Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nov 27: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Snow, Turkey Day, Packages, Edgars, Exchanges, TEACHING!!

All: This week has been epic: walking 55+ miles in blizzards, snow, slush, blackness, city centers. We looked Death in the face--we stomped through puddles of icy coldness. Yes, my friends--we took 114585 steps through every possible kind of weather here. 89.38KM of talking to people through snow, wind, rain, sun (not much of that one...) and everything else. It's been...quite the week.

So, before I disambiguate a little, I think I'll talk about some pictures!

1863: my Lutheran church reflection picture won some praise, so I figured I'd also send this one! This is a poem just outside of our place. And, due to the weather, it has a nice wetness to it. I like this shot quite a lot (except the focus is a little soft...sorry about that).

1876: Just an idea how much snow we got! This is a shot from the building in which our church is. This is through the window in the stairwell between the first and second floors.

1878: Yeah, this is what that church looks like a little more fully. You should have seen the cars sliding around the circle of road surrounding that church!

1882: Couldn't help it. This is right outside the back door to our place. Gorgeous, vai nē?

Ok, as for the celebration here: one place I found the firework salute is here: I didn't watch it (obviously, I'm on a mission), but here is a quick glimpse at it! The thing is called a salute, firework show, or light show (depending on who you talk to).

Answering questions: English is an onging thing. We teach it each transfer. We usually have (here in Riga center, where I am now) about 100 people who come to both the Latvian and Russian classes. It is easier for me to talk to grown-ups Kids, too. In Rīga, most people speak very clearly, so it really doesn't matter who I talk to. The younger they are, the less rude they are...I love kids, though, because they sound so cute speaking in Latvian and Russian! Makes me smile! Our branch here in Center is pure Latvian-speaking. In Rīga, there are enough members for the Russians to have a branch on both sides of the Daugava River, and Latvians to have their own on each side. So, no, I have no pure Russian-speakers in my branch. But, very many can speak Russian. Most of them.

Funny missionary moment: well, I was asked to meet with a member of the branch with the mission president, so that the member could get his temple recommend. But, this member is deaf, so it was quite...interesting. He found out that I was trying to learn Latvian sign language, and so he brought me his 1976 Latvian Sign Language dictionary! It's huge!! I guess I'm going to have to learn it. But, the funny thing is that during the interview, he would read the question, and then sign it to us, so that we could learn the signs. I love that guy!

Spiritual missionary moment? I've shifted the focus of my approach to people on the streets--I now tell them that I am here for two years to share something very dear to me, and that I know has helped me in my life. And then, I continue. The results have been quite impressive to me! And it has gone well. Well....better than normal. And I've had some powerful talks on the street!

"What are three things you like about Elder Weideman?" I like his spirit. He is very focused, and wants to get work done, so he helps me stay focused. He knows how to study, as well, so we have had very good companionship studies that go quite deep. And, his personality is hilarious! We are also able to just talk about everything else from cartoons to guitar to...well, lots of stuff. He's fun when it's time to be fun, focused when it's time to be focused. He's not too much on either side, and knows when to do one or the other. That's quite admirable.

We get together as a district usually only for district meetings. I went on exchanges (meaning I was with Elder Brown) yesterday. It was way fun to be with my MTC companion! We were already able to just roll with each other's quirks, and teach together quite unifiedly. I hope you understood that last word "). Today we're having a thanksgiving feast as a district! I'm pretty stoked for that!! That's why preparation day was moved to today (sorry...I realized I failed to mention that last week...). Also, I have a package. I don't know who it's from, or anything other than I have one. So...fill you in next week.

Yeah, as for the was very wet. We got a lot of snow. The best day was when it snowed about 5 inches the day before, then about 1 that day, then it rained all night. Crazy weather is my favorite!

We've been doing everything possible to find new people to teach. We have just found a few, and it's been very rewarding! Not many are able to meet again (because they are leaving town or something soon), but we have been teaching new people. It's one of the best feelings, and the best way to get me excited to go out and teach more!

I have only five minutes left of computer time, so Happy Thanksgiving and I'll write next week! Love you all!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 19: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Celebrations, Finding People, Weather, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

All: 75.35 KM (that's 96604 steps, folks).

Pictures: 1776 is by the presidential palace. Here, during Lačpēša diena, people came and put a candle in the nooks of this wall, to commemorate those who have died fighting in wars on Latvia's side. It was a cool evening--both in temperature and in actions.

1811 is one of the times I decided that Rīga is beautiful, indeed. We were knocking this 12 story dome, and this site met our gaze. Gorgeous!

1833 is the parade. More later.

1820 is a young kid at the bus station Monday. He was feeding the birds popcorn from a bag he had, and it was very cute. I had some much better composed shots, but my little point and shoot camera cannot handle that bright sun, and so I got a big white blob where the bench is in the picture. So...this is the only one that really turned out. Tik žel...And, only a few moments after, it began to snow/hail. That's where you get those little balls of snow falling everywhere. So, from sun to pouring that in only 20 minutes!

Sorry!! Yes, I've received several letters from Grandparents (both sets), and one from Rachel. I failed to mention them earlier. I'm sorry!! Thank you so much for the letters! It is so great to hear from you!! Thanks for taking the time to write me!!
Question about Jana from Liepāja: last I heard, she's schooling in Koliningrad (in Baltkrievija...I have no idea what that place is called in English...), and is doing fairly well. Internet is very expensive, so she doesn't often have a chance to e-mail anybody but her family, so even the sister missionaries know little about what's going on with her.

We had our first official snow storm last night. It is all over the place (but melting fast).

OK, so I'm going to try to hurry as much as possible (for we have a very busy day). First off, one really neat thing I learned was that Rīga is mostly powered by hydroelectric power. They've got all these dams on the Daugava River, and they have turbines that are pushed by the force of the water to bring a great deal of power into this large city. My respect for Latvia rose even more when I learned that this week, and my love of this monstrously large city increased. Just a bit.:)

So, as far as finding new people to teach: we have spent this whole week adjusting our finding methods, praying very hard about places to go to knock. We have received a great number of contact information, but with the holidays and all, very few were able to actually meet with us now. And those who wanted to meet were Russians, so we gave several names to the Russian missionaries, so they can start teaching them. Latvians, though, are apparently trickier to get interested in the gospel. That may be because I don't talk to any of the uninterested Russians, so I don't know, but that's what it felt like. We did have quite a few people who loved hearing from us, and with whom we have appointments this week, so those should all be good.

Now, really quickly, the celebrations: there was a big to-do on Lačplēša Diena, including a rally of sorts in front of the Brivības Piemeneklis (Freedom Monument), candle lighting at the Presidential Palace, and lots of excitement in general. As for Latvias Neatkarības Diena...well. That was completely packed. We had a meeting set up around 14.00, but he couldn't make it because of parades and things all over town. So, we decided to head out and just go knocking. Well, no buses came by for about 15 minutes (that's not usual). We then saw two cop cars puttering down the street with lights blazing. Yup, we accidentally got to see the armed forces parade. I can't say that it was undesirable, but I can't say we planned on it. We saw that there were a lot of families home yesterday, and we wanted to get in teaching one of those more than watching a parade, but...oh well. We picked a mostly Russian area to knock anyway, so...oh well. The Russian missionaries have at least one investigator from that (she asked that the sister missionaries come over and teach her), and potentially two more. We'll see.

It was quite an ordeal. If you poke around youtube, you should be able to find the firework show for Latvias Neatkarības Diena Ugunošs Šovs (copy and paste, if you need: it means Latvia's Independence Day Firework Show). It was quite impressive--you could hear it from our apartment (some kilometer away)! Anyway, photos look gorgeous!

That's about it. Now, for the spiritual thought:

Recap: Christ came into the world to redeem mankind from the Fall. We have a way, through Christ, to repent of our sins. This redemption also includes our resurrection and return to God's presence to be judged (2 Nephi 9: 10-22, D&C 137: 9). We will be judged according to the laws of justice and mercy. Justice does not change. We are blessed for obedience to God's commandments, and we suffer the negative consequences for disobedience. Because we all are sinners (Romans 3: 23, 1 John 1: 8), we cannot enter God's kingdom (3 Nephi 27: 19) according to justice. But through Christ's mercy, we can. We must, however, qualify for that by following His gospel, or, in other words, keeping His commandments.
It begins with faith. Specifically, faith in Christ. Put most simply, faith in Christ is a trust in Christ - that He can and will uphold His promises. This trust leads us to action. Specifically, actions that are in accordance with His will. We pray, trusting that we will receive answers to our prayers. We do our best to avoid sin, and we truly repent when we do sin. Working our faith brings us power and strength, and increases our faith (Moroni 7: 33, Romans 10: 17). Just one additional thought on faith: Alma 32: 21. To learn how to develop faith, read Alma 32: 21-43. And then do it.

The second principal of Christ's Gospel is repentance. Repentance is changing our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors not in line with God's will. Through repentance, we change to be more like God. It is the central purpose of our lives, and is how we grow. It is through repentance that we qualify for Christ's mercy, which is our only hope of return to God. We stop doing things that are not in accordance with God's will and continue doing things that are in accordance. This brings great, lasting peace into our lives, our guilt is swept away, we have a strong joy, and the Spirit is more strongly with us. Because we are human, however, we will continue to sin. Therefore, repentance is a daily thing, as we continually strive to overcome our sins. Our faith brings us to repent (Alma 34: 15). D&C 58: 42-43, 2 Corinthians 7: 9-10. We will never run out of things to improve in ourselves. But God never runs out of help or support or love for us.

As we repent, we prepare ourselves to follow the Lord. Repenting builds our faith. When we have truly sought to repent and follow the Lord, we will desire more. The third step in the Gospel, the third principal, is also the first ordinance - baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows we have entered a covenant with God. God has always required covenants. We promise to obey, and God promises us blessings. Ordinances must be performed with God's authority - with His priesthood power. Baptism is the essential first ordinance in Christ's gospel (Mosiah 5: 8-10). We promise to obey all of His commandments the rest of our lives. He promises us the gift of the Holy Ghost, forgiveness of sins, and that will be born again in Him (John 3: 5) - changed in our hearts. Moroni 8: 25-26.

Baptism of water is only half a baptism. The other half is the baptism of fire - the Holy Ghost (John 3: 5), the fourth principal of Christ's gospel. The confirming of the Holy Ghost is done by a laying on of hands by one with priesthood authority. The Holy Ghost does a great many things for us. He testifies unto us of truth and teaches us truth (Moroni 10: 4-5, 3 Nephi 28: 11, John 15: 26), he leads us (2 Nephi 31: 17, 2 Nephi 32: 5), and many more things. Before baptism, all can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. However, this influence is fleeting. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the promise that He will always be with us, and we can always have the blessings that come from him. This is far more powerful that the influence of the Holy Ghost.

The last basic step is very, well, basic - we continue learning, repenting, growing in faith, renewing our baptismal covenant, and heeding the Holy Ghost our whole lives long.

Living the gospel (following these five points) enables us to receive Christ's mercy, and we have access to His grace and salvation. We are more prepared to enter into God's presence, and are greatly blessed in this life. All of this comes from Christ Himself. Here are his words: 3 Nephi 27: 14-22.

Love from across the globe,
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nov 11: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Holidays, Latvian History, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ

All: Well, we have zone conference tomorrow, so I have to send this off today. Therefore, my steps look a little weak. It's 65.77KM (84,320 steps). So, yeah.

The only picture for this week is from the grocery store. Look carefully. Do you see something...odd? I thought it was hilarious, and couldn't not send it. (p.s. from Jordan's mom. It is a yellow creature on the top of the left hand shelf, which was one of Jordan's favorite Pokemon creatures ") (But look at the food, too--it's cool to see what they have!)

Culturally, I have something fun to inform you all of. Today is Lāčplēša Diena – The Day of the Soldier, if I understand correctly. Anyway, they honor all people who died for Latvia's freedom today. I'm not exactly sure how, but it'll be big. And Latvia's Neatkarības Diena (The Day of Latvia's Freedom), which is the first time that a portion of Latvia was recognized as an independent, free nation, will be the 18th of this month, also. Celebrations for that will be huge. This is when Latvia was first freed from Russia's rule after the Russian revolutions and such in 1918. By the next year, all of what is now Latvia was recognized as Latvia—a separate, free nation. They then got smashed by Germany and such. Then Russia came back in. And these poor people have been fighting to keep their independence and have somehow (miraculously) preserved their language. About every century they were conquered anew by another land:

Before 13th Century: they were a bunch of tribal groups.
13th C-16th C: They were called Livonija, and were founded by Germany.
16th C: Polish
17th C: Sweedish
18th C: Russian
20th C: Freed from Russian rule 1918.
Taken over again 1941 by Germany
1945 by Russia
1991 they became independent Latvia again.

Each time there was a change in power, there were a great many people killed. Our Latvian teacher told us that it was a miracle that Latvia survived as a language. The four districts of Latvia are: Kurzeme (divided into two areas: Kurzemes and Zemgale), Vidzeme, and Latgale. Latgale is where Daugavpils is (on the eastern side, and the Latvian they speak there is really weird), Vidzeme is in the middle, and Kurzeme is the western side (Liepāja is in Kurzeme). I do believe that is all correct. Anyway, moving on now.

This week, as far as missionary work goes, was very slow, rough, and forced E. Weideman and I to figure out what we could do to be more effective and better at what we were doing. It took a little work, but the spirit is quite strongly with us, and I feel we will do good from here on.

Now, as I promised: a discussion on the Atonement of Christ the Lord. A small recap: Because of the Fall, all mankind are subject to both physical and spiritual death. By ourselves, we are powerless against those deaths (Alma 34: 9). But, God knew that it must be that way, and to preserve our freedom to choose, he sent His Son to open to us a path to return to Him (John 3: 16-17).

Now, our scriptural record of the actual Atonement is quite brief: Matthew. 26: 36, 39, 42, 44 (36-44), 27: 46, 50 (35-50), 28: 5-7; Mark 14: 33-36, 39 (32-41), 15: 34, 37 (25-37), 16: 6; The most informative of the four gospels is found in Luke 22: 41-44, Luke 23: 46 (33-46), 24: 5-6, 36-39; John has no record of the events that transpired in the Garden, but he does record John 19: 30 (18-30), 20: 9, 13-17. And such is our scriptural record for the most important event in the life of mankind. Luke is the most detailed of all the four accounts. Then, we have multiple prophesies and visions of this event, but these are the first-hand witnesses. The Atonement of Jesus Christ consists of his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his sufferings again on the cross, His death, and His resurrection.

That he was resurrected is put beyond doubt from the following (and many other sources): When he appeared to his eleven apostles and others in Jerusalem (Luke 24: 36-47), and when he appeared as a resurrected being to the inhabitants in the Americas. Note that the first verse here listed is the Father introducing the Son. (3 Nephi 11: 7-17). All of these witnesses handled His body. Note that he reclaimed His body, as they "saw [Him] have."

Resurrection is the joining of the physical body together with the spiritual body of a person, never again to separated (Alma 11: 43). Because Christ was resurrected, He has power over death (Alma 11: 42), and so we all, too, will be resurrected, regardless of how we lived (Alma 11: 44-45, 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22). Because we will be resurrected, we will stand again in God's presence for the judgment (Heleman 14: 15), and it will be possible for us to receive an eternal reward (2 Nephi 9: 6-12). The Resurrection is a free gift to all. Men, therefore, are unconditionally saved from physical death through the power of Christ's resurrection, and through His grace.

Note, however, that the atonement is conditional as to salvation from spiritual death. We must act here, and follow the gospel of Christ to receive a forgiveness of sins, be cleansed, and return to God physical presence once more (Helaman 14: 15-18 -- Note especially verse 18). Christ sets the conditions of repentance. If we do not observe His conditions, then it is for us as if there had been no redemption made (Mosiah 16: 5-8--note v 5; and as Christ Himself has said in these Latter days: D&C 19: 15-19). If this is unclear to you as to why this would be the way God would work concerning sinners, let me share a parable with you, similar to one I heard when I was growing up.

There was once a certain farmer. He wanted land, a home, a car, etc. He took out a large loan to be able to purchase all he desired. The farmer signed a contract, took the money, and obtained his desires. He worked hard, and repaid the creditor as he could, but as time went on, he began to be more slothful in his work, and did not do all that he should have done. Besides, he thought, the deadline is so far away. What do I have to worry about? Well, the deadline arrived, and he was unprepared. The creditor arrived, and demanded his money. The man was unable to pay. According to the law of justice, the man was shackled, and was to be cast into prison and all his possesions sold to pay the creditor. But along came a friend of this poor man, who was very wealthy. The friend offered to pay the creditor that which was his due, according to justice, and set the farmer free. The friend, however, required the farmer to pay him back. But he reset the terms of the contract between the two of them so that the farmer, through work and effort, would be able to pay it back. It would be possible. It would still be work, and lots of it, but the farmer could do it. With that parable in mind, I invite you to read the following verses from the Book of Mormon, Alma chapter 42:

12 And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;
13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.
14 And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence

Here, we see that we are lost. We cannot pay according to the law of justice, that which is due of us. But:

15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.
• • •
22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.
23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.
25 What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. (Alma 42: 12-15, 22-25). So what we have is that we now are indebted to Christ. We must follow His requirements, if we are to be given the mercy that He has promised. I would encourage you all to read that entire chapter, for it is incredibly powerful in explaining the atonement and why we must repent.

The Atonement is an enabling power in this life for us. Christ did not suffer only for our sins. He also felt every sorrow, weakness, pain, temptation, sickness, short, all things we feel and experience (Alma 7: 11-13). He knows how we feel, and He knows how to best help. We can pray for His help, and He will be willing to offer it. We must remember, however, that we are greatly indebted to our loving Friend, and we must still do all we can to help ourselves. When we do that, Christ will offer us all the additional help we need. But if we do nothing, then Christ cannot help us. We must ACT. That is the main point here.

As for the conditions of the new contract, I will discuss them next week. They are known as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are very straightforward. This is where everything comes together.

Additional verses: well, this is a little tricky, because there are literally thousands of verses throughout the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants I could use. I will grab some of the most poignant ones:
Explanation of Justice and Mercy, and how the two laws are connected to the atonement: Alma 42: 1-2, 6-28.
Christ, explaning his role in the Judgement: D&C 45: 3-5.
In the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ, number 3, note the conditions.
Ephesians 1: 7, Colossians 1: 14, Mosiah 13: 28; 2 Nephi 2: 6-9.

I invite you to study these, and search out more. This is what you must know in this life. I bear my testimony that these things are true. I know that Christ in reality did suffer and atone for all our sins. The word for "Atonement" in Latvian translates to "the complete purchasement of sins." In reality, we are bought with a price, and we must now do what is in our contract. There is nothing more powerful than feeling the cleansing power of the atonement in your soul. That I know without doubt. And I have felt its power continue to build me up.
I love you all. Until next week.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nov 5: Baltic Chŗonīcļe:

All: 79.95 KM (102,503 steps). We've spent a lot of time contacting so far...

1733 is a shot of a huge building that we found and knocked doors at. Just about everybody (only one door excluded) was Latvian (which is almost a miracle in and of itself).

1734 is a reflection Sunday, after the rain, of the big Lutheran church directly outside the door of our church building. I liked the way the reflection looked.

1748 is a sign I saw driving by while contacting. I hope you math people can solve this and tell me what the IP is--I don't have time right now to solve it! But, I thought it was a pretty cool idea, and I've always wanted to do something like that. Someone else just beat me to it this time.

Alright! There were a ton of questions both last time and this! So, here are your answers:
Foods: I'm eating about the same things. I've learned some fast and tasty recipes for sweet and sour chicken, teriyaki chicken, pizza, and several casserole-style things. As far as Latvian foods go, though, I don't really have any recipes right now. But, I decided to learn some recipe vocab, so that I can get some. I'll keep you posted.
Next Q: Yes, E. Black found his passport. It was in a DVD case in his suitcase, where he'd "remember where it was." Yeah. So, he got home all safe and sound. No worries.

Yes, Latvia is one of seven countries that now has bezvisas travel (visa-less...what is that in English?). That means that travelers from those countries can stay in the USA for three months without requiring them to register. And Americans can travel to those countries and stay three months without a visa, as well. It's actually really neat, and I'm quite excited for it (since I want to come back, and I want to invite some of my dear friends here to my place for a week or something).

About A.'s baptism: no, his family was unable to make it. He decided on Friday to be baptized on Saturday, so...they didn't have enough warning. Helvijs is a member here who recently returned from his own mission in Lithuania (Lietuva is more correct...that's what the country calls itself).

There are about 70 people in our Latvian Center Branch who regularly attend. There are not enough youth for there to be a full young men/young women program, but we do offer those things for those who come. We have quite a full Primary (some 10 children), which is fun. Church lasts for three hours, just like everywhere else I know of. Sacrament meeting is first. The missionaries don't often have to speak in sacrament meeting, but we do sing once a month with the members as a special musical number. We always teach the investigator class (for Sunday school--that's just a very basic class that focuses on the core doctrines as simply as possible). And yes, that building where I had my picture taken in the niche looking like a statue is our church building in Rīgā.

Ah, yes. That religious conference actually had almost nothing to do with religious beliefs (at least, not the part I attended). It was a discussion on the legal system of Latvia and how the laws apply to religious organizations. It was more to enable all religious organizations to participate legally and know what they can do. And for us to know our rights, so that nobody tries to take advantage of us as a religion. That was the idea for the portion where I was.

I was asked a bunch of odd questions, so I will answer them for those wondering these things about Latvia.

Do you guys have washers and dryers? Washers, yes. Dryers are terrible, so we just hang dry, normally. There are also dry cleaners here. Missionaries have a washer in their apartments (that's one of the criteria for apartments we can rent, if I recall correctly).
Do they have something called Nutella there in the Baltic states? Yes, they have Nutella. I absolutely love that stuff! Is there Nutella in America? If not, I may be spending a lot of money at import's a sweet hazelnut cream, usually with chocolate swirled in it, too. It's amazing on bread, cookies, ice cream, or about anything, really.

Are there usually ovens in the apartments? Usually. But half the time they don't work. Surprise...usually you'll have a toaster oven or roaster oven also. I hear that because Estonian missionaries have so much extra money (because the cost of living is so low and the economy is good), they all have fat fryers there. Our fat fryer is a pan full of oil. It works...
You have branches, not wards, right? Yes. You cannot have a ward without a stake. You need 1900 members for a stake. That's 5 wards, with 15 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek priesthood holders in each. And then, in addition to that, you need an extra 24 of those somewhere within the stake boundaries. Latvia is about half-way there.

Any hints from missionaries who've been there awhile on how to stay warm in the winter? Long underwear. Get a nice palto (heavy coat) here, because the ones from the states are sissy stuff.

Anyway, I do believe that is all for news. Investigators, we don't have any (right now), because we've been spending all our time hunting for new ones. We will have some good, solid investigators next week. A. is doing very well.
OK, as promised: some discussion about the Fall. This will be a lot more detailed than the explanation I offered before. It won't, however, be comprehensive. This is just a detailed overview of this important doctrine. You may search out more for yourselves later if you'd like, in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

After the creation, God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and there gave them commandments, including a commandment not to eat of the fruit of one of the trees therein. He gave them agency. Genesis 2: 16-17 is one account. Another account, revealed in our days, is a little more clear: Moses 3: 16-17. Note that the Lord says, "Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee." It is clearly established that Adam and Eve could choose in the garden.

Then, enter opposition. This is necessary for God's plan to continue for the wellfare of His children (2 Nephi 2: 11, 15-16). Thus Satan tempted mankind. Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit. Having thus transgressed the commandment of God, they were cast out into the world. But, this is not a problem. In fact, it was necessary to happen. God's plan could not continue until mankind had fallen. 2 Nephi 2: 22-25 (15-26) clearly explains this point. Note verse 25: "Adam fell that man might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

The scriptural account of the Fall is located in Genesis 2: 7-9, 15-17; 3: 1-19, 22-24. In that account, we see that mankind now knew good from evil, and that Adam and Eve were physically cut off from the presence of God.

Their transgression caused the Fall--man became subject to the devil because they yielded to his temptations (D&C 29: 40). Adam's fall brought two kinds of death into the world: physical and spiritual. Physical death is easy to understand: we all will die. Our bodies here will become lifeless, and our spirit will leave it. Spiritual death is a separation from God; a separation from things pertaining unto righteousness. In order for mankind to obtain this joy for which they were created, there must be a way to recover from the effects of the Fall (Alma 42: 9). This life, then, is the incredible opportunity to grow, learn, progress, and prepare to return to God's presence--spiritually, at least. If we work out our redemption from spiritual death, then we qualify to be in God's physical presence after this life (Alma 12: 24).

God has given us the knowledge of these things, that we might know them. He revealed these truths to Adam and Eve, who then taught redemption and how to be redeemed to their children (Alma 12: 28-29, 32). Ever since then, the knowledge of God, His plan of redemption, and the means of salvation has been had, in part or in full, for mankind to read. The central figure in this plan is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Alma 12: 33-34).

Thus we see that without the Fall, we would not have the opportunity to progress or even to be here. The Fall was an integral step in God's plan. It allowed for sin and opposition, thus allowing mankind the ability to learn, develop, and progress. More references for this powerful doctrine are found here:
D&C 20: 17-20, D&C 29: 34-35, 39-41, Articles of Faith 1: 2 (the latter is from the 13 Articles of Faith for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, found at the end of the Pearl of Great Price, after the Joseph Smith History). The other references are embedded in the text (concerning the Fall directly). As to this life and agency: Matthew 26: 39, 2 Nephi 2: 11, 2 Nephi 2: 27, D&C 101: 78, D&C 104: 17, Alma 42: 2-15 (this will be mentioned far more later--this is the crux of the Atonement of Jesus Christ). Then, as to our purpose in this life, and our work: D&C 29: 39-45, Mosiah 3: 19, Alma 12: 20-34, Alma 34: 32, Helaman 14: 30.

If you think that you are saved already and your work is done, please keep this in mind: Mosiah 2: 21-24, Romans 3: 23. Our work never ends. We must continually be striving forward. God gives us commandments to help us know good from evil, and we also are given the spirit of Christ to help us know good from evil. Here are the guidelines, the test of good, as provided by the prophet Moroni: Moroni 7: 15-18.

Next week, I will talk about the most important doctrine, truth, and event to ever exist for us. It is the enabling power and force for God's entire plan. That is, of course, the holy Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Atonement is the means provided to overcome the effects of the Fall.

I love you all! Keep reading the Bible, and the Book of Mormon!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )