Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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
( >/°¥< )

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