It seems very trite to say so, but I really can’t believe that I am now four blogs behind in meeting my target of writing an average of one blog a week. That might be because it has quite busy with unexpected events being part of the landscape for me this month.
It was an exciting start to the month of May which saw the production of the Musical ‘Jona’. I won’t major on that event because it deserves a blog all of its own.
The Musical coincided with a lovely long May holiday. 1st May is a holiday here as is 4th May, which, because it lands on a Sunday this year is celebrated on Monday 5th. The Latvians therefore do something which is, in my opinion, eminently sensible and declare the Friday a holiday to be replaced by the following Saturday 10th May as a working day – thus creating a holiday from Thursday 1st to Tuesday 6th – get it?
On Sunday 4th it was my turn to preach at Riga 1 corps, which is the place where I worship when I am not out at other corps/churches in the Region. It was lovely to be with the people with whom I worship regularly, even though, it being a holiday, quite a number were away. I realised how much being translated is becoming part of life for me. Iveta, my secretary, translated for me and there was an ease and almost synergy in the translating relationship which made speech and translation take on a delightful kind of rhythm so that the whole thing seemed quite seamless and natural. It’s quite difficult to explain, but some of you reading this may know what I mean.
Sunday night saw the arrival of my boss, JP Ramos and his wife Karin to lead a men’s day and then our monthly Leaders’ Day on Tuesday 6th. The men’s ministry day brought together men from around the Region to explore how church, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus, can be made more attractive to men. JP found an interesting video which suggested some really practical things like making sure the PowerPoint backgrounds for songs during worship are more male-friendly and that the decor takes into account the fact that men are worshippers too. The aforementioned Iveta, whose job it was to set the tables, took this advice to heart and left the tables bare and flower-less for this all-male event!
Since, by definition, Karin and I were disqualified from attending, we went off to the lovely town of Jurmala on the pretext of looking for a Conference Centre, and enjoyed a delightful, if expensive, cup of coffee to round off a very nice trip to the seaside!
The next day it was lovely to have both Karin and JP leading our Leaders’ Day. Once again, we feel so well-supported by our Swedish ‘Army’ family.
Other activities this month included a visit to Stockholm for the day to attend an event put on to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the handover of Skangali Manor to The Salvation Army in Latvia. A group called the Friends of Skangali continue to be tireless in their support for the work that takes place at Skangali, a work which I have written about before on a number of a occasions on this blog. There have been trips to Skangali, Sarkani and Liepa this month too, and also a regular visit from our generous friends from Vasteros in Sweden.
Finally, this month, the unexpected death of a friend necessitated a return to the UK to conduct his funeral, thus fulfilling a promise I had made before I came to Latvia. Whilst it was a sad event, the funeral was supported by members of his family, and his church family too, and was full of love.
….So now I’m back in Riga. I realised whilst I was away what a lovely city Riga is, and what a good quality of life I enjoy here. I’m glad to be back.