Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jan 31: Interesting things happened...

[Top picture is us and Elder Lepeškin, who is from Latvia but is actually a Russian. We were excited out of our minds to meet a real Latvian (he grew up in Latvia, so he's Latvian), and it was great to hang with him and learn from him.
Bottom pic is my whole district, all four of us learning Latvian to go to Latvia, with Sister Farns in the middle. From the left: me, Elder Brown, Sister Farns, Sister Hagen, Sister Knight. We are standing before the Latvian flag.
We redecorated our room on a day that we couldn't bring ourselves to study any more, and so there is an artsy mosaic that sister Knight (the artist in our group) spearheaded, and the flag and maps and such take up another wall.]
So, some interesting things have--wait...that's the subject? My bad.

Thank you for the prayers from all of you. I wish to let it be known that you are all in my prayers as well.

Ok, time to talk about that interesting stuff I mentioned. Last Friday (the 25th, I believe) I thought at the TRC (Training Resource Center) in pure Latvian. The first thing we did was talk about food, share a quick message, and set up an appointment to return to teach later that night. We asked if her family would be there, utt (the equivalent of etc in Latvian, means un taa talak, "and [the] rest"). We then left, prepared ourselves to teach, changed what we would talk about a little to fit the things we were told by the "investigator" about her family and circumstances. Then the fun part: we went to knock on the door to teach her the first lesson in Latvian. As I was going to knock on the door, Elders Brauns suggested that we let the Spirit guide us, and forget about straining so hard to form sentences correctly. Just say what we are there to say as best we can, focusing on what we are teaching, not how we are saying it. I testify that the gift of tongues is very, very real, and readily available to those doing the Lord's work. We talked for over half an hour about God and our relationship with him. About prayer, families and their eternal importance, God's love for us and how he knows us each individually, and love each of us as we ARE His children. We talked about prophets, the falling away, God's authority to act, Jesus Christ's ministry on Earth, the Prophet Joseph Smith what God did through him, and had just begun to talk about the Book of Mormon when our time ran out. It was amazing!

We must have used well over 200 words, in sentences that were understandable to the listener. Now, we weren't perfect. Our cases were off sometimes, our verbs were conjugated wrong, but the message was still there. And the Spirit of God was there. So powerfully that both the missionaries and the volunteer found it hard to speak more than once. It was the most amazing experience I have ever had teaching the Restored Gospel. Never has the Spirit been so strongly with me teaching and testifying that my message was true as then. And I have not been exactly silent concerning my beliefs before, and I have shared my testimony with others. But I have never had the Spirit that strongly. So, again: thank you for all your prayers.

Another thing worth mentioning is that with my new study plan, I have come to improve a good deal in Latvian. I am able to say much, and am able to more rapidly produce sentences. I have already gone, in the past five weeks learning this language, from taking 15 minutes or more per sentence to being able to write out 7 or so correct, fairly complex sentences in the same time. The language makes more and more sense each day. And the mercy of the Lord in this is obvious. My greatest apprehension comes from the language, and if I continue to progress at this rate, within two months I will be completely comfortable speaking to people, even though I do not have the vocabulary to back it.

A native Latvian came in last week by the name of Elder Lepeshkin. He speaks Russian, Latvian and English fluently, and has been called to Finland. This amazing individual was baptized into the church barley a year ago. This is literally the fastest he could come on a mission. A few weeks after baptism, he was already talking about a mission. He went from drinking, living with his girlfriend, and only partially caring about God to a missionary [in barely a year]. He is pretty much alone, as his family, his girlfriend, and most of his friends were seriously opposed to him doing anything in this church. But, here he is. He is excited to teach us whatever he can, and when he speaks Latvian, I am able to understand him (for the most part), which is seriously impressive to me. That fear is now just a discomfort. I just have vocab to work on.

Now, I am counting down the three weeks I have left here at the MTC before I fly to the other side of the globe and begin to teach my fellow man. News from Latvia is that the work is going far faster than ever before, with 3 companionships teaching over 18 investigators. For Latvia, even a year ago, this was almost unthinkable. It was a good wish. But now, it's fact and moving fast. I am super excited to be there, adding to the Fold of God.

It has been written to me that I may prefer emails to letters. Not true. In fact, I don't even get email. I have half an hour a week of computer time that I use to type one letter home each week. That's it. So, if any of you have tried to correspond with me through email, I suggest you think try again through letters or

I want yo all to know I love you! This is God's true church on the earth! The power that comes from this missionary work is unfathomable! And I know that it only expands outward. If one person receives light, that one will effect others. Those others will effect others, and after 50 years, a single missionary may influence some many thousands! For example, one missionary of several years ago was mourning that he only brought one dirty, shoeless boy to baptism during his mission. He felt a failure. He made it his goal, some 35-40 years later, to see what had become of that. It turns out that over 1100 people had joined the church because of that "dirty, shoeless boy" and that boy was now in global church leadership! So you just never know. For those that have light, share it. Never fear to share it. That's one reason you have it!

Again, I love you all. Do well, miss me a little, and carry on! Dievs buut ar jums! (God be with you!)

Elders Argails

No comments: