Meeting Robert Schultz in Riga, Latvia

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Smiltene, Latvia
We leave Warsaw and Poland this morning. Again, I'll have to say that this has been a wonderful visit from many standpoints. First, visiting with Andy, Karen and their children Madelyn and Steven has been wonderful. We appreciate the challenges they have living so far from family, friends and church. Next, the Polish experience culturally and historically is one that was of great interest to me. My Ukrainian/Polish roots came alive along with the sad history of Poland. Also, the beauty of Polish music which included some of my favorite classics of Frederick Chopin, pianists such as Artur Rubinstein and others. I've had somewhat of a break with Poland since the Feast of Tabernacles which was held only once in Krakow in 1985 when Vince Szymkowiak, Don Erickson and Wade Fransson and were together.  I remember preparing all summer by sharpening up on the language on cassette tape. The language has striking similarities with Ukrainian and Russin, but is still quite different. Also I relived reading James Mitchener's book Poland
Karen Lee took us to airport and off we flew to Riga, Latvia on a one hour flight on LOT, the Polish airline. We descended over the Gulf of Riga into the airport. Riga is a city of one million people, the biggest in the Baltic Republics.
Robert Schultz was waiting for us after we claimed our baggage. He presented Beverly with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. It was wonderful seeing him again! It is not hard to keep a conversation going with Robert. I passed along greetings from so many, starting alphabetically from the Allwines to everyone else. It's not hard for people to know who the Schultz family is.  
Robert actually works now in Riga and commutes to the city twice a week from his home town of Smiltene 135 kilometers away. Since June he has been working as a salesman for a new logging/lumber company. The one he worked before dealt a lot with Russians and Belarusans and he has found better opportunity here that deals with western companies. The worldwide economic downturn has affected his business greatly. One of the products that they sell wood for is packaging and packing material. With overall sales of goods down, there is less need for packing material and hence the need for cardboard and other packaging. On the two hour drive home we talked about everything from church to life in general. It's been about 13 months since our last visit here which was in December 2007. Johnnie Lambert has been here many times. It is 90 miles here from Tartu, Estonia. The Schultz  family kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Shluchsee, Germany and met many people from Germany, the United States and even Tasmania, Australia. His own congregation back in Smiltene also kept the Feast. That was documented in the last issue of the United News.
We talked about the upcoming Feast where his congregation will be coming up to keep the Feast with the United Church of God in Tartu. We have to work out logistics and details, but we're all GO on doing this this coming fall. It's so wonderful to see this excitement and enthusiasm and I've been very quick to tell him that we have really appreciated this. Our conversation is interrupted several times by his work associates calling him about lumber. His conversation is either in Latvian or Russian. His Russian is very clear and well-pronounced.  
We talked about the order of Church services for the following day. They are very much a community church for the town of Smiltene. After services the plan is to come back to the Schultz's for a potluck and socializing.
We picked up his wife Elita at her place of work. She works at the lumber company in is town of Smiltene. Bev and I went and saw her office and met her boss, a very pleasant young lady.  

Then to the Schultz home. They have a beautiful home. Reuben Paul, Jacob and Shulamite were there. Schulamite was peeling potatoes for dinner. Jacob had cooked a roast and set the table. All the children had cleaned the house on this Friday. Again, with the children there is no problem carrying on a conversation. Rueben Paul challenged me to a game of chess which we played. I won't say who won.
We were served a tasty dinner of roast beef and an outstanding cabbage salad. Then more talking and looking forward to the next day when we will once again see the other Latvian's that we've met twice before, along with new ones.

While we are happy to be here, we think about Terre Haute and Lafayette, Indiana congregation and our friends back home whom we miss...
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History Lesson
It's been great reading all these entries. I enjoy all the many mini history lessons. Great to find out we are blood brothers, too. Meaning the Polish connection. Hope you were able to give the Schultz family our greetings.


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