Monday, 4 May 2009

A relaxing week

Not done a lot this week as I am between courses. I had the books for my new course and could have started on the work but I decided a week off would do me good. It was a chance to get some seeds planted and the weather has been nice all week - too nice really as now everything will need watering. A big difference to 5 weeks ago when we were still under a foot of snow. I have been planting seeds inside as well and any available container has been used from the usual to the unusual such as the pots the mushrooms come in, ice-cream pots, bottoms of milk and juice cartons and even some plastic cups from a little end of term party at the orphanage we have visited occasionally to teach English (wouldn't want to waste them now).  Problem is that now I can hardly move on my desk where I work and just managed to get all my stuff on the desk that I needed to start work today. I am also slowly loosing my view from the window as I sit at the desk as the trees have all started coming into leaf over the last two weeks, it as if now that the snow has gone Spring is impatient to get going and burst forth in abundance and so rapidly too.

The reason for the end of term party is that now the weather is nicer the children at the orphanage would rather be outside playing so there is little point in having English lessons. We had some snacks and pop (soda) and then we went outside where they played hide and seek. Ian and I decided not to join in the hide and seek, instead we played with the little children - language isn't always a problem with them. One little chap had a little ball and so Ian played with him and I kept another little chap entertained so he didn't keep nicking the ball off the other one. The one thing we have been impressed with at this orphanage is how lovely the kids are and how they look out for each other. One girl can't speak properly and the others really take care of her and are very accepting of her, the older ones also look after the little ones by playing with them and picking them up just as if they are their older brothers and sisters. We hear how out of control some of the kids are from other orphanages that it is such a blessing to see one run so well where the kids actually seem to care about each other. The furnishings aren't brilliant and the place could do with being spruced up a bit but it is clean and has a nice atmosphere, I think the manager must do a wonderful job as she cares for around 30 children between the ages of 18 months - 20 years all from difficult backgrounds.

Our friend Steve who we have known since the first time we visited Latvia had a Friday/Saturday meeting in a guest house to try and plan some camps for over the summer. Although we are not likely to have a huge input into the camps themselves we wish to be available to the leaders of the camps to support and encourage them. Steve is trying a new approach to camping by encouraging leaders to bring four children that they are prepared to mentor/nurture/disciple for at least a year afterwards. He has seen so many cases where children come along to camp and make a commitment and then have no follow up afterwards, leaving the children floundering in their new faith. Also not all children find faith in camp so ongoing relationships are more likely to help them make the journey towards a faith in Jesus and even if they don't they are likely to have some positive input from the leaders to make wiser choices for their futures - so necessary when many children come from backgrounds where parents could be alcoholic, or absent due to work or divorce. Although there weren't many leaders able to attend or not willing due to the good weather for a holiday weekend the ones that were there were eager and excited about the idea and really got going on the planning side of things. The idea is to build a community in the camps where everyone takes part in the tasks that need doing, where possible, and the day is not structured to death. The camp is also loosely enough structured so it can be changed, if that is what the campers want, such a change from the huge camps we have been to where everyone is so exhausted at the end and with very little time to actually interact with the campers. 

The place where we stayed for the meeting was an eclectic place but nice and clean and the owners were very friendly but oh the beds! Latvian hotels often have hard beds, the Latvians must be made of tougher stuff than me as I can't get comfy on a hard bed. So it was a bit of a rough night with both Ian and I waking up with bad backs and that might have something to do with what happened later on in the day. We had most of the meetings outside since it was so sunny and I was asked to finish off the last session of prayer in the afternoon, I was listening carefully so I knew when it was the best time to wind up the prayer session when I heard some rather deep rhythmic breathing next to me "No it can't be!" I thought, I listened again and sure enough the breathing was getting deeper and deeper, Ian was in deep, deep meditation... i.e. asleep! I had to nudge him in case he started snoring.

The evening we got back from the camp we were sitting in our living room when shouting and cheering erupted from at least one of the nearby apartments, some Latvian neighbours were sure having a good time. We had seen some notices around our village about ice-hockey and I wondered if that was the reason for the cheering and checked it out on the Internet (what would I do without it?) and they were playing France. There was lots of cheering that night as they beat France 7-1 and in fact little Latvia has been having a good season as they also beat Sweden earlier on, unfortunately their luck ran out against the title holders Russia who beat them 6-1 on Sunday night. There is still a chance that Latvia will make the quaterfinals of the Ice Hockey World Championships but it all depends on how other teams do tonight. 

One idea I came across on the Internet this week was Estonia's think tank, where groups of people got together over the long holiday weekend to brainstorm and think about ways they personally could make a difference in their communities and their nation. I think it was a brilliant idea as they recognised that governments do not have all the answers (you may have noticed this over the last few months) and they were encouraging everyone young and old, rich and poor to come together to think of positive ideas where they could make a difference and maybe think up the clever ideas necessary to help their nation at this difficult time. I do hope they have some stories of what comes out of their discussions as I would be very interested to know how they do.

Thought I would show you Ian's new pets! We have loads of little frogs in our basement, in fact we have had some rather large frogs in our basement and this is where Ian found the frog spawn. I am not overly keen of frogs, I am fine as long as they keep their distance and usually they do apart from once when I was in Brazil. A group of us were stood praying at a site someone wanted to buy and turn into a house of prayer when this frog leapt up high into the air (apparently it had been escaping a snake but I hadn't seen that bit thank goodness) and it bounded over to us and next thing I knew was it bounding up to me and nearly up my skirt, not a pleasant experience for me or the frog and fortunately it then made its escape. I am not quite sure who jumped the highest though me or the frog! I don't think Ian's pets are going to be bounding around very soon and should they get to tadpole size they will no doubt end up in the local pond where hopefully they will eat some mosquito larvae and keep the population of those critters down.

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