Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 11: Baltic Chŗonīcļe:

Dear All (Visiem):
Last week: 95.01KM (118,224 steps). This week: 80.89KM (101,126 steps).

Very, very good news today to report. But, first, the less important stuff (make sure you read the better stuff a few paragraphs down). Questions answered: Kids here also dress up for the first day of school. Very much. Interesting thing about Latvia this week: I will be attending a graduation. Apparently, the kids memorize a poem and recite it for their folks. They also, after someone's name is called, everybody who's there for them runs down and showers them in flowers and things. It's going to be very interesting. Answers: we did not set up the scavenger hunt. That was Inese S., who is also the one graduating. The barbecue...well, they had a tiny barbie here. The thing was pathetic. The huge odi (mosquitos) are primarily in the woods. Repellent does not phase them. That's like trying to use pepper-spray for anti-aircraft counterstrikes. Or a bb-gun for anti-tank strikes. It just doesn't work. The teaching on Sunday might actually stop for the missionaries. One of the less-active members has returned to church, and he has been called as a teacher for the investigator class. His first teaching was last Sunday, and he did very well. We have mostly adults and elderly people, but there are some solid youth (three kids), and about 7 primary/nursery kids. The youth here are involved with the church and come to activities and such if their parents do.

Typical Sunday for me: get up, be at the church by 9. I then prepare sacrament, set out the hymnals, clean up the church, maybe play a little piano, chat with the members who are there before church starts (usually the same 3). Then, church actually starts at 11. Sacrament meeting I usually pass the sacrament (as we now have enough elders and priests to bless that regularly come), then I either translate for foreigners who are there (a man from Denmark right now), or try to understand a member as they translate from Russian to Latvian for me (usually, very difficult to understand). So, that's that meeting. Then, the Gospel Principles class after is now taught by Janis M.. Then, priesthood is usually taught by President Ščerbeniņš, who speaks Russian, so very little Latvian creeps into that class. Sometimes I have a translator, sometimes no. Occasionally, I also play the piano (1 or 2 notes at a time) for the songs there. Then, we're there for up to 2 hours after doing tithes and offerings (recording those), in interviews, talking with the members, cleaning up again, undoing what we did before church (put sacrament away, put the hymnals away, etc.). Then, we go home, eat, then go on our Blitz! Usually, a Blitz is where the companionships mix up so there's a person who speaks both languages working together, then you go knocking on doors. But, since we are in a tripanionship that already does that, we don't change. Sometimes the sisters change around. We just meet somewhere, and we all knock around that area. Except for last week...our tram broke down, so we didn't get out to that area. We did teach a Jehovah's Witness who wouldn't let us pray or leave any literature, but she talked with us. It was one of the more interesting meetings I've been in. Anyway, that's what Sundays are like.

Now, the good news! First, and most important, there is a baptism tomorrow. Two girls from English class. R. is being baptized by President Ščerbeniņš, and J. asked me to baptize her. R. I don't know all that well. She's fairly quiet in groups. J., on the other hand, has been in my English class since a little before I got here. She, at first, wasn't sure if she wanted to believe what we talked about. Then, she felt the Spirit, and knew what we said was true. She was afraid to pray for a while, though, because she wasn't sure she wanted to fully commit to what is required, I think. But, as she continued to read the word of God found in the Book of Mormon, her desire to draw closer to God and to pray grew until she could not sleep without reading and praying, even after staying up until midnight studying for school! She has worked through this, and she is ready. I have even memorized the baptismal prayer in Russian (which was harder than I thought because the accents on words aren't always at the beginning, like they are in Latvian), but I've got it now, and I'm very excited. We'll do it in the sea. I'll have pictures and such next week. I'm thrilled!

Also, we have found a ready family. Their names are A. and I.. They are not yet married, but they accepted us into their home (even though we got lost on the way and were a little late), told us about themselves, and while we talked about the gospel, we received comments like, "I know we can pray to God and receive answers. I prayed for a wife that doesn't smoke or drink, and look who I found!" and "Well, of course God would restore His church!" When we challenged them to baptism, they asked if they could still be baptized even though they aren't married. It was very exciting!
Our other couple, A. and G., is friendly and still holds open correspondence with us. I don't know how open he is to the gospel yet, but we'll see tonight. They are great, and know the Bible very well. At least, he does.
P. and N. will not return until this week, so we'll follow up with them later.

I wanted to issue an invitation to everybody. In the next 7 days (before my next newsletter comes out), I would like you to read 3rd Nephi, chapters 11-30. That is the pinnacle of the Book of Mormon. After Christ's resurrection, He visited his "other sheep," not of the fold of Jerusalem (see John 10:16). These chapters are what Christ said and did with them. This is pure power. If any of you have ever wanted to feel the Spirit of God strongly, I can promise you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that when you read these chapters with an open heart and prayerfully, then you will feel the Spirit. I will do the same. And after, I will share a little of what I discovered/felt/came to understand (things I better understand or new things I discover).
A great week to you!
Elder Argyle

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