Today we left early because we knew that we were going to cover a LOT of territory. Our ultimate goal was to visit a long time friend of Laima’s named Tabita. And, on the way there, to cover some ground and see some sights.
Laima, her friend (and mine from my first visit) Monta Kodola, and Markuss Rozims, the 20 something year old son of one of Laima’s friends, showed up at our door at 9am. We laughingly decided that having four women ready for a road trip by 9am when there is only one very small bathroom might qualify as a miracle in and of itself! Markuss was our driver for the day and an absolute delight! He is a gentleman with a deep heart for the Lord. He proved to be a safe driver and a charmer and actually seemed to enjoy the company of a bunch of women who could easily be Mom or Grandmom to him! What a blessing!
We headed west our of Riga through some territory we’d enjoyed earlier but quickly found ourselves in what appeared to be Latvia’s breadbasket. Latvia is fairly flat, but this area had a lightly rolling quality to it with lots of wheat fields, alfalfa, silage corn, and various other crops planted. Hay was baled and decorating many of the fields with the occasional haystack here and there. The wheat is still just the slightest bit green — not yet ready for harvest. The countryside was beautiful and so, so much like our beautiful Oregon!
As we continued through the country we drove through many small and picturesque communities including one whose name I’ve forgotten but whose inhabitants stick in my mind. They are dolls. Lots of dolls! There is a woman in this town who, for many years, has crafted and dressed multiple little people who populate her front yard. A unique occupation for sure.
We continued up to Kuldiga where we enjoyed about 2 hours of strolling through the community taking pictures and touring one of the ancient churches.We took lunch here at a little bakery. I had a Latvian hot dog! 🙂
From Kuldiga we continued to the northern most point of this little horn of Latvia. Just a few kilometers past Roja we stopped and visited with Tabita and her family. Tabita’s home is in an incredibly beautiful place. Today it was surrounded by sunshine and flowers and after a very short walk we were on the shore of Riga Bay. We walked east on the bayshore and returned to Tabita’s home through the forest. So beautiful! Tabita told us the story of this home. Her father was amongst those deported to Siberia and was gone for 11 years, from age 20 to 31. When he returned he was not allowed to return to his family home – it was destroyed, so instead he was given this parcel of land to rent that had a very old rundown home on it. He met his wife, Tabita’s mother, and Tabita was born. This old home would not work for a family so Tabita’s father built the home we saw today. After freedom, the family was given the home they had been renting. Tabita seems to love and appreciate her home, but she is also acutely aware that it isn’t ‘hers’. The deep roots that existed in the old family place that was taken from them haven’t quite settled into this place yet.
In true Latvian style Tabita and her family treated us to a feast. There was home-made pizza that even I loved! They also made little bite-sized pastries in both cinnamon and poppy-seed flavors. We ate outside in the mild summer weather. Such a feast for the body and soul. We visited for a bit and then spent some time praying for one another. As we prepared to leave after this sweet, sweet time, Tabita’s 90 year old father came down from the upstairs portion of the house where he lives with them. He welcomed us and expressed his surprise at the number we were! It was a delight to meet this man who has endured much in his life, but overcome in such a way that his legacy lives on. All through Tabita’s home I saw scripture sayings seasoning their life. Faith. Deep faith holds them and radiates from them. It was a joy to be with them for even a few hours.
We traveled the few kilometers up the point to spend some time walking the beach both along Riga Bay and where the Baltic meets the bay. It was such a wonderful time of refreshing. And then, off again to head back to Riga. The sun set about 11:05 pm as we returned to our apartment. Thank You Lord for travel mercies, a sweet time in a van load of women and one young man, and for the delight of new friends in Jesus.