From Tragedy to Triumph (Hope) …
By Dan Roth, BBI Missionary
ERGLI, Latvia – 2016 has been an eventful year for the Sheep Farm at Eagle’s Wings Camp. It all started with January lambing, a first for us and a successful experiment. Usually we lamb in April. Our aim was to have some winter lambs that would be ready for sale in the late spring and early summer when the price is much higher than in late summer/fall. January also saw the completion of the barn extension. This would allow our 600+ flock to continue to grow. By the end of April lambing, we were expecting to have nearly 1000 sheep.
In the early hours of March 21st, the barn burned to the ground. 564 sheep perished. 70 yearling ewe lambs survived, as did 14 breeding rams. We had already agreed to export those 70 ewes to Russia in the following weeks. There was a sense of total loss. What is a sheep farm without sheep and without a barn to house them during the long Latvian winter?
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Something incredible happened almost immediately after the fire. People around the world felt our pain and grieved our loss. The outpouring of sympathy, kind words and offers of help cannot be properly conveyed in the words of this article. For us it was a miracle. For us it was the hand of God. The words of the Psalmist, “He lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Ps. 113:7) became a reality in our lives.
So the decision was made to start again, to rebuild what was lost. The sale to Russia was cancelled and the work began to clean up the discouraging mess. Most of the money for the new barn was raised before we even had time to ask. After summer camps, our local team prepared the ground work and poured the foundation. In October, a team of 44 came from Oregon and an old-fashioned barn raising commenced. The new barn went from foundation to sheep ready in 14 days. In November, a truckload of sheep arrived from Germany.
It is now December. We have a new barn, in the shape of a cross, standing just to the left of where the old barn once stood. Inside, we have 160 purebred Mutton Merino sheep. Half of the ewes will lamb in April. The new ewes from Germany will lamb a bit later. In the space of a year, we went from a thriving sheep farm to an almost total loss, to a once more operational sheep farm with room to grow and lambs to look forward to in spring.
This Christmas, we thank God for sending Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us. Our Redeemer who brings about the transformation of lives out of total loss. We also thank Him for so many friends who were willing to help during our time of need.
Thank you for your care and generosity!