Saturday, August 31

August 26, 2013

Čau visiem! (hey to all) :)
Well, I've had a crazy, but wonderful week. Transfers came and were so successful. I am enjoying my time with my new companion Sister B. She is from British Columbia, Canada. She is super sweet and already we are becoming great friends. She is awesome and while I am still overwhelmed with training I know that this is the Lord's work and that he guides it. I am learning to depend on him to do everything because I can't pretty much do anything without his help. I'll attach a picture of me and Sister B :)
Well, the work in my area moves along. There is a lot of finding to do as of right now we only have three investigators and only one of them is progressing. The progressing is Harijs who still wants to meet with us and still wants to work towards baptism. I hope that we can help him understand the importance of the Law of Chastity and maybe he will be able to be baptized this week. Pray for him that he will understand what God wants him to know.
I'll answer some questions now that people sent me a few weeks ago. :)

From dad:
Tell us how you spend your days.  Do you knock doors, talk with people on the street, teach, visit members, and/or what else?
We do a good amount of all of it. We do our studies in the mornings and we teach whatever lessons we have. We have less active lessons (members of the church who haven't been coming), one new member retention lesson (for the first year after baptism new members meet with missionaries and are taught more about the gospel), and some member lessons. We don't have a ton of lessons every day so we get at least 3 hours of contacting on most days. That is usually a mix of talking to people on the street and knocking on apartment doors, but Sister B and I are brainstorming to come up with some more creative and useful ideas for finding people.
From Mac:
What do you eat most days? 
We eat mostly whatever we cook for ourselves. Mayonnaise here is really good and I eat a lot of that. It can be used kind of like a dip so I put it on a lot of my food. Latvians really also like dill so I eat that occasionally on food. They also have really yummy apples so I eat them a lot too.
What mission meetings do you attend (district, zone, mission conference)?
We have district meeting every week. We get together for an hour and a half every week and talk about our investigators. We also receive training and practice teaching. Once a month we have what is called zone time and that is where Latvian speaking missionaries from Jelgava and Riga get together and receive training from the zone leaders. Also, every other transfer we have zone conference. That is when every missionary in Latvia, Latvian speaking and Russian speaking, get together and receive training from the mission president and his wife, the assistants to the mission president, and sometimes the zone leaders. 
How much teaching are you personally doing (do you speak enough to teach a lot or are you still learning)?
I am do a fair amount of teaching. Before I was training I equally shared the duties of teaching. Now I teach a little bit more, but I speak well enough to teach almost everything. My biggest challenge with the language is with understanding. I still don't understand everything and I miss a lot of what people tell me. 
What parts of the culture are really hard for you? I personally struggled to understand why some people just didn't care about anything, I also struggled seeing a lot of men drink alcohol so much (members and Non-Members). 
I'm not sure about this question. I'm not sure if there is anything that particularly bothers me. Word of wisdom is a huge problem here as well as Russia has a TV channel that often plays anti american stuff and occasionally they attack the church there as well. 
Is pornography prevalent? I've heard Europe is very liberal sometimes with their ads.
Pornography is a problem just because it is everywhere. Europeans in general don't see it as a problem so yeah. That is definitely a problem. 
From Lauren:
So my question is, is this something culturally unique to Latvia or do all missionaries experience this? I don’t know if you have answer to that but I was just wondering. (she wanted to know if it is culturally unique for Latvians who really just like to talk)
I'm not sure. I have had a lot of investigators that like to talk and input there opinion so maybe it is a latvian thing, but more I think it might just be the character of some people to talk more than others. 

Well, that is all for today! :D Send me more questions and I'll have more to write next week. I love you all a ton and I am grateful that I know you all! 
Much love,
Sister Cloward

Thursday, August 22

August 19, 2013

Hello everyone! 
This week has been a crazy emotional rollercoaster! There were a ton of ups and downs this week. The first down, and really the only down was that Harijs didn't get baptized. :( He didn't pass his baptismal interview because he won't commit to live the law of chastity. He doesn't agree with it, even though he agreed with it at the time that we taught it to him. We are still going to keep working with him of course, but I'm not sure when baptism will be because until he says he will live the law of chastity he can't get baptized. He still agrees with everything else and is doing well other than that. Hopefully he will soon be baptized. 
The other big half up and half down news that I got this week is that I will be training next transfer. That means that as of this Thursday I will be in charge of a brand new sister and help her learn to be a good missionary!! I'm freaking out! The down part of that is this means I will probably never be with a sister older than me ever again and I will either be the oldest (oldest as in transfers) or be with someone the same age. It is scary to realize! The up part is everything else. I am excited to be able to have the opportunity to train when I am only in my third transfer (it doesn't happen very often unless it has to happen). There are three sisters older than me who could have trained, and one of them is, but I am training the other of the two new sisters. I pick her upon Thursday and I am excited and nervous. We will be staying here in Imanta together and I am excited for that. Here is what I wrote to my mission president about how I feel about training, "I'm excited for the opportunity to train and I know that the Lord has put great trust in me and I am so grateful and humbled by that. I am a little nervous, but I'm not surprised about this. I had been getting little promptings and feelings like I should prepare to train this coming transfer. I didn't want them to be true, but I did prepare myself as if that were the case, so here I am. I think it will be a great opportunity for me and this new sister to be together. I am excited to see who it will be, and I hope that she is ready for the challenge of being with me (someone also young in the mission), because we are going to have to depend on each other so much, and we are going to grow and learn together."
Well, other than that, this week hasn't been super eventful. It has been a slower week, except for my emotional roller coaster. :) My birthday was really chill and just fun. We worked hard and did a lot of good missionary work. Harijs, that sweet investigator, gave me this awesome coin that is from 1931 and is an old 5 lat coin (they don't even have those anymore). It was really sweet and the coin is so cool. I'll try to remember to take a picture next week and send it. 
Also, on Tuesday of this last week, we were contacting in the evening on the streets and just talking to as many people as we could when it just started to pour rain!! It was raining so hard that in just minutes the sidewalks and streets were rivers! It was so crazy, but so much fun! I got soaked even with the umbrella and I was laughing so hard. Sister N didn't enjoy it as much, but she has been stuck in a lot of them before. :)
Well, that is it for this week. Enjoy your week and remember God loves us. This church is true. Find out for yourself. Pray and ask God if he is there and he will answer. You will feel his love for you. I know it because I have felt it.
Much love,
Sister Cloward

Thursday, August 15

August 12, 2013

Hello everyone,
This will be shorter because I had so many emails to reply to! Thanks for all the birthday wishes and I'm sorry I can't say thanks personally to everyone, but I don't have enough time! Thank you for the wishes that you have sent! I'm looking forward to by birthday this Wednesday, because this week is looking like a good week!
I'm going to start out right now by saying what I'm so excited about. I talked a little bit about Harijs in my email last week and how he kind of tentatively accepted a baptism date, well, he is getting baptized! This Saturday! When he gets baptized we would have only known him for two and a half weeks! He already knows that this is all true and lives so many of the commandments in this church. It is so incredible to see and to work with him. He was found ready to be baptized! People constantly say congratulations for all that we did to find him, but we were just guided by the spirit to be in the right place, at the right time. And besides that, nothing we have done with him or none of his readiness to be baptized came from us. He was prepared by the Lord to be baptized and to accept the covenant to serve the Lord. He loves to serve and has already been serving people every day in his life. He is going to baptized this Saturday and I am so excited for him. I can't even believe the miracles that have come about with this. What a prepared person he is! The reason I rave about him, is because this is rare. This mission doesn't baptize a lot, we do baptize and we work hard to baptize, but we don't baptized every weekend and there are some missionaries that go home with none of their investigators being baptized.  And those that get baptized take a lot longer to work with to get ready. Latvians can be stubborn, and they don't like to change. When they do change, they want to be FULLY committed to the change that they make, and so a lot of the time they shy away from baptism. A lot of the members here had miracles in their conversions stories, and a lot of them were taught and contacted by missionaries more than once before they were baptized. 
Well, that is all that I can write today. I will do my best to answer the questions that were sent to me next week. 
Just know, that i know that this is the Lord's work. He guides this church and he guides this work. I have also really gained a testimony in the last week of the Plan of Salvation. God has a plan for each one of us. He wants nothing, but for us to be happy in this life, and that is why we have been given that plan. Strive to learn about the plan and pray to Heavenly Father to feel His love because he does love each and everyone of us. I know this church is true and I know that Christ is our savior. He bought each and everyone of our sins so that we can be clean, but more than that he felt everything we have gone through and everything that we will go through. Read Alma 7:11-13. 
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions andbtemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 12 And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities. 13 Now the Spirit aknoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the bflesh that he might ctake upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. 
 They are my favorite! :D
Much love and gratitude!
Sister Cloward

Tuesday, August 6

New pics

Sarah went to Bolderaja and the train runs right through town. She loves walking everywhere they go or taking public transportation. She gets to see a lot of cool things!

View from a window while they were knocking at doors.

Latvians have a tradition of locking a lock on a bridge when someone is married. Sarah took this pick of this old lock.

August 5, 2013

Čau visiem! (hey to all)

I hope you all doing well and this letter find you happily enjoying your summer. :) I am glad that I get this email today. I love preparation days and I'm excited for a relaxing one today. We are just going to enjoy some time off and maybe do a little shopping. 

This last week hasn't been super eventful. We didn't teach as much this last week and instead did a lot of finding. Our teaching pool is pretty slim and that means lots of street contacting and door knocking. I really don't mind street contacting though, and in fact I think it can be fun. We laugh a lot and do our best to be happy even though it can be hot and we talk to a lot of Russians who don't understand any Latvian. Imanta is a pretty Russian area. Knocking so far has been pretty much the same. We knock on the door and just try to see how they are doing and immediately jump into the reason we are here and how we have a message that will help them in their lives. Knocking isn't too bad either, but you never know what people will be wearing or not wearing when they answer the door. So far, I haven't seen anyone naked but it has been close. Yesterday a Russian man opened the door in just a speedo. Yeah, this is interesting work, but it all brings results and we are finding people who are ready to hear this gospel and we are helping their lives to be better. 

So, yesterday was a good day. We had an investigator who is brand new come to church! It was awesome. Here is what I wrote President Boswell about him. :) This week we had a great experience with a new investigator. His name is Haris. We met him on Wednesday on the street and had a great lesson with him. He came and saw the church with us and really liked it. He likes to talk and was happy to have someone who would talk to him. We had a lesson with him on church. We didn't get very far into it because he had a lot of little experiences to share with each question we asked, but he agreed with what we said and agreed to come to church on sunday. he also took a restoration DVD to watch at home. Well, he came to church on Sunday and he loved it!! He was there for all three hours. Lots of people introduced themselves to him and he met President Š (the branch president). He got taught Word of Wisdom in Sunday school, which he seemed fine with. He loved priesthood and several members came and told us that he really paid attention and really enjoyed the lesson. We talked to him afterwards and decided to give him a book of Mormon. Sister N ended up teaching a small lesson on the Book of Mormon and what it is by going through the pictures at the front. When she got to the baptism picture she challenged him to baptism and he said yes!! He hasn't been baptized before and he says he really likes what he has learned so far and would like to continue to learn. He wouldn't commit to a date because he wants to learn more first, but he said when he finds out that this is true he will be baptized!!" So yeah, I have an investigator who wants to be baptized and it is awesome! He is so cool and is so excited to learn about this gospel and he really truly loves to learn and enjoys learning about these things. I'm sad though because he doesn't live in our area and we will be doing a pass off lesson with him this week with the elder's whose area he lives in. It will be good though because we'll still see him every week at church hopefully.
So, that was the most exciting thing that happened this week. Email me questions about things you want to know and I'll start replying to them. I'm not sure what you all want to hear so let me know. 

Anyways, know that I know that this church is true. God loves us and is truly our father in heaven. Pray to him and try to find out if he is there. Ask him if he is and he will answer. You will fill his love and know that he is there and loves you. I hope you all know that I know he is there and I know that I am his daughter. This work is important and I hope you are all doing your best to be a part of it. Strengthen your testimony first and simply try to be an example of someone who is striving to be like Christ. Others will notice your example and missionary opportunities will arise because of it. I love this work and I'm so glad to be in Latvia being entrusted to help god's children learn of this amazing truth.

Much love,
Sister Cloward