I hope everyone is doing well! I am! The work is hard and this week was hard, but it is so very rewarding as well! Sorry, there won't be any pictures this week. I forgot my card reader so I won't be able to upload any pictures. :( I'll send a ton next week!
This week was hard because we got canceled on a lot. We had some great plans to commit some investigators to baptism and we really felt that we would be able to do it, but every person we had planned to commit canceled on us and now we can't get a hold of them. We're working hard, and hopefully we will be able to get a hold of them.
Also, we received bad news right before we left the apartment to come email. I told you a little bit about an investigator who was our only progressing investigator. He had MS and we were trying to get permission to get him baptized. He loved the gospel and loved his book of mormon. Well, he had a surgery last week and was healing really well. The surgery was either his apendix or gall bladder we're not sure. Well, this morning we got a call from his cousin, Dzintars, who is a member, (who's family he lives with) and he said that he passed away this morning. I cried pretty hard and still now feel so sad. We really felt like in the next coming weeks we were going to get permission for him to be baptized. His cousin is pretty shook up and I feel awful that this happened, but at the same time. We can now go forward with Dzintars and do the work for him in the temple! I'm so excited for this at least. In a year, Dzintars can go to the temple and do all the work for his cousin! It will be wonderful! I never did get to meet Eriks but I've heard so much good about him. He knew this church was true and knew that the Book of Mormon is true. He will be a missionary in heaven for sure, and I also think he will do what he can to prepare his aunt to hear the gospel and accept it. We will hopefully meet with her in a few months and talk about what happened and share our testimony about where Eriks is right now.
We also have been meeting with this awesome lady that I love! She is from our English class. Oh... i haven't told you about English. We do service every week by teaching an English class. It is great. Most of the people in the class have been coming for a while and really can speak pretty well, but it is still good that they come. Anyways, Inese came to the English class. She had never come before and wanted to do private English lessons. We are okay with doing that but we tell them that we will be sharing a spiritual thought at the end. Well, so far she loves hearing about the church. This is what I wrote to the mission president about her this week, "With Inese, I love her a ton and our lessons have turned from English to more church now. We found out she is russian orthodox and prays a lot. She has a strong belief in prayers and that her prayers can be answered. She doesn't pray to Christ though. She prays to a picture of Mary and to Saint Nicholas. We hope that she will pray in a lesson with us soon. We've been having two meetings a week with her and they are going really well. She loves to help me with my latvian and I'm not allowed to speak in English at all. If I say anything in English she says, "Latvian please" and I have to say it in Latvian the best I can before she will respond. Our last lesson with her we talked about the church the whole time. We taught some of the first lesson. It was really good. Sister p and I pretty much talked in Latvian the whole time and she would ask all of her questions in English and then also she asked what latvian words were in english, like prayer and to pray. I have high hopes for her and we are also hoping to bring her to a baptismal service soon. I think it will be a really good opportunity for her to see. She talked about a Catholic baby baptism that she saw and how interesting she thought it was. I hope that she will also like our baptismal service and feel the spirit there and have a desire to be baptized." Also, she is super sweet and trusts us so much already. She told us that she wants a child so bad. She is about 35 and hasn't been able to have kids. She says that everytime she goes to church she prays for a miracle that she will be able to have a baby. She got emotional about that. It was so sweet that she shared that with us. We testified that prayers are answered and that through Christ we can feel peace about all we go through. Sister P and I are going to talk about the Plan of Salvation with her next time and explain that a little bit and what we believe about the plan of salvation. She is awesome and I love Inese!
We also have a new investigator named Ainars. He is about 50 and is really great so far. Sister P contacted him on the street and those first few days we were here with Sister W. They gave him a book of mormon and got his number and this week we were finally able to get a lesson set up with him. We taught half of the first lessons and he really liked it. He thought it was great, but was a little confused on why we would need prophets if we have the Holy Ghost to give us guidance. It was a really good question and we gave him some possible answers, but also gave him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon that should help to answer those questions. We set up another meeting with him and hopefully we will be able to keep it going with him. He seems really interested, but meeting with him will also be harder because he doesn't live in Riga, he lives in the laukos (the country) and so we can only meet with him when he is in Riga, and I don't know how often that is.
So, yesterday was zone conference and it was wonderful! There were so many amazing things said, and I can't tell them all to you, but I will do my best to share a little bit. I only have a little bit of time left but I want to talk a little bit about the baptism number goal for this year. 153. It comes from the story of Peter and the apostles when they go fishing again after Christ dies, and he comes and tells them to cast their net on the right side and they do and have to many fishes. 153 is how many fish they caught and so, that is where they number was originally read from and everyone has prayed and felt it was right. I also received my own confirmation about it yesterday. President Boswell was talking to us about where he thinks that number came from. He asked us all to think about first where we thought it came from and I thought maybe from God, and that this is the number he knows are here in Latvia, but President Boswell didn't agree. He said that we as a mission picked that number in heaven. We knew we would be serving here and together we got together and picked that number and said we know at the time we are there there will be 153 new people ready to hear this message. I felt so good. I believe that that did happen and that I knew I would come to the Baltic mission and that I picked that number for people that we could find that would be ready to hear the gospel. I know it is our number for this year and that if we exercise great faith and go about doing all that I can do, that I can play my part in getting this number. It won't be easy, and honestly, it will probably be the hardest year in the mission, but that is because satan also knows we can do it and he will do anything to stop us from acheiving that goal!
Also, related to that topic. As I've gone to church and met different members in the past few weeks, I can't help but feel like I know these people. I feel that they are so familiar and that I should know them so well, even though I don't even know some of their names. I know that I knew these people before this life. They were some of my best friends there. They knew I would come and serve among them, and we were so close to each other. It makes me excited to get close to them here and I know that they will be my friends forever and ever after this. I love these people and I love this place. Riga is beautiful and there is a great work here to do! I'm so grateful that the Lord trusts me to be a part of it.
I love you all and I hope that you know that I know this church is true. I know it with all my heart. I have seen so much joy by being a part of this church. I also know that Book of Mormon is the word of God and if we read it we will receive so much guideness, love, and happiness in our lives. Please read it every day and if you have never read it before, read it, because it is from god for us and a way that we will be happy in this life forever! Also, I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to pray to him. Please pray to him and you will feel an outpouring of his love. I love you all as well. Thank you for your support and prayers!
Much love and gratitude,Māsa Klauvarda aka Sarah