Feeding Scheme & Winter Welfare Project In Latvia
Br Mike & Si Vanessa Boler (Folkestone), Sis Mim Clark (France), Sis June Williams (Guildford), Br Jeremy Neate, Br Andy & Sis Mel Downton, Br Rob & Sis Debbie Clements (Horley) and Br Simon Kent (Ipswich) did a huge amount of work repairing the hall, delivering firewood and blankets, and preparing and serving over 2000 major meals and over 5000 mugs of coffee.
Here are some of their reports:
"Deb, Rob and I formed the third part of the tag team to support the Riga mid-winter study programme. Duncan and Vladimir taught the study sessions whilst we cooked and then served an evening meal. We have benefited greatly from the two earlier teams: Vanessa's organisation and recipes, Jeremy and Mike's painting and handiwork, Andy's plumbing and Mel, Mim and June's advice and helpful hints at the handover. We feel blessed to have been able to provide some help to the ecclesia. Cindy gave us a long list of deep cleaning and painting tasks whilst she managed two sick children and visits from Health, Hygiene, Fire Regs - all the necessary pre-requisites to building a church that lives to serve the community. The church expands, the hungry are fed, the gospel is preached. May God bless the church in Riga."
Here are a few pictures of their work- helping paint the new kitchen, taking clothes, blankets and firewood to those in need, cooking and dishing out hot food
"Michael, Vanessa and I have nearly finished our visit to Latvia and our stay at the Christadelphian Bible Center in Riga.
Although conditions here are tough, and from that point of view it will be a relief to be home, one's feelings are mixed. It is all too easy to hop on a plane and head back to home comforts, but that option is not available to the 100 or so lovely people who have come each day to the Centre, both to hear God's word and to enjoy a brief time of warmth, Christian love and much needed sustenance, before reluctantly going back out into the far below zero streets in hope of securing a place in one of the night shelters, or of finding means to heat their sub-standard accommodation enough to survive a few more days. I have been privileged to experience at first hand the desperate desire of the brothers an sisters here for the appearing of their and our Lord. And the thirst of the unbaptized for the security we have in Christ. I have been filled with joy to be present at two baptisms this past week and have witnessed the sincerity and eagerness of the two new brothers and their new family in Christ. Above all I have been impressed by the magnificent response of brothers and sisters in the Western world to the unexpected need to upgrade the kitchen facilities- well done everyone. But for your generosity and especially the contributions of those able to donate to Carelinks regularly, their work would simply grind to a halt. May your sacrifice and love be blessed and may our Lord soon appear to bring the peace we all long for"- Bro. Jeremy Neate (Horley, UK)
"It has once again been a privilege to be able to help the Riga ecclesia with their winter feeding program, the need here seems to be even greater than when I was here last year. Many thanks to all who contributed the funds to sustain it all. We were so glad to be back and to see many familiar faces from last year. It feels we are really beginning to bond as brothers and sisters. Our time here is so fleeting and the need so great that our leaving will be with much sadness. May our loving Lord continue to bless the amazing work being done at the Bible Center. Your prayers, help and support are really needed and are much appreciated!"- Br Mike & Sis Vanessa Boler (Folkestone, UK)
Our visitors were able to witness the baptism of ROMAN, who came to us after getting an NEV Bible and having passed through various churches in his search for the Truth.
Bible class has been well attended- it is quite common in the Riga ecclesia to get around 100 to Bible class:
There was a great spirit at the meetings and after one class we were pleased to baptize ANDREJ, son of sister Tatyana, into the Lord's Name. Both mother and son were clearly very moved and joyful. You can see the same mother and son [far left] being served their meal earlier at the feeding scheme, by Vanessa and Jeremy:
We really believe that this is exactly what social welfare schemes should be like- providing as it were the much needed and even essential bread and fish to the crowds who came to hear the word of the Lord Jesus.
Brother Jeremy wrote after returning from delivering firewood to two brothers living in really awful poverty:
We are a party of three who have left the comforts of the UK to spend 12 days in freezing Riga (temperature -12 and `feel like' temperature of -18 C as this report goes out). At home, a bit of snow and ice can be fun once in a while, but week after week of -15 or less when you live in a single unheated room is quite another matter. Add to that having nothing to eat because you've spent all your income on medicines for your dying mother, no light except for a single candle because you cannot pay the electricity... and the reality emerges of lives that are tougher than anything we normally think of as "Dickensian". Yet some of those enduring these grim conditions are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Hence the Carelinks Winter feeding program which is about to roll into action with hot food and other support aimed at keeping our brothers and sisters from starving and freezing.
Photos: Jeremy and Mike delivering firewood to the brothers living by candlelight , huddled with all their clothes on in a literally freezing room, with the dying mother of one of them lying on a couch.
We are all very appreciative of all the support give to Carelinks and the Christadelphian Advancement Trust which enables this work to go ahead. God willing, next Winter [November 2013 - March 2014] we are looking to repeat and expand this scheme- if you would like to get involved with cooking for one or two weeks (the work involves quite long hours and hard work), please let us know now- firstname.lastname@example.org