Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Līgo, Apartment, Enemies and Friends, Church Moving Along

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 4:59 AM
Subject: June 23: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Līgo, Apartment, Enemies and Friends, Church Moving Along

All: Lots of walking this week! 112,113 steps and 87.44KM! And that's from last Wednesday to today!

I don't have much time, so I'll skip the Q and A part this week. I want to thank all those who have written to me--Grandparents and Rachel, because I got a heap of mail last Sunday when the CES couple, the Carsons, came to Jelgava with some mail for us. It was wonderful!

Now, here are the pictures I want to include this week. Then, I'll talk about the week and what not. I will soon be leaving for Lecava, a city--well, village--not too far from Jelgava (it's as far as Rīga, but towards Daugavpils, rather than towards Estonia) for our Līgo activity. I'll explain that in a little bit, too.

Top picture-We were on our way to the Zerveni family (the wife and older son are members, the rest aren't yet), and we have to cross the river and the railroad tracks to get to them. Turns out there's a rail bridge. And, as a new addition, they took railroad ties and made stairs with them. I thought that this was really funny, so here I am, standing on the rail-road staircase.
Middle-We had just talked to the other elders about hot-air ballooning. This is the first hot-air balloon I have seen here. The irony was so great I had to photograph it. The building is a university. Last-Another burst of irony. This is in XX Maxima right by our place. The register there is especially for "Vecākiem ar Mazuļiem"--or Parents with little children. If you look, they have many large boxes of cigarettes that they're stacking on that lane. I thought it was ridiculous. One other note--every free space in the store (all lanes and aisles and such) are full of beer, vodka, and alcohol of various kinds. The reason: it's Līgo!

OK, about Līgo. The night of the 23rd of June is the shortest of the year. In other words, it's the longest day. Due to their pagan roots, Latvians have a VERY big celebration that day. It's called Līgo, from the verb Līgoties, which means, literally translated, to Līgo. Yeah. The word only means to celebrate Līgo. No, it means to rock or teeter, but they don't use it for that. To celebrate, they build a huge bonfire, drink ridiculous quantities of beer, and just party it up all night. When the sun comes up the next night, they all cheer, then go to sleep somewhere. Interesting, huh? We were invited to go to Māsas Šulcas place in Lecava to celebrate. So, we're going with any of the branch who also would like to go. The biggest benefit is that there won't be alcohol at our Līgo party.

Name days here are a big deal. As important as birthdays. Jānis is the most common name (about 60% of men have that name). 24 June is Jāņu (meaning in English Jānis' ) name day. So, it's day two of getting drunk and partying, because every human in the entire country knows a Jānis. So, Līgo is also called Jāņi. I think knocking will be very interesting tommorrow night.

Two examples: we went knocking last night. One guy opened his door wide and sang, "Lī-ī-ī-go! Lī-ī-ī-goo!" And wished us a happy Jaņi. Odd. But then, knocking in a different place a little earlier that night, we were coming down the stairs (we usually start on the top and work down) and saw a big pile of vomit on the stair landing. "Great, somebody got a little too drunk," we thought. Well, on the next flight of stairs was a man, passed out, sprawled across the stairs. He was quite drunk. Man, alcohol is so great! Only a fool would pick up drinking after seeing its effects here. Or, basically, seeing what it does at all. If you want that, then you REALLY need to find an actual purpose to your life. I speak as one who has never gotten wasted drunk, so maybe it is fun. But the negatives I have seen FAR outweigh any positives.

We moved into a new apartment recently. The lady has bought us all our furniture, since we had none. That's about 1200 lats of furniture (that's WAY a lot, by the way). We got mostly everything, and all we needed to live there now was a fridge. She surprised me with a call telling me that she had a fridge. So, that was brought in yesterday. Then she added tablecloths, a picture to hang, another little table, benches to go around that table, and a thing with drawers and a big mirror on it. I was shocked, to be honest, that she got us so much! So, now it's most definitely the best place I have ever lived (in the Baltics). Nothing's even broken (I have never been in a place that didn't have something broken)!

A small downer, then we'll move on to another good. Things have been quite challenging with my companion and district. I cannot seem to really lead them in a way that motivates and inspires. I also cannot force them, which leaves me in an awkward bind! I continue to pray, and hope things work out. This week was just really bad. I think it will improve from here. And if not, the transfer ends in a pair of weeks anyway. WHERE ON EARTH IS TIME GOING!!??!?!?!?!?!?

The Good--we're working on getting the branch really going here. So, we have people called as Sunday School teachers, we just called an activities committee last Sunday(!), and we are wanting to start up a Primary. I'll be talking with President Dance about how to do that tonight. I'm way stoked! Basically, we just want everything in place so that when leadership is handed to the branch, they'll just take it and go. Missionaries can step out. That's one major problem thoughout the Baltics right now--missionaries are too much connected with parts of the branch's functions that they should have nothing to do with, and they have less involvement (sometimes none) in places where they need to be (like working with the branch in missionary work). So, we're hoping to avoid that by teaching the members early how to run everything. Good thing the Lord helps us know what to do, or that would be a problem.

I gotta go now! I love you all! Keep reading, praying, and think about prioritizing your life so that it's centered on the Lord first, your family second, and then the means for your family after that! We just spent a lot of time talking with one member about that, and how a misbalance can be catastrophic to family health, and to your own health! But, don't take my word for it--pray about it and ask God what your priorities should be, and then listen to the Spirit. God does answer our prayers. Loves again!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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