We are at the end of our second day of camp! Look for our camp videos once we have gotten back home. Mark's laptop had trouble loading our Striki video over the weekend and this morning his hard drive appears to have broken. After a bit of effort, we have figured out how to update the blog with a tablet computer.
Our second week of camp has gone very smoothly since we have all of our supplies in one place. This camp is much smaller and in a different setting. So while we are teaching the same material, it is a very different camp.
We worshipped at St John's in Saldus on Sunday, and then drove to Blīdene to set up for the start of camp Monday morning. While at Blīdene on Sunday, we got the chance to visit the green church at Blīdene. Green churches here in Latvia are those that were destroyed during or shortly after WW2. The Latvians call it green, not because of the green growing in place of the flooring, but because the church now has the highest ceiling possible- all the way to the heavens.
Prayer concerns - continued health of the team (several feel they are coming down with colds) and protection from any other technology glitches and for continued safety as we travel 25 km to and from our camp by van. Also, pray for opportunities for faith conversations like the many we had while at Striki last week.
Tonight the team is doing their final prep for our last day of camp! The week has flown by!
Tuesday evening we worshipped at St. Gregor's Mission Center with Latvians, the Belarus students and our American team. We enjoyed fellowship afterward, enjoying each other's company and making new friends.
Wednesday our camp day was full and many on the team were invited out for excursions to visit historical sites or enjoy some refreshments in homes. What a blessing to be able to learn about life here in Latvia and enjoy the fellowship of new friends.
Thursday the teachers had a great day. Every rotation went well, the team shared about their faith in Christ and once again our team enjoyed excursions after camp.
Our evening tonight finds us excited for our last day - preparing small gifts for the students and teachers.
Today (Thursday) we experienced the joy at hearing the news that several students had started their faith journey with Jesus for the first time. There have also been several fruitful conversations with the adults and many opportunities for prayer ministry; a sore back or two have been healed and many have experienced the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
We had an awesome first day of camp at Striki School. This is the first EEMN International Camp with our friends from Belarus joining us! The team did a great job teaching with limited supplies and handling changes in location for rotation due to rain showers.
On Sunday we worshipped at St. Martin's Lutheran Church in Saldus. We were warmly welcomed by the pastor and the congregation and even recognized some faces of children from our time at Striki last year! After a wonderful Latvian lunch, we headed out to Striki to set-up camp. Our set-up took little time, given that all of our supplies were still at the airport - not yet delivered to us.
We then had the honor of a tour of the Zvarde region of Latvia, which is where Striki school is located. We learned some of the history of Latvia with respect of WW 2 and the Russian Occupation of Latvia before and after WW 2.
When we returned to St. Gregor's, the team from Belarus had arrived, but our luggage was not to be seen! So, after dinner we went shopping for craft supplies for our impromptu Monday craft for our first day of camp.
Everyone on the team pulled together to pool resources and ideas.
We are mostly over the jet-lag, so we had a light day today. The preparation that can be done is complete, given our lack of supplies. We are still wrangling with the airline to get our luggage to us. It's a weekend with a national holiday, so no one wants to go the extra mile since it's the Summer Solstice Festival. Latvians celebrate the Summer Solstice like Americans celebrate Christmas. Everything shuts down, people go outside, build a big bonfire, and party till the sun comes up. What? You don't celebrate Christmas that way?
Well, we're here in Saldus Latvia. A team assembled from California, Washington State, Nebraska, Indiana, Florida and New Mexico.
The 2017 Latvia English Bible Camp is nearly ready to launch. Eleven team members from three of the four U.S. time zones are nearing competition of their training. This team will have met virtually seven times before gathering together for the first time in person. Meeting in video conference helps us to start the team formation process early on. We have focused, at first, on getting to know one another and training in discipleship long before the first lesson plan was built.
It is always tempting to focus on mission task, i.e. teaching English, than team building. This is usually a strategic mistake as most short term mission teams experience more stress over interpersonal conflict with other team members than the task at hand or the culture in which they are serving. We will all arrive the same day and, once we're well fed and settled in, then we get to work.