Monday was a long hard day of seminars. We were in Riga at the Military Police and Army Staff base; in Cesis 2 hours to the east, for ministry to the NCO’s studying for sergeant’s rank; and in Valmiera for ministry to the local basketball champions (where Elmars Plavins the Military Chaplain General is also the Basketball chaplain). These outreach seminars were all very fruitful. Then we drove 100 kilometres to Aluksne (at the Estonian/Russian borders) ready for 4 seminars at the Aluksne base on Tuesday.
At the Aluksne military base, the sessions were very intense with seminars to a variety of troops at different levels of training and position in the military. The first session was to the troops learning English, where the seminar “You Can Change Your World and Those Immediately around You” was well understood without an interpreter.
The next session before lunch was to the Infantry School troops. That was a challenge to some of stronger attitudes and mindsets in the military. The final session in the evening was to the young Officer Training Troops. This was so well received by those undergoing the very tough training that will either make or break them. I perceived that some were about to quit, and they were encouraged and challenged to stay the course and finish the race.
Wednesday was a sunny clear day but very cold. We drove from Aluksne in the northeast corner of Latvia to Rezekne to share a seminar with the troops of the National Guard Base there. It was warmly received with quite a few smiles of approval. Unbeknown to me the Police Chief of the region was in the audience. I really appreciated his presence. He indicated the possibility of doing my outreach seminars for the police of his area.
We then drove further south through some beautiful countryside towards the Lithuanian border to the old city of Daugavpils founded in 1275. The National Guard Base there hosted us again. The seminar was again attended by the local Police Chief who invited me to come and speak to the police of the region on my next visit. God was so good to open his heart to my seminars for the local police force.
We then drove through more beautiful scenery to the Kalkuni Children’s Home where we have the privilege of supporting over a hundred severely disabled children. Many small children have developmental issues and many are physically disabled and confined to wheelchairs. They are precious children and God has a special plan for their lives.
The old building of the Kalkuni Children’s Centre was once owned in the 1800’s by a German aristocrat. It became a care centre in the early 1900’s but has not been used to accommodate the children due to the dire need of extensive renovations. The newer buildings house the children. We were welcomed warmly by the staff whom I was meeting for the first time. My local Latvian team had been to this orphanage quite a few times to deliver necessary goods, equipment and medicines but I had never been there. It was most refreshing not being recognised and yet still being hosted by a very courteous and respectful staff. We spent a delightful time being shown around and when we entered the kitchen and laundry rooms and I inspected the big dishwasher, blenders and the mechanical potato peeler, they realised who I was and laughed with great joy and amusement. The children were precious in their way or relating to each other and including me in their games and interests. What a joy to serve these beautiful people.
At this season in Latvia it really felt like the Baltic winter was encroaching fast in this far north eastern part of Eastern Europe, with icy cold winds and rain. This indicates that it’s going to me a long, icy cold winter. Please stand with us for the support of the orphans who will need heating, medicines, warm clothes and blankets as well as their school requisites and study materials for the school year that has just commenced.
On the Thursday I went to the 17th battalion of National Guard where the ministry was very enthusiastically received and the prophetic word flowed into needy soldier’s lives. Later we visited the Gardene Children’s Centre to check on the progress of the new heating system being installed. The staff are wonderful people who struggle care for orphans and provide a free child care centre for children whose single mothers work to survive in dire economic times.
On the Friday I went to minister to the Army Logistics Command in Riga and to the Airforce Base in Lielvarde, an hours south of Riga. On Friday evening I have the joy of speaking to the Latvian University basketball team – big young men who listened attentively to the gospel.
Please enjoy the pictures and continue to pray for us and the lives that are touched. We love and appreciate you. God bless and reward you with wonderful harvests of joy, for all the seeds you have sown in your prayers for these precious young lives.
Love and blessings,
Dave & Margurita Smethurst