Monday, 27 July 2009

Including things Scottish

I experimented this week with making pasta from buckwheat. I had to first grind the grain to make the flour and then make the pasta, it was so late by the time I made it that we ended up at the local hotel as I hadn't got around to picking the veg for our evening meal from the garden, we had to eat it the following night and it turned out okay - not too buckwheat-ish. The idea was that even if we couldn't grow the right kind of wheat here in Latvia, we can definitely grow buckwheat - pity I learnt to loathe it as a rice substitute in itself after an overdose of the stuff in one camp.

It has been a week of ups and downs here economically. First of all the IMF seemed to be holding out for cuts in pensions. Now do forgive me for being a bit slow but how does protecting the poor square with cutting pensions? There has been such conflicting messages coming out of the IMF that they wanted to protect the poor and vulnerable and yet asking for pensions to be cut further. Thank goodness they dropped that requirement but maybe it has something to do with the fact that Latvia has some of the poorest pensioners in Europe according the European Union The latest twist in the tale though is that the Latvian People's Part,y who were in power during the boom years, has objected to the IMF proposal of dropping the Public/Private partnerships ie the link up between private business and EU sponsored projects. These have been the source of so much corruption in the past resulting in many questions asked over such things as the rising costs of the new bridge in Riga. The old powers still want to hold on obviously.

I mentioned earlier on this year that I thought Latvians should come together in a display of solidarity for each other along the lines of the Baltic Way demonstrations against the Soviets in 1989 where a human chain was formed from Tallin in Estonia, through Riga in Latvia to Vilnius in Lithuania. Well there will be commemorative events but I pray for more than commemorative events, I pray for a spontaneous outpouring that leads to people getting out on the streets holding hands in solidarity once again. Frustratingly I might not even be in Latvia on the 23rd August as I maybe in Perth, Scotland (no not Australia) for Induction days for the new University I shall be studying with in the Autumn (online by the way - no I am not moving there), but if you can get to Latvia and show the folks of this land that they are not forgotten, on my behalf, that would be fantastic.

Gatherings have been in the news and on some blogs. First there has been a gathering of the clans in Scotland and it seemed significant, something to ponder, the desire of a nation to gather together and celebrate their heritage. In these days when my desire is for smaller gatherings as echoed in Martin Scott's blog this week I was wondering is there still a place for the large gatherings. Well I believe there is, just as a family and friends get together for a wedding it brings about a renewed sense of connection in the context of a celebration. Not sure if they need to be uber spiritual but they could be seen as an important part of being a part of a wider family. Not sure if I am going to make any in the near future but maybe I ought to think about joining one in a few years - now where should I go?

I was given a book while I was away, rabbit back yard farming, very useful but that is not the one I want to tell you about. It is a book by someone who acknowledges a Christian heritage but doesn't agree with all that it entails and struggles with the "sin" aspect but some of his thoughts are astounding. It is called Soul and Soil by Alistair McIntosh (continuing the Scottish theme running through this blog) and he talks about his experiences of reconnecting with the soil and the journey that has taken him on, including campaigning for the Isle of Eigg (pronounced Eigg) to become owned by the people of the island and also campaigning against a super quarry on the Isle of Harris both Scottish Islands. Some people will think that is weird, connecting with the soil, but the fact is that when God gave Adam a job it was to work the garden, when he created him he made him from the dust of the ground and his body became dust again, there is and should be connection to the ground we are given, it is meant to display the glory of God. We are not meant to rape and pillage the ground we are given, we are not meant to look for the profit motive in what we have been given, we are meant to allow the glory of his creation to shine through and speak on behalf of God

Romans 1:19-20 (New International Version)

19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

One of the problems is that stewarding what we have been given has today been translated into getting as much as possible, virtually raping what we have been given. Instead we should view ourselves as stewards who are to pass the land on to those who will inherit it from us, preferably in a better state that when we got it. Shouldn't those with a faith in a redeeming Christ be looking to redeem the lands that have been spoiled so that they reflect God's glory once again?

At the beginning of the book it talks about a friend of the author restoring a broken down well and near the end he talks about the blessed role of those who open up the ancient wells and it reminded me that Martin Scott had prayed over me that our family and he said "I see you opening up wells". I had always viewed this in spiritual terms but I saw that it was also a physical thing to. Our son, Mark, got this long before I did as he trusted what God had said and prayed over a broken well in Albania and the next day it was working. There are quite a few springs on the land which we are starting to work on and one of them we would like to use as a water source for some poly tunnels but we hadn't actually found the source of it so I thought it seemed like as good a time as any to go and try physically opening the well and pray over it to provide sweet water for us. I am not sure we found the exact source but we certainly have a deeper hole that filled up with water that is now clearing and we had a great time of praying for the land of Latvia. We emptied some ashes into our well that were gathered from a campfire on our second ever visit to Latvia. At that campfire we had also prayed with the campers for a healing of the land because like Jericho in 2 Kings 2:19-21 the land of Latvia is well situated but the water is bad and the land is unproductive, it has also been dominated for too long and there is discord between ethnic groups and we prayed for a healing of that too that night.

I sensed this week that there was a turning of the year, somehow the summer was near the end and slipping its way into autumn. I am not quite sure what it is, something about the light and the smell in the air that reminds me of blackberries, it is a soft and gentle smell. This fact doesn't please Ian though as he doesn't feel like summer ever got started but I love this time of year. Don't worry though folks, it doesn't mean that summer is gone yet, it can be a long slow slide into autumn proper but it just signals that there are changes ahead.

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