Goodness I can’t wait to read all of your lovely and wonderful e-mails. Our e-mailing schedule got a little off today so I don’t have as much time so I will print off your e-mails and try to write back next week to what you say. But here goes for this week….
Last week on P-day it was a little rainy so we stayed inside after errands and played ping pong at the church with the Elders and the Branch President. The Branch President here is President ščerbiniņš. He is originally from Russian, but married a wonderful Latvian woman. He is so hilarious. We often all sing opera together. haha. He gets out his big speakers and practices for us. Sometimes he has us sing along and be “Christine” from phantom of the opera and we sing “all I ask of you” it is so funny. I can hardly sing because I’m just laughing. It’s a good time I tell you.
Elder Holdaway has moved on and left for home this morning. He left about a week and a half early so that he could see his mom before she moves to London for a bit to work at the Olympics. We actually had a Russian-speaking missionary come to replace him. So now it’s just Elder Bergeson and a Russian speaker as a companionship. But Elder Bergeson is a chap at the language so he’ll be just fine. Transfers are a week from this Tuesday and unless something crazy happens I think I know exactly what’s going to happen. I’ll let you know if I was right when transfers actually come.
It has been interesting serving with two missionaries going home during my “training” experience. I have learned a lot about how I want my mission to be and who I want to become. I have learned very important and valuable lessons I’ll never forget. I feel like this week especially I have thought a lot about the missionary I want to be. What I want to do and become and what I don’t. It’s been an eye opener week I guess you could say. It probably has to do with what I experienced at the 20 Year Jubilee!!!
I’ll tell you about that because it will probably be the most exciting part about this e-mail. haha. Yes, the week before they told us that they decided that the missionaries weren’t allowed to go to the Jubilee because we’d loose too much “missionary time”. Needless to say we (all the missionaries in Latvia) were all pretty sad. It was a huge bummer. I just kept thinking about how I read about this celebration back in December and how excited I have been for it since then. It was something I did NOT want to miss. Well they changed their minds! We got the okay to go and we were all SO happy! It was amazing. I cannot even imagine not having gone and learning what I did. Here’s what went down.
20 YEAR JUBILEE:
We rented two vans and the missionaries and church members down here in Liepaja headed up at 7am to the Imanta chapel in Riga. We all met together in a big hall in the building next door and there Elder Senkans (the man who translated the Book of Mormon into Latvian and is a part of the quorum of the 70) and his wife spoke to us. I still just can’t get over the fact that I have met the man that translated the Book of Mormon into my mission language. It’s so cool! The Senkans are really the people who started the church here. They were in Russian and Elder Senkans read the BOM in order to “prove” it wrong. He finished with a blank page that was meant to have written mistakes on it. Needless to say, he was baptized and him and his wife started the church here in Latvia. The first missionaries arrived here in Latvia in 1992 and there were only 2 then! Now we have 4 sisters and about 14 or something elders here. (Latvian speaking) After them, President Oscarson- the President of the Helsinki temple- spoke to us. He spoke of the faithful members here in Latvia going to the temple and that they are helping to build stakes (stake consists/makes up multiple wards in an area) on the other side of the veil. He says in about 10 years we’ll hopefully have a stake here. James E. Faust prophesied years ago that one day multiple stakes would be established here in Latvia! President Lawrence the area president spoke to us last. He spoke on how the church will only grow if the members help the missionaries. He had a dream about a member couple helping the missionaries teach and he told everyone that that was the only way for the church to grow here. It’s so true. We really need the members and they are SO great in lessons. They really bring the spirit and it’s a lot easier for them to explain a difficult topic than for ME I’ll tell you that much! ( Click this sentence for a similar article that shows the excitement for the growth in surrounding countries! )
They then showed a video of the history of the church in Latvia that was about 40 minutes long. It was incredible! There were pictures from the start to finish with videos of all the Mission Presidents speaking and telling memories. They went through each branch and showed pictures and talked about the history! Guess what? I was in it! They showed the history of Liepaja with some pictures and videos and they had a little video of us taking pictures with Z. and then some other pictures. I know it’s silly, but I just think it’s so cool that I got to be a part of the video. Not every missionary that has served or is serving was in the video. So it really was just luck, but it’s cool that I can watch this video years from now and see Sister Lindstrom and I on Z.’s baptismal day. What a fun memory that will be! I really can’t explain what it was like to hear the amazing history and the work and determination of the members to help establish the church here. It made me think about what I have done to even deserve to be serving here. What do I have to give to these people? My Mission President asked me when I first arrived, “Why Latvia?”
I don’t know what I even have to give, but I have never felt more humbled and grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving here, especially at this time.
They had games, and traditional folk dancing (which was super fun to watch!), lunch, and then a little show where all the branches either did a skit or sang a song. It was super fun. And the weather was perfect! Which was really lucky because we’ve been having a lot of rain lately. They had a big birthday cake with sparklers and they had balloons that they let fly away to celebrate. Everyone chatted outside and had a great time.
On the way home I sat next to one of my favorite investigators (also known as our “forever investigator”) A. He is such an interesting and happy, funny man. His favorite joke is to say “Ooooh I used to be young and cute… now…. I’m just cute” And yes he ALWAYS speaks English because he just loves to. And wants to speak better. I laugh every time he says that joke. I think it’s so funny!! Any way we convinced him to come to the jubilee even though he’s not a member. I sat next to him on the bus ride home and listened for 3 hours about why he can’t join any church. It’s really sad because he just has so many doubts and he has seen so much corruption in government and churches in his lifetime that he thinks everyone is corrupted. He thinks our church is awesome and loves to learn and talk with the missionaries, but he just doubts everything. He said even if he saw God he would doubt afterwards wondering if it really was God. It seems hopeless, but one day A. will join. I just know it. One day in the future… maybe very far, but it will happen!
Oh I would just like to tell everyone that the kitten living in our stairwell that we named “boo” let me hold her today. haha
I’m on strict orders not to run anymore. Bummer! I hurt my calf last transfer and for some reason it’s not getting better. There is a senior couple down in Lithuania and he is a foot doctor. So he gave me some advice on what I need to do. I have to ice massage it multiple times a day and wrap it and I have to avoid stairs (which it’s a good thing it’s not winter because in the winter we go knocking in all the huge apartment “domes” as we call them so we walk A LOT of stairs (or so I’ve heard… haha I haven’t been here during the winter and have only door contacted a couple times. because the weather is nice we contact outside) Anyway, I’m bummed I can’t run anymore, but oh well hopefully it will heal fast.
We went to a different part of town this week and boy, Dad I feel like I kind of understand a little of what your mission must have been like. (not all the scary stuff haha just living situations) It really made me think back to some of the stories you have told me. I guess I understand why Latvia is a 3rd world country now. It was hard to see.
We played Relief Society President this week. An inactive sister has had some problems and stopped going to work and currently has no money whatsoever. We have taken her grocery shopping a couple times now. It was really so cute watching her shop for food with a huge grin on her face as she picked things she loved. (Like FISH! She bought lots of dried fish… not too appetizing looking I tell you…)
This week it was my turn to take over completely. So Sister Lindstrom took on the role of a “greenie” and pretended not to know anything. It was funny, but went just fine. It helped me have confidence in knowing that I really can do this. I contacted a lady on the tram and she just said, “I have nothing else to learn from any church. I am 75. What more can I learn? Go talk to someone younger” haha I promised her that if she read the Book of Mormon she would learn something new, but she didn’t take the challenge. It was so interesting to me that she thought there was absolutely nothing more in the world she could learn. How wrong she was. We never stop learning. I can’t imagine actually thinking I know everything there is to know… even just about religion! We will always have more to learn. That’s the beauty of life.
Well everyone… I love you dearly and I hope the funeral went well. I thought of you often and I hope you all felt my love! 🙂 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MACKENNA! I love you soooo much!!!! Have the best 4th of July celebration everyone!
Have a wonderful week! Love you forever and always!