copying Bjorn

Oh, oh! I just saw Bjorn's blog about wishlist: i haven't made one of these since i was little, and it's actually too late i'm guessing. I don't even know if anyone who is going to buy me something would even look on my blog, but you know what, i'm gonna do it anyways for fun!


  • Phantom of the Opera--the movie and soundtrack
  • David Gray--Life in Slow Motion
  • Azure Ray--Hold on Love
  • a new wireless G card (i broke mine)
  • my old passport (i don't want to talk about it)
  • a new passport
  • veg-o-matic

The Semester of Changes

she's lovin it.
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.

The Semester of Changes:

Coming back to Trinity this semester was different for several reasons: being gone a semester, having only 2 out of your 4 best friends back, living off-campus, doing a new ministry (w/i Youth Extreme), and yeah, having a boyfriend, and in general, a new group of friends.

I’ve heard from some friends that it’s been a bad semester for them and that most people they’ve talked to feel the same. I was a little surprised when I heard that. I guess it made me think how I felt.

I don’t like living in the past, feeling that a time before the present was better than now. I guess I am more the living in the present, excited for the future kind of girl. I suppose that deeply affects the way I view my present moment. But honestly, after thinking over the semester, uploading pictures to flickr of all the things I’ve done, I realize that for me at least, it’s been an incredible time.

No it wasn’t any adventure in Europe (which I do reminisce about sometimes, in my mind), but it was just as amazing in a completely different way. So let’s see what has happened:
 I moved into a new house with Jana, and “Fort Romance” began.
 I helped lead a bible study with Janine for senior high YE girls—that hasn’t happened for 5 years.
 Hanging out in the Milner neighborhood.
 Amy came to visit for Halloween, a huge success as always!
 I went to a Sigur Ros concert, a dream of mine for 2 years.
 I had the amazing opportunity to help out with 40 other TWU students in New Orleans over Fall Break.
 Thanksgiving at home with my family.
 Snow in Ft. Langley.
 Winning the Intramural Soccer Championships (Steph that goal was incredible!).
 Ooh, ohh! Jana and I got a new roommate, Britney (what a blessing!)
 4 letters: L-O-S-T
 Sarah came to visit right before break

Christmas Party 2005, Lawyer style

3 sisters
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Every year my dad puts on an Office Christmas Party with friends he’s made through the working years: law partners, other lawyers, a judge, secretaries, and more. Through the years, we’ve moved through different hotel suites until finally we found the Perfect Christmas spot: The Hanson Country Inn, a classic bed and breakfast. This party is a pretty big deal for everyone who goes, so big for my dad, that I’ve had to reschedule finals the last two years to ensure that I will be there.

This year was no less of a party. Leesa’s (my dad’s paralegal) husband, an excellent chef, made all the food. We have the white elephant gift exchange, which always seems to rotate returning gifts (such as the “headless Santas”), good food and wine, attempting Christmas carols, and the game, “The Minister’s Cat”. But when I look back on the parties, sappy as it sounds, it’s the time when we do a Christmas Story that I always remember. The party in the past always consisted of a reading of Luke 2, the story of baby Jesus. Recently though, different people have volunteered to speak about their stories over the past year. Last year, a lawyer friend of my dad’s became a judge, and he spoke about the challenges of this new position. It was incredible to hear about the pressures he faces everyday. It wasn’t until he was faced with this type of challenge everyday, that he turned to God after 30 years of rejecting him, and had to lean on Him for guidance everyday.

Growing up as a lawyer’s daughter, I can’t tell you how many lawyer jokes I’ve heard, laughed at, and occasionally tried to defend. But I don’t think it was until this year that I realized why it is so cool that my dad is a lawyer. There’s obviously a reason why people make so many derogatory jokes about lawyers: a lot of them suck, and most of them are about making money. As our society seems to be becoming more corrupt, I notice the legal system getting worse. I feel that my dad has tread upon a place where not enough godly men and women go. When I look back to the law of the Old Testament, I learn about the foundation our US legal system was based upon. It’s at this point, I understand why there is a need for godly, moral men to be in this field. The judge I talked about earlier, is quite a man. He relies upon God each day to make a just decision…what a difficult task. My dad, everyday meets clients who he has to decide if they are really in need of help, and then he fights to help these people have a second chance with finances, to protect people against greedy creditors, and yes occasionally design a will (those are the easy days ;)).

I guess what I’m feeling, is that I am very proud of my dad, and I am proud of the men and women in the legal system, who fight for justice everyday. It is a difficult task, an impossible one to do well without God.


It takes a little time sometimes...

Please be patient. Blogs for days 2 and 4 are coming...I just found the entries. I didn't have a computer to work with on the trip like some other lucky people. But soon and very soon. At least for now, you have a general overview.


Day #5 New Orleans: Impressions that Last

Junk pile
Originally uploaded by iBjorn.

Christians always say that on a short-term missions trip you come back more changed than the people you helped. That only seems to be natural to me since as Christians we are supposed to constantly be changed and formed into the image of Christ. (Although this trip wasn't a missions trip, leaders at the church said the same thing to us.)

I wasn't shocked in the emotional sense when I saw the destroyed homes. Rather it was when I heard the stories of loss of family, friends and of the life people knew, that I hurt for these people. But the overall picture was difficult to grasp. The long-term affects on the city of New Orleans is great indeed. A whole city destroyed. Ghost towns everywhere. Scraps of houses. Economically, the material can all be re-built, but the real problem is that the people are gone. Some may come back, those who have no else to go are still there, but many cannot and will not come back.
In the midst of all this disaster, I was amazed to see what relief is being offered. One evening at the church, a lady shared a small story. The owner of the house she had worked at that day was a local artist. He had gone to a meeting of an artist committee in the New Orleans area recently in which they discussed Katrina. They agreed that for 9-11, the heroes were the fireman and policemen who risked their lives to save the victims. "Who, though" they asked, "were the heroes of Katrina? Who was stepping up and sacrificing?" The artist and other men discussed these questions and concluded that it was the Christians who were the heroes.

What an amazing thing to be said. God's people are following his call and showing His love to these in need. His body is acting as He would like it. I don't think that artist could have said anything greater. What a chance to impact. An impression with a lasting impact.

What was even more interesting was that from this story the pastor of the church began to explain his experience after Katrina. Right after the disaster had hit, a missionary was visiting him who had helped in the tsunami relief earlier this year. This was a huge blessing for the pastor. As they talked, the missionary shared that from the relief Christians have provided for Muslims that had been hit by the tsunami, Christianity has spread. The Muslim people saw that the Christians met their practical needs, where as Islam had done nothing to help them at all. These people, who hated Christianity, were suddenly open to hearing what Christians had to say.

Another lasting impression.


Day #3: The Contrast of the Two

Originally uploaded by iBjorn.
Today there was no muck, no mold no wheelbarrows, but there were people and there were emotions. The plan was to help a church lady pack all of her stuff into a U-Haul. She was moving to Memphis, TN because her husband, who had been a lawyer in New Orleans, found a job up north. Easy enough I thought. But then you meet the people, and you learn the story and everything becomes real and vibrant and suddenly you’re almost a part of their story—and the pain they feel comes alive.

The people we helped move were parents of the sound technician at Trinity Church, Liam. When we pulled up to the house, I was a little surprised at how nice the neighborhood was and little damage it appeared to have.

Mandeville, Louisiana had not been flooded. The winds had come to knock over trees and take out some roofs, but in comparison there was minor damage. Kathleen, whose house it was we helped pack up, was a kind woman, who, although, she didn’t admit it at first, was not ready to leave. She couldn’t decide where the boxes she had packed should go; to her everything she had was fragile. At first her indecisions was ok. About an hour into the process she was driving me crazy, and then two hours into it, I realized how much she was hurting. It was a sea of emotion she was trying to swim through. 55 years in New Orleans, this all she knew.

One thing she said to us which I thought through quite a bit later was “I feel so bad with all my stuff, when people here have lost everything, and I haven’t lost any…but then again, I have to move. We’ve lost our jobs. How sad to leave and to leave these people in need.” Kathleen was definitely learning to let go, and for here it wasn’t the material possessions she owned. It was the more important things—the people she knew the family she loved and the house, which represented the life she knew.

At lunch time (her husband bought us Quiznos subs) we asked the man of the house about the specifics of Katrina’s damage to New Orleans and the history of the city.
It was incredible to hear all the history and terrible to see what happened from the hurricane. As we finished lunch, one of the neighbors, Miss Sarah, brought us ice cream. As we sat and talked with her, the “Red Hat” ladies appeared. Liam’s great aunt, who was 91 years old and her sister, Ursula or 83 years, stopped by to say “hey y’all”. Miss Ursula had lost her house in Mississippi. She told us about how it was completely destroyed—all of her antique furniture, her husband’s possessions (who had passed away 5 years before) gone. Her reaction to it all caught me the most. “It’s all material right. Only material.” And I could see as I watched her how tough it had been to come to that point. The only thing she knew for certain at this point was that she was visiting her sister. The two together were quite the pair: they had set up a game of bunko for later in the evening, and they were regular members of the “Red Hat” Society.

At the end of this day, I was more emotionally exhausted than I had been physically exhausted the night before. Meeting these people and learning their stories was worth more than anything else. In a way, it was far greater service than cleaning out a moldy house.


Day #1 New Orleans: The First Flash

Originally uploaded by iBjorn.
The First Flash:

Everything has been a dizzy, hazy, blur. Just moving along, not actually knowing or feeling much. Then suddenly, we are flying into New Orleans and I begin to see it. I tried desperately to peer over the Joe between me and the plane window.

First flash was water, swamps all around, and a small river. Houses began to appear. Most of them looked fairly nice. Was this the New Orleans I had heard about on the news with snipers and destruction everywhere? I guess it is true that appearances almost always are deceiving. The next second a huge pile of rubbage came into view, what used to houses. More houses dotted the landscape, some completely perfect and some with junk piles spread in between. An occasional roof was covered with a blue tarp, which I later leaned signified the house had lots its roof.
Overall, it didn’t seem THAT shocking. One of the guys sitting near a girl on our team shared that the specific route the plane flew was the through the least affected area. Finally, we left the airport and headed of New Orleans to Covington over the “World’s longest bridge” Not kidding—30 miles long. To be honest, it was 30 miles of disappointment to me. It was hardly a bridge, just a low-lying road over water. It was pretty though because all we could see what water. I feel like there will be some interesting dynamics at the church, Trinity Church, where we’re staying. I think some people are getting grumpy from the tight living situations. I’m anticipating a great experience though. The people I’ve met so far are more than kind. It’s all in God’s hands now.


A pretty good date

Sigur Ros concert
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
I had been waiting for Tuesday, September 27 2005 for about 2 years. Ever since I was shown Sigur Ros, an Icelandic experimental style band, first year of Trinity, I’ve wanted to go to their concert. Finally on the night came last Tuesday. I took Bjorn for our first date of being back at Tdub. The setting was impressive: the Orpheium theatre is pretty fancy. It was both of our first times there.

Everything seemed to work out well: we were walking up to the door and saw a huge line, but just as we were beginning to turn and walk to the back, Jolene, one of Bjorn’s friends from Trinity yelled at us. They were at the very front and we snuck in with them, so we maybe waited 30 seconds total. We found out later that the line went clear around the block, so it was awesome. And it gave us time to be able to check out all of the Sigur Ros clothes for sale. I bought an EP of the opening band playing: “Animane”, which is actually a sideproject of Sigur Ros; the four girls in the band started their own band, a very different, but appealing style of music.

Sigur Ros, was incredible. They have amazing presence on the stage: their music is so beautiful, and the way they used lights and images on the screen behind them was creative and unique. I was able to get a couple of pictures, and 3 videos. I will try to figure out how to post the videos online soon.

Well, I know SOOO many of you have been worried about me being “homeless” back up at Trinity (my roommate, Jana and I preferred the term “in transition” actually;)). But we found a place to live, and let me tell you this was no hole in the wall. We live behind the Lamplighter Café in downtown Ft. Langley, by far my favorite place around Trinity. Across the street is the grocery store and hardware store—could we be any more small historic town? I don’t really think it’s possible. Haha, but I love where we live. Bjorn helped decide that our place has “romance”. It is a very old place, with hardwood floors, a covered patio outside and courtyard with ivy growing over the fence. It truly is Romance (like from the Romance period, not love style romance). Everyone that lives in Ft. Langley calls it “the Fort.” So we cleverly came up with the name “Fort Romance” for our apartment.

Well, hello there Fort “Romance”!

the fort romance band
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Well, I know SOOO many of you have been worried about me being “homeless” back up at Trinity (my roommate, Jana and I preferred the term “in transition” actually;)). But we found a place to live, and let me tell you this was no hole in the wall. We live behind the Lamplighter Café in downtown Ft. Langley, by far my favorite place around Trinity. Across the street is the grocery store and hardware store—could we be any more small historic town? I don’t really think it’s possible. Haha, but I love where we live. Bjorn helped decide that our place has “romance”. It is a very old place, with hardwood floors, a covered patio outside and courtyard with ivy growing over the fence. It truly is Romance (like from the Romance period, not love style romance). Everyone that lives in Ft. Langley calls it “the Fort.” So we cleverly came up with the name “Fort Romance” for our apartment.


A working girl

This post is for all the people that make fun of me because I apparently "never work". I would just like to say that my three week break in-between summer school and the regular year has NOT been spent lying around in the sun (oh how I wish!) and sipping on smoothies, no, NO!

Instead I have spent the last week or so working at my dad's office. His paralegal and my friend, Leesa, has been out of work for almost a month because of terrible headaches. The doctor found out she has a brain tumor, but don't worry it is "inoperable" and her headaches were from a different problem. She is able to work half days now, and my dad is VERY glad to have her back at work, but for now I am helping out too. I did this job for 2 years in high school and didn't enjoy it so much, but there's something about it now that makes it so much more appealing (maybe it's the $3 dollar/hour raise;)). Anyway, whenever Leesa messes up at work, we tell her to just say it's because she has an inoperable brain tumor--it's somewhat humorous.

Maybe tomorrow I'll take pictures of the office, so the people whose imaginations don't work quite as well as they once did, can have a visual. It's actually quite a nice place: the office is in the top floor of an old historic house in downtown Corvallis. It's a fun place to work, for an office job.

But I can't wait for Trinity-- only two weeks away.


"Steph loves Oregon (but like who doesn't?!)"

"but like who doesn't?"
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Sunday I took Stephanie to Newport, Oregon to get a taste of the Oregon coast. I like Newport because it is only a 35 min. drive from my house, and there aren't tourists (like Canon beach, although you don't get the rock). We went to Beverly Beach and then I took her to my favorite lookout point, where sometimes there are crazy waves (unfortunately not that day). I loved being back at the coast...I always get sad when I've been away from it for too long.


The fairest Roses

Getting closer...
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Friday morning my friend, Stephanie (who was on the same study abroad team in Lithuania with me) flew in from Minnesota to visit and see the West Coast (and she chose Oregon!! Take that So Cal and Seattle) for the first time. Portland is known as the City of Roses so what better place could I take her after a little shopping on 23rd st, than the Portland Rose gardens in Washington Park?! We also went to Multnomah Falls and Oneata Falls (which is this little Waterfall you have to hike through a small gorge to). It is somewhat hidden, but absolutely beautiful and fun but freezing to swim in. Today we're going up to Portland with Jeff and Whitney to watch the X-games and see Swtichfoot perform.


Guess who's back?

Little Rocky
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Finalmente! I have returned to my blog. I took a break to enjoy the summer, in the form of taking two summer courses—I know, I know, what a way to spend the summer! No, in truth, I haven’t written for two reasons: first, I have not had a camera to visualize my experiences (which I know is not a necessity, yet definitely a plus) and second, busyness due to school and hanging out with Bjorn.

But alas, I have returned to my love. So this past weekend I spent in Southworth with Bjorn’s family (on the Puget Sound). Saturday we went to Bainbridge Island to visit Sarah and Jana, two of my best friends from Trinity. We went boating with them and spent the evening eating cookies, having dance parties, and talking (apparently a little TOO much talking for Bjorn. I guess boys just can’t keep up with girls!) Sunday, we went to church and out for a very “relaxed” sail.

This evening, I took Bjorn to the Fort Langley winery, and we tasted all of their “famous” fruit wines. We then went down to the creek at Williams Park and had a picnic. I gotta admit, in the summertime, there’s no way I enjoy eating my food more than a good ol’ fashioned picnic in a park.

P.S. You're welcome Peter Bulthuis for blogging. (I was beginning to feel a little guilty for the month and a half break :))

The forgotten fotos

Assisi from the city hotel
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
As I was browsing my pictures today, I realized that I never posted 2/3 of my Italy photos. So I now present the rest of my Italia pictures, from the countryside in Umbria County. They are of the city Assisi, the surrounding country, Perugia, and my day trip to Firenze (Florence). The quality of the pictures is low, because I was borrowing my Italian friends’ economic camera.

I am still hoping to get pictures of my time in Rome from one of the study abroad girls I met up with there. But this is pretty much the end of my Europe trip. Enjoy.


My first weekend home

I admit, I've done a bad job of not posting for a few weeks now...and to all of my faithful readers, I'm sorry. Well... finally I am home and getting adjusted to Northwest life again. I brought home a Spanish flu (gracias for that Jana!) and was sick for the whole first week. Then Bjorn came down for the weekend. Yes, I was very excited. After having dated for 5 months, it was nice to actually spend a couple of days in person with him. Jill finally graduated from high school so my family had a small party for her. We kind just hung out around Blodgett for the weekend, because I was still feeling sick and Oregon weather has been so unpredictable and random this year.

If you wanna see pictures of Jill's big day and of the weekend, check out Bjorn's flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/bjornb/ Oh yeah, there's also pictures of when he threw Dirka Dirka (our cat) in the river: it was really funny.


A little Spain, a little Jana....yes please!

Leaving Italy was very hard: I didn't realize until I left how much I had fallen in love with the country, and i don't think I could have left it for anything or anyone less than Spain and my favorite girl, Jana. It was the first time in 4 months and 10 flights that some one actually met me at the airport. We embraced and then spent the next week going to classes, taking a lot of walks, trying not to die from the heat (it was about 100 degrees every day) and riding the metro into Madrid.

I had to fly out Saturday evening from Madrid, so Jana and I spent the day touring around Madrid. We saw Picasso and took a boat on the small lake in one of the major parks. It is one of my favorite memories, but unfortunately, all of the pictures were on Jana's camera, which was stolen a week ago. So the memories are we have to hold onto.

It was one of my favorite memories from Europe hanging out with Jana, because for the first time since flying abroad, I was with a friend that I was comfortable being around and we were able to relax and go crazy at the same time. We had such a fun time together...and parting was bittersweet. But I am so glad that I was able to experience her YWAM dts and meet all of the people that she has spent the past 3 months with.


The most beautiful side of Italy

Italia 058
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
I am so tired right now, because I ate WAY too much food. For dinner tonight, I went with my friends, the Picconis (which means pigeon in Italian, haha--yes i make fun of them for that) to Fiorellas (the mother, my moms friend) parents house. At dinner were Fiorellas mom, dad, both grandmas, one grandpa, brother and his wife, and us. Excluding us, all of them live in the same house. The idea of community is very important to them. The grandparents have their own little farm and Fiorellas mom and dad take care of them. It is such a cool concept. Anyway, dinner was everything any American could hope for of Italian food and more. The pasta I had was cooked in chicken broth from a chicken that the family raised and killed, eggs from the chicken, homemade pasta, and then homemade flatbread--which was incredible! Fiorellas mom kept pushing food at me and I ate too much of course, but that is the same pattern for the whole week. Fiorella told me that Italian women believe that "a guest has not been treated well if he/she doesnt leave their house having gained weight"!!! Haha, well I am sure I have gained, because the food is so good, there is always a lot of it, and the women "force" you to eat a lot!

This week has been an amazing experience, from the huge grandeur and amazing history of Roma to the more relaxed lifestyle of the country here in Assisi. Today, Emanuele and Fiorella didnt have work (they are both teachers) so they let their daughters, Valeria who is 9, and Martina, 11, skip school (kind of ironic since they are teachers, pretty funny) and we went to Florence (or Firenze). Yeah, its true I actually went to the county of Tuscany--more than I could have hoped for--and spent a day in Florence. The most impressive things I saw there were the tombs of Michaelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, and the house of Dante. And the beauty of Florence is almost too much.

Tomorrow is my last full day here. The girls have school--oh yeah, in Italy children go to school on Saturday. I told the girls I think that it is a crime to have school on Saturday and they agreed. Anyway, they will leave after school for a small trip with girl scouts, so I will spend the day with Fiorella and Emmanuele and then Sunday afternoon I will take the train to the airport and fly to Madrid, Spain to spend a week with Jana. Too much excitement for me to handle. I must leave.


Roma, Roma, Roma!

Wow,what a long day of travelingç I cannot really believe i even made it. After all the connections and methods and forms of travel.


Walking around our hostel and getting lost did suck, and developing blisters on the feet--I guess that was good to get over. But dinner was so nice. For 8 euros each, Paj Ia and I had past and 2 glasses of white wine (vino bianco)ç we sat outside (and it was warm!) and an old Italian chef brought us each our meal. Can you get more Italian?? No, not for your first attempt in Roma!

I felt kinda tired after dinner, but I knew that Paj Ia and I should go out. So we took the metro to see the colloseum at night--BEA-UT-I-FUL! I couldn't believe it though, that we were actually standing outside the Colloseum. P. and I went crazy. we skipped around taking pictures and being complete tourists, saw some ancient sites, and just relaxed. Then we found the Trevi fountain and ate excellent gelato there. We were given some roses and took more pictures. We got hit on by 2 different men--Paj Ia said she was from Thailand and I told a man he could buy me pizza if fate brought us together again! Yeah, Italian men are too romantic ;)

Oh and a lady spit on Paj Ia for taking a picture--she was a bitter Italian woman, very unusual. After a couple of buses we made it back, exhausted but we had an amazing night.

Wow,what a long day of travelingç I cannot really believe i even made it. After all the connections and methods and forms of travel.


Walking around our hostel and getting lost did suck, and developing blisters on the feet--I guess that was good to get over. But was so nice. For 8 euros each, Paj Ia and I had past and 2 glasses of white wine (vino bianco)ç we sat outside (and it was warm!) and an old Italin chef brought us each our meal. Can you get more Italian?? No, no for your first attempt in Roma!

I felt kinda tired after dinner, but I knew that Paj Ia and I shoud go out. so we took the metro to see the colloseum at night--BEA-UT-I-FUL! I could believe it though, that we were actually stanidng outside the Colloseum. P. and I went crazy. we skipped around taing pictures and being complete tourists, saw some ancient sites, and just relaxed. Then we found the Vince fountain and ate good gelato there. We were given some roses and took more pictures. We got hit on by 2 differen men--Paj Ia said she was from Thailand and I told a man he couldy buy me pizza if fate brought us together again!

Oh and a lady spiut on Paj If for taking a picture--she was a bitter Italian woman, very unusual. After a couple of buses we made it back, exhausted but we had an amazing night


The month of May

Here is my schedule (pronounced with a British accent please: shedule) for the people that keep asking me and for anyone else that is curious.

May 5-11: Schladming, Austria with Pamela
May 11-14: Rome--meeting up with study abroad girls (Paj Ia and Pam)
May 14-22: Assisi, Italy--staying with some Italian friends of my family
May 22-28: Madrid, Spain--staying with Jana
May 28-29: London--staying with some Lithuanian friends from LCC
May 30: fly home finally!

A little crazy, I will admit. But quite a good time.

Hallstadt, a city on the lake

the city out of the mist
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Saturday morning, Pamela and I left with the Tauernhof (name of her bible school here) bus to explore a city close by called Hallstadt. All I knew was that it was a very old city and suppposed to be pretty--well everything is here in the Alps. But no one told me it was on a lake in the mountains. I was in awe. Too incredible to believe.
Pamela, Raheal (one of her close friends--she's Swedish) and I went with the group to the saltmines, supposedly the oldest in the world, over 250 million years old. Then the three of us walked around the little city, the sun was shining, the mountians were in view and the whole city was out because apparently a half-marathon race had just ended. What an experience! I really enjoy Austria.

Yes, the hills really are alive

With the sound of music. Honestly, I don't know how you couldn't sing when you are in the Austrian Alps--I didn't think it could be as beautiful as I had imagined, I was wrong. It is even more so...and it's been cloudy so I haven't even been able to see the whole mountain range.
But I am finally with my Pamela in the little town (well almost a village) of Schladming, Austria for the week. I arrived Thursday morning and will fly out Wednesday morning. It has been so relaxing here...being able to sleep again and take it easy. We're supposed to go for a hike today, but Pam is sick and the weather hasn't been too hot. Actually, it's sunny now, so I think I'll at least go for a long walk and find a pretty view of the area.
I cannot believe the difference in landscape here compared to Lithuania--it is a nice change. And being with an old, dear friend is also a nice change.


Straight out of London

Oh man! what a crazy but fun trip over. So many things could have gone wrong (as always with me) and yet none did. In fact, even better everything went right and better than I could have wanted. First back to Riga and leaving Eastern Europe.
[Ridiculous Riga]
I was a little nervous all day about taking my luggage on the ryanair flight. I was only allowed 15 kilos for check luggage--everything over cost $6.50 per kilo and the limit was 32 kilos total. Well my bags together equaled 31.4 kilos--ahh! The lady at the check-in desk gasped when she saw what I had. She was so kind and let me take one bag as an extra carry-on (which just doesn't happen on ryanair because it is a low-cost airline) Renald and I were amazed. So I only had to pay for 8 extra kilos, $65.00. What a deal!
Well anyway, after doing all the check-in, which of course took awhile due to me, Renalda and I went to the store, bought crossaints to share and sat down to eat and spend our last 10 minutes toegether. Right as we finished and I stood up, over the intercomm it announced that "Jennifer on ryanair" needed to go to the Info. desk. Excellent! Renalda and I just laughed. Security was waiting for me--there was something "Questionable" in my bag that they needed to check—haha, oh man.
So I had to go through customs and leave Nalda—after 5 hugs and 3 kisses and the security man laughing/nagging me, I ran off.
Apparently the “questionable thing” was my mom’s old music box which was now full of lavender. The security dude made me open my bag and search through it until we found the box. I think he felt a little foolish when he saw what it was—I just laughed and left. At this point, I had to walk straight to the boarding gate, which I made just in time.
I found Julija (Agata’s Lithuanian friend who lives in London now) and was able to sit with her and her roommate, Viktorija on board.
As if everything hadn’t already worked out, Juilija and Viktorija made my trip more amazing. Julija had already agreed to store my huge bag in her apartment (in the center of London) while I am traveling around Europe for the moth, which is so kind of her—no one else around LCC even considered helping me out!
Well as we were talking about when I would come back to London, they asked how long I would be staying and where. I told them I needed to book a hostel still and they said, “No way, you’re staying with us. We have an inflatable mattress; we need a pump, but we’ll get on e and you can stay on that.”
Then, THEN! Julija found out that I would have all of Sunday (May 29) in London and with no plans, so both she and Viktorija are going to ask for the day off of work and show me around London—I mean what the heck?! I hardly know Julija and I had just met Viktorija and here they are offering their house and their time to show me the city! Plus, they were taking my ridiculously heavy bag across London to their apartment. This was almost too much for me.
We landed safely and after an hour or so trying to figure out the best travel (it was around midnight so this was a challenge) I handed off my heavy bag (I called her Big Martha—that’s for you Ali ;)) gladly, said goodbye and let the girls go.

Now I am hanging out in the airport, listening to some men across from me speak a very weird language—I honestly think it is Icelandic (or Finnish—I know, same difference! Haha) and hoping I won’t fall asleep: it is 4 hours till my flight and no alarm clock, so I’m going for an all-nighter. I will sleep on the plane. Oh man—it is funny to look around at all of the people that are sleeping—SO many open mouths!
Tomorrow I fly to Salzburg, Austria; I will take a bus to the train station and then a train to Schladming to finally meet my beautiful Pamela. Ok, I am finally signing out for today.


The necessary (written in Latvia)

Some things in life are not necessary, but there are certain things in life that you just cannot survive without. Latvia is one of those things that without it, I am not really living. There was a time in my life, a majority of it actually, that I didn't know Latvia, but my world was so small--barely even there. Now my heart has been opened, wide open, to the Baltics--and I see life in a diffrent light: it is more massive, too much...there is too much that can be done.
Lithuania taught me nothing, that nothing can be everything...and all that makes any difference and has any meaning. Living in the Post-soviet world has been of two most difficult challenges in my life. but it is the type of difficult that you realize only in hindsight. Suvrival mode kicked in and my mind kept telling me, "you can make it through this." But now when I gaze back I see that at some point there was a change in my thinking. I didn't realize it consciencely, I don't know if I even have now (or if I can).
But something, or some one, in me caused a feeling of home, or comfort--or better yet understanding. Maybe just a flash second of understanding--but it was long enough to plant a seed of love.
With even just a small ration of water, despite the lack of nurture, the plant grew all the more stronger--it grew in the same way that determination grew in the people of this country...and now after it is all over, rather than death, this tree of love has blossomed fully. It speaks softly to me, through its beauty--whipsering loudly that, "no, this is not the end. this, my dear, is only the first blossom--as the summer comes, and goes, so must the flower fade away and yet the tree lives on." Through the winter, especially the harsh winters (like that of Lithuania) the tree learns endurance and perseverance--it learns to wait patiently through the cold and wet times, and then with greater beauty, as nothing ever before of its kind, it reveals a more glorius spring, one that cannot fade.
and so no I will wait for this spring: months, years perhaps even til Heaven and yet I do not wait in vain--for I know it will come.

Yet in Latvia I have discovered something of a different nature. Peole that are cautious to share with strangers, but when they open to you, it is with arms wide open. Here there is hope, there is life, a new energy--one that is borne from oppression, but grows and is not bitter about the past, but looks to the prsent and upward toward the future. People are alive in Latvia and there is home. In Latvia, I have found something necessary to my life. People--friends--and a kindred spirit.
"But if the sky can crack,
there must be someway back to loving all we love." U2 (electrical storm)


Leaving Lithuania: Heart Wide Open

How to act? What should I feel? Once again a semester is moving on and I have to leave people whom I have come to love.
But there is a different feeling in my heart today—leaving here hurts. It is like a piece of my heart is being ripped out: a piece goes to California, another to Latvia, some for the Midwest and yet a part stays here in Lithuania.
A bond holds all of these people to me—but what is it—why is it SO hard today? It must be, no I know it is becaue together we have endured, pushed through and overcome this challenge, this journey. In a cold, sometimes dark country that few people know (or care) about, I have found a home, and it is dear to me. My home is in the people whom I have experienced it all with. I was so afraid to open my heart for fear it would break—and break it did. But yet in the breaking comes a stronger healing and re-growth: so that as I go away, I leave a different person, changed forever by the popele I call home.

"as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing...as having nothing, yet possessing everything..we have spoken freely to you...our heart is wide open.” 2 cor. 6:10,11


island on the horizon

island on the horizon
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Saturday morning, I escaped the chaos of school and went to Liepaja, Latvia to stay at Agata's home for the weekend. She met me at the bus station and skipping with joy, she lead me to her house. After an incredible breakfast, we left her flat and she showed me her city.
I think what I loved best was being back at the ocean (well technically sea, but same idea) again. And being with a family...I had some of the best conversations with her mom about the challenges of being a Christian in Eastern Europe-where religion often refers to ritual. We spent the weekend relaxing and walking on the beach. Sunday evening before Agata and I had to leave, we took a walk with her mother and brother along the beach. As we gazed out at the water, Karolis remarked that the way the sun shone through the clouds it looked like there was an island on the horizon. We decided it must be Heaven--so close you want to swim to it, but it could never be reached on your own.
After the walk, we watched part of a football game through the holes in the outside fence--that was hilarious, just us and a couple of old men that didnt' want to pay! Finally, Agata and I loaded the bus...back to Lithuania for finals.


"Need a little wind here..."

So I don't ever know who reads my blog because no one ever comments, thus I do not really post that often. So please if you do read it, drop a comment once in awhile...anything really so I know people read it and maybe even like it.

Acui labai. Jenny.


Snap out of reality

perfect viewpoint
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Thursday morning, after getting a tour of Old Klaipeda in our Lithuanian class, Peggy and I decided to ditch our last class and go to the beach. We grabbed Polly and Jess and took the closest ferry across the spit. 40 minutes later, we got off the bus and walked through the little city of Nida.

It was so misty (almost foggy, but different) we couldn't see where anything was. We found a little pier and walked out. Then I saw one of the most beautiful pictures ever: swans swimming out of this mist. It was incredible. Peggy made friends with them, we got some quality pictures (check out my flickr site for them) and then we went to a little restaurant for lunch. We sat on the second floor, all alone. The huge wine glasses and 3 forks at each setting told us this was a nice place. It was so cool.

By the time we were done, the mist had cleared up and it was sunny and beautiful outside. How sunny?! Well, for the first time this semester, I wore a tanktop outside and bare feet in the sand and I was hot! That's just not Lithuania, but it was awesome. We ran down some dunes, looked out the horizon and layed in the sun. I felt like I had taken a step out reality and was in a daydream...well, it was my perfect daydream.


The DPRK (The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea)

Woah, talk about an eye-opening, mind-blowing experience. Today, one of our professors, Reuben, shared about his experience in North Korea, as a “Canadian ambassador” during Spring Break. The way this country operates is so different from anything, anything I have ever imagined.

So I will share about what he said. I don’t know how informed people are on this topic, but I know I knew very little about it. (for background on North Korea, check out BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1131421.stm) Since the end of the Korean War, North Korea has been a closed country, run by Communist rule. The capital is Pyongyang, the main city that Reuben visited. From his experience, Reuben said that the Korean people have this mentality that they are self-reliable, able to survive by themselves—which is proving not to be true. Their economy is beginning to weaken, and they are very dependent on China for imports, yet they would never admit this.

Yet they would never admit this and everywhere he went, especially the orphanages he visited, when the ambassadors offered to help, the Korean people always responded that they didn’t need help, but that they were fine. Only after much persistence would they begin to ask for medicine and food. And when given a tour, Reuben and the other ambassadors were only shown one or two classrooms, with healthy, well-dressed happy children. At one orphanage, he stole off saying he had to “go the bathroom” and was able to peek through locked doors at other rooms. In one room, he say a group of toddlers just sitting in the room, with no toys, no adults, no one. And they weren’t even playing together: just sitting. Another room, he saw a little girl through the crack in the door and waved. She smiled back and waved, then giggled. The adult in the room heard her and realized what happened and completely slapped the girl in the face.

More details on the daily life of the people: the government controls everything the people do. They say who is allowed to live in Pyongyang and who is not (only the socially elite are allowed). The people are broken into working groups, usually around 5 families. They are then sent to the fields and work, in return they do not receive money, but are given food and supplies from the government. North Korea does have a currency, but it is not commonly used and open markets are very rare. Everything is provided by the government. The people are also not exposed to T.V. very much. Thus their perception of the outside world is almost non-existent. In the city of Pyongyang with a population around 1 million, there are only 150 international residents, and all of these residents live in the same area. They are not allowed to go to certain parts of the city. In fact, almost 2/3 of North Korea is off-limits. No one is allowed to go there; the only thing we know about them is the little bits that spy satellites are able to offer. Thus it is a mystery what the government is really doing in these areas. Part of why the government does not allow foreigners is that they do not want their people exposed to the outside world, and even by seeing foreigners, the people are reminded of other ways of living which is extremely negative.

One of Reuben’s experiences was walking down the street. As soon as some one saw him, they would turn and walk the other way. When he saw a child, he/she would run away. Sometimes the children are taught that foreigners are the “white devil.” Thus, they have a very negative connotation of foreigners. Oh and their newspapers and media are very negative about he U.S. I was able to read through one paper (in English). It is interesting how strongly they portray patriotism and praise of their eternal leader, Kim Il-sung. Although he is now dead, this ruler lives on almost like their god. Religion is outlawed in Korean culture and very negatively looked down upon. yet, the way the people praise this leader is what many Western people would consider worship. Everything is always so positive about North Korea. They refer to south Korea as the “lost brother” whom the U.S. is occupying. One article referred to Bush’s first four years of rule as being one of “war and massacre.” Very strong language against the U.S. and they blame the U.S. for many, many problems.

After an hour of this presentation, I could not believe this different way of life I was being presented with. It seemed like the people of this land were so hopeless, with absolutely no freedom, no idea of anything except for what they are told to do. In the main cities, the people are not anorexic or sick, but slightly malnourished. But in the villages, where people are not allowed to go there is report of the people being highly malnourished, impoverished and struck with disease. And the government lies about it all. There is so much pride in their country. Even when the government distributes out rice which the U.S. sent as humanitarian aide, they tell the general population that the government demanded the supplies from the U.s. How is there hope in such a situation? Somehow there always is. Gain, (http://www.globalaid.net/index.html) is a humanitarian aide company run by a Christian man that has a base in Pyongyang, running an English and graphic design school. Basically the way it works is that the Korean government feels like they are using this organization to get what they want from it, but Gain on the other hand views it as an opportunity to offer humanitarian aid through offering food and supply services and also helping at the orphanages.

Reuben had the chance to meet the owner of Gain and was able to talk to him about how he and why he wanted to establish a company in North Korea. The owner replied that although he does not advertise that his company is Christian (or else they would be kicked out of the country) he personally felt like he wanted to do something for all of the children in the orphanages. How could he not help? He asked himself, when so many of the children are babies of Christian missionaries that have been sent to the guinjabe (sp?)—Korean prison camps. He knew he had to do something, and he says the way his companies succeed is by taking risks. Whatever the country’s government needs, they say they will supply it and find a way to. There is reportedly up to as many as 200,000 Christian missionaries in prison camps in North Korea. They have simply disappeared from the world. What an incredible story of despair and a great need of hope. Pray for the people of North Korea.


Aggressive Lithuanian men....

not going to miss them at all.

So it is getting near the end of school, only 2 1/2 weeks left until I leave Lithuania. Am I sad? Well, it is of course bittersweet (as seems to be so many things in life!). There are certain things I will miss: the many different recipes for potatoes--the Lithuanians are very creative with this vegetable: potatoe pancakes, boiled potatoes, cepilini (meat with potoates and dough wrapped around), potatoe salad and more. Other things I'll miss: public transportation and walking. I average at least an hour and a half of walking a day. Oh haha, and of course I'll miss the babushkas. But mostly, it is the people I will miss: from my babies in the orphanage, who I am starting to get very attached to, to my dear, sweet roommates. I have formed some close friendships, and it's a very strange thing to be with friends, who you don't know the next time in your life that you will ever be with each other. Somehow I know I will get to see a couple of them again, but when and how I cannot say.

But I realized today there are certain things I won't miss. And the biggest of these is the effect of alcohol in this culture. SO many people here drink, and many are alcholics. And men here are different: in general they are very closed, very "tough" in appearance. They will not talk to you at all if they do not know you, unless they've had alcohol and then they are what Peggy always refers to as "very aggressive." Together, she and I have had so many weird encounters. From walking down the street and having guys yell at us in Lithuanian, things which should not be repeated (ever!) to a boy riding by on his bicycle and screaming as loud as he could right in my ear. That happened today, oh and I was so mad at him, seriously! Oh there was also the time when we were walking by a group of guys at night and one guy launched at me, supposedly as a joke I guess. Somehow I didn't think it was that funny, but his friends sure did. And Monday night, a couple of us girls went to the sea to watch the sun set and while waiting at the bus stop, a group of drunk guys walked up. Luckily we had a Lithuanian girl with us, but we still wound up with one guy bending down and asking to hold my foot, why I do not know and introducing himself. Then they were splashing "pop" which I am sure was spiked with vodka around at each other. That lasted about 10 min. Never have I been more happy to see the bus come.

I have experienced drunk people back home, but never have I had such aggressive occurences. Actually, Klaipeda has a lot of muggings. Several people in the dorm have been mugged. I have been protected many times when I am out. And it is always a matter of trust that something bad won't happen. Talk about learning to trust God. Every night. Sometimes, when I step out of this setting, I look at my life and wonder how I ever wound up in Lithuania?! Of all places and of all my experiences...and yet I wouldn't not trade any of it ever. What I have experienced here, is different from anything else I could experience anywhere else. This is not a glamourous place, there is nothing extremely attractive about Lithuania, and Eastern Europe has little to attract people over Western Europe... and yet it is the place that I am attracted to the most. Somehow my heart has been drawn here, and when I leave a part of it will remain.


on top of the world...

on top of the world...
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Saturday a.m. Peggy, Polly and I joined 30 other students from LCC on a bus to see some interesting sites outside of Klaipeda. Our first stop was the old Soviet bomb shelter. I didn't know what to expect, but talk about such a weird feeling.

First we had to drive up into an empty forest to get close and then walk for a little ways, until we passed through a barbed wire fence that in Soviet times I guess was electrified pretty strongly. The Soviets paid off the Lithuanian people that had homes near this site. It was a pretty top secret base. And you can tell. Aside from 2 big mounds--like the one Peggy and I are standing on in the picture--there's not much indication of anything there.

Then we stepped into the bomb shelter--it was huge. Aside from being extremely cold and dark, the most interesting place was when we climbed up into the room where the Soviets launched their nuclear bombs. Apparently this "bomb launcher" as it was translated by our guide could do more damage than Hiroshima. Scary. I can't describe the feeling of standing there, looking down into the depths of that hole--it was 60 meters deep--and realizing how @ one point in this exact spot, bombs were set for all major cities in Western Europe. All it took was pressing one button and bah bam...what the heck?!

Well from the extremes of War times, we traveled to the winter gardens in Kretinga. It is a small palace that has been converted into a museum. Attached to one big room is a huge greenhouse--basically they created a rainforest. It was absouletely beautiful, I don't think I've ever been so excited to see plants everywhere in my life--mostly due to only having seen snow for the past two months. Yeah, I went crazy! I smelled everything, touched everything, and just sat and was so happy. The really cool thing is they have a small restaurant right around the "rainforest" as I like to call it, so Peggy and I decided we'd grab a bunch of girls, get dressed up fun, and go back there next weekend for dinner.

Speaking of dinner, that night we went to a traditional Lithuanian restaurant, Veskmingas. It was in the country, with a beautiful lake behind. After riding the zipline and playing with the random farm animals--including a yak, a yak! haha--Peggy, Polly, and I had some great banana crepes. After dinner, we were standing outside on the road looking at the lake and this man pulls up in his car. We were like, "great another drunk guy that is gonna talk to us." Oh but we were wrong. Instead he pulls up, makes sure he has our attention, and then peels out as he races off. Awesome, way to impress the ladies! Now we get to stand there smelling burnt rubber, which is one of my top 3 favorite smells in the world--not! Man, Lithuanian guys.

Today was a day of extreme contrasts.


the bottomless hole...

going down...
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Stepping onto the escalator, I stared ahead searching for our final destination. The stairs kept going down, like it was a bottomless hole. From that moment, I knew this trip would be unlike any I had or ever would go on.

Welcome to Russia: fur hats and blistering cold weather greet you. There are the babushkas and elaborate buildings, ladies selling cats in the market to Turkish kabobas. Russians take great pride in doing things well and use a great deal of money to make everything look nice—especially their metro stations. Who’s heard of statues and chandeliers in a metro stations? Only in Russia!

Highlights from today:
  • Red Square shots
  • Photo shoot with Russian Army Men
  • Touring the Kremlin
  • Spraying medicine in Peggy’s mouth in a Public Restroom, while all the Russian women stared at us in confusion
  • seeing the elaborate metro stations
  • "€œAnd this was supposed to motivate Russians to kill their grandmas?" One of our leaders'€™ comment, while looking @ a statue of a soviet girl standing proudly with a gun
  • Superstitious Russians: they are superstitious about everything. While in the metro station, I noticed the nose of a statue of a dog was shiny gold, because as people passed by they would rub his nose. And I found coins in the hand of several statues.
  • Josh getting busted by one of the babushkas for taking pictures in the Metro (definitely not allowed)
  • €œThe De La Guerda Show”: an experimental, interactive, and very crazy show performed by a group from Brazil
  • Renalda and I screaming as the acrobats were flying around us
  • One of the actors hugging and kissing Renalda
  • Justas (a Lithuanian) showing me how American boys dance—his point was that they can'€™t!
  • Walking to the Metro station with 10 other people covered in confetti and water after the "€œDe La Guerda Show"


The Hill of Crosses

Marmie's cross
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
7.00 am~ we left for Russia. Our first stop was outside of Siauliai (still in Lithuania) @ the Hill of Crosses. This is by far my favorite place in Lithuania, perhaps in the whole world.
"It is a symbol of suffereing, hope and unaltered faith of the Lithuanian people."
Here is the story: Lithuanian rebels were secretly buried @ this site where a castle used to stand around 1863. The people regarded the hill as a sacred place. By 1900, over 100 crosses were standing. During Soviet occupation, Soviet authorities wanted to destroy the hill. 1961: it was first devastated. The Soviet tried to destroy the hll for almost two decades, but after atch time it was reborn again. On September 7, 1993 Pope John Paul II visited the hill of crosses and blessed Lithuania and all Europe from the place.
"We come here in the moment of suffereing and joy. We come full of hope, love and faith."
~commentary on hill of crosses~

I have loved this place since I visited it two years ago (when I was on a missions trip in Latvia), but there is something different about standing at the bottom of the hill, gazing on the overpowering number of crosses in the dead of winter; the snow has covered the entire place in a peaceful, enchanting atmsophere. Today, I bought a cross to hang up for my mom. The anniversary of her passing onto Heaven is Mar. 11 so in honor of her, I hung a cross of hope and remembrance.


A stranger for a friend

Saulis and I...
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Today felt like the longest day of my life. This morning I flew out from Berlin, saying farewell to Steph. I won't see her again for at least 3 months. I decided to take a bus out of Riga to Sauliai, because the direct bus to Klaipeda wasn't leaving for another 5 hours. The layover in Sualiai was supposed to be 2 hours, but my bus never came. An older Lithuanian man who was waiting for the same bus kept asking me where it was, in Lithuanian of course, and I kept answering simply, 'I do not know.' Eventually he got frustrated and took me to the info. booth, to find out that the bus wasn't coming. Both of us were quite upset (me completely confused as to how I would get home). Well, this man kept rambling off things to me, none of which I could understand. I tried to explain to him that I didn't know Lithuanian, but apparently he didn't really seem to care as he kept talking to me a mile a minute. Through much confusion, he eventually led me to the train station and talked to a lady, setting us both up with tickets: him to Plunge, and me for Klaipeda. But it was another 2 hour wait until the train would come. So we hung out in the train station. Train stations in Eastern Europe are never heated, so this place was warmer than the -10 deg. celcius weather outside, but definitly not warm. I went the entire day being cold, but with the weather here, the feeling of coldness is something you get used to.

The man, Saulis, continued talking to me, until I faked sleep and then actually did fall asleep. After what seemed too long, the train finally came and we gratefully loaded. Once seated, Saulis continued talking for the next 2 hours, until he had to leave. We parted with many thank yous and farewells. An hour later I arrived in Klaipeda, grabbed the closest taxi, hiked the 5 flights of stairs and collapsed on my dorm bed. Never had I been so happy to be in a warm bed. It wasn't until I laid down to sleep I realized how crazy of an experience i had had that day, but how God had provided me with a stranger to be my friend. Perhaps Saulis wasn't an angel, but today he was mine.

Way home from Berlin

Thoughts while sitting in a cafe in Sauliai:
One thing I relaized that since coming to Europe, I have become so independent. I am not scared to make mistakes, because I have to make them everyday and I am actually starting to see that I do learn everytime I mess up. Along with that I am now okay with being uncomfortable and sometimes even awkward in many situations.
I think that is one thing though about living in a different country, where both the culture and especially the language is different: you can never fully get over the feeling of always being a little out of place. Ig uess that is what is so cool about LCC; there I can feel comfortable, mostly because there is not a language barrier. Also having the Christian environment makes a huge difference.
I didn't realize until after this weekend being around friends from the U.S. how much I have learned and how much I have changed--in attitude, in outlook, and in my perception of the world. Although sometimes I don't even like living in the East--it is harder than North America and even Western Europe--I have developed a great appreciation and a small understanding of this place. Eastern Europe has been through so much. The people here truly are survivors. I want to be very careful though not to judge the people or this culture after such a short time and to make false inferences or conclusions. 2 1/2 months is a short time, and what lays ahead in the next 2 1/2 may be even more of a surprise.


the wall...between east and west

Yesterday I landed down in Berlin, Germany. I spent the day hanging out with one of Stephanie´s friends from Juneau, Woody. We went to a soccer match at Olympia stadium, West Berlin won of course! After bratworsts and more trains than I can remember...he took me to the wall.

I stood there in the -5 degree weather, freezing, but staring in amazement. Only a small section of the wall, maybe 2 miles in length remains, but it is enough to get an idea of what it was like. The wall is now covered in local artwork, with murals of Stalin and Hitler, children, and different people. The most interesting thing to me was standing at a hole in the wall looking through to the "West", being able to see it, but imagining the people not being able to get in...for almost 30 years it separated the East from the West, and the East could not get through.

Later that night we went to the movie Sophie Scholl, about an anti-nazi girl that stood up for what she believed and was killed for it during Hitler´s rule. It was by far the most interesting movie I´ve ever watched. What an interesting day.


The Unexpected Riga

kissin on the bridge
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Germany, Switzerland, and France all in 5 days was the plan. It was a little busy, definitly stressful, but we were looking forward to it.
One missed flight later, Andrea, Peggy, and I were sitting on the floor of the Riga airport playing Blackjack, using the little bit of food we had left as our bets. Around 1:00am we finally walked into a "hotel" (more like a nice apartment flat)- I have never slept so well in my entire life!
We spent the weekend taking in Riga, Latvia. I knew this city from my missions trip two summers ago, so it was fun to see it again and to show it to the girls. We spent 4 nights @ Matejs Baptist Church (where I stayed 2 years ago). Sunday we went to the Matejs service. It was one of my favorite services--one of the coolest things to me is to see people worshipping God in other languages...cuz we can be singing the same song, but we're both worshipping the same God and he understands all of it! Woah, very cool. That night, I went to Anna (one the pastor's daughter's) apartment and hung out with her family for awhile and later we watched "White Chicks" (surprinsingly funny) with Andrea and Peggy.
Monday: Began with Ice skating in Old town. What a time! Andrea and Peggy, both California girls, hadn't been skating in awhile, so it was funny to watch them almost fall the whole time. I bet Peggy 2 Lats ($4 US) to hold some random kid's hand @ the rink--minus the parents we were the only people there over 14--I should have known better. She skated around for awhile, trying to find the "perfect" kid, and she almost gave up. We were laughing at her weak attempts, when suddenly she skated by with a 5 year old girl, proudly hitting me with a "you owe me 2 lats Jenny." I wound up holding the little girl's other hand and we skated around for awhile. Her mother was smiling/looking concerned on the side of the rink...we were all laughing the whole time. We of course couldn't say anything in Latvian, so we just smiled and waved at the mom! We had lunch and met up with Renalda--she was home for the weekend--and her two best friends @ Cili Pica. Peggy, ms. hypoglycemic ordered a milkshake and cheesecake...meaning she got very hyper and then hit a wall--What a thrill for Andrea and I ;) That night, my other friend Anna, took the three of us girls (Andrea, Peggy and I) out to Lido, The main traditional Latvian resturant. It's buffet style, so that was a quite the treat.
Tuesday: we all got pedicures, my first one ever--it was definitly nice--but I told the lady she was brave to work with feet. She just laughed. Then we went shopping, and to Pelmini, a Russian buffet style restaurant. In the evening, we went to a free choral concert in St. Peter's Cathedral...that was by far the most incredible time of the weekend. The voices echoing through the halls of the cathedral was unlike any other experience. That night, we had dessert @ an excellent Latvian chocolate shop where my friend Madara works and then we went down to the river to see Old Town from afar. It was the best ending to the weekend.


Kurpiai: Jazz kluba

Dovile & Gerda @ Kurpiai
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
Best jazz club in Klaipeda, especially Tuesday nights. The lead singer/trumpet player of the band is also a rep. for Klaipeda in parliment. The guy is so cool, and he sounds like Louis Armstrong. He knew Peggy and I were Amerian, so he'd yell things at us from the stage in English...it was funny.
And they made us dance-it really felt like we were in New Orleans. The place is so hoppin every night, you have to make reservations to get seats downstairs. By far my best club/bar experience in Lithuania.


saturday morning

the port
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
I had to get early to help run the powerpoint @ the Saltshaker (christian retreat) held @ LCC. I wasn't excited about the 30 min. walk, but it had just snowed so it was beautiful and so peaceful. It was exciting to see so many youth from all over Lithuania and Latvia @ LCC.

I walked back afterwards with Liga. The smell of the bakery we always pass, was so overpowering that we just HAD to stop and get a pastry. We walked back in the freshly fallen snow and had an excellent time. I took some pictures of the port and then just relaxed up in my room. It was nice to have a quiet morning. And now I think I may go watch "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind" with some girls.


"My Fair Lady"

"My Fair Lady" the play
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
I actually got to attend the play here! I was estatic to say the least. It was exactly like the movie Dad! (you would've loved it!) except for of course being in Lithuanian, but we all sang along in English. Liza Doolittle even looked remarkably similar to Audrey Hepburn, I was amazed. It was a fun evening going out with some of the Study Abroad girls.
We went to a traditional Lithuanian food restaurant afterwards. Rachel and I got the kapte duona (fried bread with cheese and mayonnaise)--you wouldn't believe how good it is, i'm definitely getting the recipe...and then i'll make it for all of you North Americans back home. We also split apple pie with vanilla ice cream--that was a little more taste of home, and excellent of course.
Afterwards I came home and got to talk to Bjorn over the internet, which was nice. The Youth Extreme retreat is this weekend and he a bunch of Trinity people are leading it--hopefully it'll be excellent. It's the biggest event of the year for the kids! They all look forward to it, so it should be good.


YWAM in Lithuania

Tonight I went with 8 other SA students to check out the YWAM building and the different ministries we can be involved in. Tim, a British lad on the paid team @ YWAM (7 people total) took us there from our dorm and showed us around, explaining everything in detail. It is a ministry in progess, and it is so cool to see their vision and how God is already working there. It was amazing how much of a feeling of community was present there.
the ministries they have include: a hs group on saturday nights, small groups during the week, english classes, family ministry, and they hook people up with an orphanage to volunteer at. It was amazing to see a group of dedicated people across the world being used so greatly by God to reach the people of Lithuania. I have decided that I am going to volunteer at the orphanage, the Baby House. It will be a tough experience because I have to be dedicated for 3 hours one day a week, every week, and the orphanages can be a depressing place to be, plus sometimes communication may be difficult due to no translator. So I'm gonna have to study Lithuanian hard so I can talk at least a little, and trust God with giving me the ability to persevere through this. YWAM also needs a lot of English teachers for a class from 7-8 Monday evenings, and since I took a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course last fall @ Trinity, I am going to help lead it. It will be a conversational-based classroom, so it will be interesting, a little chaotic at times, but I think it will be good. K, so now I've gotta go study some Lithuanian. Labankt (Goodnight).


A crazy Sunday

isn't this amazing?
Originally uploaded by
The Enforcer.
This morning Peggy and I left @ 11 to go the local market and get fresh produce and eggs. We made our weekly stop @ the second-hand clothing store on the way; everything was 50%, what a deal! We also stopped by the Urde store (the Lithuanian art store) I'm telling you, that store is the best.
It was sunny and even warm the whole time, but within 10 minutes of getting back to the dorm, a snowstorm broke out. The snow was so beautiful that Renalda, Andrea, Peggy and I decided to go run out in it and take some pictures. We were having an excellent time, until Viddy and Martinis (boys across the hall from Peggy) decided to start a snowball fight with us. We were yelling so loud that I guess everyone in the dorm wound up watching us from their windows...haha it was probably a funny scene to watch: Renalda kept screaming, Peggy was yelling, "Prasom, ne, Prasom!" (Please no, please!--as if Lithuanian was really going to make them stop!) Andrea was trying to take pictures and yelling, "Don't get my camera wet, seriously guys." And I was trying to stay out of the fight but everytime I got hit, i got mad and would attack them...overall it was somewhat unsuccessful on the girls side. So we ran off to the grocery store, Ikiyuokis, to buy some food. We took some more pictures in the snow on the way back. It was so cold tonight that the snow actually has stayed, but its very icy. I haven't fallen yet though...proud of myself on that one.


Sauna time

Saturday morning at 11, four girls stepped out from karklu penki into a snowy blizzard to trek to the Baltic Sea and experience the traditional Lithuanian Sauna.
We arrived @ the ferry dock to be delayed for 1 1/2 hours due to the snow storm. We hit up the best cafe I've been to yet here and then walked around old town and found the coolest little Lithuanian Art store. It was full of local Lithuanian art-paintings, pictures, sculptures, etc. I have been back already twice since then, the owner lady and I are good friends already, haha.
Finally @ 1 pm, we took the ferry across the spit (only a little longer than the Ft. Langley ferry, yeah pathetic) then we hiked through a national park for 20 min. and finally arrived @ the beach and found the sauna.
It was a tiny little building, hidden to the public...it's not advertised at all, but local people go there every weekend. It was an incredible time. We sat in the 100 degree C sauna for about 10 min. and then when we thought we were going to die from heat we ran straight out the door and 100 ft. into da Baltic (0 degrees C) So we went from boiling point to freezing point and back again...crazy, but really good for the body. The Lithuanian people do it very often, especially during the winter. We're going to try to do it @ least once a month.
We finally got back to the dorm @ 4:00pm and made a killer dinner--we were starving. That night Peggy, Andrea and I took the bus to Maxima (a huge shopping mall). When we were getting off the bus, I tripped and fell in the middle aisle in front of everyone. I totally hit my shin and my chest--a lot of pain. Everyone on the entire bus, including the driver stopped and stared at me...then the bus started again and I was trying to get Peggy to tell the bus driver to stop cuz we needed to get off, I was yelling, "ne, ne, ne! Sustoti!" The bus driver stopped and i hobbled off. Everyone was still watching me the entire time. it was hilarious but by far the most embarrassing experience of my life, and due to the other culture I couldn't even try to laugh at myself and make some smooth joke to smooth over the experience. Haha, oh well...I guess it keeps life interesting. What a day!


karlu penki (5)

In my room
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
The dorm experience here is definitely something different. There is only one huge dorm, built in Soviet Style (piling tons of people in a single buidling with the only the bare essentials, everything was made as simple as possible). There are 13 different nationalities represented in this dorm, so it is a very multi-cultural experience. I live in a single room with three other girls-Renalda, Agata, (both Latvian) and Dovile (Lithuanian). We have two bunk beds, our own desk and shelves, and then we share a bathroom, sink, fridge and kitchen table. We also do all of our own cooking. As a Study Abroad student, I am given a monthly stipend of 550 litas, about $200 US, which is more than enough to pay for groceries-I'm able to go out, which we do almost every night, either to dinner or to a jazz club or bar.
My roommates are amazing ladies. I am already close friends with Renalda and Agata. I think tonight even, we are going to go out to Global, the local dance club (it is half price on Thursdays, so everyone, and i mean EVERY one from LCC, my school, goes). They absolutely love dancing here, which works well for me, cuz I like it a lot too, haha. The only part I do not enjoy besides obviously experiencing drunk people, is the smoke. People are allowed to smoke inside everywhere here, except for in LCC and our dorm (which is so nice). I definitely took for granted having fresh air back home. Smoke in the eyes is definitely the worse, but I guess this is all part of experiencing a different culture...which has been a challenge, but an exciting one.


Renalda's Name Day

The ladies strike a pose
Originally uploaded by The Enforcer.
In Latvia, there is a famous tradition, where all names are put on a calendar and then when it is your name day you celebrate your name.
So my roommate, Renalda has a rare Latvian name, but this year was the first that she was on the calendar so we went out to her favorite spot, the 12th floor restaurant of the Klaipeda Hotel to celebrate. It was me and 5 Latvians which was a bit frustrating cuz I'd have to tell them to speak in English once in awhile, but it's interesting how well I can tell just from listening and watching their body language what they're saying. The lighting of the table made for really cool portraits, so we wound having a photo shoot (well it wasn't, but i called it that! haha)
It was such a fun evening, minus the trick the boys played on me. They made me think there was something excellent to see on the 9th floor, so when we got there I was anticipating a beautiful view of the city. Well, it was actually a strip club! I went from a gasp to turning around and almost curling up on the ground. The boys just laughed. I was very mad with Ivars (who took me there), well I tried to be, but they were all laughing at me so much in the restaurant, that i had to laugh. It was bad, pretty funny, but still bad. But the evening was the best I've had since being here.


The city of Churches

I just got back today from the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius. It really is a beautiful city, everywhere you look there is a cathedral and all at least 500 years old!
It was so interesting to see all the different buildings of the city. Renalda and I agreed that our favorite part of touring was to see nicely painted, restored buidlings with ruins or a shack right next door. It gives the city more personality and depth. Nalda said, "who would want to see all perfect buildings?! That is simply fake, but this is truth."
My favorite experience was definitely visiting the main cathedral in the big square. I loved standing on the wishing stone outside, making a wish while spinning around 3 times (yes, i got a little dizzy)....oh and the inside was absolutely breath-taking. Everything was elaborate. Beautiful paintings of the disciples and Jesus all over the walls. The Lithuanian people actually disguised spending money on the church during Soviet Rule by saying the church was being used as a gallery (Those Clever Lithuanians!). But the best part about the Cathedral was how peaceful it was just being in there. I bough a candle to place for prayer @ Mary's altar and one morning I went in alone just to pray. It was incredible to sit in such a place and worship God. I didn't feel like He was any closer there than when I am in my room, but there was a definite respectful fear present as people recognized his holiness.