Monday, 7 July 2008

It was a bit of a shock on July 4th,  The American Day of Independance to see flags at half mast outside our kitchen window, even the school flag had theirs at half mast. It fleetingly passed through my mind that it was a joke and a slight dig at the Americans. Just then Ian came through to tell me that 4th July was Holocaust memorial day here in Latvia. Phew! So my dear American friends while you were celebrating your independence from us Brits, the Latvians were remembering a particularly sad piece of history. However we chose to side with the Americans on this occasion and joined our American friends in celebrating American Independence Day, which is a little ironic as I have never celebrated American Independence Day in America, I was always in England on July 4th. In fact only Ian has been in America on July 4th and that was last year after a gruelling 24hr journey back from England and all he wanted to do was sleep which was a little difficult with all the fireworks. The photo shows our friend Bruce grilling shaslik - he is a pretty good BBQer the meat was done to perfection. 

Another History lesson. Back in the second world war the people of the land were caught in the middle of great dilemmas, the Russian army would take people they find and make them fight for their side and the German side would do the same and in so many cases brother could be fighting against brother. When you add that onto the domination for the last 800 years by different Empires imposing their will upon the land and its people then you have a heady cocktail of conflict and domination sown into the land. It is no wonder that it is taking Latvians a while to understand who they are and to establish an identity without becoming domineering themselves. National pride is one thing but nationalistic pride based on intolerance is a nasty poisonous mixture. 

Moravian brethren however  taught the peasants self respect and they were quite active in the land in the 1700's. They were often in conflict with the Lutheran church with their German pastors who were also supported by the German aristocracy of the time. The fact they made a significant impact is apparent with the statistic that 92% of the peasants in Latvia could actually read and write, an incredible figure for those times. The Moravian brethren also encouraged the song writers to write and Latvia is a nation of song. It will be a privilege to see the song writers arise out of this nation to sing of the wonders of God, already I have heard of a couple of examples of people beginning to write worship songs in their native Latvian, and one of whom the gifting has laid dormant for quite a few years.

On a different note did you know that milk has different flavours depending on which farm they come from? I didn't until I came to Latvia, some milk tastes fairly bland as I have come to expect milk to taste but some of the milk I have drunk has a distinct taste. At first I thought the milk was already off but then I realised that it was just a different flavour, it took a bit of getting used to but now I quite like it.

So far we are still just getting lettuces and Dill out of the garden but if that snail problem keeps up then they will be heading for the pot - if I can face it. I had a massive snail cull this morning but I have a feeling that tomorrow there will be just as many as it has rained again today. In England we used to have a Robin and some blackbirds who used to frequent our garden now we Stork patrols in our garden every evening, and this morning there was a flapping of wings overhead as the Stork flew in while Ian and I were in the garden. 

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