Goodness, what a week.
Well last preparation day we went to the Riga ZOO! It was a blast and a half. I sent some pictures for you that president Kornevs sent to us. (He is a member of the District presidency in Latvia and is about 24. His official ward is the Russian branch in Imanta.) I really love my district. We have a lot of fun and they are all such great hard working missionaries.
I love Latvia. I love the people here so much. Some have hard hearts and are not always nice, but so many people are so sweet and kind. For the fifth time this week someone gave me flowers on the bus. I was talking to this lady and she had a bouquet of flowers she had picked from her garden. She wasn’t interested, but she split her flowers in half and gave them to me. So sweet! I love all the babushkas here. I have met so many interesting people here. I used to be afraid to talk to random people and now I love it. I love hearing about people’s lives and hearing their stories. Most of the time people are short until you get them talking and then they NEVER stop. haha. It’s great.
It was very hot here last week. And it is beyond humid here. So taking hour long bus rides with a million people squeezed onto the bus makes it seem even hotter than it is. I have kind of just accepted that I am constantly drenched. Gross huh? It just feels even more hot because of the humidity so everyone is just sticky. But it is a little cooler today and there is a lot of wind. We have had some epic thunder and lightening storms too. I love them! When it rains here, it POURS! I have never seen so much rain in my life. It falls like a waterfall from the sky and the streets are basically all flooded. It’s crazy, but awesome.
I am not quite sure what’s going on, but for I have now gotten it 6 times that I look familiar to random people I talk to on the street. They always stare at me and say I look like someone from their past. Some say, “from their young school days” and others say I just look familiar. Good conversation starter I guess. Maybe I just look “Baltic”? haha.
We have had some good lessons with potential investigators, but nothing too solid going on right now. I contacted a girl in her twenties last week on the street and this week she came to church. I was SO excited. The speakers gave excellent talks and I was just so happy with how well it went. After sacrament ended I turned to her and asked how she liked it. Well for the next hour she took everything that was said and everything about the church that she had learned, threw it to the ground, stomped on it, and marched around on it. It was honestly one of the hardest situations I have ever been in because I wanted to help so badly or say something to help her understand, but nothing worked. I felt like a horrible missionary because I was eventually just at a loss and had nothing to say. All I could do was bear my testimony and even then she laughed in my face. I really felt like a failure during that conversation. But I thought of the scripture that says that Christ suffered so that he would know how to succor us in our infirmities. Then I remembered what we had talked about in our last district meeting about what a successful missionary really is. I remembered the words, “A successful missionary is measured by their commitment to fulfill their purpose” came to me and I knew that even though I did not know how to answer all her questions and give her good reasons for things, I knew that I hadn’t “failed” Heavenly Father. I did all that I could.
I am thankful that Christ knew how to “succor” me in that moment. Then I had a realization that Christ knows how to succor to her. He wants her to come partake of His Atonement so badly. She is God’s daughter and He loves her so much. My heart really broke. It’s really sad to meet people who are so against the church, when really they either don’t understand, or they are too hard in their hearts to recognize the truth. I invited her to the activity we’re having at the end and she actually said she was going to come. I am not sure why…. but we’ll see if she comes.
Another sad story but good learning experience happened Wednesday. I had contacted an older man named J. and he wanted to meet. So the next day we met him at the end of the tram station to go to the church together. The elders came with us because I couldn’t get a member to help us and we can’t teach him alone. So we were literally 30 seconds from the church when some young hippy looking man recognized J. and asked him, “what are you doing?” He told him he was coming with us to our church and the young man quickly pulled him away fast and tried to get ahead of us. I walked fast up to him and asked if J. was still going to come with us and J. stood back silent while the young man yelled for us to go worship our God because they worship the Russian God. And he wouldn’t even let us talk to J. We were so close. J. was so awesome. He played 10 instruments and used to play for weddings. It was so sad to see him come so close and then Satan used someone else to pull him away.
Sorry all of these stories are all sad. haha. I had an interesting week, but I learned a lot.
Zone Conference yesterday was SO GOOD. Oh my goodness, it was so good. I learned so much. President Boswell and his wife are amazing. AMAZING! I just can’t get over it. The assistants and Zone leaders are also the greatest and taught us so many wonderful things. It was funny because we spilt into “Zone time” where the Latvians go in another room and the Latvian Zone Leaders teach them and the Russians go in another room where the Russians Zone leaders teach them. Well I am a Russian now. haha. I am techincally in the Russian Zone so I am with them now. It was funny because when people would talk they would throw in random Russian words and then everyone would look at me and translate since I’m the only Latvian in there. haha. I love that I get to know the Russian missionaries as well as the Latvian. They are so great.
We did something a little different this week. We went outside with some signs and a table with Book of Mormons and pamphlets and tried to find people that way. It was actually pretty successful and we found some people who were interested. It was really fun, actually. I really liked it because I had something to draw people to come look at instead of trying to just say something that will get them to stop walking and talk to me. I met some interesting people and hopefully we’ll get some lessons from the people who gave us their numbers.
I love being a missionary. Missionary work is not hard anymore. I mean it’s always WORK, knocking and talking to people on the street all day in hot sweaty weather isn’t a piece of cake, but I love it so much that it’s not what I would call “hard”. It helps that Sister Hanks and I are so happy serving together. Laughter is key to being happy and boy, we sure laugh a lot. I love serving, I love Latvian, I love all the missionaries here, I love the people, I love Imanta, I love my companion, I love the branches, I love being a missionary!!
And I love all of YOU!!! Have a fabulous week!! Can’t wait to hear from you next week!
p.s. I am hopefully going to get a Russian name tag! How sweet is that?!