Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nov 26: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Happy Thanksgiving!

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 3:11 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Happy Thanksgiving!

All: I now know that my step counter is off. I took 60 steps, and it only counted 47. So...anyway, it shows 75,870 (59.17 KM), but I'm sure we did more that 100,000, because we did a TON of walking this week. But, whatever.

Random thing: I had my last Christmas of my mission. Every 25th I have a little Christmas celebration. And the last one was yesterday. One of the most amazing missionaries in the world gave me a call and sang a modified version of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, missionary style: "...then how the missionaries loved him, and they shouted out with glee 'Amen!'..." It was awesome. Really made my day. And then we taught a bunch of lessons that evening. Score.

Q+A: It really is dark at 4 p.m.. We sometimes use flashlights after that. Usually we just use ambient lighting (street lights and such) or walk in the dark, but when it's muddy then we often will use our flashlights. And we are currently on a winter proselyting schedule: we are out working until 8:30 p.m., and we slide our language study around (half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening). It's been really good.

Elder Reid: He's a Utahn who is very into sports. He would definitely kick my trash in ping pong, basketball, football (both American and regular), and anything else (since I'm not too sporty a person). He's a good cook. I'm not sure exactly what else to say--after being with 16 companions, it's kinda hard to really pick out things about people. They are my companion. We teach well together, and we have been having really good lessons recently. We understand how we teach, and we have much the same focus when we teach, so it's easy to just jump in during lessons when the people speak both languages. It's been good.
I understand differing amounts of Russian. If I can contribute in the lesson, then I usually understand more (thanks to the spirit) and I can participate better. If I can't help much (say, they don't understand Latvian), then I usually don't understand overly much, but I do know some phrases.
There are a few more Latvians than Russians in Jelgava, but the balance is about 55-45.

We visited our 50 some-odd people, but not much came of it, sadly. People are really resistant to change or to anything they are not used to. And with people as flaky as week-old pastries, it means it's hard to really meet with people. But, we did have two lessons from all those go-backs, so not too bad.

We have found several families, but none of them really look too promising right now. They meet with us because they like us, not because they want to learn the gospel, but becasue they are nice and like us. But, we'll keep working with them. Actually, the Z. family is moving along quite well. We had a very serious lesson with them, and the father agreed to work on specific commandments and Christlike attributes, and all the other family members also agreed to get crackin' on Christlike attributes. The father is not a member (yet). But they are probably the most promising for a family baptism right now. We'll see how things go. I think he will still take more time, though.

Church on Sunday was amazing! We contacted all the members, and had a pretty good showing. And all of the Z. family (except the oldest son, who lives elsewhere) came!! The talks were amazing, and everything seemed quite pointed at helping the branch. I think that was one of my best Sundays. And President Dance really gave a good talk, about the three parables in Luke 15. I will share that as my spiritual thought, so here goes:
In that chapter, you will find three parables. The first is Luke 15: 4-7, and it talks of 100 sheep and one lost. Then the shephėrd leaves the 99, and goes after the one. And when that sheep is found and brought back, the heavens rejoice over the one, and kinda ignore the 99. Then Luke 15: 8-10 talks about a woman with 10 coins. She loses one, hunts for it, and then the angels rejoice over the one, and again ignore the 9. Then President Dance asked a question: Which are you? Are you the 1 lost sheep, or one of the 99? Then: are you one of the 9 coins, or the 1 lost one? He then said: if you still don't understand which you are, then Christ gave another parable. Luke 15: 11-32 This is the tale of the Prodigal Son. There are two sons. One who does not leave his father, and the other who squanders his inheritance on wasteful things. That son then returns, and the father throws a huge party for him. The son who didn't leave then gets upset, and asks why he hasn't had a party. Again, there is rejoicing over the one, and not much attention paid to the other. Why is this?

President Dance then explained: I personally don't believe that the ninety and nine even exist. I don't think that the nine exist. I don't even think the one "good" son exists. Because we are all sinners. We are all lost. And if you think that you are one of the 99, or the 9, or even the one, then you are mistaken. There is only us and Christ. We are all fallen from the grace of God, and we are all sought after. Christ Himself seeks us, as in the story of the sheep. Servants of Christ seek us, as in the story of the coins, and we seek ourselves, as in the story of the Prodigal Son. It was really good, because there were several in attendance who have a hard time coming to church because they think that they are sinners and that the people at church are perfect, and so they will be looked down on and will feel uncomfortable. So, I think that pointing out that we really are all wanderers, and must always repent (change and improve and become closer to God) each day, really helped those people. "Because sinning is a part of our daily lives, then repentance must also be a part of our daily lives." Way good.

God lives. He does seek us, and will give us after our needs, but only if we seek and prepare to accept that help and those gifts. I know that Christ's arms of mercy are extended to us at all times, and He pleads that we access His mercy: 3 Nephi 9: 13. I love you all. Have a great week! Happy Thanksgiving!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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