Our hotel includes a wonderful breakfast with our room, so we started our day together talking and laughing over a good meal. Just a bit about breakfast here — it isn’t the typical waffle, cold cereal and coffee meal we tend to get in the States. The selections are abundant and range from various cereals and muesli to eggs, bacon, cold cuts, cheeses, coffee cakes, yogurt, baked beans (Steve wants those for breakfast from now on), mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers, fruit, etc., etc. It is yummy and invites lingering and conversation.
We left the hotel about 11:00 to walk to a local flower vendor and then on up to Matthews Church and a visit at the Pastor’s home. Flowers speak the language of friendship and appreciation in Latvia and we knew we wanted to communicate that to our friends here. We may have looked a bit like an odd bridal party as we made our way through town to Matthews Church.
We arrived at Matthews just before noon. Lauris Grins met us there and took us up a few flights of stairs to the home of Pastor Ainars Purmalis, his wife Mairita, and their daughter ‘Anni’. They greeted us warmly and led us to their table which was decorated beautifully and covered with many delightful dishes. The Purmalis family also invited our friend Gatis Olte, Volleyball Camp planner and coach extraordinaire, and Lauris and his son Marks also joined us at the table. We enjoyed a wide ranging conversation learning more about each other’s lives and our mutual hearts to love and serve Jesus. We spoke of past partnership and of opportunities to come, including this coming summer’s Volleyball Camp — our third camp together. Pastor Mike presented Pastor Ainars with a letter and a card from Suburban’s Elders with congratulations on the 150th anniversary of Matthews Church.
We left Ainars and Mairita’s warm company to walk a few blocks with Matiss Babrovskis to the apartment where he lives with his wife Elina and his 5 1/2 month old little girl Emma. Matiss is in year two of Baltic Pastoral Institute training. During this year of study Matiss serves as an intern at Matthews Church for three weeks of each month and attends classes at BPI for the other week of the month. Suburban has the privilege of providing some financial and prayer support for Mattis as he studies and prepares for full time ministry. Mattis participated in the program portion of this last summer’s Volleyball Camp and made a great impression on our team. He had creative ideas and the kids loved him. The actual sports portion of the camp is important and helps to connect the kids to one another and to both the American and Latvian coaches. But the importance of the program portion is it works to connect the kids to Jesus. We planted the seed of an idea with Matiss and Elina that they might someday come to Suburban for at least a couple of weeks or maybe even for a 3 month internship. This is only a dream at this point, but something we will pray about and see how God leads.
From Matiss and Elina’s home we took a walk around a large and beautiful park right across the street from Matthews Church. During the summer months Mathews Church has a monthly sports outreach to local youth that happens in the park. Today the weather was crisp and clear and the leaves were golden, both on the trees and where they had fallen under our feet. So beautiful!
The next couple of hours we were at Matthews Church and blessed to hear excellent choral and instrumental music from adult and children’s choirs, small ensembles, and Christian classical guitarist Kaspars Zemitis. This is the first time I had the opportunity to hear a choral setting written by Kaspars and called “Mass” that consisted entirely of voices and guitar. There were several pieces interwoven including ‘Agnus Dei’, ‘Kyrie Eleison’, and ‘Sanctus’. All were beautifully and exquisitely done. Here is a link to Kaspars Zemitis presenting one of the songs we heard this evening with another Latvian choir. Kyrie Eleison by Kaspars Zemitis and Liepaja Choir
Our day was full and tomorrow promises to be more of the same as we gather with Matthews Church for a special 150th anniversary Sunday celebration.