2016: Lithuania, Georgia (& Dachau)

Klapeida, Lithuania

Klapeida, Lithuania

Hi everyone,
Well, 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year! This spring we are once again traveling to Lithuania, for Brent to teach on Drug & Alcohol Addictions at LCC University. Last year we enjoyed working with the wonderful students of this unique university, and we are excited to work to equip bright leaders to bring healing to their country. Once the course is wrapped up, we will be traveling to a satellite campus of LCC University in the country of Georgia. There the university is establishing a program for Syrian refugees, whose education has been interrupted by the brutal civil war in Syria. Brent will be meeting with the students and providing psychoeducation for them in the area of Trauma, as most if not all of the students have experienced life-threatening circumstances. This will be a time to build more resources and understanding in the students and faculty, to equip them to deal with the after-effects of the trauma of war.

We also realized that with the stopover in Germany that a travel agent planned for us, we will be very close to the site of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. We can’t help but take the opportunity to visit the site and walk the grounds of the camp for a couple of hours.

We are looking forward to contributing to LCC University and their visionary work in Lithuania & Georgia! Please be praying for us as we prepare for the trip. Pray for the students in Lithuania (from many countries in the region), as well as the Syrian students in Georgia. And, as always, please pray for our children as we travel in May.

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Klaipeda, Lithuania

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Auschwitz-Birkenau

On our way home from Lithuania, we stopped off in Poland to visit the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It seems that in our travels we are often coming in touch with genocide, and this trip was no different. ( And, true to form, on our upcoming trip to Lithuania in May 2016 we will have a stopover in Germany, where we will be visiting the concentration camp of Dachau). Words cannot really explain the depth of emotions that one feels while walking through the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, and, even now, months later, we are both still processing what we saw.

Front gates of Auschwitz

Front gates of Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Gates of death, Auschwitz-Birkenau

Gates of death, Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz-Birkenau

End of the tracks, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The gas chambers were located directly in front of Christy.

End of the tracks, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The gas chambers were located directly in front of Christy.

Where the ashes of over 1 million people were dumped, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Where the ashes of over 1 million people were dumped, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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Soviet Occupation of Lithuania, and the Lithuanian Genocide

When Christy and I visited Lithuania in May 2014, we heard many stories from local people about the impact of the Soviet occupation of the country. The Lithuanians described many murders and oppression from the Soviet regime, and attributed the high alcoholism rate to the brutal experiences their people faced during the years of occupation. This is a sad reminder of the often unseen impact that oppression can have on populations of people. There were many sites surrounding us that were a stark reminder of this era of occupation and genocide in Lithuanian history. By going over there to teach keen students on principles related to working with addictions, we hope to play a small part in equipping the Lithuanians to deal with this dark history.

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Site of where the Soviets stored their tanks and machinery during the occupation, Klaipeda, Lithuania

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Former Soviet Headquarters, now a university campus. Klaipeda, Lithuania

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Former Soviet Headquarters, now a university campus. Klaipeda, Lithuania

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Former Soviet Headquarters, now a university campus. Klaipeda, Lithuania

Soviet-era apartment blocks, now renovated, Klaipeda, Lithuania

Soviet-era apartment blocks, now renovated

Soviet-era apartment blocks, Klaipeda, Lithuania

Soviet-era apartment blocks, Klaipeda, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Former KGB headquarters, Vilnius, Lithuania, now a museum of the Lithanian Genocide.

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LCC University

LCC University is an English-speaking university in the Baltic coastal city of Klaipeda. In May 2016 Brent is excited to have the opportunity to teach there again, just like he did in 2015. He will be teaching a course on Drug and Alcohol Addiction again, in a country that has extremely high rates of alcohol abuse. Here are some sights around the LCC University campus:

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Some scenes from Klaipeda, Lithuania

In May 2015, we had the opportunity to visit Klaipeda, Lithuania, for Brent to teach a course on Drug & Alcohol Addiction at LCC University. The trip was a resounding success, and Brent really enjoyed working with the bright and energetic students! Here are a few pictures around the old city center of Klaipeda:buildings cross flowers statue street yellow house

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Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland & Garissa, Kenya

After our work at LCC International University in Lithuania, Christy and I will be taking a side trip to Krakow, Poland. Many Jewish people there were rounded up by by the Nazis and sent to the nearby Auschwitz Concentration Camp, which we will be spending a day at.Auschwitz-Birkenau-1 This is an especially poignant opportunity for Christy, who has personal connections to World War Two, and who views this visit as a ‘bucket list’ item.

We seem to be interacting with genocide in our work, whether through our visit to important sites in Kigali of the Rwandan genocide, or on stopover trips in Amsterdam (for instance, touring the famous house where Anne Frank wrote her diary and hid from the Nazis).

On this, the 70th year since the liberation of Auschwitz, and the end of World War Two, we are honoured to once again be given the opportunity to reflect on the unthinkable yet all-too-real atrocities committed against humanity. auschwitz-157.T0

Our hearts also ache with the students and faculty members of Garissa University in Kenya, where many people died in an attack by Somali extremists. A few years ago Brent taught at a Kenyan university (Pan African Christian University) in Narobi on the topic of Trauma Counselling: regrettably this topic is all the more needed at a time such as this. May those students and others be equipped to meet the challenge of the grief of Kenya during this difficult time.

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Meeting the Challenge of Lithuanian Youth Alcohol and Drug Use

According to a 2003 survey of Lithuanian teenagers on the topic of alcohol and drugs,  Lithuanian young people have a higher drinking and smoking rate compared to the rest of Europe. The vast majority of Lithuanian young people (94%) drink, and  2/3 reported being drunk in the previous year, both rates being  significantly higher than the  European rate. At the same time, the Lithuanian students used less marijuana compared other European teenagers, and their rates of using other illegal drugs is  about the same compared to other European youth. Lithuanian students also use tranquilizers or sedatives without a doctor’s prescription at twice the European average.
It is into this complex environment that we will be entering in May, discussing the use (and treatment) of various kinds of alcohol and drug addictions. We are going to LCC International University for Brent to teach Psychology students to understand and meet the unique challenges of their country and region. Hailing from from all over Eastern Europe and Asia, including global hotspots like Ukraine, the students of LCC International University have an incredible opportunity to impact their area of the world, and it is an honour to play a small role in their equipping.

(Research data from: http://www.espad.org/uploads/espad_reports/2003/the_2003_espad_report.pdf)

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