I was supposed to go to Poland this weekend…spend tonight in Warsaw, take a bus to Krakow Saturday morning, and visit Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Schindler’s factory. Then, enjoy Krakow on Sunday and take a bus from Warsaw back to Lithuania on Monday. I was so excited about this because it was the most important trip that I planned to make during this semester. However, on Tuesday, I decided to change this plan for several reasons. In Lithuania, the Monday after Easter is the recognized holiday, instead of Good Friday, so we do not have classes. There is a big cultural event in Lithuania on Monday including a large open-air museum depicting major parts of Lithuania’s history. I didn’t want to miss this. After a tough consideration of both opportunities, I chose to stay in Lithuania based on this philosophy: I will only be a student in Lithuania one time in my life…now. I want to be as immersed in this country and culture as I can possibly be. Lord willing, I will have other times in my life when I can travel to Europe and visit Poland. And, now that I have quite a bit of travel experience, I know how to make that happen. So, I was sad to say goodbye to my chance at seeing Auschwitz this weekend, but excited to experience more of beautiful Lithuania before the semester comes to an end.
As it turns out, God also used this change in plans to open another door for me. I mentioned in my last update that Domantas is in the hospital. This morning, I went to the study abroad office to ask Viktorija to call the orphanage and ask if I could go visit him. Well, she was not in the office today, but God didn’t close the door. Orinta – the woman who works with the European students to help them study abroad – offered to call the Baby House for me. When she called, they said it would be fine for me to visit him and that they would call the hospital to let them know I was clear to be there. Then, Orinta asked me if I was going to bring a Lithuanian speaker with me to help translate if necessary. I told her I had planned to just go on my own since Dom doesn’t really speak, but I thought it might be good to have someone in case I needed to speak with any of the medical personnel. After asking me what time I would go, Orinta volunteered to go with me. She said, “It is good to help people who do good for little ones.”
At 1:30 this afternoon, Orinta and I went to the Klaipėda Children’s Hospital. She spoke with the receptionist for me to find out what room Dom was in. After climbing the stairs to the third floor and walking through hallways covered in finger paintings, we entered a bare room with two empty beds, an empty crib, and a crib with one little sleeping baby boy. He was all alone in a room with no signs of love…no stuffed animals, pictures on the wall, flowers, or cards. His pacifier and raddles were on the floor under his crib. He was lying on his belly, his thumb in his mouth, peacefully breathing as he slept. The first thing Orinta said was, “Awe, he is so cute…so little.” After speaking with the doctor for me, and staying for a few minutes, Orinta left me to take care of a few other things she needed to do. The children’s hospital is not far from campus so I knew how to get back on my own, and the doctor told me to stay as long as I wanted. So, I sat on one of the empty beds while little Dom slept. After about ten minutes, he awoke and sat up in his crib. Still rather groggy, he looked at me in confusion through the cold, white, metal bars of his hospital crib. I greeted him, “Labas, Domantė.” After a few minutes of talking to him, as he woke up a bit more, he realized who I was. Thus began my hour and a half visit with this little boy. We sang songs. He played with my phone. We played peek-a-boo. I held him so he could see out the window. We paced up and down the tiny room several times. I retrieved his pacifier for him and he retrieved the rattles on his own. He sat contentedly in my lap for several minutes, holding my hands in his, clapping them together and saying, “Clap, clap, clap…oopah!” We played a game of “Kur yra…? Čia yra!” (Where is it? Here it is! – Basically, I just made this up on the spot to help him cheer up when it was time for me to leave. It involved me hiding one rattle behind my back, him hiding the other behind his back, pulling them out randomly, shaking them, and hiding them again.)
One of the coolest parts is that I was able to give him my baby blanket. My mom gave me a blanket that was mine when I was a baby so I could give it to the orphanage. My plan was to give it to the orphanage on my last day. I decided last night to give it to Dom instead. When he woke up from his nap, I laid the blanket on him and explained that it was mine, but it is his now. I’m not going to lie…I shed two small tears when I said, “You get to keep it so you can remember me when I can’t come see you anymore.” Even though I said that in English, he must have understood my sadness because he started to cry, too. I forced myself to quickly cheer up and say, “Viskas gerai. Viskas gerai.” (It’s all good. It’s all good.)
If I could have, I would have stayed all afternoon and evening. But, the time came for me to leave. He was not happy about this. After our little game to stop the tears, I told him goodbye and that I would see him later. As I walked backwards out his door, I felt like my heart was breaking at the knowledge that this little boy with sad eyes would be staying in that room all by himself with the exception of the occasional check by a nurse or doctor. I have a feeling I will be spending a significant amount of my weekend in that hospital room…
So, my decision to stay here instead of traveling to Poland turned out to be the best change of plans. I am so glad I can be a visitor for Dom in his time of illness. I saw more than enough smiles and heard more than enough laughter in that hour and a half to know that it’s all worth it.
Hi, I'm Katie... just a girl, living this adventure for the glory of God. Thanks for reading!