Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb 25 Pics

The pictures might be out of order--hope you can figure them out from the descriptions!

Feb 25: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Concert, Investigators, Art Museums, Lunch

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/2/25
Subject: Feb 25: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Concert, Investigators, Art Museums, Lunch

All: I broke 100K steps. 103,268 (80.55KM). YAY!
First: This is a thing that's hanging up in Lidojošā Varde. (restaurant) It's awesome. Behind, you can see the pillow. One of these is on every chair. Amazing!

Second: The middle dining room features two of these kinds of figurines. They're big enough to get pictures next to. Really bizarre. But I like 'em!

Third: The art museum was a gorgeous building. Here's only one shot (I have many).

Fourth: These are all the people who ate at Lidojošā Varde, and who came to the museum (very close to that cafe/resturant). From left to right: Elders Bostwick (sp?), McLaren, Me, Payne; Sisters Largey, Hagen, Wilson, Norris. I love them all. If you ever see this (any of you), I love you all!

Fifth: I couldn't resist. Too bad you can't actually see my face...oh well.

Last: I had to send this. This is our concert. There were a lot of people at it.

This week's Sunday was nuts: We had many an investigator (and G., who became our investigator later this week), so we talked to them, and couldn't figure out which ones to sit by. But fortunately, some of them took care of each other. My comp was translating for his first time, and he got frustrated while I was counting people in the hall (I need to send the attendance to the office each week), so as soon as I was done with that I had to translate. And after that our Investigator class didn't have a teacher, so we did that really quick. And somebody asked a question that pulled the discussion in a bizarre direction. And THEN in priesthood we had a scam-artist/strange person (long story, I'll probably tell it in a minute) come in and sit through, so we talked with him. Then I had my meeting with the branch president (so we're creeping up on four hours of speaking only Latvian--that's a little tiring sometimes), so we discussed our stuff, and some members came in with random problems, and...yeah. It was quite a crazy Sunday. And, interestingly enough, that wasn't all that happened (I just decided it's better not to list everything), and that's not all that abnormal.

Lidojošā Varde (The Flying Frog): It was amazing. This place takes first place out of all the restaurants I have ever eaten at. A few pics are included. The food is amazingly good, and the place is decorated amazingly! It's basically what I want my dining room in my house to look like someday. And it was fun hanging with some missionaries. Especially because there isn't a single not awesome missionary (as in awesome person) in Rīga right now. A few that are occasionally frustrating, but none that aren't amazing.

Miscellaneous Questions (Well, the answers to misc. Q's):
Helvijs is a stud of a member that lives in Imanta. He was a missionary in Lithuania, so he knows how to teach and has been very helpful. He was the center of the youth group when he lived here before his mission, and he made sure baptisms and stuff were great! His family members are not members of the church, but they now respect his decision. He was baptized when he was 17. Ainārs is a little older than me. Aivars Bite is another amazing youth. He's got 26 or 27 years, and also helps teach often. Bite is a two-syllabled last name. I sent a picture a while back with four youth in it. Both Helvijs and Aivars were in the picture.

Basically every person here has a cell phone, and they use them. A lot. They double as MP3 players, planners, alarm clocks, and various other things. I think I'm getting too dependant on these things, too...

That scam-artist: So, to add random to random. This guy was a lesson that Elder McLaren and I had. The first thing he did was tell us that he owns an organization called the "Super Christans," and his goal is to unite all Christians together. He then asked if we'd join him. We said "No." He then asked where we were from. In a super thick American accent. He asked for ID, because he "didn't believe that [we were] from America." So, he stared at Elder M.'s passport copy for a really long time. And the way that he talked was super sketchy, and he never actually answered any of the questions we asked. So, we thought he might be a scam artist. But, while we've been talking with him more, he is just an odd person. But he REALLY wants us to come visit him in his church. Anyway...

For other things, we went to an art museum last week after going to Lidojošā Varde. It was pretty cool. Although, there was many a missionary with whom we went who don't really enjoy art museums. But, I enjoyed it a lot. We also held a concert in Center (in America, it would probably be called a musical fireside...). The Russian district and the Latvian sisters performed 10 numbers (and one was done by Artjom, a member from Daugavpils who will be leaving on his mission next month). Over 100 people attended the concert! And about half were church members. The other half were people from English classes, investigators, and random folks. It was way exciting! Speaking of English:

We had several good lessons this week. Many of those come from English. One is quite the miracle.
G.: This fellow works in England, where he ran into some missionaries. He then got a Kaniga (book, Russian), and then a Grāmata (book, Latvian) of Mormon. There was a missionary or a member there from Latvia, who was able to translate everything for him into Latvian, so he was able to understand some things. He asked where the church was here, and attended the Russian branch last week. This week he attended the Latvian branch. He also came to our English class, and we taught him after. He is full of good questions, and he's very accepting of everything we've taught. He understands the importance of prayer in the process of obtaining a testimony. But, he'll be going back to England March 3rd, so we hope to teach him as much as we can before he goes back. Oh, and his wife is kinda against it, and she's having a baby. So...yeah, it's a delicate situation. But he's amazing! Gu.: Well, this fellow is kinda being weird. He's not from English; we knocked into him. He tells me over the phone that he's read, and prayed, and he's ready for more. But, when we set up lessons with him, he doesn't come and turns his phone off so we can't call him. Odd...We're going to give him one more go (because he was just that awesome), and we'll see what comes of it.
A.: So, he's from English class also. Last Sunday, he heard it announced in Sacrament meeting that the missionaries were looking for help, and that people who wanted to help could sign up their availability. After, he asked me what we needed help with. I told him, "With teaching." I explained how it worked, and he signed up to help us teach. He's so awesome. He is having some difficulty with finding out from the Holy Ghost if these things are true. He said his answers normally come from other people, so we're thinking (well, I'm thinking) it might be perfect for him to teach another person the factual parts of the gospel (which he knows very, very well), we'll testify, and as the other person (the one we're teaching) learns the truth of it, A. will as well. We'll see what happens.
T.: He's kinda vanished. I don't know why. I don't know if we have his number either. We'll see what's going on (a guy wrote us a text in English and at the end wrote "T.," so maybe it's him). There's also a really annoying guy who could have written that text who goes by T., so...we'll see.

That's probably about all. Loves and such! Sorry this is so huge! It was just a good week!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feb 18: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Miracles, snow, Valentines Day Gourdes

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/2/18
Subject: Feb 18: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Miracles, Snow, Valentines Day Gourds

All: Well, 97678steps=76.19KM.
And, we move on. Thanks to Rachel for the letter! And to G+G for their weekly updates!

Pics: First: These are our Valentines Day gourds. So, the pumpkins they had were not so good, so I got these. This is not a tradition or anything. I just wanted to do something crazy! Many asked, I respond: Valentines day is HUGE here! Nobody had any lessons in our district because everybody was celebrating. Knocking on doors that night, we ran into a bunch of random parties. It's monstrous! And those who don't have anybody do anything for them get really down. It's almost as big a deal as birthdays or namedays. So...yeah. It's celebrated here in the same way as America, as far as I could tell. And the middle gourd is mine. Everyone thought this would be an absurd idea and refused to participate. All, that is, except for Sisters Wilson and Norris, who said it was "A great idea" and "The greatest idea ever!" (quotes are respectively listed, and are the property of the one who said it. Any unauthorized reproduction or use, without the express written consent of the speakers, is prohibited).

Also, I couldn't put mine in my window or anything, because after I made it, I had a lesson, then I came back and my little guy was just gone. So....that was the end.

Next: Our cookies. They were actually really good. Thanks many for the sisters (Hagen and Largey) who made the frosting, bought the sprinkles, and to the elders (Millet and Brown) who made the cookies.

Next: So, we had a lot of exchanges this week. We got Elder Weideman at the station (who was going with Elder Brown). Then...we found out Elder Millet accidently took the keys to the apartment in Riga center with him to Jelgava. So...the other two elders crashed at our place. Then we had E. Millet for a few days (two nights and a day, more accurately) while E. Brown went to Liepāja (he took photos of the church there, p.s., but I cannot get them until next week). Anyway, this photo was taken while we waited for E. Millet's mikriņš to come. This is right outside of the Autoosta, facing the opposite direction as I usually take pictures (just look at where all the vehicles leave the Autoosta, and cross those streets). That streak is an electric train on the way to Jurmala (which is through Imanta and out a ways).

Next:This is thanks to Sister Largey (who took the pic). I found these incredible glasses in the bathroom, on the paper towel dispenser, so I thought I'd wear them. Turns out the pic worked out pretty well. So, there. Now you all know what I look like now. For most of you, it's been a little while, vai ne?

Q+A: At church last week, we had the primary program. It was awesome! The kids are cute. My comp just got a strong motivation to start working out. Elder Millet showed him how his watch no longer fits (that's the last picture). His watch fit when he came out. Now...well...look. So, I just need to mention this shot, and E. McLaren gets out the dumbbells and starts pumping. We are still working with members to find and teach. Helvijs often helps us teach, and Ainārs is looking for people and working with those he goes to school with (and he has had many a long religious conversation with his family). We asked him to think about a full time mission, so he's thinking about it and working on being a missionary. We read Doctrine & Covenants 4 with him and Aivars Bite, as well as D&C 31 and some things from Alma 26 to point out blessings, and when we are called. They liked it, and had some amazing ideas and thoughts to share about it.

On p-days, we usually go eat somewhere, buy food, and do something with other missionaries. It's a little different each time. I'm actually really excited about today's activity: we are going to a restaurant called "the Flying Frog." Those of you who know me will understand the importance of this. I will report on it next week...don't let me forget!

So, we've had a slew of new miracles! We taught T. again this week. He's struggling to pray in his own words only--he still is reciting prayers. We taught him that praying from the heart allows you to express your innermost feelings, and can be more meaningful than a recited prayer. He's thinking about that. But still not praying about the Book of Mormon or anything. He feels he needs to know all of it. But, he has amazingly great faith, and is amazing!

A. is another English class student. We were planning on going over the importance of living prophets, and the priesthood authority they hold, and why it would be important that Joseph Smith had that authority restored to him, but the lesson turned into a lesson on baptism--the covenant with God we make, the promised blessings, and the fact that it must be done with the authority of God. He has already been baptized in another church, and didn't understand until we explained to him that without the priesthood of God, a baptism is not authorized by God. Therefore, you cannot receive the promised blessings of baptism. And only with priesthood authority can you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost--the promise that the Holy Ghost will always be with you, at all times, whenever you are worthy. We asked him to pray about it, and if he feels that the priesthood was restored, would he be baptized. He said, "Of course." So, that was amazing.

Then we have another miracle. This guy is named G. We taught him in the kitchen at the church Sunday after our meetings. He listened very carefully, and told us that he would consider what we had taught him. He will pray and think about it all. We had a lesson time set up with him yesterday, but he couldn't make it. We don't know where he is. The Spirit was very strong during our lesson, so I am hoping that something came up with him, and we'll be able to talk to him again later.

Also A. He's a cool Russian guy who knows Russian hand-to-hand combat and self defense, and he's the one who's looking for an apartment for us. He's amazing, but isn't interested in learning the gospel from us right now. He's very strong in the Provaslav (Russian Orthodox) faith. But he's willing to do stuff with us.

That's probably about it. I love you all, and am thinking about you when I pray. Never stop praying, reading, and acting on what you learn and feel!!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feb 11: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Meat Jelly, JELGAVA!!, Miracle

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/2/11
Subject: Feb 11: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Meat Jelly, JELGAVA!!, Miracle

All: 68.99KM.

Pictures:The top one is us in front of the Sausage Monster. The guy who tags this works mostly in Imanta, but there's a little of that in center. We saw this and had to pictograph it. The bummer: my ISO had to be 400, because I couldn't hold that camera still enough to take a worthwhile shot. So I flashed across the street at ISO400. Whatever. So, sorry for the extra noise.

Next: This is the Autoosta (uh...station! Yes, the bus station), and all rivers now look like this. There's actually a lot of people who are out ice fishing and such. Cool.

Last: This is a view out the Jelgava church window. I WAS IN JELGAVA YESTERDAY!!! YAY!! It was cool. More on that in a moment. Just so that you can see the view I stared at while Elder Doane was in the bathroom (for 45 minutes, at least three times a week). (He was sick a lot). The city hasn't changed too much in a year...well, the church there has. Like I said, I'll get to that in a minute.

The last attachment can't be enjoyed by you blog-readers. It's a little voice clip. I'm going to ask Shell (MTC teacher) to transcibe and translate this (if he has time), and if he can, then that can be posted. (If you can't, I understand! You've got a lot to do already!) For you other people, you can listen to this clip. It is my Latvian. I want here to testify of the gift of tongues. All the missionaries here have been blessed with that gift as they are learning these languages. I point to the sisters as the most powerful evidence (they pick up languages faster than anyone I've ever seen). And I know that, no matter how much I love languages, I can't learn one to save my life. But, I have learned Latvian. So, just know that gifts of the Spirit are literal, real, and powerful.

Now, about the meat jelly. I promised you, Lynn, that I would tell you when I had meat jelly. Well, in Jelgava, we had family home evening. That's where the family all gathers around and you learn about the gospel together, and then you have a snack, and play games (usually). It's a thing we focus on each week in the church. It's on Monday evenings (usually). Seeing as the church is very new in Jelgava, the missionaries host it (as one of the main purposes of FHE--Family Home Evening--is to build unity and love in the family and strengthen faith in Christ. That's exactly what new members of the church need. So...we do it to help them strengthen each other). Anyway, one of the members took care of everything this time--the lesson, food, and she brought a game similar to chutes and ladders. But, she couldn't find the dice, so we played Durak (a card game...the name there is Russian. Cuka is what they call it in Latvian). Anyway, she made little sandwiches on rye bread. And one of the things she had on there was a liver paste. I didn't know that until the little sandwich was in my mouth entire. So, there you go, Lynn. I had me meat paste. That's similar. People who feed us know that we don't like meat jelly, so they don't offer it. However, there is something called halaģets (in Russian) or augstgaļa in Latvian. It's basically a fat jelly with little bits of meat in it. I have also had that. Way back in Liepāja. Anyway...

I just realized that next week, I hit my one-year-in-the-field (meaning in Latvia) mark! Freak! What's happened with time! It's unnerving to see time rush past so quickly! I wish to quote Elder Brown: "Time terrifies me." It seems to be going a lot faster than normal. Somebody change that, OK?

Answers to questions asked: Flu killers. The juice here beats the pulp out of anything that you can find in the states. So, with vitamin C and stuff, I have been more than set. I love juice here. It also lasts a year on the shelf (just like the milk). But, unlike the milk, the juice is tasty. Even the 100% juice lasts a year. I don't understand it. But I will definitely keep buying it. So, yeah. I've just been buying more juice and I've been cured.

I was asked what all I was thankful for. I'm thankful for the restaurant selection (it's quite large), for the other missionaries, and for all the amazing people. I wish to tell you about one. This is that miracle I had. The guy's name is Tom. He's in our English class. We invited our entire class to church. And we called a lot of people. 8 people said that they'd be able to go, and were planning on it. Tom was the only one who showed up. Sigh. But, Māsa Antra Zariņa gave one of the most amazing talks. Very simply, she explained priesthood, and the rise of God's authority on the earth. She explained that the reason that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church is this authority of God. That authority is living. It is vibrant. It came directly from heaven to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. They received that heavenly power from angels of God, just like it's always been done. And, just as Peter was the head apostle in Christ's time (Matthew 16: 17-19) and had the keys of the priesthood, so did Joseph Smith. And our prophet Thomas S. Monson has those keys today. Anyway, Tom was so interested that after church he pulled us aside and told us that we had to tell him about Joseph Smith, and how he became a prophet, and where his authority came from. How did God give it to him. And so, we did. It was really neat. We gave him some stuff to read, and during English class yesterday he told us that he "very carefully read through them" and is still thinking about them. He wanted a Book of Mormon so that he could start to search that, and pray about it. He will have questions next Thursday for us, but he's sincere, and is a very good person. I'm very excited.

I must admit that I didn't recognize any random acts of kindness this week. I did see a few people who were just nice by nature. That was cool to see.

Ah, about apartments. We actually have an investigator (who doesn't want to listen to what we have to say because he's quite set in his religion...he's amazing) who has been looking for an apartment for us. Cool. We'll look at what he's found soon.

So, Jelgava. I went on exchanges (where missionaries exchange cities and/or companions for a day to teach) to Jelgava just recently. Jelgava was the first city I was in as a new missionary here. And it was amazing. The city looks about the same, but the people are a lot different. The branch has gone from an average of 1 or 2 people to 12 as the average. We did family home evening last week, and the people were great! Only one was there when I was a year ago. She looked different. She was shining. It was absolutely beautiful. And that's probably what got me all excited to go out and work. This work is so true.
There were some other things I wanted to tell you all...ah, yes. Elder Brown and Millett's refrigerator started leaking this week, so they had to use their eggs, milk, and other perishables (that would be open milk, of course). They basically made a hundred or so cookies. So, today, for Valentines Day, we'll be frosting those cookies. And Sister Willson, Norris (her comp) and I will carve valentines day punkins (those are little pumpkins...they're too small for the full name). But they actually didn't have good carvable punkins, so we'll be carving gourds. But, we'll still call 'em punkins. Anyway, that's probably it for today. I love you all!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Feb 4: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: One leg, flu, false hope, and bitterly cold. The gospel is true.

Third picture

Feb 4: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: One leg, flu, false hope, and bitterly cold. The gospel is true.

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: 2009/2/4
Subject: Feb 4: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: One leg, flu, false hope, and bitterly cold. The gospel is true.

All: 77.70 KM (99,612 steps).

Thank you to me dear auntie Jill. I got your package. So, all thanks to Cali!!! Much appreciated everything!! And to all of my grandparents A and J and "cuz" Janin for letters!!! And everyone else, for your prayers. I do feel the power and help and love from those prayers.

I thought I would also add: for that member here in Latvia who wants to go to BYU. He cannot use the church Perpetual Education Fund, because they do not support Latvia at the present time. So, if there's anybody else with ideas or desire to help, let me know. I know that I cannot technically ask for money or help in this way, but it's not for me, it's for him. So...yeah. On to the week.

Pictures: Top: This is Erna Rotberga. We took her to the hospital last week. Well...her leg was amputated last week, and now she's being moved to an old folks' home in Skrunda. That's half-way between Liepāja and Rīga. I remember that it was my favorite stop on zone conference trains to and from Rīga, because of the way the voice on the train says, "Nakamā piektura: Skrūnda." Makes me laugh. Anyway...she's the oldest lady in the branch. And now, she's gone. This is her. I love her. She was smiling when we visited her, and saying that all is well. She's amazing. I wanted you all to see her more smiley, and out of the hospital.

Next is my testimony against Wolverine shoes. They looked about like this after three months in Latvia. And the padding inside just continued to fall out. The insoles basically destroyed many of my socks (a few pairs survived), and they ripped holes in each left sock when I wore them. So, all missionaries: NEVER BUY WOLVERINES! THEY WILL NOT LAST VERY LONG! However, my other pair of them are still going strong ( padding anymore). I found some good, European-style, cheap shoes last week, so I've got those now. They have a 2 year guarantee! Yay!

Next: I've never seen this. This is the inside of somebody's dome. And it's full of graffitti. I've never seen it that bad in any stairwell. It was also a pretty odd night knocking...lots of odd domes and interesting people. The next pic is just one door farther down on the inside.

Next: This is a gorgeous stairwell--I love these stairs!

Last: So here's the park by the office in Imanta.'s in Āgenskalns, or really close to it, but we call everything across the river Imanta. Anyway, notice, please, that it's all ice. That's normal all over the city.

Three things about my new comp: He's a stellar teacher. He's from Idaho, and therefore even cooler as a person. :P He motorbiked before this. He actually had a pretty sweet bike.

So, I just realized that my subject line looks really depressing. It's not as bad as it looks. It was just not the best week for finding people to teach, so the interesting points are these: one leg. Erna is now one-legged, and there's a one-legged bum named H., who is very nice, and a great fellow, pretty much. Flu: I played the "let's be sick" game for a day or two this week. Thank goodness for the world's best juice and an ordination to be a minister of God. That probably helps.

False Hope: We were told that we're moving out of our apartment to another, nicer one. We were thrilled. Well, we called the landlady, and guess what? She's rented it out. Our only other option would be to go to an apartment in Pļavniekos (which is 30 minutes or so from center). So...we aren't moving right now. Our hopes were crushed. And then we got over it.

As for bitterly cold: we hit the -20 mark this week! Yay!! Not.

We had several miraculous meetings. One kid I talked to on the street. He told me he's been his whole life in his church, but he's actually BEEN in his church for seven years. Before that, he didn't have conviction. I love the way he said it. Turns out that people who believe something blindly have little or no respect from me concerning those beliefs. But, if they actually have studied, and educatedly have decided what they have and believe it with all their heart, then I respect them and their beliefs greatly. For any who haven't thought about their beliefs towards God or other things, think about it. Honestly decide. Please. You're dead in your faith if you have no conviction. It doesn't matter what church you belong to. If you don't know what you believe, why, and feel committed to it, then your faith profits you nothing. That much I know, and have had that feeling strengthened many times here on my mission.

Another miraculous meeting happened yesterday. It had been a really hard day for me. A lot of ignorant people, many rude people, and my only good contact of the day pulled away by an old women who told him that I'd destroy his mind and corrupt him. So, I was feeling less than happy. We taught Ainārs (who E. Jenner and I baptized. He is doing very well, by the way), then taught our English classes. We left, and the first person we talked to told us he's been wanting to learn about religions. Cool. So, we taught him a quick lesson on prayer, then he had to go. But, that made me fairly happy.

And as for the other part: the gospel is indeed true. God loves each of us, personally, and he will answer our prayers. Sometimes it's not the way we expect, or want, but he does indeed answer.

I love you all. Keep praying, keep reading (ALMA IS AMAZING, by the way).
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )