Today went to Deaf Worship in Riga (Reega)
Did not understand the Pastor – he was speaking Latvian!
Did not understand the person interpreting – she was signing Latvian!
Latvian Sign Language is totally different!!
After Worship we gathered together for cookies, coffee, and tea. The Latvian Pastor knows some English, he voiced for me in Latvian. The interpreter only knows Latvian and Latvian Sign Language. Pastor would voice to her and she would sign to Deaf. It was really fun and I worked to learn their sign language. It is ALL different – counting, fingerspelling, and signing – nothing the same EXCEPT??? JESUS!!!!!
They have lots of questions about us and wanted to learn the materials. But they only read Latvian and Sign Latvian. Some of the younger Deaf also read English. They can use our materials in English. The Pastor thinks is possible they can translate our materials into Latvian! Then they will be able to teach to all Latvian Deaf.
I sent some short videos to show you some of their signs. Please pray I will be able to learn more this week to communicate.
Plans for this week –
Monday and Tuesday we are working with groups from Russia and Finland. We will be learning what they do in Deaf Outreach and sharing what we do in Deaf Outreach. See where God leads!
On Wednesday will be returning to Riga by bus to meet with the Deaf at their Deaf club and offices. The ladies said we will meet a lot of Deaf and share about Deaf Outreach. Then we will make plans to meet for the week. Thursday we will be meeting together with small group and sharing together. Then I will also be sharing about deaf ministry at one of the Latvian churches interested in Deaf Outreach on Thursday night and three services on Sunday.
On Friday we will be meeting with the Diakonia (Deacon) center leaders. They have a strong Deacon Ministry and they are interested in adding Deaf Deacon training. That would be AWESOME!!They asked how many we should have – my answer was LOTS:) I said would be good to have one Deacon for every one hundred Deaf people. If they have 2000 Deaf in the city that means 20 Deacons. The Pastors, Evangelists, Deacons, etc.… in Latvia are all bi-vocational (two jobs – in church and outside church).
It is true, both hearing and Deaf, many Latvian people do not go to church. But I am meeting very strong Lutheran Christians. They are eager to reach out with Jesus Gospel. I pray Jesus will guide us to help in the right way.
Saturday was a day with church Pastor talking about Deaf Outreach and learning about the Latvian Lutheran Church. They also have many challenges, but they also want to see what is possible to reach and train Deaf people. I also learned how to “milk a birch tree” to get the juice. They drink it like fruit juice. They say it is a cleanser for the body.
I also learned how to play a Latvian card game. Some of the Latvian youth at the Pastors house taught me. Their card deck is not the same as our card deck. I learned most of the rules and won a little. Mostly we had lots of fun.
Sunday morning we road bus to Worship in Riga. Paid for the bathroom/ Toilet/ Water Closet. That was a good experience seeing all the Latvian people and see how they live. Many going shopping and “out.” The summer time is long hours in the day, in July sun only “set” for 3 or 4 hours. But in the winter they only have 5 or 6 hours on daylight.
There are many more experiences I can share! It has only been a few days but feels like more than a week. Please continue praying for God to guide us with His Holy Spirit. To meet the right people, to share His Word with Deaf people, and pray for their faith to grow!
Thank you for all your prayers for me and my physical family. We pray together for our Spiritual Family – we will continue working together to spread His Word!!
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Wednesday on the way to Latvia.
It always amazes me when I walk through and sit in airports. So many people hurrying around to get to their plane. They want to arrive at their final destination, their final stop.
But I am also thinking about their final stop. They are focused on their earthly arrival and I wonder about their Heavenly arrival. Do they know where their final stop is?
Helen picked us up from airport, she is married to Pastor Artis. From Helen I learned about the city of Riga (Reega) and the difference of living under Communist rule and life today. I can never understand what they experience. It is eye opening to see their discussion of how life is different. The freedoms they have today and the work ahead in proclaiming the Gospel.
We stopped to see where Helen works – Lutera Akademija / Luther Academy. It is old town Riga. We walked around and saw the St John Lutheran of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. The building are a combination of styles, the old style built in 1500s, those built during the communist time, and more modern buildings. Then we drove 2 hours South East to the meeting house in Saldus.
Thursday night was good meeting with pastors from around Latvia. It was a different kind of challenge for me. Normally when I travel to other countries I work mostly with the Deaf people. Signing and communication is easier. Meeting with hearing Pastors and workers is a challenge – first because of my hearing. It is tough to trying listening when you are not used to the pronunciation of their language. A few Pastors and wives know some English, so we can find common words. This is a different experience for me.
I Thank God we had a good discussion. I was able to answer their questions and share with them about Deaf Outreach. Several Pastors have contact with Deaf people. One has Deaf friends, others have done weddings with interpreters, other are connected through members of their congregations who have Deaf people in their family. I will be meeting with and talking more with these Pastors today and also next week.
First night in Latvia.
Hotel was top floor, 3 flights up with luggage:) Nope, no elevator here. But was nice clean room with Latvia TV. Breakfast in the morning was good with eggs and sausage. Now on way to meeting with the Latvian Pastors and their families.
Tonight we will be staying with Pastor Artis. Saturday We will be discussing about Deaf Outreach and what they would like to see happen. Then he will share with Bishop Hanns and the Latvian Lutheran Church.
Sunday we will be meeting with Pastor Ingus, meeting Deaf people, learning about their sign language and seeing what is possible. Monday and Tuesday working with church leaders from other countries about Deaf Outreach in their countries. Then Wednesday until Sunday working with Deaf in Riga and ???
Thank you for your prayers!!
Some of you have shared your contacts with people in Latvia – Thank you.
Also to all of you who give to support World Lutheran Deaf Outreach – Outreach like this is possible because of your financial support – Thank you!
People here are great and I am praying see where God opens doors.
God’s Peace to you as we serve Jesus together!
We are into the final two weeks of training.
We will be working with Pastor Hoopman, Sandra, and the other Deaf from the Adelaide Deaf Congregation to practice training Deaf Leaders.
We are planning to work in three groups.
We will meet with the first group early (Same as in WI) mostly the older group of leaders who are retired. Then we will be meeting with Australian Church leaders, Professors, etc.… in the afternoons. we will meet with the younger leaders in the evenings. They are planning on providing children classes while we are with the adults!
So far the Classes have been great! The people love the ABCD Materials we are developing. They are able to read and understand the NIrV Bibles. They have lots of questions! They also think I am the craziest pastor they have ever met:) The Deaf people are also bringing “Australian” food to share – YUM!!
We are also having great discussions with Pastor Hoopman and his wife about plans to continue the training. They are also asking God to raise up more Deaf leaders, Deaconesses, and Pastors. Please pray for all the leaders that God will give them His wisdom and guide them to expand Deaf Outreach in Australia.
Some interesting views:
Some new Australia words: Cheeky (bold, risky, chutzpah) and pecky (feel like eating)
Eating the Australian way – we are learning the “proper” way to use fork and knife the Australian way:)
People are the same. They have many of the same challenges. And they struggle with many of the same faith issues.
We can still do hot with no Air Conditioning. But it is sure nice when we have it.
Thank you for your prayers for us and all the people involved in the training. We pray God will continue to touch the hearts and lives of Deaf people around the world with His Grace.
Greetings from Down under!
Thank you for ALL of your prayers and support!
The week at Deaf Camp was phenomenal (fantastic)! I am sure you saw the pictures from the tours they arranged (Dacia and I loved the time together)
The trips helped us understand about Australia and it gave us time to talk with the people. We had many discussions on the bus rides. Plus, I even signed one of the bus tours in the best AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language) that I could!
The best part of the week was working with Deaf leaders from across Australia. They were very eager to learn. We mainly worked on three areas:
First is the ABCD materials. We shared the “A Bible Curriculum Deaf” materials. Beginning with the OT and NT questions, plus the Deaf Catechism (We call Faith Basics or BLAST for short: BLAST = Bible, Lord’s Prayer, Apostles Creed, Sacraments, Ten Commandments)
Second is training leaders. They also do not have enough Deaf Leaders. We focused on: the Barnabas, Paul, Timothy model of mentoring; how to help people continue growing in faith/not just become members; and encouraging/challenging the people and leaders.
Third is the way to sign concepts and pictures. We have many visual examples for Bible concepts (Trinity, Justification, Sin, etc.…) that we shared. They fingerspell many words. We discussed how often fingerspelling does not show understanding of the meaning. They loved the way of changing words in pictures to show the meaning!
Most days we met together from 7 am until 11 pm talking and answering questions. Often there were many Bible questions about what we discussed in the workshops and Bible Studies. We also shared culture and we learned how to apply the stories and concepts from the Australian perspective.
God is awesome!! Please pray for all the Deaf people and their leaders. Pray God will continue to guide them and give them strength. Please pray for us as we continue the next two weeks of training in Adelaide.
Duet done in Australian Sign Language and American Sign Language
Today we took a break:)
Pastor Hoopman and Sandra wanted to take us out for a drive. We went to Cleland Wildlife Park an animal preserve with Australia wildlife and natural Australia
It was cool feeding the kangaroos, watching the Dingo’s eat breakfast, seeing the Koala bears, plus other native animals. One of the things we learned is Australian bush has a distinctive smell. The gum trees, eucalyptus, and all the flower trees give a unique smell that is only from the Australian bush.
This last week we have been meeting with Pastor Hoopman, his wife, leaders in the Deaf church, and others involved in the Australian Lutheran Church. They have not seen Deaf Materials like ours before, nor do they have Deaf Leader training. We have been sharing with them what we do and how we do leader training. The response so far has been very positive.
Saturday, we will be meeting with Deaf leaders from across Australia. We will be giving two presentations and have lots of fellowship time to share about our resources. Please pray with us that God lead us as He wills, opening the doors and contacts He wants.
Then we will come back to Adelaide and have two full weeks of training with the Deaf People. Many will be joining us at the camp and we will be able to share and discuss together. We will then have a chance to work together and see how our materials work. So far everything seems positive, but will not know until we have a full week to try the training together.
This has been a very different experience. We are in Australia! But in many ways, it does not seem that different from U.S. You will see pictures on our Facebook page that show many stores and shops same as in U.S. (although many have different names). You will see some strange food (have not tried kangaroo yet). But the big thing, the people are the same. They want to learn about Jesus.
We thank God He has guided us this far and pray He will continue opening doors for more Deaf people to learn about Jesus and become equipped as His leaders. Thank you for all your prayers and support!!
Pastor John Reinke is doing some online leadership training from Australia with people in Madison, WI.
World Lutheran Deaf Outreach Missionaries
Rev. Dr. John Reinke