Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oct 14: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Conference, Cool Knocking, Cold, Lame Crazy Days, Projector Battles...

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 4:01 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Conference, Cool Knocking, Cold, Lame Crazy Days, Projector Battles...

So, this week was rather...eventful. First: 90,993 steps = 70.97 KM.

We'll start with the Q+A...erm...after the pictures.
The first one is me and my comp eating a spoonful of Krievu Sinepes--Russian mustard. That's basically 40% mustard, 60% horseraddish. It's fairly intense. It actually didn't taste that hot--the thing that got me was the texture. Condiments by themselves usually are not the best in texture. Especially grainy, thick mustard. Anyway...
Next picture is just a sample of how beautiful things are here now. Random trees, like half of them, have changed colors, and there are some really gorgeous ones here and there. I love it!
Last is me and Elder Johnson as we helped Sister Šulca with her wood (we stacked it inside). The Carsons were also there, and they helped much. Māsa Šulca is now in England, for work, and may never return. Deep, deep, heavy sigh. Andris (who was just baptized) moved to Scotland (or Sweden, I can never seperate those in my head. Add two languages in my brains, and Skotijas, Svece, and a few others just get way jumbled up...) to look for work. But, she let us use these two sweaters so that our white clothes wouldn't get too gooked up. I thought they looked awesome. So, there it is.

Now, Q+A:
Things are going very well for us. We have several new investigators, and a few that I taught last time I was here, so things should be going well.
As a zone leader I have my own area, where I am most of the time. I also, however, work with all district leaders in their areas once a transfer. I do help plan the zone conferences (we plan those with a zone-leaders' counsel with all ZLs from all over the mission plus the assistants to the president plus the president and his wife), and the ZLs have a segment in zone conference to teach. We also are responsible for the food (lunch), and that. So, we have our part down right now, and I think all will be well.
As DL (district leader), I worked with the elders in my area (here, that usually means in your city or half of city for Rīga). Sometimes they are harder to work with than other times, but it's always a challenge to inspire and uplift all the time. Now, I work mostly with the district leaders, and they inspire their missionaries in their areas. So..there ya go.
Most of the people I know are still here. Erna Rotberga is not--she got a horrible infection in her leg, which they then amputated, and now she lives in a care facility in Skrunda. Brālis Dumpis lives in Liepāja, last I heard, and there are a lot of new people. Most of the members though are still here (which is really exciting!).
Oh, and Aivārs Bite just sent in his mission papers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's been fighting to be able to go (as he's 27, and usually at that age the church recommends that people get married or move on with other aspects of life rather than serve a mission), but local leadership thought that he could go, so we're waiting for what the missionary department in Salt Lake says. I way hope they accept him!
I do not live in the same place. Actually, in all of Latvia, there are only a few places that, by the end of this month, will be the same. What I mean by that is this: All four apartments in Liepāja that I knew when I was there are closed--they are all different. And even the church is in a new place. Jelgava--all apartments have changed, and now the church will move to a new location as well, so again--0% as it was. Imanta--all the apartments except Āgenskalns (where I lived for the first half of my transfer in Imanta) have changed, and they are going to close that one soon, too. Also here in Center, only the apartment that Elder Brown lived in for a year is still there. Every other one has changed. The mission office is in a new location as well. So all that remains the same is the church telpa in center, the church building in Imanta, and the mission home. And maybe the apartment that Elder Brown lived in in Rīga. But that may be changing, too. It's way weird to be so "old" here. (so many months on my mission). And what's funnier is that I'm with Elder Long, who arrived in the field almost a year before I did. He left part way through, and then returned. So, he even remembers when the mission home was in a different place. We make a funny pair, with all our ancient memories of this place. But the work of the Lord continues forward, and will continue so to do.
The only other area I've been in so far is in Rīga center. I got to work with Elder Clark, who arrived this transfer. He's way cool. And he was talking about how excited he is to be a missionary and talk to people about God. I don't know if I've felt that kind of excitement or wonder for a while, and his attitude changed the whole day--we taught many amazing people, and talked with many more really good souls. Attitude really does make all the difference.

I was writing my mom a little note earlier today. She told me a dear friend of mine is thinking about a mission. My response was the following: And tell her (my friend) that if she has the opportunity to serve a mission, take it. There is absolutely nothing in the world that comes even close to comparing with a mission. I am so thankful that I chose to go, and I will do everything that I can to encourage others to do it. You learn so much about the gospel, about others, about yourself, and about life in general. I must say that I had fought, struggled, and raged to try to learn some of the things that just come as part of doing the work out here. And those things have just come to me, in the tender mercies of the Lord. And now I actually understand the gospel. Before I left, I didn't really understand what it was all about. Even a year ago, I didn't quite understand it. And the people that I have met here do for me what stories of the pioneers did for President Gordon B. Hinkley--inspire me. I am amazed by the faith and courage of these saints in Latvia, and they have completely changed my life. I don't think that I would trade anything in the world for this experience. So I would say...Serve a mission!

All right, on to the the rest of everything. It's way cold. Winter is definitely here. We walked in a frigid gale to the Stockmann center for crazy days today. And I was totally disappointed. It was by far the worst crazy days that I have ever seen. The "sales prices" were not that low, and the featured items were still pretty expensive. They had nothing interesting in the technology section, and everywhere else was pretty lame. The only thing that saved it was a section that sold books (not usually a part of Stockmann). I found a book called "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne translated into Latvian. Elder Bodily read that book, and loved it, and I've always wanted to read it, but it's never been less than 10 lats (20 US$). But it was selling for 6 lats, which is almost how much it costs in America anyway! That was cool. And I found a cookbook for traditional Latvian foods (finally) for a lat (it's a little sampler book). So, I wound up not hating crazy days TOO much.

General Conference was way good. We watched a session a day as missionaries in English. I super loved the fifth session (the last one). Once again, Elder Holland gave an excellent talk. I encourage you to watch it, or read it, but it's how he spoke that really did it. He spoke of the Book of Mormon, and how he knows it is true. He testifies, in his office as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, of its truth. And there was one by Brent H. Neilson that basically invited the spirit to overpower me. Please watch or read this one. He talks of how he served in Somija (Finland. Sorry, only Latvian comes when I think of that country's name now). Part of Finland was under the Soviet Union, and they prayed while he served his mission there that that part would be open for missionary work some day. Many years later, his son was called to serve a mission in Russia, and guess where he went. Yup--that city about which the Finish missionaries had prayed. That is where I am serving--a former Soviet land. How many prayers have been offered for this land? What prayers of faithful saints am I now answering, bringing the gospel to a land that was miraculously freed from an oppressive, anti-religious regime? I will admit that I rarely cry tears when feeling the spirit strongly, but I did lose a little water during that talk. The talk after Elder Neilson's was also amazing. That whole session was incredible! And the very first African member of the quorum of the seventy spoke during that session, speaking of how the spirit of the Lord is moving powerfully upon his people in Africa. I can just imagine God's spirit powerfully flowing over this people in Latvia as well. Amazing!
All of the the conference was really good, but those are the ones that stuck out the most.
I actually never did see the first session in English. On Saturday, the branch watched it. I got to fight with the projector and the speakers to make sure they worked right, and it was quite a battle. The old projector shut off randomly, lost signal because it wanted to, refused to find the signal, and other problems. So, after a quick prayer for help, I dove in with my battle axe--so to speak. And it worked! We had a great many investigators come to conference, and I learned a lot listening in Latvian to the first session. I didn't stay for the second (we had things to do, and we'd already seen that one), so the next one I saw was the fourth session (the Sunday morning) with the branch again. It was way good. I love conference. A lot.

We also had that Zone Leaders' counsel last Wednesday, and it was amazing as well! Basically, it was zone conference, but in planning stages for leaders. Way cool!

Oh, and about knocking--we knocked into the Bahaī center. This is what I understand about the Bahai--that it is a religion that takes every major religious leader--Mohamed, Krishna, Moses, Christ, and a few others, and calls them all prophets of God. Then, they had a prophet about the same time Joseph Smith was called by God to be His living witness and to be His authorized prophet on the earth. The Bahaī prophet ties all the others together, eliminates the need for saving ordinances like baptism, and jumps over any need to have authority from God to act in His name. They also seem to claim that all of their prophets bring salvation to people. There seems to be no need in their minds for Christ or His atonement. But they believe many very good things, and are spot on in a lot of other stuff. It was very interesting to talk to them. They were probably the nicest people I have met in the past long while--and they are family focused, which I greatly admire.

Then, with Elder Clark, we ran into a guy who was a criminal during Soviet times, and so was in prison. Another man refused to join the army, and so was imprisoned with him. The second man taught the first about Christ, and Christianity. But, of course, you were not allowed to worship Christ during Soviet times. Religion was considered an enemy of the state, and shut down whenever possible (Russia actually gutted a lot of churches and used them to store junk and waste during their rule). Anyway, this man we knocked into became an underground Christian. He would look for secret, secluded places to read the Bible and pray. He was very happy to see us. He was on the phone when he opened the door, and said, in Russian, "No, I'll call you back, there are some very important people here that I must talk to. No, I'll call you back. Be quiet, I'll call back when I leave!!!" Or something like that. He then told us that his wife is Jewish, and showed me all his Hebrew books of scripture (way cool, by the way)--his Torah, the five books of Moses, and so forth. We then taught him how the Book of Mormon was designed by the authors way back in 400 AD when it was compiled "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." So, it may help his wife understand the need for Christ. And it will teach all others the need for Jesus Christ. If you already know He is needed, then it will teach you how to better apply His atonement in your life. It is amazing.

This is probably long enough. It was a good week, we'll say that. I love you all. Keep reading! You should actually be done with the Book of Mormon by now, right? Have you prayed about it, with the attitude to act on the answer God gives you? I promise you that God will answer you, "by the power of the Holy Ghost." Have a great week!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

No comments: