Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday in Riga

Today was another full and busy day. We won’t be able to rest until we get home! We went to 1st Church in Riga, Gita’s church, for the 11:00 a.m. service. Most of it was done in Latvian, but Juris translated for us. I love hearing the Latvians sing in their native language. During the service Gita asked Steve and I to come up to the front. She caught me off guard and asked me to share something with the congregation. I briefly shared my story about being hard of hearing for all of my life, and how difficult it was growing up. I also shared how I used to pray for perfect hearing as a child and how God did not answer that prayer. Then, as I got older, I would pray that I would keep what little hearing I had. God didn’t answer that prayer, either, because my hearing loss started to get worse in early 2005. And then, I got my cochlear implant later that year and began the journey to hear like I've never heard before. When God answers prayer, sometimes He says yes, sometimes He say “no,” and sometimes He says, “I have a better idea.” God did not make me deaf to make my life miserable. I realize now that He has used my deafness to mold me and shape me into the person that I am today. And He isn’t finished with me yet! I know He wants me to share my gifts with others and share my story. No matter how difficult or hard life may seem, God is always going before us and has the perfect plan for our lives. I also shared how I received the wonderful gift of sound because others used their God-given gifts and talents to be blessings to others. I also thanked the congregation for praying for me when I had my surgery in 2005 and asked them to remember me in their thoughts and prayers on January 30th. Steve spoke a little, too. Then, the congregation presented us with a prayer shawl that one of the ladies in the church had knitted. It is yellow and represents sunshine because we bring light to them. She wrapped us in it and said a prayer for us. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

After the service, we had coffee, tea, and cookies upstairs. The Latvians are very good hosts! They love visitors and treat them well. We are all the same, no matter where we live or how we worship. We are one big family.

Steve and I had about ½ hour after church to change our clothes and get ready for the opera. I had never been to the opera before and there was one playing at the Opera House. We saw "Die Zauberflöte” or “The Magic Flute,” which was done by Mozart. Our tickets were 3 Lats apiece, or the equvalent of $5.62 U.S. Dollars for a total of $11.64. Not bad for opera tickets! The Opera House was beautiful and very ornate. We had great seats, even though they were near the top. The program was all sung in German so we didn’t understand a thing. It was captioned in Latvian but not English on a small black screen near the ceiling. That was the first "close-captioning" I had seen in Latvia so far. I had looked up the story on the Internet this morning so I knew a little bit about what was going on. The costumes and displays were strange (probably because Mozart was quite a jokester). . . but the music sounded good and it had a happy ending. The opera lasted 3 hours! It was 6 o'clock by the time we got out of there.

After the opera, Steve and I walked down to Old Riga and found an interesting restaurant for dinner. It was called "DaDa" and you basically picked a sauce, filled your bowl with vegetables, noodles, meat, etc. and they stir fried it for you. It was good but different! We made another stop at Leduspukes for more ice cream before taking the tram back to our hotel. We've had a full day!

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