Lithuania: To Look After Orphans
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans . . .”
The above text from the epistle of James is a text that I encourage all who read this article to try. Over the 8 years that I have worked in Lithuania and the 26 years that I have lived, I have never received such fulfilment, such joy, such satisfaction, as I have these last two Christmases.
During the summer of 2001, I received a letter from ADRA Germany asking about the conditions of the orphanages in Eastern Europe but more concretely in Lithuania. I had never really visited any orphanages and so with the little push from this letter I made a few phone calls and visited a number of orphanages. What I found was heart breaking! I found that many of the orphanages in Lithuania have a very hard time staying afloat. They don’t have enough money to pay workers, they don’t have enough money to feed and clothe the children, they don’t have enough money for medicines, and they don’t have enough money to pay utilities like heating, water, electricity, etc.
After doing my little investigation, I sent back a report to ADRA Germany and they responded and told me that they wanted to send 900 Christmas gifts to help some of the children. The project we did in 2001 was only the beginning of our work with the orphans.
This summer I received another letter from ADRA Germany saying that 2001’s project was such a success that they wanted to do it again but this time they expected to have more help and they expected to send about 1,500 packages. We made some phone calls, visited some orphanages to see who needed help and then we waited and waited and waited.
Finally during the first part of December, I received a letter from ADRA saying that they had closed their warehouses and would be loading up the trucks to send to Lithuania and other countries. We waited and waited for more information as to when the truck would be coming. Finally the day before the truck arrived I saw the faxed paperwork and realized that I needed to do some more calling. They did not send 1,500 Christmas packages, but … 2,460 packages!
Because of the amount of Christmas packages that we received this year, I was not able to attend all of the Christmas programs but the few that I did attend, I cannot explain the joy and happiness that was on the faces of each of these children. For many, if not most of them, these were the only gifts that they received. Many of the orphanage directors told us, with tears in their eyes, if we had not come, these children wouldn’t have had a very happy Christmas. One director even told us, that day she had been praying that God would send someone to help and we showed up.
Last years’ work opened up many doors into these orphanages and some churches continued working with them all through the summer doing special programs and some children even attended one of our Pathfinder Campouts. God has a thousand ways of reaching the hearts! These children need a friend and that is what ADRA Lithuania and our local SDA churches are trying to become.