Monday, June 27, 2016

An Overdue Update

Many of you are eager for a blog update, I know, but it was honestly the hardest thing to get all my thoughts together in one place. So, anyway, here it goes.... 

On Saturday we took a bus to the Baltic Sea which was about an hour and a half away. On the way, we stopped at a castle which was built in 1264. I'm pretty sure that's way older than literally everything in America so that's super cool. We didn't have enough time to tour the inside so we looked around outside and at the courtyard inside. Hopefully we will get to see another castle in Lativa because I would definitely be interested in touring the whole thing. 

Then it was on to the Baltic Sea! The sea itself was beautiful. There weren't many seashells (just rocks) and the sand was a little rough but the landscape was gorgeous. And yes, I did go in the water. And no, it wasn't as cold as you're imagining it was. Unfortunately I was under the same assumption as you and thought the water was going to be absolute death so I didn't bring my swimsuit. I really should've though! The water felt great in the unusual 85° heat. 

Before we went home we stopped at Europe's widest waterfall which is 817 feet across. Several of the team, myself included, walked across the whole thing. It was somewhat of a near death experience but I discovered I am a fast walker even on slippery rocks with a decently strong current. So basically I am going to start working on my power walking skills and the next time you see me I will be a power walking athlete in the 2020 Olympics. 

On Sunday we were able to attend a somewhat traditional Latvian Lutheran church service. It was very similar to services we have in the US but was in Latvian (obviously) and communion was slightly different (they fed you the wine and the bread). At one point during the service, the pastor began speaking in English and asked Pastor Mark to say a few words about what we were doing in Latvia. You should've seen the way all of our faces lit up when the pastor began to speak English. Finally! Something we could easily understand! All jokes aside, the service was very nice and a different experience from what I am used to. 

Today was the first day of camp and nothing could've prepared me for it. I thought I had made enough worksheets, planned enough activities, gone over my lesson plans enough times, but, in the end, God does what He does. It was very hard to gage who really didn't understand anything and who was just pretending like they couldn't understand. They're all good kids though. They definitely seemed eager to be there even though I may have been a somewhat boring teacher at first. But I know it really isn't me speaking anyways but God speaking through me. I am only His  servant here to do His will. I'm confident that whatever plans God has for these students at Striki school he will get done using all of us here as the Latvian EEMN team. 

So, although things may seem rough now, God will provide as He always does.  

Much love, 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Latvia: Day One

Whew! We all made it in one piece to Latvia. The journey was definitely very long with 24+ hours of traveling and little to no sleep. But we're finally at Saint Gregor's Christian Mission Center and have settled into our rooms. I'm so thankful that God got us safely through no less than four flights and that he also brought this incredible group of people together from all over the US. I'm excited to get to know everyone on our team and all of the students/teachers/translators in Latvia! Grateful is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about God providing a way for me to take this trip. 

As I write this it is 5:30 in the afternoon in Latvia and I am doing my darnedest to stay awake so my body can get adjusted to the local time zone. Let me just say that trying not to fall asleep when you haven't slept for 24 hours is one of the most exhausting things ever. And trying to form coherent thoughts is also struggle so bare with me folks. 

Our flight from New York to Moscow was the longest I'd ever flown in a plane and the first time I'd ever flown over seas. And I'm not really eager to do it again. I thought family road trips were bad but transatlantic flights are almost ten times worse. But I made it and nothing overly terrible happened so I guess it was fine. 

Anyways, when we arrived in Latvia I finally got a stamp on my passport (!!!) then we met up with the instructor of Striki school and took a bus to lunch. Lunch was at the place called Lodi in a mall close to the airport. It was a sort of MCL cafeteria type thing but it was waayyy better. Nothing beats sausage, potatoes, and 10 different types of salad all with dill in them. I can already tell that I will definitely be eating well in Latvia. :) 

One of the things that struck me the most (especially when we were in Moscow) was how barely anybody was speaking English anymore. I've become so accustomed to English being the major language spoken pretty much everywhere I've forgotten "Oh yeah, people in Russia actually speak Russian not English". It's definitely different being surrounded by more non-English speakers than English speakers but it is a good reminder for me that we are not the only language in the world. 

Although Latvia doesn't strike me as much different from the US thus far, I'm eager to explore the differences between the two. I can't wait to see how God will move in the lives of the kids we're going to teach and the lives of this team as well. And, as always, thank you all for everything you've contributed (money, prayer, supplies) that made this trip possible for me and the rest of the team. Continue to pray for the whole team and that this will be an opportunity for God's presence to grow here. 

Much love,


p.s. I apologize for any grammatical errors I've made. Fixing grammar mistakes with no brainpower is a very difficult to do. 

Monday, June 13, 2016


Welcome! If you've found this blog I'm assuming you know me either by my parents, church, school, or youth group so there's really no point in introducing myself. ;)

As many of you know (well, hopefully you know if you're reading this blog post) I will be traveling to Latvia in T-minus eight days. While in Latvia I will be teaching English via the Bible to children in grades 1-3.

This is a very exciting opportunity for anyone, but especially for a 16 year old girl such as myself. Really, how many teenage girls do you know who are able to travel outside of the country to do God's kingdom work? Not many, I would guess!

But this wouldn't have been possible without the help of everyone who contributed to my trip, whether financially or spiritually through prayer. So thank you all so very much! God is truly good to fill my life with so many generous people. :)

Even though my trip has been paid for, prayer is still needed! Not just for myself but for the other 10 people who will be going to Latvia as well. This is a big time in all of our lives so there's not really such a thing as too many people praying for us.

Anyway, the point of the blog is to keep curious people, such as yourself, up to date on what's going in Latvia. I will do my best to update as often as I can and take pictures when I remember. :)

Again, thank you all so much for your support! May God bless you!

Much love,

Olivia M.