Monday, June 19, 2017

L'Arche and L'viv, part 1

A week ago today we started out on a wonderful trip. Alys, Nila, and I went to L'viv to visit L'Arche and related ministries there. (Nila is one of the board members for Promise, Alys' organisation that is building the homes. If you read much here, you already know Alys.) To quote Nila directly, our trip "was a wonderful time in the special country of love and joy."

I am supposed to write a report about the trip, so I'm going to start here and see what comes of that. True, some details might be vague or too much info. There was just so much to see, so many people to meet, so much to process! Plus, I was functioning in my less preferred language. No, that's not the right way to put it; I love Ukrainian, too. So, not less preferred, just less learned, less familiar. We'll see what I can pull together, though.

So, we left on Monday, spent about 20 hours on a train and arrived in L'viv Tuesday morning. It was an easy trip; air conditioned trains will never cease to amaze me.

L'Arche in L'viv is a little different from many L'Arche communities, because it's mostly not residential. However, they do have a house, and that's where we stayed. I'm going to be using their vocabulary of "assistants" and "friends" as I write. (Want to read more about that?) In Lviv there are assistants who live full-time or part-time in the house, and then friends come to stay with them, usually for a week at a time, but it can be longer if there is a specific need for housing.

The L'viv L'Arche community is based in and around their workshops. Right now the "Smile" workshop is under construction, so the Smiles are meeting in the house every day. Most of the workshops are scattered throughout the city, and the friends get to and from them by themselves every day. Smile is different, because they have the most profound disabilities. There are two Smile groups, and they alternate days. A bus picks them up in the mornings and takes them home in the evenings. We started our time there with Smile.

Each day begins with a time of sharing, singing, and praying together. We went around the circle telling how we were feeling that day and what we like to do. It was sweet to see how them express themselves so beautifully even if they don't have words and how the assistants help them communicate, too. The assistants told us that when they're in their usual building they have pictures and other helps, but here they just had to go on gestures, sounds, actions, and how well they know their friends. For example, one dearly loves the Bible, so they asked him what he loves and then handed him a Bible, so that he could show us.

Then we sang and prayed. In the morning the friends choose the songs, in the evening it's the assistants' turn.

When prayers ended Mikhailo, the one with the guitar above, led us in exercises. He had a wonderful, creative approach to it and pretty much had all of us dancing. After some physical movement, everyone was ready for tea, so we went into the kitchen for tea time. Then, it was time for work. In this workshop they don't do as much of the concrete, marketable work that the others do. Plus, being away from their usual space means that they can't do all their usual activities, but after tea time, they all got busy with something. One assistant and one friend went to the store to buy supplies for lunch. Others helped with stacking wood outside, or with jobs in the kitchen.


All too soon we had to leave for another visit, while they continued with their happy, peaceful work....

*These are Nila's photos.


Mom said...

Beautiful. Eagerly awaiting the next installment. Love you!

Baba Julie said...

What a wonderful description and picture of what you were doing, where you were and the new friends you were able to meet and serve. Love, Julie