Saturday, November 28, 2015


This morning we had to leave by 6:45. It was an early start. Jonathan checked in one of my bags since I had one to many and he didn't have any checked bags. James had one of Jonathan's carry on's and James' carry on was inside of Jonathan's. It was slightly confusing. 

I slept all the way from Riga to Amsterdam. I didn't even hear the drink cart go by.

We had to get our boarding oases in Amsterdam because we didn't get them in Riga. While we were waiting I meet some folks from Chicago. They said they live in a city that starts with an L that is in between Naperville and Chicago. They were in Riga with their son. He was going to a conference but they went early to tour. They asked me where I was from. I said Dallas. They said they have a son that lives in Arlington. I clarified that was where I am really from. They asked what I did in Arlington. I said I am a student at A&M. They said that is why they were in Riga. There son graduated form A&M and it was his conference they were going for in Riga.  I wanted to stop by Starbucks but Brent said we didn't have time. Our flight left at 1. Our boarding time was 11:30. We thought that was wrong but went anyways. We had to be there early to be questioned and go through a scanner. There were only 7 of us flying to Atlanta. The ones that booked earlier free to Detroit. I say next to a lady that just got back from a mission trip.

In Atlanta we had to go through customs. We sat on the runway for an hour because of rain. I was able to sleep most of the trip.

It was great to be home and see my family. 


This morning we were able to sleep in. We got up and got some breakfast. We had a meeting in the lobby. Zane gave us our ticket for the song and dance festival. 

I went with Brent, Carol the Cummins, Janis G. and Kelly. We went to a very pretty church. We went to the top. It was so great to be at the top. There was a good breeze and we could see all of Riga. It was crowded though. Brent said it was the most crowded he had seen it. We walked around the church a bit.

Then, I got a snack and everyone got drinks at a convenient store. We then walked to the former US embassy to see the Occupation Museum. I asked the lady working there why the US embassy moved. They were on Embassy Row next to all the other Embassy's. She said they wanted a safer place. They are closer to the airport and have two stories below ground and only one above. She said the US embassy when it was on Embassy Row stood out. There were pillars where you couldn't walk side by side. You had to walk in a single row. There were also may guards. None of the other embassies have guards. The lady thought the only problem with the embassy being near the airport is that it would be harder for people to get to since it is further from downtown Riga.

I think Brent is trying to kill us. Almost 3 times we have been close to getting hit by a car.

We went to this large outdoor market where people were selling things. I bought a European map from 1920. From here I split off from the group. The older folks were seeing the 2pm song and dance festival show. The younger ones were seeing the 10pm. I wanted to try some Chinese food in Europe. I passed a place called I heart Tokyo. I went there. They spoke English really well. There was not a menu in English but my editor helped me find what I wanted. I got the largest Pepsi I have had here which is a normal size for the states and with 2 cubes of ice! The food was surprisingly very good and temperature hot.

I went on a boat ride. There were 2 couples from London on there with me. They were going to the Baltic countries. It was nice they spoke English. Our boat driver spoke English but sometimes I couldn't understand what he was saying and they would help pronounce the words better. It was a great hour long boat ride. They even gave me an umbrella since I was in the sun.

My tummy was hurting again so I took a taxi back to the hotel because my tummy was hurting. I took a nap. Brent walked me to the pharmacy to get some medicine. The hotel had no medicine at all. Not even Advil.

We all went to Lido for dinner. I had a coke and 1/4 of a smoothie. Bryan said lets go to the mall. They laughed because I perked up then. All of us kids went to the mall. It wasn't a great mall.

We went back to the hotel. I saw the girl working in the gift shop last night and talked to her for a minute. She said my Latvian is good. I saw her again today and talked to her more. We started talking about God. She doesn't believe in God. She is fine with how her life is even though she knows she does a lot of bad things. I asked her where she thought she would go when she died. She said underground and worms would eat me. She said God isn't for me now maybe later. She is going to be a senior in high school. She works 3 jobs.  Her name is Marta. We need to pray for her.

All of us young folks got in 3 cabs to go to the song and dance festival. It only happens once every five years. I was excited to go. The older folks went at 2. I was going to go then but Zane encouraged me to go at 10 since it would be cooler. I'm thankful I did. It was in a large outdoor stadium. It was obvious when we were getting close because there was more security and many large buses. We all went in through security. I had my camera in my hand. They said no cameras. I put my camera in my bag and tried to go through another line. They noticed something was in my bag. She asked if it was an umbrella. I said no. She asked me to open my bag. She saw by camera and said I can't come in. Bryan and Janis G. were in. I talked to them from the gate. A few minutes later Janis said give me you're camera. I'll go back. He sacrificed watching the show for me. He took my camera back to the hotel and couldn't get back in since he already went in and used his ticket. It was extremely kind. Reminded me a lot of Jesus.  It was incredible to watch all of these dancers together. I heard there were 15,000 performers. Bryan said this couldn't happen in America because guys wouldn't want to do these dances. Bryan counted over 1,000 people dancing at one time.

We went back to the hotel. I was about to go to bed when I got a text from Bryan saying to come to their room. I went.  I saw Caleb and PD there too.  He told me Janis wasn't thinking about the camera on the taxi and left it. Zane and her dad are calling the taxi company to try to hunt it down. I stayed calm and said its okay. I left. Then, I see the door open and Janis is there with my camera. They got me again! It was a good prank. 


This morning I said I am glad I survived the fire. Austin went to the police station and they gave him some things. He went because Inguna got them in on the prank to get Austin when he thought someone snuck into the school and stole something when he was told he didn't lock the doors properly. So, he got something that sounded like a fire alarm and put it in my room. They said it was very funny to watch me. Jonathan got the prank on video. I heard Jonathan was almost on the floor laughing.

We went to Inguna's to celebrate the 4th. She made us shish kabobs and ribs. I have had many ribs. They were the best ribs I have had.  I jumped on the trampoline and played hide and go seek with Kate. We used a lot of hand motions since she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Latvian.  The boys played soccer. Jonathan badly injured his lower back. He can't walk. Bryan took me to ride Janis G.'s motorcycle. He went very slow. A big truck that usually goes slow passed us. Bryan said he was so embarrassed it passed us. I thanked him for being humble and serving me in that way. As soon and I mean as soon as we got back it started raining. We moved everything inside. Janis U's mom made us the most delicious strawberry cake. It was similar to strawberry cheesecake.  It was one of the few sweet things I've had. Marta's mom also made us two amazing cakes. So so good. Closest thing to it was Boston creme pie. Jonathan is not doing well and kent is going to the hospital.

We headed for Riga. We had a very large bus and the nicest I have been on. When Janis G. and I were the only ones on the bus and we got to have a whole row to ourselves I thought that would be the last that would happen. It wasn't. Even with 26 of us several of us got our own row. It was nice to get some rest.

We checked into our hotel. I'm staying with Carol, Brent's secretary. We went for our Segway tour. At first it was hard and I wanted to give up. I'm thankful I didn't but I still didn't like it I'm glad we got the tour. It was informative. My tummy was hurting so I went back to the hotel after the tour and was able to go to bed early. 

Youth Camp Day 5

At our morning worship Ken said we need to do a snake where everyone grabs onto the shoulders of the person behind them. Bryan didn't want to. Inguna thought we should and Bryan ended up leading it. With 100 people it was a long snake. 

This morning Kelly was wearing a UT shirt. Janis G. told me he would give me some silly string and to wear an A&M shirt. Brent would tell the yourh about the A&M UT  and the BU rivalry.  They will come up to the front. He said it will be clear when it is time torun up there and spray them with the silly string. That is exactly what happened. It was great! The only problem was that there was silly string everywhere. We were all hoping Inguna wouldn't come in. She didn't. Praise The Lord it was easy to clean up.

I worked on giving Inguna the pictures from the last three camps. Diana helped me because I hate having to edit them down.

I got some pizza since we wouldn't be eating dinner until late.

We had the service. Paul David made a slideshow of all the service projects. We sang a cool song and it was neat to see people worshiping God.

After the service we had a picnic with sausage, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and bread. We also had coke floats. We took lots of pictures since it was the last day. I was hoping to see Alexander's again. He was at another camp this week. He came to the picnic! I was glad to see him! I asked him to rap again. He was about to leave. I said when are you going to  rap? Then, he broke out in his rap. It was great.

We then had a closing ceremony. Brent thanked everyone. All the Americans went up front. Each one of us was called individually. I was standing next to Keith and we were laughing almost the whole time because before each person the Latvians would clap so much. Each person was a big deal. We each got a standing ovation. It was fun.

A lot of youth came up to me to thank me. It was so sweet. Some people talked to me in Latvian and got someone to translate for me. It was sweet. The girls in my room call me Kush Kush. That means be quiet in Latvian. That is what I am always saying to them at night. They told me they wanted to put my bed in the hall in the night. They opened the fridge door for light. I saw the light and looked up since the fridge was open. They weren't able to prank me. The girls that took my bra apologized and said they didn't mean to get me but Zane to get back to her for her prank to Austin. It was a good night.

I went to bed around 12 and was the first one in bed. Around 1 I heard an annoying noise. It almost sounded like a fire alarm. Next thing I know I hear Austin knocking on the door and came in and said get out. It's a fire. I started walking down the hall. Then I turn back and say "my shoes." Austin says you don't have time for your shoes. When I turned back I see many people standing behind and laughing. I then went back to bed. 

Youth Camp Day 4

Well folks, this has been an interesting morning. It started off normal. At breakfast Zane said we can't do pranks in other countries where we don't know the rules. She said someone put a bra on the flag pole. She started speaking in English. She said it is an American bra so an American must have done it. A Latvian wouldn't have done this knowing the consequences. You can get 3 years in prison for putting something else under the flag. It dishonors it. One of the cooks saw it this morning and told Zane. They got it down quickly. Now, the only problem was that this was my bra. Since my stuff is in the bathroom I am the easiest target. I began to talk to all the Americans. I was sure it was Bryan, Jonathan, and PD. they assured me it wasn't them. They had fun watching me guess. I gave up. Later Brent told me who it was. It was two Latvian girls trying to get back at Zane for the prank she played. Apparently they thought it was Zane's bra or someone told them it was hers.

It was a normal day. We took group pictures.

At the evening service some folks played bells. Many people stayed around to talk to Bryan. Keith played the guitar and some people danced.

Many people were playing potato - like money in the middle. I saw a girl sitting by herself and talked to her. She was very nice and pretty. She said she appreciated me sitting by her.

I had a good conversation with two girls. They are so sweet. I shared my testimony with them. We listened to some Christian music on their phone. 

Youth Camp Day 2

Surprisingly and thankfully I slept well. 

After breakfast I took a nap because I am not feeling well. May be dehydration but it is cold like symptoms. 

I was supposed to go to the catholic church with my small group but Austin and I didn't make it in time. We went to the baptist church. I was glad to be able to go there again. I was hoping to see Richard before I leave. I was thinking be would be at church but I didn't see him. I saw his sisters.

As I was headed out the door to church I heard Inguna say I will wait here for the police to come. She said there was a drunk person that came in while everyone was in the gym and is sleeping in Jonathan's bed. The police are coming to deal with that.

I think today's service was more of a normal service then the first time I went. The first time the choir had just youth and Janis U. led. This time the choir had adults and youth. Keith played a few songs. I was thinking about how good he was. He can do a lot with the guitar that most people can't. He plays in an unusual way. He makes his guitar do whatever he wants it to. Kind of like clay in the potters hand. We need to let The Lord mold us.  Before he started he made sure his guitar was in tune. It took him a little while. He said I think someone is messing with me because it was in tune. He said his tuning his guitar was the first song. Everyone laughed. He also made sure his guitar was in tune in between each song. Church was full. People were standing in the back. It wasn't because a ton of youth were there. I was surprised how few youth were at the baptist church. I guess they went to the Lutheran or Catholic Churches. It is great to see the church is active in Talsi. Bryan preached this morning on James. This weeks focus is on James. I noticed that it seems like no one takes notes at church here. I may be wrong. Someone tried talking to me in Latvian. I said English. He tried getting Yanis V. to translate. I guess Yanis didn't know the word. Peter translated. I was glad to see that mans persistency in finding someone to ask the word. He just said something about it being windy. I am also thankful that people are willing to translate. I heard a man speak and people clap several times. Mattis told me since this is the last Sunday of the month they are announcing peles birthdays for the month of July. Janis U. received flowers when they announced his name. I asked Mattis why and he said for round numbers like 10, 20, 30, ect. people get flowers. Then, he said if any Americans have birthdays in July stand up. It was nice for him to include the Americans. After the service I talked to Sid. He is a clown from Minnesota that travels around training people to be clowns.

We had lunch. Then, Brent's lecture. We did a service project in town. We all split up. I went with a group and we picked some weeds on a path. I had a good conversation with some girls. We talked about Brent's lecture since we just heard it. I meet Elita, Peters wife today. She grew up in Riga. They come to Talsi often because that is were Peter is from. She said she enjoyed speaking English with me to practice. She is an English teacher in Riga.

We came back and had dinner. Then, our evening service time. Yanis V. did lights and he did a great job! Janis U. led worship. Evita played the piano. They had a full band with other instruments. The drama team performed and they are great.  Bryan preached. He got Brent to come up and asked how much Brent trusted him. Bryan blind folded Brent. Some BU girls came up and did sic em while he was blind folded. Then, he walked up some stairs. The girls caught him. Bryan said they were strong men. It was about the opposite. Brent laughed when he saw who caught him. We had refreshments after. I talked to some girls in my room. They said we will make a poster and name our room the Fat Birds.

We are watching the television writes the Bible. I wasn't able to watch it when it came out. It is nice to watch it today and to see the effects and props. It gives me a better idea of that time.

I have drank a ton and praise The Lord I'm feeling better. I drink so much in Texas. I think I just need to drink more. 

Youth Camp Day 1

This morning Brent said those hedge hogs are annoying. They will get in your bed. 
Someone said they were having their quiet time. Mr. Cummins said there is no "quiet time" with Brent. Brent made an announcement that there has been an outbreak of hedgehogs at the school. We had a good breakfast while Zane told us the plan for the day.

I went to visit Maija, Matthews, and Elizabeth. On my walk over to there house I saw people walking around, activities in the street, and music. Once I got to their house, I played Cirkus with Matthews and Elizabeth. The game was like Shutes and Ladders but different characters on the board. Maija told me they made the game during soviet times. I walked around town with Matthews and Elizabeth.  We saw Artus. He was dressed up ready to perform. He said he had to practice for the song and dance festival this week and so he couldn't go to youth camp. I am so glad I got to see them perform. There were three age groups that performed: adults, about 8-12 year olds, and about 5-7 year olds. It was so great to see.

I wanted to go to the market because I heard the market is  on Saturdays. While I was headed there I saw a ton of people out. It was similar a carnival atmosphere. There were lots of things to buy and eat. I got some food. It wasn't great. The lady said they have pork. She opened the container and it was pig snout. More than just plain pork. I did not have that. I think some people knew I didn't speak English. Other people spoke English and were able to help me. So far language hasn't been much of a barrier at all.  I bought a mug and a rug. Ha, that rhymes.

After meeting back at TKS we headed for the Lutheran church.  Keith played an hour long concert.
Many people came including  youth that will attend the camp and people from the community. I was concerned attendance would be low with all the festivities in town today. Many people did come. A few people were video taping. I think everyone really liked it. I talked to Keith yesterday some and it was cool to see how he always gave God credit for his incredible talent.

Karen, Lisa, Joel, and Mike Cummins helped me move my stuff to a room where the youth will be staying I will be sleeping with them.

My computer is full. Joel is letting me borrow a flash drive to put pictures on it. It was formatted for a pc. Bryan helped me change it for a Mac.

Camp starred and Brent made lots of jokes about Karen and Jennifer during his announcements.

We ate dinner at 4:30. I meet Peter who has graduated from TKS. He does videos and photography for a living in Riga. He is doing video for some weddings soon. I remember seeing him play base with Janis, Tony, and Chris after orphan camp.

We all meet outside of the flag poles. There we walked almost a mile to the start of the parade. We were in the Talsi parade. All of the carnival activities were going on today because everyone was celebrating the city. TKS was represented in the parade through all of the youth camp participants. We walked through the city. Many people came to see the parade. We passed out fliers telling people about the sermons at the camp. Mike Cummins did a great job. He was passing fliers out to everyone.  I stood next to Jonathan and PD the whole time. I think The Lord was trying to test me. Just kidding. Lots of sarcasm from them. Jonathan made lots of Aggie jokes. After the parade as we were standing around waiting I saw a lady with a very cute baby. I smiled at her a lot. She smiled back. Then, I decided to talk to her. I said your baby is very cute. She got her friend to translate. I asked how old her little girl was and her friend said 8 months. I went back with our group. When I was leaving she weaved good bye to me. I miss holding little ones while being here.  I need to meet a friend here with a baby I guess.

I moved all my things into the largest bathroom because that was the best place for them to go. My things have been moved about 3 times in the last 24 hours.

We had some free time. Then, we meet with our small group  I am with Jonathan and Neil. We asked some basic getting to know each other questions.