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. 

Touring Castles

I woke up at 5:15 to head to Riga with Janis G. Janis woke up at 5:55 brushed his teeth and was ready to go. 

It was me, Janis, and the bus driver on a 19 passenger bus. I got a whole row. I was able yo sleep some. Janis said it was the worse bus ride he has been on. He said he got air born at some point. It was a nice to watch the sun rise on the drive.

We meet the LBC team at the Raddison. Janis and I had a good but quick breakfast there.

Half of the group went to Ventspiels. I went with another group to see two castles.

It was about an hour and a half drive to the first castle. Brent informed us people don't wear seat belts here because there are so many rivers if you drive into a river you can't get out in a seatbelt.  The castle at some points was being renovated. Karen said it has been in the renovation process every time they have been.
Some of us walked on stilts. I tried. Brent was very good at it.  A Latvian man helped me. He was telling me things but I couldn't understand what he was saying. Later, we walked up to the top of the castle.  It was a great view. There were steep stairs. There was netting over our heads. Zane said it was so no bricks fall on our heads. I walked on a balance beam and went into a torture chamber. I was having a hard time getting in. Brent said don't act like this is the first time you have done this.

Then, we went to Hessburger. It was kind of like Whataburger. Zane helped us all order. Hessburger is the place where after Kacie ate she got her kidney stones. Brent made lots or jokes about that and will bring her an application for Hessburger. That was the most similar to a fast food place I have seen here.
We went to Remi to get some drinks and snacks for the rode.

After that, we headed to Rendali. The bus driver stopped and Brent asked if we ran over a dwarf. I thought that was so funny. We had to pay to get a pass to take pictures inside the palace. 3 of us including me did that. We bought a ticket to access all areas of the palace which was great.  There was a beautiful big flower garden. We all dressed up in old costumes. It was so fun. Caleb and James dressed up in dresses. Brent said if they did he would pay for it. Keith was making jokes since the Supreme Court just passed the gay marriage law. Some tourists asked Keith where we were from. He was embarrassed to say America. We all split up to see the palace. The good things about being with a bigger group is that we often run into each other.   The palace was so, so pretty. Pretty walls, ceilings and furniture. Words can't describe. After that, we got a snack. I got a cake similar to tiramisu but better. We were going to take a group picture on the front steps but it was raining. We literally ran in the rain with bumpy rocks on the ground for a little ways to the bus.

I was asking Keith about his guitar style. He said only 10 guys play like he does. He hadn't learned it from them but played around with it on his own. When he teaches people how to play he teaches them chords and some basic things. Keith said very, very few people want to learn to play how he does. Keith said he learned this style from listening to Betoven.

On the way home 90% of us fell asleep in the car. I was not one of them. Keith later got his guitar and went through his routine. It was nice to listen to. It sounded like a cd.

Zane told us there was a roman Orthodox Church. It took us a while to find a good place to park. Zane and Caleb ran in to make sure it was open. Thankfully it was. All of us women had to cover our hair. They had some scarfs for us to use. Brent explained a lot of things to me about Roman Orthodox and Catholic religions. Inside we saw a priest walk through. When we walked out we saw he had "holy water" and was praying over and sprinkling a nice looking car. The owner was there. They opened all the doors and the hood of the car.

We drove onto a gas station. All 14 of had to use the restroom. There was only one big restroom. They did however have a normal size toilet and a kid size toilet. Someone asked if anyone used the kid size toilet. Karen jokingly said "didn't everyone?"

We had a 6pm reservation at Martenelis for dinner. (Yes, I went there two days in a row with two different groups.) at 6:05 after some construction delays Zane told us we would be taking a dirt road.

We had a good dinner at Marteneli's. We had French fries and mashed potatoes as sides this time. Each time we have gone here we have done things slightly differently.

As we were going to dinner we saw a concert going on. All of the Christians in the community wanted to celebrate the festival together. It seems like different denominations do more together here. Someone said maybe its because there aren't as many Christians here. Maija was a clown. Janis played. I saw many people I knew. I was hoping to find Elizabeth and Richard.

We were looking for something to do. Brent, Bryan, Keith, Diana, Kelsey and I went looking for hedgehogs. We didn't find any. We thought the rain scared them off. By the way it was freezing and sprinkling while we do this. Bryan found one a ways off. He ran to get it. We brought it inside. Bryan face timed Tucker to show him.  We all took turns holding it. Then, we brought it upstairs where some of the ladies were sleeping. Karen letter it in her bed. Then, we brought it into Mike Cummins. We laid it down near his back. Shortly later he rolled over and saw it. It was funny. Bryan said it was the perfect position for it to be in. Then, we brought it into the boys room. Caleb was surprised. Brent said we should release it into Inguna's office. We ended up putting it back outside. It's been an eventful day. 

VBS Day 4

This morning in our big group time I hung out a lot with Elizabeth and Dita. 

When we were in Riga Artus, a great photographer told me there was something on my camera and when we got back he would help me get it off. Today he brought a lot of cleaning equipment and he cleaned my camera with a lot of care. He said he put one of my pictures on his computer into a program and saw what was wrong with my picture. He said there was dust in it. It was so kind of him to clean it. He has a Nikon. So does Robin. They were making fun of my Canon. Artus said his phone takes better pictures than my Canon. It was all in fun.   We compared cameras. Looks like my camera doesn't have some of these newer features since it is so old. Artus told me all the buttons on his camera are in English. He said he knows camera words in English better than Latvian. Artus also said he never shoots outside on ISO 100. He said 200 is best for lighting. He is going to be a junior in high school and has already shot one wedding. He made an incredible video. He said it was his first video. I would be lucky if I could ever make a video that well. 

Elina usually has one or two Bibles with her. Today, she showed me her children's Bible. She knew each story. 

Alexanders does such a good job with his kids. At orphan camp everyone kept talking about how well he did. Today, his kids came to scripture memory. One of the leaders left the room. He thought it was a kid and quickly followed. He came back and counted all his children. He is only going to be a junior here at TKS. 

Michael, the main leader for VBS injured his back. He was in bed all day yesterday and this morning. Baiba is a Latvian youth that was translating but is doing most of the leading now for our scripture memory. She is doing so great. 

Yesterday Maija and Elizabeth and I wanted to go paddle boating but it didn't work out. Baiba helped me call. She is always so sweet to translate for me. We had to wait a bit for the lady to come to unlock the boat. While we were waiting we had a strawberry cocktail which is the same as a shake. It reminds me of the strawberry shakes my dad makes me. Elizabeth and I shared some fries. Maija was so sweet to treat us to that. We had fun riding on the paddle boat for 30 minutes. While we were on the boat we saw something that looked similar to a duck but it swam under water. We saw someone dressed nicely walking. I asked if that was Janis U. we yelled his name. No response. Maija called him, he answered, and started waving to us. It was him! He was walking to the concert where he is performing. 

We went to Martenelis tonight for dinner. We pre ordered because Inguna said they cook very fresh. She said it is so fresh it is like kill the pig right after you order so we ordered ahead. 
Janis G. took a math placement test for A&M. Rhonda and someone else helped him study. At dinner Janis announced at dinner he got into the best math class's at A&M. He gave some chocolate to the people that helped him study. 

VBS Day 1

We got up and had a meeting at 9. We had a light breakfast on our own here. We mostly had some left over strawberries and crackers from yesterday. 

This morning I went to the well to get some water. It was nice and clean and cold. 

I saw two boys trying to get into the locked school doors. I talked to them. They were 10 and went to school at TKS. They had great English. The thought VBS started at 9 like it usually does. Today it starts at 2. I played with them in the gym for a bit. I taught them how to play American football. They were pretty good at it. 

We got things ready for our first day. I printed a revised schedule since today is different. 

When Iguna would tell Elina to do something in Latvian she would respond in English. We all laughed. 

We got aquatinted with our Latvian team. 

We tried to get lunch but most places were closed because everyone was celebrating Mid Summer. Inguna drove some folks to the store and they brought back sandwich meat for us. We also got abimal crackers and dipped it in something like Nutella it was half chocolate and half vanilla. It was SO good!
At lunch Cullen and Brian were telling us a funny story about a guy snoring last night. 

When the kids were gathering around to start I saw a girl sitting by herself. I talked to her for a bit. We didn't talk much because I didn't think her English was to good. She told me her name. She also said I was nice. I didn't say much our whole conversation but she will thought so. It was so sweet!
VBS got started with singing Jesus is Lord and raising the Christian flag. 
We did introductions in the gym and had a time of worship through song. 

This weeks focus is that Jesus is our Savior like life guards save people. We have lots of water analogies. 

I am working with Michael, Babila, Marcia, and Elina doing scriptures memory. We did a small project today do I helped pass that out and get them set up. 

Yesterday Zeneta told me a 7 year old little boy from an orphanage died this weekend in a lake. She said he had a 4 year old sister and she probably doesn't understand. She has such a heart for these sweet kids. 

We had dinner with the kids, played some activities, and lowered the flag. 

We had a group meeting and everything went well today. Rhonda was very prepared. She brought so many great things for the kids to do for activities. She did so much prep work. She also wrote a very Biblical based curriculum. It was a good day. 

Day Off

This morning I tried the strawberries and condensed milk. It was great. We also brought Nutella for the crepes. That was good. Some people put tomatoes and cuecumbers inside the crepe and ate it like a breakfast burrito. Others put strawberries inside. 

Today is Inguna's name day. Many people brought her flowers. We sang happy birthday but put happy name day instead in the lyrics. 

Since all day at Sigulda Janis U. was making alien jokes Sabine helped me print out a picture of an alien and we wrote ancestor of the aliens on there. He has a picture up in the school. We placed the alien picture with his picture. 

Maija is a very nice lady I meet one of the first days here.

First, we went to see Kings Kids. Her son Matthew is in the group. They are a dance group that dances to Christian songs to share the gospel. They had it at a new store that just opened. While we were there I meet Edgars sister again and another young girl. They both do a lot with YWAM. The other girl is studying in Texas. They were very sweet. 

Then, we went to a town called Roja. There we saw a sand dune. Maija said it was very unusual for Latvia. It was neat to see. 

We stopped to see one view of the sea. 

We drove on to her in laws house in Kolkasras. We then went to the beach. It was walking distance from their house. 
We ate and chatted on the beach. 
Kolkasras is a special town because the gulf of Latvia meets the Baltic Sea. You can see the two waves going into each other. There is a light house there way far out. Boats have to go on the further side of the light house so they don't get to close to the sand. She was telling me how much ofa great industry the sea is here. Her husband is a seaman and so is her sisters husband. I meet someone from New York in Riga that came to Latvia to work on the sea. They also cut down a lot of wood and replace it by planting new trees. We saw a monument with flowers dedicated to all those who have died at sea. There were also two trees together in the middle of the beach. Maija said you're supposed to look through them to watch the sunset. There were some trees that had died left on one side of the beach. They belong to Latvia and have to stay there. She told me a lot about soviet times and how you couldn't go to the beach without a passport because they were afraid you would take a boat and head to Sweeden. 

Then, we went to Dogulda where Maija grew up. It is called Dogulda because someone mispronounced it and thought it was referring to a bell.  
There is a pretty castle there. It was under construction now. She said the castle was built by Germans. 

When I came back I asked Janis U. if he saw the picture. He said yes and thanked me for it. I was surprised he liked it so much. 

Marcia and I went to Maija and Elizabeth's for dinner tonight. Elizabeth came to the school to walk us to their flat. 

They have a very nice flat. Elizabeth and I helped Maija make whipped cream. We had the best cheese soup for dinner tonight. It was by far the best soup I have had here.  For dessert she puréed strawberries. We put the strawberries on the bottom of the bowl. Then, we put whipped cream on top. She also made another batch with whipped cream but added cottage cheese. I liked that. The cottage cheese added a good texture. She also was boiling strawberries. It foamed on top. Maija put the foam in a separate bowl. I tried some. It was very sweet. After the strawberries weren't getting any more foam she put them in a jar and then in the refrigerator.

Elizabeth wanted to go swimming. It was raining for a bit but then stopped. We went to the Villas. It was a very nice area. That is the best place to swim near Talsi. It was just outside the city. Sylvia, one of the Latvian youth workers lives there. We got to see her. She also had a trampoline we could jump on. All around it was a good day. 

VBS Day 3

This morning Martha told us a story about how she and some others went to the beach last night. Someone saw their VBS shirts about the Savior that Saves and asked them about their shirts. They explained. The people said they hitch hiked to the beach from Riga, which is about a 2 hour and 30 minute drive. They said they were in Talsi and didn't have a place to stay. Baiba let them stay at her house. So cool! 

Today we had another good breakfast. It is fun being here with different teams and learning new things. This morning Michael put condensed milk on his strawberries. I will have to try that tomorrow. They use condensed milk in their coffee instead of creams and sugar because condensed milk has both. I wish I drank coffee so I could try it. 

In our scripture memory time we had some extra time so Michael taught the kids to play duck duck goose. They have never played. Evita told me they play a similar game but 2 kids run in opposite directions and try to get into the seat first. 

One of the little boys I taught how to play football yesterday remembered me and came up to me this morning. That was sweet. 

We have lots of great games to help the kids memorize the verses. The games and verses corresponded with the Bible lessons. Everything corresponded with our theme of Jesus the Savior that saves. 

Elina has such a heart for The Lord. She always has her Bible with her. She was telling me how much she wants her cousin Kate to come to know The Lord. 

I usually help the cooks bring out the food. Some of them I think we're surprised to see me again here this week. 

At lunch I sat next to Alexander. During the prayer I took his dessert and put it by another girl. The girls thought it was so funny! I'm amazed how much you can communicate by sign language. I wish I could understand what people were saying. I think I would get to know them better. 

One girl could speak English well and she would interpret for other girls. One girl told me I am very pretty. Dita, a girl that is usually by herself I hung out with a lot today. She said I am cool. It was so sweet. The girls watched me during worship through song to see if I was dancing and doing the hand movements. They were surprised I was. 

Magdalena is so kind. She took me to the Talsi cheese factory. They make cheese, milk, and a few other things there. They have a little store where they sell things. I bought some milk and a Napoleon. 
Then, Magdalena and I went to see the Lutheran church. It is the oldest church in Talsi. 
Then, she took me to the watch tower. It is no longer open. The stairs are gone too. 
Then, we hung up a poster for the Keith Cooper concert. 

We waited a long time for our 10 pizzas to come. While we were waiting we tried to make people laugh by saying bubbles. It was fun to watch. 
Some of the youth helpers joined us for pizza. 


This morning I got a later start. Got a good breakfast at the Raddison. Then, I walked around Old Town. It is always nice to walk around the water. People were getting set up for Mid Summer. Mid Summer which is the biggest festival of the year. It was fun to see lots of bands and activities getting ready for the celebration that will last until morning. There were also many tourist walking around. I would say 9 out of 10 people I saw were tourist. Every person has a name day where you celebrate there name. Today is Janis name day. Janis is the most popular male name in Latvia. 

Then, Marcia and I went to St. Matthews Baptist Church. We took a taxi because it was a little ways away. Marcia and I meet James and Tanner there. They go to the Lovejoys church. Tanner is moving here for 3 years in August. They are working on getting things set up for Tanner.   After the service we talked to the pastors.  They had great english. We found out this church is over 100 years old. The pastor said that in Latvia it seems you have to be a strong Christian or not a Christian at all. He was telling us about someone he missed but said he doesn't miss him to much because he knows he will see him in heaven. I heard Janis say that when he said goodbye to someone. Love that eternal perspective.  There is no in between or any like warm Christians.  We asked where they recommend we go for lunch. He said there is a place called Chili that has pizza but it isn't that good. He named another place and said Lulu's has the best pizza. Juanis told us that yesterday too. We decided to go to Lulu's. He told us how to get there. The pastor said LuLu is the Gospel and Chili is the law. 

We took a tram to Old Town. We then walked to LuLu. It was closed! We went to a good Latvian place. It looked like La Madeline on the inside. I got pork with cheese and vegetables. Nice presentation. It looked like it was in a flower pot. 

Marcia and I went to the airport I meet the new VBS team. Sabine, Babila, and Janis U. Joined us there. 

We drove back to Talsi. After getting settled in we had an amazing shish kabob dinner. So, so good! It's so good Inguna was offered 30,000 for the recipe and she didn't take it. 

I went on a walk with Brian, Janis G., and Jessica. We saw both ponds and some cool plants. 

After coming back we had a VBS team meeting. 

Saturday in Riga

We had a good breakfast this morning at the hotel.

Janias U. took us to the bus. From the bus we went to the train station to go to Segulda. It was just me, Janias U., Tony, and Jaqui. On the 30 minute bus ride we talked about how there are about 9 churches from our group represented. We have blended so so well. Everyone is so kind. We have blended almost better than people from the same church. On the train everyone had big backpacking backpacks. I don't know why. 

We went to Sigulda. We walked around the town. It was very pretty. We went into a tower with a museum in it. Parts of it were modern. Then, we went to a sky tram and got to go over these beautiful trees. We saw a pretty house. Later, we went to a castle. It wss being renovated. The part that had been renovated was like a big tree house. There was a very modern elevator inside. It was nice we didn't have to climb more stairs but it was nice to not to have to climb more stairs. We got the best pizza I have had here. It was great.  We were glad we had a small group and it was fun to go together. Janis was a great your guide. He had never been before so didn't know much about the area. Anytime we would ask him something and he didn't know he said the town was taken over by aliens and made up a story about aliens. 

We took the hour train ride back to Riga. I got a little nap on the train. We were talking really loud and realized we were loud Americans. Everyone could hear what we were saying. The train worker got our tickets. He thought Janis was an American. We all thought that was funny. 

Then, we walked around Old Town in Riga. It was super fun. We got some good souvenirs. 

All day Janis had been talking about this restaurant called Street Burger. I didn't know how good it would be. It was a little off the beaten path. It was very good. One of the only places with free refills. 

We wanted to see the rest of our group before they head out tomorrow. We finally saw them. We split up again. Some went to the hotel, others went to one shop, and some of us to another shop. James and I lost Callie, Janis, and Tanner. We finally found them. 

On the walk back to the hotel we meet a man that greeted is in English. I asked him where they are from. He was born in Riga. Had lived in the States many years and is now back in Riga. The man said the strawberries here are so good because of all the sunlight. 

A group of us went to the rooftop view and watched the sunset while having great cake and celebrating Callie's birthday. 
Such a fun day with a great group of people. 
New week. New camp. New team. New kids. New pranks? 

Friday in Riga

We got up and got a breakfast similar to Sundays. Good cheese crackers, strawberries and other good things. At camp before we ate we would sing a song. Bruce said lets sing before eating today. Chris started singing 'Bless the Lord' everyone joined. It was nice. 

Then, Janet and I went to the store to get some tissues before heading to Riga. 

Many Latvian leaders stayed at the school and saw us off. Many tears. It was sad for many. We took a group picture and prayed. 

Then, we headed to a castle on the way to Riga. Only 10 of us went in. We got a tour. It was a very nice old campus. It was built for the mayor of Riga as a vacation home. I think it was during the war that the castle got invaded and destroyed. It was later rebuilt. We went up many steep stairs. 5 stories total. There was a small room up there they kept water when the castle was being used. Today, we got a view. 
I got a quick ice cream snack there before hitting the road again. 

We got to Riga after some traffic. Checked into the hotel. We walked an odd and busy route to the train station. 

We went to Jerumla and got lunch at 4:30. We were all getting hungry and grumpy. We walked through a scenic route through some neighborhoods. Then we walked on the beach in the water for about a mile. The water was not deep. The water was calm, and very clear. Then, we went shopping. I found a few good things. 

We took the train back to Riga. It is about a 45 minute ride. Our group was talking to each other to figure out if this was the right stop for Riga. Everyone in the back yelled out no, this is not Riga. We thought it was funny. 

We got a taxi and went to Lido for dinner. I have been wanting to go there for 5 years. It was great! They were decorated special for the Latvian Song and Dance Festival. 

I went to the lobby of the hotel and saw fireworks by the river. Many people were holding balloons. When the fireworks were finished they released the balloons. That was all for a wedding celebration. How fun! Why don't we do that in the States?!

Day 5 of Orphan Camp

Praise The Lord, today I am feeling much better. 
Kids packed up their things this morning. 
I did some video interviews today. 
Kids got people to sign their shirts that they made during crafts. 
We had lunch and Iguna called the American men up. They gave flowers and a bag with goodies to the cooks and workers. When they called the American men up I got up to take a picture. Everyone saw me get up and they said "men" making sure I knew. I thought it was funny. 
Chris sang a song to Janet from Janet's angel. He sang a song from her wedding since her 40th wedding anniversary is coming up. It was sweet. 
We went to church and sang a song. A nice girl shared her testimony. It is amazing how much God is going at Talsi Christian School. This girls mom put her at TKS even though her family wasn't saved. At TKS there she learned a lot about The Lord and became saved. 
There was a group of about 3 students and 3 teachers who had been studying all week for a big physics test. Today was the test. After the test this young man came to church to be with us. I thought that was great that is where he wanted to be after a test instead of getting icecream, celebrating with someone, ect. 
I heard someone say in Latvia that they lack resources. They don't have as many Christian resources as we do in the Dates. I was talking to Edgar about this last night.  They have a Bible and the Holy Spirit and that is all they need. They don't seem to be lacking. 

I went to church early to make sure Janis brought my camera. I tried all the doors. Then, I knocked on a window and Janis opened the door for me.  Janis didn't bring  my camera. It was locked in the gym. He told me where the key was but I wouldn't be able to read the writing to know which key is which. I saw Evita and she said she would help. We ran back to the school. It wasn't far but we ran. Half way there she told me she has to be at the church to sing. She just opened the door for me then ran back. 

35 kids came forward and said they wanted to surrender their lives to Christ. Praise The Lord!

We went back to school and did group pictures. 
There is a photographer here in Talsi that has been at camp some. He brought his flash. Janis took the pictures. It was cool to see everyone work together as the body of Christ to accomplish this goal. 

The kids left and we said out good byes. It was sad to see them leave. 

We then cleaned the school. It wasn't to bad. I finally found something to blow up balls with. Most balls were flat. Janis was going to help me blow them up but when school starts they will be flat again so we didn't bother. It would have taken a very long time to blow up all the balls. 

We meet all together as leaders. There were 46 American and Latvian leaders. First, we prayed. Then, we went around and told what the highlight of our week was. Later, we revealed our secret angels. Then, we passed out gifts for Latvians and Americans. Finally, we had pizza for dinner and visited. 

Many people talked about how amazing all the Latvian leaders were. They truly were. There were two young men with the youngest age. I think 5-7. They were amazing with those boys. 

People shared stories about kids hearts being hard at the beginning but they softened up. It was near to hear stories of American leaders seeing kids open up and change more through the years. 

It was amazing to hear stories from the Latvian leaders that went to Talsi Christian School and came to know The Lord. Now they can help the kids at the camp. It is so amazing to see The Lord work and Igunas obedience. The school started over a tragedy with her daughter and now there has been so many great things come from it. 

It was great to see the body of Christ work together to accomplish this camp. 

Iguna has been doing camps for 18 years. She said that is enough time to raise a new generation. It will be near to see what The Lord does with camp over the years. 

It took a while to do the revealing of the secret angels. Each person was given a name. You would give gifts to them thought the week to bless them. Tonight, each person guessed who their secret angel was.  Not many people guessed the right person. Everyone seemed to think Lesa was there secret angel. Iguna said her secret angel was lazy and didn't seem to care that she was the principle. That was funny. We finally found out everyone's secret angel. 

The Americans all got some nice chocolates with a wrapping of a picture of Talsi Christian School. 

At dinner I meet a guy, the one that took the physics test that works at the bee farm! He said I can come visit next week. Should be great! 

I had been wanting to go on a walk for a while since I haven't been on one lately. After our festivities faded I asked Jacquie if she wanted to go with me. She likes to walk to so we went.  We went to the lake I have been wanting to go to, walked through a neighborhood.
We talked about what people do here for a living. I have meet two carpenters and a guy that works at a bee hive. I don't know anyone with those occupations in the states. I think it may be because they live in the country. I bet things are different in Riga since many people go to school there. 
There is also a fairly large hotel in Talsi. It is near the government buildings. Jacque and I thought maybe they have lots of meetings in Talsi or maybe anyone in any near by area stays at that hotel. 

We then went to Talsi Baptist where Chris, Janis, Tony, and this other guy were doing a recording. They want to record some of Janis ' songs to see if they can get into schools or public areas. It is harder to do in Latvia. Janis is good at playing the guitar and writing. He has a big passion for it. He is going to school to be an event coordinator and for music. I still can't believe he sold his guitar. Praise The Lord he was obedient to The Lords calling. They finished one song and Chris said anymore? Janis said I have 30 more songs. Jacque said we need to get Janis to the states to record. She said we brought the states to him.  
I left earlier than everyone else. I went through the door we came in. It was locked. I saw two Latvians. Got their attention. I waked to the door and pointed. He tried and couldn't open it. Then one guy said in English what is it you want. Note: ask in English first. If they don't know point. 
Grace and peace,
In His glory,
Chelsea Recine 

Day 4 of Orphan Camp

Went to bed not feeling well and woke up not feeling well. I think it is from all of the walking in the grass yesterday. 
I got breakfast then went back to bed. 
I sit by Lesa, Chris' wife at all meals. She is sweet. It is nice to sit by an American. It is also nice because she has been here many times so she knows a lot. 
Chris made me some tea with ginger and honey. It was very kind of him and it seemed to help. 
Magdeba took me to the store to get some medicine. She translated everything for me and helped me carry lots of drinks back. She is so sweet and has such a servants heart. 
We went to Talsi Baptist church to teach the kids what church is like and how to behave. Some kids had never been to church. 
Yanis did sound. He is great at it and serves so well in that way. Such a small part of the service but makes a great difference. 
The Gospel is the same for people thought all generations and all countries. Jesus died once and for all. All people everywhere. That is huge! I am thankful. 
Inguna shared her testimony. Teachers at school taught students there is no God. She got married had two daughters. Her second daughter had a tumor in her brain. She prayed that her surgery would go well and she would praise God. The surgery went well.  Inguna went to church. Some missionaries came and told her about God. She became a Christian. She gave up her life to The Lord. God told her to start a Christian school to tell people about God. Although her daughter, Elina still struggles with seizures many good things have come from this bad circumstance. 
Janis led us in a time of worship. I saw many girls crying. We are ready to reap a harvest tomorrow. 
I saw Richard, the little boy I played football with yesterday. He wanted to play again but we had to leave. 
Bruce and Tony prayed over me and my sickness. 
Chris helped me get set up with my water. 
Later, Evita gave me a hug and checked on me. 
Iguna drove me and Marcia to this place where all the kids played. It was a blessing to find such a nice place. 
I had some good conversations with Americans while the kids were playing since I wasn't up to playing. 
Then, we went to this beautiful open area with lots of trees and a pond. The pond wasn't very clean but some people went in to go swimming. We had sausages, chips, and a banana for dinner. We made the sausage over a camp fire. 
Edgar told me he wants to start an orphanage. He would be good at that since he is so good with kids. I want to come back and see his orphanage someday. 
Later we had s'mores and played. It was lots of fun! 
I hadn't done anything like this since the 8th grade when I went camping. 
Praise The Lord I was feeling pretty well. 
I was sitting by myself on this pretty hill looking at all the kids playing. Soon, Barbie came and joined me. She is a lady from OK. She is good at noticing others by themselves. Soon Chris and Bruce and a child came and we had fun making jokes. 
It was very sad to leave this beautiful place. 

Day 3 of Orphan Camp

We did morning exercises outside since it wasn't raining. We did some yoga, stretches, and ran around the building. 

Today we had oatmeal with apple butter for breakfast. We also had wonderful tea like yesterday. 
Many people are getting people to sing songs to their secret Barnabus. 
We sang songs. I tried to get the girls involved in the motions. 
Janis, the sound guy is going to be taking pictures today to help my back. It will be good to have someone else shooting to get a different view of camp. 
It seems like being a carpenter is a common occupation here. I have meet two. Magdalena's dad, who picked us up from the airport, and Edgars. Edgar used to work with his dad. Now, his dad is a pastor. Edgar builds custom furniture. He said it is kind of boring doing the same thing over and over. 
Edgar and I were talking last night about the American dream to get a good job, house, plan a tree, have a white Labrador, and 2 Chevrolets. He said his dream is to die for his faith. That should be the American dream. 
I know understand Inguna job better. She is a great woman, mother,and  principle. Very godly lady. I am thankful for everything she is doing. 
We all split up for our morning activity. Some girls got their hair done, others made kites, others did face paint. 
I saw my new friend Evita walking into town with some girls so I came with them. Didn't know where we were going. I sound out we were going to a pottery shop. It was very neat to see. I'm so glad I went with them! We got a tour and Magdalena translated for the 3 Americans. We saw a potter painting the finished piece of pottery.  Then we saw him get a piece of clay and fold it like kneading a piece of bread. Then, he spinned the clay on his potters wheel. The clay would go up and down in heights. It reminded me how we are clay in our potter - Gods hands. Then, a car came in and joined us. 
We all got to have some clay and make something. Mary Ann, a girl from Oklahoma and I found some things we want to get. I saw a mug that says Talsi. In got that one. We went to another pottery shop that was cool to see. 
We had some great chicken noodle soup for lunch.
This afternoon I meet some new friends. I got to play American football with one of the clowns little boys while she was me getting ready. He knew how to play. He was good. We had to put the ball up because he threw so good and we didn't want to break anything. I'm pretty good at teaching little ones how to play football. Maybe I need to go into coaching. 
When Bruce was playing with a little girl named Daniella I went over to play frisbee with them. She is so sweet. I have been hanging out with Daniella a lot today. 
We have pastries for snacks. But they aren't good. They are more of like a breakfast food then a snack. They aren't sweet.
I played basketball with two little girls. One was good. The other was not. We still had fun. 
Some Christian clowns came. They were good. You didn't have to know Latvian to understand which was good. 
I think some little kids still don't know I don't speak Latvian. Sometimes they will come up and try to talk to me. 
I saw the clowns son again. I asked him if he wanted to play American football again. We continued to play. He was very good. I was cheering him on loudly saying good, great catch. He said shhh. You're being too loud. Humans are going to think your crazy. Then, he didn't catch the ball and he said now I'm the crazy human.
He is 9 and speaks very good English. He learned from watching cartoons, he said. He is also very protective of his two younger sisters. 
He was getting good and wanted to play a real game. We played just the two of us. It wasn't to fun. We found other 6 people to play. 4 Latvians and Chris and I. It was fun to teach people that has never played. 
I told Edgar's he did a good job with the kids. He was worried he is playing with the younger kids more than his older kids. That reminded me of Philippians 1:9-11 where Paul prays he could be everything to everyone. I think that is a good prayer especially these next few weeks as there is much to do. Praying I would be used as God wants.  Then, I questioned how you can be everything to everyone when not everyone will like everything you do. Edgar said which was a great point we just not worry about what others think but only The Lord. 
Then, we waked the 9 hills of Talsi. That's right up and down 9 steep hills. It was tiring. I talked to all three Janis so that was good. Janis, the sound guy is going to culinary school. He got interested in cooking because his mom doesn't cook just his dad. When his dad was gone he would cook. Here it culinary school is a 4 year program.  
Later, we talked about how he got interested in sound and lighting. He said one day he someone just showed him how things worked. He started doing more and more. Then he learned lighting. Some American said this is your gifting. The American offered to give him money to buy his own lights but couldn't help him pay for it for a while. Later, many Latvians gave him money for a sound system and now he has one. 
I talked to Daniella a very sweet 11 year old. She said Jesus love me. We started talking about what she knows about The Lord. I told her about the way God showed the extent of His love by sending Jesus to die for us. She had never heard of that. I asked her what she knew about Jesus. She said things we all learned this week. We held hands for most of the 2.5 hour walk. 
Bruce reminds me a lot of dr. Adams. I asked him if he does any chiropractic work and he said he does. He said he can adjust his wives back the best. 
I talked to Janis, the worship leader, about different issues in Latvia. We talked about how they want to get gay marriages here. We talked about issues with abortions. 
He told me they have 20 political parties as opposed to our 2: republican and democrat. He also said they vote only about every 4 years. There are 6 or 7 places to vote in Talsi. If you're a college student going to school in Riga you can't vote their. 
He also talked about how some Russians call the Latvian language the language of dogs. They wanted to make Russian the second official language of Latvia but that didn't pass. 
We closed the day with lowering the flag. Now, bed time. 

Orphan Camp Day 2

Well folks, seems like I'm always the last one up. I don't know why. I got ready in plenty of time. 

It was raining again this morning so we couldn't go out for flag like raising. 

We had morning exercises in the gym. 

Then, we had cereal with no sugar, cucumber, tomatoes, and bread. We had some good tea for breakfast. 

Then we had worship through songs. They sang some songs I knew. One I didn't. The one I didn't know has some fun hand motions. The worship team was great!

We had an incredible skit with great costumes, sound effects, and fire. 
However, the smoke had no place to go in the gym. The fire alarms went off.  One girl ran upstairs in the gym to open the windows.  The water went off in the hall way. 
We couldn't do the rest of our Bible time in the gym so we moved outside. 

For bible time the kids are split up into two groups of older and younger kids.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell y'all. I am doing photography, refilling this bucket with lemonade and helping Iguna with anything she needs help with. 
When Bruce was doing his Bible story he asked if the kids wanted to hear the rest of the story. One of the kids said no. I thought that was funny. 

Oh yeah, this is a mountain theme week. So each group has a mountain theme name. The Bible stores are based off of mountain stories. 

Later, we did crafts. During the craft time I found out that the two Janis' the worship leader, and the sound board guy drew on Deanna's back. - girl from the states. I was waiting for an opportunity to do a prank and this was the perfect time. 
So, the worship leader had a cheap guitar but he loves to play the guitar. Someone told him he felt like God would bless him if he gave up his guitar. He did. Later he got a $2600 guitar. 
Our plan is to take his guitar and put it in a safe place and send him on a scavenger hunt to find it. Genius. Read on. Story continues. 

After crafts I was surprised to find out in a few minutes we would be going to a museum. I had to change because what I was wearing wasn't warm enough. The younger kids were going to a dog place but I went to the museum. 
It was about a 20 minute walk to the museum. 
We had a tour but I couldn't understand anything that anyone was saying and couldn't read any of the signs. 
I asked some of my Latvian friends what the significance of the museum was and what they liked. I found out each area has a museum. Most kids had been to that museum. The museum used to be a house that a rich guy lived in. It was then turned into a high school then a museum. I saw some traditional Latvian gloves that I hope to get at the market on Saturday. There were old pictures of Talsi. The town used to be under German decent then was Russian. 

I meet two nice people Edguar and Evita. They are cousins and are helping at the camp this week. Edwards went to a Bible college and is now a carpenter. Evita just graduated from TKS and is going to school in Riga for music. 
I walked back with them. We passed a very nice Catholic Church. We went inside for a minute. We went the back way and they showed me the tallest place in town. There was a nice view of the lake. There were also paddle boats you could use with a slide. Edguar said the water is very dirty so you wouldn't want to get in. 
Evita took me into two shops to show me some jewlery and cool things in town. 
We were afraid we would be late for lunch. If you're late you get embarrassed. So we came up with a plan that we would sneak through the kitchen and pretend like we were helping in there. We also knew if we came in after we prayed it wouldn't be so obvious we were late. After getting back to the school we knocked on the kitchen door and weren't late. We were so glad!

We had soup for lunch and a good rice for dessert. No drinks with soup. 

Then, another skit. The skits are FABULOUS! Then Bible time. 

We then had free time and I hadn't gotten anything for my secret Barnabus so magdalen a super sweet girl took me to the store. It was nice to walk in the town since it was so nice outside. Magdalena picked me and Marcia up from the airport. She is so sweet...always giving me hugs. We got some good things for my secret angel. 

Then we came back. We were worried we would be late again and didn't want to have a punishment. Thankfully we didn't. and we had a drama and testimonies. 

Later we had crafts and snack. Before snacks we had to get Janis's guitar. Thankfully we had time to. Edgar helped us. 

Then sports time. During sports I attempted to take pictures of all the kids. It will go home with them on Thursday. Janis, the worship leader helped me communicate with all the kids in getting their pictures. Marta also helped me later when Janis left. 

Let me tell you the team here is AMAZING! The Latvians and Americans great! They love and serve these kids so well. 

Tonight we are watching a movie. 

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Janis didn't notice his guitar was missing for a while. We finally hinted at it. He found it. All is well. 

Day 2 - Start of Orphan Camp

We had a good breakfast this morning. They warned me I couldn't be late. I was the last one down there but wasn't late. 
For breakfast we had some good melted cheese on bread and creeps with strawberries. The creeps were my favorite. They are better than crepes in the states but different then French creeps. There was also a good fruit drink.

We had some time to chat and hang out before church. I was afraid I would fall asleep. Janis did some magic tricks which were fun to see.

We walked to church while it wasn't raining which was good because it was raining most of the morning. So glad we didn't have to walk in the rain but we did have to avoid puddles. It was very cold walking to church.

At church Chris, Tony, and the Latvian choir sang a few songs together. The words were in English and in Latvian. They even sang part of the song in all English. Almost everything was translated for us which was helpful. For one song the Latvian choir sang. I loved hearing them sing.
The kids came up. We prayed for them. Then they left.
The church reminds me of the French church.
After songs no one ever claps which I think is kind of odd. I was always tempted to clap but no one did.

I went to lunch with Bruce, the pastor and some people with his church. We were going to get a sandwich but that place was closed.
We walked into another store to see what they had and to get me to come in when I seemed hesitant the last said knock knock.
We went to a pizza place. I went there on the last trip and was glad we could go back. I just got cheese pizza. It was good but thin crust.

At lunch we were informed of the chance of lice from kids at the orphanage. Parents, don't be worried. No one in the past has gotten lice. There is a special kind of shampoo we can use to prevent. Inguna will take any kids to treat their lice if they have it.
We went to two stores to try to get a special kind of shampoo but couldn't find it and didn't know how t say lice in Latvian. We have some shampoo at the school so hopefully that will be ok.

After the store we had our orphan camp meeting. Latvians mostly from church helped set up beds for all the kids.
We did introductions first. There were 35 people Americans and Latvians that will be helping.

Everyone is very nice and eager to include everyone which I am thankful for.

We always will out candy on kids pillows if they make up there bed. To start camp we put push pops on everyone's pillows.

Kids began to come. I LOVED playing ball with the kids.
I would try hard to include everyone.
I played American football with a little 6 year old boy. I don't think he had ever played. He didn't really know how to throw it.
When I played with other kids they had such a big smile on their faces. I don't think many people played with them.

The Latvian helpers here are GREAT! So eager to help everyone!

Next, we meet in the gym and introduced groups to everyone.

My pro beach volleyball friend from the plane yesterday told me I can say chow for hello or good bye. That was good to know. I have been using chow a lot. It is easy to say and I can use it for more than one word.

There is at least one girl with something on her head. I think that is because she has lice.

Sometimes I want to speak the little French or Spanish I know. I think any language will work but I need to focus on Latvian.

We make the kids wash their hands before dinner. Lesa and Bo make sure the kids do by wearing silly costumes.

Inguna told the kids how to pray because not everyone knows.

When we are done eating each table says thank you very loud.

One little boy is sad and is crying a lot.
Found out later he is going home because he is homesick.

Then, we had rule time and did a name game. One little boy didn't want to do the game so Iguna instructed me to sit with him. He got bored and got into someone else's bubbles. I got him a football. He didn't know how to throw it. I taught him how to throw it. Once he got good I taught him how to step into it. He did well and enjoyed it. Once we got bored we played soccer.

Later we did crafts and made name tags. I had some good conversations with some Latvian girls.

Later we lowered the flags. Iguna told what the Christian flag stands for. A different child gets to do it each night. Tonight a little boy who had been going to camp for many years lowered the flag.

I have been somewhat forced to use my big camera since my iPhone just isn't doing the trick. Please pray I would keep my shoulder back and my back wouldn't hurt.

Please pray for my relationships with the Latvians as they will be translating all week this week, working VBS with us next week, and attending youth camp.

Thank you!

Traveling to Latvia

Day 1 
In line for security I meet some nice folks. They were speaking another language so I asked them where they were from. She said they were from Chile but have been living in Texas for a while. They are going on a 5 week trip to Europe. Two cruises. She said the cruise was only about $900 for 6 days, a place to stay, and all your meals. She considered it practically free and considered it her duty to go. They were also going to Riga for a bit.

There was a Ben and Jerry's I have been to before when going to Ethiopia. I didn't get anything but was tempted to.

Standing in line to board the plane I meet a senior finance major at the University of Arkansas. He was going to Barcelona to finish his Spanish minor and was backpacking with a friend.
The man next to him in line heard us talking and heard I was going to Latvia and he said he was going to Latvia too! He was going on a business trip to Russia. His wife was meeting him there and they would take a bus to Riga.
I am always glad to hear when people go to Latvia since not a ton of people do.

Before boarding the man that checked me in looked at my red suitcase and said coming home it needs to be smaller. I don't know why if it fit.

On the plane I say next to a nice British lady. She was in Texas for the last month. Her daughter lives in Texas. Her son in laws work brought her daughter and grandsons to Texas.
She was very nice. I loved her accent and the way she said things.
I asked her if she wanted to play cards but she couldn't because of her bad sight. She appreciated my asking.
It was faster for her to travel from Dallas to Amsterdam then to London from where she lived in England.

I slept for some of the flight. I took one melatonin. 4 hours later took another one. It helped some.

I meet Marcia Smith at the airport. She is very sweet. She reminds me a lot of Grandma because of her northern accent, hair cut, and nail polish color.

We found a Starbucks and I ordered a grande cool lime refresher. The barista replied, "I'm sorry." They didn't have it. They didn't have much of what we have in the states. I found another good drink to get.
Since I didn't have any euros and wasn't going to get any since we won't be here long Marcia gave me some of hers. I will find a way to pay her back.
They have frappucino hour every day for an hour. As opposed to the states that have it for a few hours for a week.

When Marcia and I were sitting down having our Starbucks a lady came over and commented on my A&M shirt. She had children that went to A&M and Baylor. She was from North Arlington. She was going to Tanzania to help start a pro life center there. She said it was very needed in Tanzania. She left then came back on her way out of Starbucks and gave Marcia and I the two brackets she was wearing. They are bracelets about the gospel. It was very kind and unexpected.

I bought a nice mug in Amsterdam and a magnet. They have lots of tulips you can buy because I think that is what they are known for.

I asked Marcia if we have time to look in another shop. She said no and they don't have anything in there you need. I agreed. She will keep me on my toes.

It is neat to see new fashions, food, and languages here.

I had to check my bag in at Amsterdam. Since it was a different airline my bag was to big and I had to check it in.

When I got into my seat I felt like I should talk to the guy next to me. I asked if he was from Riga. He said yes but it didn't seem like he wanted to talk much. I was wrong. we started talking and didn't stop for a while. I found out he is a professional beach volleyball player. He has a wife and a three month old baby named Amelia. He travels all around playing beach volleyball. His dad is his coach and his brothers. His brother played in the Olympics. His brother did really well in the Olympics. No one had heard of Latvia and after the Olympics the number one question was where is Latvia?
He said beach volleyball is way better than regular volleyball.
They had a 2 month practice in Cairo.
He told me some good places to go, and made sure I knew some Latvian words.

Marcia's luggage is lost. Hopefully it will come soon.

After a 2 hour drive we finally arrived in Talsi. We saw finishing activities of graduation.

We all went to dinner at a good restaurant. We all got to try some salads. There was a cheese salad, garden salad, and tuna salad. I had chicken and potatoes for my entree. We all had two desserts - one was like bread pudding but more of a pastry. The other dessert was like a creme puff but with strawberry sauce.

Marcia and I got some groceries and are getting settled in.

Looking forward to a nice breakfast and church in the morning. The kids will come around 5:30.