Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June 4: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Comps, Thai Folks, A Rock-Awesome Couple, and Bugs

To All: distance this week...I forgot to add it up! Letters received: one from G+G A, and a package from the folks.

Several questions. First, zone's what happens there: we all get together ("we all" being the Latvian Zone) and we listen to talks and motivation and such from President and Sister Watterson, a few missionaries (usually two a conference; those are called "workshops"), and a perfect model, where we practice teaching something or a way to do something. That lasts about 5 hours, if you add in the brunch and the lunch. It's usually really good, and this one was good. Sister Watterson, especially, talked about things that I was thinking about and I greatly enjoyed her talk.

Nothing happened to my visa. I go back tomorrow to pick that up. Autobusi here are about like anywhere else. But, there's a fun twist: we randomly have those things show up. So, if you're lucky you get the big, double-decker charter bus, and if you're unlucky, you get the giant mikriņš, which stinks. But, most of them are decent charter-style buses. It is almost always loud, because there's usually a crowd that just talks too much somewhere in the bus. It's quiet enough, however, to converse with those around you, so no worries. Almost everyone knows who the missionaries are, but they don't know what we represent. Usually, people know us as those folks who talk to you on the street. The ocean here is fairly dirty. We aren't allowed to eat any seafood from it because the soviets dumped so much waste in there that the fish are teeming with mercury. But, otherwise, it's just like any other large body of water.

What are my companions like? Well, Elder Bodily is from Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is now in your ward, Ashley, but he didn't grow up there. His father (with whom he lived) just moved, so he's never even been in "his house." He's really cool: he is a Macintosh fan (smart man), he crochets, he's easy-going, funny, a photography lover, and has a lot of amazing ideas. Elder Payne is from Las Vegas, and he loves to tell people that. Almost every Latvian knows what or where that is, and so it creates an instant connection. He's also really cool: we've convinced him he needs to buy a Mac, he's funny, chill, creative, and he makes English class easy! He just gets good ideas for that, and does it. He's also gone to college, and occasionally we have talks about chemistry or physics.

Other Q's: Two best things from last week--I got my camera (in a package frommy family), and we met with a really cool couple. More about that in a sec. Latvian week, school ended. Here, when school starts or ends, the school-goers dress up. They actually were all decked out for the "last day of school," which means the last day before their two weeks of finals. That was definitely odd to feel underdressed in a white shirt and tie (most of the kids also had suit coats...we've dropped those because it's so hot here). The weather has been nice, but now I'm seeing why Liepāja is called "the city where the wind was born." It's been ridiculously windy here, and because there is so much construction happening, it's resulted in a lot of dust blowing everywhere. Bet, nekas.

People we have met with recently:
P. and N.--this is a Thai couple that we spoke with. P. is an old investigator, but N. is new. He was less interested, and actually gave his Thai book of Mormon away to a friend, but N. drank it in and we got her a Thai book for when she returns (they went together to Russia, and a few days after they return they're heading to France...they sure do travel a lot!). I was quite happy to hear an oriental accent, after so long of hearing only Russian accents.

A. and G.--they are that amazing couple I was talking about. They are actually married (YEA!!!) and greeted us with sandwiches, juice, muffins (the first muffins I've ever seen here), mint tea, and good stories. They also had two friends come by, and they both stayed for the lesson. He (the husband) knew about things like authority from God by the laying on of hands, that baptism must be by water and by spirit to be effective, that the church needs to be built on a foundation of prophets and apostles, and several other things. I had a hard time talking a few times because he said things that impressed me so much. And he pulled all that info from the Bible!! Good on 'im! Ready for the downer? He's a member of the Russian Orthodox church, and he's very, very set on that being the only right church. Even though they no longer have apostles...I thought that was interesting. He's closed right now, but his wife felt the spirit, and one of the guests (a girl form our English courses) also felt it. So, we'll see. He just needs to understand and accept the apostasy (that "falling away" and "famine of the word of God" spoken of by Paul and Amos (Thessalonians 2:3; Amos 8:11-12)). We'll see what happens there.
We also had several families, but they couldn't or didn't want to come to our meetings, so that was a bummer.

English class is thriving. We have five new ladies in class that are listening to the spiritual thoughts; J. is going to be baptized on the 12th (as well as R., who is in another level of the English classes than what I teach), and we're seeing more come all the time. We held a branch activity last Saturday, and we had several less active members come and we all had great fun out in the woods! We had a scavenger hunt, a bar-b-q, and played a little on the beach. It was very patikams (enjoyable). Only one downer: there are clouds of mosquitoes here (odi, in Latvian) that are huge! Some were almost half a centimeter across along the body!! And when they bite you, you itch a lot for a good while!

This past while, I have been thinking about faith, and how Christ cannot act among men unless they have faith. Also, the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (the first few chapters of Ether) saw Christ's spirit body before his birth on earth because of his faith in Christ. Christ could not restrict things from his view because of how much faith he had. The question then comes: what is faith, exactly, and how do we get more? I have thought about that a lot, because faith is much more that just a belief in Christ. It's even more than just a trust in the Lord. It's action on His teachings, and a constant striving to draw closer to Him. We need to have a correct idea of who Christ is in order for our faith to mean anything, as well. Because the Jews thought the Messiah would come to liberate them from their political enemies, and they thought He would forever feed them with manna again. They had an incorrect perception, and their faith in that incorrect Messiah profited them nothing. We must also know what and who Christ is to gain that faith. The best place to start is in the Sacred Grove, where Joseph Smith saw Christ and God the Father as separate beings with flesh and bone bodies. Knowing then that the Son is separate from the Father physically, and that they have actual bodies and personalities, we can then start to think about their relationships to each other. And (more importantly for us), their relationship to us.

God the Father is our father. He created our spiritual bodies. He knows and loves us, personally. Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is not God the Father. He is one of our Father's spirit children. He is our Savior, and our Redeemer. His mission on earth included the purchasing of all our sins, so that we can all become clean and return to live with them again. This is stated again and again in the Bible as well as modern revelation. I encourage all to whom these words come to pray to God the Father, in the name of our starpnieks (mediator) Jesus Christ, to know if these things are true. Moroni 10:5-6 reads: 5 "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. 6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is." Listen to the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of all that is true.

That is all for this week. Until next time! I love you all!

Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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