[This letter home facilitates my sharing of some sillier pictures. Because I'll share quite a few, I'll put the explanations between each image. The one above shows that after being cooped up for a long time, sometimes we were a little silly. This is me (on bottom), Elder Brown (my comp), and Elder Newman, who was learning Lithuanian and going to Lithuania.]
[Another silly picture of my comp and I in front of the entrance sign for the MTC. We were getting along pretty well by this point.]
[Sister Knight is usually very quiet, but every so often she just lets out a whole lot of pent of energy and is hilarious! This picture is one I feel she would be alright with me sharing, but I have some of her when she was tired and wired that are very funny.]
[This is kinda what we all felt like from time to time, and again, I have crazier pictures of us all, but for the sake of the image of the MTC and ourselves, I'll refrain from sharing more than one truly out of control picture. Sister Hagen was very talented at making faces, and I felt this one summed up this particular day very well, so I asked to capture it. She allowed me to do so.]
[Like I said, out of control. There are a few elders going stateside in our "barracks" (they are officially called "dorms", but they often feel like barracks, so I sometimes refer to them as such). We found some photography tricks you can use to get shots like this. This is 100% straight from the camera, unedited in any way. Trick shots were a lot of fun to take :P]
I failed to mention last time, but that is cold in Idaho! -20s! Just remember that the thermometer will say that often during the Latvian winters. Oh, but it will be much colder, as we also get to factor in humility. So, I will soon be able to empathize.
As far as cold goes, it hasn't been here at the MTC much. It's been in the toasty +20s ever since I arrived. The only really cold day was two Thursdays ago: En route to the temple, it was windy and in the teens.
This week has been lots of work on the plan of salvation. I must admit, that is hard to teach in English because it is so big, and covers so much, and can really go anywhere once you start talking out it. So, imagine that difficulty and multiply it by not being able to say anything about what you wanted to say. It's been tricky. But, we'll see how it goes. TRC happens tomorrow (yikes!) so I'll just study and pray.
Other than that, this week has been Tikai Latviski at meals (only Latvian), which has been fun. Sister Hagen and I got into a debate one meal, and it was odd [and very amazing] to see how much Latvian came out when focused on the message. That was encouraging.
As far as news goes, I cannot think of anything. The week has been consumed by Latvian and President Gordon B Hinckley's funeral. I did greatly appreciate the pictures of my adorable new nephew, though!! I must admit, I showed him off to everyone at my table. And, as always, Far Sides and Foxtrots are highlights (primarily because of their humerical value). [I pass over the death of President Hinckley pretty quickly here. He is the President of the church, and the only man in the world authorized to fully direct the usage of the priesthood, or the power and authority given to man by God. As the chief apostle, he was also authorized to directly represent the Lord on earth. That is why LDS members often refer to the man in this position as "the Prophet". It was a big deal that he passed on, as he is the only president of the church that I can recall during my lifetime. Later, I describe the process through which a new president is sustained, called a solemn assembly. The selection process involves the remaining apostles praying about it, and when they feel unified in their answers from the Lord, they all select the same man from among them. I really like this process, because there are no politics about it. The next president is chosen by the Lord Himself, and all of the apostles unanimously confirm the same decision.]
My big learning point this week: I discovered again that the world is full of good people. People with kind hearts, open minds, and full of love. I discovered this at the RC, while taking calls from people who wished to order a free Book of Mormon or movie from the church. One lady called and spend about 5 minutes bearing testimony to me of her love for the Savior. I must admit I was deeply touched, and she appreciated my telling her so.
Šausmas! I honestly cannot think of what happened this week. I've been so focused that this week has kind of been a big blur. Sorry about that...maybe something will arise in my letter home today.
I love you all! This work is true!