Friday, June 27, 2014

Lithuania 2014 || The Camp & What We Did (P.S. We're back!)

Hello all you long lost friends!
It is so amazing that we are already safely back home! Our time in beautiful Lietuva (Lithuania) was just wonderful! We are sure to bore you with endless details in days to come. It seems that finding a happy medium on what to tell and when is our dilemma. Which is the reasoning behind our downtime most of this week, since settling back in has been easier than you would imagine after such a journey! I suppose "home sweet home" is more than the thought of a pleasant embroidery piece to hang on a wall, it is coming back to what you expect to be waiting for you once you return and embracing the people you hold dear who stayed behind. And that is just what it is, sweet to be home.

Since there is so much to share and many photos (nothing like sorting out 2,700 photos!) to entice you with, we decided to stick with the basics and then see what you all would like to know more about later on. So today we will be sharing views of the camp we went to work at as well as what our projects actually were while we were there.

Driving up to the campsite was like when people say "they had been waiting for this moment and it was finally here". I'm not quite sure how to describe it, it was almost as if we had stepped into a picture or something. All of the knowledge that we had been told about the camp and the photos we had been shown, seemed to be recalled to mind and bring the statement to mind that "this is it, we are finally here".

The Tent of Meeting (the Chapel)                                                        
The next few photos show what the camp has used for the last many years for their church or chapel. This ordinary circus tent has served them well over the years we were told. But that has not kept them from their vision to see a real building be put up for services within the next few years. The idea that is often spoken, "it is not the building that makes a church", definitely shines through on this holy land. As some of our team witnessed the very morning we left: an amazing overflow of the Holy Spirit during a short service that had a mind of it's own.

Anywho- they use this tent, weather permitting, as much as possible. Which is quite often since they have mild weather with lots of rain 90% of the year. Worship services, sermons and testimonial time are the tents main attractions in audience. Learning to fit as many as 300 people into one of the camp's main meeting places has shown the leaders of the camp to aim high in their quest to shine the gospel to the many around. They are now planning the future church building to hold up to 500.

 Camp's Layout and Surroundings                                                        
The very first thing you see while driving down the dirt two-track to the camp is the church tent on your right, then once you pass it, the whole area opens up. Instead of having woods to your left and right, there is a large space that the expanding group of cabins are filling up nicely! The lake is to the right of the driveway, more on that later!

The cabins are all in different stages of development. But the one above gives the idea of the finished look that they are all waiting for.

One of the cabins further back into the forest is where this wood is stored until ready for use. So each time we were ready for more tongue-and-groove flooring or wall boards, we would manually carry stacks to the rightful cabin.

Above we have bunk-beds that are awaiting their cabins, outhouses that were used before the bathrooms in the cabins were installed, and the lake that I wrote of that encompasses the south-east side of the property. This lake is also the border of Lithuania! Did I mention that Belarus is on the other side?! Pretty neat huh?

The Cafeteria                                                                                       
What a project! We did zero work on the cafeteria while we were there, but as you can tell even from these few photos this was a great accomplishment! That is compared to cooking over an open fire and sleeping in tents which is exactly how the camp was conducted before the vision of this haven was dreamed of. "The people here, especially the kids, love roughing it", our host missionary told us, "but we really wanted something better for them- something that would last for the years to come"         

A couple photos down you will see a blurred picture (sorry) of a table, this is where we took each of our meals the days we worked at the camp.

We also have included a few shots of behind the cafeteria building. It is just kinda neat to know sometimes what goes on behind the scenes. The people who help run the camp are pretty frugal as you can tell from the clothes line, wood piles, and just look at that compost pile! That's getting some pretty good leftovers to be sprouting flowers like that! These people really work hard for the camp and make sure to take nothing for granted! They make the most of what others have given to bless it.

Our Work                                                                                             
Once we were settled into our rooms/apartments, boy were we ready to work! We didn't end up doing a huge variety of different things, but kept our nose to the grindstone as we chiseled away at the tasks that were set before us! Since the cabins are all upright and standing already, that leaves a lot of cosmetic interior and exterior work to be completed. Staining, walls, plumbing, flooring, insulating, electricity. Want to see what we did?

Though each cabin is made to the same blueprint, the work is done by regular volunteers (a few paid) and teams that come as a mission team. Since the camp is run in a very tidy order, there are a lot of different stages that the cabins are left at after each team has completed a task. That is the best possible way to leave the unfinished project for the next herd to come in and take over wherever they left off. So for us the next thing to do was take up the temporary flooring and prepare the walkway for the permanent floorboards. It kinda went: take up the plywood, cut it to fit in between the beams, screw down, roll insulation, cover with thick black plastic, and lay floor boards!

Our Pastor and his son hanging a door.
While half of our team worked on floors most of the week. the other half worked on the interior of an upstairs and then moved downstairs later on.

More floors being prepared and one finished and ready for plastic!

Bekah layed this insulation alone, a stuffy and itchy job!

Here we have the process of the floor boards being laid. It was just a matter of hauling wood, dividing the hauling foursome into couples and then beginning the process of measuring, telling the first party, cut, hand board to second party, tap into place nail, repeat. Three floors were completed by our handy-dandy haul-measure-hand-tap-nail team!

We were so happy to have along with us a lady whom we three girls have all known and looked up to most of our growing up years. Without her, our trip would have been quite boring or at least not as enthusiastic. She was our fill-in mom. I am so thankful that she came with us. She is a support and an encourager in the best way!

We spent lots of time together, us four ladies, hauling wood for the guys, taking long walks, just plain talking, but mostly we stained together. Ha ha! That's right we stained just about everything in sight- at least that is what it seemed like to our small [but devoted!] ladies team.
Each cabin has to be completely slathered with an oil combination before actual staining can be applied. After the oil is put on 2-3 coats of stain follow. We oil coated 3 and put on first coats to two of them before our time came to leave. Great prep-work for the teams to come yet this summer!

Our dear Mrs S completed an entire cabin by herself! Slathering the oily mixture into every last cranny while bobbling on scaffolding could make one wonder why we didn't give her a helping hand. Her reply when asked if she was in need of assistance would be, "No, I don't think so honey, I think having anyone up here with me would make me more nervous."

The next few are just some random snaps of a big team that came in the day before we headed out. 

More staining. Yes in a different form but still staining. Many windows and doors were stained to the multiple of three times by we three girls (us two and Sara) until they were ready to be moved out (so that the cabin they were being stained in could have it's floor put in) and stored for the next available cabin to put them to use within its walls.

Cabin Structure                                                                                   
We thought we'd throw in a few more photos of the cabin structure itself before we sign off. Oh, and the second photo better shows how and where the second story's floor will be laid once this cabin has another team come and work on the interior. And like we said, each cabin is built around the same blueprints so this will give you a better idea of what the team that was working in the upstairs had accomplished.
Phew! Thanks for sticking with us! Hopefully you were intrigued by what you saw, and feel a small part of what we accomplished these last two weeks! Or at least enjoyed a peek into it!

But- was it enough? Is there anything that y'all would like to see/know more about? Such as our traveling, where we stayed, touring, the area, what we did besides our manual work?
We will (I'm sure) talk about our experiences, but would you like a post dedicated to any one thing?

Many thanks to you ladies and your families for keeping our family in your prayers! We daily call ourselves blessed to be part of your lives and your walk with our LORD. We feel abundantly blessed each time we hop on the web and see one of your encouraging and fun comments, a new follower, or one of your posts on our dashboard. We are blessed because we know you!

How have you been?
Is there something more you would like to have us blog about concerning our trip?
Do you have any questions?

Let us know in the comments!
Shabbat Shalom!
Cassie and Rebekah


  1. Hi girls! It is so good to see you back online again, safe and sound! I truly was not expecting to see you doing such work as the work you accomplished in Lithuania! I was thinking it would be more like spending time with the natives and sharing the gospel to those who don't yet know Christ. But there you have my naiveness. But did you in fact go and share the gospel with anyone? I know you both must have had such a wonderful time being with Christians from all the way across the world, and so I have another question: did any of the natives speak english, or did you have to have an interpreter?

    Oh yes! I would love it so much if you would single out a day to post just on your touring and perhaps even include your times of relaxing and fellowship time with your team. What a joy it must be to rethink of all that took place whilst over the seas helping the body of Christ! It is just wonderful to me to know that there is a growing community of Christians in that small part of the world. May the Lord be praised!

    Again, welcome home my friends!

    Fondly as ever,

    The eldest sister & singer

    P.S. What we have been up to: singing! And lots of it too. With Independence Day next week, the girls and I will be doing a lot of prep work for a big show we will be putting on for our hometown of this big day. We also have two other singing engagements sandwiching the 4th, so we have a hectic week ahead of us. Whew! Hope we can hold out!

  2. Oh it was so enjoyable being able to see what you girls did while you were in Lithuania! It certainly seems that you were busy bees! I would like to know what the culture is like over there (if you experienced it very much)? Is it similar to our culture? More Christian?

    Have a blessed day Cassie & Rebekah!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  3. Wow! How amazing! Like Brigid said above, I'd love to hear more about their culture and how they tied faith into every-day life. :) It seems like y'all were hard-working busy-bees!

  4. Yay! I missed you Calico girls! :) It sounds like you got a lot accomplished for the camp. What a great way to serve the Lord. And you managed to look cute while doing so!
    As far as future posts go, I think it would be fun to hear about your touring the area, and know more about chapel services at the camp. :)

  5. WOW! COOL! Nice seeing you both! More touring stuff, please! Looked like fun! God Bless! ~Tori

  6. Woah, nearly 3000 photos! haha Must have been quite a task to sort through them all and pick the ones you wanted. haha! :D The place looks so peaceful and it is quite intriguing that another country is just on the other side. hahaha! Thank you for sharing your trip to Lithuania with me. You guys were very hard at work and I'm sure the Lord is blessing you all for it. :)

    - Leeon


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