Well, it has been a week since we got home from Riga. I'm still in awe of what went on during our time there and I seem to miss it more this year than previous ones. Part of that reason, I believe, is because I was introduced to a little boy this year who will forever be a part of my life. Nikita is a 13 year old orphan who at first seemed very shy. It took a lot of patience to get him to talk; and the fact that he only spoke Latvian and very little English made it even more difficult. But something about Nikita was drawing me to him, so I would harass our translator to come be the middle man for us. Over the next several days, I learned Nikita was born with HIV. His brother and sister sometimes live with his parents and sometimes live at the children's home with Nikita. He has to take 11 pills a day in order to survive and he doesn't take this lightly. He is aware that his medicine costs 2,000 lats every 2 months, the equivalent to about $4,000. But what really drew me to Nikita was his appreciation for the life he's been given. Despite being diagnosed with one of the most depressing diseases, Nikita is thankful that he has one of the "milder" forms of the virus. He hopes to live a long life and one day come visit us in America, which could not make me happier. Our team does a pretty good job at keeping in touch with many of the kids we meet, and every now and then we meet one that we know we need to love on for as long as possible. Nikita is that child for me. Please pray for him; I truly believe that our God is capable of completely healing him from HIV. But I also believe that there is a plan in all of this that I cannot understand. If Nikita can continue to trust and hope in God, he is going to go on to do amazing things.
Well, we are back at Petr's house after a week of camp. Like I expected, no internet so I was unable to blog but the easiest thing to say is this was by far one of the best trips I have been on. Quite honestly, there are too many stories/memories to share in one blog but God definitely moved in some huge ways. This year, there were several kids we had never met and several kids we were excited to see that did not make it, which made us sad at first, but of course God knew what He was doing. Everyone that was there (including us) was there for a reason and it was so exciting to see that. Each one of us connected in ways we would have never expected with the kids. Over the next few days, I plan on sharing some of their stories with you.
As far as our team goes, I could not be more proud. Although we were small in number, we were strong in unity. All week we worked together to make sure God was glorified above all. Each of our girls did an amazing job of showing what a godly young woman should look like. And as for David and BJ, they pulled their weight plus some to make sure all of those boys felt important and loved. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such an amazing team.
Tomorrow we will head to Petr's church again where hopefully we will meet up with several of the campers. After the service we will all walk over to McDonald's to enjoy lunch together. I always love this Sunday- it gives us another chance to love on the kids in an environment outside of camp. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. There was no doubt this trip was covered in prayer from the moment our first flight took off until now, so thank you! We look forward to seeing you in a few days!
Today was so much fun. Our team always loves going to Jurmala...quiant town, beautiful beach, and lots of street vendors! We enjoyed our morning to sleep in, as it will probably be our only one the whole time we are here. We left for Jurmala around noon and met up with some of our friends from Petr's church, Artur and Esther, at the train station. Being as how we don't use trains in Houston, our team always loves the experience. We grabbed some lunch at a fun little restaurant, did a photo session on the beach (mostly the girls...), and of course got some shopping in. Not only do we love the country of Latvia because of the people here, but we also love how beautiful and unique it is. Several of our team members have traveled to other European countries and they say that none of them are like Latvia.
Tomorrow we will be going to church at Salvation Temple and then leaving by bus to camp! We are so excited to get this week going and as always, would appreciate your prayers! We are confident that lives will be impacted this week in big ways. I hope to blog each night but as internet service is a little iffy, not sure it will happen. But, no news is good news!!
Specific Prayer Requests: * Pray over all the orphans and youth that will be at camp. Ask God to open their hearts to what Sasha and the rest of the Latvian workers will say. * Pray that our American team and the Latvian team can work together and encourage each other. Romans 1:12 says, "When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours." Pray that that will be our mindset.
Much love to all of you back home! - Lindsey, David, Bryan, Amy, Rachel, Caroline, Ana :))
Well, after 24 hours of travel we have made it to Riga!! It has definitely been a long day but compared to past years, the travel was much better. The plane rides were smoother, the layovers were manageable, and wait for it....ALL OF OUR BAGS ARRIVED!!! This is the first year at least since I have been that that has happened so we were all very excited. Since we arrived in Riga at 11:30 PM their time, we are exhausted. But what we all have come to love about this trip is how quickly Riga becomes home again. Although it's been a full year since we've been here, every time we come back it's as if we jump right back into the swing of things. Everyone here has truly become our extended family.
Tomorrow we will be heading to Jurmala (after sleeping in of course) for a fun day at the beach. This town has some great shops as well so we will be playing tourist for most of the day. Then Sunday we will go to Petr's church and head to camp! We are so excited to see what God's got up His sleeve for this week. Much love to you guys and thank you so much for your prayers!
-The Latvia team
Specific prayer requests: *our team will grow even closer as we spend a fun day together in Jurmala. Pray that we are strong ambassadors for Stonebridge and Christians everywhere to anyone we come in contact with. *Pray a special blessing over Sunday. We will be reunited with all the youth/campers at church so thank God that we have been given another year to strengthen our relationships. Also pray over new relationships to be formed. *Pray for David and I- that we can be effective and caring leaders for our team.
Well, it's Thursday and around 8:30 tonight David and I along with 5 youth will be heading back over to Riga, Latvia. If you know me at all, you know this trip has become part of who I am. Every year for the past four years, I head over to Riga for 12-18 days and spend time with some of the most incredible people I have met. I have loved watching many of the same kids grow up and also seeing how our team works together to spread the love of Christ. And I also have to say, I have been incredibly blessed to be doing all of this work alongside my husband. Not many couples are able to say they have been out on mission together and I definitely try not to take this for granted.
This year, our small team will be spending 12 days, a full week of camp plus the surrounding weekends, with Pastor Petr and the youth. This year will be a little different as "Mama Giles" will not be going. She has been the glue that keeps things together while we are there, so please please please keep David and I in your prayers as that role now becomes ours. We will travel all day today and tomorrow, arriving in Riga around 11:30 PM Friday. Please pray that all the bags arrive safely, 3 out of my 4 years mine has decided to take a little trip around the world before coming back to me :/. Saturday we will sleep in and then take a train to Jurmala, a wonderful beach town we visit every year. This will give us the opportunity the have some fun as a team before the hard work begins. And then Sunday we head to camp! Please pray that our team has strong unity throughout the week and that we put the work before any selfish desires. Pray for our stamina; the days are long and the mornings come quick so it is very easy to become tired by Wednesday/Thursday. And finally, pray that we make the most of the time we are given with each kid. For so many of them, this is the best week of their lives and we don't take that lightly. Pray that we are able to show them just how loved they are.
I hope to keep blogging throughout the week, so keep checking back for some updates! Thank you all so much for your support, we love you!
Lindsey & David "For I hold you by your right hand- I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid, I am here to help you'" --Isaiah 41:13