A letter from Eric and Becky Hinderliter in Lithuania
June 2, 2009
Greetings from Klaipeda!
You probably know that the PC(USA) Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is the longest-running publication of the Presbyterian Church. It dates back to the year 1892. We hope you are regular readers of the Yearbook. This year’s edition has a feature called “John Calvin and Education: To Grow in Knowledge and Grace” by Victor Makari. His article calls on Presbyterians to “celebrate — and, we hope, reclaim — EDUCATION as major hallmark of our mission around the world.” As mission co-workers and teachers at LCC International University, we are proud to be part of this heritage. We are invested in the task of educating young people from Eastern Europe to be a new generation of leaders in their countries.
Our lives as teachers are enriched by our students. We wish you could meet them all. Here is the story of a bright young woman, just completing her third year at LCC:
My name is Aliaksandra Pinchuk, and I come from Grodno, Belarus. As long as I remember myself, I have always been captivated by learning foreign languages, seeing new places, cultures and other people’s way of life. My real adventures, though, began in 2004, when I, as a participant of the Foreign Leaders Exchange program (FLEX), spent an entire academic year in the United States. Throughout that year I shared my culture with hundreds of people and learned twice as much, attending American high school and living with a wonderful American family.
After that amazing cultural and academic experience, I knew right away that I wanted to study in English and continue learning more about different cultures. FLEX alumni suggested that I apply to LCC International University. Here I found everything I was ever searching for: the English language, gifted and encouraging professors, a diverse international environment, a Christian worldview and many opportunities for leadership.
This year, as a student leader (study abroad intern), I traveled with North American students to Russia, Latvia and Estonia. During my second year I was involved in a year-long orientation for the first-year students. This summer, I am excited and honored to be in Prague, Czech Republic, studying the political and economic transition of nations in Central and Eastern Europe, provided by the Fund for American Studies. I am very thankful for having this opportunity to develop further my leadership potential, learn more about the world and be able to contribute one day something of value.
When I came to LCC, I knew I was a believer: I have always been an active Catholic Church member and went through all the possible confirmations and sacraments. However, you can never know much about the true meaning of being a Christian and practicing the Christian faith until you see examples. In this way I have grown and matured at LCC. I was blessed with people who truly showed how they walked humbly with God, cared for people, never boasted, required little and gave much and showed no aggression or anxiety about their future. They believed that God would make a way; they had that special peace about them. I have grown to understand the value of love for others, patience in what we do and hard work. I also understood that belief is not only about going to Church regularly, but it is our personal choice, our dilemma with which we are confronted daily. It is a way of life, a way of thinking and behaving, something that is never static and requires constant work. I am very grateful that I had and still have such wonderful people around me who challenged my understanding of the “cruel and unforgiving world” and showed me that we can have the beauty of the world inside us, in our hearts. God is in us when we love, when we are compassionate, when we are forgiving. This particular passage is very dear to me and I read it often to remind myself that to be loved, we need to love, to be understood, we need to understand and to be forgiven, we need to forgive: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
We have all the hope in the world for the contribution we are sure Sasha will make to the church and to her society. Friends, we believe in the Reformed tradition of education. The 2009 Yearbook says we should give thanks for our mission legacy of education. “Wisdom informs faith and instills reverence and humility of heart in the fellowship walk with God.” It is our joy to pass on the story of Sasha and to give thanks to what God is doing in the lives of young people today. And thanks to all of you for making it possible for Becky and me to be teachers and present in the lives of the students at LCC International University.
In October, you have the opportunity to participate in two events that highlight how God works through the PC(USA) and our partner churches and Christian institutions such as LCC throughout the world. Forty PC(USA) mission workers will be visiting hundreds of congregations across the United States to tell how God is at work around the world. The event, called World Mission Challenge, is a similar event to that held in the fall 2007 and will be held September 25 – October 18, 2009. Learn more at the Mission Challenge Web site or call Ellen Dozier at (888) 728-7228, x5916.
World Mission Challenge will conclude with World Mission Celebration, a gathering for Presbyterians committed to mission.The event will be held October 22–24 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Learn more at the Mission Celebration Web site or call Lis Valle at (888) 728-7228, x5279.
Eric and Becky Hinderliter
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 178