The time is overdue for me to write up some of the events of the past month. Contrary to the impression that may have been given on this blog, there were more things happened than the visit of the Queen of Sweden!
I’ve had a couple of trips to Bauska in the south of the Region this month. The first was to conduct worship there and, rather belatedly, to install the officer in her appointment. Lieutenant Vineta Vanaga was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in December this year and appointed in charge of the corps at Bauska. I don’t know quite why it has taken almost three months to make her ‘official’, but the fact that she was already at Bauska as a cadet in training, and that it was Christmas time when the change was made might contribute to the reasons why this important ceremony got overlooked. I preached from Psalm 133. As a fairly visual person I love to picture Aaron with a long beard and oil literally dripping off his beard (you need to read the Psalm to make sense of what I’m writing!) as a sign of God’s blessing. It was at the inspired suggestion of a colleague that I did something there that I can’t remember doing before; the congregation were invited to come forward at the end of the meeting and were marked with oil as a symbol of being committed to, and set apart for, the work of God, and also as a sign of his blessing.
The second visit to Bauska was to view the new hall which is being built there. The origins of this project go back many years, and so it is something of a miracle that the building is finally getting built. It was quite moving to see it, albeit still under construction, for the first time, and to get an idea of what it will look like when it is finally finished. It’s going to look really good.
There were trips to two places with very similar sounding names, but which are miles apart from each other. Liepāja is on the west coast and is one of the largest towns in Latvia. Velta and her team do a great work there in the spirit of Jesus. Sponsored by the Salvation Army in Norway, they have a programme for teaching life-skills, and have just completed one such course which has had really encouraging results, including one lady getting work, and two others starting to attend the Sunday meetings, one of whom has come to faith in Jesus.
Liepa, right over in the east of the country, was another port of call this month. This was one of the first Salvation Army corps (churches) to be established in Latvia after the Soviet era and is led by Inga and Jānis. I had been told in no uncertain terms the last time I went there that the next time I went I would need to speak in Latvian. I did just about manage to say that I was pleased to be there in Latvian, and was told that I had met the challenge but that the next time I had to be a bit more fluent! It was a day to pray for children when I was there, and it was good to have some children there who we were able to pray for.
The title of this piece is inspired by a visit to Riga 2 corps. They meet for worship on a Saturday and when I arrived, there was no one around and the place seemed very deserted. I panicked a bit and thought that I had got the time of the meeting wrong. I tried the handle of the door and it was locked. However, much to my relief it was opened by the Captain and I was welcomed inside. I learnt that they had had to lock the door because there were so many people present that they couldn’t allow anyone else in! Reflecting on this fact after the meeting, Andrejs and Irina told me that they had had a prophetic word that they were about to enter a time of ‘harvest’, and so it would seem. This ‘full house’ syndrome is evidently not a unique event but something that is happening quite a lot at the moment. How encouraging it was to see it and experience it.
So ends a really rewarding month, in every way.