of US Policy.
I did relay what I knew of the Tasmanian connection and the US Australia effort to provide Lithuanian Jews Austalian passports and help move them to Tasmania.  This effort resulted in saving thousands of Jews dstined for the camps as the Germans fled the Russian counter attack with the help of fresh arms from the US.  She was not aware of this fact.

I wanted to get off the politics and government issues and speak of the Bible.  Biute is a dvoute Roman Catholic [RC].  I told her I was raised a RC and practiced until I was about 13-14 when I started to question the lack of bible study in the church.  I even went to RC school up to High School and we rarely read scripture except or the little bits that were in the Catechism.  She was surprised and said she thought I was a Baptist all my life.  I told her I have always been a Christian.

I began telling the family about my mission.  I spoke of the Love for God  and the close personal relationship we each can experience by speaking with God.  Birute said she talks to God, and that she talks to Maria.
I said that is admirable and that I did not want to offend, but that talking to Maria is not talking to God.  She said she understood, but that she felt more comfortable speaking to Maria because she is a woman and Maia understands women's issues.  Another reason is that she can see Maria in the photos and religious Icons of Maria around her home.  She cannot see God.  I pointed to a painting of bottles of wine hanging over the kitchen table.  These  bottles of wine look very real- taip [yes]?  However, you can't take one from the painting and open it and drink it.  But when you have Jesus in your heart ,as your daughter Loreta has described to me, then you have a real live experience of God.

She smiled, and said she had never thought of it that way.  She then said I had given her a lot to think about.  I asked Vytautas [pictured to the left with his mother, Loreta] if he had been thinking of this in his studies.  He is  an exceptional student and he knew his English well,  he could even understand my American,  Many Lithuanians and Russians tell me they have a hard time in America because we don't speak clearly and we "mush" words together.  Whereas in Great Britain they speak the English that is taught in school here.
I told him if he would like to learn more I was getting some study guides for Psalms, and we would be meeting with other students at my flat near Akropolis on Wednesday night.  Vytautas is interested in learning more, but he could not commit to a Bible Study meeting at that time because he works to help support his family and he is trying to make money on line.  So for about another 20 minutes I shared my experience on Hub Pages and Ad Sense.  He was very interested in this and we will talk more when I get back from Russia.

The family was disappointed that the pod cast did not work.  I had bookmarked some Worship music, and Loreta who is a music teacher played some of her favorites.  Birute wanted to know if the "Priest" was going to talk.  I tried to explain about the failed pod cast.  I think she finally understood.  We sat and enjoyed the music for an hour or more,  I tried to connect to the FBC server after each song, but to no avail.  We all agreed to try again next Sunday.  They asked if it was normal for such good music to be played in church.  I told them we played this kind of music every Sunday, and I think Birute was concerned that it was not solume enough for God.  And they asked about clapping and lifting up arms and  hands and looking like people were in a trance.  I told them that most of the songs were right from the Bible.  Like Psalm 50 and that in the Bible it tells us to lift up our hands and Praise God.  I further explained that Sunday was a Day of Praise to God for all He has given us.  It is like people get excited when you give them a present, and they thank you and hug you.  We, as Baptists, celebrate our joy to God each Sunday and give daily thanks for the Love and Life we receive because of the  sacrafice of Jesus. 
We talked on until 10 PM and had a great fellowship.  I related the story of  one neighbor ignoring his neighbor until he wanted to borrow a car.  This message was very clear to each one there.  They strongly responded to the question,"  If you were to die today and came before God how would you answer if He asked 'Why should I let you into my Heaven? Did you acknowledge me when you were on earth?" We each learned something good from each other. We each came away thankful for what we had just shared.  I thought of the passage in John 10:10 where Jesus said. " ...I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full."  I felt in my heart that this was Life to the Full in sharing His Word.

By the time we left it was about -7 and as we pulled out of the parking lot I heard the tires pop as they broke free from where they had become frozen to the surface...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You or God Who is Really In Control Here?

God most assuredly comes to many of us in times of critical need. I was an Air Traffic Controller for 10 years, and one of our monthly assignments was to listen to the transcripts and read the reports from NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board].
These were always the raw, unedited tapes of the cockpit and/or final pilot to controller conversations; not what is released to the public.
What always struck me most were the painful pleas and calls for mercy and the last minute cries for help from God. However, my general experience with both pilots and controllers was that were a group who felt most in control of their lives. Many did not seem to need God. Many I knew were not practicing Christians. I was guilty of the same lack of faith at that time in my life. I had been trained to rely on my knowledge and experience to get me out of any situation. I was an invincible pilot and controller. In short, an egomaniac that provided all the air under my wings that I needed.

Yet month after month I listened to these audio transcripts, an heard “cool”,” tough” “self-motivated”,” self actuated” people cry and plead for mercy from God. These were from what I could tell, people doing things their own way. Many of us are like that, our society teaches us to be independent, self motivated, and the makers of our own destiny. It is what we put on resumes if we want a strong leadership position. It made me start to wonder if there was something about God that people instinctively knew deep inside; or were driven to in time of great crisis. What could be a worse crisis as when you are spinning out of control and the ground is coming at you and you suddenly have no way to stop it.

I have two main impressions of those many tapes I listened to over the years:
One-- as Pastor Larry Thompson says , in times of deep trouble we seek first GOD. At the last minute we give in and say my life is no longer in my hands, I will ask God. Perhaps those folks are remembering a time from childhood where they sang a Gospel song; or a mother or Father or Sunday School teacher shared the power of God with them. I don’t know. Personally, I believe God instills His Spirit in the hearts of all and it is up to us to act on His desire to save each of us to be with Him for eternity. We have but to say a few words: Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.”
John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except
through me.”

Two-- knowing the end is at hand we reach out to express the love that perhaps we could not fully express when we “Knew” We were in control. I have come to learn late in life that Love is so very important and the relationship of Love is linked with our Love for God. Matt 22:36- “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law. 37 Jesus replied,” Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 this is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it:” Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law of the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Further, I Corinthians, “Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.”
I once listened as a Lear Jet captain fell from the sky unable to control his plane tumbling uncontrollably nose over tail above the Gulf of Mexico” Please, please God don’t let me go this way. Tell my Mom I love her and …..” end of tape.
Please don’t let your tape end this way. Acknowledge God now, and show the Love you feel deep in your heart to everyone you encounter, especially those in your close relationship circle, wife, children parents family members. Build Love relationships; not walls of Isolation.

Forget What you Got -Seek only what you can keep

Amen to understanding that everything we think we "own" here on earth is just a temporary loan from God our maker and Provider of ALL things. As I entered my Mission here in the Baltic, and prepare for the Russian mission I received word that my old 1996 Ford Ranger had been towed off. I liked that old truck - bad transmission and all. But every morning I would get in it and it started up. I would then say "Thank You God for giving me one more driving Day,"

I am not worried at all because many times in my life God has provided where there seemed to be no hope of provision. Nothing we do can help. We must believe that, as Jesus Promised,in John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." I firmly believe these words, so I cannot feel anguish over an old truck. I read Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always [i.e. in good and bad times]..6:" Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petirion, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God, which trncends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ jesus."

And I always share the following with my students, ver 8:"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things.9 Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me---put into practice. [sic- for it comes not from me but the Holy Spirit] And the God of Peace will be with you."

We come into this world naked and with nothing in our pockets-- no pockets. We leave behind all God has allowed us to use while here.

Solomon had more than any person could want on earth, but he declared it all to be meaningless- temporal.

Ecclesiastes 2

24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Therefore, everything comes from God, but nothing is really ours, so why fret and wory over material goods. These things come and go, and on the deathbed they are probably the last thing on our mind.

The only thing we can hold onto in this world are relationships. Having a personal relationship with God and being able to speak with Jesus daily is why God created us. Love people and the God who created you and gave you life; not things. Invest in all that will live on and on ; not what you must leave here on earth! God Bless!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I met with Edgaras my long time friend and his family.  Edgaras lives in Siauliai with is talented wife Eimante and their two lovely daughters Auguste and Ugne, I took the bus from Kaunas at 6AM and arrived at the Siauliai bus station at 8:45 where Edgaras met me.  We went to his home which is only minutes away. 

During the brief trip we had a chance to chat.  How are you, Kak Dela?  How is the Russian coming?  As kalbeti Lituviski, Edgaras could tell I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress, but he is a good guy and never one to criticize.  I fact, he is the most genuine “Live and let live” person I have ever met.  He is a great respecter of elders.
I spoke about my mission and what I was doing in kaunas and later in Russia.  He had followed my journey last Fall and was amazed that I would come all the way here to talk about God.  Edgaras is a very practical man and keeping a wife and two children in a city with the highest unemployment in the whole country he has a good reason to be practical.  He asked how much do I get to talk about God? 
“My payment is not in dollars or Euros I told him.”
“ So you have to pay for all this from pension?  Does the church pay you for anything?”
“Not exactly .”I said” and I don’t expect pay”.
“Wow, this is some strange thing I have not heard of.”
“Edgaras, I know we spoke of God before, and have you thought of the long discussions we had on our long journey in the summer of 2008,”
“I thought of how you talked on forever about your God, and how I tried to get you to speak in Russian , but you don’t.”
“He is our God, Edgaras.  He loves us equally, and he blesses us each.”
“Yes, but He is not hear very much.”
“What is it you want Him to say to you.”
“Say,”  I just need a job. But we are ok now.”
“So are you all OK with that.”  I asked.

It is true, Edgaras has always been thankful for whatever he has in life.  It is a quality that many people I know do not have.  Many always think of what they need and forget to be thankful for what they already have.  Both Edgaras and Eimante always do well with what they have.
Later that day after I arrived and greeted Eimante ;the kids were still a school.  This young couple related how the entire country was in poor financial shape,  yet they did not complain of their situation,  In fact they told me how they had changed their life style to accommodate the situation.
“We just do not go out as much as we once did to dine out.”
“We cook more at home, and do not take the children to the Mall .” Eimante is a fantastic cook, and there is always food cooking or on the table any time I am there .  Much food comes from the village.  Ad it is great and natural food.  In the summer they grow many berries, cucumbers, tomatos, and herbs.  They preserve them in jars and they dry the herbs for tea and natural medicines.  They have Medus (honey) and all kinds of great tasting vegetables and fruits.  The village is so rich and I have been in the garden in the summer.  Plants are flourishing like it is paradise and they know what and where each one  is producing.  These people are so naturally tied to the land it amazes me.
 “Yes, I think so,” said Edgaras.  “We do the dolls and pillows and this enough for us.”
“Eimante nodded in agreement.”
“ Here was a content couple, and a wonderful family.”
Their wealth was in relationships; not in their bank or wallet.  Also, they were happy to share what little they had, and I felt bad I could not bring more,  I had small gifts for them, and everyone got a baseball cap courtesy of Selah in Fort Lauderdale.
We spoke of God and how He does things in His own time.  Both were much more receptive to the message of Hope than they were 2 years ago.  I could sense a change in their feelings toward god.  Previously He did not exist or care.  Now they were more open to discuss His presence and how He was working in their life. 
I stayed there and watched in Awe at the work of God all around me,

At 4:45 we donned the 30 pounds of jackets, boots, scarves, gloves an head gear and walked to the school.  I had done this many times before but always in spring with no snow, and after school we usually took the girls to get ice cream or some other treat and rented bikes in the park.
Edgaras had a sled he took with us. I was so thrilled to see the girls and they looked so grown at 6 and 3.
On the way back I suggested going to Akropolis ; they just build a new one in Siauliai.  
“I think this is not good,”said Edgaras. ‘”Children will want treats and they will cry if we say no.”
“It’s Ok I will buy,” I said.
“No I think this is not good because you on a mission for God and don’t have a money.”
He replied.  “Then if you buy today and are gone tomorrow, children still cry.” He was right and firm and being a good father. ‘ Ir Viskis’—end of discussion in Lithuanian.

“We go and children play in snow,” he said.
I thought that sounded cold and I was frozen just from the walk.
“Ok that sounds good and they will have fun.” I said.
“Yes and they want to play with Seniles,” that was me.
‘” Ok but I am not much of a snow sport guy.” I said shivering.
Well, we got to this small snow hill behind their house and I had a great time.


We played for an hour, and I did not feel that cold.  Eimante showed up just in time to start a snow ball fight.  It was a blast and all the time I was thinking of how much this precious family with little money and a lot of Love was living just as God had it planned for them.  I could sense God here stronger than ever.
There was great love there and these people were loving and kind parents doing the best they could with what they have and never complaining. 

Later we arrived back home covered in snow and frost.  Yet I did not feel bad I guess I was getting used to the cold.  Edgaras told me more than once, now and in te past.” It is never too cold ; you are sometimes not dressed warm enough.”

As we warmed Edgaras sat at the table with Ugne  (3) and patiently showed her how to color flowers in her coloring book.  This moment is so precious to me.   Henery Blackberry in Experiencing God tells us to look around and see God working.  If we look with the right attitude we will see Him everywhere.  Well, here is was right at the kitchen table,and when I was in the snow.  Father and daughter experiencing love and trust and learning, as mom right behind them is preparing a delicious meal.

Later, Edgaras sister, Kristina and her husband Audrus and their son Emmanules arrived.
They brought delicious “paraganas” –cake.   Wow the pastry here is the best!!

We sat at the kitchen table and talked about the new baby Kristina is expecting in April.  She is not checking on the gender and wants to be surprised.  Everyone said it is a boy!

Kristina started to open up about the mission, and much to my surprise she spoke openly about the church and her feelings about being in a church of harsh rules and stringent regulations about church attendance ritual. 

“ I Love God in my heart,”she said” now I am pregnant and it is really hard to be in church every  Sunday, but I go to confession if I miss.  And I am questioning about statues ns all these saints.  Can you help.?”
“ God is not a religion; God is a relationship.” I said.  I had heard pastor Larry say this so many times and I always find it soothing.  It was the first thing that came to my mind.

“ Yes I Love Him,” she replied, “But I don’t understand all you say.” 
I had te feeling she still did understand even if not every word.  Kristina has a good heart.  I remember my first encounter when I stayed in her home in 2006.  I was the only one there not talking because I knew no Lt.  Kristina gave me a booklet of Lithuanian-English phrases, and wrote on a paper all the important ones about food and the bathroom.
I knew she was kind and considerate.  It was good to be helped as a stranger is a Strange land.
Kristina had God in her heart from the first,  She was just not expressing it in the same words as I.                                               
Everyone gathered around the table and I blessed the house and food and Kristinas Family and new baby. 

We all sat after and chatted about a host of things but everyone wanted to know what work I was doing and what all the God stuff was about.
I was getting closer to have them open up and discuss what Jesus had done and what more He can do once they profess His Holy name/

Monday, February 22, 2010

God Works in Ways We Can't Comprehend

Wow was I frustrated.  My other laptop had a nervous breakdown on my 20/30 trip.  Now I arrive in Lithuania and heading for Russia and MP when suddenly I am out of space as my "New Used" laptop locks up.

I head to the local PC store:
Kumputoriai Maziausiamis Kainomis off St M Dobazinskio g. and Gedimino g.  It is right across from the Hotel Revai Neris where the Casono Olympia  sits atop the Ginger bar.
These are all along Gedimino gvate  the main  [street] in down town Kaunas.  Many of the colleges are located in center city just off the famous Leisiliem Esplanade.  In fact, Kauno Technologijos Universitetas has one building a block north of the Komputoriai Shop at Doneacicio and Gedimino and the other is two blocks south at the corner of Gedimino and N. Mickeviciawa g.

It is a very convenient city and a perfect college town.  The large Molas - Akropolis opened in 2007[photo at right] is only a short walk from most of the downtown [right and above is the Berneliu Smukle Crafted in the old country style of a Lithuanian Village.  One can get around the entire city on foot or to the outlying  districts of Jaucakiai; Sitkonai; Maksva and Kvesai on one of the many Taxsi-Microbus for 2.5 liters or $1 USA. These pack in 12 or more passengers and will stop to pick up or let off passengers almost anywhere.

Now back to God's work and fixing my PC.  as I enter the store speaking bad Lithuanian the young man [Gedis pictured here wearing a ball cap we gave him] sits behind the counter and responds to  me in perfect English.  Well, half my problem solved because all the way to the shop I am rehearsing what to say in Lithuanian or Russian, and it all sounds bad because I know only two computer words in these languages.  Gedis is my computer angel.
He is a student at the Kauno Technologijos Universitetas just down the street.  Since this is a college town and all students today use Komputoriai I am under grace.  Along with that, Technical colleges and Medical colleges require their students to be proficient in English, and there are two Techinical and four medical schools in kaunas. In addition, Gedis says that he will have to off load a lot of data from my PC to free up space to get it going again.  This will take a long time, like 2 hours and will cost a lot like 10 liters [ under 5 bucks].  All good things and all for  a reason.  Gedis and I are alone in the shop except for the occasional student customer coming and going.
"We need to copy your hard drive to a disk and free enough space to defrag the disk." Gedis tells me,
He puts a disk in and it wont copy.
"OK.  I will dump some of the files to my flash drive." he hands me a 15 gig thumb drive and I insert it to the USB.  This works.
I have another captive listener.  The down load says 60 + minutes.  So we can chat about God while the data an photos jump to the flash drive.
We begin just casual conversation about computers. Here we have plenty common points of interest. I am listening about his  life in the village and how difficult it has been for "old people" like 45 +and such since Lt has tried to get into the EU.  Young people like Gedis rarely speak of the Soviets.  That is because nearly 25% of the population here was born after the Soviet departure.  It seems there was a great "Baby Boom" in 1993-94.  And older -you know those 45+ year old folks- they don't want to talk about it.  They want to forget and move on. I am attentive to Gedis and his feelings about the economy and his country.  He is worried about Lithuania rushing into the EU without first building an economy that can compete with other strong members like Germany.
This is causing many Lithuanians and others in the Baltic region to move to other countries to work.  The Balts are a source of low cost labor for Ireland, Germany ,France  and Spain.  They even go north to Scandinavia.  This is not a good feeling for them.  Lithuanians like their land and they are a proud people.  Gedis is intelligent and has his finger on the pulse of his people.

I ask how he would rate his life on a scale of 1-10.  As a student it is an 8 because he studies computer systems down the street and he is lucky to have a job where he can use his skills first hand with dummies like me who get into trouble by not planning better or having invested in better equipment.

'OK  Plan B .  Flash drive is too slow to copy 9 gig to a DVD.  Gedis suggests we use the external HD and get all the data there and then make  a DVD.
We set up to copy to external HD
This will be 45 minutes
"So Gedis," I ask " you say you don't think much about God but it makes sense that he does exist."
"Yes, but he is ignoring us.  Look at all the bad things that happen."
"True bad things do happen all the time.  Do you think God is doing this?"
"Don't know but He is not stopping it.  I am doing what I need to do and I don't do bad things to people."
"Good.  But have you ever asked yourself ,'if i stood before God today and He asked why should I let you into heaven.  What would you tell Him?"
"Well, that I am a good person and i did not hurt others- smoked some pot but I went to confession too,"
"Ok you are good. I believe you.  Do you feel you know God as well as you know your own father?"
"This thing is running too slow.,"  Gedis said looking at my screen."Must have a lot of junk on it."
"I take a lot of photos and video for my work." I said.
"Well what about your feelings for God? I asked again.
"I feel God when I am in the village especially." Gedis replied.
"So do you talk to him.?"
"I say my prayers and sometimes go to church and confession and the priest talks to God." He replied.
" I know, but you are a child of God and He is your Father. He sent Jesus to free us and forgive us.
I demonstrated with my the DVD how sin can be all th data on the disk and that it is separating us from a personal love relationship with god,  Then I showed how Jesus erased and removed the disk so nothing could stand between us and our Father God.
"Confession is just you opening your heart to Jesus and asking for his love and forgiveness."  Soprente?
"Taip, and I do but I have never talked directly to God it sounds like too much for me."
Gedis was now thinking if he could actually speak directly to God and have Jesus enter into his life.
I heard the drive spin out and click,
"OK now I will hook it to my PC and load the DVD from y laptop.  But it will take more than one disk and I am running a program that will sew it together I just put in the first DVD and copy then the program splits the files and asks us to enter another DVD when this is full."  He knew his stuff.

"How much will these hold?" I asked
"6.7 Gig." He said.
"Ok I'll take 2." I replied.
"Nooo.  If you buy two at 4.5 Litas each, and the 5 pack is 6.95 It is better to take a whole pack"
"Ok break it open and let's copy." I said.
W talked on for another 45 minutes of copy time.  Gedis' girl friend came by to bring  him food.  I spoke with her a bit too.  She was nice but did not speak English as well as Gedis.  I gave Gedis a hat and asked for his photo.   I also gave him a hat for his girlfriend on the condition that he relay to her what I had just told him.  he smiled and let me take his photo wearing the hat. 

The Akroplois and Laisales Aieja [see statue of Vytatus along Laisales] are the most popular shopping areas downtown.  The large Akropolis is as modern or more than any US mall.  Yes, Connie, Gail and Alice that is a WAWA store in the Akropolis, but not a Jersey variety.  Here it is a Batas [shoe store] Akropolis is a typical indoor mall where as Laisales Aieja is an outdoor Esplanade Mall  to be enjoyed in the Spring and Summer. Akropolis contains many large restaurants and the center piece is a full size glass enclosed skating rink on the second floor.  On the third floor is a large Casino.  Across from the Akropolis they are building a very large sports Arena on the banks of the frozen Nemunas river  this is to house the national basketball team.

It is the first and largest Arena in Europe dedicated to Basketball,  [see insert of #13  Note the many very tall Lithuanians.  They just love basketball and they are good at it.  They came close to beating the US in the 2008 Olympics and are the European Champions. In the Akropolis you see Semis Jasaitis # 13  at 6'6"  showcased on a large 2 story brick wall.

"ok, all done." Gedis announces as he removes the DVD and hands it to me.
"well, " I respond," I think you are just about to start."  I am only a few blocks away , so it is convenient for me to stop by if I get into any more trouble."
Gedis smiled, and told me he was there every day after school and weekends.  I shook his hand and I knew we would be speaking again.  Yes the lord works in ways we can never hope to comprehend.
I came in groaning about my PC and left with a heart of gladness and a new soul closer to God.  Life is good Amen