After one month living and serving in Ukraine, Silva and I went to Lithuania. Similar to Kiev and Odessa, Vilnius was also not part of our original itinerary for this year.
But isn’t this the real charm of our paths – their unpredictability? Is not that what makes our lives interesting and rich?
Warm winter – only a dream
We have our ideas, plans and desires, which are often different from those that God has prepared for us. When we planned our trip, we wanted to spend the winter on the ‘warm’, somewhere in Portugal perhaps, since neither of us really enjoys the cold.
And when a series of circumstances were pointing to the icy north, I remembered the time, fourteen years ago, when I, as a lay missionary had to decide on a mission where to serve in the following three years.
Jonah returned as well
I was in a dilemma. P. Tomaž Mavrič invited me to Ukraine, where he worked as a missionary. I myself, young as I was, wanted something more exotic and opted for a mission in Argentina.
When I was returning back home after nearly three months, it was crystal clear to me that I made a decision, which was apparently quite opposed to what the Boss wished for me.
Come to think of it, God already sent me to Ukraine fifteen years ago, but I, like Jonah, went blind to the other side of the world and obviously needed all these years to finally respond as I was supposed to in the first place. What can I say … I am just a self-willed child who has a very patient and persistent Father. 🙂
Let Thy will be done
For this trip, therefore, we did not want to repeat the same ‘mistakes’. In fact, we departed on this journey by being completely open to God’s surprises. If you read our posts, then you should know by now there are plenty of those happening.Jump into the Christmas tale Click To Tweet
Fifteen years ago, my response to question: What would you like to do in the community, would be citing my own ideas and desires. Today, our answer is always the same: “Whatever is most needed,” and then we wait with interest, what God has prepared for us.
If it is to help in cleaning the house, so be it. If this is to prepare the meals for the community, so be it. If this is visiting and care for the homeless people in the hospital, so be it.
From mission in Ukraine to Lithuanian Ark
So, when we were preparing to head for Ukraine, Aina from Rome Ark community offered us the opportunity to connect with Lithuanian Ark, which she knew well. The link was live, so now we could with great joy be spending Christmas together with people with intellectual disabilities and their assistants.
I already wrote about Ark community a lot, since we stayed at the Ark for almost four months, when we were in Italy. More about this can be read here.
Opportunity for everyone
At the airport in Vilnius we were greeted by Ričardas and Dovydas.
Ričardas is a sixty-year old gentleman, who has lived and worked at Scotland’s alcohol addict community for five years. When he returned to Lithuania, a friend told him that Ark was looking for new assistants. He decided to dedicate his time and experience to share with mentally disabled and, so he says, he made a great decision.
Dovydas is a twenty-year old boy, who arrived at the community three months ago. The circumstances at his native home were heavy and by following his older brother’s advice, he entered the community. Now he works here as an assistant, although he was also faced with difficult psychological disorder since his thirteenth year.
I am sure that living in this community will help him in his personal growth and liberation from the shackles of a difficult past. To my opinion, this is the best what Ark can offer to a wounded person: a home, where one feels accepted. A safe place, which allows everybody to be what one really is, without masks and pretending.
Like a fairyland
Ark community in Lithuania is situated in the middle of a small village, twenty kilometers away from the capital Vilnius. When we came from the airport to the community, it was already dark. It was not until the morning, when we woke up and looked out the window, to realize in fact that we are living in a winter wonderland.
All around it was snowy, snowy trees, frozen creek just below our window and some snowflakes, announcing the Christmas festive tranquility.
At 8 AM we were already at the table for breakfast, along with other members of the community; assistants and of course the Arkers – people with mental disabilities. We started a new day among them and at the same time opened up a new chapter of our journey.
In the following posts we will present the Arkers so you too could taste some of what we will be going through in this following month.
By opening their doors for us in a way they open their doors to you too. Together we can be sure how deep God interferes in each individual’s story and how he changes, creates and develops their lives.
His true face
This week our thoughts will more or less be focused on the birth of a Man, who was sacrificed “to the end” for us and showed us the true face of our Creator.
We now realize that this is the face of the Good Shepherd, who drops everything just to find and bring back the stray sheep. We know that this is the face of the Merciful Father, who welcomes all lost, abandoned and forgotten children to his embrace – no conditions or blame attached.
The King of the Universe
While we are preparing the cribs and decorating the house, we are very much aware that we all live on His boat. The Man, who’s having a carefree sleep in the lap of Joseph and Mary, is the same Man who’s having a peaceful sleep on a deck in the middle of the ruffest of seas.
Therefore we have every reason to honor His birth and to prepare our hearts for His coming!