The days of our lives

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
Trip End Feb 08, 2011

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Flag of Latvia  , Talsu Rajons,
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We are loving it here in Latvia - though every country we go to we find reasons for staying on longer or coming back again one day...

The base here, with its heavily iron-saturated water, steep, dodgy stairs and much need for love and repair, is used over the year as a training center for DTS (Discipleship Training Schools), Counseling Schools and training in Biblical Studies - as well as having many team-building groups and camps through during the Summer months.

By all appearances, the Latvian palate seems to be a rather plain one. They are BIG on their soups, black bread with caraway seeds and potatoes...and everything served with a generous dousing of sour cream; they love the stuff!
Walking down the rickety stairs each morning you can never be certain what to expect for breakfast. Unlike our same-old, same-old back home, here you never seem to have the same thing two days running. It can be anything from bread with cheese and tomatoes, pancakes with jam, or semolina porridge - to mixed sweet cereals or last nights left-overs. It's a pot-luck! :)

The loft in one of the out buildings here is literally overflowing with a treasure trove of second-hand clothes (the gypsies often come through and help themselves, as do many of the staff)... and we made full use of it's contents and availability for the sea-themed dress-up party we were invited to. We had so much fun! A few snips here and there, with a little creativity on the side, passed for some 'pirate' clothes to adorn ourselves at the beach-side location.

Flowers are a BIG deal here. They are given to anyone - girl or guy regardless - for just about any occasion you can imagine. And most certainly, you would never dream of going to a wedding without a bunch for the happy couple.
Ah, but there are rules with it all: an uneven amount for a happy occasion - and an even number when given in a time of sadness, loss or grief.

Latvians love to dance! Highlighted not only by their enthusiasm at parties but also while enjoying the sights of Talsi in festival (the nearest town worth mentioning) over the weekend. The city was alive with movement; stall after stall selling all manner of Latvian goods from food to clothes to wood carvings etc. There was lot's of traditional Latvian dancing to be watched and an abundance of balloons about to stir up a great atmosphere among this usually sleepy little place. It was so good to be able to spend the weekend there with our crazy Dutch friend, Corina, and Samuels fellow conspirator, Jordan, from the States. We had a great time experiencing the very quaint, old-school theatre there that screens only one movie each week - scoring perfect timing to see the fantastic work "Inception" at only 1.80 Ls! (about $5).

I had the opportunity to join several of the staff in taking some boxes of food to the home of some Gypsies here in Valdemarpils. This family spends their summer months in the forest collecting blueberries to sell for a living - and their living situation was an appallingly sickening sight. Such awful conditions - I can only imagine how terrible it must be for them in winter at minus who-knows-what.

It's been really amazing to see the way God bought us here and how absolutely perfect His timing has been in that.

Samuels overwhelming options for work around here were narrowed down to a list of specific things they really wanted to see done at the base. He was able to do a bunch of maintenance around the base, and spend hours on end in helping build up the winter supply of wood as well as a number of different tasks each day to keep him out of trouble.

I've been busy, busy teaching English and just loving it, though it really can be all-consuming for me in the planning etc. with many hours preparation into the night. Classes have gone really well - and I have been so blessed by them. The women are so incredibly grateful it just blows you away. Each one of them has a testimony of these lessons being a direct answer to prayer, and for some, a specific step in what God has called them to do. Amazing!!!  Many of the lessons, as requested, were based on Bible passages or relevant topics for Counseling ... which I myself leaned so much from. After the first week, with the most from the 'advanced' group away, I cut back to one group lesson which usually stretched from 2-3 hours, then took one or two one-on-one sessions in the afternoon.

Along-side English I also began giving Flute lessons each day to one of the staff. It was so good to be able to play again! Agita was so passionate and excited for the opportunity to learn it made it such a pleasure. Hmmm, very interesting though when you are trying to teach an instrument on top of a language barrier - I was so grateful it is not her first instrument!!!

After our final English lesson we spent the afternoon covering 'food' in the Kitchen, cooking up the sweet tastes of home in teaching how to make Pavlova.
As it turned out, that same evening they had organized as a thank-you/farewell for us, before we were to move on to our next stop: Riga. It was a super special time of a great Latvian bbq over lot's of laughs, memories, a time of prayer and the very popular kiwi addition of Pavlova. A surprise had been organized to follow, setting up the 9m free-fall swing (part of their awesome ropes course). Harnessed to a rope, you literally just have to take that step of faith off the platform to free-fall until the slack is taken up and you swing out between the trees. Whoa, talk about loosing your stomach!
A great evening spent to end out time here at this base :)

These people have an immense gratefulness for even the smallest things and we have been incredibly blessed by their friendship and generosity.

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Ellie from Holland on

Nice to read your story. It was very nice to meet you!! Hopely I see you some time!

The Spences on

Great blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Nathan sends :-) to you all. God Bless, The Omarama Spences

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