Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov 19: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Tele2, Jelgava Again, Neatkarības Diena, God's Glory

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thurs. Nov 19, 2009 at 7:18 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Tele2, Jelgava Again, Neatkarības Diena, God's Glory

All: Well, 90,776 steps (70.80KM). Woo.

Sorry for the delay in this letter. Usually I write on Wednesdays, but because yesterday (18 November) was both Elder Brown's birthday ") and Latvia's Independence Day, there were no internet places open here. So, it's a day late. Now on to other things. This week I found out much, both funny and serious. Funny first:

Remember how I told you that tele2 faked the meteorite? Well, they also ran a campaign this last month about heroes. They had ads everywhere that just said, "Pārāk Dārgi būt varonim?" ("Too expensive to be a hero?"). Then they only had a web I asked, and apparently that site only had a little game you played, where they call you often to tell you where to go next, and then they call you again. So, you do this for half an hour, and it turns out that the big secret they wanted to tell you is that they are tele2. Now they just released a plan that allows you to call any phone anywhere in Latvia for free--land, their line, another cell company--doesn't matter. I thought that it was remarkably genius marketing! They also have been pouring a lot of money into light shows and other attractions to keep people's minds off the economic crisis that everybody sees and hears about on the news daily. I really admire them for that, and it sure was a good way to advertise!
Another random thing: It's basically completely dark here by 4:00 p.m.. Funny, huh?

Top: These are the bonfires on the main street right across from the current church space.
Middle: This is one of my favorite shots of the fireworks. This is from the window of the church space looking out from the kitchen.
Last: Here are some of my favorite people in the world. The photographer didn't really warn us that he was going to take a shot, so we weren't overly ready, but it worked out anyway.

I'm settled in, yes. In the old apartment. Plans for the new one fell through for right now. The missionaries in Jelgava are Elders Thompson and Taylor (a new missionary--this is his second transfer), then Elder Reid and I. I have a crazy euphoria being back here! But, honestly speaking, I'd be cool with just about anywhere. About the people we are teaching, see the paragraph below. There are a ton in areas left to tract--I think that in my last time here, I used about 20% at the most of my area. There's still a lot more to do!
No, I am not a ZL any more. And Elder Brown is not an assistant. He's now the DL in Imanta. Elder Reid is a way awesome Russian-speaking missionary. I will tell you a little about him next time (if you remind me). We are tearing everything apart, because there is not a single person with whom we speak that cannot be spoken to. Latvian, Russian, English--every person speaks one of those three well. I love it!

Then, I am going through all the contacts of people that I have talked to and am really working with the members here to strengthen the branch and get a new building here before I go. Things all look good, and hopefully I can prepare one family for baptism before I leave. If you could all pray for that with me, I would really appreciate it (I've been searching for a family my whole mission who are ready to accept the gospel). We have a lot of good people to go back to, and I know that there are a lot of other good people with whom we haven't talked, so I am still hopeful. For them to be baptized before I leave, though, we need to find them this week. Please pray hard!

Yesterday was Latvijas Neatkarības Diena (Latvia's Independence Day), so there were no internet places open in Jelgava. There was a firework show, a million people all over the place, and big bonfires in the street. It was a pretty interesting day. We had hoped to be able to teach some people during the day, but a lot of people had gone to Rīga, so it didn't work out. We did talk to a lot of people, though.

And we had DISTRICT CONFERENCE last Sunday! I love district conf. We were treated to some of the most amazing talks, I got a lot of e-mail addresses of members that I love, and Paša from Jelgava received the Melchizedek priesthood!! That was way exciting!! I love seeing the members here, and many of them were very excited that I was in Jelgava again. I'm looking forward to this Sunday--we've made a big deal of a big deal. The mission president will be here, and so we just let all the members know and will remind them, and hopefully we'll have a full chapel. And tomorrow through Saturday we have a little over 50 people to drop by (people who have given us their addresses), as well as another 50 with just phone numbers, so we're thinking that we may be a little busy (if you lack perspective, that is a ridiculously huge number of people for a short period of time here). I'm thrilled again!

And I would like to share something that was discussed at that conference and at zone conference (we also had that, by the way). It was from Elder Senkāns, who is a Seventy here (the general priesthood authority "in charge" of Latvia and the other Baltic states). He thinks very logically, and he understands that all good things come from God. Therefore, all things he learns he turns to the gospel and tries to understand it in the light of eternal truth. He shared an article about how scientists have shown that to become a master at something (like sports or an instrument or a subject) it requires at least 10,000 hours. He then shared how the brain operates--all those neurons and such connect with others, and each neuron or synopsis or whatever it's called can connect with some thousands of others. As we learn and practice something, it literally becomes a part of our physical makeup, making verses like Alma 37: 6-7 or 1 Nephi 16: 29 even more powerful. The article also stated that we become what we think and do--so it is. Anyway, he took that further to state that if we only attend church once a week, then in a year we have 52 hours of that 10,000. If we live to be 80, then we're barely half-way there if we don't miss a single Sunday. If we're there for three hours a week, then that's 156 a year, times 80--still not there. And the article also stated that if it is not sustained, then the links are weakened, and it falls apart. So we need consistency also. It was quite a remarkable talk. It isn't even close to the power that he brought to it, and I don't have my notes, but I will probably flesh this thought out a little more later.

Another thing: he shared his favorite scripture. It defines the glory of God: D&C 93: 36. Very simple: it is light and truth. What are these? Truth was explained very clearly by God Himself: D&C 93: 24. It is simply the way things are. We need oxygen to live. We need to eat. The sun shines for us. Fire is hot. These are truths--just simply the way things are. There are also truths like God has a plan for us. He has a physical, perfected body of flesh and bone. We will all have the opportunity to be resurrected in glorified, perfected bodies. These, too, are truths. God wants us to know truth. This brings us to light: D&C 88: 7-13. Light, very simply, is the sustaining force by which God maintains order and influence in the world. There is both visible and invisible forms of light. The visible is fairly easy for us to understand at a simple level--it is what we see by, and it is what brings life to plants (among a host of other uses). Light is also the thing that allows us to understand truth (v. 11), and it gives God power and influence across all space (v 13). There is undoubtedly even more to light, but we have this for now. Elder Senkans helped us see how we can obtain this in our own lives.

Luke 11: 34 speaks of our light. Where we get it. This is both literal and figurative. Matthew 6: 22 is very similar, but helps us understand this a little better. If we are focused (on what, you may ask), then we can be filled with light, or, in other words, understanding, power and life. From the Doctrine and Covenants we read even more clearly: D&C 88: 67. Focused on what? On God and His glory--truth and understanding.

That is the purpose of Christ's church today. To help the children of God the Father obtain light and truth in their own lives, so that they are able to understand His purposes, and understand the way things are. Truth is not subjective--regardless of whether people believe it or not, it is still true. So Christ's church, or, more appropriately, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is not concerned about proving things wrong, or forcing others to accept what we teach. We do not teach philosophy, or religion, or good morals. We teach truth. You could say that the Church of Jesus Christ today is as it has always been--a school of learning for the children of One who has all light and truth. For those children who are willing to learn. D&C 88: 118 is truly the beginning of all activities in the church. And, as we learn truth, we will act on it. This is what brings salvation and exaltation--acting on true principles as stated by the Lord. When we follow His gospel--starting with faith (trust) in Him and His counsel; using that faith to repent (change our lives) so that we live as directed; then applying our repentance into a promise with God through baptism with water from one holding true authority to act in God's name; receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from one with that same power; and then continuing our whole lives long to learn and apply the truth we learn--then we obtain exaltation. I know that this is the true plan of our loving Father in Heaven.

I love you all! I invite you to keep reading and praying with the intent to learn truth.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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