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.

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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!).

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Day 1 & 2 Volleyball Camp 2018

Each morning we have a pleasant walk to the gym where the volleyball camp is being held.

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It’s been a full first two days of camp here in Riga. Monday could be described by the word ‘familiarize.’ Familiarizing ourselves with Latvian names, a volleyball camp schedule, each other, and members of Matthews Church. Camp was focused on testing volleyball skills and passing, with some games in between.

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Matiss has spent time preparing for the lunch break and has added even more connections with the kids through his interactive games.

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After camp, we were hosted by a family from Matthews Church. They are a family of five—Maris, Laura, Kalvis, Oswalds, and Harald. From the second we started our evening with them, we could sense their love for Christ. We ate with them, got to know them and their three goofy boys and friend.

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They topped of our evening by bringing us to a national park-type of spot. The spot was called ‘Purva Laipa’ and it was a beautiful spot with the Latvian pete moss and lots of trees. Their hospitality was incredible and their family loving. We were so grateful for this time of fellowship.

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Tuesday, we started to find a camp rhythm and structure. The day as focused on setting and team games. We had scrimmages, relays, and a few of us had some meaningful conversations with campers about how they heard about camp, their life in general, and their knowledge of Jesus.

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Randy shared his life story, with the help of Matiss translating. He did an excellent job engaging with his audience, since Randy and the kids are pretty much the same…full of a love of sport and fun.

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Our incredible hosts for the evening.

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The day was finished with a trip to Jurmala, a beach city, where we had deliciously large servings of traditional Latvian meals—potato, salad (cucumbers and tomatoes), and a meat—all with a beach view. Dinner was followed by a dunk in the Baltic Sea by Ahnika, Aleasha, and Laurel and a stop at the ‘RIGA’ sign on the way home. Our time with Lauris brought laughter and delight.

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We have arrived in Latvia!

Travel from the U.S. to Latvia was a success! The trip was smooth sailing, the entire way. What this really means is, there’s not much to say about a trip that we are really thankful turned out so easy. The proof of that is in Ahnika’s smile.

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Even with the great travel, it’s quite an adjustment to Latvian time and seemingly endless daylight. Our goal for the last day has been to get used to day time hours. We spent some time exploring near our apartment, which is located within an easy walk of Old Town Riga.

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Incidentally, Latvia is celebrating 100 years. As a non-local, I’m a little confused since I know it’s been a country for such a long time, but many of those years they weren’t in control. Despite that, plenty of celebrations seem to be planned.

Today turned out to be a pleasant surprise during our visit of Matthews Church. The service was an installation of a new Baptist bishop for Latvia. We had translators to help us follow along as the leaving bishop gave a message of encouragement to the incoming bishop, and the new bishop accepted his new role. One of the details that stood out in my eyes was to see the support of the leaders of many churches and denominations within Latvia for this special event. Of course, the singing and music during the service is always pleasing to experience.

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Here are just a couple photos of some leaders sharing some words and encouragement for the new Baptist bishop

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The final hours of our day will be spent in preparation with Gatis to ensure the camp for the local youth will be a positive impact upon their lives. We are excited for the camp to finally start!

And They’re Off!

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Our Volleyball Camp team headed to Portland for an 8:30am flight to Dulles in Washington D.C. at oh-dark-thirty this morning. One of Suburban’s Elders, Jason Nelson, prayed over the team as they left and he and his wife Christina are graciously providing chauffeur service for the team’s trip to Portland.

Some of you will see this post first thing this morning — please pray for travel mercies as the team begins to make their way across miles and time to Latvia. Pray for resilience as the team will likely have some surprises in the midst of this travel time. Pray for the ability to be completely in the moment – both for this time of travel and then for the time in Latvia – present to the Lord and each other for whatever He puts before them each and everyday.

As we visited before the team left, it also dawned on me that each of them is leaving tasks and relationships that are important to them here in the States. Please also pray for the families that will be carrying on for the next 10 days with a beloved family member not as near at hand. Pray peace, ease of logistics, and God’s abundant grace for these families over the next couple of weeks.

And in all things may God be glorified and His purposes accomplished!

 

 

Volleyball Camp 2018 – Year Three, Here We Come!

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There’s still a bit of packing to complete and a few days of school to finish, but those things aside Suburban’s Volleyball Camp team is ready to head to Latvia! Praise to the Lord and His generous people, the trip is fully funded. In addition to helping Matthews Church, our sister church, with the third Volleyball Camp, Suburban’s team also has the privilege of helping out Bridge Builder’s International missionary Katie Leatherwood. Katie is a Prosthetist and she uses this skill to serve amputees in Latvia. Our team will carry a box of donated prosthetics with them and meet Katie at the Riga airport to hand the box off to her.

Randy Tryon, his daughter Ahnika Tryon, Marci Bacho, Aleasha Nelson, and Laurel Luke leave Portland this coming Thursday, June 14 and will arrive in Riga on Friday, June 15. Volleyball Camp begins Monday, June 18 and continues through Friday, June 22. We covet your prayers for them as they go! Pray for:

  • Travel mercies – safe and smooth travel with good relationship building along the way.
  • Stamina – the trip is arduous and running a week long day camp with 50 kids aged 11 years through 16 years is strenuous even without jet lag.
  • Speedy transitions – the ability to quickly settle into a new place, new pace, and new relationships.
  • Team work blessings – that the Latvian and American coaches and volunteers will quickly meld to be a blessing to one another and to the kids.
  • Connections – this trip is all about connections! Connections for the coaches and team mates and volunteers. Connections for the coaches with the kids. Connections between Matthews Church and Suburban Church. Connections between the Lord and His people and those who have yet to know His great love.
  • FUN!!! Every trip to Latvia has been a delightful time of appreciating Latvian hospitality, getting to know new people and getting to know old friends even better.

Thank you for your support and prayer for this trip! Stay tuned to this page as the team will try to complete a daily log of the trip.