Its hard to believe that we are already at Wednesday in the second week of Bible camp. We are definitely hitting the fatigue wall as team members balance how much sleep they need with spending extra time in the evenings adapting lesson plans and solving practical problems that occurred earlier in the day.
Camp is going well. We are getting to see the impact of over fourteen years of Bible camp partnership here in Strike & Saldus. Mission work is not a flash in the pan. It takes a long view to be effective. These short-term trips supplement what long term missionaries and local church partners do day in and day out, year after year. The Short-Term Missions Team with EEMN are honored to be here. Please pray for:
A small taste of the Song Festival in Rīga.
Final Day Camp Group Photos
It's been a rich, rewarding week here at the Latvian English Bible Camp. We ended week one facing many of the challenges we typically face but can never prepare for: technology glitches, translation misunderstandings, and the fatigue of doing something we don't regularly do in a less than familiar context.
This team is fantastic. They have rolled with the punches and adapted well. Our Latvian translators and helpers have been very faithful in their responsibilities. Our main goal is to strengthen the local church. We do that by teaching English using the Bible. Team members have curriculum developed just for this task.
Today is Saturday and we are taking a slow day. Rest and pace are very important on a short-term trip. It's easy to be involved in something from 6:00am till bedtime, but flesh and blood humans need to rest and recreate. Today was a trip to a local sauna out in the country. Tomorrow we will venture into Riga and experience the Song Festival. The Song Festival is a once in five years event that celebrates the cultural tradition of song and dance in this amazing country. Monday we will start week two of Bible camp. Mostly a group of new students will come to practice English and learn key stories about the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
The day started out as the others had, the ride to the school, settling into our classrooms and there you go. One more day on the books! Today however was different in at least two ways: we got to tell the story of forgiveness and the meaning of the Cross of Jesus and we got invited to a dinner party.
Our Latvian hosts are profoundly gracious and really know how to spread a table! We ended our day with a meal out in the country. We are all tried, but in a good way. We look forward to tomorrow when we close out our first week and begin getting ready for the next.
I know, I know, people from the United States of America are not properly called 'Americans' since people from Canada, Mexico, as well as the entire continent of South America, are also 'Americans'. However, here in Latvia, people from the United States of America are simply called, 'Americans.'
This was our first day leading camp using curriculum from East European Missions Network. The theme is 'Love' and each day has a story from the life of Jesus. Day One was the birth of Jesus. So, on June 25th we, the American team, sang 'Silent Night' to the Latvian students. They joined us in their own language and we began our day celebrating the importance of God coming to Earth in the flesh: Jesus.
Today started with a worship service at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Saldus. We were warmly greeted by the congregation. Our team experienced a traditional Lutheran liturgy and were welcomed at Holy Communion as sisters and brothers. We all got to struggle with the language barrier.
Short-term missionaries get a small taste of serving in a foreign culture where the language and customs very from slightly to dramatically different. Long-term missionaries, even if they master the language, typically struggle as outsiders for a long time. One of our central goals is supporting the work of the local Church and our long term missionary. Connecting in worship, even with the language barrier, is a key part of relationship building here.
Later that afternoon, we loaded into a van and drove to Striki Primary School. This is where we set up for our two week camp experience: teaching English using the Bible as a textbook. Here are some pictures of our team getting ready for Monday.
Please pray for:
The rains came down as we traveled to our site-seeing destination: the northwest coast of Latvia. As the bus rolled over the highway in the pouring rain, the conversation ranged from identifying various birds and wildlife to swapping stories as we got to know each other a little better. All but one of our team members have some experience on Short Term Missions trips, but less than half have ever been to the beautiful country of Latvia.
In less than a week our team will arrive in Riga, Latvia. Team members will be coming from all across the United States and from other mission fields in Eastern Europe. Three team members are already serving this week in our language camps in Ukraine. The rest will come from Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Indiana and Florida.