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So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

As LCC Staff/Faculty depart, they are presented with a beautiful embroidered sash -- a traditional Lithuanian gift. Thank you to student-photographer Evaldas Daugintis for the beautiful photo featuring my "turkey timer."

Going into "Farwell Mode"

You don't have to know me well to know that I'm not exactly a musical fan. Please don't try to change my mind-- no matter how many times I attempt to enjoy 'The Sound of Music,' 'Into the Woods,' or *gasp* 'Rent' I just can't find myself humming along. However, God has a sense of humor and has placed a certain nauseating chorus into my brain and I can't seem to get it out. So for those of you who can't get enough of their beloved Rogers and Hammerstein, here you go:

This song has been on cerebral repeat as we prepare to end our time at LCC International University. These past four years of missionary service have been equally challenging and rewarding and it's clear that God has been preparing us for what is next [read more about that here].

You can't, however, begin your next big adventure without concluding the current one well.
Our calendar has been filled recently with the usual farewell parties and gatherings that you would expect from an academic institution. We've been blessed to say our "proper goodbyes" to the colleagues, students, and friends with whom we've shared our lives.

These 'goodbyes' will culminate on Saturday with the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies at LCC. It's more than just an "Auf Wiedersehen" to these students -- it's kind of like our graduation, too. When we arrived on campus four years ago, we joined the ranks of the class of 2016. While we won't be crossing the stage and receiving a diploma -- although that would be awesome -- we too have experienced the growth and wisdom that comes with four years of international life while here in Klaipeda.

These students arrived as freshmen with us and will soon graduate, with many leaving Lithuania behind as they embark on their next journey. We've seen them grow from the oblivious first-year students who always, and I mean ALWAYS, set off the fire alarm in Neumann Hall into wise and experienced leaders ready to tackle the world. We've laughed together, cried together, and built a bond that will long outlast our time on campus. Through both the tough conversations and happy memories, their lives will forever be interwoven with ours. 
A few snapshots from the year. It's hard to believe a few of these guys will be walking across the stage on Saturday!
To the LCC Class of 2016: Thank you for helping shape Josh and me into the missionaries we are today and the people who are not only ready to tackle our next missionary posting in Spain, but also PARENTHOOD!

Baby Baby (i'm taken with the notion, to love you with the sweetest devotion)

Josh constructed a "Sidecar Sleeper" - handtools only.
OK, that's clearly an attempt to switch earworms from my current 'Sound of Music' tune to one of Josh's favorite artists - Amy Grant. You'll have to ask Josh all about his childhood love affair with a certain cassette tape to get the full story on that one.

We're clocking in at 38 weeks and three days, so this little guy could make his appearance any time. The only thing we know for certain is how much we don't know. I think accepting that fact as first-time-parents-to-be is an important step. We have, however, done our research, read the baby and breastfeeding books, and attended birthing class. 

We'll even tour the Klaipeda Birthing Center on Friday with our doctor. (Yes, we're having the baby in Klaipeda. No, we're not worried -- babies are born here every day.).

We're stocked up and ready with all the baby essentials. The hospital bags are packed (to include TP and a tea cup) and the infant car seat has been installed. Thankfully, through the generosity of friends, we've had to spend very little to outfit the nursery for the incoming "Roni" and many of these things will remain in Klaipeda to bless the next baby to arrive on LCC's campus after we've long gone.
If you are looking for ways to support us as we anticipate the arrival of our first child, here are a few suggestions:
  • We'll be stateside in a few short months, so consider delaying shipping any baby gifts. This will prevent us from having to pack them back into suitcases and check them when we fly across the Atlantic later this year. We'll have time scheduled in both the Midwest and Arizona so you'll be able to meet our new addition and we can celebrate together in person.
  • We'll have considerable resettlement expenses when we are back in the US to fundraise for our next adventure. Consider one of these options: 
    • Make a deposit into our personal US Bank Account (JP Morgan Chase). Email us directly for information about this --
    • Consider a gift card. These will surely come in handy when we are back stateside.
    • Hold on for a little bit longer. We'll be sharing details about how to make donations through Mennonite Mission Network for our next missionary placement in Spain shortly.
  • If you are in the Klaipeda area, consider helping us out with meals / laundry / house-hold chores / sanity breaks after the baby is born. 
More than anything, please support us with prayers. The love will surely be felt across the miles. I must continually remind myself that this is a high-risk pregnancy. With two past miscarriages and my age, we were already in the danger zone. Add to that Gestational Diabetes, anemia and Strep B we know that we're in for an uphill battle in the delivery room. We hope to have a natural birth, but recognize that the baby's health will come first.

Please pray that when the "D-Day" comes, that we have the patience and grace to manage our next big adventure as best as we can -- in God's timing and not in our own.

A very special goodbye gift presented by the Student Life Department on Tuesday. This custom woodcut plaque includes the emblem of our favorite pub in Klaipeda-- Herkus Kantas. Our "home away from home" that includes so many special memories for us like Christmas / birthday / anniversary meals, staff who became like family laughing and crying with us through difficult times, very important tests, visits with friends from the US and Spain, concerts, innumerable delicious beers, and the naming of our son (no spoilers)! This place will be sorely missed when we leave Lithuania in a few short months.