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    Latvia Mission Trip Updates

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    WedWednesdayJulJuly12th2017 Latvia Mission Trip Recap
    byMark Croft Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment
    Our Latvia mission team had an amazing nine days of mission, worship, fellowship and fun with our Latvian Village family in Riga, Latvia! We had a total of eight team members, with three first time visitors. Our first time visitors took in the Occupation Museum and KGB Museum to gain perspective of Latvia’s history and culture. They also traveled to Cesis, Liepa and Sarkaņi (2 hours east of Riga) to visit the local Methodist churches and the mission/outreach activities FUMC Grapevine and 1st Riga supports, such as the Hope Center and After School Program. In the meantime, our Latvian mission veterans helped paint the foyer of 1st Riga church, create and organize crafts for the kids at upcoming Wesley Camp weeks, and had a day out to the zoo with members of 1st Riga’s congregation. All team members visited a new mission outreach opportunity, the Latvian School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Latvian Library for the Blind, both in Riga. We spent the entire day touring the facilities, learning about the amazing ways this school helps people with vision impairments, and we prepared items the school uses to help the people attending. Several of the team members had the chance to record children’s fairy tales in a recording studio to help children at the school learn English. This was a fun and very rewarding activity. 

    We then traveled by van to the west coast of Latvia, to Liepaja and Wesley Camp, and stayed overnight. We renewed relationships, made new friends, and had devotion and worship time with our friends. We were excited to see the progress on the first of what we pray will be four cabins built at the Camp! We also traveled to Ropaži, a town east of Riga, where 1st Riga has a mission outreach program providing wood pellets in winter to low income apartment residents. It was an amazing day of fun and fellowship with the residents, who are mostly the forgotten, the lonely and the medically challenged. We were also joined by a mission team from Alabama we have come to know through Friends of Latvia.

    Finally, our team was challenged by the 1st Riga congregation to come up with a “Texas style barbeque” on the final Sunday we were there. We did Texas proud and put on quite a spread, including pork (sorry no beef brisket available), cole slaw, macaroni salad and cornbread (made by a Latvian!). It was a smashing success! We were also blessed by Rev. Jesse Sowell’s message about being ambassadors for Christ. We concluded the worship service with a presentation of a beautiful banner designed by Rev. Todd Pick to the 1st Riga congregation. This banner celebrates the 25th anniversary of the reopening of 1st Riga Church after the Soviet occupation. It was a wonderful moment and the congregation was deeply moved and appreciative of the gift. 

    As always our time there is too short and it was difficult leaving our Latvian friend. However, our hearts, thoughts and prayers remain there. It truly is awe inspiring what God is doing in Latvia through his people! If you would like to learn more about the trip, there will be a Latvian Village meeting coming up soon (watch E-News for the date) where we will provide an overview of the trip and answer any questions about our Latvian Village you may have. 
    FriFridayJunJune30th2017 Wednesday and Thursday
    byJulie Croft Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    We have not forgotten but have had little opportunity with wifi, therefore hard to send updates. 

    Tuesday we went to the School for visually impaired, it was wonderful and I couldn't imagine what we would do for 5 hours but the time was filled wonderfully. 

      

    Then we drove to Camp Wesley and had devotion and dinner.  Yesterday we went back to Camp Wesley and had devotion and spent too short a time with all. Then we toured Liepaja First, Matras, and Tasi.  Then Kuldiga, then to Riga. Again, wishing we had more time in Kuldiga.  



    Then Riga, newbies and Julie P shopped at Old Riga, then dinner with 16!!  

    Today we are going to Ropaza (probably spelled wrong) , where Gita B is from and where we saw the children dance last year.  We will have Bible study and games.  And food.

    And tomorrow we are supposed to get food and cook for 50 a Texas BBQ on Sunday at Gita's.  No problem. 
    TueTuesdayJunJune27th2017 Tuesday, June 27
    byJulie Payne Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    We had a busy and productive day in Latvia!  Gita M took the new folks on a tour of Cesis, including Cesis UMC, and were met by pastor Kristine.  They also toured the Hope Center, After School Program, Liepa and Sarkani UMCs to gain understanding of the mission and outreach activities we support.  It was a long but amazing day by all accounts. 

      

    The veterans took part in craft activities to be used at Wesley Camp and also spent time with members of the 1st Riga congregation and their children.  Some veterans also worked on painting the foyer area of 1st Riga, which was a last minute project we found about on Monday! We had lots of fun and made great progress. It will be completed in time for services on Sunday.  Daina and members of the congregation made us a great lunch, once again!  The hospitality and warmth of our Latvian family, which is what they are now,  is truly amazing and a blessing.  

     

    MonMondayJunJune26th2017 Monday, June 26
    byMark Croft Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    We visited the Latvian National Library this morning, what an amazing place! The current 12 story facility opened in 2014 and the modern architecture is striking. The access and amount of reference material in all formats is incredible, plus a 360 view of Riga from the top floor is beautiful. 



    We had a delicious lunch of homemade chicken soup, rye bread and pierogs courtesy of Gita B and Rudite! The new folks went on a tour of the Occupation and KGB museums to gain perspective of Latvian people, their culture, history and struggles for independence. Some of the old timers went shopping for paint and supplies as we will be painting the foyer of the sanctuary tomorrow.

    We took a trip in late afternoon to Jelgava and met with Pastor Janis B and two members of his congregation. He provided an overview of his congregation, outreach activities and current infrastructure and financial challenges. Was so good to see him and as always we were met with such warmth and hospitality (read food!).

    Madeline and Julie along with the 3 Children's Sunday school teachers and moms took 7 kids to the Riga Zoo for an afternoon of fun and laughter. The kids especially liked the giraffes and watching a family of lemurs. We ended the day with ice cream- yum!

    SunSundayJunJune25th2017 Sunday, June 25
    byJulie Croft Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    We made it to Riga safely, with all our luggage! We were greeted with a picnic basket and flowers. We rested most of the remaining day. It is rainy and chilly- so great!

    We had a beautiful service Sunday morning at Riga 1st.  Astra did a great job with the message. We sang and had communion.  Gita blessed each of us during communion with a prayer, and at our debrief the newbies all talked about how special that was.  And we all agree.  After church we went to Gita's house for a picnic. Lots of good food.  We played a game where we had to pair with someone we didn't know (Maddie cheated) and learn about them.  Then we took turns introducing our new BFF. It was fun and a great way to learn about everyone.

    Around 5pm we came to hotel, debriefed and then walked to Old Riga, in light rain, and showed the newbies around.

    NOTE: More pics are posted on our Facebook page (no FB log-in required)



    Latvia Mission Trip UpdatesThe latest news from the team currently in Latviaby Our current trip is June 25-July 3, 2017
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