Monday, 28 April 2008

Flying toilet rolls!

My birthday got off to a good start, our mains water filter needed changing as our water was gradually turning brown. For those not acquainted with Latvian water, it generally contains lots of iron salts which plays havoc with white washing but also tastes revolting. Ian tried to remove the filter unit but as he did so the unit sheared off. Words were flying thick and fast followed by a whole bag of toilet rolls. A phone call later and Calle, our Swedish caped crusader came to the rescue. He should have been delivering sheep but instead he was delivering us from a waterless predicament. It turns out that Ian should have released the pressure by turning on a tap - oh well we live and learn!

The other day I was reading the Bible and the following verses really struck me

Joshua 3-4 "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.

Not quite sure what that means but I know that when I see something of God move then it is time to follow. We knew that this would be a different path we follow and this verse seems to confirm that.

It was great that we actually found tins (cans) of Baked beans in our local store, so now we can have baked beans on toast again for lunch. Bliss! I didn't realise how much I missed them until we bought them and had them one day for lunch.
Had a conference call with the accountants back in America regarding our tax for 2007 and it would appear that God is so good as He knows the American tax rules better than I do - saved us an awful lot of tax - at least I hope so. Decisions we made last year appear to have brought us more into line with the guidelines and that means we don't have capital gains to pay as we deferred the gain to buy another house. And don't worry back in England either, I checked before we bought that we wouldn't have to pay anything back there either as it was our dear old house 9 Rutland Terrace which we used to live in anyway.

Our Old Grandfather clock started working again after Ian wound it up - it only worked for one hour in Fort Collins and we were told that it would require $500 to put it right. So it is really nice that it is now going several days later and keeping good time as well. 

Last week seems to be the annual clean up the area week. I would say clean up the environment but unfortunately they collect it all together and then set fire to it - bearing in mind that it has only just warmed up and so everything is still rather soggy after the winter. Everywhere we went there were smoky bonfires - oh to be able to gather it all together and compost it or generate electricity from it, anything other than make smoky bonfires.

This post seems fairly random and there is one more random comment to make - we have a garden to plant veg! We are so happy, we had to borrow a plot from someone last year but now we have our own plot which is great and it is humungous. Ian is out there now digging away and I of course am working (hehe) Pictures will have to come later of the garden but here is some that Mark took of our old village which he visited the other week. The first one is the church in Barlow built in 1142 and of course added to a bit over the years. The second one is looking down Chapel Hill and just along the road from where we used to live

The last one is of the S-bends as you leave the village and is such a cool shot I think!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Tomorrow I turn 44 years old and what a difference a year makes, we are now officially empty nesters as Matthew, our youngest, left to go to college in England. What a difference a few months makes too, only four months ago Ian and I were in Fort Collins with all our kids, plus one extra, as they were visiting us for Christmas. We were enjoying their company and valuing the fact they chosen to come out to see us (one last chance to see America when Mum and Dad pay may have influenced their decision of course). I am enjoying seeing my children grow into independence and develop their own way through this world, I value the times they ask for advice, and accept when they don't, I value the time they choose to spend with us and I am comfortable when they choose to do something else. One decision Ian and I came to was that we would never insist they come to see us at Christmas time or even do alternate Christmases, we want the decision to be entirely theirs, we want to give them space to make up their own minds and to do their own things and not to feel guilty when they decide to do something else for a change. And if none of them decide to come and see us at Christmas? Well we will cross that bridge when we come to it and then we may go and see them instead (so kids beware hehe!) 

Well it finally stopped raining this week (a miracle in itself) so we could go to Madona, the nearest big town, to get a washing machine, and boy did we need one. In the morning our American neighbour who is over 6 ft tall was setting off to help someone chop wood and so wouldn't be around, which was a shame as I was hoping he would be around to help with the washing machine when we got back. On our way home from Madona with the washing machine in the back of our truck I was praying that there was someone who would be able to help us take the machine up three flights of stairs as I sure didn't feel up to helping Ian do it or if no one was available for God to give me the strength, Ian seemed to think I should be able to manage it. When we came around the corner our neighbour was just coming out of his apartment block and was really pleased to see us as he wanted someone to mind the cat for a couple of days while he was away and offered to help take the washing machine up the stairs. Seemed like the ideal trade off and was such a blessing, I was thanking God big time.

Our container arrived on Thursday and the rain held off until the evening. It was a little cooler but I am sure the guys carrying our furniture up three flights of stairs were grateful for that. Another miracle we actually managed to get everything in. At one stage it was looking decidedly problematic as the container was packed with our furniture first and boxes (cartons) last, so of course the guys unpacking were bringing out the boxes first and we were just stacking up boxes after boxes with no where to put the stuff and by the time they got to the furniture there was not much room left to swing a hamster never mind a cat (just in case this is not a familiar phrase to anyone and you are worried that we swing cats and hamsters around we don't, it just means there was not much room.) If you remember the little game where you had to move plastic squares around to make a picture (can anyone remember what they were called?) then you will have an idea of what we had to do to get the furniture in, only instead of a 2D game it was in 3D and I don't think the removals guys thought it was much fun. Eventually with some manoeuvring we were able to get everything in and all necessary stuff assembled. The next day we had to start unpacking more boxes and trying to find places for them, it took until 7pm to find the frying pan to make an omelette as that was all I could manage to think to make by the time we had finished. Amazingly things did slowly fit into place although one bedroom was renamed the store room as there is no way you can call it a bedroom.

As promised a photo of the bedroom where we stripped off the panelling and the next photo shows it the day after the container arrived


The living room and the store room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Building Work Week

Building Work Week was the title of the week when everyone was expected to take their part in repairing and repainting our church building in Dronfield it could be great fun and we had plenty of time for fellowship while we worked. We haven't done much decorating since leaving the UK, there was a little in Denmark 
but it was more just freshening up the paint than wholesale from scratch
 decorating. It has been great fun getting back to decorating and it is nice to see the transformation and Ian finally got a tool belt too- so he is a happy bunny and now feels like a proper professional. Mind you I don't think our neighbour below will echo are thoughts as we laid the laminate flooring down on Sunday, please pray for him we would like to be good neighbours but at the moment we must get our apartment done before the arrival of our furniture on Thursday when we won't have a lot of room to decorate and lay floors. (It has been raining most of the time since we got here so please also pray that it is fine when our furniture arrives.)

The rain means that the dirt roads around here are not so good but that did mean that the truck was well and truly tested this week with off-road like conditions. We were looking for the tip (landfill) and our friend couldn't remember where it was, although he thought he did, so he rang someone else. We followed the instructions but it was at this point that we discovered that they had difficulty with left and right, so all in all we had a wonderful detour on some very muddy roads which Ian thoroughly enjoyed.

Steve, Natalija, Alona, Samuel and the new addition to the family, Simon visited on Saturday and since we only have two of everything including the rings to cook on (two don't work) we went out for a meal. As we sat around talking about the church and where we feel we fit in, our hopes and expectations I remember thinking that this sure feels like church to me. Sharing a meal and our faith together sounds like the church of Acts. 
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
We are endevouring to meet with other Christians rather than go to meetings. Hebrews 10:25 says "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." I often think that we interpret that as do not give up going to meetings, rather than do not give up meeting together to encourage one another. We can all go to meetings and not be encouraged by anyone, in fact we can all go to a meeting and not even talk to anyone and that kind of misses the point. We were certainly encouraged by our visit from our friends, I got to cuddle a little baby, and Ian and Steve got to take off some more revolting cladding (cladding can look good but not the way it has been done, and most of it is damaged now as well, thanks to the installation of the new radiators you can see the before picture and next week the transformation) and we also got to share and build each other up at the same time. Perfect! 

Monday, 7 April 2008

40 days of wandering

We finally got to the end of our wandering and realised that it was actually 40 days since we left our house in Fort Collins to stay at our good friends Doug and Liz's while the removals (moving company) men were packing up all our worldly goods. 13 beds later it is lovely to be able to sleep in our own house even if it is on an airbed. 

Last week's journey started with some restful time in Petworth which is a wonderful place to have to spend some time but it did remind me of Psalm 23 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
   for his name's sake.

It was as if God had arranged our stay in Petworth to make sure we rested and our soul was restored. I really felt like God "made" us lie down for while after all the hustle and bustle. On the Tuesday we attended a prayer meeting held by the local Christians and they prayed for our future which was a wonderful blessing. The most amazing thing though was a young man coming up to us and asking if we were the family that were given a prophecy by Martin Scott about travelling ten years ago, which was the prophecy that indeed started us off on our travels and it amazes us that someone we didn't know should recall those words spoken over us from all those years ago. 

We travelled back to Latvia from Petworth on the Wednesday and stayed in the "Prayer Tower", owned by some friends of ours in Riga, which seems a fitting way to enter back into the land that we will be calling home. There were some wonderful quotes on the wall and my favourite is 

We don't wait well. We're into microwaving; God on the other hand is usually into marinating.
Dutch Sheets

I could really relate to this as it has been a long journey from those words spoken over us 10 years ago. I finally also got to read in the Prayer Tower about the life of Brother Laurence who has intrigued me from the little I have heard about him. I love the way that he finds God easier in the day to day routine of life and not in retreats and tackles each task as a love offering to God - what a hero! This is a quote from one of his letters "It is not needful always to be in church to be with God. We can make a chapel of our heart, to which we can from time to time withdraw to have gentle, humble, loving communion with him." 
Brother Laurence 1690 translated by E.M. Blaiklock

Our couple of days in Riga allowed us to complete some necessary paperwork at our bank and to buy our new "car" which you can see sitting outside getting soaked in the rain. At least it washed off the drawings from our local artists, who drew pictures in the mud on our truck, a little present for a Sunday morning. Blessings on them!  

We also fitted in a trip to Norkalni, Ropazi on our way home. This was another piece of God organisation because John who we stayed with in Petworth left for Latvia to participate in a work party working on the Norkalni centre on the Sunday before we left on the Wednesday. For those who do not know Norkalni is a centre that is built to house mainly summer camps for children but also holds other events throughout the year to help children and youths come to know Jesus and also to help them in their walk of faith. When we walked into the house there was our good friend David Iliffe who we travelled with on our first trip to Latvia. God's attention to detail has been breathtaking. 

It has been an amazing journey so far with many surprises along the way but I hope you will forgive me for passing up on surprises for a while, I could quite easily settle for a couple of weeks of "boring" just doing normal tasks like cooking, cleaning, levelling floors, taking rubbish (garbage) to the tip (landfill), organising removal men (moving company) - you know, normal everyday tasks!