Viewing entries tagged



This year's Christmas band, led by Josh, dressed in traditional clothes from countries represented at LCC to symbolize the world coming together to celebrate Christ's birth.
Alisha wrote and directed the Christmas program, featuring the cutest Mary
and Joseph ever! It also spawned locally trending hashtags
#babyking and
also #ItsTooWonderful.
Our Fall Semester at LCC International University has come to a close. The students have finished their classes, the finals are complete and we are adjusting to the slower pace. 

In the past weeks, Josh and I have been quite engaged with holiday parties, Christmas Programs, final chapels, Angel Tree Project, Student Leader appreciation parties, data tracking, invoice input, employee reviews and semester end evaluations, not to mention the budget conversion to Euro that will hit on January 1! 

Check out this video about the 2014 LCC Christmas Program and Fair made by LCC Student Mykola Kutola from Rivne, Ukraine:

Sometimes we smile even though it's
hard. Our blessings are great and team
Garber feels your prayers.
In all of this busyness, it's been difficult to focus on the recent tragedy that hit us last month. Too many appointments, meetings, reports, emails and action-items to reflect on the loss we endured in November. (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out this blog post.)

For those of you who were wondering, our visit to Dr. Odetta on December 8 was a reassuring one.  Although it didn't provide any answers, it did open doors to more information. I've been referred out to a hematologist and geneticist. These appointments will happen some time in the new year.

I finally had a few moments to myself this morning and had time to think about the loss of our second child, and found peace in knowing that although I am not "great with child," Mary was. Even though we are not expecting a baby of our own, we can wait patiently for the birth of Jesus to be celebrated on December 25. 

I must remember that Jesus doesn't come wrapped in twinkling lights and satin bows; He comes straight into our pitchest black. And our God, He knows the comings and goings of our darkest days and roughest personal battles, and this is exactly where He meets us.

I need the grace and peace of Jesus in this season of my life, more than ever.Isaiah 40:31 says: "...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Alisha and Natalie wearing awesome hats approximately
751 years ago.
I'm happy that Christmas is coming... and so are our friends Natalie Mast and Bryan Howard from Phoenix! 

Natalie and Bryan will be our first visitors in Lithuania and they arrive tomorrow (Christmas Eve). We'll pick them up in the Vilnius Airport and show them around Lithuania and Latvia, sharing the Christmas season, until they depart on December 30. We are so excited. This is truly something to celebrate. #ItsTooWonderful

I wish for you and your families to have a peaceful and loving holiday season as you celebrate the birth of the #babyking. May you be blessed in the coming 2015.



Lord Motherbear and Feral Christians

What if God was less like this:

And more like this:

A mother bear.

"But God is loving, nurturing, abundant in kindness, and slow to anger," you protest. 

If you consider Exodus 34 and God's interaction with the Israelites through the Hebrew Bible, you are absolutely right!

But mother bears can also look like this:

When the Genesis poem was shared thousands of years ago, the storyteller (verbal culture, right?) would tell the listeners about a God who made humankind in "His image" and "likeness." But imagine, for a moment, what that would mean to the ancient Hebrew people who were considerably less domesticated than we've allowed ourselves to become. (I mean, David killed a LION with a STONE. Crazy.)

So the God the ancient Hebrew people experienced could be described using words like "wild," "dangerous," and "unpredictable."

Like a mother bear.

If you don't believe me, take another look at the narrative told throughout the Hebrew Bible. You see an untamed God moving, not the Zeus-like deity many imagine today.

Christians like the idea of a domesticated God because that's much safer than the alternative: God is feral.

If you need more proof, step into creation. Many people have experiences while in the wild where they feel an unsurpassed closeness with God. That's probably why some people worship nature itself -- that's where they find God.

But it goes beyond that. Many Christians would say, "God is restoring us" and "God is restoring creation/nature." Consider, too, that God is also probably restoring us with nature.

The hard truth is, though, we cannot be restored with nature without changing. We literally build barriers and cages to keep nature out of our lives and at a safe distance. To move in the other direction, we need to recapture the full image of God into which we were made.

And that means allowing ourselves to become a bit more...feral.

Like a mother bear.

Last week, a LCC student invited me to join her church's "kid's camp." I had no idea exactly what that meant but I enthusiastically said "yes" and traveled by train across the country.

Words cannot adequately describe my experience, so I made the following video to provide a glimpse of the camp.

I feel the video makes a case for moving in the direction of feral Christianity!

It was in such a circumstance that I felt a sense of Lithuania (beyond LCC) being "home" -- undeniably because of the wildness and hospitality of my new brothers and sisters in Molėtai.



Stirring things up

Second semester at LCC is already off to a bang and we are very excited with how things are developing. If last semester was one of learning and absorbing, then this is one of creation and implementation.

We're not saying we've mastered life here (sweet biscuits the Lithuanian language is difficult!), but we're certainly in a better place to initiate ideas that will impact the lives of those around us here at LCC.

For example, first semester we helped plan the university's first ever Art Week, which was a huge success (check out our blog post HERE for a recap). Students were coming out of the woodwork when given a means to exercise their creativity. Since then, Alisha has been building and growing relationships with some select students and including them in her art projects. This semester, Alisha's taking it to the next level and is starting "Art Club" -- a group meant to bring artistic students together and foster a community where they can use their creative talents. The first poster hasn't even been hung and already there is a buzz and a stream of students asking Alisha, "Is there really going to be an art club?"

Finding needs and filling them.

One thing we were told about before coming is that there is a group on campus that works to fight the human trafficking issue that is a big problem in Eastern Europe. That group, "Roots of Justice," is re-launching this semester with Josh being groomed to be next year's staff advisor. The group is also being adjusted so that, starting next fall, it will function as a year-round service/activist group that will hopefully gain momentum on campus rather than starting over every-other semester. A major part of the group's efforts go into creating Revolution Week -- an educational week devoted to teaching LCC students about sex and labor trafficking that happens both in this region and in their own countries. Many students also find themselves victims of labor trafficking during their summer jobs and internship which take them all over the world and this year an extra focus is being made to help them be more aware of when they are being taken advantage of.

Finding needs and filling them.

Last week we finished LCC's first "Green Week" -- a time when we educated students about sustainability and how to live in a more environmentally friendly fashion. As is true virtually anywhere you travel in the world, there is a surprising amount of misinformation about these issues -- specifically recycling, sustainable farming (and food consumption), and harmful effects that a hyper-consumer economy has on the health of the planet. The response from students was overall positive and it feels like we've definitely encouraged a conversation here that needs to take place.

Finding needs and filling them.

Alisha's "Peasant Bread" -- a staple of our time speant conspiring.
Perhaps the most ambitious undertaking we're working on this semester is a humble attempt to bring the type of faith community we found in Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale to the students (and our peers) who are seeking an alternative to the "normal" church experience. To be clear, there are churches here and they are very fulfilling to lots of people. But we've found a population of students here who are very interested in Jesus but skeptical of "the church" and institutional religion. And those are the students we find we most closely relate to. So we've set out this semester to re-imagine what the church could look like in Europe's post-Christian society with a few other friends.

Finding needs and filling them.