Dear All: 69.09KM (86402 steps). That's the least distance of any week of my mission so far (except maybe in the MTC).
Reasons for this: we had people come over to do some repairs and such on the church, so we lost some hours there (we have all the electricity working again, though! That's good. Somebody blew a few circuits a while back, and we've been without for about a month). We also had zone conference. It was quite the conference!! It all started with missing the train to Rīga, so we had to buy a bus ticket (and remember the date was changed, so we also missed our flight. This means we paid about 15 lats just to get to this conference!). The actual conference was longer than any other so far, as well. Policy changes, good discussion, excellent lessons, and an amazing teaching practice. I actually want to talk about that a little later. So, stay tuned!
Sports was way fun! We played volleyball on the beach, right? Well, a random drunk came by, and asked to play with us. My team only had 4, the other team had five, so we picked up the drunk. He was actually a pretty good player, even wasted drunk! It definitely made the last hour of the game more interesting than the first. He was civil (except, I hear, for his Russian mouth when something ungood happened). He spoke in a mix of Russian, Latvian, Italian, and English. He would probably be a really good guy sober. He was too drunk to remember his name or any contact information (number, address), otherwise we might have talked to him again. Kinda funny though, eh?
Sunday, J. (our investigator) and I took my camera apart. This is the one that fell in the sand. We were going to clean it, but we couldn't get it apart all the way, so we just wound up breaking it more. But, it was fun! And I was finding little screws on that table and around that table on the floor up until yesterday evening! Monday, we attended a soccer game. We have that soccer-playing investigator, and he played, so we went to support him. He's really good. He's fast, and has perfect headers (hitting the ball with his head) every time. Consequently, we won. 2-0.
For upcoming: the Baltic Beach Party is coming up. There will be 100 bands from 30 countries, I believe. They have 8 stages set up, and it's expected to draw about 25,000 people here (remember this city only has 83 K people in it!). We will be having our pioneer celebration this Friday, so that should all be good, too. We've made contact with a lot of people that haven't been to church in a long time, and they may be there. We hope to see them again.
I was also asked how Jana and Rita are doing. Rita is actually in Estonia right now at a camp. I don't exactly know what that means, but she'll be there until about August's end. Jana is doing incredibly well. She's been called as a branch missionary, and she is reading her scriptures and has a powerful testimony burning within her. She leaves for college in Russia at the end of August, and I will say that Liepājas branch will miss her.
O.'s name we got out of our area book. We taught him once before, and so we called to see if he'd like to talk again. He did. Anyway, we're still waiting for a free moment to talk more.
The random family has been in the country, so nothing there yet.
U. is doing well. He is having some problems with his health still, but he is enjoying the peace that comes from reading the Book of Mormon (I highly recommend to all to read at least one chapter from that book each day). It's very hard for him to read, but he is doing it anyway. He's a good man. I'm not sure what will happen when he goes back to Saldus...
J. is doing well. I'm not sure exactly how much he is committed to applying what we teach, but he is a good guy. He'll be leaving mid-August, as well, so...we'll not have too much to do with familiar people by August's end.
M. is new. He is currently quite solid in his belief that people are re-incarnated and that all is about feeling. So, once we get the Holy Ghost in there strongly, he should glide right along. He is an interesting fellow, but has a very good heart. Pray for him, K?
Then, my closing remarks are for all who love God and desire to feel of His love more and stronger. More specifically, it's about a tool to accomplish this. The Book of Mormon. If you do not accept that there can be any more scripture beyond the Bible, or that the Book of Mormon is not scripture, I would invite you to read this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a living Apostle of Jesus Christ: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=dfc3558fcc599110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1. I testify that the Book of Mormon is scripture, and that its purpose is to bring us closer to Christ. By reading this book, we come to understand Christ more fully, and (most importantly), we learn more of His infinite Atonement for us. We learn why He conquered sin for us, and how we can be declared clean through His blood. We learn how He conquered death. And we learn exactly who God and His Son are, and our relationship to them. The Book of Mormon is pure testimony of Christ from beginning to end. Everything therein contained exists for the sole purpose of bringing us to a knowledge of Christ. But, that is what I know. If you do not know this, then I, by talking to you about it, cannot convince you of it. That is why I invite all who read these words to read the book. Think about it. Chew on it a while, and try to understand the doctrine in it. Then, pray to God about it. Ask Him if it is true. I promise you that you will feel of its truth if you but ask in faith. From the introduction of the Book of Mormon we read:
"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)" Stop. Click that link. Read those three verses. What does that mean? To you, specifically? That means that you can know anything through the power of the Holy Ghost. How? Through a prayer of faith. I want to invite you all to read Enos (a book in the Book of Mormon). It's only one chapter. But I don't really care if you read the whole thing. Focus on verses 2-8 (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/enos/1/2-8#2). He describes his prayer as a wrestle before God. The word "sunk deep into [his] heart." That's why thinking about the message in the book is so important. It helps you to hunger more for truth. You will note that he did not just say in his heart, "Lord, forgive me! I accept you as my savior!" No. He "cried unto [God] in mighty prayer." He didn't just do that once, either. He continued to pray until he got an answer. This doesn't mean that you need to pray all day and night. What is means is God does not always answer immediately. You must remain where you can hear His gentle answer.
And it only comes by faith. You have to truly believe that God will answer you. You have to expect it. You don't have to expect Him to confirm or deny the truth of the Book of Mormon. You have to expect that He will answer. Then be willing to accept AND ACT upon whatever answer He gives you. That's part of faith: action. I promise you that if you do this, then you will know if what I have been saying is true. If the Book of Mormon is true. I can tell you I have done this. I have received my own witness that the book indeed is true. Jana didn't think much about spiritual things at first. She began to read this book, and then came her desire to find God. Then came a love for the scriptures, and a willingness to follow Christ, whatever he should ask her to do. I testify that this book is true. I testify that it has the power to change lives: to fortify against sin, addiction, against the hardships in life. It has power to comfort the soul. It has power to open the mysteries of God to you.
My challenge? Start reading the book. From the very beginning. Read the title page and the introduction. Then begin the book on page 1. Just start. What can you lose? Read through first and second Nephi (chapters 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 in 2nd Nephi. are from Isaiah, and might be hard to understand). But read the rest, all the way up until 2nd Nephi ends. You can even read them online: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/contents. Pray before you read, that God will help you to understand it. Do this while you read. Then, when you feel you should, pray to know of the truth of the book. I promise that more peace, more joy, and more happiness with come into your life when you do this than you have ever felt before. Those who already know that the book it true: start reading it again in your personal study. Remember, that's only one chapter a day. Not a lot. If you already study it every day, then add this one chapter a day in there. And never forget to pray. I will do this, as well. Share insights, feelings, and such while you read. I promise that God will answer you concerning the truth of the Book of Mormon, and you can know of yourself, for "what greater witness can you have, than from God?"
Es jūs milu.