We’ve been waiting for quite a while now for the arrival of reinforcements from the USA to take charge of the church here in the centre of Riga, which is, rather unimaginatively, called ‘Riga 1’. A flat here at the building in Bruņinieku street has been prepared, furniture gathered, and basic supplies bought ready for the arrival of Andrew, Melissa, Evan and Ellie.
Late on Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, I went to the airport to pick them up in the car, and Jānis came along with a van to collect the luggage. I bought the customary flower for each of them to ensure they had a Latvian welcome, and Jānis and I waited for them to appear from the baggage area. Everyone else had come through, and then a little face peered round the sliding doors and Ellie came through as the advance party of the little family who were to make their home here in Latvia for the next three years.
I hesitate to say this, but they did do things in rather stereotypical American style, bringing through with them thirteen suitcases!! To be fair, they had lived like nomads for the past three months in the States since their main items of luggage had been shipped out to Latvia, so they can perhaps be forgiven for bringing through with them what seemed like an excessive amount of ‘stuff’!
They had been on the way for a long time and it was very late when we arrived at the flat. Marika was there to greet them with a cup of tea, and it was encouraging to see the children still alert enough to be able to wolf down a pizza with some jest! Andrew and Jānis brought up the luggage and it is the first time ever that I have seen the normally fit Jānis look a bit out of breath with the exertion.
We had all done our best to make the flat look as good as possible. Marika and I had been out and done some of the shopping for the flat, and laughed about the fact that we seldom agreed on what we should buy. We’d smiled at the fact that, here we were, a Latvian and an English woman trying to work out what to buy for North Americans – quite a cultural hotch potch! We were obviously anxious that the little family would feel at home, so were delighted when Ewan whooped for joy on discovering that his bedroom was next door to the kitchen, providing easy access to food in the middle of the night! It was hugely encouraging too to hear Andrew say the following day that he had woken up and felt that he was ‘at home’.
I found the mugs in the picture next to each other in a shop here in Riga, and thought they seemed symbolic of what Andrew and Melissa and the children were doing – coming from the States to make their ‘home, sweet home’ in a new and strange environment. As I kept thinking of them as they were on the ‘plane journey to their new life, I really did marvel at the enormous step of faith which they are taking, leaving family, friends and all that is familiar behind them. I was struck by their simple trust in a Father God whom they believe will care for them and their two small children as they bring them half way across the world in obedience to God’s will for their lives.
Then I kinda prayed that a promise of Jesus which I have proved to be true over and over again in my life, would prove true for them too:
“…..no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:29,30