Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 2: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Jam, New Mission President, Airplanes, and 22

All: 95.06 km (118866 steps).
Letters received: Rachel (2 June or somewhere around there), Ashley (from May 20 or so), G+G A (May, and three from June), and G+G J. Ah, and a postcard from EUROPE from Robyn! Thanks to all!

This week, several things happened. One of our English students (J., by name), is a professional hairdresser. She was kind enough to chop my hair for a hefty discount (on account that we teach free English and she likes us), which was cool! But then, during English class the next day, she brought a a bucket of home-made strawberry jam (that she blended, made, and grew herself)! It was...probably the tastiest thing I have put into my mouth since arriving here (and I've had some rather tasty things). She then dropped by Saturday to give us a little more, this time with ice cream and waffles! She's absolutely fantastic!

Our "sports" this week was pretty much us standing in circles playing random games or playing catch, or kickball...but nothing was played for more than 20 minutes. We had our new investigator, J., there. I apologized that we weren't playing volleyball or some kind of sport (as we had planned to play volleyball, but all the nets were taken in a league), and he told me that it was OK, because, "While this isn't sports, it is fun!" So, that was good. Right before sports, Sister Kelly's 22nd birthday was celebrated by the missionaries, Jana, and Inese (Jana and Inese really planned it all, but we did help out a little by blowing up balloons and writing on them). To make the fun last longer, when we were at TGI Friday's in Rīga yesterday, we sang her happy birthday again, and she was given a monstrous sundae for free.'s little adventures...

Speaking of, President Watterson is gone. He's back at home now, having completed his three years as the mission president of the Baltic Mission. And the new mission president has moved in. President Dance. So, we flew from Liepāja to Rīga to meet him on July 1 (yesterday). I do believe that he's going to be good. And yes, we flew in an airplane. The prices for train, and bus between cities just went up (according to the news we saw in the airport, from turns out flying is the least expensive option...and the travel time was 30 minutes or so as opposed to 3+ hours). President Dance studied Latvian and Russian (as well as Japanese and a few others), so I'm excited to see where it all goes! Anyway, that's about it for the news from last week.

Two things from my study I wanted to pass along this week. James E Talmage made a profound statement in his book Jesus the Christ. It reads thusly, "The human mind is loath to search deeply into anything it desires not to believe." This is especially true in the religious sphere. I have found many that will not listen to anything because we are not of "their faith." "Do you believe in God?" I ask. "Yes," they reply. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior from sin?" "Yes." "I am here to talk about Jesus Christ, and how we can feel his love more in our lives." "What church are you from?...oh, not 'my church.' I won't listen to you." Because their family has been Provaslov (Russian Orthodox), or Lutheran, or Catholic, or whatever it may be for the past 4 generations, 6 generations, uz mužiem (for eternity), and they cannot betray the family tradition, they won't even listen to us talking about what they already believe. But, they do not believe as they do necessarily because they believe it, but because that has been the way things have been in their family for generations. It's probably the most frustrating thing to me when people "believe" something for tradition's sake alone. Now, if they have looked at the traditional religion, and studied the doctrines therein taught, and they themselves agree with it, and they believe it because they have chosen so to do, then I commend them. But to not want to believe or even consider that it could be true because it is not what their fathers believed is, in my opinion, one of Satan's most powerful stumbling blocks. He binds people to the dead in a way that I cannot fully understand so that the choices of the now dead govern the choices of their living ancestors. I believe that it is best to approach anything with the truth in mind: that you do not know everything about it. No person ever can know everything about something. They could know a lot, but not all. Every person could know just a little bit more, or something different than I. That is fact. And this is starting to sound like a soap box. Sorry about that. My point is that if people already close themselves off to new ideas simply because they fear their currently-held traditions may change if this new thing is able to persuade them, then they have just limited their ability to grow. If you enter no new territory, you cannot increase your boarders.

The other thing is this (and one that I am going to be working on this week and next, laikam): mercy comes to the merciful. Follow this scripture chain, to see what my line of thought was on this subject:
Matthew 7:1-2. God is a just God. He will return to us what we gave to people in this life. It is important to remember what He said in His perfect example of prayer, from Matthew 6:12. We are forgiven as we forgive. We are not forgiven if we do not forgive others. This is clearly taught from Matthew 18:23-35. Interesting tidbit--10,000 talents was a little more than $9,250,000 (1976 USD), and 100 pence was about $15 (1976 USD). Is there a difference? Uh...yeah. And we need to remember that our guilt against God is very large (as we break his commandments all the time, even when we try to do our best). Anything anybody could possibly do against us is much, much smaller. And if we cannot find it in ourselves to forgive them, God will not find it in agreement with justice to forgive us our larger debts. But, if we strive to follow him, and forgive others, we will be forgiven. That is a promise. Because, "9: Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
10: I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (Doctrine and Covenants 64: 9-10). I will let you know that I have had a very hard time letting some things go. But, the wonderful thing about Christ's Atonement is that He felt everything we will ever feel: all sin, temptation, sicknesses, and the rest. He has power to take any of our negative feelings to Him. I have done so through sincere prayer, and I testify that the liberation has stood unparalleled in my life. The contrast was more striking than anything else I have yet experienced. And you, too, and feel that great liberation. I testify that it is possible, and I bear witness to the reality of its occurance.

I love you all. God bless!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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