Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apr 23: Baltic Weekly

For All:
Good things come to those who patiently wait. This week has been amazing. I want to share the best things first, then go to the normal questions and other things.

We've been plugging along, faithful, finding nobody to teach other than D.. D., first off, is amazing. He's a body builder, and is allowing the gospel to change him. He tells us every time we meet that he feels amazing!! He feels peace. We taught him the Word of Wisdom (WoW, from now on). The WoW includes not drinking alcohol or coffee at all, and no smoking. Well, he does all three. But, when he went on a trip to the country this weekend, he was determined not to smoke. He picked that up when he was serving in Iraq from the American troops, if I recall correctly. But, he told us that his desire to smoke is now 100% gone. Period. He doesn't drink alcohol a lot, so he told us that would be easy. It's coffee that's giving him a hard time. But, he told us he would do it. He has a light in his eyes and you can tell very obviously that he is changing for the better. And he loves it! [To clarify, he was changing many things in his life, and getting closer to God in so doing. A fellow was somewhat upset at this paragraph, because he felt I was saying that turning from alcohol, smoking, and coffee completely make you a better person. In general, cutting harmful things from your life is a good thing, but my specific phrase "changing for the better" referred to many aspects of his life, not just his addictions to these substances.]

I love teaching D., but I would like to teach more than one person. Well, we ran into a rather quiet man named V. (yes, I know we've had bad luck with people named V. moving or vanishing in the past...) who was rather remarkable. I wasn't able to do a full contact because he was with his mother's sister, who would not stop talking. But, I told him that we talk about baptism in Christ's name for a remission of sins. Then, I said, "Could I write your phone number, because it's a little loud on the street to talk about these things." He said, "Of course!" He gave it to me, then said, "V.. My name is V.. Write that. V.." On Sunday, he came around 9 a.m., I'm guessing, and we weren't there (as church starts at 11). But, he called us, asking where our church was. We came, and he was waiting. We taught about the Restoration, and he returned for church at 11. He told us he really, really wants to be baptized, so...we'll do what we can to make sure it happens.

We also found an amazing family. We talked to the father while he was smoking outside last week sometime. We met with them this Monday. They are a beautiful family, and are anxious to learn. The wife speaks mostly Russian, and understands a little Latvian, but it was good. The Spirit was very powerful during our meeting! I loved it! Their names (so you can pray for them if you'd like) is S. and L.. They have two little boys. One is four years old, the other about two days. We also have some 4 other people to see next week: a couple, a kid who talked with us in Rīga, but was lost between cities (the missionaries lost his number), and a few others from my companion. It's amazing!!!

Then, K. still is skirting baptism. He seems to think he can wait for eternity. But, he can't! Anyway, we're going to have him pray about when he needs to be baptized, and see what happens. We've also been doing a lot of member meetings, most of them inactive. But, the faith of most of our members is palpable. So, all in all, it's been good.

OK, *deep breath, big grin* now, about the questions *focuses* here goes:
Most of you have probably not been starving. Neither have I. But I received a care package (that appeared unopened, by the way, mom) full of amazing American food. Now, I have one thing to say about American food: maybe it's unhealthy sometimes, but you do not get tastier!! We felt as though we had been starving and had suddenly received a bounteous feast! Particularly the crackers and the candies. Wow.. that's all I have to say. Wow. A comment on Raman Noodles: There aren't any here. But, they have something kinda close...but I don't really have pots. So, I have to use that amazing coffee-pot water boiler thing to make myself hot water, and then I let it all soak in my bowl. It works...usually...

Pedometer! Here's my distance for this week (from last Tuesday until yesterday: this Tuesday): 89.93KM, with 112,320 steps (excluding morning jogs). So, there ya go. I will include this information each week. Stay tuned.
Life was incredibly crazy last week. One of the Russian elders was called into the office to be an office elder. That left his companion alone. So, we are now a tripanionship in our tiny little apartment. As it turns out, the other Russian is Elder Bodily, from Idaho Falls, and his mother used to be in my ward (N.). Small world, eh? We get along quite well, and we've been having an interesting time splitting the fridge (barely big enough for one) to stretch for three. Fortunately, they have something we like to call forever milk. It lasts about half a year outside of the fridge in these special 6-layer boxes. The milk tastes pretty much like box, but it lasts forever and is definitely better than the tastier milk that lasts about 2 days.

As far as weather goes, we went from random bitter cold and totally unpredictable weather to gorgeous, sunny, breezy days that hover around a fantastic 55-65 degrees (yes, F. I don't know C well enough to guess about what it is...). That, in fact, is my perfect temperature. If only the sun wasn't shining quite so brightly...that gives me incredible headaches...anyway, it's been gorgeous weather the past few days.

In church, we watched "the Restoration," which talks about...well...the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth through Joseph Smith. I realized that the members of the church in early times met in houses, and we, here, meet in rented apartments or rented offices. So, it's sort of the same. I just found that parallel very interesting.

Then, from my studies about Christ, I was impressed with the following things:
I quote from Jesus the Christ, by Talmage: "To deny the actuality of miracles on the ground that, because we cannot comprehend the means, the reported results are fictitious, is to arrogate to the human mind the attribute of omniscience, by implying that what man cannot comprehend cannot be, and that therefore he is able to comprehend all that is." I think this is rather pointed. There is not a single soul alive that will say mankind knows everything there is to know. Furthermore, it was pointed out that God lives in the natural laws of the universe. He simply fully understands how they operate, so that he can use them fully. When we throw a ball, it might appear as though the law of gravity had been overcome. But, we know that gravity continues to operate, and that it is only overcome temporarily by the acting of a higher power. God, in the same manner, simply applies a greater power when necessary. All the laws are still operational.

I was also impressed with Christ's comment: "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." (Luke 5:31) What would happen to a doctor that avoided the sick, and chose to stay among the healthy whenever he could? In the same way, we, who know the truths of God, need to get out there and mingle with the spiritually "not-whole". Their malady is no less real. And the healing that we can lead them to is equally real.

I think that's all I have. I love it here, and I'm truly beginning to feel like a missionary! I think one of the biggest reasons is because I understand, and I'm starting to be able to speak freely. And, things are happening!
Thanks for all your prayers and support!!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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