Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dec 31: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Christmas, Singing, BoM, Faith

All: First, the random: I traveled about 78.02KM in 100,033 steps. Good to know, vai nē? Vai jā!

Ladna. Then, pictures:
First is my baby burlap-bottomed Christmas tree sent to me from my folks! This is after the trimmings (we left ornaments off, this time, because we got to help Erna Rotberga, an amazing member here (about 78 or so years old) decorate hers). Just thought you would all like to see our holiday festivities.

Next is an example of what we eat. This is called Baltic Tacos. The stuff in the pot is rice, potato chunks, carrots, a can of kidney beans, can of white beans, can of corn, and a half kilo of beef, seasoned with taco bell taco seasoning and a squeeze of lime. Mmm, yeah. This lasts us about two days, usually. But this one lasted us three. Yeah!

Next is me, lighting Sister Rotberga's tree. It's pretty sweet, methinks. All that decorating and such we did with her a half an hour before.

The last one shows a few Ķeketnieki out and dancing at the Brivdabas muzējs. We spent some time here with Helvijs, Maija, and Helvijs's mother. It was pretty fun. This is only one of the fun things from there. Culture: people going out trick or treating, kinda. Same idea, but it's called "iet ķeketās," which literally translates to, "to go in costume." But they go from house to house, asking that people let them in. And usually they dress up as animals and such. This is not the most wide-spread tradition anymore, but people used to do it all the time around Christmas.

And answers to questions:
For Christmas we had branch parties called home (or rather, had home call us), and then chilled in. As far as I know, nobody got wolluped, because we got in before night fell (so far...night still starts at 3:30 p.m.), so it turned out well. We also had a missionary party held at one of the missionary сouple's home. And Elder Weideman and I ate pancakes for breakfast. Yeah. It was good.

The next day was a normal work day, as was Christmas day (almost), but very few people were out, and even fewer agreed to meet. We did, however, still teach people. And when we visited members, they had friends and family and stuff over, so we got to teach them, too!
Singing seemed to be the most effective on Christmas. So, we did a lot of caroling in domes (mājas...uh...those huge concrete apartment buildings with some 30-175 appartments in them) while knocking on doors. The 26th here is the second Christmas. It seemed pretty much like a normal day. Helvijs made it sound like it was going to be a bigger party than Christmas. Anyway...we'll be pouring our limites tonight, probably, so we'll have pictures of those next week.
Funny story. I have a yummy sweet and sour recipe. We gave it to Elder Brown and crew. Basically, it's equal parts water, vinegar, ketchup, and sugar. Well...they called to tell us that it was WAY to vinegar-y, and that we led them astray. They later apologized; they had used "essence of vinegar," which directed a mixture of 20:1 with water. We had to chuckle. And speaking of food, we made the most amazing dish. Uh...I don't know if you have the ingredients in America, now that I think about it...I'll take pictures of the necessary things and tell you about it next week.

Now, quick thing. This is incredible! We have been comissioned, as a mission, to all read the Book of Mormon together. Each of us are marking, in that book, each time we see the name of Jesus Christ, one of His titles (Holy One of Israel, Redeemer, living water) and pronouns that reference Him. We then are marking each time we see an attribute of Him described (marked in red), each time Christ speaks (directly or a prophet speaks in His name, usually with, "the Lord sayeth" or similar) we mark in blue, and each time one of the points from the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) is mentioned, we mark it in green. It's been very cool. I finished 1 Nephi this week. Here's what I found:
In 22 chapters, on 52 1/3 pages, there are 618 verses. In that 618 verses, you'll find the Lord mentioned 774 times (with another 22 that I wasn't sure was either God the Father or Jesus Christ, and since I wasn't sure that it was Christ I didn't count them in). There were also 40 different titles for the Savior. I would invite all of you, in this new year, to try this. Get a free copy of the Book of Mormon here: and click the link reading "Free media." Then just click "Request a copy," and follow the instructions. It's really just that easy. And then, when you get it, follow this. Read three or so chapters a day, if you can. If not, then read at least one. Mark it up. Write your thoughts on the side. This has really helped me to understand what is going on, as I have to read it more carefully to know what to mark. I have loved this, and I have several pages of personal revelation and verses to use while teaching. And my testimony that this book comes from God and is about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has been strengthened remarkably! And I only finished the first of the 15 books found within the Book of Mormon! Start at the very beginning, with the title page, then move on from there. Read everything, and mark it up. I promise you that you will feel the divinity of that book as you do this and pray about it. Because you can't do that without honestly thinking about the book and thinking about what you read. I also recommend that you pray before reading each day, and ask for inspiration and the Spirit.

I will now finish my thoughts on faith. Due to the Book of Mormon reading, I likely will not have the time I desire to truly focus my thoughts and deeply research a particular topic (such as the other four points of the Gospel of Christ). So, I will continue when I can, but it may not be until after my birthday (March're all welcome to send me gifts and letters at:
Elder Jordan Argyle
Baltic Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150


Elder Jordan Argyle
Baltic Mission
Melnsila 3-1
LV 1046

I would love to hear from you. Especially those who I knew before my mission who have been rather quiet since I left. I hear there are weddings and all kinds of things that nobody has bothered to send to me. I'd love to hear about them, friends!

Sorry. One of the sisters here received nothing for Christmas from friends (similar to me, except I did hear from a few), and she sent out an e-mail to everyone telling them...basically that she was quite disappointed that she had been forgotten. She received a lot of responses. So, I figured I'd give it a try!

Sorry, sorry. Moving on.

Faith (assurance and action based on trust in correct principals and true promises rooted in hope) is the key to accessing the many blessings God has promised us. God only will act with us according to our faith (1 Nephi 7: 12, 2 Nephi 26: 13, D&C 63: 10). God has worked incredible miracles whenever people have had faith in Him (Moroni 7: 35-38) at any and every time in history. Noah, Moses, Joseph Smith, and all the other prophets, along with those healed by Christ are examples of people who have received "according to their faith." Note they all acted - Noah built the ark after he preached to no avail; Moses called plagues and lead the stiff-necked Israelites from Egypt; those desiring healing from Christ came to Him (Mark 10: 46-52 is only one example); and Joseph Smith searched earnestly, and prayed "in faith, nothing doubting," "believing that he should receive" (James 1: 6, Mark 11: 24).

More examples of faith include the following. Carefully examine these for how the people involved demonstrated faith. For references to stories mentioned in the quoted text, the footnotes may be helpful (those little letters by some words in verses--you can click on those for more references to specific principles). That will be necessary in the Hebrews 11 and Ether 12 verses. Also, for instances within the story, you may need to read the whole chapter to see how they exercised faith. Here they are: Hebrews 11: 2-5, 7-9, 11, 17, 20-21, 24, 27-35; Ether 12: 7, 10-16, 19-22; Mosiah 5: 7 (you may want to read from chapter 2 through to this point to understand what caused the change of heart); Enos 1: 2-8; Matthew 8: 5-10, 13; Mark 5: 25-34; Luke 7: 37-50; Alma 57: 19-26 (note especially verses 21 and 26); 3 Nephi 17: 5-9; 1 Nephi 3: 7 (that story is told from the beginning of that chapter); Mosiah 27: 2-14; Alma 14: 26 (that tale begins in chapter 9 and goes through to that point--you could just read the chapter headings to chapters 9-13 to get the basic idea); D&C 10: 45-52. This is only a few that you can study; there are countless it seems.

Next we'll look at the benefits of faith. We also know it is 100% impossible to do anything without faith (D&C 8: 10). We must, therefore, concern ourselves with how to develop it. The most beautiful explanation I have seen for this are these: Alma 32: 28-43; Moroni 7: 25-39. Read these, noting trust, confidence, and hope. Note also that we do receive witnesses to support our faith (Alma 32: 28; 1 Corinthians 2: 4-5), and we can perfectly know of aspects about which we had faith before (Alma 32: 34). But we still hope for other things, and have faith in other things (Alma 32: 35-36). We, then, can grow in faith. The more we know, the more confidence we will have in God, and the more surely we can trust Him (Hebrews 11: 11). In this manner we grow our faith. If we fail to continue to seek Him, our faith will wither (Alma 32: 37-39).

We, then, grow in faith by learning of God (Moroni 7: 25 cf D&C 1: 38; Alma 32: 28-29), then by acting according to what we've learned (Galatians 2: 20 cf 2 Nephi 25: 24-25). God gives us enough to trust Him, while still being able to work our faith (3 Nephi 26: 6-10).

Faith is also a gift of the Spirit, for which we seek (1 Cor. 12: 31 (footnote a); Moroni 10: 30; D&C 88: 118; D&C 109: 7).

Through our faith, we qualify (by our works and desires--D&C 137: 9) for mercy (Alma 34: 15-16).

Now, last letter I asked you to consider choosing a way to show your faith. Perhaps some of you could not come up with one. Perhaps you did. I now have a specific one for you all to try. Here's the reference: Moroni 10: 3-5. I challenge every one of you without a knowledge that this book is true to pray about the Book of Mormon. Show your faith in God by continuing to study the book, even while you ask about it. Trust in God's promise, given through the prophet Moroni, that you can receive. If Moroni's witness alone is not enough, then here are a few more: Mormon 9: 21; Matt. 7: 7; Luke 11: 9; 3 Ne. 14: 7; 3 Ne. 27: 29; D&C 4: 7; D&C 75: 27; D&C 88: 63. Do as I have done, as Ainārs (the young man we recently baptized) has done, as Enos did, as Joseph did. You will receive, through the power of the Holy Ghost. That is recognizable in this manner: Gal. 5: 22-23. I know this is true. Amen.

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

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