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'Tis the season of mixed emotions

If you haven't heard our big news yet, check out the following video:

So . . . . . this pause isn't the only thing that's pregnant. You should probably watch this video NOW.
Posted by Joshua Slabaugh Garber on Sunday, November 15, 2015
Helping Julija with her church camp in August. You can see a
post from last year's camp here, although this time Alisha was
able to join. Julija is the student who adopted us.
If you know anything about our story, you know that our process of trying to grow our family has been one filled with pain, disappointment, and fear. In fact, almost exactly one year ago we were not celebrating -- we were in deep mourning as Alisha and I tried to cope with our second miscarriage.

But this season is much different. Advent has taken on new meaning and the place where Mary's song comes from is filled with new life as we hear those words with fresh ears. If Christmas is about birth, then Advent is about pregnancy.

And holy cow is Alisha pregnant! (For those of you who are interested, we've established Alisha is the "sassy" kind of pregnant lady)

Josh and several of the Ukranian students at the first day of classes parade.
Josh secretly hopes he can be as cool as they are.
We know our blog has been somewhat silent and we apologize. In many ways, it's hard to know what to say. Our fourth year at LCC has not been filled with new experiences and new revelations, but we have stayed busy. In many instances, it feels as though we could just re-link to a past blog post and it's content would be just as relevant today as it was when first posted.

However, outside our LCC routines, there's a lot we've wanted to comment on but we've not been able to find the words. I'll do my best here to recap with hopes of revisiting some of these ideas second semester:
  • Alisha's pregnancy is something we learned right at the start of this school year, so we've had growing anticipation all semester that we had to keep to ourselves out of fear of the devastation of another loss.
  • In the midst of our joy and the anticipation of new life, we've found ourselves in mourning -- late October, we learned that a very close friend and the lead pastor at our church in Phoenix died in a motorcycle accident. I tried to write about that in a blog post but there are no words that can express our sadness. We're still recovering from that along with the Trinity Mennonite Church community.
  • The refugee situation here in Europe -- what is there to say? We've tried to do our part in bringing the conversation to LCC's campus but there's not a lot of certainty on how incoming refugees will impact us and the rest of Lithuania.
  • We were fortunate to travel a few times this year (click the links to see photos). First to Malta for our 10th wedding anniversary, second to Spain to visit some exciting Anabaptist communities, and finally to Telšiai in Lithuania to play music at the SIELOS festival with the LCC Chapel Band and our group, Sparrows.
  • What is our plan for next year? December is usually when LCC wants to know if we intend to return next school year or not. As we are in the fourth year of what was initially a two-year commitment, this has become a process involving great reflection and discernment. We are certainly in the midst of seeking God's will for us.
As you can see from this post, our thoughts are everywhere and anywhere. Our hope is to elaborate better on some of these ideas next semester but, for now, we seek to stay present in this Advent season.

Also, we will be learning our due date and whether we will have a boy or girl after New Years, so check back regularly! We are resolving to keeping this blog updated on a much more regular basis from here on.

If you are reading this, we thank you for your support, encouragement and prayers!

"Cruisin' down the street in my '64..." This is why Josh doesn't get to choose where to park the school van anymore.



Resurfacing for a moment

Sorry we've been bad bloggers lately with such a huge gap in updates. Life has, interestingly, become rather busy again these past several weeks. Here's an attempt to show you why we've had difficulty finding time to update the blog:

Toms checks on the heaping piles of pancakes made the week of midterms for the students. Free pancakes are like catnip for students at LCC International University.

Events such as the pancake party are all part of a plan to foster closer community in the resident halls and demonstrate servant leadership to the students.

A view of a small portion of Klaipėda from Josh's office.

The motto of the LCC "Moose" basketball team for fans is if it makes noise, bring it to the game.

Alisha plays with some donated sparklers and Josh plays with the shutter speed during Halloween evening.

For Halloween, we brought some American-style festivities to the resident halls. Alisha's panda pajamas were loved by all and we took several students trick-or-treating for their very first time.

Josh turned the big 3-0 in early November. Alisha threw a big birthday party and invited many of the people who have made us feel at home during our time so far at LCC.

Josh's RAs surprised him with a festive pineapple and a heart-felt card for his birthday.

Alisha was one of the featured speakers at a special event called Mug and Muffin. Unfortunately, we have no pictures of her speaking because...

...Josh took a group of students to perform at a Lithuanian music festival in the small town of Biržai, which is right next to the Latvian boarder. Despite hanging with a flock of girls, Josh survived the weekend.

Josh playing at the SIELOS Festival.

The festival team enjoys breakfast in a Soviet-style high school gymnasium, where they slept for the night. The group is a true representation of LCC's intercultural nature, with members from Russia, Ukraine, Albania, the United States, and Andorra (small country between Spain and France).

The group was asked to sing at the town's Reformed Church. Interesting note, the Reformed Church was the group largely responsible for the persecution of the Mennonites in the 1600s. Life takes you to some strange places sometimes. 

Pray for Alisha's sanity.

Upcoming events are just as numerous. However, we're vowing to do a better job keeping this blog updated.

Please, send us questions and requests on what you'd like to see, know, and learn about our adventures here in Lithuania.