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Ukraine and Russia and LCC

Josh and the residents from one of his floors sit down to feast on the pizzas they made together.
Alisha leads a panel of LCC student leaders as they share their experiences.
The situation in the region, at the political level, changes hourly. It could be a full-time job to keep up with the news media regarding Ukraine and its neighbors. In the news, it seemed just a few weeks ago to be a relatively peaceful protest movement in Independence Square in Kiev related to alignment with the EU or Russia (with the Winter Olympics the center of attention in Sochi). 

It then quickly changed with a government overthrow and almost 100 deaths, to now a situation related to the autonomy vs. foreign occupation of Crimea, and it bleeds into Lithuanian uncertainty with Russian naval exercises in the Baltic Sea and on and on...any description of the situation is rendered simplistic because of the layers of history and regional relations involved. The point here is not to describe the political context.

As a small university in Lithuania, LCC International University’s primary impact is not at the political level. But we believe we do play a very important role.

The LCC pond isn't frozen now, but broomball/hockey was a great
success this winter while it was.
We demonstrate community. We are an international university – and we happen to have 69 Ukrainian students, and 53 Russian students on campus. Each one of us has strong opinions about the current situation, opinions that are determined by life experience, or education, or the opinions of others. 

As a community, LCC states, “We celebrate diversity of cultures and traditions, personalities and opinions.” (Core Value #5) Living in community means that we work on what unites us, and not what divides us. We are people interacting with people, not representatives of a government interacting with representatives of a government. 

The orphanage is still a big part of our lives. And orphans still
love Josh's beard.
We serve a God of peace.  In John 14:27, Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 

Especially when it feels like peace is being threatened, we must continue to carry a message of peace and reconciliation.

Alisha is, at times, the mature mama bird the Study Abroad
students need, as the picture above illustrates.
We stand for justice. We must be Micah 6:8 people: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” 

When God models justice, it is never modest or polite or understated. Justice is bold. But it is accompanied by a love of mercy. We must live and speak accordingly and we teach from this perspective.

Viktorija, who attends the Klaipeda Vineyard Church with us,
shows off her painting after a community event that combined
art and faith.
We care for the needs of our students. Very practically, we are monitoring the fluctuation of currencies in the region. In the year ending on Feb. 28, the Ukrainian currency had devalued by 26 percent. Four other regional currencies had also devalued by 15+ percent. As always, we have emergency financial aid available should it be necessary. 

We are people of prayer.  Above all, we must demonstrate our faith in the One who holds the future. We pray for each other, for national leaders, for safety and security, for the church everywhere, for peace. We encourage each other by praying for each other. 

And we go on. We've just had mid-term exams, spring break, underground potlucks, and chapel. Our lives cannot be defined by politics. But sometimes political situations help us clarify our message and provide new opportunities for demonstrating who we are.



Jacket Season!

The Resident Assistants of Neumann Hall's east wing (Josh's hall) light up some sparklers during their RA retreat. They are, from left, Kristine, Ieva, Vadim, and Toms. The weekend retreat, lead by Josh, was an opportunity for the group to grow closer.
If some weeks are a breath in, full of activity and movement, this past week and this week have been a breath out -- a momentary release from the hecticness.

A lot of that time has been spent preparing for next week's Art Education Week, which is, in part, a product of our brainstorming ways to make LCC a more holistic educational experience at the start of the year. The week will feature a couple of evenings devoted to music instruction and experience, a series of photography workshops, an experimental jam session for musicians AND visual artists, and an art show at the end of the week.

Josh also was able to take his group of RAs on their fall retreat, which was very successful. If you have Facebook, you can see all the pictures by clicking here.

We also were able to check out the annual Intercultural Olympics -- yet another example of the unique community we're surrounded by (for those keeping track, Ukraine won this year.).

This week is "Serve Week" -- a time when we focus on teaching servant leadership to the students we work with most directly. We'll post some pictures of Serve Day -- the day where large groups of students go out into the surrounding community to make the world a little bit of a better place.
Finally, the weather is definitely changing. Today was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and mushrooms are growing everywhere. Jacket season is here...