Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Exchanges, Baptisms, Haunted Woods, The End
All: So, I'm quite short on time (due to a lot of stuff to do today), so I'll be quick here. 80,201 steps and 62.55 KM.
First, baptisms. I have attached a picture or two. It was beautiful.
The top one is the whole group. You've got: Sister Rebere (I have no idea how to spell it in English--Reeber, maybe), Brālis Lepešs, Zaiga Kalniņa, Davis Kalniņš, and the rest of Zaiga's kids. In the back: Helvijs Vīgners, Zane Pliha, Simone Miljone, hiding in the very back is Jurgens Plihs, the Brālis Ulasavičs and Sister Gomez. The ones getting baptized were Zaiga, Davis, and Jurgens. It happened. Both of these adults have been waiting years for things to work out so they could be baptized. It turns out that both of these baptisms are a HUGE miracle, and the result of many, many prayers and a lot of effort. I was touched deeply to see the hand of God so obviously this week.
The next picture is Zane, her father, Jurgens, and Sister Keeling. I loved this Saturday not only because there were a bunch of baptisms, but because Zane was thrilled out of her mind with euphoria all day. It was the greatest thing in the world to see. She's been waiting years for her father to accept the gospel and begin to live it. And Jurgens is way excited to be able to make his daughter so happy. It's amazing to see. Zane spent a lot of time hugging her dad these past few days :) I helped Zaiga fill out the form for baptism, and there's a little box by the "parents" section that says "Church member." She was filling out her son's form, and so when she wrote her name in there, and looked at the box, she got a huge smile on her face, and in a voice filled with an emotion I cannot even describe she said, "Ja," while tenderly checking the box. It was way cool to see her excitement, too! I love what the Atonement does for people!!!!
The last picture is my companion. He loves the talk, "Good, Better, Best" by Dallin H. Oaks (of the 12 apostles). We found this carved in a wall, and nabbed us a picture. Cool, eh?
Another cool thing about the baptism is that missionaries didn't do anything, really. Elder Long played the piano and gave a talk, but otherwise all was done by members. Way cool! Ah, and I was asked about where baptisms take place. There is a font in our church building in Imanta and in Liepāja, where we have baptisms. So, this last one was in Imanta, because it is too cold to do it in rivers and the like...
I also went on exchanges with people. As a zone leader, I go on exchanges with all district leaders in my zone, and with the assistants to the president. This means that I have 5 exchanges--five days when I spend the whole day with somebody not my companion and work like crazy in their area--or have them come back to mine and work like mad. I love exchanges, because working with other missionaries really raises my sights and encourages me to do even more! This week I went with Elder Barnes (assistant) who's just amazing. We talked to four people, and brought two of them back to the church and taught them. That's not normal odds--it's usually 1 in every hundred or so who's willing to talk. So, that was cool. I also went with Elder Reed, who is the Russian speaker in Jelgava. He's way cool, and it was fun to see my English class there again. Ah...the memories.
Also, this week my companion and I were headed out to Jugla to knock a few clusters of buildings that were near-by the shopping center Alfa. We took the wrong bus, bringing us to Mežciems, but after walking a block we found a 21 autobuss, and took it back to the area we wanted to be. Turns out, after we entered, we found that area to be an industrial park. Sigh. We walked through it to find houses, but no dice. We then hit Alfa to use the bathroom, and left, walking around it to get to the next little cluster. Well, we get to the road, and we see a trail that goes into the woods. Dark, creepy woods. Elder Long says, "I know exactly where this leads." And so, I pull out the flashlight that I keep on my belt, and out we go. I was thinking the whole time about how good those woods looked--as a place to be killed or robbed. But nothing happened (as also I thought), and we emerged from the woods into our next compound--a hospital compound. Woo. So, we left that, and wandered until we found Brivības iela (the main street that would have our buses back into center). Turns out that we walked from Jugla all the way to Teika (a good distance). Since we had already done that, we just decided to walk home. So we almost did. Anyway--a depressingly long, unproductive night. But, it was a fun adventure that added a lot to my steps this week :-S.
Other than that, it was a normal week. I have now been handed two "friend books." In Latvian, "atmiņu grāmatas" or books of memory. That's where friends write before they leave somewhere. I have given mine to many people. And now, people are starting to hand me theirs. This time, it's because I'm going home, not because they are. It's way weird. But, tā ir dzīve. Ko lai darīt? I'll have some more stuff next week. Love you all! Keep reading!!!!
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