Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jan 28 : Baltic Chŗonīcļe: New comp, Random stuff, and...yeah. The Book of Mormon rocks.

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Jan 28 : Baltic Chŗonīcļe: New comp, Random stuff, and...yeah. The Book of Mormon rocks.

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/1/28
Subject: Jan : Baltic Chŗonīcļe: New comp, Random stuff, and...yeah. The Book of Mormon rocks.

All: 97973 and 88466 is 76.42 and 69.00 kilometers for two weeks. Woot.

Pictures: Top one: Elder Weideman got a package. I want all of you to know that your crisis could be a lot worse (that package had one notebook in it, and it cost $2,750! Sure, they were Guyanan dollars, but still..."))

Next: We all had a farewell party and a get-together as a group of 18 or so missionaries. Here's the aftermath...
3rd one down: So, when you get married here, you can put a padlock on a bridge and throw the key into the river, symbolizing that they are locked in marriage and they will remain together forever (unfortunately, marriages here usually only last until most other ones done without God's sealing authority). But I like the symbology.

Last one: It's a little wet here, too. This is Vermanis Darz (I really hope that's close enough to the real name...that's about what it sounds like to me anyway). This is what the whole city looks like. These ducks are actually FLOATING in the field there. Crazy, huh?

Answers: I'm in the same apartment, yes. Elder McLeren is from Blackfoot Idaho. He loves music (like I do), and he's been out for about 2 transfers (12 weeks). Just like Elder Weideman when I got him as a companion. He's even E. Brown's trainee, just like E.W. I now have reports to do as D.L. (I'm too lazy to write out district leader every time, sorry.) I also call the missionaries in my district each night to make sure they are safe and see if I can help them with anything. And I have to conduct district meetings each week. That's a little stressful. And I actually hear when things happen. That's certainly nice.

Erna Rotberga is all right. I haven't been able to get a hold of her, but the Relief Society has planned to have one person visit her every day this week. We'll probably see how she's doing sometime this week, too. But last I heard, she's fine. For names with "j"s on the end, you just don't pronounce the j. Just up to it, and throw an "s" sound at the end. It's so that when you decline the name, you still hear "Helvi" or "Aleksej". OK, wait. "E" becomes an "ay" and "A" becomes an "ai" like in "eyes" (ai is the eye sound in Latvian. I forget how to phonetically do that in English).
Also, there are more than 6 or 7 names here. But you almost never hear them. Over 95% of people, it seems, have one of those 7 names.

Uh...not too much this week. We weren't able to meet with J. (he may live in Cēsis, a city not too far from Rīga), for work. But, all is well. We have a ton of new people, and things are swimming along quite well. I still love the Book of Mormon! Mosiah 23-4 is very informative. I invite you to read it.

I really don't know what else to say. My comp and I have been talking about what we can do to work well together, and it's been good. We had no electricity Monday (and there was no reason...our fuse just blew and it wasn't our usual was the big one hidden somewhere odd in the building) so we spent the whole day calling people and seeing when they can meet. As a result, we have a few lunch appointments with people today, and some next week (preparation day meetings, because they don't yet feel comfortable with us in their homes or them in our building). So, we'll go to a lunch appointment with them. Why not? I love you all! Stay strong, and I love you all!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jan 21: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers, Hospital Trip, Stuff

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/1/21
Subject: Jan 21: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers, Hospital Trip, Stuff

All: I don't know what I walked. I'll let you know next week. We were supposed to write Thursday this week (when transfers are), but the server will be down for updates or something tomorrow, so we're e-mailing today as usual.

Here are the picture explanations:
Top: This made me laugh. It's so true! My comp got this photo.

Next: Elder Weideman found out that I love hats, so he drew this montage of hats on the board for me! He's just awsome like that. So, I thought I'd toss his artwork out there for all the world to see.

Next: This is in a park. It just looks really cool. So, welcome to Rīga at night.

Bottom picture: Here we are, celebrating Helvijs' birthday at a restaurant called Alli Baba. Sister Wilson looks like an Arabian. :) Probably the craziest moment: this picture. The other young lady is Sister Hagen.

A comment was made that we teach a lot of people named Juris. As it turns out, Latvia has only seven common names for each gender. 60% of males are named Jānis, then you have Martiņš, Juris, Māris, Andris, Aivars, Ainārs. So, we have a lot of repeat names.

The twins that were recently baptized were found by "harvesting" (knocking on doors. The term comes from the following admonition to missionaries in the last couple hundred years by the Lord: D&C 33: 3, 7.). The Russian missionaries ran into them, and they are of the rare breed of Latvian that doesn't speak any Russian. So, as they testified in church last Sunday, one of the twins had no idea why she gave her number to foreigners, but she did. And she agreed to a meeting. It was scary for her, so she took her sister with her. And the rest is history. It was awesome!

So, transfers were today. Sister Knight is out to Sapņu Pilseta (the City of Dreams, aka Liepāja), all the other sisters stayed where they were. Imanta Latvian looks like this: Elders Payne, uh...Farnsworth (I think), and Sisters Wilson and one of the sisters from Liepāja (a Russian speaker). Riga Center sees Elder Brown as zone leader (the zone is all of Latvia), with Elder Millet. Me as district leader (the district being E Brown, E Millet, and the sisters in Rīga center, Latvian speaking) with Elder McLeren, and Sisters Hagen and Largey (as they were last transfer). Elder Weideman is going to Jelgava as district leader with another three Latvian speakers. The Russian missionaries are all over the place (literally, from Riga Center they are going to every country in the mission)!

As for the heading of this letter... That's not me in the hospital. We visited Māsa Erna Rotberga (an 87-year old church member), and another member was over there wrapping Erna's leg (which is rotting off of her). Turns out that a weird three-centimeter-tall lump had grown out of Erna's foot and was oozing all over, so they called the ambulance and we were at the hospital three hours to make sure she was taken care of.

J. is progressing very well. He is actually trying to learn, and making sure he understands as he goes. He's one of the best people that I have ever spoken with here. We also began to use Helvijs in teaching him, and it's been absolutely incredible!

A.: We should have the Russian missionaries teaching him, because he is a Russian. But, he's going very well. I was not in the last meeting (because I was on exchanges with E. Brown), but I hear it went well.

We have a few others, but we've been unable to meet with them since, so I'm not going to write about them yet. I just want you all to know that this work is amazing! I feel enlarged every moment. Due to my calling and ordination as a full-time representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, I receive amazing amounts of spiritual guidance, help, and power that I know do not come from me. This work is true, and the more you live it, and the more you strive to live it, the better it is.
My spiritual thought comes from this most recent general conference of the church, and was sent by my mother. This is the truth of our relationship with God:

"People who try to find God sometimes think that they have to look for Him in intellectually complicated concepts. However, our Heavenly Father is always available to us. He adapts to our level of understanding. In His goodness, He has ensured that the truths regarding God are understandable to all His children, whatever their level of education or intellectual faculty. In reality, the fact that a principle can be understood even by a child is proof of its power. Our knowledge of God does not depend on the amount of information we accumulate. Knowing God is a matter of opening our hearts. It is having a testimony of His existence and feeling in one's heart that He loves us. It is accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and having a fervent desire to follow His example. In serving God and our neighbor, we witness of Christ and allow those around us to get to know Him better."

I invite you all to study about Him, and then to seek Him with full purpose of heart. I promise that you will find Him. Seek. Pray. Know. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

P.S. I'm always thinking about and praying for you all!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jan 14: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Packages, Book of Mormon, INVESTIGATORS!!!

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 4:15 AM
Subject: Jan 14: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Packages, Book of Mormon, INVESTIGATORS!!!

All: 99,275 steps (77.43).

Pictures: So the first picture is the Latvian Zone (plus a few Russians-speaking missionaries, mostly from Liepāja) on the beach during zone conference. Take a look at some of the finest missionaries alive!

Next is a shot of our Church in Riga Center. The thing on the first floor is a beauty salon. We're the second floor, and there's plastic surgeons and stuff above us. But the one directly above us (where our landlady used to work) is now empty, and has a number for a new owner. So...yeah. That's our church. Cool looking, don't you think?

The next one is a picture of the church IN LIEPĀJA!!!!!!! I'm so excited that it's going so well!!! (Liepaja is another area I served in that I loved).

Last photo: I just love seeing people feeding birds. They're everywhere, especially by the river! And this scene was just too cute for me not to grab a shot, so here you are.

Big thanks to all who sent me stuff!!! I received letters from the following people: Sages, Wages, G+G A, my WARD PRIMARY (THANK YOU!!! I LOVED IT!!), Alex, Andrew (Elder Mills, I should say), the Mills family, and the Tingeys. Thank you all! Very very much! And thanks to G & G J for the truffles!

Answers to some of your questions: Q:
So tell us about one of the sacrament meeting talks in your branch last Sunday. A: Bralis Menkovskis talked on tithing, and focused on the blessings that come from keeping that law of God. Māsa Treģe-Trede talked about a lot of different verses from the Bible, and what she learned reading them. That was pretty intense! We also had the recently baptized twins testify to us. I love their spirit, and their happiness is really contagious!

Q: I forgot to ask you--do you remember what it was like to hear the sacrament blessed in Latvian the first time you heard it? A: I read it the first time I heard it. I didn't really think anything about it. The sacrament prayer is about the only prayer that is repeated verbatim with any regularity. Recently, I've been thinking about it. Especially after I saw it in Latvian Sign language, and I was amazed by the symbology in it. I love taking the sacrament.

Q: Do you have a best missionary moment this week? A: We taught the most incredible lesson after English class! We asked our students to come with deep questions of the soul, and we'd talk about them together. We were asked, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" We answered from 2 Nephi 2 in the middle (about opposition being needed), Alma 14 (a story about bad things happening to good people), and we discussed it. We talked about the respect God has for our choices here (He will not force us to act in any specific way), we talked about how we learn and grow, and we pretty much had a doctrinal discussion for some 30 minutes (about twice as long as we usually go). It was amazing!

Q: Do you have a funniest missionary moment from this week? A good companion story to share? A: I'll combine the two into one. I asked E. Brown what a virus is (because they aren't alive, but they want to multiply). He said that just as oxygen wants to bond or some such in certain situations, so too do viruses want to get bigger when they enter the body. My tired companion, E. Weideman, said, "Like chocolate!" E. Brown didn't hear what he said, so he responded, "Yeah, like chopsticks." It's one of those things where at the end of the day, if something is just that certain way, it turns out that it's hilarious, and there's nothing you can do but laugh wildly. Anyway, you probably had to be there... :)

So, my mom says that I've been a little vague on the awesomeness of people that I have run into recently. Here are some specifics. Basically, I didn't want to give names or anything before they showed some genuine interest by coming to a lesson or some such. So, here are three, and a little about them:

D.: Really humble. He travels a lot to visit friends and relatives, and is very open with all of them. Once he begins
praying regularly and reading the Book of Mormon and feeling its power he'll make a fine missionary. He works a lot, too, so it's hard to meet with him. But he's moving along quite well.

J. 1: Is an amazing guy. He's a contact on the street from a very long time ago (some month plus). He's interested right now from a factual standpoint, but he is religious, and understands quite well the principle of faith.

J. 2 (a different one): Here's a guy we didn't get to talk to further, but had an amazing conversation with him. We talked on a bus headed out to Ķengarags, and he's actually a very cool kid. Unfortunately, the number he gave us to call him is no longer in service. My guess is that he just changed numbers. Anyway, he opened up a lot while we traveled (it's about a 25 minute bus ride), and it was really good. He's almost ready to accept the gospel, methinks. Next time I see him, I'll have to set up a lesson! He's a freelancer photographer in Riga.

Now, I felt impressed to share something specific with you all. Here it is (it might make more sense if you read the links as they appear below):

Reading through the Book of Mormon is amazing! I had a few verses especially jump out at me, which I would like to share. I also want to testify of the truth of this book. These verses from scripture are testimonies of the Book of Mormon, from prophets of God and from God Himself. First, in a parable comparing the people of God to an olive tree, the Lord of the vineyard sees His vineyard (the earth) is corrupt, and no trees (nobody) brings forth fruit (works) to Him. This is at a specific time in the world's history, with people connected to each symbolic tree (that's like "nations," not a specific person). The Lord of the Vineyard says, Jacob 5: 38-51. I noticed how grieved the Lord is over His vineyard. He then commands the gathering and nourishing of His vineyard. This is done. Might I suggest one of the most powerful tools for this gathering and nourishing is the Book of Mormon itself? Here are some thoughts on that:

Jacob 6: 2. Connect that to 2 Nephi 28: 32, 2 Nephi 29: 1-4, 6-14 (note that the last bit are the words of God Himself). Further, by way of prophecy, the prophet Nephi records: 1 Nephi 13: 38-41. In another prophecy, given to Josph of Egypt, quoted by Lehi, a prophet, to his son, also named Joseph: 2 Nephi 3: 11-12, 15. Note the similarity between verse 12 from the before, and Ezekiel 37: 15-17.

Now, the testimony of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, concerning the Book of Mormon: D&C 1: 29; D&C 17: 6 (this is the only time I know of where God testifies of the truth of something by His own name); D&C 19: 26-27; D&C 33: 16; D&C 42: 12.

A few more mentions of the Book of Mormon in the Bible: John 10: 16 cf. 3 Nephi 15: 11-24; Isaiah 29: 4, 11-18 cf. 2 Nephi 26: 15-23 cf. 2 Nephi 27: 15-20 cf. JS-H 1: 62-65.

Here are some reasons given for the Book of Mormon's existence: D&C 20: 5-16 tells how the book came to be (in brief). Also, the people in the Book of Mormon tell about why they wrote it: 1 Nephi 6: 4-6; 2 Nephi 33: 13-15; Words of Mormon 1: 3-8; 1 Nephi 9: 3-5; Jacob 1: 4-7; Alma 37: 2, 14; 2 Nephi 4: 15-16; Jacob 4: 1-6, 12; 3 Nephi 5: 14-15; 2 Nephi 25: 23-29; Enos 1: 13; Mormon 8: 35; 2 Nephi 26: 15-16; Jarom 1: 2; 2 Nephi 29: 11-14; Omni 1: 25-26. We also have a few reasons from the Lord in the modern days through living prophets: D&C 3: 16-20; D&C 10: 46-48.

For still a more powerful testimony of this book, the best thing to do is read it. The doctrine within testifies of itself. If you want to understand God, to know His will and how to obtain the fullness of His blessings for you, then prayerfully read the Book of Mormon. If you feel it unnecessary, read what I have mentioned above again. Pray about it, with honest desire to know if God would that you read it. You could also read 2 Nephi 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.

I invite all to read the following chapters, prayerfully. These make clear very plainly God's will for us, and what we must do. 2 Nephi 31, 32, 33. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you read. I'll share some of the other stuff I learned next time (some insights). I was just struck very powerfully by the truthfulness, both logically and religiously, of the Book of Mormon.

I love you all!
Have a great week!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jan 7: Baltic Chŗonīcļe:

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 4:14 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe:

All: 86,342steps, 67.34KM.

The top one is all the stuff you'll need for the sweet and sour chicken. From the top-left: noodles (half kilo), chinese tomato sauce (basically it's regular tomato sauce with pineapple and carrot chunks with an extra chinese zing), can of pineapples (300g(?)), half kilo of chicken breast (next row down), black pepper, onion, limes, orange (just one normal-sized or two little ones), then carrots, exotic sweet Thai sauce (that's what I don't know about for you Americans), and bell pepper.
To make: basically, cut the carrots into little wedges (halve them the long way, then clop them into little pieces), chop up the onion, and the pepper. Cube the chicken and toss it into a frying pan. Also peel the orange, and cut the wedges into semi small pieces (we halved the little orange wedges, and we tri-cut the bigger). Boil the noodles together with the carrot chunks. When the chicken (and maybe onions, if you like onions) are done cooking (the chicken will be mostly white), reduce heat (to almost nothing) while you halve the lime and squeeze its little guts out all over the warm chicken. Then toss in the orange bits, and drain the pinapple can a little into the pan. Then turn up the heat again and simmer that stuff until most of the juice is gone. Drain the rest of the pineapple juice. If you'd like, you can also add pineapple chunks into the chicken while it cooks. We did...

Next picture: After it's about done, add a very generous helping of the black pepper on the chicken mess. You also drain and shock the noodles (meaning you put cold water over the hot, freshly drained noodles), dump in the drained can of pinapple chunks, and add the peppers (there's also onion in this picture, but the onion did nothing to add to the flavor or texture. It may work out if you fry them up with the chicken then pour the liquid stuff over the top, but I don't know. Didn't get to try that out...). You then bring all together in the pot.

Next picture: Then you pour in the jar of chinese-tomato sauce (all of it), and half to all of the Tai sauce. You then toss in some habinero pepper sauce or eat as is. It will already be fairly spicy. This stuff was incredible!!

First non-food picture: A gorgeous sunset on new years day!

Last picture: We had an amazing zone conference. We went out to the beach by Dzintare (or something like that). This was the place where, in 1993, the country of Latvia was dedicated for missionary work by an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. We were told the story of missionary work in Latvia at the very beginning, and we read the dedicatory prayer. After, we sang a missionary anthem, and then thought. The spirit was very powerful, and I was strongly motivated to get out and teach more! This shot was perfect: I got some snow falling off trees with the sun right behind it. About eight seconds before this it looked so much better, but I was too slow with my camera!

Answers to questions: All Latvian speaking missionaries in Rīga center (and a Russian-speaking assistant to the president) go to the Latvian branch (congregation). I did say the branch is amazing, and correctly so. Basically, you can see their faith in Christ and spiritual power just bursting through. Every one of them in a convert to the church. And all of them have had to make large changes in their lives so that they can live the Gospel as taught by Christ. It's a great sacrifice to be a member of the church here. And as such, the blessings you receive are enormous! You can see that the Lord has consecrated their sacrifices to be for their good. I guess there aren't as many specifics as it is that: just an overall amazingness. The closeness between the members is something that I never experienced in my youth classes with those of my age. I love seeing it here! Also, every person in our branch knows what they believe in, and they personally have that testimony. I respect that almost more than anything else.

Sanita and Santa are the only two members in their family for the time being. Sisters Hagen and Knight are not companions anymore. They were. I'm taking the picture of all the singing missionaries on the stage, so I'm not in it.

My best missionary moment of the week was teaching all kinds of new people. I've gotten rather quick to telling people that God has given the fullness of His truth again, and that there is only one place to find all truth together. Wherever they are has some truth, yes, and will do them good. But they can have so much more. God wants to give them more, but they have to accept it. And, telling people something like that (or sometimes exactly that), and telling them that I don't want them to just believe me, but I want them to pray about it and find out for themselves, has gotten me a lot of really good contacts (some not interested, but we both left with good feelings), and a good number of lessons. I really like having the fullness of truth to share with others. Thank goodness that the Book of Mormon is there for anybody to read and prove these things I say. I don't think I could be a missionary without it!

Real quick, on new years day we were all home. Well, at midnight (actual new years), we, just by poking our heads out the windows, saw at least four shows: the city one to our left, one to our right, one in old town, and other just in the street in front of us! We had buildings in our way, so we didn't see all of them, but we saw a good number of fireworks. And I have movies galore on my camera (they're way too big to send through email, though).

We've gotten tons of snow, and temperatures have been as low as negative 10! And the sun has been shining (probably about the first time I've seen sun since October or so), and people have been quite happy, even though it's been bitterly cold.

I love you all dearly! I pray for you, and I know this work is true! I know that this Church is the only true and living church on the earth (as Christ himself has declared). You will know this as well, as you continue to read the Book of Mormon with a prayerful heart. Keep reading, and keep praying, and keep desiring to know more!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )