First off, there is sunshine OUTSIDE my soul today!! Finally, the rain clouds are vamoosing, and our sunshine is back to stay (hopefully, at least). If nothing else, that's worth blogging about!
We headed into church early today, since we had to practice for two musical numbers!! We were singing with the Lithuanian branch choir, and also singing a quartet with the other ILP teachers (Elise, Janese, Bailey) and I.
Some background - the senior couple in our branch is Brother and Sister Flake, and they are AWESOME! Sister Flake is a determined little lady (literally, she's tiny) and is convinced to push this ward past their comfort zone. So, Viktoria and her organized doing a choral music number of "How Great Thou Art" in Lithuanian, with Sister Flake on the piano. The choir consisted of the 6 missionary Elders, 4 of us teachers, then 2 woman from the ward. Strange of a combination as it may seem (especially since about 1/3 of the choir didn't even speak Lithauanian...), everyone did their part, and the song was wonderful. It was especially touching, because our familiar and loved hymn of "How Great Thou Art" isn't even in their small hymn book here. When we performed the song today, that was the first time many of the people in the congregation had ever even heard it sung. (Oh, and a funny sidenote - I was talking to the Elder's afterward, and they told me that whoever translated the hymns from English to Lithuanian apparently didn't understand old English very well, and translated "Art" to a literally art picture or painting. So, the last line of the song reads "How great is your art". Got a giggle out of that :)
(For those who would be interested in knowing more about the LDS hymns, go HERE for the Church music page.)
Us ILP teachers also performed a Sally DeFord rendition of "I Need Thee Every Hour", one of my favorite hymns (which you can see HERE). Similar to the situation with the choir song, Sister Flake was telling me that this branch has never had a simple music number like the ones we enjoy almost every other week in America. There's not a shortage of good singers, but performing in church is out of their comfort zones. Overall, the number went beautifully, and many branch members came up to thank us all afterwards. Natasha (the wife of Dima, our awesome coordinator here) gave me a hug, and thanked us for "bringing life into the ward". It's a special thing to see things we American would label as daily or weekly occurrence have such an impact here. It's a reminder of exactly how sacred and special such things are.
Another funny note - one sweet older lady in the ward was trying to thank me as well afterward, but didn't speak a lick of English. She said thank you, then kept gesturing with her hands to say something else. I didn't understand till she tried to mimick my height by standing on her tip toes, and saying "gražus", which the Elder's told me later means beautiful. After I realized she was complimenting my height, I said thank you, and that saucy old lady just nodded and winked at me. Love these people :)
This past weekend has been full of answers to my prayers - yesterday's hours of exploration and enjoying the city at it's best helped me come alive, and really be grateful for being here. Then today was full of reminders of how close by the Lord is to us, even whilst we are away from everyone else. It was comforting, and a good reminder :)