Friday, August 21, 2009

Churches into Factories

This morning a Lutheran pastor who Charlie had corresponded with came and met us at our hotel to take us to see the site of a church that had one of Johann Maddaus' paintings on its alter. Foreshadowing: note the word had in the previous sentence.

He pointed out a little church in the woods as we drove past it and told us that in 1987, when he was a teenager, he read an article in Soviet Youth magazine about the pastor of this church who knew karate. He indicated that while the article was meant to ridicule the man and his congregation, he was intrigued and set out to visit the church. At that time in Latvia (what the Latvians refer to as Soviet Times) there were few churches and the ones that existed were full of KGB. Only four years later, freedom flowed through his country and they were all free to worship and to speak without fear. This pastor told us that he and many other of the current Latvian Lutheran pastors came out of that congregation.

Today, this man pastors two churches. One that has been restored from its days serving as a factory for the Soviets and the other which has not yet been restored but where services are held twice a month. It is this un-restored church where we believe one of Charlie's great-grandfather's paintings was over the altar. Whether it is in storage with some of the other artifacts saved from churches before they were turned into factories, we were not entirely clear about. I hope so.

Churches into factories
Cemetaries into roads
The systematic destruction of a culture.

Here today, even with the hardships of the difficult economic climate you can feel the energy of a culture pulling things out of the attic and digging their memories out of storage.

4 comments:

The Texican said...

Touching post. Sounds like and interesting trip. I'll be looking forward to the "Rest of the Story."
Pappy

Cindy said...

Had you gone there expecting to see the painting or did you find out as you were on the way there, that the picture was no longer there. Does Charlie have any family members still there, and have you been able to meet them?

Jayne said...

You can read about this time in history, but seeing it and hearing about it from someone there makes it so much more painful and real. You can't even imagine what it must have felt like to see it happening. I do so hope you all are able to find something by Charlie's grandfather.

Jack said...

Sounds like and interesting trip.. You can't even imagine what it must have felt like to see it happening.

--
Jack
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