Crystal went to Latvia with Bridge Builders International. Returning to Latvia was a wonderful experience; it was amazing how familiar things were. This feeling of familiarity and comfort with the city and the culture made her more able to focus on the people and the ministry.
Crystal with good friend, Renalda, in Latvia.
Streets in Old Riga.
Blackhead Sqaure in Old Riga at night.
Her time was mostly dedicated to the TeRiga service project. TeRiga is a practical service project that brought together Latvians and Americans from over 25 churches.
Before and After shots of this sight below.
There were about 100 Latvians and 12 Americans working simultaneously on 8 project sites. The work ranged from repainting play structures to clearing underbrush to major cleaning of a burned down market. TeRiga was seen and heard. Many people stood at the edge of the work sites and watched, by the second day many of these people began to approach the participants and ask “What are you doing?”. Their actions spoke for them and gave them the opportunity to share that God cares about people and Christians want to serve their community and share the love of God.
Another part of the project was to bring the Message to people in the form of music outreach. As you may know Latvians are crazy about all art, but music is their passion. There were two music events, both in very populated squares or parks. Many local and international Christian musicians showcased their original music and used their music platform to share Christ. The cool part about all this is that the Latvians took ownership of the projects. The Latvians did all the communicating and up front spotlight time so the rich-Christian-American-trying-to-convert-the-world stereotype was broken. Many more people were reached this way.
During her time in Latvia she was able to connect with quite a few friends that made last year. These friends are involved in youth programs at their churches and even going on international mission trips. It is encouraging to see as we minister to the Latvians they are in turn going out and ministering to others.
Crystal with Anna (next to Crystal in white), a friend that was made in Hub's trip to Latvia summer of 2003.