Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh "Dear John"s Day

Last week we celebrated St. John's Day here in Latvia. This Midsummer celebration has an entire traditional background throughout countries in Europe (plus some others). I'll let Wikipedia share the details so I can spare an hour of trying to figure out how to condense the essence of the holiday! Midsummer

We spent the evening at Janis and Zane's house in the country (remember them from past postings???) They organized an event for a group of kids they are currently mentoring. We were really inspired by their dedication to guiding these kids to know the Lord. Dedication to loving them despite their troubled home lives. Dedication to showing them how a group of young folks can celebrate a National Holiday in tremendous amounts of fun, without having to open a can of beer. That afternoon Janis had taken the kids on a 4 hour trek through the forest, where they were split up in 2 groups and performed certain team building tasks, followed by thought provoking spiritual shepherding. For example, Janis said at one point they were all told to choose a rock. They were instructed to write their greatest sin on that rock. They climbed to the top of a hill and CHUCKED THE ROCK DOWN THE HILL (or in the river), emphasizing how God forgives us of our sin and, well.....throws it away once we have sought forgiveness. I'd actually like to try that rock throwing activity some time. I'd like to collect a whole bag of rocks for that purpose, to unload a load of baggage from my heart, spiritually. 

Other things that made the evening amazing..........we arrived for an evening of games. I'm talking Tug of War, Put Your Grannies Pannies On and Race to the Finish Line Races (ok....they were Janis' pants), Blindfolded Spoon Races, etc. All those old school, hometown, good ole fair-time fun games.

Ghost Face
This spread like WILDFIRE! To escape swarming mosquitos, Clever Little Jekabs tied this over his face. You would not believe how fast those impressionable kids followed his lead. Soon, half of them were also Little Ghost Faces! Some people are truly born leaders. 

....Which leads me to mentioning this little 4.5 ft. tall boy on the far right of this picture. He was impressed on my heart the entire evening. He is a tiny little dude with a MASSIVE personality. He is a perfect example of a boy who was born with a God given trait to be a leader. And I don't think he has used it wisely. I could sense that troubled life and rebellious nature from the moment I laid eyes on him. I believe he is at that critical junction in life where he is going to choose to live his life in response to God calling him OR he is going to lead a life of rebellion. It just really seemed that obvious to me. Even more so, because he holds that special power of influence over his peers. Power through his personality, to either lead others astray or to lead others through a beautiful, wonderful life. I think I'll nickname him, Dynamite, and pray for Janis' good influence on him. 


Bonfire to guide us through the wee hours of the Midsummer Night. 

Janis and Zane

Bedtime was 4:00am
Our next great adventure (ironically, these days they are all happening OUTSIDE of the city) was at Jekabs' grandma's house in the country. After being in the center of Riga for a month, I think the country girl in me is screaming to get out! I'm not dissatisfied in the city, a person just needs to be reminded of the other side to stay grounded. Life does NOT revolve around crosswalks, catwalks, and cappuccinos in quaint coffee shops.
ENTER....the Country Life:

My fingerprints still have dirt ingrained in them. Sarmite (Jekabs' mom) and I spent 5 hours pulling and plucking weeds and pruning flowers in the garden at Jekabs' grandma's house in the country. I eventually was ushered to the strawberry patch. Isaac and I wound up with this batch. These are the sweetest tasting strawberries (which later made me sick).

My reward at the end of the day! Fresh picked bouquet of peonies from great grandma's garden.

In the past two days we have been to the beach twice. We are well aware that life, here in Latvia, has not been difficult on us. Today we packed into what I now refer to as the "Sardine Bus" and headed to a new beach on the Baltic Sea. The "Sardine Bus" is a mode of public transportation (otherwise known as minibus). It is about twice the size of a mini van and can hold approximately 20-30 people. Tidy.


For those of you wondering if Jekabs is getting any work done on his dissertation 
(not specifically.....ok.....specifically DBU associated folks....hehehe).....he is making great strides in hammering out his data. Everyday, before our  family fun begins at 4:00pm, he is spending his day with his computer at a nearby coffee shop or Edgar's (his uncle/pastor of home church) office studying. I am quite pleased with his discipline, and shall at one point, also credit myself with his success! LOL!  Those closest to me know that I don't deserve any credit! 


Time to end the post. I have kids to feed in the early hours of the morning and must get to sleep.

Loving the Lord,
Loving Living Latvia Outloud......


Endnote: If you are raising boys.........READ the Book Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson
I am currently reading it and it is tremendously helpful!

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