Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mar 12: Hail from the rainy Baltics!

For All: First, thank all of you for your birthday greetings! They made my day (as this week was a little bit rougher than I hoped for). I actually cannot tell you how much they meant to me, so thank you! And parents, I loved the little notes you put on the packages. I think that's a tradition that I will continue when I have kids!

The question and answer session: Yes, most of our contacting is done on the streets. We also go "harvesting" from time to time, which is door to door. People almost always live in Domes (big apartment complexes) because that is what the Soviets built for everybody and that is what is the easiest to maintain. They are also what is cheaper for people to live in. I usually eat potatoes, soups, eggs, and a lot of things between slices of bread. They have all kinds of stuff here, but I normally don't eat anything but the basic staples. The water is unsafe for us, but we do have filters here. [Actually, the water is almost always free from microbes and such, but the danger lies in the high concentration of metals from the super old pipes the water runs through, so the filters usually just pulled that metal back out.] My regular day I will have to do another time, as I am short on time. I do not buy bottled water, as I think bottled water is usually a fairly foolish idea. [This was my idea from the states, where it is a foolish idea to, in a country where we have arguably the best water cleaning and purification systems in the word, buy water for what turns out to be 3-4 times what we pay for the same volume of gasoline. I have since learned that ideas that are valid in one locale are not always valid in another.] I e-mail from the internet cafes around town. There are few houses here, and they are not very colorful. They are mostly browns and reddishes, and various other colors of age and concrete. The roofs? Random...they are shingle, metal sheets, and sometimes a few other things. The people dress very much the same. There are a few colorful folks, but most of them are plainish. I have mostly heard rap and techno of various kinds blasting out of people's speakers. It all sounds like the same to me (there're two different kinds of beats or so and that's it...).

There is an update on V.: he is still very eager to do what we ask and keep all his commitments. He loves to learn more about the gospel. But, he was unable to quit his job like he wanted. They wouldn't let him, so he's stuck there for a another week at least. But, he is definitely quitting when he gets the opportunity.

As for the things I jotted down to write home about...the list is a lot shorter than last week. Here goes:
The 8th of March was Womens Day here (sorry, ladies, for forgetting to mention it until now. Nothing like a late celebration! Tell your husbands!). That was definitely interesting. We also got me a cake! I sent a picture of that with this email.

It's a really good thing I love rain, because we've been seeing a lot of it! Mostly, it's like the rain in DC or Washington or somewhere it rains a lot in the summer (light mist, with a rare downpour that will soak you good). And it's rainy A LOT!

I discovered that in Rīga, (the capital of Latvia, where the mission home is), at the church, the members name the various poles poking out of walls and ceilings after missionaries. I was given a tour of the missionary poles, which I found definitely interesting! [To clarify, these poles are water pipes which are used for heating in the winter.] The members here are amazing, and I love them dearly! We have one here in Jelgava who is so deeply immersed in studying the scriptures that he can whip out several scriptures to answer any question and knows his scripture stories backwards and forwards. I love him!

We also had a freakishly hot Monday (it was clear up to 13 degrees! And remember I'm talking C, not those crazy F things you use back home). It was sunny and just crazy all day!

While sitting in my apartment studying one day, I noticed that the sun went from behind the horizon to above the building next to us in about 20 minutes! The sun rises fast here! (pictures of a glorious sunrise to come)!

Enough about those things. The work is going fairly well! I am rapidly advancing in the language (due mostly to talking to people all the time and praying very, very, very hard each day before I go out). I was able to get a phone number on Monday from a man named P. who speaks an unknown amount of English (he gave me his number in English). But, I have been able to talk to R. (the aforementioned member) today for about an hour, and I was able to understand almost all of what he said and could answer his questions satisfactorily! That was very exciting, because I majorly messed up the language, and almost convinced a person to never involve himself with the church again! Fortunately, Elder Doane was there to clear that up. (hee hee)

Speaking of Elder Doane: we spoke with this man last night. He told us that alcohol is the most powerful thing there is! He tried to drop it, and couldn't. And he knows from experience that it's stronger than faith. Well, within 10 minutes, Elder Doane had him saying "I want to quit! When can you meet with me and my family?" It was really cool! Doane can slip into people's heads with ease here. I've also talked to many people here who tell us they have no time for church, or God. But we mention baptism, and almost all of them have told us that they can come to us whenever we need them to! I love it!!

Anyway, I have almost no time left. I will send this, a few more pics, and call it good. Sorry this is so short: I was interrupted and now we're on a time crunch! (a note from Jordan's mom--he was interrupted by US--we happened to log on right when he was writing us, so we did a little instant messaging and it was really great! :) We found out that Latvia is 8 hours ahead of us here in Idaho Falls, so now it's easier for us to picture where he is in his day. Anyway, sorry we took away from his group letter, but it was way worth it for us :) And he'll write again next week.)
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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