As I write this, Lisa and I are waiting for our flight to Sarajevo, Bosnia, from Riga, Latvia. Latvia is one of the few places we will visit this fall that is not new to us. We were last in Riga in August, 2005, when we taught two conferences, one for student leaders and one designed for seekers and their Christian friends, at which we gave evangelistic talks from the gospels. One of the staffworkers at that time is now the director of the LKSB (the IFES student movement in Latvia), and he invited us back to speak to graduates of LKSB. We came on Thursday from Belarus and I spoke on what it looks like to be faithful in our vocations, finances, and communities, at the conference that ended yesterday. We met several former students who attended the conference in 2005 and remembered us, including one former student who is on staff now. The picture here is of our kids nine years ago as we wandered through old-town Riga.
It was very encouraging to meet about 40 graduates of the LKSB (and to meet their 30 kids!). As our friend Igors reminded us, the older ones in this group are really the first generation of a renewed and growing Latvian church. After the fall of the Soviet Union, they were the generation who came to university in the early 1990s, just after it became even possible to follow Jesus as a university student. They are now thriving and taking risks in faith even in the ways they practice parenting: we met several families who have adopted one or more Latvian orphans, and several talked about being part of church plants or otherwise very active in their churches.
Nine years ago, a highlight of our time at camp was the "Extreme Hike" which was a combination challenge course and treasure hunt, where teams needed to follow maps and compete at several destinations along a route in the wilderness. Our kids were on teams with the other college students and had a great time, though they didn't return to camp until after midnight. Well, this week at camp another Extreme Hike was scheduled, with six teams setting out at 9PM and returning to camp between 1 and 2 AM. Lisa and I, the wimps that we are, took a much shorter hike with a woman who has six children in foster care or adoption, and her four youngest children. We found toads and lizards and were blessed to hear her story of following God in this way , but our hike lasted less than an hour, and then we headed on to bed. The next day, when I might have expected some to complain about how long the hike took and how late they returned, I heard only positive comments about the hike from the participants, adults and kids alike. In general, during the three day camp, the weather was a bit rainy and cold at night, in our unheated and breezy cabins, but Latvians are a hardy bunch, and all seemed to enjoy their time at camp, as they were with their larger family of believers for time in fellowship, worship and the Word.
Two of the four kids we hiked with, as they listen to a Bach Piano cantata on my computer. Armands (left) held my hand during most of our evening hike, so when we found a toad, he gave me his homemade bow and arrow so he could hold the toad in one hand and still hold my hand. He wanted to bring the toad to the cabin, but I think his mom Tia said "No" to that idea. Also pictured is Linda (pronounced "Leenda, as in "Leenda Beleenda").
Rich and Lisa Lamb