This letter won't be very long, but I'll do my best to tell you as much as possible.
Hello all! I'm in riga and I love it here already! I'm serving in Riga, the east side, with Sister P. She is from Vernyl, UT and went to BYU for three years before her mission studying History. She wants to be a history professor at some point and get a PHD in history. She has been on her mission for ten months. She has served in Riga for two months and served in Liapaja for six months. She has only served in our current area for two transfers though. Before that she was in Imanta (still Riga, but the other side of the river). She is amazing and has been an incredible trainer so far! I love her and am so grateful for what she has done for me so far. She is so patient, but also pushes me to learn and do hard things. I've done a lot of hard things so far. But honestly I love it! While it could be overwhelming, I won't let it become that way. I'm going to push through and do the work that the Lord put me here to do.
So, to answer questions and tell you more about Riga.We are the only sisters in Riga, but on the other side of the river (imanta) there are two more sisters. Riga is divided in Half by the river and on the riga side there is a latvian and a russian branch. on the imanta side there is only a russian branch right now because they combined the imanta branch with our latvian branch. So, i get to see those Māsas as well. Sister O is in Imanta with Sister N. I live in an apartment complex that is pretty nice. It is in an apartment building called a dome (at least that is what the missionaries call them). we live on the top of five floors. I love the aparment so far. We have a washer and we dry our clothes on a rack. It is a good situation and works fine for me. Our apartment is really pretty good sized. It would be considered a two bedroom apartment in America. We have a small oven, but no microwave, but I have no complaints. I love the apartment and it fits our needs.
Next questions, what was church like? Honestly a little overwhelming, but wonderful! There are a ton of people to meet and I'm doing my best to get to know them as soon as possible. It is a branch of about 50ish i think. It is small but good. There are a lot of inactive people and also, school is out so a lot of people go to the "country" for the summer. The branch is done completely in Latvian and they offer translation for the mission president (he knows bits and pieces of all four languages of our mission but he doesn't understand or speak any of it really) so a missionary translates for them. I didn't understand everything, well hardly anything at all, but I understand more than I thought I would and I know that the understanding will come eventually.
The food: Well, we pretty much will always cook for ourselves. First off, becuase if you don't prepare the fruits and vegetables well here you can get sick and if we drink the water before it is filtered we can also get very sick. So, in general we don't really eat with the members. Also, the members are very poor and can't afford to feed us anyways. I love the breakfeast cereal here. Most of it is granola and they have a good variety of kinds. Also, the fruit here is pretty good. I love the apples! So sweet and juicy. The yogurt is good. It is drinkable yogurt and I love it. The milk is different and I haven't tried any plain but so far it hasn't been to bad. I don't know, but so far I like it. We ate at a restaurant that the mission president arranged for us and that was really good. They got some super spicy curry something that I wasn't able to really eat because it had a TON of ginger and I had a reaction to just one bite. Luckily they had some food in the fridge left over from the night before that I heated up and ate. So, that was good. I love the pizza here. It is different and hard to describe, but delicious!
I'm almost out of time. Here are some interesting things I've already learned about Latvians.
1. they love animals. lots of people have dogs as pets. Also, there are tons of stray cats and they feed them so that are well taken care of. The pigeons are also fed and taken car of and they are SO FAT! It is funny to see. Pigeons also aren't scared of people so I can walk right next to them and they don't move.
2. Latvia is hot and humid. It has been ninety the past few days and then it is humid on top of that, so i'm always wet. It is hard to get used to, but I'll do my best. It is supposed to rain a lot this time of year, but so far it hasn't really. We'll see what happens.
3. Latvians don't really talk to strangers. No one says hi to each other on the street and they don't really make eye contact with you. So, it can be pretty hard to contact when walking on the street because you have to stop them and just talk to them, and most times they just keep walking and either ignore you or say "nav laika" which means I don't have time. So, it can be hard.
Quickly, I'll end by talking about our investigators. We have 4 from before I got here and I've only met one of them so far. Only one of those four are progressing investigators so that is sad. He can't get baptized yet because he has MS and his aunt (who he lives with) has say about what he does and has rights over him. So, he has to have her permission to get baptized and we aren't having much luck there yet. He does have permission to go to church so now we are working on getting him a wheelchair.
We hardly ever get time to go contacting because we teach a ton. We have a large area and have a lot of "retention" lesson. So, we teach a lot of the recent converts in our area as well as we teach a lot of inactives. So, that combined with our investigators takes up all of our time.
Well, we had a rare three hours of contacting time and we were able to get a new inverstigator. That means you give them a lesson (we gave one to them on the street together) and set up another appointment. So, it is Aiva and Kristine. It is probably a mother and daughter. The mom looks about ~50 and the girl looks to be about 12. We have a lesson with them this week and we are just praying that they come!
Also, we got a new investigator today as well. We don't usually teach on preparation day, but two of the Russian elders got a number for a latvia girl that wanted a book of mormon a long time ago and haven't been able to meet with her for months. Well, finally today they could meet with her, but we needed to come because we will be teaching her from now on because she is a native latvian and she lives in our area. So we met them there. She was 45 minutes late for the lesson but came. The elders stayed for a little bit, but had to leave to meet with someone else. Well, we did most of the lesson in English which was good for me. This investigator, her name is Madara, is so ready to hear the gospel. I'm just going to pray that we can help her see the need to be baptized. I wish I had more time to tell you about her, but I will do that next week.
I'm out of time. I love you and I will tell you all more later! I have so much to tell you all!
Remember Heavenly Father loves you and that he wants to hear from you. Pray and he will listen. Listen and he will answer you back as well.
Love you all!