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
( >/°¥< )

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