Micah Nazarino, Sarah Hemmett, Andrea Loutsis, and Kimber-Lee Hoeye, when signing up for “Deputation”, a program that sends college students to serve in different countries, did not expect to end up in Lithuania, a country they have never been to. Serving at LCC International University by helping out with Summer camps and Summer Language Institute is the team’s purpose. They have been enjoying all the new experiences and being a part of LCC community even for just two months.
Could you tell us how you ended up at LCC, serving in different ways?
Andrea: All of us go to a college ministry together, which is like a church, but rather it is a youth group. There is this thing on Tuesday nights called the “Inn” and it is hosted at the University Presbyterian Church.
Micah: There is a trip called "Deputation" which happens for two months during the summer, and college students have an opportunity to go and serve somewhere. You have to sign up for the trip and then you are paired with a team, and later you are sent to the place that have been chosen for your team. Before we came to LCC, we found out about it from Valerie Giesbrecht, who has been coming to SLI for the last six years or so. Valerie also goes to our church and this is how she shared the contacts to LCC, so we have also been talking to Gretchen Ketner, SLI’s director, prior to our trip here.
Kimber-Lee: We did not know where we are going until February. We had no clue what were the destinations, so all we had left to do was to pray and wait. And we are not the only team who went to serve to other countries. There is one team serving in India, one in Rwanda, and one in South America. Each team gets to do something different, ranging from teaching to sharing more about sanitation. The team in India is actually helping out a non-profit organization Rescue Pink that empowers women to become business leaders and engineers.
Once you were placed in a team to go to Lithuania, have you heard anything about this place before?
Micah: If you would have asked me what Lithuania is, I would have probably said that it is a country and that was the extent of my knowledge about it. When we have finally arrived, it was easy for me to adjust, since I was in Europe last summer visiting some of the exchange students that were in the U.S. The biggest adjustment for me was learning Lithuanian names. It is extremely hard to remember them and even to pronounce them. However, I am trying my best.
In order to come to Lithuania, you also did a fundraiser for your group. Could you share a bit more about this?
Micah: Every team that goes on "Deputation" does fundraising. We did different things, for example we would work for our families or friends and we would spend the whole day working. Fundraising is an amazing way for the church to support those who go to other countries and serve there. You feel blessed when people believe in you enough to help you do this. We also have a Facebook group where we post updates about our stay here at LCC, so people who support us and who pray for us can have a chance to experience what we have here even a little bit.
Part of your service here was participating with the Kids and Teens camp. How has it been for you?
Sarah: Honestly, I was nervous about coming to Lithuania because I did not know how much of the English language the kids or even teens would now. However, with the kids it has been amazing. They know way more English than I expected them to, and they are here having fun with us. When they do not understand something, they always have a friend that would translate into Lithuanian or Russian what we are talking about. I also think it is cool that in this camp you are supposed to speak only English, and this makes life a bit easier for us, since we do not know Russian or Lithuanian. Communicating in English all the time is really beneficial for kids since it really pushes them to start speaking, and we have seen some progress. They really try and use their English skills as much as they can.
Kimber-Lee: As for me, I definitely learn more about being patient. Sometimes kids will try to teach me some Russian or Lithuanian words, and when I cannot pronounce them correctly, it is the funniest thing for them. I believe this helped me in terms of connecting with kids, since they see that I am open to learn their language, even though it involved a lot of hand gesturing to try and understand each other.
What do you hope to get out of your time here in Lithuania by being involved in all the various activities?
Micah: I am really passionate about answering the question “how do I love my neighbor better?” I think that is what I want my life to be based around. I would love to learn what it is like to love people that are not just from the culture that I grew up in. I think there are different places to learn how people accept others around them, and this experience might later be useful for me when I get back to the U.S.
What is your overall impression of LCC?
Andrea: I think all of us are having a really good time. Being with the kids camp and other activities, is exactly why we are here. I am excited to see what else is coming our way with SLI.
Kimber-Lee: I have also talked with my roommate in the dorm, who shared that at LCC you get a lot of Study Abroad students, so you are used to having Americans on campus. So far, for all of us it has been an amazing experience. I would also love to add that the LCC students we met here are really cool. Those who are at the reception in the dorms and at DeFehr, have been extremely welcoming, helpful, and nice.