Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sea Glass Brown Eyes Reflections 3: Double Shot Espresso's & Churches

Continuing my thoughts of how God transformed my life on my month long missions trip to Macedonia.....

Going to Macedonia, one of reasons I was SO EXCITED was to see what the music ministry/worship arts scene was like. I didn't realize God was going to place even more passions and desires on my heart as time went on in this dear country. I've known for quite a few years that God has placed the calling on my life to do music ministry in Europe and Russia............. While I was in Macedonia, God placed the idea of church planting and coffee shop ministry on my heart as well. These ideas I would say aren't exactly "new"....It was more of God reminding me what else I had kind of left in the dusty corners in the back of my mind. I remember back in October there was a church planting conference at my university, and I can honestly say, that was the first time in my life the idea of ACTUALLY planting churches in Lithuania hit me. Being in Macedonia, confirmed this desire, that sometime in the near future, by God's amazing grace, that I would be blessed with the opportunity to plant churches in my dearest home country of Lietuva. I was seriously FREAKING OUT at this very concept. I was like, "God, are you kidding me??? you must be joking!!!! I, Aiste Misknyte, planting churches in Lithuania!?!?! How much more crazy do You want to get!?!?!" I absolutely LOVE how when we as God's children don't believe we are qualified or good enough to accomplish these passions and visions Our Creator places on our hearts, He simply whispers to our soul "I BELIEVE IN YOU, precious son, precious daughter, I believe in you, oh how I believe in the song My heart gave to you..."

So what does church planting in Lithuania look like?.... I've been praying about this perspective since October...and as I continued to pray over these past few days, several days ago, God placed another thought in my head that SERIOUSLY made me want to RUN out of my room....I heard two words..."Hillsong...Lithuania..." I about DIED. My soul came alive and BEYOND freaked out at the same time. There are currently 13 Hillsong churches throughout the world: Hillsong New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Kiev, Germany, Stockholm, Cape Town, Brisbane, Sydney, Melborne, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, & Konstanz.

So adding Hillsong Vilnius to this list couldn't possibly be THAT HARD could it?....LOL This creative idea God gave me is still VERY NEW, I'm trying my best to "digest" these thoughts...I would honestly LOVE if somehow within the next 10 years a Lithuanian Hillsong church actually became a reality. To be a part of the process of starting this church would be such a HUGE honor and a blessing. I think it would be AMAZING to see Hillsong  church plants in EVERY country.....(cough...cough dearest Macedonian musicians...I Believe in you....=P) I know that these churches would be such a light and a joy to each dear brother and sister who comes across them. Just thinking of all the lives that would be forever changed through the heart and passion of worship...I can't stop SMILING!

3. Words. COFFEE SHOP. MINISTRY. As I was walking the streets of Macedonia last month, I was reminded of the fact of how much my dearest European brothers and sisters LOVE their coffee. It's such a common element that almost all of humanity can relate to....ESPECIALLY Europeans...and it got me thinking, finding or creating coffee shops that would simply be for the purpose of ministry. The thing I really like about coffee shops is how "relaxed" of a setting it is...the fresh aroma of coffee, the colorful artistically inspiring walls, the beautiful hipsters....This is THEE PERFECT atmosphere for ministry to happen. Just think, someone walks into one of these European coffee shops, they get their usual double shot espresso, and in the background to the right as they are just about to walk out they hear these sweet acoustic melodies of how much their dear Savior loves them...I think this is truly beautiful.....Europeans...Coffee...Music....a match made in heaven I say!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sea Glass Brown Eye Reflections 2: The Art of Living Simple

Continued Reflections of how God transformed my life on my one month missions trip to Macedonia.....

The currency that Macedonia goes by is called the DENARI....For about 20 Euros ($25 American dollars) you get about 1,200 denari. Fruit and veggies cost between 40-150 denari. Eating out at restaurant costs between 200-600+ denari. Shoes cost between 500-2,500+ Denari. So as you can see the exchange rate with American dollars and Euros is very good.

I wouldn't consider myself to be an impulsive spender of money, and being in Macedonia really opened my eyes and changed my perspective on finances.... My missions team spent a week in the village of Shutka, putting on a vacation bible school for the children there, and it happens to be one of the poorer villages in Macedonia. The people of Shutka, (Romani who live on the outskirts of of Skopje, Macedonia) make about 300-500 denari OR LESS per heart was left speechless. For having barely anything, they are such a happy people. Garbage surrounds the village of Shutka, it's on the streets, the grasslands, everywhere. Life is not easy for the Romani, but they still somehow manage to put a smile on their beautiful face....I honestly had one of those moments where I thought to myself, what am I Aiste, doing here in America, attending a Christian college that costs $25,000 per year, while my dear brothers and sisters of Shutka, are suffering? My heart was stung by this thought....think of what $25,000 converted into denari could do for this lovely village of Shutka?.....I was seriously DISGUSTED that I had somehow managed to spend this money for only 1 YEAR of a college "education".....Just thinking how the rest of the world, and how they don't even spend as close to that much money for college as America leaves me speechless....

This is the point where my life as I knew it turned completely upside down. I started reconsidering EVERYTHING and why I do what I do....Why do I spend $25,000 per year for education? Is there a more financially savvy option to go about getting a degree? Is it even worth getting a degree, or should I go straight to the mission field? Should I even stay in America to finish college? Should I move overseas to where my heart is for my dear Lithuanians, Europeans and Russians? Those thoughts murdered my soul.....

I just knew that something in my life at that very moment was going to change, and oh was that change going to take everything I once knew, and crumple it up like a piece of paper, get thrown away, and leave me in a new place, a new world, a new time zone, with a new passion and perspective....When I got back to America, I decided I was going to commit to living a SIMPLE life as possible. It's disgusting how much "needed stuff" that I brought with me to college my first year. I told my parents when they picked me up from the Minneapolis airport at the beginning of this June to just leave all the luggage, and boxes that I gave to them at the beginning of May at home. So instead of 2 luggage's of clothing I now have just one....On my Macedonia missions trip we were only allowed to take 1 carry on and a backpack for 28 DAYS. I thought my professor was BEYOND INSANE...How I was I going to survive with just a freakin carry on and backpack for 28 Days!?!?!?! Dear friend, let me tell you, I am living proof that this is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE. I don't know how I managed to do it, and still dress as European as possible cough...cough..... when I could...(we were kinda forced to wear these terribly UGLY angry bird shirts for several days... that just murdered and scarred my Lithuanian fashion soul for life, dear friend, that's just the start of it, writing about all the European fashion crimes I unwillingly committed while in Macedonia...that is for another blog post...=P) Another really PATHETIC memory I look back on is when I visited Rome, Italy for 10 days 2 years ago with one of my church youth groups. I PACKED A FREAKIN LUGGAGE FULL OF CLOTHING FOR 10 packing perspective for international trips has forever been altered....

Going back to the perspective of "The Art of Living Simple"....I'm so glad God placed this issue on my heart. I make every effort I can to save every penny and spend my money in a more wiser manner. I try to buy only the basic essentials of what I really need wither it be food, clothing, paying rent, bills etc. I'm very much a HIGH FASHION young Lithuanian woman, so stylish clothing in some aspects, is still one of my weaknesses...=P Speaking of clothing, I noticed that the people of Shutka, literally dressed like a "million bucks" as the saying goes. You could never tell that they are from a poor village. I seriously thought they dressed alot better than I do when it came to European fashion.....which screams ALOT. It's interesting, I also noticed that a European would rather spend their money on quality fashion clothing than food....So different from America...=P

It is my goal every day from now on to just simply enjoy life. Getting to know my dear brothers and sisters throughout the world for who they are...their beautiful souls and hearts...and simply being thankful for what I have and not focusing so much on the materialistic side of things...Simply building genuine lifelong relationships with God's creation and learning to live with a little....with a HUGE smile on my face....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sea Glass Brown Eyes Reflections

It's been 18 days since I've been back from Macedonia. Just thought I'd take the time to share what God taught and showed me, and how this  beautiful south eastern European country forever changed my life....

Before I even got on the plane to go to Macedonia, I KNEW God was going to transform my life, I KNEW I was going to make lovely life long friends, & I KNEW I was never going to want to leave Europe....what I didn't realize, was how much this Macedonian missions trip was going to SHAKE the very being of who I am, and COMPLETELY take my heart and life and turn them upside down....

I don't even know where to start........
The average size of a typical evangelical church in Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia & Montenegro is about 20-30 believers...I knew the amount of believers was going to be small, but I didn't realize this reality till I actually experienced it. This past year attending North Central University ( a small Christian college in downtown Minneapolis) my goal was to find the largest mega church possible to connect with....God completely left me speechless as I visited the churches in these south eastern European countries. One perspective that really stuck out to me was how passionate my dear Macedonian, Serbian, Bosnian, & Montenegran brothers and sisters were when it came to WORSHIP. It didn't matter the size of the church, as much as the heart did... Just seeing each worship team sing their heart out to Jesus, was absolutely. beautiful. Their worship was REAL. AUTHENTIC. FROM.THE. HEART. It just brought tears to my heart and eyes.....Despite the reality there are few Christians in these countries, my dear brothers and sisters STILL have a hope that every dear soul in their country will one day be saved, and find Christ, they have a perseverance to pursue this vision until the very end, they have such an ON FIRE heart when it comes to worship and simply loving Jesus. This may sound straight up, what I'm about to say, but "American worship" LACKS  what my dear Macedonian brothers and sisters have....I'm NOT saying every single church in America has this problem, I'm just saying this from the perspective of all the churches I've ever observed in my life....Just think about it, America has become one of the major "Worship Arts" countries of the world. It has a endless amount of worship conferences, events, schools & universities that specialize in this area of music ministry. We don't even think twice about it. With these overflowing amounts of worship arts opportunities, American worship has sadly started to lose in genuineness, authenticity, and originality. What happened to simply worshiping Jesus for who HE IS? Sounds like a DUH question, but seriously, American worship has become this SICK competition...Which church has the best worship band? Which church has the best worship experiences? Which church has the most people attending music ministry events? It just DISGUSTS me.....In Macedonia, my dear brothers and sisters, they simply get together to WORSHIP JESUS. Why?...because there is very few churches, very few believers, they simply desire to grow close to God's heart. DO YOU realize that worship arts conferences & schools are still a VERY NEW concept in south eastern europe and europe in general???? and even without these things, my dear brothers and sisters still have the same passion as you and I to simply worship Jesus. Getting the privilege to meet each dear Macedonian, Serbian, Bosnian & Montenegren worship leading musician, and realize that they are bold and daring to start this music ministry passion in their countries, was so AMAZING, and such an honor. I look up to each of them and their passionate example that they set for the rest of the worship leading world...It leaves me SO SPEECHLESS.....

More Makedonian thoughts to come...<3

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That Awkward Moment When You're In Europe...Part 2

The moment you have all been waiting for....Aiste's awkward European moments part 2....I hope these following stories bring a smile to your face and a laugh to your heart....<3, ~Ruslana Evelyn~ Don't laugh too hard...

These following moments REALLY DID happen in Macedonia,Serbia,Bosnia,Montenegro,Albania,Kosovo & Austria...(Some of them are like WOW...REALLY?!?!?...this Lithuanian is serious...) =P 

That awkward moment of life you are on a plane and need to pee really bad, and a flight attendant over the intercom says to fasten your seat belts...#DANG.

That awkward moment of life when these two European guys are sleeping on the plane and they both tilt their heads toward you (lucky Lithuanian who got the middle seat! =P) and you yourself have no choice, but to attempt to fall asleep with your head much as you are tempted to put your head on a young European man's shoulders...

"Everything in Europe is skinny...the bread sticks...pretzel sticks...side walks...and the people!" ~Cate & Svetla

That funny moment of life you drink almost a whole bottle of...what you thought was Macedonian mineral water, and as you are lost under the Macedonian sky, your are SO giggly and can't stop laughing and Cate and you are being CRAZY!

"Well, be famous in Macedonia!" (Cate and I after taking pictures with these random Macedonian young men)

That awkward moment of life you are buying ice cream and the cashier asks where you are from, and you thought she was talking about just you, (not your entire missions group) and you first say, Lithuania, Minnesota, and then laugh and say, "I look SO Russian, don't I?" #identity.crisis.

"Hi, my name is Aiste, and I'm mistaken for being Russian almost everyday of my life and two years ago, I got lost in Vatican City for 15 minutes!" #true.stories. (introducing myself to Arizona State University, the other 10 out of 20 people on our missions team)

"I'm going to have a funeral ceremony for Ruslana (my flute)...she lived to be 4 years old, now she's somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean...rusting her silver self away..." #lost.luggage. =''(

I want to get lost in You...underneath your Macedonian sky...<3

"Even the fat people in Europe are skinny!" ~Cate

Aiste: "Are you Egyptian?"
Jacobo: "No, I'm actually Mexican..."

That overly adventurous moment of life there are 19 college students packed into 1 large blue van, it's so tall you can actually stand in it, and Bronco (your professor) tells everyone to duck for police as you're speeding down the Macedonian highway, and he says "just kidding" and then he sees real Macedonian police, and you quickly duck once more..

That sermon translating moment when your friend says "Aiste" and Bronco translates into "Svetlana". #so.she.was.a.Russian.spy.all.along.

That moment of life you walk by a group of about 20 Macedonian young men, and you are quite positive, you overheard them say "Rusiskii" (Russian) #dang.even.european.people.I.don't.know.assume.I'm.Russian.

That awkward moment of life when you are walking down one of the church's hallways (Agape in Skopje) and you think you hear 2 ladies speaking Russian, and you lean your head inches away from the door, creeping on their conversation and one of the ladies unexpectedly opens the door and you almost get smacked in the face, and you pretend to keep casually walking, as if nothing happened.

You know you're passionate about European/Russian music ministry, you're walking the streets of Skopje, you are picking out future concert venues in your head for your music ministry...

That adventurous moment of life it's late at night, and you're walking with your missions group on the streets of Shutka, waiting for a bus that possibly might not come...#midnight.European.adventure.

That surreal moment of life your proffesor is driving 2mph through Shutka's downtown city life with a van full of  girls (we made the guys walk behind us HA HA) and as you look out your window, the young Macedonian men, look drop dead gorgeous...#future?...husband?...

That funny moment of life when Cate & Svetla are at a Macedonian restaurant and are joking that the next guy to walk into the restaurant is the one they will marry, and for some funny reason, they keep walking in pairs, and your professor finds out about this, and is like WOW...REALLY!?!?!?

That awkward moment you're eating a Shupska salad at a Macedonian restaurant and this good looking young Macedonian man, (about 100 feet away) won't stop looking at you. #eastern.european.women.

That freakin hilarious moment of life when you find yourself in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia inside Agape Church, literally dressed up like a Russian Red colored pencil commiting a European fashion crime of wearing sneakers...

That awkward momen you are at the most beautiful open air restaurant you've ever been to in Europe, which is literally inside an old castle, and as you're having a European model photo shoot with your dear friend Hannah, the waiter won't stop creeping on you.#Get.Over.My.Russian.Face!

"This restuarant is SO beautiful, I've decided I want to get married here!" ~Svetla #European.Wedding.Plans.

That cute moment of life when a Croatian baby boy (Kiki) won't stop laughing at you as you eat your food. #Lithuanians.are.naturally.funny?

That awkward moment when you yell to Cate, "All European men are Hott!" and as you're walking you look up and to your horror you realize the upstairs window of the church is open, so all the American guys on your missions team just heard your comment...#OUCH.

Cate: "This child is SO DRAMATIC!"
Svetla: "Well, that proves he must be a Russian guy..." #Russian.guy.reality.

That funny moment of life you're teaching one of your friend's the Russian word "Durat" on a bus and as you say this word a little too loud, and an older gentleman nearby has a smirk on his face...#gavaru.parusski?

That musical moment of life you are walking the streets of Skopje's downtown mall and you see this young Macedonian man sitting on a bench, singing and playing his guitar!

That interesting moment of life you're walking the downtown streets of Skopje, and you see a young European man that has dreads...#first.European.I''

Svetla in Russian accent: "American boy like me, but I no like American boy."

WOW...LOL PART 3 coming soon!!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Looking back on this beautiful life,
these fading memories are in the back of my mind,
remembering the warm summer August day,
meeting you in the midst of a crowd of 200,000
for some lovely reason you stood out,
your kind brown eyes,
the smiles,
the laughs,
are now a distant thought,
As for why, I have yet to find out...

I'm walking the streets of Vilnius,
it's been 11 years since I last saw you,
sitting there on the street,
dressed in pajamas,
your brown wavy hair,
the saddest eyes,
your head bowed down,
why it had to be you,
I ask God every night...

Oh how you were so kind,
so sweet,
my heart smiled every time I saw you,
I remember trying to find you,
in a sea of 10,000 people,
I didn't need to,
you were standing there,
20 ft away,
with your usual smile that lights up all of heaven and earth,
oh how I wish time was eternal,
those moments were too short,
every second, so precious,
I thank God everyday for you,
such a beautiful soul...
a truly beautiful soul...

Underground coffeeshops,
acoustic worship evenings,
you camouflaged into this lively night scene,
then several months later,
I came across you once again,
an unexpected surprise,
the prayer I once prayed as a cute little challenge to God,
I didn't realize He was going to answer it in the way He did,
my soul laughs at this irony,
you happened to have a passion for the same language as I,
our mini language conversations,
the speechlessness on your face,
as I spoke my language,
your story,
your beautiful story,
Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  Standing on the streets of my favorite European city,
those grey cobble stone streets,
the colorful architecture of the town,
it seemed like a dream,
too good to be true,
to be reality,
a tear slide down my heart,
to be alive for this moment,
you were standing there,
so serious,
walking those streets,
we were seemingly lost,
laughing into the sun,
the priceless smile on your face,
never will I forget,
you totally never saw this crazy surprise coming,
but yes, they do exist,
you did the sweetest thing,
the gift of eternal life,
even though it will take a while to understand the Cyrillic,
my soul smiled so brightly that last day,
Thank you so much for the beautiful memories...

 <3 ~Svetlana~
I pray that these memories, oh these precious memories, are not goodbye...

Say Goodbye by Skillet:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The End Is Where We Begin

When was this war EVER going to end...
She thought quietly to herself,
outwardly she was silent,
inwardly her soul was screaming for answers,
So many identities,
which one was true?
Ruslana Evelyn in Russia
Svetlana in Macedonia,
Ice Tea in America,
or where all of these names a sum of identities of who she was?
Torn between two  very different worlds every single day,
to the outside world it looked all sweet and cute,
this european passion,
but they really don't see this invisible war,
this reality that is faced everyday,
 a struggle of what identity,
what world to choose,
the sacrifices that have to be made,
 the painful goodbyes that must eventually take place,
oh how it is going to be ever so hard,
questions racing through her mind,
why now? why this time, Father God?
having to trust that God's will,
always seems to show up in those unlikely, unexpected moments of life,
even amidst the chaos,
there is this relentless hope,
a passion burning,
to fight for the souls that have not even been met yet,
having a heart to do whatever it takes to reach these dear brothers and sisters,
even if it means giving up everything,
and starting a new life,
in another place,
another, time,
another world,
starting literally from  absolutely nothing,
and creating something,
something truly beautiful,
in a world scarred with brokeness,
to go to the darkest corners of the earth,
and be that light,
in the "most terrifying" of places ,
to confidentially smile and kiss this darkness...

Power of Your Name by Lincoln Brewster:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grazyna Aistra

This morning as I was praying, it finally hit me....19 freakin years later.....
As most of you know I am VERY PASSIONATE about music ministry. Words will never be able to describe my heart in this area.....God simply whispered to me...."Stop proving yourself..." I was like, God, wait...what are trying to say, then I realized.......especially this year and ever since God placed the passion of music ministry on my heart 11 long years ago, that I had simply tried to "Prove myself". I just want to apoligize in advance for anything offensive I might say about my views on music ministry. I realized that my whole life I had been trying to musically prove myself to people. That's sad, oh so VERY sad....and was I concious of this fact all the time? yes and no. It sickens me to think what path music ministry in America has taken.
Music ministry means seeing eye level to eye level with the dear brother or sister you're singing your heart out to.....easier said than done! I've met so many freakin bands who say they're all about music ministry (I will resist the temptation to mention any names) and loving Jesus, but their very words are spit on my Lithuanian face. You know what I mean, those of you who get really excited to meet a band, and then as you're talking to them, you can just tell how they think that they are somehow "higher" "better" or "more special" than you. WOW....REALLY!?!?! That REALLY makes me so angry!
Going back to the thought of "proving" myself.....I've noticed this with my passion for worship leading. Do you realize that for most worship bands you have to audition? Obviously, DUH...but seriously, it's sickening to think that you have to "audition to worship Jesus". "Hi, I'm Aiste, and today I'm auditioning to worship Jesus!" That sounds absolutely BRILLIANT, doesn't it? NOT. I know this argument can go both ways and there are a ton of worship bands out there that simply form and no auditions are needed. It just breaks my heart that there are people out there who think they have the right to judge someone's music passion... I remember when God placed the passion of music ministry on my heart like yesterday....oh how my heart has grown and my thoughts and perspectives have changed. Today, I was challenged as I was praying, why do I do what I do? Why do I do music ministry? Is it for MYSELF or is it for GOD? I was simply left speechless at this thought....I remember growing up oh how I struggled with my musical insecurities. I was overwhelmed at this God sized music ministry dream that God had placed on my heart. I can't even begin to number the thoughts of "I'm not good enough...I'm a musical nobody." that I went through throughout this life.... Especially as I got older, and going to all these concerts, meeting all these bands, I questioned to myself if my music ministry even had a chance....and then it HIT ME once again, I love it how God reveals His heart to His beloved dear children at the most unexpected moments of life....Who was I to judge God's music passion that He Himself had placed on my heart? Who was I to say to the creator of the universe,  "Jesus, I don't think I can take this passion you've given me, here You go take it back, I don't want it!" and at the very same time Jesus BELIEVES in us!  When our dearest Jesus says I BELIEVE IN YOU....HE REALLY MEANS IT!!!! So regardless of how I viewed myself musically or how the world viewed me musically, God has entrusted this musical passion to me. He simply wants me to sing my heart to HIM. Singing to my dearest Jesus. Not trying to impress anyone....EVER. Just being my complete musical self wither people like it or not. If we're not courageous enough to express ourselves musically, and hide our passion forever, WHO EVER WILL? The world is at a HUGE loss if we choose to never share our music ministry hearts....

I realized that my heart for music ministry was simply to love God's people. Especially after being on a mission trip in Macedonia for a month, Jesus shook my world and everything I ever thought about music ministry changed. That is another reflection for another blog post.....Anyways,in my heart I realized, the only way that I was ever going to reach my dear lost brothers and sisters of Europe and throughout the world was how Christ reached me.... Jesus IS PERSONAL. This is how I feel in my heart to approach God's music ministry passion that he has placed on my heart. Being able to sing my heart to the world, then after the music fades, simply taking the time to get to know each beautiful dear brother and sister. REALLY getting to know who they are and their beautiful & unique heart, passions, and dreams in this amazing life....

If our heart motives aren't pure and genuine when it comes to music ministry WHAT IS THE POINT? What is the point of music ministry if at the end of the day, we fail to reach our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world for Christ? WE MUST BE ON THE SAME EYE LEVEL! We are all God's beautiful son's and daughters, who have a "Grazyna Aistra" (beautiful passion) to share with this world that ever so needs it...

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A perspective of life I experienced during my prayer walking/travels in Bosnia on May 29th....

My heart wanted to die
Every time it rains in Europe, I believe it is Jesus tears for every dear precious European soul...
and I share in the pain of my Savior's tears...
I couldn't bear the heaviness I felt
My heart was screaming
Overwhelmed at the darkness of Bosnia
and how lost my dear brothers and sisters are
I felt as if God placed all their pain, sadness, loneliness, depression, addictions, hopelessness and piercing cries on my heart...
on my soul...
The weight just crushed me in such a deeply moving way I have never felt before
I cry for the girl who never felt loved,
I cry for the boy who never knew his father,
I cry for my generation who silently screams at finding purpose and meaning in the precious life they have been given.
My tears and the anguish on my heart, just keep getting stronger
Father God, why have You forsaken Europe?

The Last Night ~Skillet~ 
(John Cooper's message)
(better vocal quality of the song The Last Night)


Yours To Hold ~Skillet~ <3 (My heart for Europe)