Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dec 27: My FIRST MTC Email

[Pics: The top image is my companion, a Salt Lake City-ite who considered himself a "gangstah". It was an interesting experience, because almost all my negative experiences in school were connected to people who acted like he did, so we got off to...a rough start. We're good friends, now, and just about as soon as we left the MTC, we loved seeing each other and serving together. Interesting, how serving together allowed me to see all his strengths.
The bottom image is of the two sisters also going to Latvia. I felt a stronger connection to the māsas (sisters) at first, because our personalities connected pretty quickly, and they were both older than either my companion or myself, so they also brought (no offense to my MTC comp) more maturity and experience to the table, which helped me get grounded.
I grew quite attached to all three of these people throughout the 9 weeks at the Missionary Training Center, and was strengthened and build by them immensely. As a missionary, it's very important to see and grow from the good of others, especially from other missionaries, because they have so much good. And where you're with these people all day, it's also a matter of sanity to focus on their positives, and let the negatives either roll off or be able to talk about them without anger and offense.]

Yeah. Title. Anyway, I wanted to share how Christmas went for me:

First off, we had a devotional by Elder L. Tom Perry. That was interesting. He invited his family to come up and share things, and he had his grandchildren read scripture passages. The main point of his message was the Christmas centers around Christ, and you can always learn more about Christ by prayerfully studying the accounts of his birth in the Bible.

After, we all received a package on the way out. This package had an 8-color scripture-marking pencil, candy, a MoTab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) CD, some sticky notes, and a few other things. After the following meeting (to be better explained in a minute) we got sack lunches, a CD (in 8 languages), a Christmas card from a family in Utah to the missionaries in the MTC (thanks to them for that), a Christmas card from the first presidency, and a few more treats. Finally, in the last meeting, they popped kettle corn for all the 2100+ missionaries (everything else was also for this same number of missionaries) while we watched Mr. Kreuger's Christmas (an older film about the love that abounds during Christmastime). They let us know that the packages came from donated funds of several thousand people, usually with a heartfelt card or note saying something like, "Thank you for letting us show our appreciation for the missionaries!" Some things were donated by Deseret Book, as well. The kettle corn was purchased with these donated funds. One seminary class of 19 raised $1,200 by themselves--all of which really made me feel loved.

The second fireside was by far the best. No contest. That one started with a message on how to mark scriptures (using the 8-color pencil). After, though, we sang many, many songs. For anybody who knows me, they would know my favorite medium of communication is music. For those who don't know know now. Anyway, we sang continuously, bringing to me immense joy and the Spirit of God so strongly that I felt almost like I had to swim through a tangible substance comprised of Spirit when I left. The song list included: "What Child is This?", "The Holly and the Ivey", "O Come O Come Emanuel", "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", "O Little Town of Bethelehem", "Far, Far away on Judea's Plains", and others. Afterwords, I went home (to my residence hall) and prayed a good while in thanks. The MTC, I have noticed, focuses a good deal on music, which is the way the spirit communicates to me the strongest, so I like that.

Finally, for the last meeting, we came in and found chimes under our seats. Remember, there are over 2100 missionaries in these meetings. They had 59 sets of chimes, totaling over 1100 pipes, covering two octaves. These actually had them divided in two ways: red and black strings on the pipes, and then they were all numbered 1 to 20. The way the songs would go is they had a strip of numbers projected on the screen with a bouncing Christmas ornament marking where we were. When the ornament fell on the number, you whacked the pipe with the butter knife we had as strikers. We did "White Christmas" and "Chestnuts Roasting" for the first two in unison. Then we split: red did harmony, black did melody. We played "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "Joy to the World", "Away in Manger", "Hark the Harald Angels Sing", "The First Noel", "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "Silent Night," "What Child is This?", "I heard the Bells of Christmas Day", "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Silver Bells," and "Oh Holy Night." We then had a playing of "We Wish you A Merry Chirstmas" from our MTC presidency, and finished with a chime rendition of "Called to Serve." It was super fantastic!!!!

I thought that the scripture marking thing was kinda funny, because I read the book that all that info came from right before comming out here, so it made me chuckle [chuckle because I had just been talking to the other missionaries about it, and sharing the ideas from that book, and now, here was a guy who was telling them the same thing. It was just ironic]. I also made a Christmas tree out of hangers, taping some green paper at angles on it and putting our presents underneath. I will send a picture of this a little later (I dont have time to upload it right now...transfer speeds are unknown). It has been requested of me to talk more about the language, so here goes.

The language uses an "s" after words that are masculine singular. The "i" is used for masculine plural. "A" for femenine singular, "as" for plural. There are six cases, including a Locative (for "in Latvia") and a vocative case, used for attracting attention. The alphabet is basically romainized, with a few goofy letters. AAAAA!! I only have 30 seconds left. you all! This work is good, and the Lord Jesus Christ Lives!! Never fear to write me!!!!

[So, a few corrections about the language: there are actually 6 declinations, 3 masculine, 3 feminine. There is no neuter. Masculine endings are -s or š, -is, -us, and feminine endings are -a, -e, -s. That last one is a pain sometimes.
In case-based languages like Latvian, the end of the word will change to match it's purpose in the sentence. There are actually 7 cases in Latvian (note that I will simplify things a lot here, but just so you can get a taste of the complexity, I go into some detail): Nominative (the subject), genitive (possession or in the place of "of", like a table of wood or the Book of Mormon), dative (to sometime or for something--for example, the dative of you is tev, meaning to you or for you. This is perhaps the most complicated case in Latvian. It has so many different uses, that it is crazy! Often used for the indirect object, like I gave the ball to you), accusative (used for the direct object, like I sold the car), instrumental (meaning basically "by the means of", like "I write the the means of a pencil." Also kinda tricky for English speakers, but instrumental is used with a preposition, so any time you can use the preposition "with" in English you use the instrumental prep. in Latvian), locative (meaning in, or at, like a location), vocative (used for addressing living things). You usually only find 6 listed anywhere, because vocative is a very small change to the end of the word, and instrumental acts the same as an accusative preposition, so usually one or the other is left out (poor things).

Also, every preposition commands a certain case, so the noun used in the prepositional phrase is in that case. For example, "we talked about you", the you would be in accusative, because about is an acc. prep. Anyway, that's probably enough about the language for now. Just know that the declination was by far the hardest part of learning Latvian for me. Start memorizing the charts now if you are going to try to learn it! Check out the Wikipedia page about it, or this page in Latvian, but you'll have to do some translating for the latter to be super helpful, but I really like knowing how Latvians think about their own grammar. They love when you ask about grammar using their own words for it.]

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Final Newsletter From Home

It occurred to me that I have no time left here in the states. It's a kinda abrupt feeling for me. I guess it happens to everyone, but you don't realize how close you are until *wham!* there you are. I leave for Utah this Tuesday (18 December 2007) in the morning (or so I hear). From there I will be at my brother's house that night, then report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) early afternoon the day after, on Wednesday. I should be in the MTC for about two months, then it's on to Latvia. Yay!

Due to popular request, I feel it advisable to include a copy of my talk here. Not just for those who asked for it, but also for those who were unable to make it. I think it might be helpful for those reading this blog, as well, so here it is. I have added to the notes I used to give it, so that you could see more what I was aiming for. Here we go:

Blatheration talk given 16 December 2007:
My favorite analogy from all scripturedom is that of the armies of the Lord fighting against the armies of sin. I wanted to put that in perspective, to allow all to know why I have chosen to leave home, school, work, my family, the love of my life, my friends, and my home for two entire years of my life.

First, we know that before this life, we lived with God as spirits. While in heaven, God presented a plan for how we could be more like him. We all wanted to be like our Heavenly Father, so we listened to the plan. First, we couldn't advance any farther without having flesh and bone bodies, like our Heavenly Father has (Luke 24:36-43, DC 129:2). Second, we needed some means to experience hardship, difficulties, problems, and challenges so that we could grow, both in the Lord and in ourselves. We would gain these bodies, come to an earth, and pass through a veil, so that we could not remember our Heavenly Father. That way, we could mess up, learn from those mistakes, grow, and progress. We would need help to return, as we would mess up. Nothing imperfect can dwell with God, therefore we needed somebody to take our imperfections and make up for them. The idea of coming to the earth to become like God, and to share in his glory and power is summarized quickly and well in Romans 8:16-17:

"16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

Two volunteered for the task of leading us on this earth towards that goal, both children of God in high standing (we know that Christ is the firstborn of the Father in spirit as well as physically on earth; Isaiah 14:12, DC 76:25-29 for Lucifer). One was Lucifer, also called Satan, who proposed to make it so everyone would return to live with God again. The catch was that he would make us obey, even to the point of ensuring nobody had any laws given them (for if no laws are given, one cannot be held responsible, therefore they cannot sin). Lucifer also demanded that all the glory for the operation be given to him, since he was making sure we all returned.
The other volunteer was Jehovah, also known as Jesus Christ, who said he would provide a way for all of us to repent of our evils, and be made clean through him. This would enable us to make it back if we wanted to, allowing us to maintain our agency. It provided more growth for us, as we would require faith (essentially trust in the power of a being we cannot see, and only feel the presence of intermittently) and work to learn of His commandments, and to follow them. Jehovah also told us that the glory would be to our Father, and that He would help us make it back if we wanted to.
The battle for freedom to choose turned from a discussion to what the scriptures call a "war in heaven" (Revelation 12:7). Lucifer and those who followed his plan fought against Michael the Archangel (under Jehovah's leadership) and the angels that followed them. Christ's plan, endorsed by our Father, gained more supporters. But many still followed after Lucifer's plan, even "one third part of the hosts of heaven" (Revelation 12:4, DC 29:36-38). We all know which side was victorious. Lucifer and his supporters were cast out of heaven for their rebellion, and we proceeded with Christ's plan. Lucifer and the third that followed him became those to drive us away from God, and to cause us to grow (DC 29:39). To quote the book of Revelation 12:7-12:

"7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (See also Pearl of Great Price--Abraham 4:1-4).

The battle did not end there. As it says in verse 12, Satan was wrathful and came with a vengeance, continuing the battle on earth against those who chose Christ's plan. It began in the Garden of Eden, where he persuaded eve to take of the forbidden fruit. Then continued with turning Cain against Abel. From then on, it has only been a war: Satan against God; those who hearken to the devil and his angels against the Saints of God. This battle is not only a good analogy. It is very literal. There is a being who wants nothing more that for you to be miserable. This being only wants to see you fail, and will do everything he possibly can to make this happen. This being is Satan, a very literal, real being, with real power with his army of hellish angels working without rest to cripple and destroy all who oppose them. Their opposition is any righteous and holy thing. In order to render the forces of God useless, all Satan's host must do is immobilize them. This is easier than you might imagine for them to do: if they can get someone addicted to the television or video games or the internet, or anything else that consumes the vast majority of that individual's spare time to such a degree that they will do that thing instead of other, worthier pursuits, then Satan has succeeded. And its not that these activities are bad in themselves--perhaps somebody has been consumed with learning a language or learning a musical instrument, or even with schoolwork. These are good things. But if they dominate their life, and replace activities such as time with family, studying scriptures, praying, going to church, or making it so that person does not serve his neighbors, it becomes a tool of Satan.
Thus the battle becomes very, very real in all our lives. This brings me to my missionary work in the very near future. This war rages, with many unaware of it. Those who choose not to involve religion in their lives are largely left out of the war, for they are not threats to Satan's power on the earth. A quick story illustrates this: A man known by my father was criticizing the LDS church, commenting on how hypocritical many were. He could see that they preached that a certain thing was unfit for members of the faith, yet they could occasionally be seen indulging themselves in that thing. It wasn't until later, when he became interested in the church for various reasons and began to pursue it did he realize why some fell short. He told my father that he saw a big difference between his life before pursuing God and his life now. Now that he was seeking God, and trying to follow Him, Satan was working much more fiercely against him, and he was finding it difficult to remain on the path. He noted that he felt a tangible power trying to draw him away from the Lord, and that this power, he knew, was Satan's.
Each year, active troops are lost from God's army as they fall to disease, old age, accidents, sloth, sin, ease of mind, contentment, an other vices of the devil (2 Nephi 28:24-27). Those ranks must be replenished. They must be kept strong. I suppose you could think of me as a recruiter, as I am trying to draw all men towards God, and towards the light. I am inviting men everywhere, of all faiths, to fight against Satan and his forces with all they possess, and to create safe zones the globe over, starting in each individual home and extending from there. I possess a further light and knowledge, which I will share will all who desire the strength it provides, and the power it commands. For those who do not want it, I will extend my hand in service, rejoice in the truths we share together, and let them know that there is more if they desire to find it.
That is my mission. I join the ranks of those ever on active duty, armed with the most powerful weapons against the foe ever devised. These weapons are contained on these pages [holds up the Holy Bible and the triple (containing the BoM, DC, and Pearl of Great Price)]. As it states in Alma 31:5.

"5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God" (Alma is the prophet at the time, and had a people hard in heart, and full of wickedness that he desired to return to God).

My deployment in the Baltic States will have been successful if the enemy is forced to retreat upon my advancement, and if the ground gained is held, both while I'm there and after I have left. We all are of this army. Never sheath your sword, never loosen your armor--the war is not yet ended. We must remain faithful, and endure to the battle's conclusion:

"10 [Therefore] strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel" Ephesians 6:10-19 (See also DC 27:15-18).

I want to thank all of you for your support, for without all of you, I could not go in the full armor of God, nor would my weapons be sharp. I love you all, and want to remind you that not only I will be thankful for all the help you have spent preparing me. I know that this church has the full truth of God. I know that I have the power of God to command angels, to heal the sick, to move mountains. I know God is my Father, who loves me. I know Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and that He loves us. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Commander, our Salvation, amen.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just a Few Quotes to Think About

I found a few quotes that make you think a little bit. Here they are:

1) Sir Ambrose Flemming, in his Origin of Mankind, wrote: "The ultimate cause of things and events is a self-conscious and personal living Being. . . . Life can only proceed from already living matter. It cannot be derived spontaneously from non-living matter. We can obtain energy only from some source or body already possessing it. It cannot arise spontaneously from nothing. . . . Accordingly we can infer that the Cause which gave rise to our self-consciousness and powers of thought, must have been itself self-conscious and intelligent, or a Thinker. Hence we may infer that the thought of the Intelligent First Cause was not identical with ours, and therefore this separateness constitutes that First Cause a Person."

2) Dr. Compton, writing for This Week magazine, said:
"Few scientific men today defend the atheistic attitude. Design in the Universe presumes an intelligence. Evidence points to a Beginner, a Creator of the Universe. A physicist's studies lead him to believe this Creator to be an Intelligent Being. The intelligent God has an interest in and relation to man, and it is reasonable to assume that He would be interested in creating a being intelligent like himself."

[One thing that bothers me greatly is people's seeming inability to look at religious topics as they do other topics. The same principles of hard work, studying, trial and proof, gradual development, and relationships exist in religion as in real life: if we don't study or try in school, we fail school; if we don't study and apply the scriptures and our own impressions from the Lord, we will not develop in this life as we wanted to. If we try something in science, we can see if it works or not. If we try something in religion, we also have a concrete response from the Lord--the response, however, is different for different people, but some sort of response is sure if that is a true principle being applied. We don't learn martial arts or to paint or play guitar in a day, week, or even a few months. We learn a little at a time, and we will not understand more complex things until we get the basics. Same in religion. We cannot expect our parents to give us anything anytime we ask, and shelter us from anything bad that is going to happen to us. Especially if we do not talk to them regularly, and have a good relationship with them. Same with our Heavenly Father (God). If we only pray when we "need help", and wait for immediate answers, we are terribly misjudging God's nature, and our expectations will not be met. I feel it important to look at religion more like other subjects. Truth is, after all, stronger than fact. Gospel truths are laws that govern all natural laws we discover. Science enhances my understand of religion, and vice versa.]
3) Albert Einstein, in his book The World as I See It, says on pages 267-68: "The harmony of natural law reveals an Intelligence of such superiority that compared with it, all the scientific thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

All the above quoted from Elder Mark E. Petersen, [LDS Church General] Conference Report [in the Ensign magazine], October 1968, General Priesthood Meeting, p.100.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Missionary Lessons

[There are 5 general lessons in PMG. The first deals with how God manages His truth and authority on the Earth. He always gives the authority to act in His name to one man, who may be allowed (depending on circumstances) to extend that power to others. Adam, Moses, AlmaIsaiah, Nephi, and others (Enoch, Noah, Samuel, Amos, Jeremiah, Mormon, Moroni, etc--find them yourselves) are examples of single holders of God's authority to act and speak on Earth. The 12 apostles all had authority from God to act--that's why they all taught. This authority from God extends to the people that are near those authorized or whom they can reach. For example, both Micah and Isaiah lived and prophesied around the same time. In fact, we know that they lived at the same time, but were called to different halves of the kingdom. Christ called 12 apostles in Jerusalem, and a different 12 in the Americas.

The role of these individuals is to administer the saving ordinances (see the like the the 12 in the Americas) such as baptism and giving the gift of the Holy Ghost. They also receive revelation for large groups of people, to ensure that people follow the Lord. This authority is lost from time to time, and the Lord must call a new prophet, grant him His authority, and teach him. This is one of the functions Christ played during His mortal ministry, as the Jews at the time had apostatized from the true meaning of the Law (see Hebrews for an explanation). This restoration by God Himself and losing of this authority and corrupting God's truths by man is a cycle that has been repeated many times in the history of our world. In fact, after Christ came, the new church eventually fell into apostasy again (see John's remarks about a church leader who would excommunicate any who tried to listen to the apostles). Revelation begins by threatening 5 of the 7 churches in the Roman providence of Asia (see Revelation 3 and 4). There are other things that show an apostasy happened, as well. But, in modern times, Christ has restored His church and clarified His doctrine!

He has done this through a prophet, named Joseph Smith. This man wanted to find truth, but all the different churches understood things so differently, that he was confused. Finally, after reading James 1:5-6, he decided to pray and see what God had to say. He received a vision because of the sincerity and pure intent of his prayer, and in this vision he was told that there was no church on earth at the time with the authority to act as God's organization for salvation, nor one that had pure doctrine. So, young Joseph was prepared over years, until he was ready for the responsibility of being the instrument in God's hands to restore the fullness of truth.

The Book of Mormon is one of the tools used by the Lord to clarify His doctrines. When used together with the Bible, doctrinal disputes are clarified and nullified, and clarity can reign. The best part of this message? We know for sure why were're here, where we will be going after death, what the purpose of life is, how to successfully navigate through life, and how to receive guidance from the Lord personally. That's actually my favorite part: we don't need to blindly believe anything. We clearly know how God will answer our prayers, and learn to understand the whisper of the Spirit, so that we have a direct, ever strengthening relationship with the Lord.

The rest of the lessons indulge on sub-points of that: what the Lord expects us to do, why He expects that, what we receive, what we must give, and how to farther progress in this life towards God. So, lessons include the Plan of Salvation (God's plan, proposed to and accepted by us before this world even existed which included our coming here to grow), the Gospel of Jesus Christ (what we need to do in this life to prepare to return to our Father in Heaven and to progress to the next stage of our eternal progression), as well as various commandments and laws of the Lord. I will discuss those more as time goes on.

My primary message is to investigate honestly what I claim and have to offer, and then pray to know for yourself. If it is, God will let you know in your mind and in your heart. Try what I will teach--you will feel it's effects, and eventually things in your life will even begin to change. That's a promise that has been given by multiple prophets, by the Lord Himself, and by countless missionaries for thousands of years. And, it's a promise that I personally can give, having tried it myself.]

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Purpose of My Blog

My blog is a public documentation of my experiences from my mission. It is designed to allow anybody interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the "Mormon Church," to read our beliefs from a member of that faith, as well as read about his experiences sharing his beliefs with the people of Latvia. The hope is that any interested party will see the effects my teaching had on individuals in Latvia [and myself], and feel a desire to learn more. If nothing else, our beliefs will be laid out truthfully and boldly, for any who wish to know them. This blog is a public posting of my letters home. As such, it may not be perfectly chronological, as a letter mailed home one week will arrive after an email sent the next week. Because of this, privacy becomes an issue. Therefore, names and possibly locations will be changed, but the stories remain the same.

First, an introduction. I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Or, will be come the 19th of this month. My job is to testify of Christ and invite all to come unto him, to repent, be baptized, and step onto the path that leads to Eternal Life. Missionaries are given the title of "Elder," and are known by that title followed by their last name. Thus, I am Elder Argyle. I am 19, though will be 20 shortly into next year. I have been a member of this church all my life. I have, however, spent a good deal of time researching other religions, and spend a lot of time with people of other faiths. I strive to find similarities, and build on those a relationship of trust. My philosophy right now for my mission is to find any similarities I can, build on those, and serve the people until I find people who wants to know what I have to tell them. I will not, however, stop testifying of the love of God, of Christ's great sacrifice for us, or of Their plan for us.

That said:

If you are seeking to familiarize yourself with the church, then I suggest you read the Book of Mormon, because in the BoM you will find the basis of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (shortened to the LDS church, often wrongly called the "Mormon" church, as "Mormon" is a prophet-historian who lived around 400AD and abridged most of the record that is now called the Book of Mormon, after him). In the Book of Mormon you will find not only the LDS core beliefs, but also a promise: after reading and seriously thinking about the book, if you pray to God, you will be told through the Spirit of the Lord whether the book is true or not. This promise can be found in the book of Moroni, the final book contained in the Book of Mormon. It's in Moroni chapter 10, verses 4 through 7. The notation that is commonly used to reference scripture is: Moroni 10: 4-7. I try to hyperlink these passages to the official website of the LDS church,, so they are easier to read in full.

Throughout the rest of my letters, I will use that notation, as well as several abbreviations, listed below (as I don't like typing long things when there's a perfectly good abbreviation out there). For these definitions, I will write the abbreviation, then the expansion, then a brief explanation of what the book is. The explanation will sound a little textbook-ish, but that's the fastest way for me to convey what the book is.

BoM: Book of Mormon - A book of scripture comparable to the bible. It discusses the dealings and interactions between God and the ancient inhabitants of the American contents. It was abridged by Mormon and his son, Moroni, and covers the timeframe of three peoples. One came from the aftermath of the Tower of Babel, discussed in the Bible [you'll note that in those verses, it specifically states that they were "scattered...upon the face of all the earth" (emph added)]. This group lived in the Americas from several years after the Tower through around 140BC. The other group came from Jerusalem during the reign of King Zedekiah, king of Judah, through a little past 421 AD, and split into two peoples. The BoM was translated by Joseph Smith in the 19th century into English, and throughout the 20th and 21st century was/is translated into over 61 languages, with selections in another 38, allowing 99% of LDS members (and 87% of the world's total population) to read it in their native language ("Taking the Scriptures to the World"). The book's purpose is to bring people to Christ, by expounding His doctrine, teaching application of His laws, and living and growing in a relationship with Him. See the introduction of the BoM for more information.

DC: Doctrine and Covenants - A book of scripture that contains revelations directly given to the prophet Joseph Smith when he was alive, as well as a few revelations after him. These revelations are direct communication through authorized representatives in our era. These are invaluable tools for understanding more deeply the eternal laws of Heaven and the purposes of life. Much of the D&C concerns government of the church, and responsibilities of various offices of the church, though many powerful revelations concerning the kingdoms of God (after death and the resurrection), about salvation, and many other topics are also recorded in this book. I cannot explain it's purpose and origins better than do the introduction to the D&C and the Lord Himself. If that's too long for you, read the crux of matter in this selection.

OT: Old Testament - A well-known and widely accepted book of scripture, usually bundled with the New Testament in The Holy Bible, that contains the dealing of the Lord with the ancient Jews (His covenant people through Abraham), and follows their development from the creation through the prophets prior to Christ. Right before Christ came personally, there was a widespread rejection of the truths of God, which were restored, or brought back, through Jesus Christ during his lifetime. Prophesies of this general falling away from truth is smattered throughout the OT, including Isaiah and Amos [please search your own Bible for more as you read in the OT]. The OT covers up to about 300 years before that widespread rejection of truth right before Christ's coming.

NT: New Testament - Another well-known and widely accepted book of scripture, often bundled with the Old Testament in The Holy Bible, that contains four records of the life, miracles, and teachings of Christ, as best recalled by four individuals who served as leaders in the Ancient Church after Christ was crucified, resurrected, and returned to live with The Father again in the Heavens [He continued, however, to lead the newly founded church through revelation, best shown in the book of Acts]. These same four were involved in the ministry of Christ as he lived on the earth, and so each personally knew the Savior. After those four accounts, there is an account of the ministry of Christ through the twelve that He chose to lead the Ancient Church after He left Earth. There are also many letters from members of this group of twelve to various cities or individuals contained in the NT. The volume concludes with a revelation about the history of the world, including latter days (now, or this day and age).

NOTE: The version of the Holy Bible that is usually used by missionaries for the LDS church is the King James version. [However, as of July 2010, the LDS church has only released the Bible together with the church-produced Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide in two languages, so missionaries not speaking English or Spanish buy locally available translations in their chosen language. For example, I have a 1965 edition of the Bible in Latvian through the Latvian Bible Association (Latvijas Bībeles biedrība).]

PMG: Preach My Gospel - This is the instruction manual for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It outlines the basic doctrines of the Church, guidelines for it's application in life, and suggestions for teaching those doctrines and instructions. It is a very valuable read, as are the scriptures listed above. PMG is very good at putting simply the truths of God, and making them very attainable at the most basic level. Some of the doctrines outlined in it will be briefly discussed in the next posting.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )