Part 2: “He has kept his promise”–Letter to Mission President

Dear President Boswell,
I can hardly grasp the fact that the time has come for me to write this letter. I heard many times before my mission that a mission was like a “mini life”. I never quite understood that phrase until now. You experience everything from infancy to adolescence, to teenage, to adulthood, and now, dare I say it… “old age” although, you’ve still got some years on me. ūüôā

I had always wanted to serve a mission. I wanted to go so badly I even found a way to go early. So when I finally got the “ok” to go early I said “no” to the boy who proposed and told him I am going to serve the Lord. It wasn’t as easy as I make it seem, there were many tears that fell and prayers that were offered in order to make such a life changing decision, but I have never once regretted the decision to put my life on hold and to give my all to the Lord. I have never looked back and wondered¬† “what would my life be like if I hadn’t served a mission?” because I have never had the desire to know. This year and a half has been the most life changing, faith finding, testimony building, and trust forming experience of my life. I am converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am eternally converted. I was before, I am even more now, and I always will be. I can honestly and faithfully say about myself as it is written about the Lamanites, in Alma 23:5,¬†‚Äúthat as surely as the Lord liveth, ‚ĶI am converted and I will never fall away.”

I thought long and hard about the “mission statement” I wanted to set for myself while in the MTC during my first few days there. Heavenly Father eventually gave it to me. He told me that he wanted me to become a¬†Trustworthy Servant of the Lord.¬†I have strived my entire mission to become such a servant and I feel that I am on the path to be this trustworthy servant for the rest of my life. I have seen miracles come from the small whisperings of the spirit that I followed. I have seen my faith grow and I have seen other‚Äôs faith grow as I tried to follow what the spirit told me to do. Faith, charity, obedience, courage, and hard work: that is what it took to be what the Lord expected from me.

 

The life of a missionary

I am not quite sure where to start in this overwhelming task to write about my mission, the miracles I have seen, the love I have felt, the lessons I have learned, and the person I have become. I guess the best place to start is at the very beginning, or what I would call my ‚Äėinfancy‚Äô as a missionary and throughout my missionary life. I will try to express moments experienced of gratitude, change, and miracles.

Well, that is exactly what it was: infancy. I felt as though I couldn’t do anything when I first arrived in Latvia and it got worse when I arrived in¬†LiepńĀja, my first area.¬† Unfortunately, I cannot say that I was the most confident, bravest missionary of them all upon first arriving in Latvia. I was so scared. I remember Sister Kerr and Sister Wilson taking me out for my first time contacting. I thought, “Heavenly Father, please help me! Please help me!” over and over in my head. One thing that never failed me, though, was my faith. I KNEW that, although I was scared, I¬†could¬†do it because God¬†would¬†help me. I learned in my first transfer that I had faith. Faith and trust in my Heavenly Father.¬† I knew that I was not good at speaking Latvian, but I held strong to the promise that God would give me the gift of tongues if I did everything in my power to obtain it, and so that is exactly what I did. I struggled and studied, practiced and prayed like I never had before. I prayed for that gift with all of the energy of my heart. The moments when someone told me I spoke Latvian well are very sweet, tender moments. Not because I want to be the “best at things” and not because that satisfied my pride, but because I knew that God had answered my prayers and in turn it strengthened my faith. Every time I received a compliment I would smile and offer a prayer of gratitude in my heart to God for answering my fervent prayers.

 

My gratitude for my Heavenly Father grew immensely my first 2 transfers as I went from ‚Äėinfancy‚Äô to ‚Äėadolescence‚Äô. My current companion asked me the other day when I knew that God was my Father. I thought about it and then replied that I have always known. It has never been just me. It has always been Him and me together. I have spent all of my life with Him included in my thoughts, decisions and actions. I came to this knowledge that He has always been involved in my life and throughout my first transfer because I needed Him so desperately. And He was always there. I learned so many lessons my first 2 transfers. Heavenly Father wanted me to change a lot and He gave me the perfect companion to show me my weaknesses and to help me to grow. I am eternally grateful to God for giving me my first companion,¬†Sister Lindstrom, to teach me so many lessons about the person I want to be. Some of my weaknesses came out and I had the opportunity to really work on my character.

LiepńĀja stole my heart. I remember praying so hard to be filled with love and then walking into church about a week later and being so overcome with love that I almost couldn’t breathe. I loved the people so much. It was somewhat of a foreign feeling. I had loved them before, but this was new. This was a love that I knew I couldn’t produce on my own. I feel that I experienced a small measure of God’s love for His children that day and from then on it stayed with me. We experienced the miracles of Zane Jansone and Kristine Atala. Two sisters with more faith in Christ than anyone I had before met. They were my angels those first 2 transfers and it has been a tender mercy to have the chance to work with them both again at different times on my mission. We worked hard to help Kristine get married and then baptized. God sent her answers through dreams and she is still to this day one of the most faithful woman I have ever met.

You could say that I entered my ‚Äėteenage stage‚Äô when I left and went to Imanta with¬†Sister Hanks. That transfer was so special. I really learned to talk with everyone. I somehow lost my fear. Sister Hanks was a wonderful example of talking to everyone and I was so grateful to learn that from her. We laughed and worked with huge smiles on our faces all day long. I am SO grateful for sister Hanks. For her courage and her faith. She always tried hard and she was just a rock. I remember thinking, “how can I do this? I have been here for 3 months and now I am with a Russian speaking missionary and I have to teach the Latvians on my own! Can I really do this?” Well, God showed me that I could teach and teach in Latvian for that matter, but only because the spirit was helping me along with the wonderful members in Imanta. My miracle that transfer was Liga. She was a wonderful, kind, young mother who had a real desire to learn. I remember contacting her while walking across the crosswalk and saying, ” Hi! We have a message about a message” and then I started giggling when she stopped and looked at me confused. I explained that I was trying to learn Latvian, but that I make mistakes and what I meant to say was, “we have a wonderful message about God’s plans for families.” We chatted and we became great friends over the next couple of meetings. She accepted a baptismal date and I was on the moon! Finding Liga was such a tender mercy. Teaching her gave me the confidence that I could really do this. I really could be a missionary and I really could help people. Liga had some family opposition and after I had left Imanta she eventually chose to keep her family together and to stop meeting with the missionaries. I know that one day the missionaries will find her again and she along with her husband will accept the gospel. I really have no doubt about that. God has kindly confirmed that truth to me.

 

Now for¬†Rńęga. In this great city I spent so much of my mission life. I spent transfers 4 through 10 and went through the ‚Äėteenage‚Äô to ‚Äėadulthood‚Äô stages of the life of a missionary. I saw so many small miracles in those transfers. I met some of my very best friends, and had some of the most life changing experiences of my mission. There are people in center who have truly changed my life forever. Rńęga really became my home. It’s hard to explain the difference between missionary work being something you do and missionary work being your “life”, but that change is what I experienced there. Before that I did missionary work, and worked hard, but it wasn’t quite my life. My “Life” was before and missionary life was still new. But I experienced the change of this and it came to the point that I was no longer “maddie”… I was sister Gallacher I was a missionary. Missionary work went from being “missionary work” to “my wonderful life”. I loved that change. I loved experiencing that moment when I realized how “normal” missionary work was to me. It was no longer foreign, but familiar and well, normal. It was normal to talk to strangers and to feel such strong love for someone I didn’t even know.

 

One of the biggest blessings of serving in Rńęga was being around so many missionaries. I met and associated with, and learned from, so many amazing missionaries I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for them all. Especially my companions. Which includes Sister Kerr, Sister Nelson, Sister Clark, and Sister Peterson.¬†Sister Kerr¬†taught me so much about faith in my goals and working hard until the last second. She never gave up and she gave it her all. I have tried to emulate her desire to work hard my whole mission and I am so thankful for the example she set for me. She taught me about really believing in my goals and we saw miracles for it. I had lost some of my faith in goals before her because I was never reaching them. They had become just numbers and she set a wonderful example of hard work and motivated me to do better.

 

This small miracle is an example of this. It didn’t amount to much, but it will always remain close to my heart.¬†We worked really hard at reaching our goals every single day and we prayed and worked so hard and the Lord really blessed us. One¬†Friday¬†night we were contacting. We had planned to get a new investigator that day and although we had taught 3 other lessons we hadn’t reached the goal of a new investigator. So we had about 40 min to contact before we had to go home. I remember how determined we were to get this new investigator. We had been praying all day to reach our goals. Then we stopped and Sister Kerr said, “OK we have only about 10 minutes left to find an investigator. Who should we talk to?” I looked around and saw a young man standing at a bus stop among other people. I saw him and it was clear. We needed to talk to HIM. So I pointed and said, “him” and we set off knowing that he really was the last chance we had to reach our goal, or rather to reach Heavenly Father’s goal. So we talked, and he only spoke Russian. Our spirits almost dropped until we tried English with him. He understood enough English for us to teach a short lesson about the Book of Mormon and Prophets and he said that he had time to meet¬†on Tuesday¬†if we did. God really blessed us to make all of our goals that day and I was thankful for that experience and for the faith in my goals that it gave me.

 

I really feel that¬†Sister Nelson¬†was one of God’s greatest tender mercies to me on my mission. She truly became one of my greatest friends and missionary work was so much fun with her. We spent a lot of time knocking in Domes and contacting in snowstorms. I remember one cold, stormy night in December when the snow was swirling around so fast that you couldn’t see 3 feet in front of you. This night will always remain so vividly in my memory. I will never forget it. We were freezing. We were walking down a street on our way home from knocking and were contacting along the way. Well at least, trying to talk to some people that passed by. The snow hurt my face so badly, I couldn’t feel my hands, and I felt somewhat helpless. I remember the thought, “this is sacrifice” coming to my mind. But then I smiled. I thought about how proud I was that I could even be counted worthy to do this. That I had the privilege to testify of Christ in the hardest weather I had ever experienced. I had a burst of energy and after that I didn’t feel the snow hitting my face. God’s love warmed my heart and I felt that He was grateful for my diligence. For what I thought was “sacrifice” I realized later that it was a small sacrifice compared to what others have given, but it was everything that I could give. I gave everything I possibly could, and I was satisfied, because I knew that I hadn’t held anything back.

 

Sister Clark¬†and I experienced many miracles together including¬†Dzintars¬†baptism. I don’t even know how to really explain the story of Dzintars, but it has had a very big influence on me and I want to express my gratitude for Dzintars. As you know in the beginning, Dzintars was a bit slower. He wasn’t able to understand things quite like a normal person. He had a very strong stutter and he smelt so bad it was hard to be in the same room with him. I am embarrassed and sorry to admit that in the beginning I didn’t really take teaching him seriously. We didn’t call him after our first meeting and we only met again because HE called US and showed up at church. Then we decided that we should probably meet with him again. So we did, and throughout the teaching process I have never seen someone change more than that man. Not only did the¬†gospel change him spiritually, but it also changed him physically and mentally.¬†His stutter started to fade away, his understanding increased, and he cleaned himself up with new clothes and he smelled better. He completely changed. He was so shy at first to share his testimony in front of the branch, but he was determined to get over his fear and so he testifies as often as occasion permits and he is overcoming his shyness. I learned the power the gospel has to help one live a better life, not just spiritually, but in all aspects of life. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, Mosiah¬†2:41:

“…I would desire that you would consider on the happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold our faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never ending happiness.”

Dzintars has become an amazing member and I have learned so much from him. He has the strongest desire to serve that I have ever seen and felt. He wants to help everyone he can. He is so willing to help the missionaries whenever he is asked. He has changed in so many ways. I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude to him and my Heavenly Father for not giving up on ME when I gave up on Dzintars so easily in the beginning.

 

Sister Peterson¬†taught me to always keep a smile on my face. As you know that girl is adorable and can make even the angriest of persons happy with her cute little laugh and sweet face. I love that girl! She is such a wonderful example of working with a smile even when it’s hard. You wouldn’t think that Sister Peterson has had a hard mission by the way she acts. But in some of our moments of conversation she has expressed how hard her mission really has been. But she has had a huge smile all the way through it and I want to emulate that throughout my whole life. She is a great example of strength.

 

There have been several moments on my mission where I have been so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the people that I have gotten choked up. Many of them were actually while I was singing. Two of these experiences stand out so very clear and I would like to share them.

The first was at a baptism in Imanta. The missionaries stood up for the musical number and as we were singing “How Great Thou Art” I looked out at the members and investigators that I loved so much and God filled me with charity. The feeling was so powerful that tears filled my eyes. The people in that room were so special. They were so beautiful and I could see the child of God in each one of their faces. I could feel how much God loved them and I was so eternally grateful for the chance to be among them. The other moment I want to share is similar, but in a larger setting. We were at District Conference and I was able to sing in the musical number where we sang “All Creatures of Our God and King”. I was once again filled with that same gratitude and love that I had experienced before in the Imanta chapel. It was overwhelming and the spirit spoke to my heart testifying of God’s love for each of His children. I will always treasure those two memories.

Another moment I want to share happened last Fall. One day I was waiting for a bus and there was a homeless man in a wheel chair with only one leg. He was obviously drunk and was passed out. But when I looked at him, I didn’t see any of that. I truly saw a child of God. Tears filled my eyes as he really transformed into what he really could be one day: a celestial being. I have felt things like that before, but that experience was very real and larger than any I have had before. I was grateful that God let me see in that small glimpse into that man’s divine potential. Since that moment I have realized that EVERYONE I see has that same potential and my love for everyone has grown.

Some of the greatest experiences of my life have been with my dear friend¬†Vasis. The experiences I have shared with him are so dear to my heart that I can hardly think of them without choking up just a bit. I met Vasis on a bus. He was such an interesting man. So closed, but yet he had such a light about him. While others gave up on him, I never could. There is something about that man, and I¬†know¬†that one day he will accept the gospel, even though I didn’t see that happen. I gave everything I could possibly give and then some more to teaching and¬†helping¬†that man accept the gospel. His main problem was that he couldn’t accept Christ as his savior. I will be forever indebted to him because of the¬†testimony of Christ¬†that I gained through studying and preparing to teach and help him. I came to know my Savior on a level that I didn’t know I could reach through the¬†teaching¬†process of Vasis. My testimony of Christ and the need for Him and His atonement has wedged it’s way deep into my soul.¬†I have never wanted something more in my entire life than for Vasis to accept the gospel and to experience the blessings that come from it. We became great friends and I will always cherish his friendship. I remember having to what we call “drop” him because he wasn’t progressing. It was one of the¬†hardest¬†days of my mission because I loved him so much. But a miracle¬†happened¬†when he showed up at church a couple weeks later in nice clothes and a shaven face. He looked 100% different.¬†I double looked and sure enough it was Vasis. No more wispy white hair all over his face and head. I looked at him and then I smiled and he started laughing. haha. I was so happy to see him! After Sacrament meeting we went to¬†Sunday¬†school and after that ended I said, “Vasis! What made you want to come to church today?” He said, ” Something told me last night that this is where I needed to be today. I had to come. That is what YOU would call the Holy Ghost I know. I see a light in you both, and in the people here. It is in your eyes! I have looked for it ever since our last meeting in other places and other people. I can’t find it anywhere but here. There is a place inside of each person that needs to be filled. If you don’t fill it with good things it will be filled with bad things. I wanted to fill it with good things so I came to church today because I knew I needed too.”

Moments like these have convinced me that Vasis will make the decision to accept the gospel one day. He just wasn’t ready. Another reason why I am so grateful for Vasis is¬†because¬†of an experience we had praying about the Book of Mormon with him. We had Elder Senkans in the lesson and the whole room was practically floating¬†because¬†the spirit was so strong the entire time. We all knelt down together and Vasis offered the most simplest, beautiful prayer I have ever heard. I have never, ever, felt the spirit more strongly in my entire life and because of THAT experience I¬†will¬†never and can never deny that the Book of Mormon is true. I know it. And I know that Vasis knew it at that moment. I think back to that lesson often and thank my Heavenly Father for answering mine and Vasis’ prayer that day. I knew after that without a doubt that God will ALWAYS send people a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Whether they accept it or not, He will give it. Vasis problem is accepting universal truth. He doesn’t believe that there is one truth, but a truth for every person. He doesn’t deny that this is truth, because it’s our truth, but it’s not his truth. One day he will figure it out. I know it. I will never loose faith in him and he is the FIRST person I am going to find in the spirit world if he doesn’t accept it in this life. I gave everything I had to helping that man come unto Christ and I don’t regret a single thing about the¬†experiences¬†I had with him.

Another very influential person was a girl named¬†Agenta Liepajniece. You know her well. ūüôā That girl has caused me more grief than anyone on my mission, besides Vasis. haha but I love her so much and I always will. I prayed and still pray for her so much. I studied for her so much. I loved her SO much. And I gave her everything I possibly had. And of course when you work so hard you learn so much. My faith and testimony were strengthened and I will always be grateful for that. Through Agneta’s retention process I feel that I was endowed with¬†Charity. By learning to love her, and by seeing her example of love for other people, I was changed. I remember going to visit her one night when we found her in her stairwell talking with a homeless woman. The woman had just gotten out of jail and was hopeless. She was hiding from the cold in the apartment building. Agneta had run to herhad given this women her loaf of bread and expressed God’s love for her and the ability that this woman had to change her life through Christ. We all knelt in prayer and Agenta offered a beautiful prayer with tears falling down her face. I was so touched by Agenta’s love for this homeless stranger. Tears filled my eyes as I started to feel what Agenta was feeling. That moment of kneeling in a dirty, cold stairwell is a very sacred moment to me as well.

I have learned so much about the¬†power of prayer¬†these past 18 months. I have never prayed so much in my life. My relationship with my Heavenly Father has been strengthened to a level I didn’t think I could reach.¬†I have experienced such powerful moments during prayers on my mission. I don’t know if I ever really realized how EVERY prayer you say can be a spiritual experience. In EVERY prayer you can feel the spirit burn in your heart. As I have been focusing more on that I have really realized how strong the spirit can be if you just pay attention. I have realized that it is always when I am kneeling that it is the strongest. I have had such sacred moments on my knees while pouring out my heart pleading with God to help me help other people. To make me strong in my weaknesses so that I could be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I am so thankful for prayer and for the love we can feel from our Heavenly Father while we pray. It is so apparent; we just have to pay attention. Prayer really allowed me to be able to give my all to the Lord. Prayer is real. It is literally a way to communicate with God, with our Father and He speaks back to us in return.¬†I know that God listens intently to our prayers. I know that He wants so badly to communicate with each one of His children. I know that He speaks back to us, we just have to stop and listen. I know that we have to really have faith in what we are praying for and really believe that God will do His part and answer our prayers. I am so grateful for prayer and I cherish the quiet moments I have alone to talk to my Father in Heaven.

 

Now I want to express my gratitude for the¬†Holy Ghost. It is because of him that I was able to become what I wanted to become, a trustworthy servant of the Lord. It was only through him that I did anything while serving in Latvia. He guided me. He gave me answers to my own questions, gave me answers to others, gave me questions to ask others, gave me inspiration on what people needed to learn, helped me know who to talk to, and what to say. He helped me to¬†know¬†what scriptures to share, how to¬†overcome¬†weaknesses, and how to express my love. He helped me in every aspect of missionary work and I know without a doubt that he was the teacher and I was just what he used in order to teach God’s children. I feel that I have developed a greater ability to hear and recognize¬†and follow the spirit on my mission. There are so many sweet memories of the spirit saying “will you be baptized” to Inara (one of my investigators)¬†before I actually knew what I was saying. Moments of confusion with Peteris and Rudis where I had no idea where to take the lesson and then all the sudden I would know what to do as an answer to my prayer. He told me when I needed to be out contacting. He warned me so many times of danger. He helped me set goals and¬†achieve¬†goals. I have developed a close friendship with the Holy Ghost. He is the greatest gift God could give me and I could not have served this mission without the help he gave me.

My experience with one of my last investigators is a perfect summary of how the Holy Ghost has guided me to serve and help others come unto Christ.

Her name is¬†Meldra¬†and she was such a tender mercy from the Lord towards the end of my mission. The Holy Ghost inspired us every single day to know what to teach her, how to help her understand, and how to best help her progress. I remember planning a lesson for her and while we were studying both of us just felt like it was wrong. We discussed it and as we talked about what she needed, the Spirit unfolded the lesson to us. It was because the Spirit knew, and we were ready to listen. He prepared us and when no member could help the spirit sent one we hadn’t thought of. We were sitting in a lesson teaching baptism, when Santa, a member knocked on the door. She had come to church early to clean and I asked if she wanted to join the lesson. She gladly accepted. She told me later that the Spirit had prompted her to come to the church 2 hours early that day. I really learned how¬†involved¬†the Lord is in this work through teaching Meldra. We were guided every step of the way.

The spirit didn’t only help us in lessons but also in contacting. One day we had just finished planning and I had the thought that something wasn’t right. I looked at my planner and the Spirit told me that we needed to contact until¬†12:30¬†and not just until 12. So we changed our plans. That next day we saw countless¬†amounts¬†of miracles including a girl who walked back to the church with us to be taught. Miracles like this happened every single day of my mission when I listened to the spirit. He knows best where to find the miracles. ūüôā

I guess the end of full time missionary service you would call¬†“old age”. But that is not what it is for me. I have the ability to speak Latvian, to teach Preach my Gospel, I have learned how the spirit works with me, my testimony is as strong as it has ever been, and I have experienced so much, but I am not tired. I am not “slowing down”. I know I owe a lot of the energy I have felt to my wonderful companion¬†Sister Woodland. She has really helped me to continue to give everything I have with her spirit of determination and her attitude of happiness and energy. It was an honor to train her and to¬†experience¬†missionary work from the start all over again in my beloved Liapaja. I have learned SO much these last 2 transfers. God has been showing me my¬†weaknesses¬†and helping me to change them. I still have so many and I am still weak, but He is helping me to be strong. He is helping me to continue on the path of progression.

 

The last thing I want to share is of¬†LIGHT: the light of the gospel and the light of Jesus Christ that I have seen so much on my mission. It’s what Vasis saw, and it’s what I saw enter into others. There is a scripture in Alma from the Book of Mormon that has become one of my favorites. It is Alma 19:6 It¬†describes¬†so perfectly so many¬†familiar¬†moments when I have seen this light enter into my¬†investigators. It reads, “Now, this is what Ammon desired, for he knew that the king was under the power of God; he knew that the dark¬†veil¬†of unbelief was¬†being¬†cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light and the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness–yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness¬†having¬†been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God…” I remember teaching my¬†English¬†class this last transfer about the Plan of Salvation and when I started talking about what happens after we die I could literally see this light enter into their eyes. As I was testifying of the Resurrection, I saw the dark veil of unbelief being cast away and this joy was being¬†infused in their souls. It was such a sacred experience and I will always remember it when I hear the sacred word, “light”.

 

Testimony

My mission has changed my life, my personality, and my relationships with my Heavenly Father, my Savior, the Holy Ghost, and my family. It has been my honor to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength to Him to whom I owe my all. I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet of the Restoration and I have such a respect and reverence for him. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of the almighty God. I can never express the gratitude and love that I have for that book. It has changed my life and it teaches me how to follow the Savior more and more every time I read it. I love it with all of my heart. I know that Christ is my Savior, friend, and brother. I have experienced His atonement work in my life and I have seen it work in other’s lives. I have seen His light enter into other’s and I have felt it enter into mine. I know that God is my loving Heavenly Father. He loves me. Prayer is real. I know God is there and that He listens and answers our prayers. He has a perfect plan for me and has guided me my whole life. He guided me to my beloved Latvia and I will always be eternally grateful for that. Latvia will always be my holy place. I have fallen in love with the people, the language, and the culture. I will always look upon this country and the people here with a reverence that brings me to tears. I love these people. I have given them everything I possibly could. I love these people so much and I can’t wait to be reunited with all of them one day whether in this life or the next. They are my family, my brothers and sisters. I will never be able to express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve in the Baltic mission. To serve these people alongside of the other faithful missionaries has been my privilege and my honor.¬†I have truly learned that service is happiness and I hope to serve the Lord for the rest of my life. I am ready and willing to do it.

 

Thank you for guiding me and for being my Mission President. I have learned so much from your example of courage, love, and wisdom. You will always be a hero of mine. Thank you for your patience with me when I fell short and for your love when I felt pain. You have truly been a wonderful influence in my life and I am so grateful you promised me to be my Mission President and that I promised you that I would be a missionary in Latvia. I am eternally indebted to you for everything you have taught me.

 

“And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.” -Doctrine and covenants 84:88

He has kept his promise.

 

Love, Sister Gallacher

Week 77: My last Week Part 1

PART ONE¬† (I have so much to say that I will quickly write the doings of this week and next and then my oh so sentimental part 2 of this week’s e-mail will come later when I can copy and paste some of what I will write to president Boswell)

Family!!! ńĘimene!!! Family!!! ńĘimene!! Ah which language do I use?

Guess what? This is my last mission e-mail that I will write. Can you believe that 18 months have come and gone? I can’t. It’s not that it seems faster than that… It feels like 18 months really have gone by. But it’s just weird that it is nearly over. I can’t believe it.

The lyrics to the hymn improve the shining moments have been flyng through my head lately….

“Time flies on wings of lightning, we cannot call it back.
It comes, then passes forward along it’s onward track.
And if we are not mindful, the chance will fade away
For life is quick in passing. ‘Tis as a single day.

Improve the shining moment. In this you are secure.
For promptness bringeth safety and blessings rich and pure.
Let prudence guide your actions and be honest in your heart;
and God will love and bless you and help you to impart.”

This past week was so busy I am not sure how it passed me by. I guess you could say this week was a lot like my mission. I did SO much and by the time it was over I couldn’t even believe that much time had passed.

Here are the main happenings of my last full week as a missionary in Latvia!!
1. Monday: picnic with missionaries and Edgars! We ate and played floor-ball and had a blast. We had a lesson with a woman named Inga who I contacted a transfer ago. She is so sweet and has a wonderful family! She didn’t seem too interested when I first contacted her, and she either didn’t answer calls or was too busy when I would call, but then one time I felt that I should call her again, and she said she wanted to meet!! She is wonderful!

Tuesday: LELDA is our miracle! She is in her 20s and has the cutest little girl. I contacted her on the street 2 weeks ago and then she came to church. We met with her 3 times and she accepted a baptismal date for September 22!!
We finally got to meet with Meldra. She isn’t progressing very well anymore, but she still wants to learn. She just isn’t accepting everything. So the masa’s will keep working with her. We got “kidnapped” this week by this crazy couple who I just adore!!! They are catholic and have met with missionaries a bunch of times in the past. But the Elders contacted them and set up a meeting with us because they live in our area. Let’s just say the lesson we TRIED to teach consisted of them showing us TONS of pictures, making us play a very out of tune piano, making us drink tons of herbal tea that was basically just honey in it, and hearing their whole life story. I tried SO hard to keep them focused but they were hilarious!! (not crazy, just really funny people). Man we laughed so hard once we finally got out of there. I just love these hilarious memories

Wednesday:  We had so many lessons that we never got to sit down. It was awesome, but stressful.

Thursday: I spent on an exchange in Imanta with sister Cloward.

Friday: my last sports night, lesson with Edgars!!!

Saturday: Made lunch with the ҆ńćerbiŇÜini family (branch president’s family) and had a blast!! We made them this noodle salad that had noodles, chicken, apples, pineapple, grapes, celery, green onions, and almonds with a mayo sauce. They thought it was the weirdest thing ever. but they thought it was yummy!
Last English class. I am really going to miss teaching English….

This next week will be sooo CRAZY! One of the busiest weeks ever!! I will hardly have time to breathe in between appointments, packing, and preparing for so many things, traveling, teaching….. and much more!! Let me just tell you how busy….
Sunday: Gave a talk in church, weekly planned, had some lessons
Monday: write president Boswell a letter about my WHOLE mission! Yikes, pack, say goodbyes, lesson with Meldra, and a missionary dinner with the Frolovi family.
Tuesday: I have to teach District meeting (and I was going to give a talk at Edgars baptism, but we decided that it was better for a member to do it….) EDGARS gets BAPTIZED!!!!!! Then we have a huge Pizza party with the branch
Wednesday: travel to Rńęga,Teach at the mission Leadership conference, conference lasts all day
Thursday: report to mission home, play in Rńęga, interviews, testimony meetings and what not
Friday: SEE YOU ALL and EMBRACE YOU FOREVER!!!
Saturday… no idea
Sunday: give another talk

On top of that I have been writing goodbye letters in every spare moment that I have. I started a while back knowing I’d need time. I am on number 34 or something and I still have about 20 to go. Let’s just say that I won’t be getting them all written.

Warning: I want to apologize if I do the annoying “can’t remember an English word” missionary habit that I thought wasn’t real before my mission. I think God is just giving me a foretaste of it because this week I kept messing up my English sentences and saying them in Latvian structure and then Latvian words would come out in the middle of an English sentence. I feel like my brain is all messed up now. oops.

Well This is it!! I will see you all¬†on Friday¬†and I can’t wait to hug you all! I have to write President Boswell a final letter about my whole mission so I will send you parts of that as PART 2 of my last e-mail!

I LOVE YOU AL SO MUCH AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!!

-MńĀsa Galagera

ps funny story: SO we are on the bus coming home from Rńęga and as usual there is a drunk guy on the bus. ¬†So we had a stop in the middle of nowhere and this guy jumps off the bus and runs to the forest to go to the bathroom. Well the bus drivers here are not very nice and he just started driving away even though everyone was yelling how this guy’s bag was still on the bus. The bus driver just said, “well he got off so I am leaving and won’t stop” so we all are just feeling super bad for this guy who is now lost in the middle of Latvia without his bag. So we drive for about 20 minutes on the freeway and get to a town called Saldus. We drive in to the bus stop and guess who is standing there. THE GUY!!!!! Everyone started laughing and he just got on the bus and sat down. WHAT???????!!!?? I still have NO idea how he did that….

president ҆ńćerbiŇÜins takes pictures for the missionaries.

president ҆ńćerbiŇÜins takes pictures for the missionaries.

Primary Kids

Primary Kids

Me and Sister Woodland

Me and Sister Woodland

companion pic

companion pic

Week 76: Speaking of Faith

Sveiki mana burvńęga ń£imene!!!

Oh man, ok let’s see… AH! Time. Where is it? Sister Clark would always tell me that time doesn’t exist. I know that’s what the scientists say, but I would always argue that statement with pointing to a clock and saying well then what’s THAT? haha. Sorry Sister Clark, I believe you know. Time has disappeared and everyday it goes faster and faster.

Here are some of the events of the week:

1. I taught at the Zone conference in LiepńĀja
2. We had a Burrito branch party! It was awesome and we sure cooked with all of our might to feed the amount of people that showed up!! It was awesome! (For those of you Baltic missionaries reading this‚Ķguess who came? The RING MAN’S KIDS!!! Yes, we have been very diligently inviting them to things… ūüôā ) We are really getting the activities rollin’ here in LiepńĀja. We have lots going on. Next week is Pizza night! It’s my last night in Liepaja and we are going to have a FEAST with pizza and a lovely party! Which brings me to my next point:
3. EDGARS IS GETTING BAPTIZED¬†next Tuesday!! HURRAY, HURRAY!!! I am SO happy and he is so amazing and such a wonderful person! And he is going to help the LiepńĀja branch so much!! SO much happiness!!
4. I went on exchanges in Riga and it just so happened that the 2 lessons that were set up were with 2 of the people I taught and baptized! So that was a tender mercy from the Lord.
5.We had someone we contacted show up at church and we have a meeting with her! That was our miracle for the week.
6.Everyone is saying bye to me and setting up last appointments… I don’t know how I feel about this… but this next week is going to be PACKED!!!

Investigators:
We are struggling a bit with Meldra. She kind of went backwards this last week. She only met with us¬†on Monday¬†and then the rest of the week was busy and didn’t come to English class or church and now her phone isn’t working… we had a scheduled meeting for tonight so I hope this is all a joke and she hasn’t disappeared and she will be here tonight.
Daina: Love her to death, but she is not moving forward at all. ūüė¶ kind of at a stand still and she just won’t take the leap of faith.

Speaking of faith it seems to be the topic of this week. All my investigators needed a lesson on it and it turns out I do to. It is so interesting while on a mission you realize that we are all the Lord’s investigators and we are all progressing along the missionary lessons. I have come to find that when you want your investigator to read the Book of Mormon more, it’s because God wants you to read it more. When you want your investigator to gain a stronger testimony of Christ, it’s because God wants YOU to gain a testimony of Christ. So I guess God wants me to strengthen my faith this week. So that is what I have been studying and working on. Faith is such an interesting and complicated subject and yet is so simple and beautiful. (Doesn‚Äôt make sense right?)

Well, dare I say it? This is my last week. Next week doesn’t even exist… I have¬†Monday¬†and¬†Tuesday, but then Wednesday¬†I go to Mission Leadership conference (all the leaders of the mission come for a 2 day conference) and there Elder Bergeson and I teach together. haha as always. We are going to teach about “Goal setting”. Then that’s it. Wait, what? That’s it? yep, (still trying to grasp that fact)

I am running, and will keep running, and once I hit the “finish line” I will keep running…..Until I get to our house and then I am probably going to fall on the ground and my body will probably refuse to move and you’ll have to take me to the hospital. haha. Good thing we have all the appointments set up!! And then after that… I will run some more‚Ķ but I will get to run with all of YOU!

Have a wonderful week!!! I love you all!!!!

-MńĀsa Galagera

Huge Goblet

Huge Goblet

Taco Party

Taco Party

Dzintars and Dace

Dzintars and Dace

Week 75: The chance to forgive

Wait, how did a whole week already go by? I am not sure if time is really passing so quickly or if I blinked and someone played a trick on me and changed all the calenders and clocks….

Well this week basically didn’t exist because it went so fast. I had 2 exchanges, meetings in Riga, and then ¬†Monday¬†taken up with helping the branch president move and then¬†Tuesday¬†our preparation day… man.

It just went too fast.

So let’s see…. let’s start with our last Preparation day.

We went to the Relief Society party (as a part of our preparation day because most of the day was taken up with District meeting and then some other meetings about August goals I had to attend over skype). I don’t know that the word is in English… but we did this “walking sport” calling “nujotoana”. It’s where you walk with 2 ski pole like things on the beach. I guess you could say it’s kind of an old person thing, but the women in the branch really wanted us to go and we had the best time ever!! Our instructor took 3rd in the world Olympics/championship (whatever it was) for his age group. He was so funny and entertaining! I actually really enjoyed it. We walked down the beach for a about 40 min and I chatted with the ladies. I was with Santa and Kristine most the time and I made up stories for them about the people on the beach and we laughed so hard. I asked them funny questions like, “if they could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, which one would they be?” and “if you weren’t a human or an animal, what would you be?” It sure was an entertaining evening and we had some good laughs. Oh I love them so!

So then we went to Riga and we had our Mission Leadership council. It’s where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders, assistants, and the president, meet ALL DAY long to discuss the mission and our goals… etc. We all have lunch together first and it’s fun to catch up with my pals from around the mission. It is funny though, because when we first start the meeting all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders stand up zone by zone and give an accounting of the Zone the last month. (goals/strengths, focuses… etc.) So every Zone has 2 Zone leaders and at least 2 or more sister training leaders. One zone even has 3 sister training leaders. So a group stands up (2 zone leaders and 3 sister training leaders) and gives their accounting and then it’s our zone to go. Well it’s just Elder Bergeson and me. hahah When we stood up everyone giggled because the other groups were so much bigger than us. He is a solo zone leader right now and I am a solo sister training leader. (Brings back memories from the MTC!!! Solos forever….) So it’s just the 2 of us taking care of the zone. But we have fun. We’re also teaching together at the mission-wide leadership conference my last week here. It’s gonna be fun.

I had exchanges in Liepaja with Sister Ormsby (new) and then Sister Scott in Jelgava! It was so fun meeting more of the members and investigators in Jelgava that I have heard so much about. (Sister Kerr: I finally got to meet Oksana! She is amazing!!! And she chose¬†Oct 12th¬†I think as her date in our lesson!! ūüôā )

I then had to go to the zone training meeting in Riga to teach the zone. I chose to teach on “fulfilling the Lord’s expectations”. It was fun and I learned a lot preparing for it.

Meldra is doing well: We had a lesson reviewing the Restoration and watched the movie. I asked her how she was feeling about it all and she said that “there is some truth in everything” but she’s not convinced of it all. So we were kind of confused at where to go next because she had already said that she believed the Book of Mormon to be true… So I told her I want to help her know where she needs to go from here so I started asking her the baptismal interview questions.

Well we got passed the fact that she believes God is her Father and that Christ is her Savior without a problem…. but turns out she actually ISN’T sure if the Book of Mormon is true. So, that gave us some direction. ¬†We promised her that God would answer her prayers, but she really needs to sincerely ask ¬†specifically¬†to know if the BOM is true. We all knelt down and prayed together. It was her first time ever kneeling down and she really liked it. After she talked about how it made her feel humble and closer to God. She said a beautiful prayer and the spirit was so strong. I testified that the spirit testified to me of the divinity of the BOM. But she isn’t convinced. So We committed her to read 2 Nephi 31 and pray about it that night. She got called into work¬†on Sunday¬†and so she missed church, but we have a lesson with her tonight and we are going to follow up on that!

Daina, Daina, Daina…..Well I tried everything. I even pulled the “I leave in about 2 weeks!!” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†We have to TRY EVERYTHING we can before I leave to get this worked out!! She just isn’t really working towards anything. I set meetings with a member who works at the city hall to help her get her kids into a kindergarten and she just isn’t making anything a priority. ¬†But maybe this week we’ll have a breakthrough….
I was “unofficially called” as the Young Women’s president a while back. It is fun to look back at personal progress and remember how much fun it was to do all of the projects. I want to do it again.

Something we were taught in relief society is that forgiveness is one of the most important things in any relationship. Whether that be a marriage or just between family members. I have come to realize how true that is. You need humility to forgive. You need patience to forgive. I feel like the attributes that describe Charity in Moroni 7:45-48 describe forgiveness. Forgiveness is a beautiful, freeing thing. Both being forgiven and forgiving free your soul and lift burdens. I am grateful for forgiveness. The chance to be forgiven and the chance to forgive.

Well I love you all so much and hope you have the most fantastic week!! I am praying for you!

-Masa Galagera

Week 74: Dievs ir Brńęnumu Dievs

Sorry I am a day late! We had our P-day switched to¬†Tuesday¬†because we helped the Branch President move all day yesterday! I sure have some sore muscles! It was fun and man, they had a lot of stuff! I am going to have some strong arms after this! ūüôā I am so happy for them to have this new apartment! They were living in a one bedroom apartment with 3 kids and they just didn’t have enough room to live. Now they were able to get a nice apartment that is a lot larger!¬† Dievs ir Brńęnumu Dievs… or in other words…God is a God of Miracles! They had been praying for a new apt for a very long time.

I had exchanges with my Sister Nelson! I just love that girl so much! I cannot WAIT for you all to meet her! You are going to adore her as much as I do!

This week I have learned just how involved the Lord really is in this work. It is incredible.  I just kept thinking of Jacob 5 all week. The Lord labors with us in his Vineyard.

Here are some examples of his dealings with our little vineyard this week:

Meldra. SHE IS AMAZING!!!! Oh, I just love her so much. She is what you would call a PERFECT investigator. No joke. She reads the Book of Mormon, she comes to every lesson, she keeps her commitments, she comes to church, she came to a baptism, and she is so sweet! It’s been amazing!

SO, to start out, we had a lesson with her last Monday. We were planning on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, but during our personal studies we both just really struggled to know what to do and say. I have taught that lesson many times, but I felt like I couldn’t retain any of the information to teach! Nothing was coming. So then in companion study we both expressed how it just didn’t come. So we took that as an answer that it wasn’t the right lesson. We knew she needed to be warned of opposition and we also knew she would have just read 1 Nephi 8. So we decided to talk about the tree of life. The lesson was amazing! God guided us through the whole thing. We talked all about our goal to return to God and how along the way there are distractions (OPPOSITION) and what we need to do to stay on the right path. It was lovely.

One morning we went on a run to the sea. I had a thought to bring a plastic bag and fill it full of sand (Liepaja has the whitest, finest sand in the world) I didn’t know why, but I just did it and brought a bag home. Well I found out later when we were planning for our next lesson with her why we needed it.

We were planning on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and we were both sitting there thinking. Then we expressed how we wanted to do some sort of analogy. I said that I just kept seeing sand and water and I didn’t know why. So we kept on thinking. Then it just flowed into my mind! So simple!! This is what we did:

We told her to look at her hands. Her hands represent her works, her actions, and what she does everyday. We took out a bowl and the sand and told her to hold her hands over the bowl. We poured the sand over her hands and then had her rub it all over her hands and explained how we all make mistakes and how the sand represents our sins. To teach repentance we had her take a handful of sand and then one by one as she did the steps she opened a finger and the sand all fell out. BUT her hand was still dirty. She still had sand on her hands. The only way to be completely clean is through baptism. We had her put her hands over a new bowl and we poured water all over her hands as she washed them. It really was a beautiful experience and the spirit was so strong.

And here is just the cherry on top. We had a lesson with Kristine Atala (got baptized last year when I was here) and at the end I asked her if there was anything we could do to help her and she said, “well can I help with any lessons?” So she came to help with Meldra and it was amazing and she did an amazing job!

Then last but not least, we had another lesson and we weren’t able to get a member. (We had called a couple people and it was going to only be a 20 min lesson so we figured it was ok that we didn’t’ have one). Well the Lord had a different plan. We started our lesson and then Santa Diń∑e walked by and waved. I waved at her to come in and asked what she was doing. She said, “cleaning the church” (cleaning starts at 2 and it was¬†12:30) so I asked if she wanted to stay in the lesson and she nodded with a huge smile on her face. She basically taught the whole thing about the Holy Ghost and baptism and it was amazing! After, I thanked her and said it was just what Meldra needed. Santa said that she was at home and had the thought to go to the church early for cleaning (2 hours early mind you) and so she listened and came and knew that was why she needed to come. AMAZING!!! Oh I love seeing the hand of the Lord in our work here. He really cares so much about every single one of his children.

I have been thinking a lot about the Love of God this week.
Mosiah 4:9¬† “Believe in God; believe that He is, and that He created all things both in heaven and in earth believe that He has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doeth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend”

Think about that. This scripture explains so well the magnitude of God. He is almighty. He is all knowing. He is all powerful. And yet, He loves you. He loves me. He is this beautiful, perfect powerful God, and yet, He cares about you and the hard day that you had today. He cares about your struggles and trials no matter how small and insignificant they are.

Romans¬†8:16¬†“the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” I know that God is our Father. I know that He loves all of us so much. ¬†I have felt and seen His love manifested so much throughout my mission. I am so grateful for the love He has allowed me to feel for these people.

Romans 8: 38-39 ” For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the¬†Love of God,¬†which is in Christ our Lord.”

Well I love you all and in honor of Grandma Gallacher: “consider yourself hugged and kissed by me!” ¬†ūüôā

Have the best week ever!

-Sister Gallacher

Meldra and Me

Meldra and Me

1. We got caught in a HUGE rainstorm!! We laughed and danced all the way home! (yes, we didn't have umbrellas. I have had 3 on my mission and they all break from the wind so I won't buy another. haha)

1. We got caught in a HUGE rainstorm!! We laughed and danced all the way home! (yes, we didn’t have umbrellas. I have had 3 on my mission and they all break from the wind so I won’t buy another. haha)

 

Week 73: “go contacting”

ńĆau mana brńęniŇ°ń∑ńęga ń£imene!!!!

Let’s start out with last preparation day shall we?

We went on the most wonderful bike ride EVER!! We rented bikes (2 lats for 2 hours) and went on adventures all through LiepńĀja! It did make me miss my bike at home.. (hold strong, George!!) We went and saw lots of different streets and I took sister Woodland to some of my favorite places. We also went to these old War forts/tunnels. They went deep inside a hill and it was super cool. We didn’t go too far in because we were afraid, haha. We were walking and you could barely see when all of the sudden I stepped in a puddle of water and screamed (I totally freaked my companion out)! My scream turned into laughter when I realized it was just water. But it startled me so then we walked back out. It’s fun to be able to see so much History in this town. The weather has been a dream with just a couple of really hot days. I guess I have gotten used to the hot/no air/ sweaty lessons, but my companion almost fainted in our last one. We had to get out and leave… But all is well. I am loving every minute.

We have an AWESOME new investigator named Meldera. She is in her early 20’s and is so open and really wants to learn more about God. She is progressing wonderfully (we’ve only met with her 2 times) and we have another lesson tonight. We are so excited for her! She has such a good heart and is so smiley!

This week has been focussed on me praying for miracles. I sure need some. Daina’s boyfriend lost his job and they soon will have no income. I am not sure what they are going to do. Daina can’t work until they get a daycare for her little girl and all of the day cares are full… It’s a mess. So they are living in their little country one room apt and will not come back to liepaja very often. We are going to try and squeeze in a lesson¬†on Saturday! Other than that our communication is us¬† just calling her. We need a miracle with this one. Her boyfriend needs to just sign the papers to get married… but he won’t. And I don’t know if she realizes that he probably never will. Oh agency… I am so grateful for it and sometimes it is so frustrating. ūüôā

We had another contacting miracle. We came home after District meeting and had some lunch time. I sat down and just felt SO wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong… but something was. I couldn’t shake it. Nothing I tried to do or think would help. Something was wrong and I had to change it. So I said a small prayer in my heart to know what it was that I needed to do. I immediately heard, “go contacting”. So I went to Sister Woodland and said, “uh… we didn’t plan to go contacting right now… but…. we have to go.” Poor girl. She was JUST about to lay down for a little nap. She is such a trooper though and we ran out the door! Well we didn’t have any success for a while. In fact most people were exceptionally rude to us.

That is, until we got to our Miracle bus stop! There we met Gints! He’s a super cool young guy who listened and was interested. His bus was coming up after we had taught a mini first lesson and he hurried and got out his phone and said, “HERE! Here’s my number! I gotta get on the bus! But call and we can meet to talk more about this!” —> MIRACLE! I just love the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is the best!!! I am also so grateful that I have him as my constant companion. He helps me so much every single day. We’ve had trouble playing phone tag with Gints, but I have hope in him! ūüôā

The Ballstaedts (senior couple) came to LiepńĀja for some business and we had them over for lunch! I made teriyaki chicken, white rice, veggies, stir-fry, and yummy cookies! We had a feast!! It was so much fun because I also had Sister Peterson and Sister Stout here for exchanges so it was definitely a party during that lunch period! I love all of the senior couples! But the Millets are sure missed around here! Tell them hello!

We had a really sad experience this week. It pretty much broke my heart. Rubija BerziŇÜa a wonderful member, left the church. We went over to visit her and she is completely done and goes to a different church. She still wants to be friends and thinks we’re good people, but she is done. We tried so hard to help, but she gave her Book of Mormon back to the Branch President and won’t accept another one. She was very gracious and didn’t and won’t say anything bad about the church. But she just has different beliefs. After the lesson (I was with Sister Peterson) we both went to the bench at the bus stop. (she lives out in the middle or no where and we had to wait a half hour) We sat and just stared into the distant with tears streaming down our faces. Oh my little Latvia. I want the church to grow so badly. It hurts so much every time someone chooses to leave (there’s that agency again) But I have hope she will come back. Maybe in a couple of years… we won’t give up on her.

Es jŇęs mńęlu are visu savu sirdi! Es pateicos Dievam par jums katru dienu! Es zinu, ka Jńďzuz Kristus ir mŇęsu GlńĀbńďjs! JŇęs visi esat viŇÜam ńľoti dargi! Un jŇęs visi esat arńę man ńľoti dargi! Lai jums visiem burvńęga diena!

-MńĀsiŇÜa GalageriŇÜa

At the Beach

At the Beach

Looking out at the left over war forts

Looking out at the left over war forts

Hello from Karosta!

Hello from Karosta!

Karosta war forts-- and playing on top of them

Karosta war forts– and playing on top of them

Anyone up for a bike ride to Lithuania?

Anyone up for a bike ride to Lithuania?

momentum for a US aircraft that was shot down. It is a lady who is looking out to sea for her loved ones to return...

momentum for a US aircraft that was shot down. It is a lady who is looking out to sea for her loved ones to return…

war tunnels

war tunnels

Week 72: Stretch forth your hand to Christ

Oh my, I got on to my e-mail and had the largest amount of e-mails in my entire life! 69 to be exact!! haha THANK YOU everyone for thinking of me and sending me an update of your lives! Also thank you so much for the fun pictures!! I just love to see all of your beautiful faces, and your beautiful children, and grand children! It made my day! So thank you. And I apologize that I won’t be able to write you all back today. But Thank you and keep them coming! I love you all so much!

Missionary life…. it’s the best. I just love it. I love everything about it. I love our schedule, I love contacting, I love planning, I love praying, I love listening and following the spirit. I love teaching. I LOVE teaching. I love Latvia. I love Latvian. I love the people. I love the strangers. I love the surroundings. I love every single little particle about being a missionary right now in Latvia. It is the best!

Let’s start with Karosta!! Oh we sure went on some fun adventures last preparation day! We went out to the Karosta beach where the war forts were and had a blast. We spent most of our day exploring and playing in the sand. It was a blast! So much wind! It really reminds me a lot of the beaches in North CA.

Sister Woodland was eating it up. I’ve decided one of my most favorite parts about training is getting to experience “Latvia” and “missionary work” for the first time again with her. All of the moments when someone listens, the miracles, the heart aches, the architecture, the people. It’s just fun seeing it through the eyes of a new missionary again and remembering how foreign it all was at one time to me.

We had lots of good contacting sessions this week and went on adventures down fun streets. We tried hard to follow the spirit and we saw lots of miracles.
I want to share the best one. So we were planning¬†on Thursday¬†night and we had an hour open for contacting. We planned and were about to end and then I just felt that we had to contact until¬†12:30and not just until¬†12:00. I passed it aside for a second thinking oh we already planned something else. But then I realized that thought was definitely a prompting and I quickly told sister Woodland we had to change our plans for the day. So we did….
the next day we went contacting…¬†12:00¬†came and we knew that this last half hour we were supposed to do something special. So we started out down the street in center. We had 3 miracles. First was a mom with 4 kids (woooow!!) Who was very sweet. The next was a cool middle aged lady who said, “thank you SO much!!! I have been really searching for a church to go to and I just moved here! THANK YOU!!! I really want to meet and learn more about this. Can you teach me?” why yes, yes we can. ūüôā Next we were walking past a bus stop and I saw this young girl who was dressed in all black with an extreme black hair style. I stopped and said, “hi”. She replied.

We ended up walking back to the church with her and teaching her about the plan of salvation. She has had a really hard life and all of her friends are… well… satan worshipers… but she doesn’t like it. She just wants to be accepted and had a horrible childhood and said she felt “weird in our church”. I asked her if that was a good or bad thing and she said, “oh NO it’s GOOD!” It is just so different than what she is used to that it is foreign. She has so much darkness in her life it was amazing to just see the light fill her eyes as we taught. It definitely was a miracle that we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t changed our plans to contact longer.

Speaking of “satan worshipers”¬† they came and vandalized our church building. We showed up and they had graffitied all over every window and the walls and even broke a window. It was such a horrible sight. I just starred in amazement for a couple seconds and then we got to work cleaning it along with the branch president who was there. Some other elders showed up and we got it all cleaned. Who knew that you can get graffiti off with hairspray? haha

I had a week of more amazing studies. I was talking with sister Woodland just this morning about how much I just LOVE to study the scriptures and learn so many new things every day.

This week I studied Jacob 5 all week. It is SO GOOD!! I fell in love with the question that the Lord asks himself, “what more could I have done for my Vineyard?” I want to ask that to myself every night when I account to the Lord. I want him to know that I want to accomplish EVERYTHING he has for me to do every single day.

Later in Jacob 6:4 it says that the Lord’s hands are stretched forth all the day long. It made me ponder how patient and loving the Lord is. And then I thought about turning it around. Are MY hands stretched forth to HIM all the day long? Am I constantly reaching for his hand that is always reaching for me? Something to ponder.

Here are some questions that I thought about today and want to share with you. If you have some time I would invite you to ponder them and then write your answers in your journal.

1. How have I become more like Christ in the past year?
2. If I died tomorrow, what 3 wishes/ desires would I have today?

and Lastly, in the scriptures we can read about Christ’s baptism and then how our Heavenly Father introduces Christ to the people. he says, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” ¬†so…
3. How would God introduce you? or Rather, how would you want God to introduce you?

Well I hope you have a wonderful day!! I love you all so unbelievably much! I hope you all have a million reasons to smile all through the day. Remember to stretch forth your hand to Christ because He will take it. I know it.

-Sister Gallacher

 

Week 71: Grateful for the Holy Ghost

Sveiki!

HAPPY 4th of JULY!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNA!!!

Oh Latvia! How I love you so. I feel that my heart cannot even contain the love that I have for these people, this culture, and this country. I just LOVE it!!
I officially want to have all of my lessons on the shore of the Baltic sea… Not possible but it was just heavenly!! (Shout out to Cami and Matt who went swimming in the Baltic sea!!! We’re so close!!!)
Let’s see…. We were really busy this week with 2 exchanges. Some of the sisters are having a wee bit of a hard time so I had a lot of long talks and teaching moments. Things are going to get switched around at transfer times. Sister Woodland and I don’t want to get split apart!! But we are both ready to go where the Lord wants us to go. I know some of the other sisters are getting switched (since President Boswell called me for my input because I know a little more from exchanges. It’s all these young new sisters haha) but I am not sure if one of us is leaving our little Liepaja. We’ll see tomorrow!!
We had zone time where I got to teach about strengthening the relationships between our investigators and the members. I chose the topic and was really excited about it. Then we headed to Riga for exchanges. I got to serve in Imanta for a day and go to a HUGE park with huge Russian monument for a finding activity. We drew the plan of salvation on the ground and stopped people to teach them about it. I looooove teaching people with chalk drawings!! It’s so much more animated and fun to draw and have people come over to see what we’re drawing and to point to the different pictures.
We had a “pancake activity” on Friday with 7 investigators! We made lots of crepes and we all chatted and had a blast. We are really trying to host a lot more activities so that the members can strengthen their relationships and also be able to invite their friends. We are having a talent show this Friday and it is going to be the absolute BEST!! Can’t wait!
We unfortunately had a ton of people not show up to lessons, but never fear we have lots of potential investigators to continue to keep calling. Church was the BEST! We had the most people I have even seen at church and we had 7 investigators!! Along with the Boswells who came down for the day.
Speaking of investigators…
Daina: Oh boy, so many problems and just too much drama with this situation. Cheating husband, back biting friends, disobedient children, no money…. I just wish I could fix it all and wrap that family up in love. But Daina needs to make a decision to either live with a disloyal, mean, man who won’t get married or leave him and take a step in the dark, trusting God. It is going to be so hard and I cringe at the thought of what is going to happen either way, but is she leaves she can finally get baptized and that’s what we know God wants her to do.
Edgars: is our best friend!! He comes to all of the activities and church and prays like he’s been a member for years! He’s so awesome, but still not completely open to the idea of actually “meeting” and ” learning” about it all.¬† We have a meeting set up on Saturday (first one!—-He’s finally making the step!)
Zeltite: she has not been answering, but she came to church and seemed really happy. We have a lesson (cross your fingers) on Wednesday.
I have been having a sweet experience these past couple weeks. There is a less active here who we met with a couple weeks back. She went on and on about how she doesn’t like church because of all of the problems with the members and how they aren’t worthy to come but they do… (I don’t know why she thinks like that!) And how she doesn’t need church to feel the spirit, she feels it stronger at home and ¬†on and on and on….. She basically came up with excuses about why she doesn’t like church/the book of Mormon… etc… but then still believes this church is true… or I guess the gospel is but not the actual branch here. So we taught her about church and the importance of it and she said she didn’t want to come just because we asked her too. Then I said, “Lidija. We are representatives of Jesus Christ and HE is asking you to go to church. Not us. God wants you to go and HE is asking and telling you to go.” After the lesson my wonderful companion told me that I could have said that stronger…. Even though I thought I was pretty strong. ( I am 100% honest when I say that I am grateful for her honesty and for her advice) So needless to say, I felt horrible because I thought that I didn’t do a good enough job. BUT Lidija was at church the next Sunday and had the BEST time ever! Then the next week she came again! And looooved it!! She came up to me and said ” I am here thanks to you!” and hugged and kissed me. It was one of the sweetest moments and I was so thankful for the tender mercy that God gave me to see that I am doing something good.
I love these members! Oh so much!! I love my investigators! I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for him. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to “cry repentance” and to see such beauty enter into people’s lives. I know that God really is our Father. I feel as though on my mission I have really learned about my relationship with Him and developed an even stronger one. It is never just me. It is always my Heavenly Father and me together. He is always guiding me and helping me to succeed. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost. We have such a funny relationship. It speaks to me so much it’s hard to be able to respond to every prompting. Sometimes I just giggle because of the things he tells me. The other day I had my socks on and I was going to get water and he said, “take off your socks because they will get wet, and I knwo how much you hate when you step in water with socks on” I thought, “oh it’ll be fine I will just watch where I am stepping” I did and I got water and everything was fine.. until I turned around.. and yes I stepped in a puddle of water. I giggled out loud and just said to my companion, “I don’t know why I ever ignore these things..” The spirit even warns me of silly things. I am so grateful for his guidance. The guidance in missionary work. I could not do this without him, that’s for sure. HE is the teacher. HE is the contact-er. HE is the trainer. HE is the one who knows what to do and I rely on him wholeheartedly. I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ and I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true with out a single doubt in my mind. I LOVE that book. And I LOVE this gospel.
 I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! Have a wonderful, beautiful, sun-filled week!!
-masa galagera
Me and sister Nelson

Me and sister Nelson

Sister woodland and me

Sister woodland and me

So many bus rides back and forth

So many bus rides back and forth

Liepaja district

Liepaja district

Ligo Party

Ligo Party

Making the wreaths

Making the wreaths

Kristine and Me

Kristine and Me

our finished wreaths

our finished wreaths

dancing Latvian style

dancing Latvian style

Edgars our investigator and me

Edgars our investigator and me

Working at the farm in the country

Working at the farm in the country

A pretty country road

A pretty country road

Liepaja in the evening

Liepaja in the evening

Fun statutes in a park

Fun statutes in a park

pretty river in Kuldiga

pretty river in Kuldiga

pretty bridge in Kuldiga

pretty bridge in Kuldiga

Vasis our guide in Kuldiga

Vasis our guide in Kuldiga

Pretty home

Pretty home

I have an obsession with all the beautiful doors here

I have an obsession with all the beautiful doors here

Sister woodland and me

Sister woodland and me

Week 70: Where has the time gone?

Hey Family,

MACKENNA¬†I can’t wait to meet Leland! (what a dream name!) He sounds awesome and I know we shall be best friends. I am so happy for you and your new man.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! (what an awesome couple of weeks!!)

Happy 4th of July everyone! I will be singing happy birthday  all day!

Also congrats to Layna and her first steps she took! She is such a little walker girl! She is just so precious! And Hud is so handsome!!

Mom, thanks for all of the videos of the family reunion! My heart was so happy! Britt, you are sure the dancer girl and you look so CUTE! Kenna, your singing was off the charts! Serious. I am so proud of you and just could listen to your voice all day long. Joyce and John and Gayle and Sandy– you have got the MOVES I tell you! haha I love it! It looks like you all had the best time ever and I am so glad to hear it. (plan another reunion next year so I can come pretty please! ūüôā )

Dad, your voice is also amazing and I loved your dance moves with britt and brigss! Also speaking of Brigham! YOU ARE SO HUGE!!! I think you could crush me with your pinky finger! You are looking so studly!

And for the other siblings who also missed the family reunion fun, caye, your baby is to die for. So adorable and I just can’t wait to hug him!

Cami, I am so glad you are having a blast in Germany!

Okay, alrighty… I don’t even know where to start now…

Kuldiga was amazing and so special! My pal Vasis was actually in Kuldiga because he works there and his sister lives there so he showed us all around. It seriously is a fairytale land!!! And the waterfall!! It was SO beautiful!!! (it’s the widest waterfall in Europe) It’s a definite must if you ever go to Latvia! SO magical! We just sat on a hill over the waterfall and stared for a while enjoying the sun, the scene,ry and the sound of the running water.

We had our missionary leadership council again. We tried picking the goal for July and it sure wasn’t coming easy. We ended up running out of time with no number so we skyped later that weekend and the number is 13! It definitely was confirmed by the Lord and we are excited to work for it!
I love being able to take part in these councils! It is such a privileged and is interesting to understand how councils work and what really goes on in them. On top of that we get to all have lunch together (all the Zone leaders, assistants president and his wife and the sister training leaders). It’s a blast and I get to hang out with my pals from the MTC!

We also got to watch the mission president conference ¬†in our meeting and we watched it¬†on Sunday¬†with our branches! I am so excited! It is so awesome! The internet stuff is coming out slowly mission by mission so who knows when it will get here. I will definitely miss it … Sounds awesome though I really hope the members can get into this!

I had exchanges in center and got to see some members from Riga. It made me so happy and it was a sweet reunion. And I’ve only been gone a little over a month! Already so tender and I was all smiles!

As to investigators…. Edgars isn’t interested, but he comes to activities and church sometimes so I think that with time he will open up.
Daina… still has the same problems.. but tonight we are meeting her on the beach to have FHE with her family. She is making her famous chip n’ dip and we are bringing chips. We are going to teach the plan of salvation and use the sand as our form of paper. It’s going to be fun!

I am teaching in our zone training¬†tomorrow¬†and then heading to Imanta for exchanges. It’s crazy how busy we are these days.

Life really is going well and time is flying by so fast. I am not sure where it is going… June basically didn’t exist. We have some referrals we’re trying to work with and we desperately need new investigators so thankfully we have some good “finding” time this weekend.

Well that will be all for now!  I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week and know that I am praying for you and love you so much! Sending you hugs and kisses your way!

Love, Masa Galagera

 

Week 69: Goodness Gracious! What a week!

Goodness Gracious! What a week!

So we’re e-mailing super early today because we are going on an adventure!! We are going to KULDIGA! ¬†It’s just a little town in Latvia but very beautiful and has the longest waterfall in Europe! We are going with some of the elders and we are all so excited to go on a “trip”. It’s gonna be a blast! We are not sure what we are going to do there but I am sure we will find some adventures to go on!!

Okay, so I spent the first half of the week in Riga with zone conference, then preparation day (I just took sister woodland around to all of my favorite places in Riga. It was a blast to see it all again! Feels like home.), and then exchanges with the center sisters.

We finally in Liepaja on Thursday where we tried to work with Daina on setting a date but there is still no sign of progress… so we are praying for miracles… Zeltite has been out of town… again.

FRIDAY: We first went into the woods with sintija (a youth here) and we picked lots of wild flowers for LIGO and then we had our LIGO PARYT that night!!!! Oh it was a blast! We had tons of food we all made wreaths, and we danced the night away to Latvian traditional dances. I learned a whole bunch so I will teach them to you all when we have a Latvian dinner and party night. Wahoo. It was so much fun to be with the members.

SATURDAY: was a total adventure! I had my first trip to the COUNTRY! Latvians (i’d say most Latvians) all have a “country house” out in the middle of Latvia somewhere where they all have lots of land and gardens and they usually go there on the weekends (makes getting them to church quite difficult) well I’ve heard about it my whole mission and I actually got to GO to Daina’s farm¬†this Saturday! We went to help out with her garden and we hoed potatoes, carrots, radishes, cabbage, green onions… and a lots of other good things. We worked for hours and I just loved every minute of it. Definitely a once in a life time chance. Most missionaries don’t get to to go the country because it’s far away, but we wanted to get to know Daina’s son and boyfriend more so we got the ok to go. It was really lots of fun and now I just want a garden so bad! I just kept singing “the prophet said to plant a garden so that’s what I’ll do” (at least I think that’s how that primary song goes. haha)

We have had Zane Pliha with us (native Latvian) as our companion again this week. Oh man, she is so funny! A third person always makes life a party.

This week will be equally as busy as the last. We have visa trips to Riga and the missionary leadership council meeting again this Wednesday. Another full week in Riga. haha I feel like I spend half my time in Riga these days.

The familiar smells and sights of Liepaja give me so much joy. The wood burning stoves, the cobblestone streets, the old empty buildings, clothes drying on the balconies, the humid air, the wind that never ends, the cats EVERYWHERE…. and the thunder storms that are like nothing you’ve ever seen before!! Life in Liepaja is so much fun.

Well I hope you have a wonderful day! and I hope you have a wonderful week with all of the family at the reunion! I love and miss you all so much and send my love!
Consider yourself hugged by me!

– Sister Gallacher

 

Send me a Letter:

Baltic Mission Sister Madison Gallacher Cesu iela 31-2K2 Riga LV -1012 Latvia, Europe For dearelders.com and pouch mail: Baltic Mission POB 30150 Salt Lake City 84130-0150

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