Monthly Archives: June 2008

long nights and grilling out ( IN ! )

Our friends, Kelly and Donna – whom we met here, moved from Colorado. They miss grilling out more than we do, as neither of our apartments have balconies or other spaces to grill… The other night they invited us over for dinner – to “grill out” inside. We opened the windows and turned on the powerful exhaust fan. We only had one moment of “Was this really a good idea?” yet after our meal of tender, grilled food we knew we found a great idea. The first photo is of Dan and Kelly at the moment they said – “uh, maybe not so much lighter fluid next time…” The second photo is of the four of us before we eat.


We know we have commented before on the long nights, but we wanted to share with you the scene from our apartment a few nights ago. We took the photo around 10.30pm

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some of our work…in photos

We realize that you may not know some of the things we do here, and if you do, you may not know some of the people with whom we have the opportunity to spend some time. Sooo….
These three ladies with Court are three of the theological students Dan mentors. From left to right: Vivita, Gunta, and Liga.

This past weekend we held a youth leader training seminar at Camp Wesley in Liepaja. Here are some of those who attended:

And two weeks ago we had a gathering of young adults in our apartment for a homemade pizza party – we are thankful we finally got a couch:

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A Red Sox Hat, A Pan of Sauce, and the need to Remember

I (Dan) wore my Red Sox hat yesterday – something I haven’t done in a while because this is not really a ‘ball cap’ culture. I needed to go to the store because I wanted to make the sauce for the young adult homemade pizza party in our apartment tonight (I think I have finally developed a good sauce recipe using available local ingredients!).

However, I had a difficult day yesterday (not an uncommon occurrence lately) – the rain fell heavily from the clouds and in my heart. Because of the rain, I decided to don my Red Sox for my walk to the store. As I took the hat off the shelf I looked under the brim at the dates I have written on it. I know it may sound weird, but under the brim I have written significant dates when I have worn the hat so that I will remember. I started this on 27 October 2004 (the night the Red Sox finally “reversed the curse” and won the World Series after an 86-year drought). Since then I have written a few other dates: the day Court said, “Yes!” to my proposal (I inscribed the date of our wedding under the brim of my ‘2004 World Series Champions’ Red Sox hat); the day we graduated from Divinity School; the day the Red Sox won the last World Series. In between those last two dates I had another inscribed – “9 October 2008”. I remembered that on this day Bishop Martinez and Bishop Justo laid their hands on our heads and Bishop Olsen stretched forth his hand as they commissioned Courtney and I “to go forth…” which resulted in our arrival in Latvia 2 weeks later. This remembrance granted perspective.

As I walked in the rain to the store I realized that I had bought the lie – hook, line, and sinker. What lie? The lie that current circumstances and situations have greater claim on our lives than God’s hope, love and peace – The lie that circumstances and situations are a greater reality than the cross, resurrection, and expectant return of Christ – The lie that struggles, difficulties, and other peoples’ perceptions define us rather than the reality that God created us, knows us, and cherishes us.

On the way to the store I stopped by the apartment of some recent, yet good and life-giving friends who also serve in this place. They also had a discouraging and frustrating day. We talked, we shared deeply, we laughed, and we prayed. And in this process, God lifted our heads and strengthened our hearts.

While I made a quick batch of pasta and let the sauce simmer, I hummed and smiled as I remembered the greater reality that defines me. I say greater reality, because this acknowledges the circumstances, difficulties, and frustrations we face are not merely illusions or false perceptions, yet they are, in fact, real. Yet into the midst of these realities lives the greater hope and the greater truth that I am a child of God – defined by God’s love, grace, hope and peace.

I thank God for memories and the comfort of a favorite hat, for the simple things like homemade pasta and sauce, and for the truth that our identity and our joy comes from a from a reality greater than our circumstances and situations. Our joy, hope, and peace are gifts given to us by our loving Creator – our loving God. Amen!

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Getting Ready for the Summer Schedule

We transition into our summer schedules this week. However, don’t let the term ‘schedule’ fool you into thinking that we have a specific plan and schedule ; ) For the next 6 weeks or so we will be traveling back and forth between Riga and Liepaja (about 3 hours to the west). While in Liepaja we will live at Camp Wesley, participating in the various activities, week-long camps, and trainings that will occur. Some of these we are leading from the front, some we are supporting, and some we are observing.

Many people from outside of Latvia will also participate in the various camps and programs with the UMC in Latvia this summer, and we are excited to meet new people and build new relationships. Here are just a few to note:

This next weekend (26th-29th June) the two of us have prepared a mini-seminar for the youth leaders who will do a good deal of the work this summer. We have discovered that many are encouraged to initiate programs, very little training has been given in the ‘how’ behind and the ‘why’ underneath the programs. We want to focus on the importance of ‘re-charging’ and ‘self-care’ in the midst of serving.

The first week of July sees the beginning of Wesley Days, which is an international camp with the focus of fellowship and working on advancing the work, remodel, and repairs necessary to continue to convert the old, dilapidated farm into a fully functioning camp.

The middle of July welcomes a young adult camp with people attending from Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, and Latvia – the purpose of this camp is to deepen connections with Christians in other countries while serving the camp in any needed way.

Courtney has done some awesome preparation for the Children’s Camp that will happen the final week of July, and we are excited to see how that plays out with the 80+ children who will attend.

Well, we just wanted to provide a glimpse and an update.

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"Those are our rules…"

We had brought a package to the post office and asked to mail it to our friend in Germany – without asking us about the contents of the box or for a filled-out customs form, the young post-lady said, “I need to open this package before you can send it.”
I replied, “You do not need to open it before I send it.”
“I’m sorry, but those are our rules,” the young post-lady said to us as she sat behind the counter.
“Don’t I first need to fill out a customs form and you need to ask what’s in the box?” I asked.
The older post-lady working at the next counter tried to help. “Excuse me, what are you mailing?”
I replied, “A wooden rolling pin from a craft maker.”
Turning to the younger lady she said there was no need to open the box and then added, “Why didn’t you have them fill out the form first? What did you think was in there?”
“Narcotics…” was the shy response.
At this point Courtney and I started laughing – is this lady serious? Yet the postal-ladies’ conversation continued…”Why did you think it was narcotics?”
“Well, look at the box and feel how light it is…” the younger one replied.
“and your point is?” her colleague asked.
“…I mean why would someone mail a wooden rolling pin to Germany?” the younger one finished.

Thinking is okay, and using one’s mind is a great thing to do – however, C’mon…

Well, just wanted to share this silly encounter with you.

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Late Night Sun

It stay light very late in Riga – we’ll let these three pictures speak for themselves (and this is before the longest day of the year…). First photo – a hand puppet made with the light on the sun on the wall of our apartment at 9.30pm.
Second photo – reflection of the clock tower in the water (the clock reads 9.45pm).
Third photo – a clock with the dusk-lit sky behind it (the clock reads 9.50pm).

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New Cuts and New Couch

Hello Hello!! Sorry that we have not posted in while – just craziness and sorting through emotions, vocation, visitors and our job situation.
Well, Spring has sprung in Latvia – and we have our new Spring hair-cuts. Courtney’s was done by a professional and Dan’s friend, Rihards, cut his hair in the kitchen of the church.

In other fun and exciting news – we finally found a couch for our apartment. We moved in over two months ago, yet have not had a couch for the living room. Up to this point it was okay- and the Sunday School kids who had a home-made-pizza-party

here last week enjoyed all of the space to jump, wrestle, and play. However, we realize that we could not have people sitting on the wooden floor forever. Furniture prices in Riga are absolutely ridiculous (even the uncomfortable and ugly ones start out around $800). Even though we knew we needed one, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something we wouldn’t enjoy – and couldn’t justify spending $2000 on a comfortable one… Sooo, we had some friends show us a used/defect furniture store a while ago. Well, after 5 trips to the store, we found one that had a ‘defect’ (read: minor tear in one cushion) and that reduced the price by about 75% of what it would cost in the retail store. A real blessing, especially now that the summer is beginning and we will have people sleeping on the couch.
Again, sorry that we haven’t updated this in a while. We have a full summer ahead and we will try to post a few times a month.
That’s all the rambling for this go around.

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