Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Few Answers to Prayer

Happy New Year’s Eve!! We are off to a games, food, and fireworks night in a few minutes, but I wanted to take a moment to write about a few prayer requests.

“Prayer” can sometimes be a daunting word – or task, and sometimes it can seem wildly unknown and foreign. Sometimes it happens when we are unaware. Sometimes it seems an automatic response to situations – so automatic, in fact, that at times we forget we even asked God for help, wisdom, intervention, etc… And only as times passes and we look back do we remember and realize, “Oh, wait a minute, didn’t we pray about this or that or the other?”

When we returned to Latvia in November, Courtney needed to see her doctor about the baby. Her doctor informed her that she would be out of town, but she could see her associate. Now we liked this doctor because she appears competent, proficient, AND she speaks English!! The thought of trying to do the doctor/baby/ultrasound/what will having a baby in Latvia be like conversation in Latvian added a bit of anxiety. We went anyway, praying that we could understand enough of the technical language to know what to do… we walked into the office and the associate spoke to us in English and appears just as competent as Court’s first doctor. What a relief…and a reason to give thanks for God’s provision.

Last week Court didn’t feel well. She had the same pain in the same place for a few days – sometimes a dull ache, sometimes a sharp pain. Finally we phoned the Ob/Gyn to ask for an appointment. She informed us that her office (and most doctors’ offices for that matter) are closed until January 5th, so we should go to the hospital and have them check Court. As we understand things, here in Latvia, without a doctor’s recommendation, the only way for a hospital to see you is if you go to an emergency room. An emergency room in a foreign language when things didn’t seem an absolute ’emergency’ appeared daunting to us. We prayed, asking for wisdom, strength, and help. The next day, Court’s pain was gone and it hasn’t returned since. Coincidence? Maybe, yet we are thankful that God can bring relief.

One more story (there are many to tell) involves the Hope Center. Their grant is running out, and the budget has been stretched as thin as possible. At the beginning of December they had just enough to pay the staff and house the girls, and then they received notice from the government about year-end health and fire inspections, which cost to have completed, plus the costs of the remodeling they require to have done. If these things weren’t completed, the Hope Center would have been shut down and the girls and their babies would have no where else to go. We prayed and asked God to provide for all that is necessary – and knowing that many times, God allows others to be answers to prayer, we started telling the story to others. In the midst of holiday spending and fears over the plummeting economy, various people and groups gave enough to help the Hope Center get through the next couple of months. WOOHOO!! God does answer prayer – not always how we expect, yet the answer always comes – whether it be a ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘just wait and trust.’

I know many people have many questions about God, prayer, and the ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ associated with those questions. I don’t intend to offer a theological defense here, nor do I want to try to explain why some seem answered and some seem forgotten. I just wanted to take a few minutes and say that I know God hears, and I am thankful for the relief and response we have felt these past few weeks.

Well, we’re off to celebrate the New Year with some friends. We are not sure what will happen in 2009, yet we know that we can trust our ever-faithful and loving God to be with us throughout this next year.

We pray that you would know peace in that reality as well.

PEACE ~ Dan and Courtney

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Christmas, Light, and the Past Few Weeks

Once again, a few have passed since posting…sorry.
The past few weeks have seen Courtney trying to fight off a nasty cold-and-sinus doozy that kept her on the couch and doing minimal activity for almost 3 weeks. She seems to be just about over it, and for that we are thankful! I (Dan) took a 6-day intensive training course for camp leaders – a requirement from the Latvian government for all camp leaders. Some of the information was new (especially Latvian law and regulations), some of it was review from my camp experiences, and ALL of it was in Latvian – even the two tests at the end! I am so thankful for my friend, Rihards, who attended the course with me to help translate. We both passed the tests, too – woohoo! (and Praise the Lord!!)

LIGHT! – the days are becoming longer, which means a bit more light through the windows, and that is a blessed thing. In fact, we have had mostly clear skies the past few days. On Christmas we watched the sky turn orange, red, pink, and then purple before becoming dark around 4pm… and the past few mornings the we have glimpsed the clouds turn from orange to gold as they caught the rising sun at 8:40am. We look forward to the lengthening of days over the next 6 months.

CHRISTMAS! – Two weeks ago (the 15th) I went on a Christmas tree hunt with Rihards. We met up with Riga 1st’s part-time maintenance man, Janis, at his country home and tromped through the woods with his two dogs. After walking a while we found a nice little grove with some skinny little trees, and borrowing Janis’ handsaw, I cut one for our apartment in Riga. In the photos you can see the three guys and the tree – in the woods and in the apartment.

We wanted to attend some of the Christmas Eve services in Methodist churches in the eastern part of Latvia, yet Court didn’t feel well, and the 4 hours on a train and almost an hour of walking wouldn’t help her feel better, so we attended the candle-light service at Riga 1st which started around 4pm. We got home about 6.30pm and made our traditional ‘Ante Pasta’ which includes a variety of meats, some cheese, olives, bread, etc…
Christmas Day turned out a lot quieter than expected, and we welcomed the time to chat, read, and talk to our families on the phone. On Second Christmas (Dec. 26th), we went to the Hope Center with a few others because they were having a small Christmas party for the girls and their babies, yet even more exciting – two of the girls AND their babies would be baptized. Courtney really enjoyed the opportunity to help with the service
and to distribute gifts to the girls from some folks in North Carolina. (Thanks, Jacquie and Cirlcle 5!) Yesterday after church we went over to Gita’s house (the District Superintendent and the pastor of Riga 1st and Cesis) for a small Christmas/New Year’s party. They cooked an awesome roast and we exchanged gifts and sang songs and played games.

Court and I look back on this past year and we give thanks for God’s grace and love experienced through the support of our friends and families, and also in the peace and perseverence in the difficult times. We are amazed at the little life growing in Court, and also nervously excited as we anticipate a lot of changes with the baby coming at the end of May or beginning of June.

So many, many more thoughts, but that’s it for the random stream of consciousness at this time.

PEACE – Dan and Court

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Ebbs, Flows, and the Nutcracker

Ebb and Flow describes this past weeks – emotionally, physically, mentally… We have had some good times with people, some frustrations causing stress, we have felt alert and out-of-it – and that’s mostly because of a virus working its way through (and hopefully out of) our bodies. Court has taken the brunt of it with congestion, coughing, and soreness – yet she has actually taken time to lay on the couch and rest.
I had a couple of frustrating days at the beginning of the week…not one thing exactly, but enough to steal the joy and peace.
Anyway, in the midst of all that, we still had tickets for the Nutcracker ballet on Wednesday night. (An amazing thing about living here is that people love ballet, opera, etc… AND tickets are accessible to everyone. Tickets started at $5. We payed $20 and sat 14 rows from the orchestra pit.) We decided to make the attempt to go. WOW! What a great evening. The inside of the opera house is probably the most beautiful building interior I have seen in Latvia. The orchestra played wonderfully and the main dancers performed exquisitely. We had a nice walk home, and the fresh air and exercise did us both some good.
We are constantly reminded that God is faithful and good. We have hope that is steadfast. Even if circumstances don’t always seem good, we can trust that God will not abandon us – and that God will always provide those things necessary for us to live in hope and peace.

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