Saturday, February 27, 2010

Visiting the homes of the Latvian Saints

I am now a visiting teacher and last evening my VT companion I went to the home of a woman in her 40s, who has Schizophrenia, and who lives with her mother. We caught a bus near the office just after 5:00 and then caught a 2nd bus and by 5:40 had reached our destination--at least got off the bus and began the walk. As I have mentioned before, there has been more snow in Riga this winter than in 15 years (or some say, in 100 years). Which ever is correct, it's more than they have known how to handle, so walks aren't cleared. We walked for about 15 minutes, on ice, arriving at a fairly new and large apartment building. My companion, Simona, told me the Government is building these apartment buildings for those on pensions, or low-income. It's modern in that the elevator is digital and it's more like an American elevator than any I've been in here (except the one at the mission home). They live on the 8th floor and we exited the elevator into a dimly lit hallway. We walked all the way to one end, only to figure out that they must live on the other end.

The apartment has an entry which leads into a long room that is combination bedroom, kitchen, and living room. The daughter has her own bedroom; the mother sleeps on the bed in the other part of the apartment. We were offered tea (herbal fruit--very popular here) with some home bottled berry juice added. It was very tasty.

It didn't take long for me to realize that the mother speaks no English and the daughter speaks very little English. So Simona did the talking and translating.

The mother is a loving, caring woman who seems to have learned how to deal with her daughter's behavior, which went from smiling to laughing, to anger (toward her mother), and was repeated several times during our 1+ hour visit.

As we left, Simona mentioned that she has never lived in as nice a place as that apartment. She lives with her mother in a home they have been building.

I have become so aware of the privileges of my life, from childhood. I have always lived in a home, as long as I can remember (except for early marriage in an apartment). A home with bedrooms (plural) and a yard and a car (or more) are just things I guess I've taken for granted. I do believe that if most of the people in Latvia could visit my home they would consider me a millionaire.

Part of that is because of a father and husband who worked hard to provide for their families, and our desire to be self-reliant. Part of it is the advantages of living in America.

Anyway, the longer I'm here, the more I wonder how I will feel about returning to the "luxuries" I have in Bountiful UT.

My continuing education

My visiting teaching partner is 24 years old, a member for 6 years, a single woman who teaches school and hopes to become a translator/interpreter for the deaf. Her dream is to go to Gallaudet School for the Deaf in D.C., but a more realistic goal is to study Latvian sign language and serve the deaf here.

As a side note, it never occurred to me until I came here, that ASL is just for Americans. I mean, that's rather obvious, but I just didn't think about the fact that sign language has to be tailored to the language the people speak verbally.

Anyway, having lived in America all my life, and having never really visited outside of the U.S., I am learning many things that I probably should have known before.