Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Aug 6: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Emotional week, Dead companion and a New one

For all: 86.82 KM (111,332 steps).
Yes. Baltic Beach Party is every single year. And the Liepājnieki (Liepājans) are very nervous about it every year! Grandpa+Grandma A, thanks for your letter! And Grandma J, Happy Happy Birthday!

Robyn, my little sister, commented that she is both thrilled and dismayed that she is, at last, a senior. She's excited, because what she's doing her senior year is fun to her, and she's moving in the ways that she's wanted to. But, as she said, "it WON'T be so nice knowing that every day at school is one less day in familiar territory surrounded by my friends I've grown up with, and one day closer to college and the 'Great Unknown.' " She said it. This week has been very emotional for me. Since the work has continued to be fairly slow, I have spent a lot of time growing closer to members here and to the missionaries and just the beautiful city of Leipāja in general. It has been very, very rewarding. I, however, was transfered to Āgenskals, which is in the Imanta side of Rīga. Here, I know nobody, I know nothing about the territory, or the members. The missionaries, however, are amazing! Sister Morley, Sister Knight (from the MTC), and Sister Tanner (a Russian-speaking sister who came out with me...I got to know her well when we went to do visa stuff in Estonia). The elders are new for me, but I hear that I am beyond lucky to be with some of them. Time will tell.

However, that's not the point.I'm nervous. I am now in the 'Great Unknown' of Rīga. I have left my home of Liepāja. I had grown to love it there so much, that it was a home to me, just as real as my one in Idaho Falls. When I left, two members and an amazing man from English, saw me off. I received a few farewell notes. While reading those on the bus, I realized how much I loved those in Liepāja. I have never realized before how much it meant to me. I spent a good, long time in a prayer of thanks and pleading for the well-being of those I was leaving behind. I felt the love of God pouring into me through those I associated with, and grew to love, in that city. I grew much in faith, and in my commitment to help others accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that I grew to love those amazing people in Liepāja so much because we shared in spiritual things as well as secular things, and that together tied us together. I will miss the members much, especially my close friends there. I know that I will miss Jana terribly. When you are the one through whom somebody accepts the true and everlasting gospel, then there are feelings of closeness unlike anything else in the world! It is the most amazing thing I have ever felt, and it makes anything unpleasant I have endured meaningless. I can understand why Christ would suffer as he did for us.

When I arrived in Imanta, my companion (Elder Black) and I watched a film called Lamb of God with an investigator. It depicts the last week of Christ's life. I was so filled with the emotions described above, that when I saw Christ suffering both for our sins and at the hands of men after, my mind was opened. My understanding was quickened by the Spirit of God, and I understood again how incredibly, unspeakably much Christ loves us. There is nothing that I would not do for those dear friends in Liepāja, and Christ understood us far better than I understand. There is definitely nothing He would not do for the benifit of those He loves. The love He has for us must be so, so much more. I can understand why He went through what he did, even though many would not accept His atoning sacrifice. Words are so weak...there is no adequate explanation of what happened. I see people differently. They are children of God. When people were rude to me yesterday, I didn't even think about getting angry. All I thought was, "How sad that he acts that way." It's very interesting. I hope I can maintain it...

OK, so, that's been the main thing this week. One very good thing, though. There is a saying in Latvia that if it rains when you leave a place, it means that you will be coming back. Par laimi (fortunately), it was raining all day, and hard when I left. Will I be back? I must say I will. I am very short on time here, so I will just hit the questions asked, and end for now. I've only been here half a day, so I can't really talk about the area or people or anything else, so I'll do all that next week.

We had a "funeral" for the leaving missionaries, including my companion, Elder Bodily, who is headed home to Idaho Falls. It was amazing! Funeral potatoes, eulogies written by a Māsa collaboration, songs with new lyrics, and lots of good stories. It was amazingly fun. Random Latvian trivia: Latgale (an area of Latvia) has a Latvian that is almost nothing like Rīga Latvia. They use the letter 'y' and pronounce very little the same. Grammar, apparently, is very, very different, too. OK, questions now.

Do people wear jeans here? Quite often.
Do most families have cars, or do most people use public transportation? Most use public transport. Because a car costs numerically the same here as it does in America, except the currency is Lats and not dollars, so is therefore more that twice as expensive. And salaries are very small, so the vast majority cannot afford a car.
Is it still pretty hot and humid? In Riiga, it's not so humid, but it's been just hot last week and humid like mad. But, lots of rain right before I left Liepaja cooled it down a lot--it was downright chilly when I drove away.
Do you have fans in your apartment? Now, yes! In my other ones, no.
What are your impressions so far of the new mission president and his wife? Did any of their kids come with them? I love him! He's very open, doesn't want to change too much before he understands how things run and why they are that way, and he's truly looking for what will help this area the most. Yes, some of their kids came with. Two daughters (one leaves to go to school in America this fall), and a son returning from a mission in Brazil is here for now. I don't know about anybody else.

Anyway, The gospel is true. God loves us. Yes, bad things happen. That doesn't mean He doesn't love us. All parents know that bad things will happen to their children. It's when the parents help them through those things that the children grow. Es jūs milu.
Elder Argyle

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