Friday, August 19, 2005

And I'm in Lithuania. Just like that. Sit on a chair for a while, wander around Frankfurt airport, sit on a chair for a while, wander around Vilnius airport, sit on a chair for a while, say hi to your new apartment. Easy. Sure, the chairs move and there's talking and people and movies and sleeping and the lack thereof, but hey, pretty soon it's 11am and you're eating lunch under the midday sun even though your body is simultaneously thinking "It's three AM!" and "I need to run around!" while random hitch-hikers eat cold, pink borscht and say things you only hope aren't either racial slurs or comments about the city you're planning to spend the next year in.

It's great here though. At least, the transition is eased in every way possible and everything seems full of potential for both challenge and reward. I keep hearing the phrase "honeymoon period" (in the culture shock sense of the phrase), but even filtering for that there are lots of things to get excited about. Or perhaps simply be deeply appreciative and thankful for. For instance, I'm sharing an apartment with a student-life coordinator named Casey--he's a great guy, and the only creature comforts we're missing are a washing machine and a clothes drier. Everything is new (our kitchen was put in on Wednesday), shiny, and ready to be transformed into a comfortable space to refresh and recharge. Sure, the prevailing attitude toward our 25 minute walk to work will fluctuate, and downtown is another 25 minutes past the college, but it's quiet, private, and our landlady speaks English, which puts us a few steps ahead of most of our colleagues.

Colleagues. Yes, suddenly I'm part of a faculty. The faculty. My faculty. It's great: the nature of LCC's location means that there is an extraordinarily deep and dynamic group of people serving here. Orientation is come and gone, and by the time jet-lag has done the same all of my new problems like pronouncing names and oh, you know, teaching, will have at least partially seeped into my brain. But the knowledge that everyone else here has made similar choices and faces similar challenges makes my own situation seem a little less farfetched. As in, *of course* there are people that turn down high-paying positions to go and volunteer in a small Eastern European country at an even smaller Christian university where one in four staff have never *been* to Lithuania before let alone taught there. Some of those people have four kids under the age of eleven. And brought them. It's a wonderful and vibrant alternative way of thinking about work, and it moves beyond the ruts and tracks of our usual attitude toward stability and our dependence on it into a deeper understanding of community and how we should be using our gifts. It also provides a lot to think about when I should be preparing my next lesson plan.

There are already a million other details I'm not including (from food to transportation) that all seem new and different, but even when those things fade or become annoying there is a richness here that I'm looking forward to exploring. And finally, it's great to be actually starting after all the emotional and mental questioning and preparation; from here on in it's the crunch of day-to-day and all the mood swings and reliance that comes with it. Once again I find myself in a place I could never have imagined or planned on my own; in a year's time, who knows what God will have taught me... or what he has planned for me next.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Well, last post from home in Manitoba before heading out. I don't think I've ever appreciated spending quality time at home with the family more. Decompressing after the Masters, figuring out the future, finding my head again... time off can be so healthy. Now it's just the rush of leaving for new beginnings. I've been getting some emails from fellow LCC staff; there's going to be some great people converging on this one small spot up in North-Eastern Europe, and some guaranteed good times. Can hardly wait.

For now though, gotta pack up the computer for my sister to use for the next year, throw some clothes in my pack (maybe a toothbrush), then away we go. One more 24+ hour road trip to the K-Dubs, one more week of quality chilling, and then one more Toronto leave-taking... flying east instead of west for once. Which reminds me: passport. Packing is easy :)