Our travel to Latvia wasn’t as uneventful as I would have liked. Our first leg took us to Chicago where we boarded a Lufthansa 747 bound for Frankfurt. As we boarded, the kindly stewardess took our carry-on luggage promising it would be taken to our ‘final’ destination which we thought (and I asked) would be Riga, Latvia. The snow started and the aircraft taxied out for the takeoff, then waited and waited and waited. Two hours later they told us another airplane had been taken off the runway and we could leave. This delay caused us to miss our connecting flight to Riga, requiring us to be rescheduled to a flight to Munich then on to Riga on an Air Baltic propeller airplane. We arrived at 10:30 and waited anxiously for our luggage. Our checked bags showed up, but the Terry’s, our travelling companions, did not. None of us got our carry-ons causing us great concern. Fortunitely, all was resolved by our third day here. Julia and I stayed at the Mission Home apartment while the Terry’s stayed in the newly acquired apartment.
Our first full day here, Wednesday was a Zone Meeting where we met and rubbed shoulders with 40-50 missionaries. There was absolutely no way for us to learn the names of any of the missionaries with the exception of the AP missionaries, Elder Fox and Elder Bird. Unfortunately, both Julia and I took naps during the meetings. Jet lag is brutal.
We spent both Thursday and Friday learning how to do the office work, being tutored by Elder and Sister Yaskas and the office Elders. On Saturday, Elder and Sister Yaskas returned to Lithuania where they had been serving before being needed in the mission office, and the Office Elders expect to be returned to their missionary labors with the next transfer on December 28. This scares me because there is much I do not know that I am expected to know.
On Thursday, following work, we walked a block north on Brivibas iela to a market where we browsed looking for foods we liked. The vowel pronunciation in Latvian is so different from English that we couldn’t even read the labels for what good that would do, so we purchased things by what we could see through the bag. When we tried to buy salted butter, we ran smack into the language barrier when a clerk attempted to be helpful. The experience was great and we will shop there regularly.
Friday evening, we rode the bus for the first time into the center of town to ‘Old Town’ to have dinner with several other coupes at a place name DoDo. The food, on display on a long bar, is placed in a bowl, then cooked and served to you. Interesting, but it seemed pricy. I am not yet used to the prices here and am not yet comfortable with the value of the money.
Saturday we moved into our apartment which is on the top floor of a 5 story building, the penthouse if you will. Julia and I laughed that in Cambodia we lived in a villa and in Latvia we live in a penthouse. Probably the most interesting thing about the apartment is that the elevator enters directly into it, without a door into the apartment. This works because a special key is required to make the elevator go to the 5th floor. The apartment is spacious and airy, with windows on one side looking northwest, which make the apartment a bit colder that we like. The kitchen is modern with an oven and a dishwasher, but the king sized bed wants to roll us into the center. This will be a nice home for the next year and a half.
Then Saturday evening we skipped a branch Christmas party to go with the wife of the CES couple who have a car, to a larger supermarket, Rimi, where we spend almost a hundred dollars stocking our larder.
Sunday was our first bus ride to church, which is three bus stops down Brivibas to a street named ‘Gertrudes’ then a short walk past a Lutheran Cathedral. We attended both the Latvian and Russian Branches. The services were in those languages but were translated for us by the missionaries using a system of small radios. We enjoyed meeting the members but had a difficult time staying awake during the talks even though they were translated for us. We are still not over the jet lag.
Wednesday is Christmas but we plan to staff it, at least for part of the day. We suppose the missionaries will be doing missionary work by visiting investigators. Since transfers are happening this weekend, we expect to have a lot of work to do to make it happen smoothly.