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.
Friday, February 28, 2014 — Today Steve and I slept in and were able to enjoy a bit slower pace. As we left the apartment, we stopped by Chuck’s courtyard and saw the tagging in the alley – so I got a picture! Another one of those ‘people are the same everywhere’ moments!
We were scheduled to meet at 11:00 with Chuck and Peteris Sprogis, Bishop of the Baptist Churches of Latvia. We spent an hour together talking about many things including a strategic direction for the Baptist Churches that includes a ‘check-up’ of sorts. Churches will do a self-evaluation using a tool designed for this purpose. The tool will ultimately reveal areas of weakness that can be enhanced. Then the hope will be to strategically partner the church with another church that has strengths in those areas of weakness. Suburban has done this before and it was helpful in understanding who we were and how we could grow.
We met at a cute little restaurant with great food and good coffee. Peteris made sure we knew that the bartender at this place is the champion bartender in all Latvia! 🙂
After this meeting Chuck took us on a brief walking tour in this area of Riga. We saw St. Peter’s church and one of the interesting points is a little mask high up in the wall. The monks would stand behind the masks and shout out the news of the community. The masks are designed in such a way that they are like a megaphone and allowed the monks voices to be heard clearly for quite a distance. We saw the Blackheads House originally built in the early 1300s and rebuilt several times over the years. At this point the Latvian President has his office in the Blackheads House as the presidential palace, the usual place for his office, is renovated. The architecture is beautiful! I’ve seen this building in many paintings, including Chuck’s, so it was good to see them for real. I’ve included a link so you can learn more about the history of these buildings if you are interested.
Today for a late lunch we ate at a Hesburger. A couple of days ago we stopped at McDonald’s here in Riga. Earlier in the week we also had pizza. Do you detect a pattern here? I guess with Steve you can take the boy out of America, but you can’t take America out of the boy. Although, if I remember what I was told, Hesburger is actually a kind of a McDonald’s but came from Germany. I suspect he can’t wait to have a Burgerking again! 🙂
We did a little bit of souvenir shopping today. I purchased a beautiful hand-knit cap that will always remind me of our time in Latvia!
Tonight I had the pleasure of sharing with the ladies of Matthews Church. Baiba and her team put together a nice time of fellowship, treats and sharing. It was fun to meet more women and to teach them from my heart of passion for prayer. We ended the evening with Lectio Divina in Psalm 37:1-9. Such a sweet time!
Thank you to all of our prayer partners! We cherish your ongoing support!
Love and blessings,
Claudia and Steve
Tuesday, February 25 was another full and wonderful day of serving the Lord and His people and enjoying the sights of Riga.
Once again we started at the BPI after a walk across town without Chuck! We made it no problem and enjoyed the exercise. We got to BPI in time for the half hour chapel service being led by Uris, one of the students. Uris said that the Lord gave him the idea that they should exercise their faith that morning and do a half hour prayer walk. I was so blessed by that because as soon as they got back from the prayer walk, I was going to teach on prayer! Later I shared that feeling of confirmation with Uris and he said that friends have told him that he will become a prayer giant and that my teaching also felt like confirmation to him! Isn’t God good?? 🙂 As the men walked and prayed Steve and I stayed in the conference room and prayed over the men, the day, and our Corvallis people. We enjoyed the back and forth with the men over the course of the day. I was also blessed to have lunch with Vesma from BPI. Vesma is our interpreter and she is very gifted in that role. She has a deep heart for the women of Riga – in particular for the women of the institute.
After our day at the institute Peter picked us up and took us back to the apartment. We did a quick drop of our books and computer and walked across the square to Riga Cathedral also known as Dome Cathedral. Peter had arranged for a tour of the cathedral for us and his staff with his friend Pastor Elijs, Pastor of Dome Cathedral. The first thing we did was climb the clock tower. If we remember right, the number of steps to the top is 286. I confess, once again Steve and I didn’t go all the way to the top, but we made it to the level just under the clock face. As we looked south from the clock tower face we could see the St. Peter’s clock tower. At the level equivalent to where we stood, but across the way, Peter proposed to Baiba just about 12 years ago (or so). She had no clue what was coming, but when the elevator stopped on a floor that tourists didn’t usually see, she knew something was up. And then there were candles everywhere — a dead giveaway! How romantic! What a blessing to enjoy this tour and what an incredible place to see Riga! We even had a late afternoon with crystal clear weather! Several of our new Riga friends have commented on the gift this weather is to us — so spring like! Thank You Lord! (I’ve only worn my long-johns once!)
The cathedral was started in the early 1200’s and Pastor Elijs said he thinks it was finished before the end of the century. He obviously loves this place of worship and knew detail after detail. There is a lot of maintenance work happening now, and I’m guessing all of the time, with work on the pipe organ underway at this point. Steve and I came down from the clock tower early and took in the beauty of the cathedral interior with Liene. As we walked around the organ ‘maintenance man’ played little snippets of various arpeggios and even some short phrases from classics that made me long to hear a full organ concert. So beautiful!
I was impressed with the organ and Steve was impressed with the pulpit. The pulpits in cathedrals often remind me of the prow of a ship. Pastor Elijs preaches from the pulpit every other week. He graciously unlocked the door to the pulpit and let Steve climb up to see what it feels like to be in the ‘driver’s seat’. Warning to Suburban’s Building Committee — there could be a pulpit remodel in our future! 😉
After the tour Steve and I grabbed a quick bite at a ‘Double Coffee’ just under Chuck’s apartment. Coffee is their featured beverage, but Double Coffee has a varied menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items and the atmosphere is cozy and inviting. It was perfect for the limited time we had last night. After dinner it was off to Matthews Church where we shared a testimony with the Celebrate Recovery group. This is a group of between 30 – 40 individuals who are supporting each other in their journeys in sobriety in the Lord. We spoke about how the Lord is supporting us in our day to day journey of missing Becky. It was a privilege to participate there.
After our sharing time, Steve went with Peter to further explore partnership possibilities for our Sister Church arrangement and I went to Pastor Andis and Madera’s apartment at the top of the church to meet with a group of seven women from Matthews church. What a sweet time! I love these women and their hearts for the Lord and for the other women of Matthews Church and of Riga.
Wow! What a day. We were tired in that very good way when we got back to the apartment. We took a bit of time to review what we have for Wednesday and then fell into bed! How thankful I am for Chuck’s apartment and the way he has arranged it for his guests. Keep praying for us! You are our biggest blessing.
RIGA SCHEDULE FINAL 2-10-2014 Our trip to Latvia is coming so quickly! On Tuesday, February 18 we leave for an overnight in Portland and our first flight leaves Portland on Wednesday, February 19 at 6:00 a.m.
This week Steve and I will be focused on final preparations for the classes we will teach at the Baltic Pastoral Institute and the opportunities we will have to share with Matthews Church in Riga. There are so many prayer requests on my heart right now! How blessed we are to know that you are praying for us!
Pray that what we prepare will be a blessing to those with whom we share.
Pray that we hear clearly from the Lord as we prepare.
Pray that we are flexible and listening to the Lord and our new friends as we actually get to develop new relationships in Latvia.
Praise for the way that our family at Suburban is supporting this trip! The Over and Above offering was astounding and we see this as confirmation from the Lord that this trip is HIS idea!
Pray over our itinerary — travel safety / mercies — divine appointments even as we travel — our adjustment to the time change, especially that we will be ready to teach in spite of the impact on us physically.
Pray that the Lord opens up our understanding of His purposes for this unique relationship with other believers in Riga, Latvia. I’m certain He has far more in mind than we can even ask for or imagine! 🙂
Thank you for your prayer support and love, both for us and for our sisters and brothers in Latvia!