Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sept 9: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Russian Blessings, Rīga, New Building

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 4:52 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Russian Blessings, Rīga, New Building

Visi: So, I'm lookin' at 99,338 steps (that's 77.48KM).

Pics: I can't get any of my new pictures right now, so here's (top) an older one of me in a hallway that I thought I matched fairly well....
Next--Here, we have the new church building (probably) for Jelgava. We have spent a good amount of time looking at this and negotiating this last week, and so here is what it looks like.

Answering questions:
* Something funny that happened today: we were walking along and waiting at a crosswalk. This old Russian lady comes up and starts saying something in Russian really fast and kinda muttering. I ask her, "Do you speak Latvian?" She replies, in Latvian, "It doesn't matter what language it's in--I'm blessing you." She then continues to rattle off something in Russian, and it sounds rather angry. All I understood was "in the name of Jesus Christ," said a few times. After a minute of that, she crosses herself (I think...maybe not. I forget), and says simply, "There. You are blessed." And she turns around and walks away. Odd? Yeah, a little. Then I realized that she has no authority to do that, and I was very grateful that the priesthood authority to do things like that has been restored to the earth again through a living prophet.
* Three interesting factoids about my new companion: Elder Johnson is from Burley, Idaho. He is amazingly talented with the language--he speaks now (on his second transfer) as well as I did when I was out some 4-6 months (that's 3-4 transfers). And he is "devilishly handsome," by his own words. He has six sisters (most of them younger, and his older one is on a mission in Norway).
* The weather here has been way interesting. I'm not exactly sure how to tell you...bipolar would be fairly accurate. But overall, it's been warm and windy.
* As for one of the most interesting people I talked with, see my little miracle below.
* The talks this Sunday were prepared and given by our mission president and his wife. They gave very excellent talks, as usual. President Dance talked about how prophets help us know what is coming in the future so that we can prepare. He did this in preparation for General Conference (the time when the prophet and all the apostles and some other authorities talk to members and all the world on what the Spirit prompts them to--the things God would have us know at this time). I'm way excited for that! It's coming up the first weekend in October.
* Ways I've changed? Well, I am very much more firmly rooted in the gospel. I know very much more powerfully that this is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, and that the power of God works through it. I have absolutely no doubts at all. I have also learned how to understand the spirit a little better, and I think about things differently. I think of things with the eternal perspective in mind, rather than only narrowly looking at this life and the applications of something therein. Most of the other ways I don't even realize. I just read in my journal from long ago, and I'm amazed by how different I used to think--what used to be important, and what I stressed. I can't really give many specifics in that regard--better ask somebody who knew me. But I have also learned to cook many things, I am much more independent, I am even more motivated to go for my goals, I understand how to rent places, pay bills, and all that rot, and I really have a much better appreciation for my family. I really underappreciated them when I was living with them back home.

The Miracle-iņš:
The work is starting to pick up. We were out knocking on doors, and the whole time I was praying for a person who would have an open heart, and who would listen. We have had quite a dry spell of people with open hearts, so it was a stretch of faith. But I know that they're there. We actually left that building we were in (per my companion's suggestion), and went to another one. We just looked around, and both decided--that one. So, we went in, and on the second-to-the-top floor, a Russian lady cautiously opened her door. I told her who we were, and I just started to teach about prophets and whatever else I know how to say in Russian, and then (after about a minute), I ran out of words. So, I showed her the Book of Mormon. She said she understands Latvian, so I started to teach her about the Book. After a few minutes, she told us that she would want one to read, so she could test it herself. The Spirit was pretty strong during the conversation, and I know that she was touched. My prayer had been answered.
Then...ah. We had a drunk guy in Aizupes sing us a song in four languages. Much longer story there, but that will probably suffice for now.

We've been hunting for a new building to hold our church meetings in here in Jelgava, and we think we found it. The missionaries will actually be living in the church building (in an appartment that is attached), and it all seems pretty good. The Carsons (a senior missionary couple) and we Elders will be planning the interior sometime next week. Speaking of new buildings, the church in Leipaja was finished a long time ago. The bottom picture is the poster hanging in the church that has some examples of how gorgeous that building really is. It is far more beautiful than the church building or the stake center in my hometown!

And, I've been in Rīga twice this last week--once for zone conference (it was a way good Z.C.), and again for exchanges. I was able to teach my second-level English class again, and I really enjoyed seeing all those familiar faces. And some new ones, too. After the spiritual thought (about prophets and the Book of Mormon), a girl came up and asked if she could have one (a Book of Mormon). She's read a lot of interesting things on the internet about it, and she really wants to read it. She told me, "I've been wondering for a long time where I could get my hands on one of those books." I told her, "Well, here it is. Read it prayerfully." She was very excited to read it, and she had the light of a person who honestly wants to believe in and follow God in her eye. I think there's a difference between those who believe in God, and those who believe in the Bible or a church. Those who honestly believe in God will also believe the Bible and a church that is authorized by God, and they will do what they can to draw closer to God. Those who believe in the Bible or a church will do all they can to stick only to those things. They seem to not have faith in God Himself, but in things God has given them, and they miss the point; they look beyond the mark. All things are given for our enlightenment, and to help us draw nearer to God, not to be contained in themselves (2 Timothy 3: 16, "My Words … Never Cease," from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). That is why I stress so much the Book of Mormon. Those who will read it with the intent to understand if it's from God or not, believe in God. Those who do not believe very much in other things, for one who truly understands God will know that He will ever give to His children when they will receive (2 Nephi 28: 30). I know that it is true, that God will answer our prayers (Moroni 10: 3-5, James 1: 5, Matthew 7: 7, Luke 11: 9, 3 Nephi 27: 29, D&C 4: 7, James 4: 3, 1 Nephi 15: 11, 1 John 3: 22, Moroni 7: 26). It's clearly taught in the scriptures. This is only a very small sampling of the promise that if we pray in faith, nothing wavering, for that which is right, we will receive.

I love you all! Have a great week, and keep reading (you should be almost done by now! Who's been praying while they've been reading?)!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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