Monday, 27 April 2009

Pizzas and Punctures

This weeks blog is a bit newsy really, as lots of little quirky things happened this week.
The clean up operation I mentioned last week in Latvia apparently had 110,000 participants, which for England wouldn't be a bad response at all but for Latvia I find it astounding as the population is just under 2.3 million so that is about 1 in 20 people who took part. What a commitment to keeping their land neat and tidy! I really commend them, especially when everything else around them seems to be falling apart. 

I had one of those "how stupid can you get moments" this week. I bought some shoes the week before and they are really light and feel like they should be incredibly comfortable but when I wore them one day they seemed to keep cutting into my feet just below the toes, I was really disappointed as I hate buying shoes and I was convinced they would be great. I decided to investigate the shoes to see where the problem was and discovered that despite wearing them for the whole day I hadn't previously discovered the cardboard insert was still in there. Doh! Ian is even worse than me when it comes to buying shoes, they have to be perfect straight off and the shoes he wears most often has a great gaping hole in them so they needed replacing and we have hunted high and low for some replacements. He eventually decided that some Ecco ones were just what he wanted, not cheap but hopefully good enough quality to last but they didn't have the right size.... Noooo! That meant that he would never ever find a pair as he would never find the right shoe in the right size, or so we thought. I spotted an Ecco shop just before we got to my exam and with the minutes ticking away to my exam time he tried on the shoes, and walked around the shop and hummed and arrhhed and eventually bought them. I am sure no one else finds shoe buying so traumatic, do they?

My exam went okay I suppose, I wrote for the whole time but it definitely felt like a load of drivel and not a coherent argument in sight. Time will tell as I get my results at the end of June. Besides getting Ian's shoes minutes before my exam we also had a puncture on the way in, fortunately it was only discovered once we got there but it was a really large nail and it would have been flat by the time we got back to the car so Ian's job while I was scribbling away was scrabbling away in the car park changing the wheel. The job was made even worse by the state of our car which is a beautiful two tone beige and red colour, it should be red but the dirt roads around here means when we go into Riga we stand out as a country car big time. 

I finished my exam at 5:30pm, not the best of times to be leaving a city so we went to the mall and found a pizza place. As I was tucking into the crust of one slice, a piece of it flew off the plate - embarrassing enough but worse happened! The pizza crust then proceeded to fly between the gaps in the glass screen, I couldn't have done that if I had tried as the gaps were just too small and the glass was angled, the pizza piece did not even hit the glass and slide down through the gaps, oh no that was too easy, it flew at great speed through the gap. Oh I didn't mention one other detail, did I! We were one floor up on a balcony so the offending piece of pizza descended to the floor below, or at least I hope it landed on the floor and not on some poor unsuspecting person. We giggled all the way home at the thought of all the possible scenarios of what could have happened to that pizza, we had visions of someone splayed out on the floor, concussed by a piece of flying pizza, I don't think that happened.... err I hope!

I mentioned last week that our youngest was having difficulty getting his qualifications recognised, that he had obtained while in Denmark, in order to get into University. Well I am proud to announce that he decided to take some advice and tried again to get someone to look at the grades and finally they decided that they were acceptable and gave him an interview, so as I was sat down eating my birthday tea (dinner) at the local hotel he rang to say they had accepted him as long as gets a good grade at the college he now attends. That was as good a birthday present as I have got from him, he kind of forgot again but I think he has an excuse this time. While we were at the hotel we ordered dessert and I went for the hot chocolate pudding (for all those who have been to Ergli the chocolate pudding is still a work of art and wonderful to eat), Ian was undecided and went to order something from the counter and while chatting mentioned that it was my birthday and asked if they could put a candle in my pudding. The waitress carried the pudding carefully across the floor complete with lit candle but also written around the edge of the plate was written "Happy Birthday" in English written with chocolate icing and with a smiley face on it, I wished I had my camera with me it was so sweet. I also got a present "The Soup Bible" from Mark, this is also a bit of a novelty as the last birthday present from him was opened on Christmas day, lol - my kids are full of surprises! My daughter, Emma says my present from her is a work in progress, not quite sure what that means, maybe one day I will find out. I also got flowers, no not from Ian, but the kitchen guy as they finally came to finish off the little details in the kitchen (that is an ongoing saga) and a box of chocolates from his company.

It was very nice of the Ambassador, Dr Richard Moon, to have a do for me at the embassy for my birthday don't you think? Haha as if! We did go to the Embassy the day after my birthday but I think this had more to do with being St. George's day (the patron saint of England) than it was to do with my birthday and we had a wonderful time there, especially as there were a group of 6 of us who weren't the suits type, working in the financial field or whatever else most of them did. I think most of them were wondering why on earth we all chose to live in Latvia, the other 4 have retired here and the reason... we love the place and we love the people and feel right at home, what better reason could there be? 

Well a week without a bit of pontification wouldn't seem right so here goes. I was thinking about the roles of NGO's (non-governmental organisations such as charities) and I was thinking that if they were doing a good job they would be enabling the community to move beyond where they are now and then be able to move on to other projects, like the Red Cross be there in an emergency and take on training roles at other times. Too often NGO's though can end up creating a niche for themselves that they then can't get out of and I wondered if that happens in church culture too, leading to a dependency culture instead of an active living community based on reciprocal acts of love.  I often hear people asking us what "our ministry" is, and I have to confess to hating the phrase, it is suggestive of creating a niche where you stay. I would rather see myself as living in a community where my skills were utilised whenever necessary and the rest of the time I just got on with ordinary jobs of providing a home, food and whatever else is needed but with love and care. I don't need a special role, or a special name to call myself, I am just me, a child of God I suppose but just me nevertheless. Reading other people's blogs can often be encouraging as you can see the processes your going through are not unique - Martin's & Peter Birch's blogs both talk about the confusion that sometimes occurs with moving forwards, as we grope towards the plans that God has, not just for us but also for the world around us. I long to see the Kingdom of God coming down to earth and creation released from the bonds that man's sin has created and I am not sure what that will look like but as I commented on Peter's blog " I just have a feeling that God is messing up the picture so that he can start to redraw the new environment," or in the words of Jeremiah chapter 18 At the Potter's House
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 

God is reshaping the landscape and I look forward to the new shape he is creating, I keep looking but I can't quite see it yet.

One last piece of news - well done for getting so far! I had my haircut today! Big news! Well kind of for several reasons the first thing is that I find it even more traumatic than buying shoes, I would rather go to the dentist than find a new hairdresser. When my neighbour suggested that a group of us English speakers goes to the hairdressers together (who is a lady from the church she attends), I thought why not for there is one thing worse than going to a new hairdresser is going to one who doesn't speak the same language and at least this way I knew someone could speak English and translate. Ian suggested I go short as it has been long - easier to cut for him! When I got there I found a picture I liked and the hairdresser began cutting, there was a lot of hair going and my hair is not thick to start with, gulp! Next she blow dried my hair and I was sat there thinking "I don't like big hair, I don't like big hair" as it was fairly fluffy and bouffant, not my style at all. All I could think of was that at least it would flatten within hours and second it would grow but then she took some potion of some description (they have loads don't they at hairdressers!) and rubbed it around my hair a bit and messed with it and voila, 
I was impressed, it suddenly looked just right. I have to say that it was the first time in many many years I was actually really pleased with the look. The funny thing is that a bloke who I had only seen that morning in a prayer meeting didn't recognise me at first, his wife who was working on someone else's hair didn't recognise me at first either and the funniest reaction of all was when we got to my friend's house, a young girl was stood outside who I know quite well and we always wave at each other, and she looked at me as I was waving, then she looked again and putting her hands to her mouth gave a kind of shriek - she hadn't recognised me at all. At least I hope that is why she was shrieking.


  1. love the hair....looks really good!! :)
    love kerry xx

  2. I agree I absolutely, positivly, LOVE your hair.Yours was the best do. I haven't posted my picture in my blog with the new hair. What did Ian say?

  3. thank you Kathleen, Ian loves it.


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