Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dec 9: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Activities, My Letter

From: Jordan Argyle
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 5:22 AM
Subject: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Activities, My Letter

Fam: Thank you for all your support and love. We will be engaging in some really intense board/card games when I get back, so get ready!

All: A grossly inaccurate reading of 63,838 steps (49.79KM).

Pictures: Top: We had a pretty rad break the fast. Here's who people are, from bottom left: Sister Carson's arm is visible, and then Elder Carson's face. Then comes Elder Taylor, and Verner's face is barely visible behind him. Elder Thompson, me, and Brother Pravains sitting there in the middle. Then Pāvels and his fiance'e Natalija (they get married this Saturday!!!!!!!), and Sister Z. with her son A. (standing). Sitting is Sil., Lai. (with the kid, named Diago), and Mai. (Diago's mother). These three women are investigators who are amazing!!! Lai. reads out loud, and then she discusses what she reads with her mother (Sil.). They are amazing to me. They also have, in two weeks, read almost half the Book of Mormon. They love that source of truth, and are learning at an amazing rate!! The two men in the right corner are An. and Ain., also investigators. It was a really good week!
Middle: I love the graffiti in domes. This was one of my favorite this last week.
Last: So, we got on the roof of another dome, this time in Satiksmes. The light on the top floor was flickering ominously--it was perfect. And the view was pretty good.

Q+A: The mother who came to church and loved it was a mother of a woman we taught. After I left Jelgava for Rīga the elders taught them, and they invited their mother. She's way cool, but didn't come this week. Sigh.
The first meeting in the new building will be (ironically enough, since I fly out on the 18th) 20 December. Lol. Oh well. We'll have a little party in it on the 15th, so that I can still see it full of the people who I love. Thanks to all who sent ideas for the open house!--that will be done in January sometime, so I'll leave your ideas here.

Now, we are planning to get stuff all going here for Christmas. We have asked for permission from the city and a huge shopping center here to put a booth out in a park and in the center for several days for a few hours. We'll be inviting everybody to a Christmas party here on the 22nd and informing everyone that we have English classes and telling them about our new building. I think it will be really fun. I spent a lot of time last week getting that all organized and setting up all that stuff. But, it'll ROCK! And we're still doing missionary work. A lot of our investigators have kinda pooped out, so we're playing that finding game again (like this whole transfer, but that's fine--I love talking to people now).

Otherwise, I don't know what to tell you. Nothing overly extraordinary happened. I was asked to write a departing letter for the Mission President, giving a general overview of my missionary experiences and how they've impacted me, so I guess I'll just include that for y'all.
"I have started and scrapped this letter to you a few times. It is very hard to cram perhaps the most full two years into a letter of any length. So, I'll just hit those things that I am most impressed with from these years.

First, my understanding of the gospel has grown remarkably. Before my mission, the teachings from the scriptures were, in my mind, separate doctrinal points that didn't really connect very often or do more than provide a rough outline by which to live my life. The truths of the gospel were not really written in my heart (Proverbs 7: 1-3). After much study and application and teaching, however, these truths have been written very deeply in my being. Through their application I have seen myself change dramatically, yet gradually. I truly love the scriptures, for they are a great source of truth and a powerful way to invite personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. I love the honest, heartfelt prayer of faith, for it edifies and enlarges. And I love teaching people the restored truths and facts of God available through the restoration of His gospel through a living prophet. The doctrines of the gospel have become an integral part of me--they have become my way of life.

And that, probably, has been the biggest impact from my mission--the dramatic change of self. I have matured much, and grown in every aspect (including, unfortunately, the belly region a little). But I see everything differently: my siblings around me--especially the ones here in Latvia--and decisions I and my siblings around me make. I see all things from a higher vantage point. My view is widened, and I understand far more of life from that truer perspective. I believe that I understand things much more fundamentally. Like obedience. I used to think we were obedient to obtain blessings. Now I understand that obedience comes out of love for the Lord, and out of love He will bless us. But we don't do a list of things to obtain a list of blessings; we do all we can to be in harmony with Him. Doing that, we will feel His spirit, which expands, teaches, strengthens and lifts us.

I have also enjoyed growing in many practical ways--social skills, cooking, cleaning, and that jazz. My thinking on life has been expanded from constant contact with so many other amazing individuals--and here I specifically mean other missionaries, but it applies to everybody I work with. These experiences and lessons have been an enjoyed benefit that I hadn't really thought much about when preparing to serve. I did, however, expect to better understand charity.

Which leads me to my final point. My mission has been very emotional. I have earnestly sought the gift of charity, and because of a genuine love for those I have taught, I have felt the greatest gandarījumi and the deepest sorrows (gandarījums-an emotional state, like satisfaction, that comes from achieving a desire through much work). And the more I work with and love the people, the more I rejoice when they do, and sorrow when they do (Mosiah 18: 8-10). Other people have become as important to me as I am to myself (Matthew 22: 37-39), and most often my studies were for others. Interesting how we grow and learn the most while studying for others...

Well, reading this over again, it sounds a lot weaker than I wanted and a little unorganized. Basically, I have learned to apply the scriptures and listen for the Holy Ghost. And as I have been doing those two things, my Heavenly Father has poured blessings on me that I always have heard in stories from church history, but somehow never really envisioned obtaining for myself. Most especially when talking about prayer. Never again will I ever doubt that God answers prayers.

I am gauži thankful to have served, to have been able to experience all that I have (gauži-very, very, extremely, incredibly very). I know in Whom my trust lies. I feel very privileged to be able to honestly, with all my soul, echo the words of Nephi:

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth upon the things which I have seen and heard. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me His great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. When I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in Whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; He hath led me through mine afflictions in Latvia; and He hath preserved me as I have talked to people in this land.

He hath filled me with His love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, heard my cry by day, and He hath given me knowledge. In the evening have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before Him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high. Mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for most to believe.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in His condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of blinded people. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise Thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in Thee, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. O Lord, wilt Thou redeem my soul? Wilt Thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin? May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because I strive will all my will to follow Thee! O Lord, wilt Thou not shut the gates of Thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

O Lord, wilt Thou encircle me around in the robe of Thy righteousness! Wilt Thou make my path straight before me! O Lord, I have trusted in Thee, and I will trust in Thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto Thee; yea, I will cry unto Thee, my God, the Rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto Thee, my Rock and mine everlasting God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen (2 Nephi 4: 16-35)."
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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