Hey all! Good news!! In case you didn't read the title, stop reading now and do so.....all done? Good.
It's to the Baltic mission, and covers three countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. I think I will be starting in Latvia, as I am learning Latvian. Those that hop countries usually learn Russian, not a local dialect. Here is a picture of where it is so you can get an idea (Latvia's name didn't show up for some reason, so I drew some arrows to it so it can be found). The Capital is Riga.
19 December 2007 is when I go to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). My blatheration at church (we used to call them farewells, but have been asked to stop having farewells so a new term is needed...naturally I picked one unique to me...) will be 16 December 2007 at the 28th ward building at 9 AM. If anybody needs better directions, I can get an address and get you directions or send a map from Google Earth or something. I will be speaking to the ward, letting them know where I'm headed, and sharing a gospel message and my testimony.
All I know about Latvian, my assigned language, is that the language is written using Roman characters, and the alphabet has 33 characters (the other 10 (as three are missing from the English alphabet) are Roman characters with accent marks on them). Google "*.lv" for Latvian web sites. You can see whole pages in Latvian, or go to http://www.codefusion.com
To hear strings of Latvian sentences, you can listen to 10 minutes of a Latvian radio station by fallowing this link:
You will need Real player to hear it, as it is a streamed audio playlist that is compatible only with Real (a .rm or .wsx file). This is right on the top. You can also hear more clips below if you'd like (the language sounds pretty cool, actually).
You can also listen to their popular music radio channel, streamed online. That's at http://www.latvijasradio.lv
You'll want to click on Latvijas Radio 2, any of the four links there. This plays as long as you let it.
Quality of Living and the Religious Scene:
I found this at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
[Edit: Not as wealthy as America, lots of poverty, money is NOT evenly distributed, 7% actually care what religion means or do anything other than pray when they feel that they must, and alcoholism is the second biggest problem. "Vienaldzība," or "I totally don't care-ness" is the biggest problem.]
The weather there is very nice...the summers are in the mid 60s to mid 70s, and the winters are toasty: all the way up to -22 F. So, thermal underwear, sweaters, a US$175+ winter coat is needed, and equally pricey insulated, waterproof boots (both to be purchased in Latvia). (The minimum so far is -22. It's usually in the teens to low negatives.)
[Edit: Didn't buy boots--usually only the sisters buy those. It was -33 C, or -28F, the day that I left. That's without windchill, but for the rest of my winters there, it was pretty warm]
I checked on the currency, and when doing an exchange on http://www.oanda.com/convert
1 US Dollar = 0.49000 Latvian Lats
1 Latvian Lats (LVL) = 2.04082 US Dollar (USD)
This was interesting because I thought that the Euro was about the only currency worth more than the dollar...as this is the currency from a small country that's only been in existence 16 years or so.
Every newsletter I write home from my mission will be posted to this blog, so that anybody reading this can keep up on the action in Latvia!
The way this works is that each P-Day (Preparation Day - once each week missionaries have a day that they can email home, read letters, do laundry, go shopping, etc. so they can spend all day the other six days doing churchy, missionary-ish things) I will either email or write home (depending on location in the country and availability of email). Usually you only have time to (e)mail family, so my fam will be forwarding it along to everyone else. Also, emails from non-immediate-family is discouraged, for focus and time reasons. Thus, only letters can get to me from all of you (as they can be read whenever, and don't have the same restrictions on time). Where do you send those you ask? I'll tell you.
Mailing Me Letters!!!!!:
The address you can mail me is what's called a Pouch address. It's a service that the LDS church does where you mail to Salt Lake your letter, and from there it's sent to me wherever I am. You save a bunch because you only pay for postage to SLC. And the address is (drum roll please...)
Elder J. Argyle
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150
You can also call this service on the phone at 371.761.2420. Note: this is good for any missionary. Change the mission and missionary name, and you're good to go (I think). This is their pouch address.
That's about it. I know more about the country than I'm telling (because otherwise this blog post would be long), so I hit just what I thought people would want to know immediately. I have already begun shopping for it, and for any who don't know, I am not paid for this. It is actually costing me several hundred a month to go, plus whatever supplies cost (so far I have two suits that usually sell for $500 each made of wool and very well made so I can wear them for two years...I didn't pay even that much for both of them, though--yay sales!), which isn't cheap. Why do it? Because of my conviction for my religion, my calling from God to preach His Gospel and bring others to Him through faith in His name, repentance, and baptism (important because it is the first two-way promise, or covenant, we make with God that will lead us to live with Him again. There are several others that are necessary, but missionaries are to lead people to the first. The members take it from there). I feel very strongly about my religion, and I know that it is the only one that has authority from God to perform the necessary covenants and services in a way that lasts this life and eternity. It is also the only religion that has the fullness of the truth of the Gospel of Christ, and the only path that will lead you fully into God's rest.
Because I know this (as the Spirit of God has testified to me, and made clear to me), I want to share it. So not only am I obligated, but I strongly desire to share it. As has been evidenced to those getting my Cali letter, I thrive on sharing good things with others. Nightwish, Lyon Lazare, and wondrous stories are only a few things I have shared. Now, I will share the Lord's light and mine with as many as will listen.
[Note: I have edited slightly almost every post as of 2010, when my mission ended. Additions will be in red, like this note, and other changes are for clarity's sake. It's hard to be clear and detailed in only an hour or two rapidly typing with all kinds of other distractions around.
Any thoughts or questions, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org !]--
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