Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Funeral, Baptisms, Pavil the Spider, and 3rd Nephi

All: There is very much to talk about today, so I will be as brief as possible. 105.53KM (131,948 steps) is a new weekly record.

Then, last week (before my last letter--on 7 June) there was a funeral of Mara Svara. This week, on Sunday, we dedicated her grave. Funerals here are a little different than back in America...and it was especially interesting because I knew Mara, and I liked her a good deal.
We also had the baptism of Rita and Jana. Rita is the one on the left on IMG_3009, and Jana is on the right. Jes, it really did happen in the sea (as evidenced by the images). 3026 is right after Jana's baptism. I did it in Russian for her. I was also asked to confirm her on Sunday, which I did in Latvian. There was a great spirit there. I love both these girls, as they think through what we teach them, and accept those things knowing what that entails for them. Something I read in 3 Ne 28:23 - they were converted unto the Lord. They were not converted to pretty words, or to a missionary, or to the people of the church, but to Jesus Christ. And I have seen these two girls accept the Lord their God while we teach. True, the people of the church here have been wonderful in welcoming them, but they have truly accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and all that entails for them. It is a wonderful thing to see! Especially in their eyes, you can see they felt it, feel it, and are strong!

Now, for the trivia and randomness of life here, then on to my thoughts from 3rd Nephi + investigators. Sunday: very eventful. Started with me confirming Jana and giving her the gift of the Holy Ghost, and after church was the grave dedication for Mara Svara. On the way there, a drunk followed us out of "drunk circle" (which is the a circle just in front of the bank right by the church), and he then followed us onto the tram, and out to the cemetery. He found Elder Bodily very enjoyable, enough to show him his real tazer that he keeps in his pocket. He also enjoyed us so much he showered us elders with kisses and continuously invited us to his home. It was about 45 minutes with him, so that was...unique. The first time in my life I've been kissed by a man. I managed to avoid lip contact, however, and just got two kisses per cheek. Anyway, he told us about all the people he has killed, that he was on parole and a former assassin, and that his name was Pavil the Spider. All in Russian, of course. Quite a unique experience.

Latvian Trivia: Ligo is the 24th of this month. It is a huge celebration welcoming in spring. We received an invite from a lady in our English class to celebrate at her place about 80KM from Liepāja, but we can't go. Usually, there's a huge feast on the 23rd, and dancing, singing, and partying throughout the night. This is the celebration where you have the huge crowns made of leaves, also, so I'm looking forward to seeing that!! As far as I understand, there's not a lot of missionary work to do after, because the majority of humanity will have a hangover, so I'll let you know how that goes.

A. and I. have been unable to meet with us, but we have found Aldis on the street a few times, and have a meeting for this weekend.
A. and G. have been very busy with work. No contact this week. But, I found that they had had contact with the missionaries before, so I think that might have been why they were so receptive.

My Latvian is to the point where I can say almost everything I want when talking about spiritual things, and enough to express myself usually in other situations. I was able to explain that my camera fell on the beach and see if it could be fixed. I feel ever stupider in Latvian, as the more I learn and the faster I get at being able to speak, the more I realize I don't know and/or cannot say. So that's always fun.

Now, I read 3 Nephi, chapters 11-30 in the Book of Mormon last week, and invited any of you who read these letters of mine to do the same. Here are some things I learned from my reading:
11:8 - God the Father spoke to them from heaven. Only in three places that I know of do we have God's voice from heaven, and every time was to declare his Son, and encourage all to hear Him.
11:15, 17:9, 17:21 - All came to him one by one. He took time for every person individually. In 17:25, we read that there were about 2500 people. One by one would take a very, very long time! I was struck by the love and patience God has for each one of us!
11:39 - I like that this verse uses the same wording as Christ used talking to Peter (Matt 16:18), showing us the rock is, in fact, revelation and the doctrine of Christ, and not a person at all.
13:21 - Treasure: anything prized highly, carefully retained, and/or regarded as precious. What is our treasure?
15:11-24 - It's so clear that God loves all His children, for he gives to one people the same knowledge he gives to another. He does not deny any who believe in Him His truth.
16:7 - This is fulfilled in Joseph Smith, Jr. He is the Gentile to whom this (the fullness of the gospel of Christ in the record kept by a remnant of the House of Israel) was brought forth.
17:15-17 - This has always been among my favorite passages of scripture ever recorded. They both saw and heard Christ's prayer. What kind of prayer would be visible? What marvelous things would be seen during that prayer? It amazes me!
19:9 - This is very powerful as well. Christ's disciples (his chosen 12) had thousands on their knees praying for what they desired most: the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the same gift I gave to Jana through the priesthood, that was given to Rita just last Sunday. This is among the greatest gifts of God in this life. Why? That is more clearly explained in 2 Nephi, chapters 31-33, in the Book of Mormon. There are, in those chapters, 15 distinct things that the gift of the Holy Ghost does for us. Among those are: communicate God's will to us, testify of truth, cleanse us from sin, purify us, and open to us the mysteries of God. Those are the things we need here in this life. I want to testify that this is a real gift, and that all can receive it if they will but live Christ's gospel and by baptized by one authorized of God (see note on chapter 30).
19:20 - Interesting here. Christ prays several times in this chapter to the Father. He asks that the Holy Ghost be given by the Father to those who believe in Christ's name. There are 3 very distinct beings. Another scriptural record of the three separate beings that form the Godhead.
19:23 - Here is the proof of the above. They are all one. That is, one in purpose. Verse 29 in this same chapter says that the goal is for us to be one with them as well. We are to be united in purpose, as the three separate beings of the Godhead are also united, and be one with them in the same sense.
19:24 - I like this. They didn't memorize things, or struggle for words; they truly wanted to pray to God, and they were given the things they should pray by the Spirit. Our prayers should be led the same way--a true communication with God, not a recital of memorized phrases.
19:29 - Note: our faith in Christ makes us chosen.
19:31 - Again, note how many times he prays. How critical for us to truly pray to God from our hearts!!

I will finish next week, as I am now out of time! But, there is an amazingly large amount of truth and power is these chapters! I love you all!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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