Thursday, January 17, 2013

Latvia Abandoned Villages # 2

SA history in Latvia since 1939

“Our elderly grandmother is suffering from a very serious illness, and we sometimes wonder how long she can hold out?” The message had been sent from Riga to Commissioner Carl Larsson, who was the leader of the Salvation Army in Sweden and Latvia.  ‘Are they internal or external injuries?” Sometime later the reply from Riga; “External! It’s the raw climate that’s to blame, and a sudden onslaught can not be ruled out!?

It was a time when all mail was censored, but the message nonetheless reached its destination. What lay behind the obscure communication?  It was the Salvation Army in Latvia and it had been targeted by severe hardness and in its message TSA was referred to as ‘grandmother’. A poet once wrote the: “The Army is my mother”, but now she’d been transformed into a sick old grandmother.

1940 and the Soviet occupation signals Grandma’s passing


“It was the autumn of 1992. It was my first visit to Riga. The new sanctuary was to be dedicated at Bruninnieku iela 10. We left the airport, everything was grey, just plain grey, no colors on the houses nor in the windows. The people walking on the sidewalks were grey, yes, everything was grey. The only colors one saw was the array the autumn leaves displayed.

The sanctuary was full and it was a celebration.  And there were colours, mostly from all the flowers brought along by the Latvians with which to welcome us. We sang, and I  prayed, and we thanked the heavens for this God gifted opportunity. Here tears of happiness and thanksgiving flowed freely…”

Major Alvine Boludes testimony from that meeting has been firmly embedded in my heart ever since that evening in the renovated SA sanctuary. She is one of the female officers that were part of the corps from the time prior to the Soviet occupation

What is it that I still keep in my heart? It was that she told in her testimony how for 50 years she has prayed that the Army and our hall be returned to us, in order that she could again; “celebrate services and invite sinners to the mercy seat. I have stood countless times (through these 50 years) outside the gates and spoken with God about this. And now, we are living the answered prayer.”

Kommendör Sven Nilsson

Baltic Bridges, Commissioner Sven Nilson (translation: Sven Ljungholm)


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