It snowed in Latvia’s capital city, Riga, last weekend, bringing fresh problems for people already struggling to keep warm and fed.
Bro Slavik and Sis Tanya were living in an uninsulated shed, with no identity documents and only occasional work. Now they are sharing a Christadelphian-funded flat for the winter with Bro Ivan and Sis Judite.
Tanya, who is three months pregnant, recently lost her job washing dishes in a shopping centre. She is painfully thin. Slavik has open sores on both legs, causing him a lot of pain. Visiting a doctor is costly, as is medicine. Neither work and there is no state aid for those without proper papers. Their main food is milled oats from a city charity, supplemented with what they can find, even from bins.
But on Sunday and Monday they get good meals when they travel across the city to the Riga Christadelphian Bible Centre, for Bible reading, breaking of bread and hot food.
Ivan and Judite don’t have work either. But their faith is strong. There is humour in the room, and a strong sense of conviction, that no matter what, God is with them. Slavik and Ivan speak movingly of how they have tried to share their faith with the people they meet.
At the Bible Centre Bro Warren and Sis Jeannie Barton, Christadelphians from Australia, are installing equipment for a children’s play area. It attracts plenty of local mums and toddlers – there is nothing like it in the city. Sis Irma, a long-time member of Riga ecclesia, speaks passionately about God’s hand at work in the city, bringing more people to the centre.
In the afternoon Jeannie delivers fresh vegetables to Bro Gennady in his small apartment. Gennady is delighted, as he clearly is with his new glasses and the new mattress that sits on top of stacked technical books that serve as his bed. This 72-yearold former professional metallurgist is determined to give his 14-yearold son Adrian a firm foundation in the Truth.
Two hundred kilometers towards the Russian border Sis Nina’s isolated small-holding is approached down a long snowy track. Donated clothes are hugely appreciated, as are seeds for the spring and plans for a chicken run. Nina values this friendship, to know she is not forgotten, to share fellowship in Jesus. Her contentment, even joy, amidst hardship, is inspiring.
God is working in Latvia. People want the Truth. But the workers are few.