Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
33Trip End Feb 08, 2011
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Where I stayed
And to think we couldn't have even told you where exactly on a map the place was a year ago.
This country is about a 1/4 the size of our own Aotearoa, with approximately 2.3 million for population (around 56% of them being Latvian and 32% Russian) - sparse indeed compared to the average country in Europe.
We find ourselves presently settled at the YWAM base in very rural Valdemarpils (it's okay, I'm fine...I'm coping...so far...) being about 2 hours of bouncing in the seat of a vehicle from the Capital, Riga. This place is a 3-story villa whose previous owner purchased the property, and structures of the time, for the going rate of his car.
From what we have seen of the country so far the place feels to be very tired and in need of a little cheer...the land, the buildings, the roads, the people
By the time Monday ticked around we were full-swing into our newly assigned schedules and totally focused on the tasks ahead; buzzing about our work alongside the 20 something other staff as well as a number of children to add.
Samuel has enough building projects/maintenance here to keep him occupied for the next
decade and beyond - and enough firewood to take every spare moment of his time from now until then...so there is no shortage of a task! The safety procedures here are somewhat ...null and void...missing... well, pretty much, there is none. A mixture of an unshielded, large spinning blade, 4+ meter-high mountains of logs, and children wandering anywhere they please while wood is flying and slabs are splitting. Ooooo, it's a good thing God is in the mix.
I have been asked to give English lessons to about 10+ of the staff here so that they can be more effective in their leadership/counseling roles.
I am teaching 2 different classes, each 1 1/2 - 2+ hours everyday, one a beginning level (reading, writing and speaking) and the other advanced (grammar/sentence structure and expanding vocabulary)....and the rest of my time is totally consumed in planning and writing out lessons and homework for them both. And seriously, a huge percentage of that time is spent brushing up on my own bewilderment over all the delightful intricacies that English grammar affords. For sure, I know how it should sound and what is right and what is wrong ...but please - don't ask me why!
After a week of being here on base we made our first break from the property with the invitation to join a few staff in going to an "Art Night" in Riga. We had no idea what that meant exactly but seized the opportunity for a change of scenery and to enjoy an evening off.
En route, we made a stop off at Jūrmala: a lovely sea-side town where all the wealthy Russians congregate, and whose entry into the place requires you to purchase a ticket. The sand was beautifully soft and powder-fine - but the Baltic sea shallow and unsalted, having no tidal effects to stir up any flow, let alone waves of any description
We were taken to dine at a very famous Latvian Restaurant, "Lido". What an experience! The array of food on display to choose from was endless (you can imagine the dilemma...) and beautifully authentic. There was an area for chicken cooked any way you could imagine as well as a section for pork, fish, vegetables and salads...with all kinds of layered deserts and sweet treats scattered throughout to tempt you by. I was so glad not to be the only one completely at a loss as to where to even begin in deciding, and spending who-knows-how-long wandering around and around inspired by all I saw! Believe it or not though, decisions were made and the meal was consumed over laughter and stories, to the utmost satisfaction.
Art night is put on by one of the YWAM volunteers in Riga, who opens up her home once a month for people to come and enjoy an extremely relaxing, agenda-free evening with the opportunity to put your hand to drawing, painting, clay-modeling, or whatever takes your fancy - or get lost in the music of a wonderful assortment of instruments to choose from. And only if you feel the inclination to, of course, as there is a food out and good coffee to be enjoyed while catching up with friends or making new acquaintances.
Needless to say it was a long and wonderful night...but I certainly wasn't anticipating the 4am bed-time it ended up being, and so grateful it was the dawn of the weekend.