Yesterday I wrote about how I forgot my bathing suit...today I go to dry my hair and guess what? Forgot my round brush. UGH! So Sunday...here we go...
I woke this morning with the beautiful sunrise blasting through our window. Sun might be out but it sure isn't warming up...snow still lies on every branch and there's a nice thick layer of ice everywhere you walk. I looked at my phone which still reads American time...can't figure out why it hasn't picked up local time like it did last trip...dug around til I found our borrowed Latvian phone which read 8:40am. Hmmmm can I trust it?
I decided to go ahead and get up and get my shower and get ready for the day. I knew breakfast was until 10:30am and if I had any hopes of finding a church we needed to get moving. If you remember we went to bed a little strained but by the time I got out of the shower and came out to the room, he was all smiles and Good Morning Mom! That was a long shower! HAHA. We checked his watch and it read only 7:10pm so I am thinking we have plenty of time. We finished getting ready and went down to breakfast.
Well, European sure enough it was! Breads, meats, cheeses, Farmer's Breakfast quiche with soft cooked eggs, potatoes and some kind of meat, sausages, bacon that was barely cooked, oatmeal cooked with water, oatmeal cooked with milk, pancakes (not the american kind but delish), boiled eggs (some cooked three minutes and some five minutes), whole fresh fruit (apples, tiny oranges, kiwi), curd cheese, sour cream, jams and jellies, pastries, juices, yogurt, cereal and granola and of course COFFEE! We had breakfast and relaxed and then headed to the front desk to ask about church.
As we walked out we saw it was already 10:30am! Wow...much later than we thought. We asked at the front desk and he looked at me like "why?" but then offered that there were many on Jomas iela...just go out and right and they'd be on the left...but they start at 11am. We rushed upstairs and got our coats and ventured out...and it was COLD! We walked and walked and found nary a church...til we had walked all the way to Dubulti. It was about 11:15am so we figured it wouldn't be bad to go in a little late...it was an Evangelical Lutheran church...until we saw all the people walking out of the church and realized that particular church started at 10am. Bummer...one more Sunday in Latvia and no church.
However, the talk we had on our walk and the fun and laughter...well maybe that's exactly what God wanted us doing today. We posed in front of the church that should have been and snapped some photos. We were freezing so we decided to head back to the hotel and get Janis a hoodie so he'd have something for his cold ears. We got back and he brought up the freedom aspect again. He simply wanted to walk to the drug store and get me a brush and some water...just an errand and not feel like he can't. Honestly it made me laugh a little because I totally think he's old enough to do that. Especially in Majori. I shared with him if we lived in a place where he could walk somewhere at home, we'd let him there too. It's just that we live in the boonies ;-) Only catch is I had no lats to offer him...he sweetly said he would buy for me out of his money.
Because he was still on the list from the orphanage he had been getting his stipend every month and Kristiana gave it to him yesterday. I thought that was really sweet of him. So off he went and I started writing the blog we posted this morning. When he got back, we chatted some more and he tried to figure out the TV. We couldn't get it to work so we called the front desk and we had a visit from Engineering. Fun since I'm in the hotel business and it was neat to see his uniform, how he handled it...all that stuff. He showed Janis how to work the TV and we turned on the hockey game.
Janis kept trying to reach his friend Ralfs who we wanted to try and visit while we were here. After several tries we made contact and checked out the train schedule. He was going to come our way but he's in Tukums and I've never seen Tukums...so why not an adventure. We read our verse out of our devotional book and the devotional for the day...then checked out the train times. We found out the next train was at 2:47pm and it was now 2:34...surely we can make that right? We tried...but it was cold...and we walked slowly. ;-) Next train was 4:29pm so we looked for something to kill time. We walked, exchanged our cash for paying our lawyer...found the Narvesson where we found some really good coffee to warm up.
I had my brilliant idea that we needed to open a restaurant/coffee shop in Latvia called the Americano. It will serve only large sized coffees and beverages at decent prices. Truly the only frustrating thing I can find about this country is that I REALLY want a cup of coffee larger than 12 oz. that I can sip on for about 30 minutes at least. We continued walking and talking and he routed me around to Dzintari where we kept walking and talking. It was cold but really wonderful. We took some pictures of the houses that were for sale and in really bad shape. It makes me sad to see such beautiful buildings just falling down.
We walked on around, taking photos and videos and chatting about how much Dad would like this building or what Dad could do with that one. Laughing about Zach, Marleigh and Mae and little Eddie and what they would do if they were here. Janis wanted to show me the ice skating rink where he liked to go often so we walked over there to see what times they were open and how much...and we PASSED A CHURCH. Grrrr...oh well, the family time today was well worth it. We went into the ice skating place and while we were reading who should walk in but several kids from Spriditis...including little T who's being adopted by some friends of ours (well on FB they're friends but boy do they feel like family already ;-)). I snapped a quick photo of him with Janis and told him we'd see him tomorrow with goodies from Mama...he grinned and ran off with the others.
The place is only open til Tuesday so Tuesday we'll be skating! Only 3 lats each and for last times of things, I think it's well worth it. We walked on down to the train station and purchased our tickets. Lots more of really good talking and bonding and fun times and a few tears and waited in the cold a bit more for the train. I remember telling him how incredibly blessed we are to have a boy as wonderful as he is...kind, respectful, multilingual ;-)...thanks to him, we can make this more like a vacation. I can tell so much we are being covered today in prayer and my prayers have been answered many times over in our ability to enjoy each other and work through the very minor things he needs. I love the fact that anytime he says something might be a challenge for him...he quickly says "but I know I'll get over it" and with a smile at that.
The train came and we hopped on...45 minutes later and seeing some new countryside I'd never seen we arrived in Tukums. Regress for a quick funny that only Gary Belk will understand...our resident gypsy came begging again! You remember the one who approached us when we were changing money in March? Well he came up again and Janis told him I didn't speak Latvian and he should move on. He did...but we laughed and said if we saw him again, I'd pay him 2 lats for a photo...he's become part of our landscape.
We saw a beautiful sunset as we rode and once we got off the train it felt like the temps had dropped about 20 degrees. Janis called Ralfs and said we are here! Quickly he showed up and I gave big hugs. We headed up this very steep hill but admittedly with the cold weather, the hill and the walk were welcome to get our body heat up. Since it is Sunday, many things are closed but we did find one cafe at the top of the hill and quickly went in.
It was so neat! Really cool huge blue couches to sit in and large tables...only three tables in the whole place. A full menu that began with "Boiled Tongue" as an appetizer! OK...that part maybe not so great...but the rest of the menu was wonderful. I ordered a hot tea to warm up and the boys got cokes. We ordered our dinners...pork chops with cheese for the boys and chicken chop with cheese for me. Great sizes and we all got the 1/2 portion. All of this and refills to boot for the same price as the pizza the night before. And the conversation...well, I couldn't have asked for better.
Ralfs is about to go to England in search of a better life...he just turned 18 a while ago. He shared he's tired of living in terrible conditions and he has a chance at a better life. Janis shared with him how education and working hard work toward helping him get there. The mama in the group told him about how no matter how hard he worked, if he didn't get responsible with his money and start living right, he'd forever be fighting to get the things he thinks he needs or wants. I asked him if he knew Jesus...and he said yes, he knew about Him. He was very vocal to Janis about how much better things would be...and it was so good for him and wasn't he so happy for this chance. Just great conversations.
They caught up about fashion and style and laughed about old times and my wonderful talent of being able to figure out most of what they were talking about came back so I could actually join in for most of it. I love this kid...Ralfs...and Janis of course. He apologized for his behaviour when we were here in September...no need to, he just broke a dish accidentally. And said that since we've been gone he's had no desire to drink or do anything "else"...this made me happy as I've prayed for him on and off. He's excited at his opportunity and really wants to make a better life for himself.
We remembered the train was to come around 7 something so at 7:30 we headed down to the train station...and oops! The train had come at 7:34pm and yep, we missed it! So around back to yet another cafe we went and I purchased three capuccinos and something sweet for Janis...all for 1,13 lats...some things are so cheap while others are so expensive. Over our coffee we chatted some more until she came to us and said they were closing. We bundled up and headed out again for our grand tour of Tukums. We walked and talked and I heard all about the hopes and dreams of this young man. It was so nice to hear these two encouraging one another, laughing together and me only getting involved to guide them on maybe better choices of what they were discussing.
I genuinely hope he can save up and come visit us someday. I hope so much and will be praying for him to really get on track and that England will be the answer God wanted for him. We continued on around and made our way back to the train station. Before we boarded, I gave him a big hug...told him the hope he's looking for will only be found in Jesus, that I'd been praying for him and will be praying for him and to please keep in touch. He thanked me and shared that when they were at camp those many years ago, God made sense...and he wanted that. But when he got home, nothing here looked like that. The seed has been planted...he does have hope...and he's a really great boy. Just needs direction. Please be praying for this boy too!
There were many things discussed that as an adult and as the parent of one of them...you just want to tell them NO...this is what you should do and to do it any other way is just crazy. But, that isn't always the best way...just guide them, love them, and let God show them. Boy has he done that already in sooooooo many situations.
Back on the train we settled in and enjoyed the ride back. We nearly missed our stop because we were talking and had to be reminded it was Majori! We quickly walked back...it was so cold! And were so happy to get to our toasty room. I am finally thawing out and getting to write here.
Janis has been flipping TV channels and we've gotten a dose of Latvia's Got Talent, an old episode of Heroes and an education on what is on regular TV most of the time...yep, we got a small glimpse of pornography as we flipped channels (on regular TV), and saw shows rated 12+ that were littered with foul language. These kids are just exposed to way too much too early helping them grow up too fast when they don't have parents around to do some good old censorship.
All in all, it's been a wonderful day. God heard our prayers for easing some tensions and working on hearts...mostly mine ;-) and we just had a great day visiting friends and growing as Mama and son. So much He still has in store for us...and so glad I got to just love on his friend too.
Prayers for tomorrow please...we meet with our social worker at 9:30am...and leave for court at 10:30am...and court starts at 11am. And God willing, these boys will be Belks by noon. For He knows the plans He has for us! He's declared it! And that is to give us ALL hope and a future and not to harm us! Thank you Jesus for such a promise and for delivering already...Jeremiah 29:11.