Posted by: bkropf | May 8, 2008

Building a Church

Because both Tyler and I were not really enjoying Riga, for various reasons, we decided to see about going into the Latvian countryside. Tyler had worked at a camp a couple hours outside Riga a couple years ago. He called the people at the camp to see if they needed help. Naturally they did so we caught a ride with a guy to the countryside to help build a church.


The guy’s name was Edmonds. The funny thing about Latvian names is they add an ‘s’ to so many words. For instance ‘bar’ is bars and ‘Tyler’ is Tylers. Edmonds was really nice to talk with. He informed us on everything from Latvian healthcare to his travels in the United States. Surprisingly he and a bunch of his friends listen to Mars Hill sermons online.


Getting to the small town near the camp, we met Marvin. I really liked this guy and the work he was doing. He is originally from Salem, Oregon, but he grew up in Africa. After college at Oregon State he lived in Mongolia for 2 years and now he is in Latvia for 2 years helping build a church and run camps.


As soon as we were dropped off we started working. It was sunny and hot so about 30 seconds into the job I had sawdust stuck to every exposed piece of skin. Our job was to cut out pieces of plywood to connect the support braces on the trusses for the roof. The skillsaw failed to have a blade guard which really worried me but I still have all my limbs and fingers.


We met a giant man named Bruce from Olympia who has been living in the area for 5 years.


We met a Latvian guy named Dicks (American name would be Dick). He was really funny and worked as a contractor. He had obtained the ultimate driving machine, a minivan. Marvin said that in Latvia minivans are considered a pretty sweet ride. Oh how I wish that were the case in the Willamette Valley in the late ’90s. I would have been a cool kid in my ’86 Dodge Caravan (Probably not but at least I would have had what was considered a nice mode of transport)!


Latvia has no hills. The countries main ski resorts are in the village we stayed at and the resorts only had rope tows. Also at the top of the hill there was a huge ramp built to extend the height of the hill. I had to laugh inwardly.


Has anyone read Asterix and Obelixs books? Well they were one of my favorite books growing up. I guess they are a bigger deal here in Europe and they even have some cartoons. I watched one after work.


The second day of work we started building the trusses. Our time improved from around 15 minutes a truss to 6 minutes. We completed all 24 in one day and Marvin was really happy to get the job done in two days instead of the many days he was worried it was going to take.


The third day we were there we tried to put up the trusses. Almost immediately we realized we were not equipped for the job. I lack balance when perched on the top of a narrow wall trying to hoist a huge truss into place. Marvin was limited by the fact his help lacked talent. We gave up soon and Marvin and I grabbed a canoe and explored a local river for a couple of hours. It was interesting to learn some of the pros and cons of being a missionary. I learned a crazy fact that Marvin knew a close friend of mine from college, Mary. They went to HS together in Africa.


Nearly as soon as I arrive back in Oregon I had planned to go to Mexico for 3 months on a mission trip. I was not really look forward to leaving so quick and missing out on all the fun in Oregon during the summer (and number of other reasons). Lucky for me the trip has been moved back to August so I have some time to recoup after this trip and work for a bit before leaving again.


Do most people have strong sense of internal locus of control? I have been thinking about it some lately and I believe I do feel like I have a strong sense of internal locus of control. In general, I feel that I can affect my environment more than my environment affects me. Things don’t just happen, people need to make them happen.



  1. That’s so great you got to help out building!

  2. Glad to read of your travels.
    As regards your inner locusts…Without Christ you can do NOTHING!!! In Him you live and breath and have your existence!!! Christ living in you ..all things thru Christ who strengthens you…
    I know I can respond to you like this, I’m old…what? are you gonna argue with your elders? Love from stateside. Linda<

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