Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Apr 2: The Baltic Report: Transfers, Tallin, Opposition, and Yogurt

Well, in this week's edition of The Baltic Report, I have several very eventful tales. First off, we are having (I should rephrase that: Rīga and Jelgava are having) freakishly hot days, creeping up into 10-20 degrees Centigrade! (which is 50-60 in US degrees). It was actually a little above 20 Sunday in Jelgava (my final day there). It was nuts! My last little bit in Jelgava saw A. disappear, V. is still missing-in-action, E. still fights what we say a little bit and told us he doesn't want to get married, and R. just got a new job, and it happens to be during Sundays, so he won't be able to come every Sunday. That leaves us one member that comes to church...and I think he mostly comes because he likes Elder I'm a little worried about how Jelgava will go (our other members have failing health, just moved for the summer for work, or can't make it due to work or something else...). We tract simply by walking around the streets and talking to anybody who's in our path. We don't really plan out where to go unless we're "harvesting" (knocking doors), when we pray and go wherever the Spirit tells us. And, quickly, we meet with R. about 3 times a week.

Before I get to the big news stories, the questions:
The breads are usually soft, though they do have a few of the harder kinds. In church, yes, we missionaries do everything in Jelgava. We have three members that hold the Aaronic priesthood (which is the authority needed for them baptize, bless and pass the sacrament, and that's about it in church meetings). R. is close to receiving the Melchezidek priesthood (giving him authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost, bless the sick, and do everything else that God needs him to do). I just read that my cousin's visa for his mission to Brazil didn't come in time, so he cannot go to the MTC there. (He will be going to the MTC in Provo until the visa arrives). Stay tuned for my visa tale...

And, as I have alluded to several times, I did get transferred out of Jelgava. But, because I suggested in my last report that I may be going to the office, I wasn't sent there :P Instead, I am in Liepāja--the windy city. [Liepāja refers to itself as the Windy City, and there's a song dedicated to the city calling it the City Where the Wind is Born.] This is a coast-side college town [it has a college, but isn't a college town. It would be better described as a party town, because it holds all kinds of summer activities.] (Jelgava is a college town also) and there are three companionships for this city: 1 set of Latvian speakers, 1 set Russian speakers, and 1 set of sisters. I'm fairly excited. But, I only got here today. I was supposed to arrive Monday. Here's where all the excitement from this week comes in.

Monday Morning, Jelgava Autoosta* (Bus station, you could say): Elder Doane and Elder Argyle awaited the bus that traveled to Liepāja. In the process of waiting for three hours, a lady stopped by and conversed with them for about two hours. And during the course of that, another lady came up to them. "She saw us from across the street, and speedily walked towards us to confirm we were LDS. She spat out the word 'Mormoni?' to which I nodded a confirmation," Elder Argyle told the current reader. She then proceeded to attack their religion with a great variety of illogical slander. She then supported all her claims with "I read it on the Internet!" Well, after, the Elders calmly explained that they are God-fearing people who have nothing to do with wickedness of any kind if we can help it. It was...interesting. The former lady commented that the later, raging lady looked pretty foolish, because she was raging over something and the missionaries calmly listened and did not retaliate.

But wait, it gets better. The nice lady left, and we got a phone call. It was suggested that I not go to Liepāja after all, because I'm just headed up to Tallin (in Estonia) to get my Visa tomorrow. So, I went to Rīga, where I waited for about half an hour. During that time, a Born-Again found me, and without any anger, rage, or negative emotion that I could detect, simply told me how he had found God. He then encouraged me to search for God myself, and during some quiet time, ask God to look deep into my heart and tell me what He sees there. That was a lot better than the other station. From there, I was given to Elder Brown (yes, my old MTC Comp) and his comp, Elder McIlrath (Makelrats in Latvian). Makelrats is the same "age" as Elder Doane (meaning he also only has this one transfer (6 weeks) left on his mission). I tracted with them through Rīga for a while, then was passed off to Elders Pain and Grey, who were just forced from their apartment (they had been very ill-treated by the landlord, and after they insisted he fix their stove and water heater and the heating for their apartment, he apparently got tired of them and told them they need to be gone by the 1st of April. That was tomorrow, at the time of this tale). So, I helped them clean.

We blew a fuse, leaving one half of the apartment in the dark. We did get everything packed away though, and I made it "home" (being Elders Brown and McIlrath's place) around 22:15 (usually, missionaries are to be in their apartments by 21:00. Then in bed by 22:30. So, this was very, very unusual). When I woke up the next day, we rushed to the Rīga Autoosta*, where we caught the 8:00 a.m. to Estonia. We arrived a little before noon (long drive...). We then pulled 350 Krons apiece (that's the Estonian currency, which is fairly useless. 300 Krons is equal to a little less than 15 Lats, or 30 US dollars) to buy a ticket home. We then went for our Visas, which cost the mission a great deal of money (I was shocked when I heard the amount, and no, I will not relay that on). Then, we hit a pancake restaurant. Yes, it only makes those delectable pancakes I described in the last letter. And they're huge! Totally worth the 2,50 LVL (or 50 Krons) they cost! Then, Estonia is world (or at least, Baltic) renowned for their dairy products. The Estonian ice cream I bought in Jelgava each week was my only past experience, and I will tell you that it is the most delicious ice cream I've ever eaten. And that includes local dairies I've eaten at! So, we had to buy some yogurt (missionaries are willing to pay upwards of 10 LVL for a particular flavor of Alma jogurt, they are that coveted). I got that particular flavor as a surprise for my new companion in Liepāja. We then left (at 14:30) and arrived home at 19:30 (or so). I sat through one meeting, then retired to bed. Elder McIlrath really wanted some of that yogurt I had...unfortunately, we ran out of time before I could give him any.

This morning was a quick sprint out to the Autoosta (because of our taxi's arrival time, we didn't have a lot of time to get ready or eat Alma Jogurt. HA! I just realized what I've been doing...the "j" in Latvian is a "y" in English. So, yogurt is spelled jogurt. And I've been spelling it with a "j" this whole letter! I love it!). I grabbed a bus to Liepāja, which left at 8:25. I arrived around noon (again). But, two exciting things from the bus ride. Ok, three. One: I talked to the lady sitting next to me (across the aisle). She had asked if I had change for her 5 (because tickets are 4.50 and the driver had no change), and I didn't know that word. So, I was able to learn the word explained in Latvian!! 2) I bought some Estonian Dark Chocolate with raspberry chunks in it (so, so, so beyond good) and 3) I saw a fairly large wind farm operating just outside of Liepāja (said to be the place where the wind is born). That was exciting to me as well.

OK. Next week will be about the work. It's just everything kinda faded from my efforts in Jelgava, so there wasn't anything exciting to report there, and I have been here in Liepāja for a whopping 3.5 hours, and I haven't met anybody but my companion and the Russian elders here, so nothing new to report here. But, next week will be all about the work. I love you all, and I know that this is where I need to be! The Spirit fills me each day, especially as I testify and teach! God is, and will do anything his children let him do for them!
*Autoosta - The central hub of travel. Autobusi (big buses), Mikriņi (singular is Mikriņš. Their full name is Mikroautobuss. They're small buses. Basically, they are big 16-seater vans), trains (I don't know the Latvian word for those things yet [vilciens]) and taxis (see last parenthetical note [taksometris]) leave from this station.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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