Youth Camp 2019 Recap

It’s hard to believe Youth Camp ended almost SIX weeks ago. In some ways it feels like hardly any time has passed.

A typical day at camp was busy and eventful. Our days would begin bright and early with team meetings (and a healthy dose of coffee) before the rest of the campers woke up. After our team meeting, we would meet up with the campers for our “morning exercises” (choreographed dancing to 80’s pop songs) before eating breakfast together. Breakfast was followed by a time of music and a devotional, which was the topic of our small groups directly after.

Our team was put in charge of overseeing the main group activity of each afternoon, which was also loosely tied into the theme of the day’s devotional. The first day’s activity was a scavenger picture hunt designed to help the campers and leaders get to know each other and bond.

Day two’s group activity put the campers’ “Hope” to the test in a relay-style game where each team would take turns choosing from ten brown lunch bags, each containing a different combination of bite-sized snacks, and eating the contents. A few fortunate campers were able to enjoy a sugary treat, while others had their hopes crushed when they realized they had to eat combos such as an Oreo with horseradish or Skittles in soup.

Note: This picture was clearly taken BEFORE Taylor realized he would have to eat a Marshmallow-Herring Sandwich…

The third and final group activity of the week brought a whole new set of challenges for the campers as we put their “Heart” to the test, both figuratively and literally. Students were put through several variations of tag, a tug of war tournament, and number of other high-energy games to get their hearts pumping.

In between devotionals and group activities, campers and staff had plenty of time to enjoy the sprawling campus, which lended itself nicely to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities. We were even able to introduce flag football to the campers as many of them had never played before and were only familiar with the local “futbols” (soccer).

After a jam-packed and fast-paced day, by the time evening rolled around, all the staff and campers were wiped out and ready for bed by 9:00pm…

…oh wait…that might have just been the staff.

Following each evening devotional, the campers miraculously received a second wind and were ready for every activity that was planned for that night. Evening events included activities such as: a camp-wide game of Capture the Flag, watching a movie, and a truly inspirational talent show to list a few.

The talent show even featured some of our own team members assuming their on-stage alter egos. Brandon and KC gave stunning performances as Judge Simon and a unicorn (we’ll let you figure out which one was which). Meanwhile, Anastasija captivated the audience as MC Gloria Gonzales and Zach dazzled (literally) in the musical trio “Fabelicious”.

Most nights, by the time the activities were finished, we were well into the wee small hours of the morning. Tired and sore, we would each slowly find our way back to our respective cabins, turn in for the night, and recharge for another day of actioned-packed games, thought-provoking devotionals, and countless hours of joy-filled laughter.

Latvia day 2

Today we attended Mathews Church. With the help of interpreters, we were able to follow along for the most part. The teachings were mainly out of the book of Mathew and 1 Peter among other supporting scriptures.  The message today reminded us that our cornerstone should be Christ alone and not the things of this world. The Latvian word for cornerstone is “Stūrakmenis”. There were several songs, many of which were familiar to us albeit in Latvian. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in our style of worship. 

We had a planning meeting after church.  We spent time going over the schedule and getting to know one another. Everyone seemed to hit it off and we have a sense that this is going to be awesome camp!

Later that evening, the men got together and loaded the supplies for camp. Several of the guys and one gal stuck around to throw the football and discuss sports. Tomorrow we get up early and head to camp.


Hello church family!

As Claudia mentioned, we’ve arrived safely. The flight from Portland to Frankfurt was pretty uneventful, However, as we boarded the plane to Riga, we discovered a  hole just below one of the wings. The ground crew and pilot investigated the damage and deemed the craft still flight worthy. Although it made us feel uneasy, we boarded the plane and trusted God will get us there safely. The flight was fine.

We were able to pick up some groceries before bed. Our bodies adjusted quickly as we all woke up early and cooked breakfast.

After breakfast we ventured around Riga visiting the sites of the city on foot. According to KC’s Garmin, we walked over 28k steps. Throughout the day we spent time in devotion to God, sharing testimonies and getting to know each other on a deeper level .

Tomorrow we will attend Mathews Church. Afterward, the team will meet with Matiss to plan and load the supplies for camp. We appreciate your prayers and support. We will keep you posted!

DSC_0007DSC_0027DSC_1017DSC_0050 2




Testa Režīms FB

The Latvia Link team is calling all prayer warriors to pray for this summer’s trip to Latvia that begins Thursday, July 25 and ends Tuesday, August 6. Our Sister church, Matthews Church, has invited us to send a team to help with a Youth Summer Camp that will meet at Camp Hope Latvia.

Our team this year includes team leader, Randy Tryon and his son Taylor; Anastasija Balakina, our intern from Latvia; Jennifer Miller; Zach Enas; and Brandon and CJ Stewart. These seven individuals will be under the direction of Matiss Babrovskis, recent graduate of Baltic Pastoral Institute, staff person at Matthews Church, and Suburban’s intern for six weeks in the fall of 2018.

Please pray that:

  • the team will be ready physically, spiritually, and organizationally for the trip
  • all travel plans will come together and flow smoothly
  • clear communication for all things needed for camp programming
  • the camp will fill with young people – both those who know the Lord and those who have yet to know Him
  • all needs will be seen and provided for by the Lord and His people
  • the Latvian and American teams will work well together, bless each other, and bless the Lord.

If you’d like to see more of the camp environment, click on the link below and then look for the video titled Camp Hope Latvia 2018. Our camp will be a bit smaller and have some different activities, but this is the facility at which the camp will happen.

Camp Hope Latvia 2018

We’ll keep you informed as the trip grows closer! And the team hopes to update you during each day of the upcoming trip. If you’d like to give toward the team’s expenses, go to the link below, select ‘one time gift’ and choose Latvia Summer Trip under the choose fund option.

Latvia Financial Support

Thank you for your prayers!!!

They’re Off!

After a day of being flexible (our word, remember?) the team is winging their way to Frankfurt, Germany and from there to Riga. The flight ended up being delayed by about 3 1/2 hours. Thankfully that was not an issue as they had a 9 hour layover in Frankfurt, so now they’re down to about 1 1/2 hours in Frankfurt, honestly about a perfect layover time.

They used their airport time to play “Go Fish”, a true team-building endeavor – :-). Keep on praying – we’ll let you know when they arrive……

Countdown Prayer

Testa Režīms FB

We’re in the last few days of preparation for the Latvia Team trip to partner with Matthews Church in providing a Youth Camp outside of Riga. The team leaves Portland about 3:30 this Thursday afternoon. We covet your prayers!

One of the things we pray into as a team is summed up in the word ‘flexible’! Every year from trip prep to trip completion we run into surprises – it’s the nature of developing projects over a 5,000 mile distance. We’ve already had some surprises and seen God provide what we needed to meet the need of the moment. So pray for flexibility for us! We want to flex with what God has for us, even if that means detours or last minute adjustments or changes to plans. Pray that we will have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to follow all that God has during our travels, during the camp, during our time with Matthews Church’s Family Camp and even on the way home.

Three more sleeps and we’re on our way! Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers!

This is the Week! Thursday is the Day!

Recent Family Picture

In just 2 1/2 days, on Thursday, October 11, Matiss, Elina, and Emma arrive to spend just over 6 weeks in Corvallis. Their journey begins at 7:05am in Riga, which is 9:05pm on Wednesday night here in Corvallis, and ends in Portland at 5:38pm on Thursday night. By the time we see them at PDX they will have been nearly 24 hours in transit with another 2 or more hours before they arrive at our house. Ugh.

They are young, resilient, and they’ve traveled before, but please keep them in your prayers for safe travels, for sufficient energy, for smooth connections and that even in this time of travel God will use them for his purposes. It has been years since I traveled with a 17 month old and I never attempted an international flight with a toddler. Pray for Emma that this will be as comfortable as possible for her and for her parents as they work to keep her entertained, fed, and rested up.

Thanks to all of you for the items you’ve contributed to make their stay a blessing to them. You will have a chance to meet them this Sunday in Suburban’s services.

Thank you for your faithful prayers!

Claudia Lee


Waiting for the Brabovskis Family

The 2018 Volleyball Camp Team
SCC’s 2018 Volleyball Team (left) with Matiss, Elina and Emma Babrovskis (center) and Ance and Gatis Olte (right).

See that darling little baby in the picture? That is 14 month old Emma Babrovska, daughter of Matiss and Elina. Emma and her parents are coming to visit Suburban in exactly 1 month! They touch down at the Portland Airport on Thursday, October 11 and will join the Suburban family in a six week internship for Matiss and frankly, we can’t wait!!!

A little back story — Matiss is currently the Youth Pastor at our Latvian sister church, Matthews Church in Riga. For the last two summers Matiss has been a huge part of the program portion of the Volleyball Camp that Matthews Church and Suburban partner together to provide. It is such a blessing that he is fluent in English and can bridge the language gap for us Americans. Everyone from the SCC camp team loves and respects Matiss so much and really believe he is a gifted servant of the Lord. In addition, over the last two years Matiss has been a student at the Baltic Pastoral Institute  (BPI) studying to become a Pastor, now entering his third and final year of studies.

A year ago in October Steve, Claudia, Mike and Randy visited Matthews Church to join in their 150th anniversary celebration. While we were there the idea was raised of Matiss coming to Suburban for an internship during his third year of BPI. After a year of prayer and planning this internship is becoming a reality!!

Please join us in continued prayer as we work on the detail planning related to this visit. So  much is ready – financial provision through a couple of generous donors, a place to stay, a car to use, scheduling of various opportunities for Matiss, for Elina, and Emma to enjoy. But there is more to come, so your prayers are much coveted! And of course, please pray for travel mercies on the journey and for God to teach us all through this amazing adventure!

And in just a few short weeks, be sure to look for Matiss, Elina and Emma in the halls and gathering places of Suburban. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to say ‘hi’ (or maybe ‘ciao’ pronounced chow … yes I know it is Italian, but Latvians say it too!!!) to this sweet family.

End of Volleyball Camp 2018

Camp is over and we have returned from Latvia! It went slow and it went fast, especially the last few days as we celebrated the last day of camp, Jani day, and wrapped up our trip.

Day 5 at camp shook up our typical routine. We spent the morning doing our normal volleyball session, which included stretches, a much-loved game of dodge ball, and some scrimmages. But we shook things up handing out t-shirts and taking pictures.



The afternoon session, however, had even more surprises for the campers. For warm-up, we were treated to a professional, super-star warm up led by Ance, who was a national’s player for Latvia and beach volleyball champion. Her warm-up was active, waking everyone up from their food commas (the food all week was catered by a delicious local restaurant!).


Once all our muscles got a good jump start, we ended the volleyball portion of camp with some round-robin play. This was a perfect way to see how each camper improved their volleyball skills throughout the week, and to have some healthy competition too. Even the coaches joined in!

Following volleyball, we all headed to Matthew’s Church for our closing camp ceremony. Boy was the closing ceremony a blast—not only did we congratulate each camper individually, but we got to commune together over cherries and pastries too! Marci impressed us all by knowing the name of every single camper, without help, and even had the pronunciations too!



As coaches, both from Suburban and Matthew’s Church, we celebrated our successful week of camp with Gatis and Ance’s favorite—pizza!


While the official summer solstice was Thursday, the official celebrations of Ligo-Jani day are celebrated on Saturday. So, our team followed in suit and made the day an adventure. While we didn’t make flower crowns or jump over fires, typical activities of this Latvian holiday celebration, we did make the day quite the Latvian excursion. The day began with a pastry brunch with at Ance’s sister’s bakery across the river. Both sweet and savory, these delicious treats gave us a sugary start to our day and put smiles on our faces. As Ance, the Nike trainer, says, “you can never have too much sweets.” So true!  And what better way to experience a country than through its bakery delights!


Kuldiga was our next stop. This is an old town in Western Latvia that is full of historical sites. From Latvian symbols everywhere, to old churches and castles, this was your typical picture-esque European town. It even had an additional feature—Europe’s widest falls, the Ventra Rapid. Laurel, Aleasha, and Ahnika chose to brave the walk, with only one of them getting a bit wet. The rest of us chose to take a walk and watch their balance from afar.


From Kuldiga we visited Ganibas, a Christian camp celebration for Jani day, and then watched the sunset on the beaches of Ventspils, a coastal town. We truly got to experience Latvia’s beauty that day from food, to history, architecture, and landscape.


Our last full day in Latvia was spent in Cesis visiting castles and embracing the rain. Although it was a bit chilly and drizzly that day, we could not complain given the warm and sunny weather we had had all week. And in the company of Inga, life was a hoot.


All to say, we’re a little better at volleyball, a tad bit sore, and a whole lot in love with Latvia and Matthew’s Church Family. We are so grateful for our sister church and the ways it brings us into closer community with a part of God’s Global Church.

Day 3 & 4 Volleyball Camp 2018

Wow. This week has been full of so many activities and relationships packed into such a short time! Day 3 started off with a video call to Brian Schaudt. He has been missing the camp so much that he stayed up super late to make this call.


Every practice has settled into a routine, kind of. Yes, we’ll get stretching done, but why warm up with just a lap around the gym to get the blood pumping? Variations of tag and other games are more fun to do instead!


After we warm up, fundamental skills are practiced each day, as well as drills and games that focus on a specific skill set.



Day 2 was focused on serving.Friday-4Following each day of volleyball camp, we have been shown such amazing hospitality. It’s like a dessert at the end of the day, meeting new friends and now family, at their home to experience an evening in a Latvian home. The theme of this visit has been burgers. I think it’s appropriate, since the weather is perfect for a backyard picnic.Friday-5





This little girl Natalia (I hope I spelled her name right) is so cute! As we are in deep conversation inside or outside about such things as Latvian culture, politics, and orphan ministry, Natalia is in the background passing by on her bike as she makes her circuit around the property and up and down the hill.


Day number 4 rolled by so quickly. After warming up, the skill set that Randy focused on was hitting.




Matiss has been providing structured time during lunch breaks to engage and also create interactions between campers. Today he brought in a favorite from last year, the illusionist who not only showed off a couple tricks, but the main focus was to show the campers how to do a trick themselves.




After day 4, our team once again was adopted for the evening. Peteris brought us out to Katie Leatherwood’s office. We keep bumping into the same people! Katie had spent the lunch of day 2 sharing with the campers about why she is in Latvia and what she does here. I learned just as much as the campers and then being able to see her office was icing on the cake. Her knowledge and experience of assessing needs for prosthetics/orthotics, putting them together, and helping clients or athletes train with the new tool is an amazing and valuable gift. All of the prosthetics or orthotics that she provides for people in need here are donated, so she serves people who otherwise couldn’t have those important tools to have a more full life. Not only does she help people physically, she inevitably is asked, “Why are you here doing this for me?” It is an easy question to answer for Katie, as she shares the love that God has filled her with.

Much could be said about Katie and what she does here,  but we were hungry. So after seeing the office that she’s recently moved into, we shared a meal that would rival any Oregon hipster restaurant. This was followed by a stroll through a local open air market that also had traditional Latvia music playing by a local band. What an amazing evening! Oh, by the way, apparently it has rarely rained here in the last two months. Guess what it did this evening? Of course, Oregonians and Latvians are a match made in heaven, since pulling out the rain jacket for a 15 minute shower is a shared common skill we each have.