Baggage, baggage, baggage!

June 24, 2019

Finally, the last of the luggage arrived! Thanks for your prayers. The remaining bags were delivered on a major holiday, nonetheless. What holiday you may ask? Jāni Day of course! It’s a Summer Solstice celebration that falls on the Eve of the Summer Solstice. For more detail check out this link. To get an idea of its scope, try imagining Christmas, New Year’s, and the fourth of July all rolled into one.

The luggage actually being delivered on this day (June 24) is exceptional. There was also a slight mishap as TSA decided to open the craft paints and then not properly put the lids back on (thanks guys!).

Liepaja -pristine beaches, amazing arts center and host of an old school Soviet prison.

As part of our strategy to STAY AWAKE while we recover from jet lag, our hosts arranged a trip on Saturday to scenic Liepāja. This coastal city in the North West of Latvia has a unique history. Recently, during the Soviet Occupation, it was host to the Western-most navel base of the U.S.S.R. The base included a city-within-a-city called Karoska. Karoska was a walled city within Liepaja that contained the military population and separated it from the civilians in Liepaja. While many Soviet officials described Karoska as ‘the final line of defense from the Evil West,” it was also a way to keep citizens from escaping to Sweden. We briefly toured a soviet prison in Karoska.

Liepāja is known as the musical center of Latvia and boasts its own version of the Walk of Fame. We toured one of its larger churches and had a late lunch near the marketplace. Liepāja is a city of startling contrasts.

Prayer and Worship for Christian Unity in Zvārde.

Saturday afternoon the team was invited to participate in a two-hour worship event in the ruins of a church in nearby Zvārde. There is an encouraging trend in Western Latvia to gather the Church in different municipalities and worship together as one congregation to pray for deeper and more practical unity as believers. Latvian converts to Christianity still face significant pressure and ridicule from friends and family who are still deeply influenced by the Communist Atheism of the former USSR. The church ruins tell their own story about where this inevitably leads.

Summer Solstice 2019

June 23-24 marks the passing of the longest day of light -and consequently the shortest night- and in the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) this day is huge in significance. With its powerful pagan roots, some Christians in Latvia gather on their own to worship, eat good food, pray for the next season of life, and simply enjoy the beauty of a Latvian night. The sun set around 11:30pm and rose again at 3:33am.

No, we did not have the fortitude to start the whole night (which is the tradition) but we did get to experience a Christian version of keeping Jāni Day at the farm of a member of a local Luthern Church in Saldus.

Team Leaders

​Mark and Julia Wilhelm have been married for 28 years and have two children. Julia is the Worship Director at Spirit ofJoy Church where Mark serves as Pastor. ​​