Monday, 16 February 2009

Contemplation and Cakes

Monday saw us down at the immigration office to update our forms, only we found out that we didn't need to, instead we were told that we only need to tell the Latvian Government when we want to leave. That's nice we feel wanted! The benefits of being part of the EU, unfortunately if you are American or Canadian you have to go every year and spend lots of money, waste lots of paper and petrol (gas) sorting it out. Not so good!

We have had some beautiful, crisp, sunshiny days here in Ērgļi and the birds were singing and the drunks were roaming - it must be spring! Unfortunately alcoholism is fairly rife here, long cold winter nights don't help and little money coupled with a sense of hopelessness adds to it all. At least once the sunshine had brought them out rather than being cooped up in their homes, some of them just trying to stay warm. It is not all bad here at least they seem to be fairly harmless drunks and not the louts that you sometimes get, but there is no denying the problems. There are some wonderful warm loving folks here and there are also some very desperate situations. One of our favourite guys here is "Sasha" not sure if that is how you spell his name or even if we have got it right but he is great, an older guy who runs one of the DIY shops here and he just chatters away in Latvian trying to get us to understand what he is saying, usually we manage to get some of what he says. It helps when we are talking about things rather than abstract ideas and I can read a little German, or Danish on the packages and sometimes the dictionary comes out but we get by.

Talking of Spring it has been like the twelve days of Christmas here (okay that is nothing to do with Spring but I couldn't think of a better link) anyway..... on the first day of Christmas my true love brought to me one box of boxes, on the second day of Christmas my true love brought to me one box of unsorted clutter - unsorted that is since our last move from Denmark to the US, on the third day of Christmas..... well you get the idea. Earlier on this year we had finally sorted out the last room in our flat that needed work doing on it, but in order to do it we had to remove loads of boxes, as it was our dump it room. Unfortunately we had to bring them back from the other flat where we had been storing them, although our friends hadn't moved in yet they are due to soon. Well our dump it room is back to the cluttered mess it was before but it does have a nice laminate floor and the window has been plastered in now.

You may have missed it but it was Valentine day this week  and I would just like to say that romance is not dead in our home, we know how to celebrate Valentine's day. How? By filling in forms from our accountant in order to file our American taxes, for those unfamiliar with the system just read an article by a BBC reporter and you will get the picture, I can really identify with his pacing about and procrastination and I giggled all the way through the article. The forms got done with cups of tea supplied by hubby (that was his contribution to the process). We did have a special meal later in honour of our American Pastor, Darren (not sure if he is reading this - give him a nudge and make sure he knows :o)) we had pizza and corn muffins followed by Brownies. We thought he would be proud of us, okay the corn muffins weren't quite as sweet as Lucille's in Fort Collins but at least I could eat them with the pizzas. Lucille's cornbread was always so sweet I used to save them for dessert but they were worth saving. I was going to use my Crisco book given to me by Darren to make some brownies but unfortunately I didn't have enough eggs, but I have bought some cottage cheese and sour cream to mix together to get a cream cheese (well as near as I can get) and some extra eggs so as soon as Ian has finished scoffing the other brownies I will make some more from the Crisco book as the cream cheese swirled brownies looked really yummy. I am sure Darren would approve of the all the extra fat and sugar I am feeding Ian. 

Well I was still in contemplative mood this week and when I look back I wonder what have I actually accomplished this last year? What have I "done" for Jesus? But is that the right question? Shouldn't it be "have I done the will of the Father"? Jesus lived for thirty-three years and only three was in public ministry what was he "doing" for the previous thirty years. Growing, learning waiting for the right time for the Fathers purposes. I think Graham Cooke has it right when he talks about the ebb and flow of the spirit, we are not meant to live our lives at 100 miles an hour, "accomplishing" something every second of the day. There are times when we are going to be barely hanging on for the ride, and then there are going to be times for quiet, rest and contemplation. The seasons are great for showing that, each phase has its purpose, each phase has its own timing, its own pace and we miss something when we try to live life in the fast lane all the time.

The concern at the moment of course is what is God's will for us this next year as we come to the end of the jubilee year and I was praying about the way forward, or maybe there was an element of worrying rather than praying, but straight after I had finished praying and got to the computer to read the verse of the day that I follow I read :-

"Col 3:15 The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful."

Well I was thankful, very thankful and peace did come to me in a big measure. Now don't get me wrong I am not a worrier by nature but there are still times when doubts creep in and I wonder if we have it right, and I need encouragement and God was gracious enough to send me some. (The photo always reminds me of some giant praying hands, it is taken from the Garden of the God's in Colorado as are the rest of the photos since we haven't taken any of Ērgļi this week, even though some of the days were glorious, sorry!)

Something else I had been thinking about is the place where we live, Latvia. It is a special place, but also a place of oppression, subjugation and at the moment a laughing stock of Europe but God delights in taking those out of the way places and setting them up for something special. We felt that Latvia had something to show the world when we moved here and now seems the perfect time to do that - just when all seems lost and the prophets of doom are circling round with their depressing analyses. I was therefore amazed to read the following comments from "Ojars Kalnins, director of the Latvian Institute which is responsible for promoting the country abroad, if the Latvian story is a novel, the country is just passing the opening chapters that capture the reader's interest.

'In a world of bad economic news, we have a unique case developing," he said. "If Latvia were to weather this storm, a bad news story would become a good news story,' Kalnins insisted.

'As in any good novel with plot twists, things may get worse before they get better, but if there is a happy ending, well, then you have a rip-roaring story!' he said."

I really believe he is right. We felt when we came here that there was going to be something that happens here that will reach out to the world and at the moment the world is watching and waiting to see what happens. Pray for this little country there is a lot at stake but something is going to rise up out of this place that will touch other nations.

I think Charles Dickens in "A tale of Two Cities" said it well when he said
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I only realised that it is over a year since I started blogging when Ian mentioned he was looking at the early posts in January of last year and at the time our friend Doug commented "Yay for blogging! The only thing i would ask of you is that you would be more attentive and diligent in your posting practices than I usually am with mine. (heh.)". Well I think I have managed that, I have actually managed to blog every week which I wasn't sure I would manage when I started.

2 comments:

DougieB said...

Hurray for Blogging (again)! You are completely correct, you have been fantastic and diligent in your posting, and i am very proud of your blogging ways.

Joanna said...

Well thank you very much :o)