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Mission Connections
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A letter from Eric and Becky Hinderliter in Lithuania

December 1, 2009

Friends,

Merry Christmas! Becky and I will again be celebrating Christmas here in Lithuania. Like you, we are preparing this Advent for the arrival of hope in the world. God’s gift of his son breaking into our lives is for our redemption and renewal.

We are getting ready to leave Lithuania at the end of the month for an extended time of mission interpretation in the United States. Becky and I have not been to the United States since mid-2007. We look forward to seeing our families after two and a half years. For us the cost of mission lies in the many family events —weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays — that we cannot be part of. Some we have known and loved are gone now, and we were not able to be a comfort for those who grieve. We also expect some “reverse culture shock” as we return to the United States after a long absence. Please be patient with us while we catch up.

Photo of three women standing together in a room to have their picture taken together.

The Rev. Sigita Švambarienė (center), from the Lithuanian Reformed Church, with PC(USA) mission co-workers, the Rev. Jane Holslag (right) and Becky Hinderliter.

We leave Lithuania and LCC International University with mixed emotions. The atmosphere in Lithuania is somber: The Washington Post recently gave a succinct assessment: “Few countries have suffered as much from the global financial meltdown as Lithuania, which has seen its gross domestic product shrivel by 19 percent this year … the jobless rate soars and the government struggles to pay its bills ….” Students are worried about their parents; some have lost their jobs, throwing their plans askew. We are sad to leave LCC in the middle of the school year. Students count on us as teachers and mentors. We’ll miss them. For the first time since 2001 we’ll miss graduation day 2010.

The apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica speaks of his desire to renew his relationships with these Gentile believers. Timothy had just returned from a visit there and reported to Paul “the good news” of the faith and love of the congregation Paul had founded. “He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us — just as we long to see you.” Paul prayed to see these friends “face to face” (1 Thessalonians 3:6, 10). An important part of our commission as mission co-workers for the PC(USA) is mission interpretation back in our homeland among the congregations that support us and with the people who love us and pray for us. We are anxious to see you again face to face.

So why would you invite us to your church for mission interpretation?

  • First, we want and need to express our gratitude to you for your support of our ministry here. Without your faithful stewardship we could not be in Lithuania. Allowing us to express our heartfelt thanks is part of mission.
  • Second, we want to visit with you in the old-fashioned way, to sit for a while and share the news. We want to tell you about what we have experienced and especially what we have become. God has given us the grace to change and to grow in mission. We’d like to hear what has become of you as well. Sharing the good news is important.
  • Most of all, we are anxious to let you in on what God is doing in this part of the world. We want you to know how God is working through Father Kęstutis Kėvalas, a Catholic priest, to encourage students to understand the moral dimensions of the market economy. Father Kėvalas recently came to teach in our class on faith and economics. The ministry of Rev. Sigita  Švambarienė in the Lithuanian Reformed Church is a faithful witness to God’s work among us.
Photo of Eric Hinderliter and two young men. One man wears a clerical collar. All three men are wearing dark sweaters and smiling for the camera.

Father Kęstutis Kėvalas (left), with Eric and Donatas Ramonas, a teaching colleague at LCC, pauses after teaching a class on faith and the market economy.

Sharing these stories of faith refresh and strengthen us to be God’s co-workers in this world. When Paul and Barnabas returned from Paul’s first missionary journey, they went immediately to the church that had commissioned them in Antioch. “When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). As the old hymn goes, we love to tell the story.

We will make our temporary home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Second Presbyterian Church is providing a house near the church. Their gracious hospitality means we can live among friendly and caring people who have our interest at heart. Contact us through Second Church, 528 Garland Dr., Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013 or through the PC(USA) Mission Connections Web site at “Mission Speakers.”

Please note the advice on the Web site about the suggested terms for inviting mission personnel. We are available for teaching Sunday school and for worship on Sundays and for educational and devotional events during the week. We would especially like to meet with mission committees and with women’s associations.

Our hope and prayer is to return to Lithuania refreshed and renewed in early August 2010. Now we await the confirmation of our request for a third mission term. What began in 2001 has become our joy. Students often ask us how long we will be at LCC. We answer that we are here for good, meaning we will serve here as long as it is “good” — good and meaningful for students, good as a witness to the faith of the members of the Presbyterian Church and good for us personally as a ministry that leads us to deeper obedience to the task to which God has called us.

The grace and peace of God the Father be with all of you in the days of preparation for the coming of his son into our lives.

Peace,

Eric and Becky Hinderliter

The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 178

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