Matīss Kārlis Gross is a freshman studying Theology. This Fall, he came from Latvia to study at LCC, to deepen his faith, and create deep and close relationships. Although he is Latvian, he did not spend the first years of his life in his home country. Before he and his family moved to Latvia he lived in Melbourne, Australia for eight years. Read more about his story.
When Matīss lived in Australia, he went to an international kindergarten, where students of many different cultures would learn, immersing them in the multicultural environment. So, the transition to the international community at LCC did not surprise Matīss as much as it might for others. However, when he moved to Latvia as a young boy, the integration was not that easy. Although he was fluent in Latvian, the other kids could hear his Aussie accent. Matīss says that perhaps he was also smiling a bit too much, which probably made him stand out from the local crowd.
Although his parents met in Australia, both have some Latvian roots. His mother is Latvian, and his father is Australian but does have Latvian (and German) ancestry too. Though Matīss was not born in Latvia - he is Latvian by descent.
Matīss’ father, Karlis, is a highly educated material scientist, who also specializes in making gelato. He mastered the technique of making gelato when studying at a university in Italy. His father introduced Matīss and his brother to Italian gelato, presenting them with the techniques and flavors at a gelato exhibition in Italy. Matīss learned all about making gelato and other types of ice cream. He wishes he had the supplies on campus, so he could make and share them with his floormates and friends.
Before coming to LCC, Matīss took a gap year and studied in the Baltic School of Ministry in Latvia. During that experience, he truly deepened his faith and saw how God works in him. He encourages others by saying, “Just try to do what God wants you to do, take one step, no matter how absurd it is, and let God work and do His thing because there are so many wonderful things and wonders He can do if we just step in obedience.”
He first heard about LCC from Geoff Dyer, the father of one of our previous students, Will Dyer. Geoff is an Australian missionary living and serving in Latvia. After hearing about LCC, Matīss did his research. He was attracted to LCC because of its values, Christian environment, and well-developed Theology program. He especially liked the idea of being able to study in a language that he understands well.
Now that he has been at LCC for two months, Matīss points out that he enjoys the many events and activities that LCC provides outside of the classroom. He enjoys going to worship nights and participating in his floor events. One of the events that he highlights as a favorite is “Philosophy night,” led by Benjamin Groenewold and Tricia Van Dyk. His favorite class so far is History of Civilizations, because he thinks Joe Harder’s dance moves are entertaining.
Like many others, Matīss enjoys walking in the forests or going to the sea. Surprisingly, Matīss actually likes the strong Baltic wind that usually diverts many from enjoying the sea. He likes to call himself an “adventurist” as he delights in visiting new places and exploring around Klaipėda. Sometimes he even likes to get lost in the woods. One of his hobbies is cooking. He enjoys making custard, Chinese pancakes, bread pudding, and other interesting foods. He also likes socializing with other students and playing games, whether that's board games or sports.
What was he expecting to get at LCC? Matīss shares that “I would like to get a good education and make friendships that will last. Also, I seek to develop myself as a person – improve my skills and the parts of me that are God-given and special.”
Matīss has always felt a calling to follow the Christian path. He made a commitment to Christ when he was around 16, and then got baptized around 18. When he got baptized, Matīss had a vision of what it means to be a new creation in Christ, which made him appreciate the gift of salvation even more. After he graduates, he would like to become a missionary. He does not know where yet, but he would like to serve for sure. He does have a sense that it may be in Latvia.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of LCC International University, Matīss’ wish for LCC starts with a quote from the Bible from Ephesians 3:17-19, “You, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.” Matīss continues, “May God in this new time truly give the LCC Community the gift to know the abundant love of Christ, and through this to be filled to the very fullness of God!”
Photos from Matīss’ personal archive.
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