Lithuanian Lottery Changes Life of Motiejunaite


Eleanor Burns, Designer/Writer

As she walked off the plane, everything about the new country grasped her attention. Squeezing onto her mom’s hand, Liepa Motiejunaite and her family had officially arrived in America, leaving behind their home in Lithuania.

Motiejunaite was six years old when her life completely changed as she moved across the world from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, to the small town of Fredericksburg, Texas.

“Life in Lithuania was harsh,” Motiejunaite said. “Going out into the city was dangerous because it was very common to get robbed by people who needed money. It was unsafe, and kids my age wouldn’t even be allowed in the streets or even hang out as we do now.”

Motiejunaite’s mom won the green card to move to America in 2011. First, her mom entered a lottery to win a green card from the United States. Not many are granted to Lithuania, so winning was a big deal. Next, they had to apply for residency in America. Once they were accepted, they packed up their stuff and moved.

“I remember the day it happened,” Motiejunaite said. “I was in the backyard playing a game somewhat like tetherball. My mom came out of the house, screaming, ‘I WON!! I WON!!.’ I was so confused in the moment, and I had no idea how much my life was about to change.”

It took the family a year to take care of everything before they moved. Eventually, they sold their little car, bought four suitcases, four backpacks, and four tickets to the United States. They soon boarded a plane and came to the land of the free.

“I learned English pretty fast after taking classes all summer long before first grade,” Motiejunaite said. “My brother, on the other hand, had to start high school here without knowing much English, so his freshman year was rough.”

Language wasn’t the only big change. The climate in Lithuania is much different than here in Texas. While Texas weather is warm and above 70 degrees most of the time, Lithuania has the opposite problem. “It was always cold,” Motiejunaite said. “The highest it would get to was about 70°F while the lowest was about -20°F, and it would snow from November to April. I remember building a six foot snowman with my dad there.”

Motiejunaite claims that while she would love to take her future family to visit Lithuania and show them a part of her childhood, she would never live there again. She has not visited her home country since the move, but still has family living there. “My grandparents, along with my uncle, still live in Lithuania, but we have not been able to visit them since we moved because the plane tickets to Lithuania are very expensive,” Motiejunaite said. “My grandpa made me a doll out of yarn when I was younger. I ended up bringing it with me when I moved so that I could have something around to make it seem like they are with me everyday.”

Although she misses her grandparents deeply, Motiejunaite loves being a part of the Fredericksburg community. “Lithuania will always play a major role in how I became who I am today,” Motiejunaite said, “but I am truly blessed to grow up and spend most of my years in this beautiful little town of ours.”