Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Peter, throwing his head back in delight that our airport hotel had a little yard in which to relax and play, and all only 200 feet from the departure terminal.

But he does not take blynie as seriously as he ought. You don't go to Gusto laughing like that.

In front of some of the brighter buildings in Vilnius.

Part of the soon to be released "Lamp-post Series".

Which one

of these

zany characters got


2 days after SLI was over?

If you guessed Luke (the one in the red shirt), you were right.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Theule. Godspeed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're back

home, after 24 hours of travelling. Haven't really even had time to think about our trip in any kind of general way. It was all fast and furious, so to speak. I'll put more pictures on the blog soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Sun is Setting on SLI

But not before my class

could have some fun and games.

playing "Do you love your neighbor?" with Ellen's class on the last morning.

Then we all went off to the closing ceremony to say our various goodbyes.

We shook every person's hand and said goodbye.

Farewell from Klaipeda. I'll "see you" again when we return home to Tacoma.

Thanks for a wonderful 3 weeks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


With such a big apartment (3 bedrooms, a nice sitting room, bathroom, kitchen--I'd guess 1200 sq. ft.), we decided we'd do a lot of hospitality. And since we didn't bring a guestbook, we took photos instead.

Several of my students (and a friend of one, from another class).

Some of the summer teaching and residence life staff.

Sharon and Kel, the summer pastor at SLI.

Several more students (and a couple of their friends).

More students.

Summer teaching staff.

The academic vice president and Ellen.

Students of mine.

Summer teaching staff, and the student life vice president (on the right).

All together, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Canada, New Zealand, and the US are represented here.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Peter C. asks about how much Russian we can use here. Sandy has retained some of her Russian from that year living in Saratov--just enough to figure out most very basic things. Most people--especially older folks-- here can speak Russian. People under 25 may speak less, but most of those who don't speak Russian probably speak English. And we (me just by face and demeanor, Sandy by both plus the words) have experienced no resistance or bitterness about speaking Russian.

The conversation I described in the market was interesting. The three older women were curious how it was that we are white and Peter is black. At first they were speaking in Lithuanian, and we were both a bit shell-shocked. Then I heard the word 'bianca' and wondered if that meant white and they were asking about this. Sandy finally said, "I don't understand," in Russian, and they switched. She figured out that, yes, they were asking about this, so we used one of our 7 Lithuanian words--evaikantas (e-vigh-kahn-tahs)...adopted.

So, with a little Russian and a lot of English, we get by just fine here.

The Market

This is Ira (transliterated Russian--say it like 'ear-uh,' but with a rolled or trilled r.) She sells breads and cookies at the big market in old town Klaipeda. She knows Sandy pretty well now, because Sandy often goes to get me these delightful cookies...

...the ones she's packing into that bag. They're are a light creamy coconut paste covered in a delicate chocolate, all on top of a crunchy cookie--almost a cracker--with a lightly sweet chocolate flavor.There. There they are...on the scale. See them? We buy kilos of them.

The other interesting thing about the market is seeing the groups of older women who, all the sudden, realize Peter is there and all at once start chattering, 3 or 4 of them, non-stop, simultaneously, fast, and inquisitively. It's like some strange shock wave passes over and through me, and leaves me momentarily paralyzed. They speak with such urgency, and I have no idea what they're saying, but I get the feeling that I can't possibly go until I've answered the questions, solved their problems, or somehow made them understand me.

Then Sandy's Russian kicks in, and she solves it all, so we can move on.

Planting Seeds?

I've tried mightily to spark a discussion on some pretty serious topics. Today, we wrote on what the virtuous life looks like and whether/how they would try to live thusly. I just didn't get much response, though, as I've said, they apparently are really processing things when they sit there looking blank (in the very kind of way that makes you nervous with American students).

I did end up having a lengthy conversation with one student about whether we should/can allow each to have his own rules (basically). She even said to me, I need to think this all over, and then I can saywhat I think.

It seemed like a fruitful conversation...and we (Sandy and I both) will follow up.

And only 2 more of these Questions of Life groups--Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wandering Around Riga

Ellen collected some flowers, from where I don't know. They sure made our rooms smell good.

We went to an English language worship service in this church (though this picture is Saturday--just visiting). We met one Estonian family and a German young couple. So, I guess they come to this church, even though it's there second language...?


43 hours in Riga--205 pictures.
A Russian Orthodox church.

One of many examples of the architecture in Old Riga.

The Latvian Parliament building.

The War Museum.

One of the many churches in Old Riga.

Old Riga is quite lovely. Riga at night, however, is another story. Riga is now what I've always heard and read about Prague in the 1990s. Western European and American young backpacking partiers who frequent the many (and I mean MANY) clubs that are open all night. German and Japanese tourists (in groups) during the day. Everybody there speaks English. We did not encounter one clerk or service person who did not speak passable to good English. I'm glad we went, but I have no need to go back.

A local woman at the bakery/sweets store across from our place.

Amelia contemplating the sugar cup at the Soviet restaurant.

"For Stalin"--or thereabouts.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More on Riga

Speaking to a few Americans with a long-term presence in the region, I understand that stag parties are quite common in Riga (and less so in Vilnius). In fact, this article indicates they are common (and annoying) enough that the participants are suffering backlash.

Riga, Latvia

In a few hours, we head for Riga for the weekend, so we'll be out of touch until Sunday night.

The Questions of Life group went well yesterday afternoon. 3 of the first 5 came back, and four new people came. The discussions have been stimulating for us, so we're hopeful that the students have been stimulated, as well.

More in a couple of days.