Monday, July 30, 2012

Letters To Lietuva: Day #384

In honor of this new crazy season up ahead, I decided I'd dedicate quite a bit of blog posts to the following reflections, "Letters To Lietuva".......I haven't decided if Letters To Lietuva is going to be blog posts, an actual physical journal, or a mix of both. In honor of this PASSION, this VISION, this DREAM God has placed in my heart to pursue; the goal of moving to Lithuania in 385 days, to start doing music ministry in Lithuanian churches and on the streets, to attend Lithuania Christian College to major in teaching English, and simply to love on all my dearest Eastern European/Russian brothers and sisters and win these nations, each precious & beautiful soul for Christ!  This 385 day journey, I know straight up, WILL NOT BE EASY. It will be one of the hardest challenges to overcome that I have EVER faced in my life when it comes to spirituality, health, finances....but I truly believe if my dearest Jesus has called me to this fate, to rise above this mountain in Christ's name, I believe EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE with my Jesus. In the end, it will be worth it...Every hellish day, every sunny day, every colorful stained glass moment that lies ahead....I dedicate these following writings, every single my dearest brothers and sisters of Eastern Europe & Russia.....This is all for you....<3

Day #384

Well, yesterday I got a call from the Ukrainian Deli that I got the job....I was left absolutely SO speechless. I couldn't contain my excitement. I screamed, danced and sang around my room like a 5 year old child! Was this real life? I couldn't BELIEVE at how faithful God's hand was...Realizing all that it took to get to this place, for this very hour, I am SO humbled that God trusts me with this job at the Ukrainian Deli. This job means the WORLD to me. Having the blessing of  working with Eastern Europeans in America, and realizing that this deli is where all the Ukrainians, Russians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles etc hang out, it just seems too good to be true! All I can say, just observing how God has been shaping my life, this Ukrainian job, was meant to happen. I can't even begin to IMAGINE what God has in store. I'm SO FREAKIN EXCITED to meet each dear European and Russian soul. Just realizing all the beautiful memories that lie's going to be one lovely year that I'll remember forever....

On a more funny European side note....So far, experiencing the European/Russian men culture, I'm going to make a thoughtful perspective of what I THINK the Ukrainian men at the deli will be like. They will be young, close to my age, married, cold, not welcoming, and be very serious.They won't even bother to talk to me. From my experience with these types of men, it takes a while to crack their eggshell...but ONCE you  do....dang...there's no turning're friends  (or more LOL) for life! It will be cough cough VERY INTERESTING to see how these cultural interactions unfold and all those lovely awkward moments that lie ahead!

It's such a poetically serious moment seeing my life right before I enter the doors of the UK Deli for my first day at this job, then after realizing all the moments of life that happened were meant to be in Christ...I wish I could paint a picture, some metaphoric abstractness representing this turning point in life....I will never be the same....

I will most likely not leave this job SINGLE....=P

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Never Turning Back

I dedicate this following poem to all my dear friends who have gone through that point in life where you are at a cross road, waiting for God's direction of what exactly to do....<3 

It was going to be one crazy year,
She honestly didn't know if she had the strength and courage to run down this path
it was so overly hipster,
she couldn't even find the heart to laugh about it,
the doubts, worries, fears drowned inside her mind,
Was this possibility of life even possible?
Was this dream worth dreaming?
How could one month turn a life upside down,
She felt like God had taken her plans,
crumpled them up into a paper ball,
then ripped this paper into a million tiny pieces,
as He happily danced and skipped around in the wild flowers,
and said, "My child, I have something far greater in store for you..."
She saw this coming,
oh how it ever so was going to come,
it made such perfect sense for this time, this very hour,
it was too perfect,
but oh the struggle, the heartache, the perserverance it was going to take,
She didn't want to imagine,
the reality of doubters in her life,
she felt frozen,
but knew that she had to take that step off the edge, trusting that Jesus would catch her,
She cried out "Father God, I can't do this, I can't, I can't, I can't, I CAN'T!!!!!'
He stretched out His loving hand, looked into her eyes, and whispered, "My beautiful daughter, I believe in you, oh my precious daughter,  how I believe in you,
I will believe in you in those moments when everyone else around you ceases to,
I will believe in you in those times when you want to give up on your passions and dreams,
I will believe in you on those darkest nights,
My child, I will believe in you forever...."
 She felt the greatest wave of peace surrounding her,
and knew that it was time,
time to take that passionate risk,
to redeem a nation of broken people,
keeping her eyes on the One who gave her the song inside her heart, 
even if it meant leaving everything behind...
and never turning back...

 Wherever The Wind Blows by Pillar:

"I've been here for so long,  I think it's time I move on, so tell me where it is, that I need to be...wherever the wind blows, you will find me there...<3"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

That Awkward Moment When You're in Europe...Part 3!

The beautiful realities of life that took place on the dear streets of Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia & Montenegro...Don't laugh too hard! and YES...these following moments SO DID happen....

That fun/awkward evangelizing moment of life you are walking the down town streets of Bitola, Macedonia handing out flyers for the Convoy of Hope outreach event, to random European people, and you give a flyer to this beautiful young Macedonian man and you stutter to say your 6 word Macedonian sentence 3 times, but by God's amazing grace his eyes and smile are filled with understanding and compassion...

That fashion moment of life you buy your first pair of aviators, and it makes you look at least 52.651% more!!!!

You can take my sense of European fashion away, strip my leather jacket, scarf, aviators, black lace up boots, worst case scenario, can't take my Jesus...............................................................................................and Eastern European =P

That funny moment of life a very kind Macedonian lady likes you alot, and attempts to hook you up with her 22 year old son Doma....=P

That moment of life your cultural professor drops you off in a random village within the Macedonian mountains and just drives

That awkward moment of life you are handing out outreach flyers in this mountainous Macedonian village of Krivolisk, and there is an overwhelming amount of young Macedonian men surrounding you...

That funny moment of life you write your name on a Macedonian boy's had since he kindly asked and then 30 other Macedonian children want your name written on their hand and they run outside and start screaming AISTE! AISTE! AISTE!

That beautiful unreal moment of life you're riding back to the church with your missions team  and the pastor  starts singing "How Great is Our God".

That coincidental moment the last worship song in the Negatino church service is "Svetlina" (Here I Am To Worship)  and your Makedonian name is Svetlana, which means light, and it happens to be the very first worship song you ever learned and your favorite one! 

That awkward moment of life you and your 2 friends are walking back from the downtown streets of Negatino and you are locked out of the church. You ring the door bell twice and the electronic system unlocks but you can't open the door. You yell to the 3rd floor and ask your professor for the keys and he throws the keys to you to unlock the door, but it still won't open! 15 minutes later, one of your other friends FINALLY opens the door for all of you....#........................................................

That funny moment of life you're about to give your testimony and you introduce yourself, "Jac sum Aiste!" and the entire church congregation is like "Laden-Chi!?!?!?! (ice-tea!?!?!?!Q) KAKO!?!?!? #Even.Macedonians.don'

One of my dear friends, "Aiste, you know what I was thinking? You're 100% Lithuanian, so that means you're going to marry a guy who is also Lithuanian? Me: "Um......well.........................................................................................................................
as long as he is either cough cough Macedonian,...............................................Lithuanian, Russian, Estonian, Latvian, or something that ends in an "IAN" than at least my future children will be half and half....just like a latte!"

"I take NO initiative, I don't even tell them how to spell my name, and they STILL find me!!" ~Svetla

That crazy moment of life you're at a Macedonian resturant and before you eat your meal, your professor makes your entire missions team stand up and do a little Makedonia Dancing as he prays for the meal...#DANCE.PRAYING....Totally.European.Hipster.

Joko: "Svetla, you kicked that soccer ball SO almost knocked someone's head off!!!1" Svetla: "Ahmen, that's how I play FUTBOL!!!" #don't.mess.with.the.Lithuanian.

Svetla: "I may come across as a cute, sweet, happy, smiley, musicy, artsy, fartsy, Russian/Lithuanian hipster......BUT I have a dark tornado sky Thousand Foot Krutch European futbol side as well...." #TOUGH.LITHIE.

That moment of life you FINALLY do that one beyond crazy thing you've always wanted to =P

That moment of life you're at a Macedonian pizza restuarant and  the two songs is "Paradise" and "That's What Makes You Beautiful" comes on the radio as you!

That financial crushing moment of life you accidentally lose 1,000 Denari....#DANG.

That moment of life you bet Hannah .5 denari you will meet a Russian in Nis, Serbia and .oooooooooooooooooo1 denari that you will meet a Lithuanian....#Lithuanians.don'

That terrifying/awkward moment of life you're getting impatient as you're waiting to cross the Serbian border and as you are plotting  on how to "hop the fence", a Serbian security guard bangs your window, stares at you for 3 seconds, then walks away...#Svetla.Is.A.Russian.Spy.SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

That coincidental moment of life you find yourself waiting to cross the Serbian border and you are discussing ideas of how you wish to be proposed to: "On a bridge somewhere in Europe overlooking a city.....and "he" sings and plays one of my favorite songs on the guitar....#don't.get.any.ideas....I.never.said.anything...=P

That moment of life your professor says, "I have a confession to make, I've never been to Nis, Serbia....all I have is a map of the city, other than that....I have NO IDEA where we are going...we could be back here in an hour, or late at night...#Serbian.Adventure.

That moment of life you "accidentally" crash a Serbian wedding....#Like.A.Boss.....YEAH

(this one is truly GOLDEN, Never will I forget!) That language moment of life a young Serbian man walks up to you after the church service, he says his name, you say yours, he doesn't speak don't speak you just stare and smile at each other! #I've.decided.I'! (Serbians understand Macedonia, pretty much all of former Yugoslavia does)

(This SO happened, I honestly don't know how =P) That awkward moment of life you exchange facebook names with this young Serbian man, and the pastor STORMS over and snatches the piece of paper that has your name away from him, he says "Izvini (excuse me) and then the pastor writes down the young Serbian man's name on another piece of paper and gives it to

FINALLY,  thee last awkward European moment................................(in the part 3 series anyways...=P)

That sneaky Russian spy moment of life you smuggle your facebook name into a young Serbian man's

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unrealized Aftermath: Part 2

( Part 2) continued...

What really killed and sickened my heart was just how I had taken my "American blessings" for granted.
I simply just couldn't live in this American culture anymore. While I was here, my dear brothers and sisters of Europe and Russia were over there, suffering. The American dream was not me. The whole traditional American mindset of , "Go to the college of your dreams, put yourself into $40,000 or more in debt like "everyone else", and have a nice life," was something my heart could never do. I recently talked with one of my dear European friends, and I'll never forget how moved I was after our conversation. My generation of European friends, simply had NO childhood. sound a little too hard core for you? that's. reality. My dear brothers and sisters in Europe had to "grow up" alot sooner than your typical American boy or girl. I feel as if people in general in America have this false mind set of "Oh, Europe is such a wonderful and happy place!" In some aspects, it is, but reality, it's a harder life.Why else do you think my parents chose to escape Russian communism and move to America, knowing in the back of their minds that they would have to leave ALL of their family, friends, and relatives behind?

Financially, in Lithuania, reality is people live from pay check to pay check. There is no need to even open a bank account. The unemployment rate is 18% and the total population of Lithuania is 3.4 million. Everything in Lithuania costs the same as it does here, but they make twice as LESS.  But the beauty of it all, is that God has confirmed in my heart that I am called to go to such a place....I believe in order to reach a a dear country, a beautiful group of unique people for Christ, you must live among them. Not you in your rich a** "missions house" but actually living THEIR way of life financially, physically, etc to really get a taste of what it's like....

What REALLY ticks me off about America's Christian music scene is that it apparently "forgot" that there is an ACTUAL world outside it's bubble. Slowly, there are a few American Christian bands who have started touring in Europe, which is SO refreshing to hear. I also do realize the perspective that if an American Christian band is called to stay in America to evangelize to American people, that's totally fine. What continues to bother me is how NON international worship leading in America is. I do realize that throughout the world there are various Hillsong churches, and music ministries that do exist in this area. Just from observing worship leading in America I feel like sometimes we get so consumed about becoming "the best worship leader" "the best music ministry" "the best church"  that we forget about that sad, orphaned Albanian girl walking the the lonely dusty mountain streets....

I challenge you, dear future worship leader/Christian musician...You sing your songs about Jesus to the world. You reach people here in America for Christ. You make a good amount of money being in your cute Christian band. You become the most famous Christian band in the universe! Perfect.....?
Who is going to reach that orphaned Albanian child? Who is going to love on that young Bosnian man and bring light to his eyes? What Christian band is going to go those dark European/Russian places that otherwise would have not ever been set foot in? Refresh your memory, why exactly are you in your "Christian band?" Is it for the right reasons? I  realized in my heart that I was called to go to those places with my music ministry. Let's be deathly honest, your average American Christian band will most likely never go to the darkest corners of Europe or Russia. They will be too consumed in their own musical success and lives to even bother. That's where I DREW THE LINE. I wasn't going to be part of this "average Christian band" lala. SO NOT me....An orphaned Albanian child isn't going to care if you are the greatest worship leader on earth. They just want to be LOVED....Let me repeat, THEY SIMPLY WANT TO BE LOVED! Same with that young Bosnian man, it is CHRIST'S LOVE that is going to reach the world NOT our music professionalism....This is what I believe is THE HEART of what music ministry is about. Simply loving your dear brothers and sisters for who they are, and being on the same eye level with them, and not letting your stupid musician status get in the way. Simply doing music ministry from the heart. Heart to Heart. Personal relationship to personal relationship.FORGET about the freakin stage. Just sitting on the cold dusty ground with your guitar, smiling and looking into the deep blue eyes of a young Russian girl, the sea green brown eyes of a young Montenegrin man, as you sing the song God's heart gave you....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Identity Struggle

I am identified as "American" by my passport
Otherwise I choose to be completely embracing my 101% Lithuanian self
Both my parents are Lithuanian
My dad is from Vilnius
My mom is from Marijampolė
Communism made me "Lithuanian-American"
If it weren't for communism, I would be "Lithuanian-Lithuanian"
If it weren't for communism, I would have never set foot in America.
I would have most likely not been the same person, my crazy over energetic, obsessed with Christian music ministry, loving my dear European/Russian brothers and sisters/ colorfully creative artistically inspired self,
That honestly does scare me,
I will NEVER identify myself as American...EVER...
 I've made my choice,
I choose not to assimilate,
 Cultural assimilation is's deadly.
Imagine a world if we were ALL Americans.
ALL Japanese.
ALL Russians.
ALL Nigerians.
ALL Lithuanians.
ALL Bolivians.
What if every unique culture just chose to assimilate into one mass-mega culture?
What a TERRIBLY boring, lame, and unOriginal BLAH world that would be...
My heart is Lithuanian, My soul is Lithuanian, the very blood flowing inside my veins is 100% Lithuanian....
Jesus created every beautiful culture to express themselves in their own unique and special way to glorify Him...<3

Sea Glass Brown Eyes Reflections: Montenegro

While I was  on my month long missions trip in Macedonia, I had the blessing of also stopping in the countries of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo & Albania. The following reflection was inspired by 1 out of the 3 pastors in Montenegro...

Just a little background info, Montenegro is a country in the mountains, literally at the top. Our missions team was in the city of Podgorica. There is about 1 million people total in this country.

(straight up writings from my Macedonian journal)

May 30th, 2012

Drove 8+ hours to Montenegro. Crossed border. Overall physical view of city not that impressive. Met the pastor of one of the three evangelical churches in Montenegro. He is the sweetest man I've ever met! He's like a 2nd Dad to me. To see the joy in his eyes and heart at the sight of our group of young college students loving Jesus was priceless. The mini sermon he gave was such a God wasn't even funny! 

"You must have a dream...even when a certain situation in your life seems impossible." ~Pastor Mirchay~

"Never let anyone take away your God given dream...Hold onto it, no matter what it takes, You must keep that hope alive inside of you... " ~Pastor Mirchay

God directly spoke to me through Pastor Mirchay. His golden words forever changed my heart perspective. He said there are a total of only 50 believers in Montenegro.The reality that he still has a smile on his face and a never ending perserverant hope that his country will experience revival one soon day really inspires me. The reality that having 20 christian college students from America in a European churc room is already a higher population that the number of people that normally attend a European evangelical church service, made my mouth shut.I used to be SO obsessed with mega churches and finding the largest church in Minneapolis as possible and making sure they have the greatest worship music ministry program ever....

Now my perspective has changed....
The European evangelical churches that barely have 20 people per service are SO ON FIRE and hungry for God, their worship is SO authentic, passionate and straight up from the heart. There is a HUGE need for worship leaders in these European churches....

I challenge you dearest friend, what do Pastor Mirchay's two previous quotes mean personally to you in your own life? What dreams do you need to hold onto?....Do you need a God sized dream?....Why is it so important that we keep the hope of our God given passions and dreams alive?........