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
( >/°¥< )

No comments: