Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dec: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: The End of an Era...filled with Adventure

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jordan Argyle <>
Date: Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 18:47
Subject: 22 Dec: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: The End of an Era...filled with Adventure

All: About 200,000 steps is about 256.41 KM. It was a long week...

So, here we are. The mission is over. It was a very interesting last week, and the trip back was rather...eventful as well. So, I'll start with the week, and move to the trip home. If you are a missionary reading this, you may want to print this out and read it tonight or something, because it will be long.
Last week: so, I had to play a rather unfun game to get permission to do our "informative tent" in Jelgavas main square. I needed proof that we had authority from our registered organization to be there. So, I called the man in charge, and he couldn't get everything together for a while, so the man from the city called me several times to get info, and I had to check in and get updates from our guy. That was fun. We did get it all together in the end, though.

Then, remember how we had that news crew at our place last week or something? So, Last-last-last(?) Thursday we had the police called on us because our English students were being abnormally loud and left the door below open (which really makes some of the people who live in that stairwell where our meeting place is really upset). When the police came, we were already gone and home, so nothing was done. Then, the next Monday, the news came and asked me a bunch of questions and stuff. Really annoying. Because after a few days, it showed up on LNT (Latvijas National TV) and was very...incorrect and demeaning, which caused some problems for missionaries. Particularly in Rīga. So, the best part: sometime last week (Monday, I think), we hear a knock at the door. Elder Reid gets it. Three very large men come in and flash cop badges. They then demand our documentation and ask us a lot of questions. Eventually, then have us take them to the meeting place the next stairwell over. Once they saw that everything was normal, then left us be and told us to be quieter.

A few days later, because of minor damage to walls we painted the main room of the church place there (same as the above mentioned place). That was fun. And it was really cold. It dropped below -20C.

I also cried a little bit (meaning a lot). Sunday, after church, the members gathered everyone up after church and gave me a bunch of presents to see me off, and told me how much they loved and appreciated me. It was really touching! And again on Tuesday, when we had our last English class of the transfer and my last class ever (in the new building!), I received very meaningful gifts again. And a lot of email addresses! It was marvelous!

Then, we had our trip home. We all gathered at the mission home bright and early (or whenever we got there), had an exit interview with president, and looked around Rīga for a while. We then ate dinner together, and talked. There were twelve of us (from the back row, left): Elder Fitzgerald (Lithuania), Me (Latvia), across the tree is Sisters Nelson (Russian), Beuhner (Russian), Free (Lithuania), Elder Pehrson (Russian), left side again--Elders Nielson (Lithuania), Guber (Office), across the tree--Brown (Latvia), Sister Romney (Russian), bottom row--Elders Newman (Lithuania), Davis (Lithuania), Sister Gubler (Office), Sister and President Dance, and Elder Hill (Estonia). All together, we were 12 travelers. We ate, talked, and watched Miracle together. It was very bonding. We assumed that we'd have this evening and the next day together, so we thought that we bonded as much as we would. Boy, were we wrong.

We all headed to the airport the next morning. I rode with the Gublers in a taxi. Sister Gubler almost immediately started talking about the restoration with our driver. We wound up teaching a full first lesson to the driver, and his eyes said that we was genuinely interested. It was way cool! We then got on the plane, and headed out. We knew that we'd be crunched for time at Frankfurt, because we had to get to another terminal with all our baggage, and check in (and go through security) again in an hour. Well, by the time we got our bags we had only 40 minutes left. We sent two ahead while the rest of us battled with 12x3+3=39 bags. We pushed baggage carts up and down escalators; we held up skytrains so we could all pile in; we sprinted with 60+KG carts. All to no avail. We arrived at check in as our plane was taking off. And, because of extreme weather, all other flights out were canceled.

After several hours of consulting (and consoling), we added our names to the stand-by list, and headed to a hotel. We ate dinner together at a near-by restaurant in good spirits. Then, Elder Gubler called travel again. After a little while, we gathered to hear the news. We would all be getting home Sunday (two days from the time we were told) with the exception of Elder Hill, the Gublers, and Sister Free. The latter three would be taking the stand-by option. Elder Hill's father had arranged something for him, so that's how he got back. The other eight of us decided that we would be going to Frankfurt and to the near-by temple. We decided that while playing cards in one of our rooms until almost midnight. And Sister Beuhner's dad owns a phone company, so he was helping us get in contact with our families.

We got up, and went to the airport to get tickets. We took several electric passenger trains out to Friedrichsdorf, where there is a temple. I'm very impressed with trains in Germany. They run very smoothly, and they are very well organized. I'm also very impressed with the temple there. Take a look: It was amazing to be able to go through the temple again! I felt energized after!

We then headed into Frankfurt itself to eat and look at the Christmas Tirgus/Turgus/Rinik/Market. That was amazing, and I must say that we spent a lot of time bonding, and I think that we (some of us, anyway) are pretty close now. But, if I could upload pictures I would. We had frankfurters in Frankfurt (they grilled them on a free-hanging grill over a fire. They were good!), and we got souvenirs and such.

The next morning, we were ready to go. We flew to Dublin, where we again had to run to get to our international on time (again late flight). During the rush, I left my watch in security and worked up a good sweat. We all made the plane though. The first thing that impressed me most was the fact that most of the people on the plane were smiling, happy, and truly liked their lives. That is not something you see too much in Latvia. They also were very willing to just chat with you. I really enjoyed that. So much, in fact, that I wound up talking quite a bit with the people in my row.

We then arrived in Chicago. I had a different flight than the others, and again we had to check our baggage back in and go through security. So, I went with the group until the train that goes between terminals. As we were all piling in, the door shut. And so it turned out that I was the only of our group left behind. I waved them all goodbye, and got on the next one I could. Check in went smoothly (I was pretty experienced by this point), and I made my plane without a problem.

Again, however, in Salt Lake City I had another one hour rush to the flight. My mother was worried enough that I wouldn't make it that she called the airport and had them send a little cart to pick me up (the kind you always see employees driving around the airport). The actual plane was lost somewhere on the runway (they couldn't find the thing), so I made it with time to spare.

There was a small group of amazing people to greet me at the airport. I then spent the whole night chatting with my little sister, and the rest of the next day shopping and whatnot. I don't want to go too detailed into any of that, but if you'd like any extra details, just ask.

I will write a few more entries. I need to give you my yearly totals, and then the mission-ly totals for some categories. And I wanted to write my general impressions and thoughts concerning my mission. So there are more coming. So, please ask me any questions that you have, because otherwise you won't be getting any more info really about my mission itself.

I still know that this church is true, and I'll be working on continuing to help people understand how to learn through the Holy Ghost what is true, and how to use restored priesthood authority of God to change their lives. I would encourage you all, regardless of how well you think you know how to do that, to pray to God for His guidance on how to do that better. I will be doing just that during this next week.
( >__< )
^^ ~~ ^^

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baltic missionaries heading home

This is Elder Argyle's mom writing. I don't know if he will add any more to this blog or not "), but I thought I'd write about the final chapter of his mission. This picture is of all the missionaries in the Baltic mission who were scheduled to travel home on December 19. The mission president and his wife are also in the picture "), along with a senior couple who were going home. ANYWAY, they had quite the adventure. They made it to Frankfurt, Germany, and then missed their connecting flight to Chicago. We got a call from the Salt Lake mission travel office telling us about the missed flight and letting us know that the missionaries were in a hotel and they (Salt Lake) were working on alternate plans.
The missionaries spent a day and a half in Frankfurt. They found the temple there and were able to attend a session. They were put on a flight to Dublin Ireland on Sunday morning, and from there flew to Chicago. Elder Argyle then traveled on by himself. His flight from Chicago to Salt Lake was delayed, and his connecting flight from Salt Lake to Idaho Falls was on time. So we were sitting at our computer all evening, trying to somehow push the Chicago flight to go faster so he would make the connecting flight home "). We knew it would be too close for comfort. After a nail-biting couple of hours, an airport person finally confirmed that he WAS on the flight to Idaho Falls, so we ran to the airport and put up our signs and balloons and cheered when he got off the plane. ")
He just came in and saw what I was doing--he said he WILL be adding the last week of his mission to the blog, so I'll stop here--I just wanted to tell you that he's home safe and sound. He'll spend Christmas here and then head to college in January.
The merriest of Christmases to you all!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dec 9: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Activities, My Letter

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 5:22 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Activities, My Letter

Fam: Thank you for all your support and love. We will be engaging in some really intense board/card games when I get back, so get ready!

All: A grossly inaccurate reading of 63,838 steps (49.79KM).

Pictures: Top: We had a pretty rad break the fast. Here's who people are, from bottom left: Sister Carson's arm is visible, and then Elder Carson's face. Then comes Elder Taylor, and Verner's face is barely visible behind him. Elder Thompson, me, and Brother Pravains sitting there in the middle. Then Pāvels and his fiance'e Natalija (they get married this Saturday!!!!!!!), and Sister Z. with her son A. (standing). Sitting is Sil., Lai. (with the kid, named Diago), and Mai. (Diago's mother). These three women are investigators who are amazing!!! Lai. reads out loud, and then she discusses what she reads with her mother (Sil.). They are amazing to me. They also have, in two weeks, read almost half the Book of Mormon. They love that source of truth, and are learning at an amazing rate!! The two men in the right corner are An. and Ain., also investigators. It was a really good week!
Middle: I love the graffiti in domes. This was one of my favorite this last week.
Last: So, we got on the roof of another dome, this time in Satiksmes. The light on the top floor was flickering ominously--it was perfect. And the view was pretty good.

Q+A: The mother who came to church and loved it was a mother of a woman we taught. After I left Jelgava for Rīga the elders taught them, and they invited their mother. She's way cool, but didn't come this week. Sigh.
The first meeting in the new building will be (ironically enough, since I fly out on the 18th) 20 December. Lol. Oh well. We'll have a little party in it on the 15th, so that I can still see it full of the people who I love. Thanks to all who sent ideas for the open house!--that will be done in January sometime, so I'll leave your ideas here.

Now, we are planning to get stuff all going here for Christmas. We have asked for permission from the city and a huge shopping center here to put a booth out in a park and in the center for several days for a few hours. We'll be inviting everybody to a Christmas party here on the 22nd and informing everyone that we have English classes and telling them about our new building. I think it will be really fun. I spent a lot of time last week getting that all organized and setting up all that stuff. But, it'll ROCK! And we're still doing missionary work. A lot of our investigators have kinda pooped out, so we're playing that finding game again (like this whole transfer, but that's fine--I love talking to people now).

Otherwise, I don't know what to tell you. Nothing overly extraordinary happened. I was asked to write a departing letter for the Mission President, giving a general overview of my missionary experiences and how they've impacted me, so I guess I'll just include that for y'all.
"I have started and scrapped this letter to you a few times. It is very hard to cram perhaps the most full two years into a letter of any length. So, I'll just hit those things that I am most impressed with from these years.

First, my understanding of the gospel has grown remarkably. Before my mission, the teachings from the scriptures were, in my mind, separate doctrinal points that didn't really connect very often or do more than provide a rough outline by which to live my life. The truths of the gospel were not really written in my heart (Proverbs 7: 1-3). After much study and application and teaching, however, these truths have been written very deeply in my being. Through their application I have seen myself change dramatically, yet gradually. I truly love the scriptures, for they are a great source of truth and a powerful way to invite personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. I love the honest, heartfelt prayer of faith, for it edifies and enlarges. And I love teaching people the restored truths and facts of God available through the restoration of His gospel through a living prophet. The doctrines of the gospel have become an integral part of me--they have become my way of life.

And that, probably, has been the biggest impact from my mission--the dramatic change of self. I have matured much, and grown in every aspect (including, unfortunately, the belly region a little). But I see everything differently: my siblings around me--especially the ones here in Latvia--and decisions I and my siblings around me make. I see all things from a higher vantage point. My view is widened, and I understand far more of life from that truer perspective. I believe that I understand things much more fundamentally. Like obedience. I used to think we were obedient to obtain blessings. Now I understand that obedience comes out of love for the Lord, and out of love He will bless us. But we don't do a list of things to obtain a list of blessings; we do all we can to be in harmony with Him. Doing that, we will feel His spirit, which expands, teaches, strengthens and lifts us.

I have also enjoyed growing in many practical ways--social skills, cooking, cleaning, and that jazz. My thinking on life has been expanded from constant contact with so many other amazing individuals--and here I specifically mean other missionaries, but it applies to everybody I work with. These experiences and lessons have been an enjoyed benefit that I hadn't really thought much about when preparing to serve. I did, however, expect to better understand charity.

Which leads me to my final point. My mission has been very emotional. I have earnestly sought the gift of charity, and because of a genuine love for those I have taught, I have felt the greatest gandarījumi and the deepest sorrows (gandarījums-an emotional state, like satisfaction, that comes from achieving a desire through much work). And the more I work with and love the people, the more I rejoice when they do, and sorrow when they do (Mosiah 18: 8-10). Other people have become as important to me as I am to myself (Matthew 22: 37-39), and most often my studies were for others. Interesting how we grow and learn the most while studying for others...

Well, reading this over again, it sounds a lot weaker than I wanted and a little unorganized. Basically, I have learned to apply the scriptures and listen for the Holy Ghost. And as I have been doing those two things, my Heavenly Father has poured blessings on me that I always have heard in stories from church history, but somehow never really envisioned obtaining for myself. Most especially when talking about prayer. Never again will I ever doubt that God answers prayers.

I am gauži thankful to have served, to have been able to experience all that I have (gauži-very, very, extremely, incredibly very). I know in Whom my trust lies. I feel very privileged to be able to honestly, with all my soul, echo the words of Nephi:

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth upon the things which I have seen and heard. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me His great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. When I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in Whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; He hath led me through mine afflictions in Latvia; and He hath preserved me as I have talked to people in this land.

He hath filled me with His love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, heard my cry by day, and He hath given me knowledge. In the evening have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before Him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high. Mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for most to believe.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in His condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of blinded people. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise Thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in Thee, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. O Lord, wilt Thou redeem my soul? Wilt Thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin? May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because I strive will all my will to follow Thee! O Lord, wilt Thou not shut the gates of Thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

O Lord, wilt Thou encircle me around in the robe of Thy righteousness! Wilt Thou make my path straight before me! O Lord, I have trusted in Thee, and I will trust in Thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto Thee; yea, I will cry unto Thee, my God, the Rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto Thee, my Rock and mine everlasting God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen (2 Nephi 4: 16-35)."
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dec 2: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: New BUILDING(!!), Investigators, Good stuff...

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Dec 2, 2009
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: New BUILDING(!!), Investigators, Good stuff...

All: Maybe my pedometer has just lost its sensitivity. Anyway, it shows 55,612 (43.37), but I know we walked more than that (we did a lot of walking this week).

Pictures: First one: So last Preparation day we went bowling. And it was cosmic/disco/whatever-you-wanna-call-it bowling. It was way fun!! The member that we had invited didn't come, but we decided to play anyway. Tell ya what--when you have a white shirt on at that place, you glow!
Second: We found another abandoned building, and climbed up on the roof (through that hole you see there). That was fun. And the bus came a little late, so we still made it home on time! That's my companion.
Third: One of the many, not-as-good-as-I-hoped shots of the city from the top of said building.
Last: See that double-decker bus? I've been waiting my whole stay in this city to ride that thing. It finally happened this Sunday, by pure luck. I got to ride a double-decker bus for the first time!! It was kinda cheaply made, so really loud, but way cool!

Q+A: This last week, the work has gone fairly well. We made contact with several people with whom we haven't been able to meet for a while, and had some really good lessons with them. We also talked with a mother who came to church and LOVED it. She said she'd for sure be back next Sunday.
The Z. family are still taking lessons. I don't know if the father is ready to do anything yet, so we may not go as often. Then again, maybe not, because they are having some really hard times right now, so they could use the support. And I love them soooooo much!

Contacting people: one interesting experience was I talked to another guy who studies theology at the university. It's so ridiculous talking to those kinds of people, because they always look at religion abstractly, not seriously (from my experience, anyway), and they still refuse to accept that God can speak to us personally through the Holy Ghost. And when the Holy Ghost tells us something, we can trust 100% that it is truth from God. But they just don't recognize that. I don't get it.
Funnest Experience (this week): Signing the contract for the new church building. That was rad. Also, when knocking, almost every night we got in a door and taught a lesson.
Hardest Experience (this week): I don't know. It may have been telling my landladies that we're leaving at the end of this month. That wasn't fun. Or Thanksgiving, because that's the really big family day in my family, and we didn't even really have a celebration for it. And nobody who is not my parents really said anything, or wrote, or anything. Turns out that after about a year, it's a fact that almost everybody pretty much forgets about you, and just when you're getting into the swing of things all of your support from home (with the usual exception of parents) just drops out from under you. It's very disconcerting. It's a good thing that a few members wished me a happy Thanksgiving, and that I went bowling, otherwise it would have been a very difficult day.

The new building is the same one I talked about before. It's on Debeles iela 42 (but Googlemaps can't find it. It's the red brick building on the corner of Dobeles iela and Pulkveža Brieža, in case you wanted to check it out.)

On that note, I would like to ask you all for suggestions. We are trying to use this new church building both to invite more people to us (to understand us better and to understand what the restored gospel and restored priesthood means for them and their families), and to invite those who have been baptized, but are not currently active, to come back. We will be having what's called an open house, so that people can come and see the church and ask questions and stuff. I just want more people to understand what the Atonement of Jesus Christ means, and that living His gospel (or way of life) enables them to enjoy those blessings available through His Atonement. If you have any ideas, the open house will actually take place next month, so you have plenty of time to send me ideas (this week). Send them to Thanks!!

Otherwise, I'm stoked to have a new building. All is going forward here. I love you! Keep seeking truth through prayer, study, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nov 26: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Happy Thanksgiving!

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 3:11 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Happy Thanksgiving!

All: I now know that my step counter is off. I took 60 steps, and it only counted 47. So...anyway, it shows 75,870 (59.17 KM), but I'm sure we did more that 100,000, because we did a TON of walking this week. But, whatever.

Random thing: I had my last Christmas of my mission. Every 25th I have a little Christmas celebration. And the last one was yesterday. One of the most amazing missionaries in the world gave me a call and sang a modified version of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, missionary style: "...then how the missionaries loved him, and they shouted out with glee 'Amen!'..." It was awesome. Really made my day. And then we taught a bunch of lessons that evening. Score.

Q+A: It really is dark at 4 p.m.. We sometimes use flashlights after that. Usually we just use ambient lighting (street lights and such) or walk in the dark, but when it's muddy then we often will use our flashlights. And we are currently on a winter proselyting schedule: we are out working until 8:30 p.m., and we slide our language study around (half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening). It's been really good.

Elder Reid: He's a Utahn who is very into sports. He would definitely kick my trash in ping pong, basketball, football (both American and regular), and anything else (since I'm not too sporty a person). He's a good cook. I'm not sure exactly what else to say--after being with 16 companions, it's kinda hard to really pick out things about people. They are my companion. We teach well together, and we have been having really good lessons recently. We understand how we teach, and we have much the same focus when we teach, so it's easy to just jump in during lessons when the people speak both languages. It's been good.
I understand differing amounts of Russian. If I can contribute in the lesson, then I usually understand more (thanks to the spirit) and I can participate better. If I can't help much (say, they don't understand Latvian), then I usually don't understand overly much, but I do know some phrases.
There are a few more Latvians than Russians in Jelgava, but the balance is about 55-45.

We visited our 50 some-odd people, but not much came of it, sadly. People are really resistant to change or to anything they are not used to. And with people as flaky as week-old pastries, it means it's hard to really meet with people. But, we did have two lessons from all those go-backs, so not too bad.

We have found several families, but none of them really look too promising right now. They meet with us because they like us, not because they want to learn the gospel, but becasue they are nice and like us. But, we'll keep working with them. Actually, the Z. family is moving along quite well. We had a very serious lesson with them, and the father agreed to work on specific commandments and Christlike attributes, and all the other family members also agreed to get crackin' on Christlike attributes. The father is not a member (yet). But they are probably the most promising for a family baptism right now. We'll see how things go. I think he will still take more time, though.

Church on Sunday was amazing! We contacted all the members, and had a pretty good showing. And all of the Z. family (except the oldest son, who lives elsewhere) came!! The talks were amazing, and everything seemed quite pointed at helping the branch. I think that was one of my best Sundays. And President Dance really gave a good talk, about the three parables in Luke 15. I will share that as my spiritual thought, so here goes:
In that chapter, you will find three parables. The first is Luke 15: 4-7, and it talks of 100 sheep and one lost. Then the shephėrd leaves the 99, and goes after the one. And when that sheep is found and brought back, the heavens rejoice over the one, and kinda ignore the 99. Then Luke 15: 8-10 talks about a woman with 10 coins. She loses one, hunts for it, and then the angels rejoice over the one, and again ignore the 9. Then President Dance asked a question: Which are you? Are you the 1 lost sheep, or one of the 99? Then: are you one of the 9 coins, or the 1 lost one? He then said: if you still don't understand which you are, then Christ gave another parable. Luke 15: 11-32 This is the tale of the Prodigal Son. There are two sons. One who does not leave his father, and the other who squanders his inheritance on wasteful things. That son then returns, and the father throws a huge party for him. The son who didn't leave then gets upset, and asks why he hasn't had a party. Again, there is rejoicing over the one, and not much attention paid to the other. Why is this?

President Dance then explained: I personally don't believe that the ninety and nine even exist. I don't think that the nine exist. I don't even think the one "good" son exists. Because we are all sinners. We are all lost. And if you think that you are one of the 99, or the 9, or even the one, then you are mistaken. There is only us and Christ. We are all fallen from the grace of God, and we are all sought after. Christ Himself seeks us, as in the story of the sheep. Servants of Christ seek us, as in the story of the coins, and we seek ourselves, as in the story of the Prodigal Son. It was really good, because there were several in attendance who have a hard time coming to church because they think that they are sinners and that the people at church are perfect, and so they will be looked down on and will feel uncomfortable. So, I think that pointing out that we really are all wanderers, and must always repent (change and improve and become closer to God) each day, really helped those people. "Because sinning is a part of our daily lives, then repentance must also be a part of our daily lives." Way good.

God lives. He does seek us, and will give us after our needs, but only if we seek and prepare to accept that help and those gifts. I know that Christ's arms of mercy are extended to us at all times, and He pleads that we access His mercy: 3 Nephi 9: 13. I love you all. Have a great week! Happy Thanksgiving!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov 19: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Tele2, Jelgava Again, Neatkarības Diena, God's Glory

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thurs. Nov 19, 2009 at 7:18 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Tele2, Jelgava Again, Neatkarības Diena, God's Glory

All: Well, 90,776 steps (70.80KM). Woo.

Sorry for the delay in this letter. Usually I write on Wednesdays, but because yesterday (18 November) was both Elder Brown's birthday ") and Latvia's Independence Day, there were no internet places open here. So, it's a day late. Now on to other things. This week I found out much, both funny and serious. Funny first:

Remember how I told you that tele2 faked the meteorite? Well, they also ran a campaign this last month about heroes. They had ads everywhere that just said, "Pārāk Dārgi būt varonim?" ("Too expensive to be a hero?"). Then they only had a web I asked, and apparently that site only had a little game you played, where they call you often to tell you where to go next, and then they call you again. So, you do this for half an hour, and it turns out that the big secret they wanted to tell you is that they are tele2. Now they just released a plan that allows you to call any phone anywhere in Latvia for free--land, their line, another cell company--doesn't matter. I thought that it was remarkably genius marketing! They also have been pouring a lot of money into light shows and other attractions to keep people's minds off the economic crisis that everybody sees and hears about on the news daily. I really admire them for that, and it sure was a good way to advertise!
Another random thing: It's basically completely dark here by 4:00 p.m.. Funny, huh?

Top: These are the bonfires on the main street right across from the current church space.
Middle: This is one of my favorite shots of the fireworks. This is from the window of the church space looking out from the kitchen.
Last: Here are some of my favorite people in the world. The photographer didn't really warn us that he was going to take a shot, so we weren't overly ready, but it worked out anyway.

I'm settled in, yes. In the old apartment. Plans for the new one fell through for right now. The missionaries in Jelgava are Elders Thompson and Taylor (a new missionary--this is his second transfer), then Elder Reid and I. I have a crazy euphoria being back here! But, honestly speaking, I'd be cool with just about anywhere. About the people we are teaching, see the paragraph below. There are a ton in areas left to tract--I think that in my last time here, I used about 20% at the most of my area. There's still a lot more to do!
No, I am not a ZL any more. And Elder Brown is not an assistant. He's now the DL in Imanta. Elder Reid is a way awesome Russian-speaking missionary. I will tell you a little about him next time (if you remind me). We are tearing everything apart, because there is not a single person with whom we speak that cannot be spoken to. Latvian, Russian, English--every person speaks one of those three well. I love it!

Then, I am going through all the contacts of people that I have talked to and am really working with the members here to strengthen the branch and get a new building here before I go. Things all look good, and hopefully I can prepare one family for baptism before I leave. If you could all pray for that with me, I would really appreciate it (I've been searching for a family my whole mission who are ready to accept the gospel). We have a lot of good people to go back to, and I know that there are a lot of other good people with whom we haven't talked, so I am still hopeful. For them to be baptized before I leave, though, we need to find them this week. Please pray hard!

Yesterday was Latvijas Neatkarības Diena (Latvia's Independence Day), so there were no internet places open in Jelgava. There was a firework show, a million people all over the place, and big bonfires in the street. It was a pretty interesting day. We had hoped to be able to teach some people during the day, but a lot of people had gone to Rīga, so it didn't work out. We did talk to a lot of people, though.

And we had DISTRICT CONFERENCE last Sunday! I love district conf. We were treated to some of the most amazing talks, I got a lot of e-mail addresses of members that I love, and Paša from Jelgava received the Melchizedek priesthood!! That was way exciting!! I love seeing the members here, and many of them were very excited that I was in Jelgava again. I'm looking forward to this Sunday--we've made a big deal of a big deal. The mission president will be here, and so we just let all the members know and will remind them, and hopefully we'll have a full chapel. And tomorrow through Saturday we have a little over 50 people to drop by (people who have given us their addresses), as well as another 50 with just phone numbers, so we're thinking that we may be a little busy (if you lack perspective, that is a ridiculously huge number of people for a short period of time here). I'm thrilled again!

And I would like to share something that was discussed at that conference and at zone conference (we also had that, by the way). It was from Elder Senkāns, who is a Seventy here (the general priesthood authority "in charge" of Latvia and the other Baltic states). He thinks very logically, and he understands that all good things come from God. Therefore, all things he learns he turns to the gospel and tries to understand it in the light of eternal truth. He shared an article about how scientists have shown that to become a master at something (like sports or an instrument or a subject) it requires at least 10,000 hours. He then shared how the brain operates--all those neurons and such connect with others, and each neuron or synopsis or whatever it's called can connect with some thousands of others. As we learn and practice something, it literally becomes a part of our physical makeup, making verses like Alma 37: 6-7 or 1 Nephi 16: 29 even more powerful. The article also stated that we become what we think and do--so it is. Anyway, he took that further to state that if we only attend church once a week, then in a year we have 52 hours of that 10,000. If we live to be 80, then we're barely half-way there if we don't miss a single Sunday. If we're there for three hours a week, then that's 156 a year, times 80--still not there. And the article also stated that if it is not sustained, then the links are weakened, and it falls apart. So we need consistency also. It was quite a remarkable talk. It isn't even close to the power that he brought to it, and I don't have my notes, but I will probably flesh this thought out a little more later.

Another thing: he shared his favorite scripture. It defines the glory of God: D&C 93: 36. Very simple: it is light and truth. What are these? Truth was explained very clearly by God Himself: D&C 93: 24. It is simply the way things are. We need oxygen to live. We need to eat. The sun shines for us. Fire is hot. These are truths--just simply the way things are. There are also truths like God has a plan for us. He has a physical, perfected body of flesh and bone. We will all have the opportunity to be resurrected in glorified, perfected bodies. These, too, are truths. God wants us to know truth. This brings us to light: D&C 88: 7-13. Light, very simply, is the sustaining force by which God maintains order and influence in the world. There is both visible and invisible forms of light. The visible is fairly easy for us to understand at a simple level--it is what we see by, and it is what brings life to plants (among a host of other uses). Light is also the thing that allows us to understand truth (v. 11), and it gives God power and influence across all space (v 13). There is undoubtedly even more to light, but we have this for now. Elder Senkans helped us see how we can obtain this in our own lives.

Luke 11: 34 speaks of our light. Where we get it. This is both literal and figurative. Matthew 6: 22 is very similar, but helps us understand this a little better. If we are focused (on what, you may ask), then we can be filled with light, or, in other words, understanding, power and life. From the Doctrine and Covenants we read even more clearly: D&C 88: 67. Focused on what? On God and His glory--truth and understanding.

That is the purpose of Christ's church today. To help the children of God the Father obtain light and truth in their own lives, so that they are able to understand His purposes, and understand the way things are. Truth is not subjective--regardless of whether people believe it or not, it is still true. So Christ's church, or, more appropriately, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is not concerned about proving things wrong, or forcing others to accept what we teach. We do not teach philosophy, or religion, or good morals. We teach truth. You could say that the Church of Jesus Christ today is as it has always been--a school of learning for the children of One who has all light and truth. For those children who are willing to learn. D&C 88: 118 is truly the beginning of all activities in the church. And, as we learn truth, we will act on it. This is what brings salvation and exaltation--acting on true principles as stated by the Lord. When we follow His gospel--starting with faith (trust) in Him and His counsel; using that faith to repent (change our lives) so that we live as directed; then applying our repentance into a promise with God through baptism with water from one holding true authority to act in God's name; receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from one with that same power; and then continuing our whole lives long to learn and apply the truth we learn--then we obtain exaltation. I know that this is the true plan of our loving Father in Heaven.

I love you all! I invite you to keep reading and praying with the intent to learn truth.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov 12: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers and Such

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 4:54 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers and Such

All: 125,420 steps (97.82KM).

Pictures: Top: This wafer made me laugh a lot! On the wrapper is written: "HYPER wafer for big people." Hee hee. I'm not really that fat, either, just a little photo magic.
Middle: Here's my district from Riga Center: Front row is E. Long and McLaren, and the back is me, Sisters Gomez and Rībere (I have no idea how to do that in English still), and Elder Clark.
Last: These are stairs at a place we knocked. See how worn they are? I thought that was crazy worn!

Q+A: One of the people who was writing the homework for the spiritual parts of the English class now has a baptismal date! That is way exciting to me! Another one is willing to meet and talk, but is very skeptical right now. He thinks that God is partially to blame for all the bad that happens, because He could stop it, but doesn't. What he doesn't realize is that God does all that we allow Him to, and he unendingly mudinās (encourages...kinda) to do good and not do those bad things. Take a look at Moroni 7: 5-13, 16-19, and you'll see what I mean. That's not even including all the work the Holy Ghost does to keep us from hurting others (John 14: 26). Anyway, search the scriptures, and you will see that God invites all to do good unendingly.

Otherwise: On 9 November,1989, the Berlin Wall fell. It was the 20th anniversary of that event only a few days ago. That may not seem that interesting to a lot of you, but for one who has seen the dreadful influence of the Soviet regime, and who always is left is amazement by the miracle of its fall, I was strongly touched when I realized that. If you want, research the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet Union a little, and you may understand a little better. I have had many a conversation with people who have told me of the influence of the Soviet Union in their lives. I am amazed that countries even survived. God truly is a God of miracles, and he supported those who followed and trusted Him, even under the suffocating influence of that evil regime.

A funny story: A meteorite landed in Latvia last week. Latvians were euphoric, because a meteorite had landed in Lietuva and Estonia, but never in Latvia. But after a day or so, it turned out that the meteorite here was all a marketing scam from a company called Tele 2 (a huge phone company). So, since that meteorite story went all over the world, that company now finds a lot of publicity globally. I thought it was ridiculous...and ridiculously funny.

Last week was pretty slow, and this week started off a lot faster! We had great lessons with people with whom we have been trying to meet for a long time!

Now, probably what you are all wanting to know: transfers. I'm headed back to Jelgaviņa!! I'm excited, and at the same time sad to be leaving here. But, all will be well. My new companion is Elder Reed, who is a Russian speaker. So, I finally get my dream of being in a mixed companionship (Latvian/Russian speaking). And, I am able to say that I have averaged one new companion every transfer (that's 16 companions in as many transfers, and if you want you can include the MTC, when I had a different companion).

That's probably all. I love you all! Have a great week, and never cease praying and reading to invite personal revelation from the Lord. He gives such to all who seek it with a pure intent.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nov 4: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: English, Feelin' Weird, Tā Daļas Rīgas, Graveyards, Beautiful Stuff

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 7:13 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: English, Feelin' Weird, Tā Daļas Rīgas, Graveyards, Beautiful Stuff

All: 76,166=59.40. I find the pedometer šķibs very often (slanted, crooked, or something like that), and so I don't think I'm getting accurate counts anymore. Oh well :)

Anyway, lots happened this week. First of all, there are several students in our English class who are new from the last time I was here, and during the spiritual portion of the class, there were several who took notes on the suggested reading to learn more, and I do believe that they read them. The sisters have taught two of them, and I had a lesson scheduled with another one, but he wasn't able to make it yesterday because of work. But, usually things don't go so well in English class as that. I'm way stoked!

Otherwise, I'm starting to feel way weird. I have a really strong desire to stay here, and at the same time I have those same feelings for home. It's a very odd sensation to long to be where you are while you are simultaneously longing to be elsewhere. I have a dread and excitement to leave, at the same time. I don't want to start living a "normal" life again, and I can't wait to get started. It basically is a very odd sensation, we'll say that.

On that note, I heard the following song a while back. I found a link for it. In the video it shows some places in Rīga--I've been to all of them, I think. Most of them are in Ķengarags and Maskavas Foršstate (all near the river just out of old town). So you can see what this area looks like. It's a gorgeous's the link...

Anyway, speaking of that area: We were down there on Halloween knocking, and we wound up walking through a graveyard to get there! It was perfect. Suddenly, Elder Long says, "Hey, we're walking through a dark graveyard...on Halloween!" I added that the moon was almost full. Anyway, it was perfect. I also carved my first ever Jack-o-lantern that night (never actually carved one from a pumpkin...and how many people can say that they've done that here in Rīga?:)). So, that's what those first two pictures are. The pumpkin would have been better, but I didn't actually want to spend much time on it, so I didn't. I made it in only a few minutes. And I accidentally burned the seeds, so they weren't so good to eat. But, whatever. It was fun.

Also, we found some basement doors open, so decided to go snooping. This one was perhaps the most amazing basement I have ever been in. It went completely under the house, and looked like people used to live in it. I chose my favorite shot to put in here. Hope you like it. Don't worry, we only spent a few minutes down there, then we got right back to work. Humerically enough, we came across a group of trick-or-treaters, who made so much noise that we had to leave. Basically, Halloween means nothing here for most people.

And I was able to go to Liepāja this week. Remember those pictures of the church I put up a while back? Those are basically nothing in comparison to the actual building. I will admit, that I cried when I first went in, it was so gorgeous. You basically just have to go yourself and feel it to understand. And on the way back, since we had to leave really early, we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise. The pictures, once again, don't even come close to the actual. Here's one I tried to get, though.

Oh, and add another odd thing to my food list: Persimmon. It tasted fairly good.

I finished the Book of Mormon this week. I read from 4th Nephi to the end, and some things stood out quite a bit for me. Here are some of those things:
Ether 4: 7-14)
All things that lead to do good and to believe in God are from from God, but anything that pulls us away from a faith in Christ comes from the devil. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us to enter heaven.

Ether 4: 15-19)
The Book of Mormon is a witness that God is fulfilling the covenant which he made to the house of Israel in the Old Testament, and that He remembers all of His children all over the Earth. This added witness strengthens our faith and belief.
The words of Moroni, son of Mormon who compiled the Book of Mormon, unto those who believe not in Christ (verses 1-6):

His words to those who believe, but deny the revelations of God (verses 7-15):
• • •
I will just say here that I have seen the miracles of God. I have received revelations through the Holy Ghost, helping me to know what to do to teach people the Gospel of Christ. I know that God is a God of miracles.
(Mormon 9: 26-30).
I love this. He knows that he's talking to us. He knows that he's writing to us. All they put in the Book of Mormon was done for us, by revelation. Observe what else he said:

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. (Mormon 8: 35)

And this may have been my favorite part. Look at how strongly these ancient prophets testified of their mission and their role, and to the truth of the work they helped to do:
Moroni 7: 35-38)

And finally, in the last chapter of the whole book:
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my awords unto you, which were written by this man, like as one bcrying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the cdust?
28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall ahiss forth from generation to generation.
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is atrue.
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would acome unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good bgift, and ctouch not the evil gift, nor the dunclean thing. (Moroni 10: 27-30)

I know that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin, and that God truly has brought it forth in our day to witness to all the world that He is God, and that He truly does speak and lead His church in our day. This He does through His anointed servants. In the New Testament, Paul testified of the need of apostles (Ephesians 4: 11-15)? Are we in a unity of faith? Are we perfected? Then prophets and apostles are still needed.

Did not Christ Himself teach that all power in Heaven and in Earth belongs to Him (Matthew 28: 18-20)? He didn't say the power is given to books, or to man, but that it all rests with Him Himself. And he called His disciples to extend that throughout the world as He had authorized them to do so. It is the same today.

There are many references to priesthood. In the book of Acts, they call for the apostles to perform baptisms and to give the Holy Ghost. In other places in the scriptures they speak of priesthood offices (Hebrews 5: 6-10), and the need of the sealing power and revelation (Matthew 16: 17-19). The rock of Christ's church, as stated in the passage listed last before this, is revelation through the Holy Ghost. And because Peter listened and heeded that Spirit, and was called by the Lord, he was given the keys to, or authority to use the power of, the Kingdom of Heaven. That same power has been restored today.

I know that God has restored His church, and the Book of Mormon is the key to knowing that as well. It is something you can truly test. Pray about that book, and I again promise you that God will answer your prayers, if you pray in faith, with a desire to act.

I love you all.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oct 28: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Exchanges, Baptisms, Haunted Woods, The End

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 5:10 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Exchanges, Baptisms, Haunted Woods, The End

All: So, I'm quite short on time (due to a lot of stuff to do today), so I'll be quick here. 80,201 steps and 62.55 KM.

First, baptisms. I have attached a picture or two. It was beautiful.
The top one is the whole group. You've got: Sister Rebere (I have no idea how to spell it in English--Reeber, maybe), Brālis Lepešs, Zaiga Kalniņa, Davis Kalniņš, and the rest of Zaiga's kids. In the back: Helvijs Vīgners, Zane Pliha, Simone Miljone, hiding in the very back is Jurgens Plihs, the Brālis Ulasavičs and Sister Gomez. The ones getting baptized were Zaiga, Davis, and Jurgens. It happened. Both of these adults have been waiting years for things to work out so they could be baptized. It turns out that both of these baptisms are a HUGE miracle, and the result of many, many prayers and a lot of effort. I was touched deeply to see the hand of God so obviously this week.
The next picture is Zane, her father, Jurgens, and Sister Keeling. I loved this Saturday not only because there were a bunch of baptisms, but because Zane was thrilled out of her mind with euphoria all day. It was the greatest thing in the world to see. She's been waiting years for her father to accept the gospel and begin to live it. And Jurgens is way excited to be able to make his daughter so happy. It's amazing to see. Zane spent a lot of time hugging her dad these past few days :) I helped Zaiga fill out the form for baptism, and there's a little box by the "parents" section that says "Church member." She was filling out her son's form, and so when she wrote her name in there, and looked at the box, she got a huge smile on her face, and in a voice filled with an emotion I cannot even describe she said, "Ja," while tenderly checking the box. It was way cool to see her excitement, too! I love what the Atonement does for people!!!!
The last picture is my companion. He loves the talk, "Good, Better, Best" by Dallin H. Oaks (of the 12 apostles). We found this carved in a wall, and nabbed us a picture. Cool, eh?

Another cool thing about the baptism is that missionaries didn't do anything, really. Elder Long played the piano and gave a talk, but otherwise all was done by members. Way cool! Ah, and I was asked about where baptisms take place. There is a font in our church building in Imanta and in Liepāja, where we have baptisms. So, this last one was in Imanta, because it is too cold to do it in rivers and the like...
I also went on exchanges with people. As a zone leader, I go on exchanges with all district leaders in my zone, and with the assistants to the president. This means that I have 5 exchanges--five days when I spend the whole day with somebody not my companion and work like crazy in their area--or have them come back to mine and work like mad. I love exchanges, because working with other missionaries really raises my sights and encourages me to do even more! This week I went with Elder Barnes (assistant) who's just amazing. We talked to four people, and brought two of them back to the church and taught them. That's not normal odds--it's usually 1 in every hundred or so who's willing to talk. So, that was cool. I also went with Elder Reed, who is the Russian speaker in Jelgava. He's way cool, and it was fun to see my English class there again. Ah...the memories.

Also, this week my companion and I were headed out to Jugla to knock a few clusters of buildings that were near-by the shopping center Alfa. We took the wrong bus, bringing us to Mežciems, but after walking a block we found a 21 autobuss, and took it back to the area we wanted to be. Turns out, after we entered, we found that area to be an industrial park. Sigh. We walked through it to find houses, but no dice. We then hit Alfa to use the bathroom, and left, walking around it to get to the next little cluster. Well, we get to the road, and we see a trail that goes into the woods. Dark, creepy woods. Elder Long says, "I know exactly where this leads." And so, I pull out the flashlight that I keep on my belt, and out we go. I was thinking the whole time about how good those woods looked--as a place to be killed or robbed. But nothing happened (as also I thought), and we emerged from the woods into our next compound--a hospital compound. Woo. So, we left that, and wandered until we found Brivības iela (the main street that would have our buses back into center). Turns out that we walked from Jugla all the way to Teika (a good distance). Since we had already done that, we just decided to walk home. So we almost did. Anyway--a depressingly long, unproductive night. But, it was a fun adventure that added a lot to my steps this week :-S.

Other than that, it was a normal week. I have now been handed two "friend books." In Latvian, "atmiņu grāmatas" or books of memory. That's where friends write before they leave somewhere. I have given mine to many people. And now, people are starting to hand me theirs. This time, it's because I'm going home, not because they are. It's way weird. But, tā ir dzīve. Ko lai darīt? I'll have some more stuff next week. Love you all! Keep reading!!!!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oct 21: Baltic Chronical: Interesting Things, Snow, Sigulda, and Baptisms

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 8:55 AM
Subject: Baltic Chronical: Interesting Things, Snow, Sigulda, and Baptisms
All: 82,353 steps and 64.23KM. I'm surprised I haven't had to change the batteries in that pedometer yet.
Note: whenever I hit the ' key, this computer mixes it with the next letter I hit. So 's becomes š, and so on. If you see that, imagine an ' before the funny letter.
So, we moseyed to Sigulda today. It was rather pretty (but not as colorful as I hoped). It was fun. Here's some pictures...
Top: A view from the tower past the rest of the castle towards the river. It's a way pretty place!
Next: Hereš my wonderful district! You will note that I am missing, as is Elder Clark (he was behind me). But these are the other four missionaries here!
Last: Hereš an interesting meditation shot of me in one of the windows of Turidas Pils. I thought it turned out fairly cool.
Quickly through the week (as I haven't much time):
It snowed this Saturday. A lot. And it was beautiful. But the other missionaries were a little unhappy about it (turns out talking to people in the snow is not a very effective way to find people). But, my comp and I had weekly planning that day, so all was well. By the time we finished, the blizzard had abated, and we could start work again.
Also, Jurs. (our investigator--the father of a young single adult lady here) is getting baptized this Saturday. Heš been taught before. A lot. And for several years. Finally, something clicked and he just started doing things--he dropped tea, coffee, alcohol, and now smoking. And heš working hard to learn all that he needs to know before his baptism. Itš a miracle come true. I love that--God is a God of miracles. Helvijs's mother some months back had a similar story--taught for a long time, nothing, something, nothing. Finally, it all just works out. And now with Zane's dad. It's really cool, and inspires me to expect more miracles.
On that note, time for a miracle. This is a testament to the importance of faith in my finding efforts. And since my faith had been strengthened with all these miracles, I was trying to use that faith to call down the powers of heaven. We were out knocking, as has been known to happen. We hadn't really seen much success recently, so I was focusing my prayers on increasing my faith to find people prepared to hear the message of the gospel. I kept telling the Lord that I know there are people who would accept our message, and that I just need His help knowing where they are, and what to say to help them realize who we are. Well, we were walking into a stairwell, and there was a man on the lower floor, smoking. I normally would have passed him by, but I knew that if I wanted to talk to the prepared for whom I was searching, I also had to talk to all who were put in my path. So, I talked to him. And he invited us in. We taught him a wonderful lesson about Joseph Smith, and prophets. The best parts were these: I didn't have to think about what I was saying at all. I listened intently to what he said, and then just opened my mouth and words came out. And they seemed to be words that he needed to hear. And then he told us this: He'd been meeting with another church for over a year, but hadn't felt the truth in their teachings. He doesn't want to just learn--he, and I quote, "want[s] to go past a passive learning and start actively interacting in religion." Perfect. Thatš the only way to know about the truth anyway--act in accordance with what you learn. So, I just told him that we'll be asking him to do things as we teach him, and he just accepted it and said he would. I know that God answers the prayer of faith--meaning both praying and acting to do all you can to fulfill that prayer. And this is not the first time--just the first time in a while that I've been able to do that heart-felt...edly.
Oh, about baptisms. Jurs. will be baptized this Saturday with a lady named Z., who has been investigating the church for many years, but has not been baptized for one reason or another. She will be joined by her son, D.. That means that we'll be having a triple baptism this week!!! I love those sooo much!!!
And interesting things: Sometimes, in missionary work, unexpected things happen. For example: Last week, I was on exchanges with Elder Clark. At 11-something p.m., we get a phone call. From Elder Brown. As an assistant to the mission president, he was just in Estonia with his comp for zone conference. And they left their keys there. So, they needed a place to stay. So they called us. Normal. Ish.
Also, not long before I moved into my current apartment, a pipe burst and shed a waterfall of dirty water all over the kitchen.
And every so often, we just get calls about people who need to be taught. Like yesterday. The Russian sister missionaries called and said, "A guy named Aivars is at the church, and wants to learn more about the gospel. He speaks English and Latvian. Are you near the church?" Another companionship beat us to the church, so we didn't wind up teaching him, but it was way cool anyway.
Thatš all the time I have. Sorry. I love you all! Keep your faith strong!!!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oct 14: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Conference, Cool Knocking, Cold, Lame Crazy Days, Projector Battles...

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 4:01 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Conference, Cool Knocking, Cold, Lame Crazy Days, Projector Battles...

So, this week was rather...eventful. First: 90,993 steps = 70.97 KM.

We'll start with the Q+A...erm...after the pictures.
The first one is me and my comp eating a spoonful of Krievu Sinepes--Russian mustard. That's basically 40% mustard, 60% horseraddish. It's fairly intense. It actually didn't taste that hot--the thing that got me was the texture. Condiments by themselves usually are not the best in texture. Especially grainy, thick mustard. Anyway...
Next picture is just a sample of how beautiful things are here now. Random trees, like half of them, have changed colors, and there are some really gorgeous ones here and there. I love it!
Last is me and Elder Johnson as we helped Sister Šulca with her wood (we stacked it inside). The Carsons were also there, and they helped much. Māsa Šulca is now in England, for work, and may never return. Deep, deep, heavy sigh. Andris (who was just baptized) moved to Scotland (or Sweden, I can never seperate those in my head. Add two languages in my brains, and Skotijas, Svece, and a few others just get way jumbled up...) to look for work. But, she let us use these two sweaters so that our white clothes wouldn't get too gooked up. I thought they looked awesome. So, there it is.

Now, Q+A:
Things are going very well for us. We have several new investigators, and a few that I taught last time I was here, so things should be going well.
As a zone leader I have my own area, where I am most of the time. I also, however, work with all district leaders in their areas once a transfer. I do help plan the zone conferences (we plan those with a zone-leaders' counsel with all ZLs from all over the mission plus the assistants to the president plus the president and his wife), and the ZLs have a segment in zone conference to teach. We also are responsible for the food (lunch), and that. So, we have our part down right now, and I think all will be well.
As DL (district leader), I worked with the elders in my area (here, that usually means in your city or half of city for Rīga). Sometimes they are harder to work with than other times, but it's always a challenge to inspire and uplift all the time. Now, I work mostly with the district leaders, and they inspire their missionaries in their areas. So..there ya go.
Most of the people I know are still here. Erna Rotberga is not--she got a horrible infection in her leg, which they then amputated, and now she lives in a care facility in Skrunda. Brālis Dumpis lives in Liepāja, last I heard, and there are a lot of new people. Most of the members though are still here (which is really exciting!).
Oh, and Aivārs Bite just sent in his mission papers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's been fighting to be able to go (as he's 27, and usually at that age the church recommends that people get married or move on with other aspects of life rather than serve a mission), but local leadership thought that he could go, so we're waiting for what the missionary department in Salt Lake says. I way hope they accept him!
I do not live in the same place. Actually, in all of Latvia, there are only a few places that, by the end of this month, will be the same. What I mean by that is this: All four apartments in Liepāja that I knew when I was there are closed--they are all different. And even the church is in a new place. Jelgava--all apartments have changed, and now the church will move to a new location as well, so again--0% as it was. Imanta--all the apartments except Āgenskalns (where I lived for the first half of my transfer in Imanta) have changed, and they are going to close that one soon, too. Also here in Center, only the apartment that Elder Brown lived in for a year is still there. Every other one has changed. The mission office is in a new location as well. So all that remains the same is the church telpa in center, the church building in Imanta, and the mission home. And maybe the apartment that Elder Brown lived in in Rīga. But that may be changing, too. It's way weird to be so "old" here. (so many months on my mission). And what's funnier is that I'm with Elder Long, who arrived in the field almost a year before I did. He left part way through, and then returned. So, he even remembers when the mission home was in a different place. We make a funny pair, with all our ancient memories of this place. But the work of the Lord continues forward, and will continue so to do.
The only other area I've been in so far is in Rīga center. I got to work with Elder Clark, who arrived this transfer. He's way cool. And he was talking about how excited he is to be a missionary and talk to people about God. I don't know if I've felt that kind of excitement or wonder for a while, and his attitude changed the whole day--we taught many amazing people, and talked with many more really good souls. Attitude really does make all the difference.

I was writing my mom a little note earlier today. She told me a dear friend of mine is thinking about a mission. My response was the following: And tell her (my friend) that if she has the opportunity to serve a mission, take it. There is absolutely nothing in the world that comes even close to comparing with a mission. I am so thankful that I chose to go, and I will do everything that I can to encourage others to do it. You learn so much about the gospel, about others, about yourself, and about life in general. I must say that I had fought, struggled, and raged to try to learn some of the things that just come as part of doing the work out here. And those things have just come to me, in the tender mercies of the Lord. And now I actually understand the gospel. Before I left, I didn't really understand what it was all about. Even a year ago, I didn't quite understand it. And the people that I have met here do for me what stories of the pioneers did for President Gordon B. Hinkley--inspire me. I am amazed by the faith and courage of these saints in Latvia, and they have completely changed my life. I don't think that I would trade anything in the world for this experience. So I would say...Serve a mission!

All right, on to the the rest of everything. It's way cold. Winter is definitely here. We walked in a frigid gale to the Stockmann center for crazy days today. And I was totally disappointed. It was by far the worst crazy days that I have ever seen. The "sales prices" were not that low, and the featured items were still pretty expensive. They had nothing interesting in the technology section, and everywhere else was pretty lame. The only thing that saved it was a section that sold books (not usually a part of Stockmann). I found a book called "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne translated into Latvian. Elder Bodily read that book, and loved it, and I've always wanted to read it, but it's never been less than 10 lats (20 US$). But it was selling for 6 lats, which is almost how much it costs in America anyway! That was cool. And I found a cookbook for traditional Latvian foods (finally) for a lat (it's a little sampler book). So, I wound up not hating crazy days TOO much.

General Conference was way good. We watched a session a day as missionaries in English. I super loved the fifth session (the last one). Once again, Elder Holland gave an excellent talk. I encourage you to watch it, or read it, but it's how he spoke that really did it. He spoke of the Book of Mormon, and how he knows it is true. He testifies, in his office as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, of its truth. And there was one by Brent H. Neilson that basically invited the spirit to overpower me. Please watch or read this one. He talks of how he served in Somija (Finland. Sorry, only Latvian comes when I think of that country's name now). Part of Finland was under the Soviet Union, and they prayed while he served his mission there that that part would be open for missionary work some day. Many years later, his son was called to serve a mission in Russia, and guess where he went. Yup--that city about which the Finish missionaries had prayed. That is where I am serving--a former Soviet land. How many prayers have been offered for this land? What prayers of faithful saints am I now answering, bringing the gospel to a land that was miraculously freed from an oppressive, anti-religious regime? I will admit that I rarely cry tears when feeling the spirit strongly, but I did lose a little water during that talk. The talk after Elder Neilson's was also amazing. That whole session was incredible! And the very first African member of the quorum of the seventy spoke during that session, speaking of how the spirit of the Lord is moving powerfully upon his people in Africa. I can just imagine God's spirit powerfully flowing over this people in Latvia as well. Amazing!
All of the the conference was really good, but those are the ones that stuck out the most.
I actually never did see the first session in English. On Saturday, the branch watched it. I got to fight with the projector and the speakers to make sure they worked right, and it was quite a battle. The old projector shut off randomly, lost signal because it wanted to, refused to find the signal, and other problems. So, after a quick prayer for help, I dove in with my battle axe--so to speak. And it worked! We had a great many investigators come to conference, and I learned a lot listening in Latvian to the first session. I didn't stay for the second (we had things to do, and we'd already seen that one), so the next one I saw was the fourth session (the Sunday morning) with the branch again. It was way good. I love conference. A lot.

We also had that Zone Leaders' counsel last Wednesday, and it was amazing as well! Basically, it was zone conference, but in planning stages for leaders. Way cool!

Oh, and about knocking--we knocked into the Bahaī center. This is what I understand about the Bahai--that it is a religion that takes every major religious leader--Mohamed, Krishna, Moses, Christ, and a few others, and calls them all prophets of God. Then, they had a prophet about the same time Joseph Smith was called by God to be His living witness and to be His authorized prophet on the earth. The Bahaī prophet ties all the others together, eliminates the need for saving ordinances like baptism, and jumps over any need to have authority from God to act in His name. They also seem to claim that all of their prophets bring salvation to people. There seems to be no need in their minds for Christ or His atonement. But they believe many very good things, and are spot on in a lot of other stuff. It was very interesting to talk to them. They were probably the nicest people I have met in the past long while--and they are family focused, which I greatly admire.

Then, with Elder Clark, we ran into a guy who was a criminal during Soviet times, and so was in prison. Another man refused to join the army, and so was imprisoned with him. The second man taught the first about Christ, and Christianity. But, of course, you were not allowed to worship Christ during Soviet times. Religion was considered an enemy of the state, and shut down whenever possible (Russia actually gutted a lot of churches and used them to store junk and waste during their rule). Anyway, this man we knocked into became an underground Christian. He would look for secret, secluded places to read the Bible and pray. He was very happy to see us. He was on the phone when he opened the door, and said, in Russian, "No, I'll call you back, there are some very important people here that I must talk to. No, I'll call you back. Be quiet, I'll call back when I leave!!!" Or something like that. He then told us that his wife is Jewish, and showed me all his Hebrew books of scripture (way cool, by the way)--his Torah, the five books of Moses, and so forth. We then taught him how the Book of Mormon was designed by the authors way back in 400 AD when it was compiled "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." So, it may help his wife understand the need for Christ. And it will teach all others the need for Jesus Christ. If you already know He is needed, then it will teach you how to better apply His atonement in your life. It is amazing.

This is probably long enough. It was a good week, we'll say that. I love you all. Keep reading! You should actually be done with the Book of Mormon by now, right? Have you prayed about it, with the attitude to act on the answer God gives you? I promise you that God will answer you, "by the power of the Holy Ghost." Have a great week!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oct 7: Baltic Canonical: New area, and Conference!

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 4:01 AM
Subject: Oct 7: Baltic Canonical: New area, and Conference!

All: Hey. So, here we go. 67,939 steps (52.99 km).

Q+A: My responsibilities as ZL have not been made fully clear to me yet. I'll get the paper that explains it tonight at ZL counsel. I will be going on exchanges with all the District leaders this transfer (each transfer) just after zone conference. I also am responsible for all that happens in the zone--so if stuff's amiss, I'm the first one that gets talked to. President Dance is very big on leaders working as missionaries, so that is our primary focus. We occasionally have some monkey business (a companionship needs a bed and we need to bring it to their new place, problems with transport and such, etc.), but we mostly focus on teaching and the like. Actually, my companion and I are co-ZLs.
We are responsible for four districts--all Latvian speaking (plus two Russian missionaries in those zones). Those districts are:
  • Rīga Center (where I am)--two elderships and a sistership.
  • Rīga Imanta (across the river)--two elderships and a sistership.
  • Jelgava (where I was)--two elderships.
  • Liepāja (where I was long ago)--one eldership and a sistership.
Liepāja is a good distance from Rīga--it takes about three hours by bus. Jelgava is rather close to Rīga--it takes only 45 minutes to an hour to drive there (about 45 KM away). Sigulda is that city where there was that red castle and all the changing leaves. It's very pretty, at about 45 KM from Rīga. I'll send pictures if we actually go. Elder Long (my new companion) is way rad. He's very funny, and a very good missionary. He had to go home from his mission a while ago, and now is back, so he knows all the missionaries I do (he actually started his mission quite a while before I got out here--he was Zone Leader while I was in Liepāja!!), and I think we'll work quite well together. We are both fairly confident with Latvian, and we both know the doctrine decently well, so we can just hack out good teaching skills and make the magic happen!

Pictures: The top one is a shot out my new window in Rīga. It was beautiful a few days ago--it had just rained, and when you add in the sun--wow! So, here you go.
Middle: There was a youth conference here just yesterday, and since I was at the church I nabbed a shot. This will be in church news (or in the local pages of the Liahona, the church magazine, for Latvia). I love all these youth so much!!!
Third: Random culture thing: They love their cobble-stone roads here. Here is a look straight down from my pad.

I will be watching general conference this week, starting today with the missionaries in English, then again with members (for a few sessions, if we have investigators) in Latvian. I would invite all of you to watch or read conference. Here it is in English. If you need another language, then go here. These men are called of God, and given His holy priesthood. They are living apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are prophets, seers, and revelators. They know what will happen in the future, and they teach us how to live so that we can be sure to have a safer, happier future for us and our children. God literally speaks through them today. They say what God would have them to say. I'm excited out of my mind to be able to watch it. I'm looking forward to a fountain of revelation from the Spirit, and the Lord teaches me what my investigators and I need to know though His servants.

Quickly: We've had a lot to do recently, so haven't really gotten much teaching done. But that will change. I called a lot of people that I worked with before, and a lot of them were like, "No, I don't have time. I won't have time to meet with you." I told them basically the paragraph above, and every one of them was interested. So, hopefully we'll be teaching them this weekend, and watching them be taught by the Holy Ghost! I've been way excited to see those who I knew before and love. I spent a lot of time Sunday between classes talking with people and just finding out how they are. The branch is so much the same, and so different. There are a good number of new people. It's so wonderful!

I honestly don't know what else to say. I'll have a lot to say by the means of a spiritual thought next week (since I'll be hearing conference), so until then!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )