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!!
World Lutheran Deaf Outreach Missionaries
Rev. Dr. John Reinke