From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thu, July 9, 2009
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Transfers, Miracles, Interesting things. BAPTISMS!!!
All: So, we walked a lot. 125,933 steps, to be exact. That's 98.22KM. That's a long way.
So, I want to start this week off with a little story:
It had been a normal day. Nothing too good, nothing too bad. We entered a 12-story monolith to go knocking. On the way in, a man began to jeer at us from the upper three floors. He "invited" us over to his place, after just telling us how unnecessary we were. So, we took the elevator like normal, planning to just explain to him what we were doing, and since he wasn't interested, we wouldn't bother him. But, we heard him on the 10th or 11th floor say, "...but they WILL be here. Just wait." We decided that we didn't trust him. As soon as we hit floor 12, we hit the button for floor 10 (hearing them start for the stairs). We arrived to find nobody. We cautiously continued out, and, finding the coast clear, began to knock.
We encountered various people. Most of them thought we were somebody else, and didn't want to spend the few minutes to speak to us about something that didn't interest them. Or, they thought it didn't interest them. Too bad they don't know what it actually is we talk about...Anyway, most of the doors were that way. One nice lady invited us back the next day. Another, determining that we were not from around here, asked us where we were from. On hearing we were from America, he ragefully told us to "Go back to your land and leave us alone!!" A few more cheery people who didn't want to talk to us, and then one guy who had told us he isn't interested came back out to tell us how angry he was that we knocked on his door. "I'm Catholic! What are you doing bothering people, trying to force your religion on them?! *Etc.*" We explained that we don't do that; we talk to everyone to know if they are interested in learning what we know and what has helped us immensely, and if they want, then we teach them. If they don't want it, then we leave them be. That's what we do. We don't force anything--we're just sharing what has helped us.
Then, after all of this silliness, we finally knock on Vies.'s door. He didn't answer right away. When we were at the elevator, he opened his door. We hurried back and told him we're missionaries, to talk about God. He said simply, "Come on in." We got to know him a little bit, and then taught him about prophets and the nature of God. He invited us back, and it was an amazing lesson! He's a policeman who lifts weights for fun. He squats 285 kilos (that's 627 POUNDS!!), and is one of the most humble people I have ever met. He has really looked at life, and understands a great deal. He also agreed to a baptismal date for the 1st of August. It was an amazing miracle that really helped me out!
OK, so. We now move on to transfers. I'm the only one still staying in Jelgava. Elders Gray and Trainee are coming (so, they are being "whitewashed," meaning that they have no previous experience at all in the area where they will be serving), and I'm serving with Elder Thompson the younger (he's from Elder Spear's group). So far, I like him a lot. I'll let you know more about him next week.
I took notes this week. I will start with the baptism. It was a gorgeous little family--a husband and wife--and Helvijs's mother! It was really exciting!!! The first picture on here (4018) is Helvijs and his mother. The service was beautiful, the the investigator we had (Andr.) liked it. Helvijs performed the baptisms, so he was able to baptize his mother. How cool is that? And many of the youth and other church members that I love were there also, so after the baptism I was able to talk with them. That was way amazing! I love people here in Riga. So much. I'm really going to miss seeing them, even if right now I only see them every so often...
Then, to celebrate the 4th of July, when we got back from the baptism we had a little BBQ. That's pic 4039. We got a little grill, and we grilled up chicken, hamburger, and potato things (but the heat was all gone by the time the potatoes made it, so...kinda gross). That was fun.
Earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night to a thunderstorm. Lightning was going off every few seconds. It was one of the most amazing things ever, because I love, love LOVE thunderstorms, and they happen very rarely where I have lived here.
Sunday. I had just had a great spiritual and emotional "up" the day before (baptism, seeing my dear friends in Rīga, and Independence day), so naturally a big down would follow. I felt really heavy, and...odd in general this Sunday. Since it was Elder Thompson's last Sunday, a few of the branch (group) went up to Rīga to see him off. So, we had almost nobody at church. Well...until about five minutes before church started. Then, WAY more people than I ever thought came pouring in. I want to list those people for you:
Brālis Pravains--He's the only Melchizedek priesthood holder in Jelgava. He takes care of the sacrament for us.
Māsa Šulca--Yup, the same one who invited us over for Līgo. She's way good! And
Brālis Kolikovs--Māsa Šulca's husband. He comes off and on, and so I was quite excited to see him Sunday.
Māsa Janaviča--She is one of the most interesting people in the world, and perhaps thinks too much about other people sometimes. She's charitable to a fault, and loves learning from the spirit. She was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to come today.
Anja, Jazeps, and Rebeka, Māsa Janaviča's children--Love them!! Anja is only six, but she is WAY smart. She sees something once, and she remembers it forever. She's very friendly, and a super cute kid! Jazeps is seven, super active, and enjoys being with us. He's very creative, and a great artist. Rebeka is super shy, and doesn't talk much, but has been opening up a lot more because of all the activities that we have had. She's going to be amazing when she trusts us and the group (branch) enough to actively participate! Oh, and she threw us a party as a farewell for the ones leaving. That's pic 4085. Here's who's in that really quickly, from left to right:
E. Farnsworth, Jazeps, E. Udy, Anja, E. Spears, Kristina (from our English class--she's become good friends with M. Janaviča), Māsa Janaviča, Rebeka. And between Rebeka's feet is Kokoa, their dog. Back to who came on Sunday:
Māsa Bernšteine--is a Ukrainien. Or, maybe some other country. It turns out that nobody really knows. She doesn't remember her birth language, so she speaks Russian and Latvian with a REALLY heavy accent. She doesn't know her birthday, so she picked a day. We are guessing that she's around 89 years old, but nobody really knows for sure. She's old, that's for sure. She's strong in the faith, and really fun. And funny. I love this lady. She is the only member who is still here that was here more than a year ago when I first served in Jelgava.
Verns.--He's one of our investigators who knows it's all true, and wants to be baptized. But his mother had a dream wherein she saw her dead sister (or daughter) who told her that she and Verns. have to be baptized in Canada. So...he's waiting until then. He's actually really cool. He's also super busy, so I didn't think that he'd be able to come to church.
A.--He's our investigator with a date for baptism. He's in our English class also. He's really fun, spiritual, and enjoys church. We haven't been able to meet with him for over a week now. That's way not good.
D. and friend--D. is an older lady that we knocked into a while back. We went to see her on Saturday, and invited her to church. I actually wasn't expecting her to come. And she brought her friend, to boot. She herself was quite quiet, but her friend was very outspoken, very fun, and very involved in the lesson. I liked having them there.
U. and T.--these two amazing women are from English class. They haven't really heard anything about the Restoration yet. They have powerful testimonies of God and His hand in their lives, though.
This Sunday was a fast Sunday. For those of you who don't know what that means--the first Sunday of each month, all members of this church are to fast if they so desire. This means that they go without eating and they pray to consecrate that time to God. During this time they focus on spiritual things, and open themselves more fully to the Spirit. And, during sacrament meeting (the main meeting at church), everyone who desires is able to stand and state what they know to be true. We call this "bearing our testimony." And since one of the Holy Ghost's purposes is to testify of truth (1 John 5: 6, John 15: 26), He is almost always quite powerfully at these meetings. Another of His roles is to comfort (John 14: 26, D&C 35: 19). So, basking in the great Spirit that was there, I felt greatly comforted. When I left church, I felt amazing! I have a little more to say on that in a moment. First, one more thing that happened this week.
There is going to be a YSA (Young Single Adults) conference, and a youth conference this August. I just found out about each of them, and there are several here in Jelgava who'd want to go. So, on Tuesday night, I spent a good amount of time finding out info about all of these things to make sure that everyone who wanted to would be able to make it. I was on the phone about this thing for well over two hours. It was way stressful, but for some reason, I think I enjoyed it. I called basically everyone in leadership positions in Latvia (only the mission president and the district president themselves exempted). It was like a crazy, wacko puzzle to solve. So, that was rather nuts.
Oh. Right. The rest of transfers: So, E. Spears is going to my city of dreams (Liepaja) to be with E. Hansen, a Russian-speaking Elder whom I greatly like. I have been secretly hoping to be in a "hybrid" companionship--a companionship where one speaks the country's language (like Latvian in Latvia), and the other speaks Russian. Companionships like that are way totally normal. But I've been hoping to be in one, and my top pick was E. Hansen. E. Udy is in Imanta with an E. Reed (don't know him very well), and here's the craziest of all. Daugavpils is a city in Latvia. It is inhabited mostly by Russians. Very few people there speak Latvian primarily. E. Farnsworth is a Latvian-speaking missionary. He was asked by President Dance to start learning Russian this last transfer. He was transferred to Daugavpils. He's not overly thrilled about not being able to use his Latvian much anymore. Poor dude. But, he's thrilled to be the first Latvian in D.pils since a good, long time ago!
Thought really fast: Several people testified of miracles. More than a few of those were what many would say are big miracles (how to do you put miracles into gradients of big or small? They're all miracles...). Anyway, they were the saving of a loved one or self from death. Two of those were a saving from cancer. In each case, that miracle helped them to see God's hand in their lives, and they turned to be more faithful, and to seek to learn more of God. To me, that tender mercy of comfort was a miracle. I want you all to know that God, our Father in heaven, is a "God of miracles" (Alma 37: 40). Take a look at the folling verses. Miracles come through faith on His name. Remember that faith is more than saying "I believe." Faith requires action and a trust. Faith is actually quite a complete package, covering every aspect of life. But, see what our faith (sometimes desperate faith) called from a loving Father: Life. Comfort. Love. A second chance at life. A fuller life. A person to teach the gospel to when it seems there isn't one. Please prayerfully consider the following passages:
Ether 12: 12, 18; Moroni 7: 27, 35; Acts 2: 22 (remember Joseph Smith and miracles wrought to him--the Book of Mormon itself being a great example); Mormom 9: 10-11, 15, 19-20. Read Moroni 7, Mormon 9, and Ether 12 in their entirety. There are powerful teachings about miracles, and the faith that leads to them. I know that these are true principles. I know, because of the Spirit of the Lord God, the these things are true, that God works by miracles today, and that He loves us.
I love you all! Keep reading and praying, and God will grant you even more knowledge (2 Nephi 28: 30), and so it will continue your whole life. Come, and receive what your Father offers in fullness!!!
( >/°¥< )
( >/°¥< )