Because of you . . .


Dear Daddy,

Happy birthday! I want you to know  how much I admire you and don’t want these words to be said when it is too late to hear them.

From the time I was a little girl I remember you reading to us; stories fo missionaries, stories of Danny Orlis, mystery stories and the like. It is because of you I learned of Gladys Aylward and because of that God planted a seed in my heart for missions.

Your blessings of prayer with your hand on our heads as kids was and is one of the most special prayers that has ever been said for me. I will always treasure and long for your prayer of blessing!


I am so glad you taught me to care for the eldery by taking me to nursing home services with you. I miss singing with you and playing the piano for those services. I learned from you the great meaning a hand-shake,  and a kind word can mean to an elderly stranger.

I loved caroling with you and our church and hearing your big, beautiful, booming voice.

Thanks for getting us out in nature by taking us on hiking and fishing from the time we were little kids- how much fun we had looking for crawdads in the creek, and hiking in the mountains!

Thanks for believing in my dreams of being a missionary and always supporting me both spiritually and finacially!

I have always  been partial to your preaching, and someone every pastor has been measured in the light of you. I miss hearing your matter of fact, simple, sincere sermons (in English). And always look forward to them when you are here or I am there.

Dad, I admire so much about you- from the way you care for the hurting, to your pitching in with dishes, babies and more. Anywhere you see a need, you are willing to help! Thanks for showing service in action. How I hope I can teach my boys/kids to be like their Grandpa!

Don’t ever stop walking hand in hand with Jesus! Don’t ever let your faith grow stale or your message dilluted!

Stand firm like your forefathers- in the face of all trials!

I love you Dad!

Happy birthday!




Dear Grandma

Dearest Grandma,

Over the last few years I always liked to try to write to you a real note and then. I learned that habit perhaps in part from you. You were so good at writing notes and sending birthday cards to all of us- something so many people don’t do anymore- but that is so appreciated when it is done. Thanks to those of you who still do send REAL cards and letters!

My earliest memories of you were of you being my “Grandma in Wheaton.” We loved going to your house at Thanksgiving which was a placed so packed to the gills with grandkids that we usually stayed at your friend Arija’s house.

I loved getting to help you in the kitchen when I got interested in kitchen work- making those countless dishes for Thanksgiving with a Latvian flair- complete with sauerkraut and piragi 🙂

How I loved when we switched from Thanksgiving to Christmas and we grandkids got to put up your Christmas tree. You had the most amazing lights- bubble lights and bird lights and such unique ornaments.

One could feel the excitement in the air when you would disappear and then come clomping down the stairs in costume- every year you surprised us with you new persona that you were dressing up as. You would give each of gifts you had made, and some you had bought. Your creativty and resourcefulness were amazing. . .

Over the years you made us so many special gifts; circle skirts, stilts, engraved Bible stands, trinket shelves, quilts, dresses and I am sure more that I cannot at present remember.

Then there was the next morning when we would come downstairs or into the dining room area and the mantle was busting at its seems with all those stockings filled to overflowing- how we loved those mornings. Our last mornings with the clan before hitting the road again. Those warm feelings have stuck with me my entire life and are something I am attempting to pass on to my kids. It wasn’t so much about the gift- but about the giving, the caring, the being together.

How much fun we always had at your house. . . so much laughter.

It was from you I learned to eat mushrooms. . . After we got back from our year in Latvia we spent several months living with you. You loved mushrooms- and since no one else wanted to I started eating them with you. . . and learned to love them too.

You were the one who taught me to knit- I remember sitting on your couch in Wheaton as you taught me how to do it- Latvian style- (different than the American method)  and I made my first scarf.

Oh how I loved the treasures and delights of your attic- and how we older girls loved getting to go up there and be allowed to find and take home some of those special items of days gone by- I still have such lovely things you let me have. Thank you!

You have always been so transparent- moved to tears by music- I get that from you. Speaking your mind- loudly– sometimes when it needs to be said- other times when it embarrassed me.  . . (ha ha)

I could go on and on. . . all night about all the memories I have of you and with you.

And how I would love to hear the stories of all of my other cousins and siblings and their kids. An entire book could be filled with all of our memories of you. . .

Love you!

Goodnight till next time




Her story, my story, our story


Several years ago I got the idea that my Grandma’s amazing history and childhood needed to be recorded, preserved, remembered.

I started asking her questions and writing, and asking more questions. I learned a lot about how she lived in Latvia as a child and how she left Latvia as a young lady of 14 during war times.

But along the way I got stuck in my writing. I didn’t just want to write facts, I didn’t want to just write empty history that you read without feeling.

I wanted to bring the years of my Grandma’s childhood to life; so that we can relive 1930-1944 in Latvia. So that the smells, the sounds, the feeling of life in those days would come alive to all of us again.

I started going to museums, and asking questions that nobody readily knew the answers to, and I realized I was in for a job much bigger than I had thought. I realized that to grasp the pace of life in those days I would have to do intensive research, talking with historians, and lots of people who lived during those days so that I could step back in time and write this book as I so desired.

I began writing less and ground to a halt with this daunting task. . . knowing that someday I would receive the push to start again. Knowing that most likely when my Grandma left this world to continue her eternity in heaven I would restart this tale, her story, the story that makes our family who it is because all of us have found our lives, ourselves, our roots in her.

Last night my Grandma left this world and crossed into eternity. I wish I could ask her what it is like to leave this earth and body and enter the beyond. Is it fast, or slow? Do you see your loved ones who have gone before you while you see those you are leaving? What is heaven like? Do you have any regrets as you leave this life to enter the world beyond? And most of all I wish I could have heard her laugh and voice and spunkiness one last time.

Goodbye dear Grandma- your life has changed this world. I feel as if a candle was blown out. Your light was bright. You impacted so many around you. You were bold, fearless, funny, silly, classy, creative, godly, spunky, emotional and so much more- all rolled into one amazing woman! And while this candle of your life is gone- the glow that surrounded you remains- as the warmth and scent of a candle when enxtinguished.

Dievs ar tev lidz atkal tiksimies! 

Chapter 1 of her story. 




Chapter 1

Here is the first chapter of her story- my unfinished work- with much still to be added and edited. Based on fact, enhanced with imagination and love.

This is for you Grandma and for all of us to know you better. 


My story wouldn’t be complete without the people who have gone before me. The lives they have lived and the hardships they have faced. Each of these pieces has influenced who I am and where I am today.

Chapter 1

April 13, 1930. Riga, Latvia.

In early spring, when the crocuses and snowdrops were beginning to peek their heads through mounds of piled up snow another life was about to enter this world.

Young Olga and Voldermars Abers were expecting their first child.

Some few days hence the new president had been voted in, Alberts Kviesis would now lead their country. Olga was nervous, wondering how their lives would change in the days ahead. A new president, a new baby, so many new things. As she slowly cleaned up the dishes from their breakfast, softly singing as she worked around her large abdomen, her mind drifted back to the days before her marriage.

She had always loved to sing, singing was in her blood. She smiled to herself recalling the fun times with her friends, singing in summer song festivals. Singing as they would walk home in the long summer evenings, when the sun barely slept.

Her thoughts grew more serious as they led her to a dark young man, Voldemars. With his dark complexion, eyebrows and an appearance not like other Latvian men. She always had secretly thought to herself that he looked rather like a Mongolian. He was a quiet young man; he had a knack for fixing and creating things.

But his stories from his time in Brazil were enough to chill ones bones. A few years back the Latvian Baptists had migrated to Brazil and he had been one of those to leave the homeland. Young and free he had gone along. But he had disliked the climate and come back to Latvia.

She mused to herself, wondering what might have been had he stayed there, and whether she would have gone so far from home herself.

A sudden cramping in her abdomen suddenly pulled her back to the present and she begin to wonder what might be happening. Another contraction and she realized perhaps her time had come. She waited a bit longer and then quietly told Voldemars they had better head to the hospital. He glanced up quickly from where he had been reading, jumped up and grabbing her coat helped her into it. Then running quickly upstairs he informed Olga’s mother Darta that their time had come and they must get Olga to the hospital.

Darta hurriedly removed her apron and said she would be going along as well. They hurried out the door and walked along on either side of Olga, supporting her when she was overcome by a contraction they made their way to the trolley stop.

Time seemed to drag as the trolley rolled through the streets to get to the hospital. Between contractions Olga noticed  the passersby purchase pussywillows from the street vendors and thought about what a special day this was to be having a baby. On their arrival at the “Otra Pilsetas Slimnica” or  Second City Hospital, Olga was swiftly whisked away from them and they were left to wait and wonder.

Several hours passed in worried silence when a doctor finally came and informed them that all was well. Voldermars eagerly bounded to his feet asking if he might see them? “Don’t you want to know what you have, my boy?” asked the doctor? “Yes, sir” responded Voldemars. “A girl, a dark beauty.” Darta smiled in relief and joy, at long last, a grand-daughter.

A Year is a Long Enough . . .

In January I learned I was expecting our 4th baby. I was very excited- because I had wanted another. After all our youngest was nearly 4 and our first 3 had been 2 or less years apart.

I was delighted to discover my boss and I were expecting at the same time- with due dates apx. 2 weeks apart. This gave us much to discuss over the months and was fun to compare our growing bellies!

The first 3 months I was exhausted and would just fall asleep after meals for naps, even twice a day. I was nauseous- but not as much as I had  been with the other 3.

Perhaps sleeping so much added to the weight gain- but I always gain about the same- always too much for my taste. I always feel like a balloon, swollen and poofy. I’d like to be able to enjoy pregnancy- but I never do- this time was no different. I should clarify that I DO love the feeling of having a little baby kicking around in me. I do LOVE having the ultrasounds and checkups and hearing the baby’s heartbeat. But I struggle with self-image and feeling down about myself while pregnant.

This pregnancy I was also a few years older than last time- thus putting me in the risk group for the first time. And with age comes new health issues. . . This time I had too much sugar in my blood for one standard blood test and so I had to make the sugar tolerance test. You know the gross one where you have to drink sugar syrup and wait and get your blood drawn again? Well my numbers on this test were borderline gestational diabetes-too close for my midwife’s comfort to the gestational diabetes numbers and because of that she put me on a strict diet so as not to go over the edge.

The last 6 weeks of my pregnancy I had no sugar. And this was actually very empowering- I will write about that in another post.

This time around I also had 2 stays in the hospital. The first was because in the summer I got a small electric shock- which scared me especially when I felt the baby jump after I screamed and jumped. I was in the hospital then for 24 hours to monitor the baby- he was fine.

Then just 2 weeks ago I had a strange bout in the store- where one eye seemed to have a flashing light in it. And I couldn’t see clearly unless I covered that eye. I called my husband and asked him to pray for me. And he told me not to drive with my visions empaired. By the time I reached the checkout my vision had stabilized but I was so very shaken up that I couldn’t recall a single pin code for our debit cards. Then when I had to try to explain to my husband’s aunt (whom I had taken to the store) what was going on I realized I couldn’t speak coherently. We somehow managed to get home. I called my midwife and tried to explain to her how I was feeling- but I couldn’t speak in Latvian and even my English seemed to make little sense. She told me to go to the hospital and get it checked out- (my  hand had also become tingly).

So I was admitted for 48 hours for observation and monitoring. I had high blood pressure (for me) upon entering the hospital 130, but nothing too serious. I was 39 weeks when I was admitted and up until then I was trying to get my baby to want to be born sooner. While in the hospital I kept telling him to wait until we got out- because our plan was to have this baby at home.

Thankfully I got out with a clean bill of health on Wednesday the 21st, and even made it to my scheduled vein usg to make sure all was well for a home birth.

To be continued. . . .



The computer screen obsession, by an expat

I sit, hanging out by this black box of a machine.

Not the kind of person who likes killing time, yet somehow glued to this screen.

I hang out on Facebook, and my Skype window is open. I linger on these sites, while browsing and doing other “work” I need to get done online.

Bedtime comes, my local husband is away for the evening- and I feel alone.

I sit here; gazing, hoping, wondering. . . . dreaming. . .

I suddenly see this screen as a window and see myself poking my head through it – searching for someone I know and love an ocean away.

No one is online this evening, they are all busy living their lives and doing their things and I find myself longing to be overthere– with them.

My eyes grow heavy and my bed calls me, and I reluntctly give my channels of communication one last peek- still hoping to see that lone figure waving at me across the space and lines of Internet and catching a glimpse of their far away face through the dark pane of my computer screen window.

Nothing. . . time to go to bed.