Joyful Hearts Ensemble: A Musical Group of People with Special Needs Held its First Concert Tour

On May 14-21, the concerts of The Joyful Hearts Ensemble  have been held in Europe.  It consists of the people who permanently reside in the Boarding Home for Adults with Special Needs (learn more about the ministry at the boarding home) and is one of the permanent projects of started by St.Elisabeth Convent. The Joyful Hearts performed in Warsaw, Berlin, Paris and its suburbs. Brother Nicholas (Storozhenko), who was involved in organization of the tour and accompanied the performers during their trip, shared his feelings about this wonderful event in the life of St.Elisabeth Convent and the Boarding Home.

Organization of the tour and anticipation of the performers

We dreamt about a trip to Paris for quite a long time. For the first time this idea came to the mind of Novice Tamara, who was the first director of the Ensemble. About a year ago, Fr. Andrew, the spiritual father of the convent, blessed us to deal with the organization of the tour of the Ensemble to Paris. At first, we could not stop thinking about various difficulties we might face. We had no experience and did not know how to lodge for the night and to feed 30 people, among which there were also the patients of the shelter for adults with mental disabilities. We prepared for the trip in advance. The sisters, who work in the women’s rehabilitation center of our convent, made beautiful national costumes for them in their free time. Concerning the locations of the concerts, first of all we wanted to perform in front of our friends abroad, who heard a lot about the ministry of our sisters. As people say: it is better to see something once than to hear it one hundred times.

Our special performers were waiting patiently and praying for about a year, until we managed to organize with all the organizational problems. They were looking forward to it and asked every time whether there were any news about their trip. They really wanted to visit new countries and to meet new people.

On the way to Europe

Strangely enough, but the trip seemed tiresome only at the start, when we did not yet have all those great emotions from the concerts and new acquaintances. On our way back, we were singing all the time. At that very moment I understood that I was with people whose hearts are indeed joyful.

Some words about the concerts

The concert in Berlin was a truly memorable one. When the guys sang the famous song “Katyusha”, more than 200 visitors sang along. The warm welcome and long-lasting applause in the Russian house in Berlin allayed the concerns about whether the audience would like the Joyful Hearts or not. It became clear that they felt that support and performed as best as they could - with all their hearts.

The Paris part of the trip was of course in the center of everyone’s attention because of its numerous sights and unique light but sophisticated atmosphere. Well  we were not ready to die after we saw Paris, but we did understand the meaning of this expression.

Our feelings after the trip

In Warsaw we spent the night in the city center. It was quite a challenge as we held two concerts that day, but the desire to explore the first capital city on our way overcame our tiredness. So, me and five of the guys went for a walk across the city center. At that moment it did not feel that they were patients of the boarding home nor did we feel like their accompanying personnel, instead we were walking together as friends. In the end of our trip, we asked them about what they liked and remembered most of all. They said that it was our common walk across Warsaw, because at that time they felt like real tourists.

For me personally the strongest impression was that the Lord touched the hearts of the visitors through the performance of the Ensemble. That was obvious due to the tears in their eyes. In this case, we can say without any doubt that the trip was successful. Before we went, we were afraid because we did not know whether the audience would like the songs in foreign language or not. Fortunately, we have learned that the language of sincerity and the simple heartedness of the members of the Joyful Hearts ensemble are familiar to any person’s soul. They are much more convincing than any translation or adaptation.