Lance & Megan's Blog

Art of Hope

April29

Hope is such an important thing. It is so hard to live without hope. During times of uncertainty, war, economic struggles, many will feel that there is no hope. We have certainly seen this first hand in Ukraine. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has said something negative about Ukraine. So many want to leave, people have verbally said, “there is no hope here.”

We are saddened by the number of people that are leaving, we’ve lost friends from English club and neighbors. We are saddened by the despair that many feel.

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We are happy though to bring hope to people. We had a great opportunity to partner with a local cafe and organize an art exhibit with the theme of hope. We both worked to find artists and bring things together. We had one of our Ternopil staff members submit some photos and we had a YWAM worker from another city in Ukraine submit tattoo art as well as two other local artists.

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The final result was great, it was small but was a perfect start to a partnership and future projects with this cafe. Lance shared some thoughts on hope at the opening and a local pastor shared a song on hope.

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9 Art exhibit

Here is what Lance said:

~Hope~

To what do you wrap your arms of hope around and hold fast?  This is a crucial question in times like these.  When all around us seems to be unstable and the things that once, in our minds, were unmovable are now shakable. There is a proverb that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” This is very true. When you look around, it is easy to feel your heart and soul grown in despair. Yet even then, Hope dies last.

Hope is a driving force that is imbedded deep in our souls. Who can forget Galadriel in this iconic scene from the books and subsequent films “Lord of the Rings”, “And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts… ‘In this phial… is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” Galadriel wasn’t just giving light, she was giving hope.

Hope reminds us that good wins over evil.  That there are things worth fighting for in this world.  It reminds us that things we do now do effect the future of our grandchildren.  That is why we must set our highest hopes on something unshakable, unchanging, and everlasting. This world will never look the same from yesterday to today. Hope in the Unchangeable is the only consistent.

So as you look at these depictions of art, we invite you to search high and low, near and far to find your hope. To find the thing that is worth hoping in, the something that in which you will be able to wrap your arms of hope and know, hope never fails.

In Durrës

April27

At the end of March, we had the fun privilege of traveling to Durrës. We highly recommend a vacation to Durrës for anyone who may be interested. Durrës is a city on the Adriatic coast of Albania, not far from the capital of Tirana and across the water from Italy. It’s a resort town that is filled with tourists in the summer. We learned lots of great things from our trip.

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One thing Lance and I learned from our trip was that it might not be worth it to take a 12 hour bus ride to Warsaw and then fly out from Warsaw. It is always tempting that flights out of Warsaw are usually pretty cheap (I think it is one of the cheapest airports in Europe) but a 12 hour overnight bus ride is NOT an ideal method of travel… I don’t care how much you like road trips, 12 hours on a bus is terrible! 12 hours on a plane is rough but doable, not a bus. This time is was just too good of a deal to pass up but physically it wasn’t worth it. We will try it one more time when we go to the states, not looking forward to it.

Second thing we learned from our time in Albania is that all conferences should be held in resort towns during the off season!! No crowds, still pretty good weather, sweet deals, and you can still enjoy the sites! We got to stay at a nice hotel that provided a great space for our meetings as well as fed us some yummy food! The hotel was right on the beach, what more could you ask for? Lunch and dinner were three course meals, plus dessert and fruit! We were all shocked at the quality, quantity for the price we paid.

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Third lesson, I cannot encourage people enough to get out and connect with other people with in your organization. It is like a breath of fresh air, eating a slice of fresh apple pie, clean sheets, buying that pair of sneakers you’ve been looking at… it’s just great. You are reminded of the bigger picture, of why you do what you do.

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Lance and I got to meet people who are working in Discipleship Training Schools all around Europe. YWAM divides Europe into different regions; north, west, east, and central. Each region presented how they are doing, what has been happening the last few years in their regions, and what they hope to accomplish in the coming years. We were able to pray for each region and bless them in their work.

Team Eastern Europe!

Team Eastern Europe!

One fun little tid bit was that in 2011, we had a DTS training in Ternopil. At this time we had a couple from Russia come that were dating (Lance and I met each other at this training), they were engaged when we saw them again in Montana in 2012 when we did the training together (now Lance and I were dating), we saw them both in Albania. They are married and expecting their first child now! It was so fun to see them again and see the timeline of our relationships.

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Beside our presentations, we had times of worship, prayer, teaching, discussions, and of course fun! We played games in the evenings, we walked on the beach and collected shells (that was mostly me), Lance swam in the Adriatic Sea, we also got to see an old Roman amphitheater and most importantly, renew old relationships. We are looking forward to being in Albania again.

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lance at amphi

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Birthday adventures

April22

Lance asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and I just told him I wanted to go on an adventure. This is just some way for us to relax and be refueled. He did manage to plan a get together for some ladies the day before my birthday but on my birthday we decided to go out and find some castles and old buildings.

Castles and old buildings we did find.

Our first stop was at a castle not too far from us but it really was not as exciting as we had hoped. It was not on a hill, there was no view and the city had grown up around it. It looked strange mixed amongst the normal sites of the city. We gave it a 2 out of 5. (We’ve started rating the castles we go to so we can remember which ones are the good ones.)IMG_1677

Our second stop was an old building that had been abandoned. As much as Lance and I tried to find out what the building used to be we could not find out much. It was obviously a palace at one point and had been used by different groups during different time periods. We could see at least three very distinct attempts at fixing things.

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This was our favorite stop, it just had such a unique style and feel to it. It had marks of beauty even though the walls were falling down. You could tell there was so much history that the building held wanting to be told but slowly being forgotten.

Our last stop was another castle that nature was also reclaiming. All that remained was a few walls and tunnels. Even though there was not much there it is still interesting to see the skill that was needed in building stone tunnels. We enjoyed our adventures out and returned home to relax with a cup of tea!

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Middle Earth comes to Ternopil

April21

Ternopil, Ukraine was transformed into Middle-earth for one day in March. Actually, it was transformed into the mines of Moria to be exact. Every year for about ten years now, a few faithful followers gather to watch Lord of the Rings… in one day. Did I mention it was the extended versions? Yeah, that adds up to almost 12 hours!

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Not only do they just gather to watch the movies, no, no, no. That would be boring. No, here we go all the way. We decorated the room to match a scene for the movies. Past themes have been Minas Tirith, Shelob’s lair, flags of Middle-earth, the library at Minas Tirith, Moria, and this year, the bridge of Khazad-dum. We even included the balrog as a shadow formed from red lights.

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Many other YWAMers came from other bases to watch the movies. It was a fun gathering, about 20 people in all. We did pause for lunch which consisted of “lamb” stew (aka chicken soup), and lembas bread (or biscuits.) There were a few other snacks through out the day but primarily we remained focus on the movies. We all enjoyed being able to see friends from other cities and chat a bit during a least favorite scenes.

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Our homemade flags lining the stairwell

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In Heidebeek

April21

No, it is not pronounced heed-e-beak, its pronounced hide-eh-bake. It is a small village in Holland, on the outskirts of Apeldoorn, which is about an hour train ride from Amsterdam. Lance and I have not spent much time in Holland in the past. Lane has actually never been outside the airport and I only spent a day and a half over ten years ago. This was a new experience for us and we are always up for adventures!

Our reason for traveling to Holland was to attend a European YWAM leaders gathering. We were invited to go and we both felt that it was important for us to go and build relationships with other leaders as well as to hear what is happening in YWAM Europe overall.

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There were about 70 leaders in attendance from many different countries through out Europe. We had devotions together in the mornings, we were able to pray together for Europe and for each other. Lance and I were happy to be able to tell people that Ukraine is a safe place and teams are welcome to come to Ukraine. We left Heidebeek happy and with a sense of accomplishment.

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A second blessing in coming to Holland was that Lance and I got to visit our dear friends Dave and Astrid! For those that don’t know them, they are friends from Washington that moved to Holland last year. It was so much fun to see them both again. We enjoyed spending lots of time together just talking and seeing a bit of the Dutch countryside. We can’t express how full our hearts were when we left the Swadberg family!