Dear friends and supporters,
The time has come for me and my younger kids to return to U.S. This might be surprising or shocking to some of you. To some it might be good news, but to others sad. I am continuing to feel all of these emotions and more. They ebb and flow as our final months pass. I cannot put into words the heartache and pain I feel at the idea of no longer physically calling Latvia home. But, even in the midst of these feelings, I am excited to begin a new season of ministry and life in America...
Latvia may be covered in snow and ice but we are already dreaming and planning for the long summer days that we love. We’re looking ahead at hosting our two summer camps, Pasaka (for kids) and Otra Elpa (for teens), and inviting people in to serve along side us.
We are looking and praying specifically for one church to send a group of 8-10 adults to help connect with the kids at our Pasaka camp. The details of this trip are on our “Summer Applications” page. We are interested in these leaders coming from the same church so that we can have a certain level of team spirit and unity already incorporated into the camp team.
Does this sound like your church? Can you think of a few people who might already be interested in a group mission trip like this? If this sounds like something you might be interested in reach out to us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check the information and submit an application through our website.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The last week of October was spent at a fall camp in Ergli. (It was really more like a winter camp since the snow came so early this year!) We went as a group of 10 and we were encouraged and thankful to get to spend another week with our friends at Eagle’s Wings camp as well as with the kids we were able to take with us. The camps focus was on being “Totally His” and looked at what a life walking with God looks like in various areas.
We spent a lot of time simply bonding with our group of kids. Through laughing, dancing and intentional conversations we were able to build on relationships we’ve been working hard to form since summer camps. We were so thankful for the intentional time away and always love the chance to just be with these kids.
Thanks for following these adventures and continuing to support what we’re doing!
As I was preparing to return to Latvia for a second summer, my mom reminded me that although I would be doing the same stuff, it wouldn’t be the same. When she told me this, I listened to her words and made a mental note of it but, I soon found out that I wouldn’t understand her words until I went and experienced the differences myself. Both summers were amazing, God-moving, faith building, Kingdom bringing summers but, this past summer at camp did mean (as my mom foresaw) something different for me.
This past summer camp meant true fellowship, particularly with the intern team and deepening my relationship with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ whom I served with. Camp meant genuine fun; from playing games with the kids to joking around with other leaders, there was a holistic blanket of joy laid over camp that I got to live under. Camp meant learning new ideas and tools for growth and, the humility/intentionally that comes with change. And lastly, (although not actually because camp and Latvia meant a lot of things) camp meant an opportunity for me to experience God in new ways, from different perspectives, but at a familiar place.
As a whole though, this summer in Latvia and at camp I witnessed how personal and how continual God is. The amount of tangible growth I saw between last summer and this-- within people, within the ministry, within the country-- was immeasurable. To have that growth towards Christ so apparent showed me just how powerful one year can be and just how much the Holy Spirit is living and active and powerful.
There are two things that I look forward to in summer. Okay, three things. The first is, of course, the lack of school getting in between me and my special nerd group's gaming time; that's the obvious one. The other two, though, I usually have to explain to people: Pasaka and Otra Elpa. These two summer camps are what really dominate my thoughts when I'm getting geared up for vacation. Partly this is because I've had some of the best times of my life in Rīga and by the lake at Eagle's Wings. More than that, though, Pasaka and Otra Elpa hold such a special place in my life because I get to see and experience the joy of sharing healthy relationships with kids who so often have had few or none of these. I love seeing kids of all ages experience God's love, either for the first time or as a part of His continuing work in their lives. These camps, in other words, provide an opportunity to live out what James calls "true and undefiled religion before God," and to share everything that He has given me with those who need it most.
“Looking back now, I understand that this camp was one of the few kicks (pushes) that all summed together led me to make the decision to take my guest-family kids into guardianship care. While at the camp, I wanted to take all of them home or find them a permanent home, but I can only do so much and I realized that I can become a family to those two little ones who had been my friends for a year. I admitted to myself that these broken children are the ones that give me a purpose to work and do things. A couple of years ago I was still struggling and arguing with myself, trying to convince myself that this is for someone else. I really appreciated the practical part on how to work with traumatized children. There is almost no information on this in Latvia and orphans are a uncomfortable topic to talk about, it is easier to ignore them. Returning to work with all the emotions and talking about the camp, at least a small group of people had to listen about things they daily try to avoid and think about our society’s role in the lives of these children. I hope an in-depth training on this topic will continue and I can’t wait for next summer’s camp. Naula.”
“ This camp was a great opportunity to get to know new people, gain new experience working with youth. I am happy that I could be on the same team with a young man, who is deaf. Martins taught me sign language, a different way of communication. It was a major experience and I am very happy about it. I gained inner peace while at the camp, because people around me were happy, friendly, supportive of each other and listened. I did not want to go home after the camp, because I it felt like being in a large loving family. I believe my inner world and attitude towards people has become better. I want to show people more love and support. I often think about the camp, things that I’ve learned, how much I miss everyone who was there and how I want to return there next summer. Sendija.”
Camps have ended and our bodies are (very) slowly recovering from all the physical activity. We had so much fun with the kids, with our Latvian leaders and with our American interns and camp team! It was a joy to witness the ways that our leadership team was united through the love we have for Christ and the love He has for each of us and for these kids.
Both of our camps were at maximum capacity (just over 50 kids at each camp!) with several kids on our waiting lists. Pasaka, the younger kids’ camp, was full of so many new tools to use for connecting with and helping these kids in a practical way. If there is anything we can do to help these younger kids grow into healthy adults then we want to give it a try and that was exactly what we did this summer! We bonded Trust Based Relational Intervention ideas with the fun camp games and atmosphere to give our incoming leaders and ourselves the best tools to connect with and help these little ones. We had about two kids for every leader so that each child could get the care and attention that they needed, which was a wonderful change for everyone.
Otra Elpa, our camp for kids 13-18 years old, was a whole different kind of fun! The energy required for the teen camp is so different from Pasaka. We spent most of our time hanging out, sharing stories and playing games. Our group meeting time was filled with testimonies of how God’s love can change your heart and your life. This gave our camp leaders and ourselves the ability to be more intentional in our conversations with each kid in sharing the truth of the gospel. Each night we allowed kids to stay behind in the meeting room to ask for and receive prayer and every night there was at least one kid remaining or returning to talk with someone.
It is obvious every year how involved the Lord is in what we are doing here. There is openness in each child’s heart that could only be from God. We see it every year – an increase in openness to us and to our love for these kids. This year was no exception. If you were a sponsor, if you prayed, or if you volunteered than you made a difference in the lives of the Latvian fatherless. Thank you for reaching out to the ones He cares for.
As we mentioned above, we had a lot of kids on the waiting list this year. Please pray with us that our ability to reach more kids would increase in this coming year.
It amazes me how God works on the hearts of people all over the world to unite them in a love for orphans. It has been an amazing blessing to witness how God brings resources together to provide 100 kids with the opportunity to encounter His love. God cares for these 100 kids, because He cares for every orphan, and He has been speaking to the hearts of people scattered all over the world in order to unite His resources for the purpose of having a camp full of His joy and His love.
I don’t know what it was that stirred your hearts for these Latvian kids and I don’t know how you came to give of your prayers and your resources to ensure that these kids could come and enjoy summer camp. I do know that I am thankful, we here at New Hope are thankful. We are blown away by your generosity and dedication to loving the orphan. We are blown away at how your heart resembles the heart of our Father.
Thank you, each one of you. We are blessed to know you and blessed to have you walking along side of us. We can’t wait to update you on the fun of camp! Keep us in your prayers because its about to get crazy fun!
In the midst of midsummer we’ve been both joyful and thankful to be surrounded by friends from the states. We have all been able to enjoy visits to a few orphanages where we have been able to take the time to enjoy the kids’ company; to laugh with them, visit with them and be near to them. We’ve visited three different orphanages with our friends and were also able to celebrate the biggest Latvian holiday all together; Līgo-Jāņi (or midsummer.)
It’s a holiday full of traditions dating back to the beginning of the Latvian people and it provided a great opportunity to fellowship together. Here are a few photos from our week visiting with the kids, fellowshipping with one another and spending hours in laughter.
There is this old saying, I've heard it a few times in my life; "Time moves quickly, with or with out me"
and today it feels so real! It's hard to believe that summer ministry has already begun and that camps are just around the corner.
It’s coming up so fast! We've already begun ministry and are expecting more this month! We have an orphan camp in Jelgava that we are joining on to help with in the middle of June. Then we will be doing a quick road trip around Latvia at then end of June with the Director of New Horizons for Children, to visit several orphanages and celebrate one of Latvia's biggest holidays (summer solstice).
That's not all! We've got:
24 days until summer interns arrive
29 days until American camp leaders arrive
34 days until our first camp starts!
Both camps are full and each one has a waiting list with over 35 kids on each! This is always the hardest part for us, knowing that there are kids wanting and willing to come to camp but that our space is limited. Every year we wish for some way to find a place for everyone.
We are so excited for the summer ministry season and are pouring in prayer for the kids, our interns and our short term teams. We are believing for God to work through each of us as we commit our time to connecting and loving these kids. Pray with us!
The warm weather and late sunsets have arrived and with them the beginning of New Hope Latvia’s summer ministry. We had our first team of the season arrive on May 23rd and we were able to spend several days with them at a nearby orphanage. We spent five days total, three days the first week the team was here and an overnight trip the second week. We were able to help plant flowers, move furniture, and most importantly spend time connecting with the kids during our time there. We were so thankful to have them here in Latvia and were blessed tremendously by their hard work and spiritual commitment to loving these kids alongside us in the name of Jesus.
Now that we have said goodbye to this first team we are looking ahead for what God has for us, for Latvia, and for the kids that we get to love this summer. We are eagerly waiting to see how God moves in the hearts of each kid as we interact with them. We can’t wait to see how God will stir the hearts of our volunteers for Latvia and for the fatherless here. We are excited, expectant, and as ready as we can be. Summer, here we come!