Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Apr 29: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Wha--what..? And other things.

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 4:40 AM
Subject: Apr 29: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Wha--what..? And other things.

All: It's scalding hot. It's creeping above the 20s (celcius, 70's in your degrees")), and the mission president wants elders to keep their suit coats on for a while. It's very, very hard to not die with temperatures creeping above the billions. But, when you actually get talking to people, you forgot all about yourself and focus on them. Only after is it hot for you. Well, and before. But whatever.

So, about the title of this message: It's p-day again. It was just p-day two days ago. WHERE IS TIME GOING?!?!?? It's absolutely ridiculous how fast it's disappearing! I've been working on not blinking, because each time I do, it seems time jumps forward a little bit. AAAA!!! Ok. Enough of that.

Now, for something not so pleasant (the other what?). Or, rather, even less pleasant. We are periodically given less actives from the branch list to go visit. We visited one this last week, and he was interested in having his records removed from the church. He is an ordained elder, and has been to the temple. He has received all the necessary ordinances of exaltation, and had the faith to live God's laws at one point in his life at least. Now, he wants away from it. That was very hard for me. Satan is working with all his might to destroy the membership foundation (especially the priesthood holders) of the restored church of God. This is also not the first person I have had to tell how to remove themselves from the blessings of the church. Because of my love for the people here, I have barely been able to keep in the tears at night, seeing how all these people would rather die with heavy hearts than live in freedom. The downright foolishness leaves me dumbfounded, and the pride in their false concept of reality is baffling. That was really hard for me last week.

However, even though it was a difficult week, my companion and I taught 15 lessons--9 of which were to new people. It takes a lot of work to teach that many lessons in this mission here. We were told that our goal was 15 lessons a week--missionaries balked at the do-ability. But with concerted effort, you really can teach 15 good, solid lessons in a home or at the church.

Pictures: Top - so...pigeons are EVERYWHERE. I hate those foul fowls. But, they are very friendly.
Next - too friendly. Here they are in the restaurant Lido. Very nice place. Why are they here?
Next - So, at the MTC, everybody takes a picture with their district pointing to where they are going. So, here is my district, for the last zone conference we'll have together, taking a similar picture to relive the moment. (WAAA!!!! SISTER KNIGHT GOES HOME THIS TRANSFER. SISTER HAGEN IS NEXT, WITH ELDER THOMPSON! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!?!)

Also something random: our buddy Helvijs is in the hospital. He's got himself diabetes, so they're cleaning him out. We went to visit him, and he's doing fine. His hospital is odd--we passed a large greek statue, a library, an art exhibit, a few drug stores, a cafenīca, and a few other shops (oh, and a tirgus (market) outside the building...a little one) on our way to visit him. He is doing alright. He's just a little emotionally down. Go figure.

What was your most interesting experience this week? Uh...I'm not sure that I can think of any that were MOST interesting. There was a lot of finding...that's always interesting.
Any scary moments? Not really. Just a slightly abusive drunk. Normal.
The most interesting door you knocked? Well, we knocked into this place last...erday, and a lady came out and began talking to us. She was super nice, but spoke mostly Russian. While we were talking to her, her neighbor came out. Now, every so often you have doors with more doors behind them. This had numbers 7 and 8 behind it. We rang 7, and this lady came out. But it turns out that she lives in 8. So, we told 7 what we do, and she said, "Oh. Not interested." She left. We kept talking to this lady, and a guy came out for a smoke. So, I talked to smoker guy while E. Thompson talked to nice lady. The whole thing lasted only six minutes or so, but it was rather fun, having people all over the place. Oh, and a suit of armor just outside the building next to the one we were in. And across the fence was a kid playing piano and oboe in the building there. And he was GOOD. Really good. So, all in all--it was an awesome few minutes.
Any funny companion moments? Well...he says words kinda funny. Like anything with an "ill" in it (hill, mill, pill, skill) he says like "eel." So, that was fun and random. Basically, he's just an amazing dude who busts out in random dancing and singing and such. Awesome, vai ne?
Any random foods you ate? Not that I can remember...we did find an all-you-can-eat buffet here (I had no idea anything of the sort even existed), so I'll let you know after that.
Your most unusual form of getting from one place to another? Well, we left Ķengarags, and then called the branch president to ask him when he could sign Lauris's baptismal record so we can send that to church records. He lives in Ķengarags, as it turns out, so we took the exact same trolly bus back into Ķengarags, and then grabbed another one back out. Made me laugh, because now all transport uses E Talons, so that they can trace your movements. And so they'll see that I went into Rīga, then into Rīga again...odd...because you cannot scan an E Talon twice on the same bus in the same hour, so I couldn't scan it again. It just will leave a funny record for them to trace later.
Any random Latvian trivia? Uh...Labor day is May 1st, because it's The Red Day. Good old soviets. It's actually a little annoying, because that'd be the best day to go pay bills for us, but our landlord will not be working (because it's labor day!). Random.
Your most spiritual moment of the week?? Lots of really good lessons...I don't know. It's really hard for me to give the most spiritual moment of the week. But I had a lot of good studies, many good lessons (again), and my testimony of the truth of restored prophets and priesthood authority was strengthened a lot.
One thing you learned this week? I guess I kinda already answered that one...but I also learned that I have an amazing district, full of powerful teachers. The sisters are absolutely amazing when they teach (as an aside). Ah! We also had a zone conference. I'll tell you a little more about that down below.
One answered prayer? Each time we went out to find new people, I had a prayer in my heart that we would teach. Each time this week (except Monday, and that's because we didn't listen to the spirit when He told us not to knock the top floor), we did.

And so..I am a little finding it hard to think. Ok. Zone conference. So, we were working on teaching skills. It was amazing to me to see how they all fit together: introducing a scripture, reading, and then explaining a scripture works so well with asking good questions. And those work well with answering to people's concerns. And all of that is tied together by a love for the one you teach. That was amzing to me.

We also discussed the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because His atonement was not only for our sins, but for our weaknesses and hurts, we have access to grace. Grace is a power of enablment that allows us to do more than what would ordinarily be possible for us alone. Next time you are reading through the scriptures, and you see the word "grace," try replacing it with "enabling power," and see what the verse looks like. It's amazing that, as I applied that and prayed for strength to endure, I was able to handle anything that came my way. That, my friends, is how we receive the help of God.

That's all. I love you!!!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apr 22: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Service Day, Baptism and Other Miracles, Call of Duity

Apr 22: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Service Day, Baptism and Other Miracles, Call of Duity

Apr 22: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Service Day, Baptism and Other Miracles, Call of Duity

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 4:41 AM
Subject: Apr 22: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Service Day, Baptism and Other Miracles, Call of Duty

89,797 steps=70.03KM.

Two--no, three--random miracles:
So, we were at the bus stop waiting for Elder Long to get back from Tallinn, and a girl just stops, looks at me, and extends her hand in a greeting. I was on the phone, so it seemed rather odd. But, I shook her hand, told Sister Wilson (on the other end of the phone) to hold on, and chatted with this girl. She's a church member from Finland, who asked me about the work here, about the church, and also asked if I've ever been to Finland. I told her I hadn't, but would love to. Anyway, it was a quick, three minute conversation, but it made my day. But that was not to be all.

Earlier that day, a man had been standing with us at a bus stop. This was a man I had seen several times before. He scoots over to us, pulls out his documents, and shows us a picture. It's him, all in white, with two elders by a font. He tells us he was baptized quite a while ago. Our conversation was even shorter with him--he was a little odd--but still rather uplifting.

The third one happened here in the internet cafe. A black man by the name of Daniel comes in and tells us that he was baptized in Ukraine three years ago, and he just came into Rīga to go to school. He wants to know where we are found, because he really wants to attend the temple. He told us how faith had helped him, and how he still reads and prays. That was also very uplifting for me, especially because this has been an emotional roller-coaster for me this week. We'll get to that later. I just thought that you would like to know those random but amazing experiences. If you ever see missionaries, tell them hello and make them feel good--their work is not an easy one. And especially the best missionaries truly love those they serve, and they are hurt when they are rejected--not because they were rejected, but because that person turned down the true gospel of Jesus Christ and all the associated blessings. They could use a little pick-me-up from time to time.
Pictures: It was national Service Day last Saturday. We gathered as a branch to do a little cleaning in one of the less nice parts of my area. The top picture is me with a heaping helping of wood--just one of some 30 loads that we hauled to construct what you see in
the next picture. I call this our "Bebru Nams" (beaver house). I especially like the flag (shopping bag--that orange thing) on top. RANDOM CULTURAL NOTE: people here use bags from shopping centers (like Rimi and Maxima) to carry EVERYTHING. In fact, it is not unusual to see half the people on the streets with a bag from some shopping center filled with things not from that shopping center. We ourselves use them with incredible regularity.
The next picture is (left to right): Māsa Dombrovska, Māsa Treģe-Trede, eternal investigator Brālis Dumpis, Brālis Bite, un Brālis Lepešs. I love them all (well...I don't know B. Dumpis that well, but the others I do know and I love them with all my heart). Māsa Dombrovska gave the closing prayer in the baptism that we held right after service (photo below). Her prayer was so amazing. Everything she does comes straight from her soul. Her love for those in the church is palpable, and her prayer was so powerful--the entire thing was for Lauris, from start to end. The spirit was very strong.
The next picture is Lauris Vanags (who was baptized), and Aivārs Bite (who did the baptizing--first time for him). After the baptism, all the youth had a fireside with the Eastern European area president, President Piper. The youth asked if Brālis Vanags would like to join them. He did, and off they ran with him. It was so incredible!
And the last is still another picture I couldn't leave off. This is a view from the 11th floor of a dome we harvested (meaning we knocked on doors there). This is pretty much what the nicer parts of my area look like. This is very typical Latvia (except for the house in the front).

Q and A: I' peace with still being here. No worries. Elder Thompson is amazing, and a powerful teacher. We're both pretty chill, so we get along quite well. I feel really jealous that E. Brown and S. Largey are in Mana Sapņu Pilseta (Liepaja, my favorite city), but I really don't. I'm thrilled for them, and am working hard in my area here in Rīga. I love the people more every day, and I got to attend a baptism!
Lauris is amazing! He didn't even know how to pray when we met him a month ago. Now his prayers are sincere, powerful, and from his heart. He has a strong desire to follow God, and do what is needed. I don't think there's any worries about him right now. He's actually getting ready to go do baptisms at the temple with the youth! I'm really excited about that (listening to conference and teaching about the temple REALLY makes you miss the temple...and I have at least eight months before I get to go inside one again, since we don't have a temple here within our mission boundaries....).

One more randomness--Sister Gomez's (a new sister, with S. Hagen right now) mother apparently reads my blog avidly. She even sent snippets to her daughter in the MTC. Hearing that last week basically made my week. Then it just got better.

On that note, church last Sunday was the best I have ever had. We had so many people there. President Piper was there, as well, and each of the talks were powerful testimonies of the changing power of the restored gospel. I spoke with many of the people, and felt my love for them more strongly than ever. I understood everything that was said, I translated well, and everything just went well. I'm actually not sure why I liked it more than any other. Perhaps I was just more prepared and willing to accept revelation from God during the meetings. But whatever the reasons, it was amazing.

I just watched the priesthood conference session of general conference. That session is for those who hold the priesthood, to remind and teach about our responsibilities as those who hold the holy priesthood. I felt very strongly that I am not living up to my requirements. I am not doing all I can in my responsibilities. And so, I feel strongly impressed, as an ordained representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, authorized to stand in His place here on earth for specific things, to command, as He did, "Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins," (Alma 7: 15).

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (2 Nephi 31: 20-21).

I know that there is no other way. I speak a word of warning and of invitation. Come unto Christ, and live after His laws, that ye may be free. Any deviation from the path He has set leads to captivity. Examples: here, alcohol and smoking run rampant. I have learned how foul, how debasing these poisons are. I hate both of these habits with all the passion I posses. They have destroyed lives, homes, and families here. They have a destructive power far more fearful than nuclear weapons (which I studied extensively for almost a full year). And they are a choking trap that steals your freedom. People here tell me that they don't want to follow God because then they'd have to follow these rules, choking their freedom. Then, they see their bus, make five or so long, hurried draws on the cigarette in their mouth, and get on the bus. Foolishness. And I will not even get started with alcohol, by far the worst of the two. Our district has an amazing investigator who is ready to be baptized. Except for one thing: smoking. She has spent over a month now trying to kick the habit, and has not been able to yet. She is reducing slowly, and she has gone some days without, but she cannot completely throw it from her. It literally has her captive. At that amazing Sunday last, all three Latvian speakers in sacrament meeting testified of the same thing. They thought they were free. They fought to gain more freedom doing whatever they wanted. But they have felt, and now they know, that they are more free when they follow the counsel of a heavenly Father given in love. Those are not so much things we HAVE to do, as much as they are guidlines to avoid dangers. If only people weren't so blind-minded and foolish, they could see that. But Satan has done wonders with the minds of men, sending them searching everywhere for peace, happiness, and joy. Everywhere, that is, but where they can actually find it. If you'd look, you'll see that all other organizations, programs, and tips not pointing to God do not last. And then people are left to find the next, bigger and better thing.

Again, using the words of Christ:
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (3 Nephi 9: 13). Christ will heal any wound of the soul we have. He is the only path to true, full, complete peace. Do not be content with any substitute, for all things will fail, except that which comes from Him (D&C 132: 7).

Out of love I plead, almost in tears, -- Please stop harming yourselves, and come to Him. Be ye healed. Come and test my words. I love you all.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apr 16: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers, Email, General Stuff

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 5:04 AM
Subject: 16 Apr: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers, Email, General Stuff

All: So, I got a lot of walking done.115,388 steps (that's 90 KM).

We'll start with transfers. Elderam Braunam (Elder Brown) was the unthinkable--he was transfered out of Rīga Center North. He's been there since he arrived with me last February (that's last year's Feb.). He's now serving in Beautiful Liepāja, with Elders Gray and Durnferd (a Russian). I probably spelled both their names wrong...sorry 'bout that. Sister Largey is also in Beautiful Liepāja (as is Elder McLaren), and she'll be with Sister Knight for her last transfer. They (those two sisters) are training a new sister who arrived yesterday fresh from the MTC. Sister Wilson is still here, with a newbie also (one that she has known since high school). Elder Millett's mission ended, so he went home. I'm still with Elder Thompson, and Elder Long is with Elder Palmer. I'm pretty stoked about my new district. I'm not very stoked about Sister Knight leaving next transfer for home. Elder Thompson, Elder Encs, Elder Payne, and Sister Hagen (who's also training, starpcitu) will be leaving next tranfer (so they've got two left), and then Sister Wilson is gone after 3! It's madness!!!! I'm feeling really weird right now...oh well. I'll soon be the oldest in the mission. YIKES!!

Top one: We kinda celebrated Passover last Wednesday. This was my "passover plate." Since we didn't have everything that's supposed to go on the plate, we just read through parts of the ceremony so that we could get a feel for it. I want to really celebrate a Passover sometime--I really liked this partial celebration.
Middle: This is a stairwell we knocked. I've never seen real artwork all over each wall. I just thought you'd like to see some, so I shot 4 of the walls, then got back to procelyting.
Last: These are hard-boiled eggs that our investigator N. gave us. They are dyed with natural things (using onion peels and leaves under that). Cool, huh?

  • So...teaching went well. I think we lost A., though. He read some negative stuff on the internet...and it bothered him. We talked, but he couldn't seem to get past it.
  • All the others went well. L. should be getting baptized this week (we'll teach him again tomorrow), and hopefully Ainārs Lignarskis will be baptizing him!! That'll be way exciting!
  • N. is still plugging along quite well. He had a concern about being baptized again. He didn't understand why he needed to be baptized again to the same Christ, if he has already been baptized unto Christ before. So, we explained what restored priesthood authority means. Look at it this way: if I was to walk up to you, and tell you that I was going to write you a fine because you were disturbing the peace or something, you would look at me with confusion and tell me to go away. Why? Because I'm no cop. I can't do anything in the place of the cops, because I have no authority to do so. In the same way, we must be baptized with the authority of God, so that it will be valid after death. I present the following revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith: D&C 132: 7-14. This states very simply that if someone performs an ordinance or organizes something without God's priesthood authority, given to His prophet on the earth, then that organization or ordinance will no longer be valid after death. Another example is given here (Mosiah 21: 32-34). In this one, people had to wait to be baptized until they could have access to that authority. So, we just explained these things to N. I thought it may be valuable also to those who read this blog, which is why I wrote it out.
  • We also had an amazing lesson with a man named J. He called us last night and said that he'd have some time. So, we met up, and taught him. He's very skeptical of religion. He's a member of another church (an active one), and though he attends regularly, he cannot say he knows the whole Bible is true. He really needs to research something before he says if it's good or not. So, he is naturally very skeptical of the Book of Mormon, another witness of Christ, and of its origins. So, we taught about the Book of Mormon, and then read through part of Alma 7, which powerfully testifies of Christ, His atonement, and the power it holds. It's very clear how the Book of Mormon is a second witness, reading that chapter. I would recommend it to all. But, I prayed very hard during the lesson that he would feel the Spirit, and I will tell you that I felt the Spirit INCREDIBLY strongly throughout the meeting, and I'm pretty sure that he did, too. It was amazing.

Email: If any of you have comments to the blog (for those who know me and my folks, please keep sending your e-mails there for the rest of my mission), I now have another e-mail address, to which you can send your comments, questions, or thoughts. That address is (that's really spelled Ārgailiņš, but since those letters aren't to be had...anyway). You are welcome to send any comments or questions there. I will not likely look at them during my mission, so if you're looking for a response before next year, then send your thoughts through the mail. Otherwise, I'll read all comments and continue using that e-mail for spiritual discussions and such afterwards.
For my spiritual thought, I would like to recommend you to two talks from living apostles. They are from the last general conference:
The Way of the Disciple, by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (the text version of President Uchtdorf's). As I listened to this one, I felt powerfully impressed to refer you to it. I invite you to read it. It's an amazing talk.
None Were With Him, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks (the text version of Elder Oak's) This is a very powerful testimony of the Atonement.

I want you all to know that I know this is all true. God's church has been restored in its fullness in our days! I invite all to come and learn of it.
Thanks to all for your love and support and prayers. I send my love,
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Easter Message

This is from Elder Oaks comments from conference, which will be on my blog later. But I would like you to see this short film, using comments from one of God's living apostles.

I hope that you feel the power of it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apr 8: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Sad Week, Conference Rocks!, Provaslav čurčā preaching

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Apr 8, 2009 5:20 AM
Subject: Apr 8: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Sad Week, Conference Rocks!, Provaslav čurčā preaching

All: So, remember that mission goal I told you all about to finish the Book of Mormon by mid-March? Well...I just finished it last Monday. It is amazing! I took some stats that I want to share next time. Just one for ya: there are over 200 different titles for the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in that book. And He's mentioned a good deal more than once per verse. I believe the average was 1.6 times a verse (average, of course). If the Book of Mormon is not about Christ, I don't know what is! I'll give you the book break-down next time (hopefully I won't forget...we have transfers, so who knows if I'll still be here...).

Oh, 100,821 steps = 78.64KM..

Pics: Top: We cleaned a very dirty stairwell for service a while back (last week). This is my rock-awsome district!
Next: So, we got a little 3D paper dinosaur puzzle in a box of cereal. Here's my awesome comp after he completed it.
Third: So, how dirty was the stairwell we cleaned? This dirty. Ew. And this is only one of the gross parts of it.
Fourth: In celebrating Sister Wilson's and Elder Payne's birthdays, we went to Fridays. And here's her reaction to the singing of the Friday's crew. This was a fun p-day.
Last: That cathedral.(more below)

We didn't watch general conference with everybody because the broadcasting times were right when prosilyting (preaching...I have no idea how to spell that ridiculously-spelled word in English!) is the best, so we've been watching a two-hour session every day as a district at times when finding people to teach isn't so good.

Speaking of finding, it's only gotten hotter each day. Today it's actually +18° C.! That's way hot!! I've abandoned my coat, and soon my suit coat will follow.

So, this week has been a very sad one for me. Investigators:
A.: wasn't able to meet for a while, and seemed for a while to be avoiding us. He called today though, so I don't think we'll have too many problems.
L.: told us that he could accept some laws, but he's not sure if he'll live them. So, we had to explain that to be baptized, he has to be willing to live all the commandments of God. So...that was unexpected.
Then, I have been praying for charity. If you wonder what that means, read Moroni 7. Anyway, I feel a great love for the people here, and since people here really don't care about God, I have been filled with sorrow for them and their poor choices. And, I've seen alcohol absolutely everywhere, and smoking, which is especially saddifying when I see it around kids. Small ones.
Add to all of that, a very wonderful cousin died very unexpectedly. So...I've had a fairly heavy soul all week.

I have also had some questions about things, and the first two sessions of conference (findable here) had some amazing talks that answered my questions, and filled me with the hope that comes from living prophets and apostles in our days. I strongly encourage you to read the talks if you so choose.

To add to our investigators, we also have a great man named A. He works for churches, cleaning the insides and replacing the crosses on them. We visited him at his work place (a provaslov church+cloisteris (you'll have to find out what that is in English)), and we were able to teach him about the restoration of the gospel in an upper room of the provaslov church. So...I taught about the gospel's restoration in a cathedral-type building. I attached a picture, so you can see what that looked like.

If you research our church's history, you will find references to priesthood. I invite you to read this talk from a while back. It was very, very powerful to me. It is a discussion on the church's "most distinguishing feature": the restored priesthood authority of God. The talk is called Our Most Distinguishing Feature. There are also some talks I would recommend from this last conference. Well, they were all fantastic! Just go check them out! Especially the first and last talks in the first session (Robert D. Hales and President Eyring) and Elders Pino and Scott in the second session brought a lot of peace to my troubled soul this week. It's amazing how much we get from living prophets. Go read a few of those talks (or listen to them...I don't know what's available yet).
I hope you're doing well. Thanks for your prayers and support. I send my love!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fools Day: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Investigators, Some good verses, Conference, people here

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 4:53 AM
Subject: April Fools Day: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Investigators, Some good verses, Conference, people here

All: APRIL FOOLS!! So, I know it's lame, but what do you do? There's not much that you can do for April Fools when you are a full-time representative of the Lord Jesus Christ all the time..anyway. Sorry. Moving on for the week:

83,890 steps (65.43KM)

These are old and stale, as I cannot get this silly card reader to read my camera card:
Top: So, this was a delicious cake. But, after only two days it was...slightly less than delectable.
Middle: I'm pretty sure I haven't sent this one. Yet another creepy thing used for advertising here.
Bottom: So...Elder Brown was learning how to knit, and was teaching Elder Thompson (my comp now). E. Thompson was VERY interested in learning how.

Daylight Savings: wonderful. Kinda. It's great, because the mornings are more like they're supposed to be--not all sunny and bright. But, the nights...It's way weird to be knocking a stairwell when the sun is still out. It totally weirds me out! But, it's nice, because then the creepy places aren't as creepy, since there's still a little light. And it's finally starting to warm up! That's totally unrelated to the change in clocks, but I thought I'd let you know that it's 5° out right now! That's basically a balmy summer's day! I can't wait for the week where the temperature is perfect! Then it just gets too hot. Then another week of perfection, then too cold. Silly weather. Oh well--It feels great!!!!

As far as food storage here--they also have a goodly number of bugs and pests (as you have some 18 or more doors in your stairwell, all with people behind them, and some are less than clean), so I'm not sure if under beds or tables would be the best. But they probably could. If they had beds. They usually sleep on couches here--very few people have a bed. And there's no way to get under that couch, really. But they probably could hide some cans under it--with a little effort. I'll suggest it. Any other ideas? Feel free to send them--this is kinda a serious problem.

Shepherd's pie is my second favorite meal. I don't have a first. That spot's still open, so that when I try something better, then it will have a spot. But, I will say that my mom makes an amazing sausage, rice, and apple casserole smothered in cheese, and that pretty much is tied with Shepherd's pie. That stuff is SOOOOO good, and so simple. But, I've adopted saying things are my second favorite, because I want for there to be a spot available for the first when I find it. I'm always learning and searching, so it's a good thought.

Other Q and A:
Q. Are most of the people there already pretty religious?
A. Absolutely not. Most people think religion is a checklist. They were baptized. They attend church sometimes. Check. No longer need to think about it. The other majority group is atheist, because during the Soviet rule, God was expressly forbidden. They had people posted by the doors of churches, and would take notes on who was going to church. They tended to be the first to vanish when the leaders decided that there were too many people, or that there were spies or something along those lines. I actually very often hear this:
Me: "Are you a believing person?"
Them: "No."
Me: "Could I ask why not?"
Them: "I'm a product of the Soviets. I just don't believe. Viss."
That's a common response and conversation. And people in general just don't care to learn more or anything. They don't particularly care about God. And every night, after a day of finding, I am almost in tears at the extent to which Satan has hold on these wonderful people! The Soviets were most definitely guided by the devil, for it is "by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7: 20 (16-20)). And the fruits are most definitely evil (Moroni 7: 16-17). Enough of that distasteful theme.
People here, if they actually even listen to what we say (most just see "Religion" and they don't even listen to what we actually say), then they are attracted to the thought that Heavenly Father loves them, and that we can know surely of God. Usually, however, they have their "Religion" check box marked, and don't care to spend their time listening to something that would only check that box again.
The only trends I have been able to see is that people who have an open mind are attracted to a sincere testimony. That is it. It matters almost none what is said. It has always (that I have seen) been in the "how" it was said. I told one lady that "I know this will be very valuable for you and your family" and she said, "Write my number." This came after a discussion on what we teach and such, for about two minutes, and she was just sitting on the fence, because she actually did want to know more, but she didn't know about how much time she had or anything. But, when I sincerely told her that, she gave me her number, and now the Russian sisters have a lesson with her this week. I don't know how it will go. If I hear any more, I'll let you know.
The rest of the questions were about our investigators, so:
A. is sick. He pushed back his baptism because he didn't want to finish getting sick. It happened anyway. So, I'm not sure if he'll be too excited about getting immersed this weekend. I will be calling him today to offer a blessing for health, and we'll let him know the blessings of baptism again, and see what he decides. We met him through English classes--he's one of our students. He's in his 40s, if I'm not mistaken.
L. we got him from the old assistants when Elder Encs went to Imanta. He's wonderful! He's pushing hard to learn and to understand. He's willing to do everything that's needed for baptism. He's willing to live every law about which we tell him. He's amazing!
N. is another from English class. He's a Baptist, but likes church and such. He's very open and sincere in his searching.
And for miracles: We introduced A. to a bunch of people last Sunday, and he had an amazing talk with the branch president, so that was good. Also, L. and Ainars Lignarskis (yes, the one that Elder Black and I taught who was baptized last September) befriended each other. And N. came to the baptism last Saturday, and actually talked to a lot of good people at church. I saw him very carefully watching Māsa Zariņa draw out the plan of salvation. He was even asking her questions. It was very exciting to see all of our investigators mingling and enjoying church. Oh, and church was spiritually very powerful!
We have not been able to go back to I. this week--she left town. And I misheard the phone number, so I thought it ended 999, not 222. "Divnieki" sounds a lot like "Deviņnieki" I guess. But we now have her number, so we'll call her tomorrow to see.
J. is A's friend. He's very sincere about searching, and he is praying about the Book of Mormon and showed his seven-year-old son the Restoration film in Latvian. His son loved it. He's basically rock awesome!

Really fast, I want to say a word against pornography, since everyone around me is looking at it (why would you go to a public place to do something so foul?). It is disgusting, morally degrading, addictive, and fights off the Spirit of the Lord faster than anything else I have heard of. If you get addicted to it, it will slowly degrade your morals and weaken your resistance to other temptations, until Satan has an unhealthy level of control over you. I would like to reference you to a talk given by the prophet of God a few years back. This was given in a meeting of those who hold the priesthood of God. This talk describes very well the dangers and consequences of pornography. If you feel that it is not dangerous to your spiritual well being or to your family's, then please read that talk.

Then. I was reading in the Book of Mormon, and I had some thoughts. I want to copy my thoughts as I had them a few days ago. I was reading the book of 3rd Nephi (that's when Christ comes to the people in person as a resurrected being). Then follows the book of 4th Nephi, when everyone lives after Christ's laws, and angels and Christ Himself serve them often. Also in that small book, we read how the people fell into sin, and how eventually almost all people forsake the gospel and Christ. Then follows the book of Mormon, the same Mormon for whom the book is named. That is when Moroni explains what he has seen, and his son finishes the last two chapters therein. There are many good warnings from the people who sited and abridged the entire Book of Mormon. Here were my thoughts:
"In my finishing the Book of Mormon late (should have been done two weeks ago...), I was reading this week Mormon 7-9. This is the last prophet to write in the Book of Mormon, and he does something I have never seen in any other book of scripture--he speaks directly to the reader--to you, to me. He talks to the reader about the truth of the Book of Mormon. It is remarkably powerful! It comes after his entire people had been destroyed by their enemies, having openly rebelled against their God and denied the Christ. I invite you to read the evidences he gives us. Then, read again Mormon 9: 22-25. I challenge you to search the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Is not the power of God manifested through the pioneers? Through the early prophets? Through modern prophets? Behold, I testify unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that the power of the Almighty God has been and is shed forth in plentiful abundance among His saints of His restored church, even from Joseph Smith's first vision of the Father and the Son to now.

'26 And now, behold, who can stand aagainst the works of the Lord? bWho can deny his sayings? Who will rise up against the almighty power of the Lord? Who will despise the works of the Lord? Who will despise the children of Christ? Behold, all ye who are cdespisers of the works of the Lord, for ye shall wonder and perish.
27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. aDoubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and bcome unto the Lord with all your cheart, and dwork out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him. (Mormon 9: 26-27)'

Is not God's power even in the translation of the Book of Mormon itself (Mormon 9: 32-34)? I have seen a multitudious host of blessings and miracles in my short 21 years. I know, by God's almighty power, that He is 'a God of miracles' (Mormon 9: 10-19; 2 Nephi 27: 23; 2 Nephi 28: 6). I call on all who profess faith in the mighty God and Jesus Christ to learn of their restored truth, come unto His kingdom, and enjoy the blessings He has restored. To all who believe not, I 'speak by way of invitation,' saying: come, test these things, and learn of your Father in Heaven, your Lord and your God, and of the plan He has laid for your happiness, both now and for eternity, 'that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life' (Alma 5: 62). For I know, and millions before me, that 'this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end' (2 Nephi 31: 21)."

And such were my thoughts. We will be having General Conference this weekend. I will not be attending this weekend all sessions, but next week as a district we will be watching it, so I will likely not have anything to comment about that next week. But, I would encourage all of you to get onto, and watch it. These men who speak are living apostles, who are the only people in the world who hold the "keys of the kingdom," as was given to the ancient apostles during Christ's time (Matthew 16: 17-19). It is worth your time to listen to them, because you are listening to God Himself (D&C 1: 38).

Know that I love you all! You are in my prayers! God bless, especially those of you who have reason to sorrow now, either from a death, or misfortune, or because of your own decisions. Remember the Lord's plea: "...will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (you can read it in context, if you like: 3 Nephi 9: 13). He does heal.
Please send my regards to the Jackman family, and let them know my love and prayers are with them. Janin sent me some of the most fun letters to read. I will dearly miss her.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )