by Katie Leatherwood, BBI Missionary
RIGA, Latvia – It started with just an idea. A time of rest for parents of children affected by disability. An outreach opportunity. A setting for families to interact, share and experience God’s love.
This idea has been realized as an exciting new ministry of Designed to Live called [PAUZE].
In Latvian, the word ‘pauze’ means to pause, to stop and rest. With the involvement of Latvian churches, the [PAUZE] ministry hopes to provide a time and place where parents can come and rest for a short time, be encouraged, prayed for and fellowship with others in similar situations, while their children are being cared for with love.
There have been 3 events thus far; Spa Day, a concert with well-known Latvian musicians and another Spa Day.
During Spa Day we wanted to create a spa-like atmosphere for parents to come and relax. The church building was transformed into a beautiful spa setting, complete with candles, relaxing scents, flowers and room dividers for private massage stations staffed with a massage professional from local spas and therapy centers. Parents shared fears, struggles and concerns in raising children with disabilities. They found hope and encouragement from others going through similar struggles. Ladies from the church were there to listen, encourage and love on families, demonstrating God’s own love.
The second event was a family concert performed by world renowned musicians, Renārs Kaupers and Ēriks Ešenvalds. The church was filled to capacity with families and children with disabilities. The music was terrific, kids danced and laughed and families were encouraged.
Church support and involvement in [PAUZE] has been overwhelming and exciting. Each person helping uses their ingenuity and creativity to provide individualized enjoyment and care for each child; playing ball, making crafts, clapping and dancing to music. Each volunteer is genuine and enthusiastic in their care. They take great effort in engaging each child in their abilities, showing no hesitance in dealing with conditions unfamiliar to them. As I watch them interact with the families, I see people that do not see disability, but see God’s wonderful creation.
Parents have expressed their joy and gratitude through smiles, tears, kind words and some in silence. They told how grateful they were for this short time of relaxation, encouragement and rest. I pray that the families involved in [PAUZE] will feel the love of Jesus Christ and that His glory will be shown through all future events.
Families in these situations are seeking hope and comfort in the midst of their sufferings. I pray that through [PAUZE] they will find and experience the One who gives true hope and unending joy.
In May, another [PAUZE] ministry will begin in Ventspils, a city on the west coast of Latvia!