Charity Work in Latvia -2010
The above is a cutting from the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury of July 1st, 2010. The story also appeared in the Norwich Evening News.
Above is a second cutting from the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury following the return from Latvia
A clean, lush country, quite flat but with some scenic lakes and an air of quiet grandeur and solitude. A third of Latvia's population lives in its picturesque capital of Riga (a Northern Venice). The old town with its medieval spires, towers and restored grand houses rising over pretty flower filled squares, terraced cafes and brightly coloured craft stalls selling amber, textiles and wooden products.
Its huge indoor and outdoor markets spill over with food, flowers and clothing. The blue trams and city traffic ambles along the busy road and buildings and parks of more recent times add to the city's allure - a beautiful opera house and domed churches of different faiths stand out on the skyline.
Riga certainly impressed me and its friendly occupants made us welcome and, while service was somewhat slow in cafes and restaurants, the local food was delicious and presentation was excellent. From the famous Lido self service restaurant to the pretty terraced cafes, the choice of dishes was abundant. The supermarket also served us well both in the wide range of products and in opening times - feeding us very late at 10 p.m on Sunday evening.
Our welcome at Riga's two Methodist congregations was warm and embracing and the custom of presenting flowers, either single stems or simple bunches to guests and for those celebrating birthdays and events, warmed our hearts. Worship was long, but the minutes raced by enriched by lots of singing, personal sharing and short addresses and devotions. We added to it with visual aids, songs of fellowship from our makeshift choir and messages from two of our pastors. The evening communion service will stay long in our memories with a laying on of hands and blessing from pastor Gita for each communicant.
So to the purpose of our visit - working on the ground floor of the Straupe building situated in a beautiful area with a farm behind and holiday - possibly fishing - lodge at the end of the long and dusty road. Fields of corn bales and storks and even two cranes surrounded the property. - one of the storks chose to visit our telegraph pole on at least one occasion.
So to the work detail - with our Latvian builders Denis and Aeivern guiding and with young Gita the director of the Hope project staying with us, we began work restoring the former cheese dairy into a communal room. Half of our party stripped white tiles from the walls, then re-plastered while more expert members helped build and put up a cradle to enable the lowering of the ceiling.
The rest of us worked in the 30 degree plus temperatures outside, getting rid of a narrow front door step eventually to be replaced by a ramp and then digging down to the base of the property the whole way round the former farm building to reveal problems with the building's foundations which hopefully can now be underpinned with our financial assistance in order to secure the home before work continues inside.
We had sown seeds of hope that their project can be realised and they had sown seeds of love in our hearts making us feel very humble in the face of their difficulties and we look forward to seeing the fruits of this sowing, planting and nurturing.
You can view my pictures of the Latvia visit on Facebook by clicking here
Juliet's Latvian pics can be viewed by clicking here