The weather reporters in Latvia predicted winter to come late this year in February. Well, winter has arrived here in Latvia. When I awoke today I looked out our window to see snow coming down almost horizontally. The snow continued throughout the day and began to stick a little bit to the streets. As I walked home this evening I encountered my favorite type of Latvian snow – the soft powder snow that gently and slowly falls. It is light enough for the street sweepers to brush away using their bundled tree branches. When it falls on your coat and hat it simply sits there not making things heavier or damper but just peaceful. It is a peaceful kind of snow – one that lets you know there is still gentleness in the world. I am not sure I really every paid attention to the type of snow or how incredibly descriptive snow can be. Yet today I marveled at the sight.
Adding to my new understanding of snow also comes an appreciation for a new winter coat. The coat I currently have is getting a little bit too little for my pregnant belly. So Dan and I have been looking for a winter coat which would cover and keep me warm. We found a store last night who is going out of business. Inside two very nice women helped me to find a coat which fit now and would not look too big next winter post pregnancy. We were thankful for their help and assistance. Yet, I am also aware as I left the store with my beautiful and on sale coat that there is another store closing in Latvia. So as the economy continues to struggle and fall here very much like the snow, I say a prayer for the job situation here.
No matter where I went today I had to shake the snow off my hat – what a blessing and a great reminder of God’s creation. Even with something so small and abundant like snow there is such an incredible detail to it that it can be described and viewed in so many different ways.
So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…..
Today Courtney preached in translation, and I lead worship in Latvian – well, I tried to that is.
See, I have done it before, and found the congregation patient with me. They are kind of used to my Latvian by now. Granted, services are shorter because I just can’t say as much in transition or prayers, yet the ‘less is more’ theory holds true.
This particular congregation has a candelabra with four candles, and each week they light the candles remembering and praying for other congregations throughout the global body. Today as we were saying prayers, I decided to expand upon the lighting of these ‘congregational’ candles. I didn’t really notice the strange looks – or maybe I subconsciously mistook them as responses to the wax I dripped everywhere.
After the service the wonderful pianist approached me – and then at least three or four more people after her – to help me a bit with my Latvian. I added one syllable too many while speaking, and, apparently, I invited the congregation to pray for “my girlfriends” – rather than “our congregations” – in the UK, Norway, the US, and Denmark. Graciously each said, “Don’t worry. While it caught me off-guard at first, I understood what you were trying to say.”
Court and I had a good laugh about it, and we hope it might make you smile.
PEACE – dan and court
One of the things that still surprises me when I land in Riga is that most of the plane erupts in applause. I had quite a few flights in the U.S. these past two weeks and none of them ended in applause.
As a kid I would cheer at baseball games. In December I applauded at the end of the Nutcracker. Yet sometimes I find crowds applaud because that is the expected or desired response though it may not be a heartfelt response. It had me thinking, “When do we applause and why?” I found I like to applaud in true appreciation, in heartfelt joy, in honor of a job well done, and in praise and thanksgiving to God. While I do not always applaud in these circumstances, maybe I should begin to do – even if people look at me funny. This entry will serve as a cyber-applause for some recent events.
Some recent reasons for applause:
* feeling the baby move in Courtney’s belly
* a fantastic two weeks in the U.S. with the brief moments of blessing with friends and family along the way
* a great conference in California with many new ideas and insights into camping ministry
* a chance to preach and re-connect with folks at Center UMC
* a warm apartment
* safe landings of all my flights
* a tangible presence of God’s grace and love for me
* the Redwoods!!
* morning coffee
* gracious and patient friends around the world
May you notice and discover reasons to clap your hands today!