Thursday, October 30

October 17, 2014 (last email)

Čau visiem!
This last week has been great. I still have two full days as a missionary and I'm looking forward to it! I love Latvia and I have loved my mission. This will be short because I have to write a final letter to my mission president, but I'll paste that at the end so you'll have a lot to read. I want to say right now and upfront thanks to everyone for the prayers and support! I am so glad that I know you all. Thanks for the prayers. I could feel them working in my behalf and I am so grateful to you all for that! I love you and will see many of you soon!
This last week, one fun thing to tell is about service we did on a farm. We went to a member's farm and served there all day. We left at 7 in the morning and got back at 8:30 at night. We had to have our mission president's permission for this service project, but he said we could go one time as a district to see how it went, and if it went well, he would allow us to go more. In his own words as a warning he said, "If there is any blood, you all go home." That was a good warning for the elders to hear so that they didn't do anything stupid. There ended being a little blood, but it wasn't because of stupidity or disobedience, just bad luck. President Harding wasn't mad about that and none of us are going home...... well early anyways. ;) My favorite part about the farm was milking a cow! Me and another sister milked the cow, completely and buy ourselves! I probably milked a half bucket full and she milked a full bucket! It was so cool! We loved it!!! We just kept thinking though, we are such city folks that think that milking a cow is fun!!! To all the country folks, that is work. At least it was fun and we got a good laugh.
To answer questions:
What is your schedule the last week? I have preparationg day monday, normal missionary days Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is where it differs. We'll take a 3 1/2 hour bus to Rīga and go to the mission home where we'll have interviews. Then we are given time to go into Rīga and look around for a little bit. Then we have a final dinner together and testimony meeting. Then, the next morning (Friday) we head to the airport at 4 in the morning. If I understand everything correctly, we will be traveling for 25 hours.... Yay!!!
Are you traveling with other missionaries? There are 8 missionaries going home this transfer 4 elders and 4 sisters. I'm not sure how long I'll end up traveling with them, but at least we'll start our journey together.
Who in your MTC group already went home and who is coming with you? Just Sister Ormsby (Latvian sister), Sister Bates (Lithuanian sister), and Sister Thorn (Estonian sister) travel home with me. The rest have all gone home already, and of course the elders still have 6 more months. It will be so much fun!!!

Well, that is it for this letter. I love you all so much! It has been great being a missionary for the last 18 plus months! I love the Lord and I love being a missionary, and just because I am coming home does not mean that I will not still be a missionary. I love you all and see you in a few days.

Ar mīlestību un pateicību, (with love and gratitude)
Māsa Klauvarda

my letter to my mission president

Just to write a letter about my feelings of my mission is not easy. I feel like I could write a book about my mission and what it means to me. The fact that I am on a mission right now is a tender mercy of the Lord. I was so blessed to be ready and able to serve the Lord when President Monson announced the age change for missionary service. I had not long before that announcement turned 19 and I was ready and excited to serve. My mission has come to be something more incredible and life changing than I could ever imagine.
My feelings for my mission are hard to express in words, but I’ll do my best. The overall word that sums up the majority of my feelings is love or even better charity. I have found love for the people, the country, and the language. I love who they are and all they have done for me. I also love the members and investigators that I have been privileged to work and grow with. Most importantly, however, is the love I’ve developed for God, His Son Jesus Christ, and for the gospel. I have truly come to fee and understand how important these things are to me. I have learned to show my love for God as I have obediently served him in Latvia.
Another feeling that comes to mind when I think of this time here in Latvia is satisfaction. I feel the Lord’s approval for the service I’ve done. I feel so much love from him and from the Latvians whom I’ve served. I have strived to give myself to the Lord and while I haven’t been 100 percent effective all the time, I’ve done my best, and I feel God’s love and approval for that.
I love that a mission is a learning experience. The best way to learn is while teaching and helping others. I have truly seen that unfolded on my mission. I have learned so many things and most of it through experiences. While in the MTC, they had us do an activity from Preach My Gospel where we imagined the last day of our mission then were supposed to write about it. Now, as I look at what I wrote, I have seen how the Lord shaped my mission so that I accomplished those things. One question I answered perfectly sums up some of the things I have learned on a mission, “I want to say that I turned to him for all knowing that I’m doing His work and only He can direct His work.” I have learned that this truly is the Lord’s work and He is the author and leader of it. He leads this work through the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I know that. Without the Holy Ghost this work is impossible, simply living life is impossible. We try, but in the end we won’t be successful without that gift. Also I wrote, “I want to be able to say that I truly learned who my Savior is and His role in my life. I want to be able to say that my testimony is solid that while I’ll go through hard things that I know who God is and what Jesus Christ has done for me.” I have learned and can say these things now. I know that God lives and loves me. Christ is my Savior and I have stood firm in my testimony of Him in many situations. I know that He loves me. I have also learned how to keep my testimony of Him firm.
I have become a disciple of Christ on my mission. A disciple is someone who follows Christ and testifies of Him. I have become that and will always be a disciple of Christ. I have also become a stalwart defender of the gospel in firm and gentle ways. This is something that was promised to me that I can become and I have been. I have stood firm that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth. It has the authority from God. I know that and have stood firm in that testimony. I have also stood firm and testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ to go with the Bible and is essential for all of God’s children. I am so glad that I got to share this book with so many people while on the Lord’s errand.
I have seen many a miracles, more than I could ever write, but I want to share one, the conversion of Skaidrīte. It truly was a miracle. As it says in the Bible Dictionary, “Miracles were and are a response to faith and its best encouragement. They were never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith.” That is so true in the story of her conversion. She was found on the street. My companion and I started to talk to her and invited her to church. She was never a church attender. As she said, “I worship God at home that is all I need.” But the spirit touched her and she came to church. She ended up coming to church, and loved it. She had a great desire after that to become a part of it. It wasn’t easy. We worked hard. She worked hard. She overcame opposition and strengthened her faith. There was lots of prayer as we almost lost her three times when she told us to stop talking to her.  There was felt need as we understood that this ordinance was vital for her. Also, of course there was faith, our faith, her faith, and the faith of the members that participated in her conversion process. I know that this was a huge miracle. She has turned to God. He loves her. She pulled through all the trials of her faith and was baptized. She is still active and is working so hard to go to the temple. That is a miracle to me.
I want to end with my simple testimony. I know that God lives. He is our Heavenly Father. We are his literal children. I am so glad I got to help my fellow brothers and sisters come unto Christ. I know that Christ is our savior. He is our Good Shepherd. If we follow him we can return to live with God again. I am glad that I served as His representative and invited others to come unto Christ and follow him. I know that this Church is the only true church on earth. It is literally Christ’s church, the same one that existed during his times. I know that through Joseph Smith, this church was restored. The Book of Mormon is convincing evidence of this truth. I know it, and I will never deny it. I love God and I thank him daily for all that he has done for me. I say this all in the name of Jesus Christ, as his representative, amen.

Sunday, October 12

October 6, 2014 Photo

Beautiful beach

October 6, 2014


One more week in the mission field. Fall is in the air and I LOVE IT! I love the crisp feeling, the colors, and I really like wearing scarves. :) Well, here is my update that I sent President Harding this week:

"This week was a good week. I am sad that the time on a mission is wearing down, but I'm pushing forward. Satan knows how to play with emotions, as well as a lot of them come naturally. I am glad though for the opportunity to be here on a mission. Thank you for your support and prayers.

"Our investigator Kristīne has kind of dropped off. She has stopped answering calls and texts, and has stopped coming to English. We hope all is okay with her. She was really doing well and was looking forward to us helping her with English, but then she didn't come to that and we haven't heard from her since.

"This week we also have been doing a lot of less active teaching. We picked up 4 new less actives. Some we had taught before, but they had asked us not to come back or were gone, but two of the four are less actives we just got contact with and have started meeting with them. It is in the new stages, but we hope we can help them back. With one less active, her husband is not a member, and we hope we can help him see the strength and blessings the gospel can provide for him."

This week I had an exchange with Sister Ormsby. It was so much fun to be with her again. She is such a great, very obedient missionary. She works hard and does all she needs to do to serve the Lord in the best way she can. I love her spunk and love. She is incredible. I loved how natural it was to just go and serve with her again.

On Friday of this week we had quite the adventure! We had a mini zone conference in Riga, that was a blast!! We learned so much. I love the opportunity to learn from inspired leaders. My favorite part was about consecration. Sorry, but I don't have my notes, so that is all the particulars you'll get. But the adventure started when the meeting ended. They gave us all new pillows (we don't really know why, probably because several missionaries have reported back pains and a good pillow make a HUGE difference). Anyways, that was a fun site with all these missionaries (who stand out already) walking around with BIG, WHITE pillows! It was worth the awkwardness, because those pillows provide a GREAT nights sleep. :) Well, the adventure continued when it came time to get home. We went to the bus station and found out that the bus that would get us home at about 9:30 was full. That was no fun to hear. So, we all 8 (our whole district was there) are standing in a bus station hoping that President will let us get home late so that we don't have to stay the night (I've had to do that before, no fun.) Well, he allowed it and we took another bus that was longer than they usually are and got in an hour later than planned (we rolled into Liepaja at10:30 at night) and got to our apartments and into bed at about 11. It was fun. What made things even better is that the bus we were on was also PACKED! They sold all the seats and sold standing room as well. So, the elders being gentleman, allowed all the woman to sit and stood. Luckily they only had to stand for about an hour and then enough people got off so they could sit. It was a grand adventure! :D

Overall it was a great week! I've attached Gundega's testimony. She was baptized in August, remember? Anyways, in this mission they ask the new converts to write their testimony so it can be saved in the history. Well, this one is from Gundega, and I'm happy to share it with you all. :) Enjoy!!

Questions for this week: Do people have accents? Actually yes, there are differing accents in Latvian between the cities. I of course have an accent when speaking Latvian and sometimes I am told I am hard to understand. :) Latvians get kind of a british accent with rolled r's when they speak English. I love it. :)  What do people there do for fun? All sorts of things. A lot of them go on walks, especially on the beach. The younger people are very involved in sports. Kids do the same things that most kids would do in America. They spend time with friends and just have fun. They also love to go to concerts and museums.   Do they have any special holidays? Yes, of course. There special holidays are very pagan and often coincide with the solstices. in the fall, they have a special harvest holiday where there are big markets and everyone comes and sells their produce. In the summer they have Ligo which is on the longest day of the year. It is a fertility festival and they usually stay up all night. They have bonfires and usually, sadly, there is a lot of drinking involved. It is fun here. :)

Well, that is about it for me for this week. I hoe that everyone enjoyed General Conference! I have heard great things about it. We have not seen it yet, and I probably will not see the whole thing before I get home. They aren't broadcasting it here in Latvia until the weekend after I leave. I just wanted to share my testimony that I know God calls prophets in our day. They are simply men, but that they have been given a special assignment to testify of Christ. I know that President Monson is our prophet today and that He leads and guides the church. I know that he has the keys to guide this church and that he does so based on revelation from God.  I hope you all get a chance to read and watch conference.

Ar mīlestību,

Māsa Klauvarda

September 29, 2014 Photo

Sarah by her apartment door

September 29, 2014


So, this will be a short one this week. My time is taken up by doing business type stuff. (applying for college). But the good news is, BYU already let me know I can come back in the winter 2015! I'm excited to continue my degree in Family History and Genealogy.

So update on the week, here is what I sent President Harding: "This week went well. It was hard because it was a slower week and as you know my back is acting up again, which put us inside for a night, but I'm an still pulling through strong and I will be a finisher! I love learning a language because it adds more meaning to what you say. Well, in Latvian they have to ways to say to endure, one is izturēt and one is pastāvēt. Both mean in English to endure, but the difference is a matter of how we endure. Izturēt means to grit your teeth and endure it, to get by, or get through, while pastāvēt means to endure and conquer, to overcome with power! I love it and this is my new focus. I'm going to a missionary who "pastāvēt"s to the end! I will conquer. Thanks for the advice about that!"

"This week we have been meeting with our newest investigator, Kristīne. She is a cutie. She is coming to the church to learn English, but also feels a lack in her spiritual life that she would like to improve. We have been trying as a companionship to improve and become better teachers by being real and personable/personal. It has really helped us improve our teaching. We are trying not to be robot missionaries anymore. I love that I have the opportunity to teach Kristine. She is young, probably about 20. She is very shy, and quiet. We were really sad this week though that she came to our second lesson and hadn't read or done anything. It was sad as well because she didn't want to commit to do anything either. We are going to work on helping her this week with English a separate time to show her that we really are here to help her and want her to succeed in that which she does. We'll see how it goes with her this week."

"Other than that, the branch is doing great! We had some fun surprises this Sunday with less actives at church who don't usually come! It was great. One who came was Elvis. He is a 17 year old in the branch. All of his family are members, but he and his older brother have fallen away. Well we've been working with him, and he came!! We were so excited and he seemed to enjoy it. We were even more impressed that he came because his mom had to work so he had to come alone and bring his younger brother! It was so great and we are so proud of him!"

"Well, Sister Berchtold is still doing well. I love her tons. We are working continually on improving together. I feel like this week I'm really seeing that she is ready to take over this area. I am so proud of her for that. She knows where everyone lives and can get anywhere in the area and knows what needs to be done and for the most part, how to do it."

As for the back (just to expound a little), Saturday night, I had to rest it. The pain started on Friday night and continued to get worse the more I walked and the more I worked. It was hard, but I'm glad that I took that break (we only went in for the last hour of the night, but I really couldn't walk anymore. It hurt too much). I really didn't want to, but Sister Berchtold talked to me about how my stubbornness could in the long run ruin my abilities to keep working the next days and weeks, so I gave President Harding a call. I'm a little better today, but the pain is still there. I am not going to let it stop me from pushing forward though.

From my sister-in-law Haley. How do Latvians typically carry their babies around? Do they often have them on their backs? Or is it more like we do here in America? -It is like it is in America. They push strollers everywhere! They have awesome strollers though! They are multi-functional and super cute! Europeans always have to look classy, even with a stroller, but yeah, they mostly just push their babies around in strollers.

From Jake, my brother:What do teens in Latvia do in their daily lives? -They are like any other American teen except they probably don't spend as much time on the computers (mostly because they don't all have them and internet access). They spend most evenings hanging with friends.
What is the thing you will miss the most about Latvia? -I will miss the people the most. I love Latvians. They are my second family and I will miss them so much. I will also miss speaking Latvian.
What food do you NOT like? -I really like everything. I haven't eaten anything that I didn't like yet, except for Kefirs which is like butter-milk, but a little different. They drink it all the time here. I'll eat things made with it, but I don't like to just drink it plain.

Well, I just want to share my testimony about the work of the Lord, particularly one part of it, family history work. I love family history work and lately I have seen the push that has come about to get it done. It is so much fun, but also vitally important. We need to eternally connect the whole human race so that we can all return to live with God again. I love this work. It is a way for us to improve personally and a way to help others improve. Family history work and missionary work go hand in hand, they are interconnected. I know that, and I know that all of us need to get on board or get left behind. The Lord is hastening His work and we must decided if we are going to jump on board and go along or get left behind in the dust.

Ar mīlestību,
Māsa Klauvarda

September 22, 2014 Photos

Latvian sunset

September 22, 2014

Manai brīnišķīgajai ģimenei un skaistajiem draugiem, (to my wonderful family and beautiful friends),

This was a good week. I really enjoyed it. We saw miracles and worked hard. At the same time, Satan attacks, but we are pushing through it all. The Lord blesses those who work hard. °

This week we really put all of our efforts on finding new investigators. We really are working on building the teaching pool. That is so needed if we are going to help the work in this area. Every area I serve in, I want to leave it better than I found it. I'm working on that with Sister Berchtold as we build a strong teaching pool. Mostly how we do that is by contacting former investigators (right now we are contacting any who had baptismal dates or desire to be baptized), asking for referrals, and teaching/talking to everyone we come into contact with. We saw the results, but not in the way we were expecting.

The first new investigator of 2 that we have this week is a miracle. Her name is Kristīne and she is from English class. She is about 20 and is an orphan. She bares the scars of that, one of them being depression. She is such a sweetie. We were just in the right place at the right time for her. We went to the church earlier than planned because of some confusion with a different lesson. We went there and after finding out that the lesson wasn't going to work out, we were about to leave when I saw Kristīne walk past the church. I already knew her because she had attended my English class in the summer, but hadn't been coming the last little bit. We went out and told her she could wait for English to start inside. We showed her around the church and ended up talking to her all about the restoration. It was a great moment. We'll be meeting with her again this week for the second meeting. She has a lot of potential and interest, especially since she told us she has been looking for a new branch because she says that the Pentecostal branch that she attends doesn't fit her needs anymore.

Also the other new investigator is a former investigator. I actually taught her twin daughters this summer (Sintija and Gija if you remember them. They were 18, but have the minds of an !1 year-old) and they were progressing towards baptism. The twins aren't interested right now, but mom is. So, we are going to meet with her again this week. It will be a pass off lesson with the other sisters though, because she lives in their area.

Work with the members continues to go well. The relief society president here is really working on getting some activities going and she convinced the Branch President to let a member organize one (usually he does it with the missionaries and relief society president's help). Well the branch president put a member in charge of it! I'm excited to see the good that this member will be able to do.

This last week we also have mission leadership council. It was really enjoyable to spend time with great, experienced missionaries from all over the mission. They are incredible. (and yes mom, Elder Simpkins was there. ;) He is serving as a zone leader in Estonia). I love the amazing teaching that the Holy Ghost was able to give each of us individually. The day before council we had a council with the district leaders. There were a ton of concerns brought up, and some we weren't sure how to address. Well, at the council, we as leaders of our zone, received the council that we needed to bring back to our zone. We'll be have zone training this week in Riga to help the missionaries with the concerns that we brought up. (if you haven't noticed yet, I have traveled to Riga every week this transfer and will travel all the rest of the weeks of my mission here. yay....) I also will be doing exchanges with the sisters in Jelgava. I will be going to Jelgava with Sister Green most likely. I am looking forward to that. 

So, I got questions this week!! Woowhoo!!! Thanks to Lauren, Mac, and Haley for those! You three are great!

"Tell me about the people. Who are you gunna miss the most? Who do you already miss from Riga?" - the people here are overall very poor. They are very humble and nice. At first they seem stubborn, closed off, and prideful, but they are just protective of their private lives because of all the occupation that has been in this country. (they have only been there own free country for 55 or so years of their history). But when you gain their trust they are the most loyal, loving of friends. I love them for it. They are not afraid to share exactly what they think, even if it is rude. They will tell you what they are thinking about everything if they trust you. I am going to miss everyone, but especially those I have taught. I miss Lelde (she lives in Riga). I also will miss Skaidrīte, Gundega, and Viktorija who I helped bring into the church. I love them all and really will miss every Latvian.
"What is your favorite food that you'll crave back in the U.S.?" -I will miss in general how healthy the food is hear. It is just so much healthier and just tastes so much better! I will also miss chocolate. In Riga they make Laima chocolate that is some of the best stuff ever! Luckily I have learned to make a few of my favorite things, so I'll bring them back with me. :) 

"Tell me more about your companion right now." -Sister Berchtold is great! She is from Brigham City, Utah. She played a lot of sports before her mission and is very competitive. I am training her right now and so she is in her 9th week in Latvia. She is picking up on the language fast. She is a lot of fun and is just a naturally happy person, all the time. :)

"Tell me about Latvia. What does it even look like? Is it humid? Is the ocean just beautiful?" -Latvia is very flat over all. They don't have any mountains here! It is just beautiful! They have only a few larger cities and most of Latvia is countryside with small towns dotting it. The seasons here are very clear and striking. They each stand out and are calendar worthy. When the seasons switch it always rains (or snows in the winter). It is humid, very humid. The sea is gorgeous! I don't see it a lot, but I love to see it when I do!. 

"What lesson is your favorite to teach?" -I love to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is so simple and clear to me. It is what we all need to do and live in order to live with God again. I love using the words of Christ and scriptures when teaching it so that people see that this is essential and has always been taught and lived by.

"Favorite scripture to quote to investigators?" -I like to quote 2 Nephi 2:25 and or the introduction to the book of Mormon (2nd to last paragraph) 

"How often have you come across argumentative or disruptive investigators?" -I have come across argumentative people, but they don't usually want to spend their time investigating, but yes, I have talked to argumentative people on the street occasionally. Not as much as I thought I would though.

"Any who were impossible to teach because they talked too much?" -Most definitely. Latvians like to talk when they are in environment where they feel safe. :) we have one investigator like that right now. :) They are always fun.

"Have you kept a daily journal?" -sadly, not as well as I should have. I'm glad I have my emails which give a good account of my mission, but the journal has lacked. I'm doing better now with Sister Berchtold because she is an avid journal writer. She has been great for me with that. :)

Well, I love you all. I hope this email peeks your interest. I love this work. I just finished the Book of Mormon today, and I want to testify that I know that it is true. I studied it looking for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Book of Mormon truly does contain the fullness of the gospel. I know that this is Christ's true church. He loves us and if we live by His gospel we will find a fullness of joy. I know that we are God's children and he loves us as well.

Ar mīlestību no Latvijas, (with love from Latvia)

Māsa Klauvarda

September 15, 2014 Photos

Foggy Latvian morning with wind turbines in the background.

Sarah by a huge tree

Our beautiful girl!

Creepy story: They were making pizza with a member on Preparation Day. They opened the oven to find this spider momma and her babies. The elders scooped them up and took them outside. Eww!

September 15, 2014

So, I'm going to apologize upfront, but the letters/emails are going to start getting shorter and start coming less often, but you will all just have to live with it, because I'll be home shortly.

This week was a little rougher, because we were out of our area (in Riga) for a few days for visa things. I had to travel to Riga Tuesday to get the visa, and by the time I was in Riga, I realized that I had forgotten my passport!! That is an absolute no-no when getting a visa. Well, needless to say, we traveled back that afternoon, got up the next morning and traveled back to Riga, passport in hand, so I could get my visa. So with all that we spent a whole two days out of the area because Riga is about a 3 1/2 to 4 hour bus ride away. But, we pushed through hard for the rest of the week. I fasted last week that we would have some extra help finding new investigators. We're not seeing the immediate results (as in new investigators), but thinking about it now, I have seen how the Lord has improved my teaching and testifying skills in the past week. We had a great district meeting last week where we talked about natural conversation and practiced more and that was very helpful. Sister Berchtold and I also use extra time in companion study to practice, and it is very helpful. We saw some fruits of that last night as we taught a really cool guy, Ģirts, who accepted a return appointment to learn more. He was really interested and asked a few good questions. We'll see how it goes with him. He isn't a new investigator yet, but he has strong potential to be one next week.

There wasn't anything huge this week for the area, but we're working hard and supporting the several recent converts in our area. I am so in love with missionary work and I can't believe how quickly it is coming to an end. This week made it all so very real as I need to start reapplying for school. It is too real, and sometimes frustrating that I have to think about these things, but I know that it is necessary. I am glad that the Lord has given me the opportunity to serve a mission here and do all that I need to do. I love the Lord and all that He has given me. I have everything that I need, and I have nothing to complain about. I give thanks to God for everything he has given me.

Questions from my incredible brother Jacob. Nice work! Keep sending them. (And to the rest of you, SEND ME QUESTIONS!)

1. What do you and your companion do on P-days? 

We follow the regular study schedule (which is three hours every day). and then we clean the apartment, email, and buy groceries. After all that we have about 4 hours to do what we want. We often explore Liepaja a little bit, take some pictures. We also occasionally play sports. Today we are playing floorball (aka floor hockey) with the four elders in our district. That will be fun. :) I've spend time on the beach, gone to see other churches (they have beautiful churches here), and all sorts of things. Next week we hope to maybe go see some old forts on a beach. :)

 2. What is your favorite scripture to share to investigators? 

I really love to talk and teach people about Christ and his atonement. There is so much power that comes when testifying of Christ and his atonment. I share Alma 7:11-13 a lot. I love those verses. I like to teach from the Book of Mormon in general. It carries so much power to share the words of the scriptures with people directly from the source. It also holds as much power to read and study them individually. I know that I have been greatly blessed to be able to read these scriptures and gain a testimony of them. I'm even more privileged then to be out here in Latvia and share them with other and invite them to read them. I love that!

 3. What is your favorite word to say in Latvian? 

Bērnišķīgs. It means childish. I was just super surprised when I heard that word, and learned what it meant. It is just fun. :)

 4. Do you go to multiple wards on Sunday or just one? and is anything they do different?

I go to just a little branch. It has about 55-60 active members. But only an average of 50 come a week. It is the same three hour block schedule. We have sunday school and relief society. Sadly though, since we have no youth from 12-18 years of age. We have no Young Men or Young Women's program. I hope that that changes, but for right now, we have a lot of older people, a couple families (all with really little kids), and some 19 year old youth.  Although soon a girl named Ieva who is 17 should be getting baptized! That will be great!! Other than that it is the same. The missionaries are so essential for the branch right now though because they only have 4 active priesthood holders and no pianist. So the elders help with the sacrament and I switch off with another sister playing the piano every week.

Well, that is about all. I hope I have more to write you this week. I probably will since I will be going to Riga again for Mission Leadership Council. I love that. That is when all the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders come together and talk about goal and learn things to take back to our zones. I will share with you all a little of what I learn.

I just want to bear my testimony of a living prophet. We had a family night with a cute family in our branch yesterday. They have four boys and the two oldest (19 & 17) are not active. So, we have family night with them weekly. Well, there little boy, Lauris, who is 9 taught a spiritual thought on prophets. My testimony was strengthened of the truthfulness of a living prophet. I know President Monson is a prophet called of God. He leads and guides this church wherever the members may be. I know this to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Māsa Klauvarda

September 8, 2014 Photos

Latvian countryside taken from a bus window

More Latvian countryside

September 8, 2014

Sveiki visiem!

Transfer came and went and no changes for us here in Liepaja. Only two companionships in the zone got switched up (the only two not in training). So, I'm finishing my mission here in Liepaja with Sister Berchtold. :D I'm super excited!! Half my mission in Riga, half in Liepaja. This week was not anything super eventful, but here's the update I sent President Harding:

"This week we had our zone training (we traveled to Riga for that and met there all in our zone, 23 strong). We as zone leaders and sister training leaders had such an inspirational time at the zone leadership council, that we really wanted to create a similar experience for our zone in our zone training. We really enjoyed the preparation and decided to teach a big chunk of it about conversion (both for us and our investigators) and we all four led a council like discussion. We did it at the end so they were already used to the council like set up and it went really well! The spirit was very strong and we got several comments about it. I especially liked this, because I felt the spirit was able to pass off a lot of things that we learned from the training that our zone members needed to hear and that was specifically for them. I myself received even more revelation and learning as I had the opportunity to direct this learning experience. It was a great meeting, and we are looking forward to creating all of our meetings more like counsels, because as you said, that is how the church and God's kingdom works. We also had some conversation about area books and natural conversation when teaching on the street. (this is one personally that I am trying to work on, it is definitely a weak point)"

"As for investigators, we don't currently have any progressing investigators. We are putting our focus as a companionship this transfer to finding. We are going to try to contact all the former investigators who either had a baptismal date or desire to be baptized and try to get back in with them." 

"As for us in this area in Liepaja, we are doing a lot of less active work and recent convert retention. Gundega is doing well in her first week since baptism. She went out with us on Monday night (just two days after baptism) and taught a lesson with us to a potential investigator. It went really well and she was able to share her testimony about why she likes to read the Book of Mormon and how simple and true it is. It was incredible and I was so proud of her. She is doing well still and working hard to strenghten her testimony. We are going to get working with her about making the temple her next goal!"

Questions from Jacob (my smart brother and the only one who sent me questions. Nice work Jake!)

What is the food like?
-First off, a lot healthier and fresher overall and I love that! It is easy to find fresh fruits and veggies as they are in season. They also have a lot of potatoes and mushrooms (all sorts of mushrooms). Their potatoes are different than Idaho Russettes. They are little with a very think peel and they are yellow on the inside. They are very good though! They have open air markets in every city. We live right next to Peter's Market in Liepaja. It is the biggest market in liepaja and is half open air and half in a pavilion.

How do you get around mostly?
-the good old fashioned way. Walk. We do have tramvajs that we can take, which is just an electrical tram. There are also buses that travel through liepaja that are public transprotation but we don't use those hardly at all in our area. We walk pretty much everywhere.

What is your favorite food?
-in general, I just love the food here! I love and eat it all. It is hard to find traditional classic latvian food, but everything I've tried I've enjoyed. I really do love Potato pancakes (which are technically not latvian, but everyone eats them) and I've learned to make those. so you'll enjoy them. :)

What is your favorite place to go there?
-I love it all! I love to just walk the streets of beautiful Liepaja. It is a very beautiful, but small city with lots of history! I really enjoy all of it!

So that is all I have. I know, boring, but I'm not sure what's new! For the spiritual thought this week I just want to talk about the spirit. The spirit is incredible. It has such a powerful influence on us and can do amazing things. This week the spirit has been key in my work. As I get closer and closer to coming home, Satan tries more and more to distract me. It is a battle thought, that he will not win. I work hard to create spiritual experiences constantly in my life. I had an interesting and insightful experience this week while teaching the members of my zone. It was really rewarding to see how that spirit was able to teach each person individually and give them that which they needed. It was really enjoyable. Although we all heard the same thing, we all got some personal directly from our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. I love and am so grateful that I have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I know that it is a needed companion for me every day in my life.

Ar lielu mīlestību,
Māsa Klauvarda

September 1, 2014 Photos

Scary dark rain clouds

Awesome sky picture from her study window

Studious Sarah

A kebab - pork cut off and then made into sandwich with garlic sauce, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes. Delicious!

September 1, 2014

Sveicināti! (Greetings!) 

Hello all! I am glad to hear that most everyone has safely and happily started school. School started in Latvia today, and it is really fun. In relation to my title, that is one of the new beginnings I am going to talk about today. In Latvia, the first day of school is like a holiday! They all dress up really nice (everyone is in dresses and ties!). They also all buy flowers that they give their teachers for the first day. I thought that was a fun tradition. They also go to school today and just take class pictures and have a small orientation. Parents also usually come along and they are also dressed up very nice. Overall, it is a much bigger deal in Latvia then it is in America. I think it is kind of fun and I wish Americans took school a little more seriously.

Another big, new beginning was for Gundega (which actually means Buttercup in Latvian)! She was baptized and confirmed this weekend! Everything went very smoothly! She was so happy. I gave a talk on baptism as well as sang a Latvian translation of "Come thou font." It was fun to share with her in this new step and beginning in her life. I wish I could send you pictures, but with the area rules, I can't. Her youngest 17 year old son, Raimonds, came and took pictures which he sent to his sister who lives in Ireland. Overall, her family was very excited for this step that she is taking in her life. I hope we can help her family also find interest, but for now, nothing yet. She bore her testimony after the baptism and said how she will always pray and endure to the end. She also shared how she always has wanted to be baptized, but it never worked out, and how happy she was to be in this church when it finally worked out. She is not very good with words (she doesn't know how to express herself that way), but she really expressed herself well with her actions! Before baptism when we would give her hug, she would be stiff, but at the baptism and the next day, she opened her arms for us first and gave us real, true hugs! It was so great! I love her and I am glad that Sister Berchtold and I got to help her start on this path.

Also, we have a little 11 year old girl, Kitija, who has been coming to church for a while. She is a former investigator whose mom won't give her permission to be baptized. She went away for a while and tried out the baptist church. Well, something about it she didn't like because she came to an activity this week and said, "I am going to ask my mom again if I can be baptized." She said that she likes this church and this is her church. We'll see what we can do for her.

Another beginning is for me. :) This week we had an incredible training in Riga for 2 days and I learned a lot! It was an incredible experience! I was able to learn a lot from the spirit mostly, who is the best teacher. The thing I learned that changed me the most is that I need to have a better attitude. So, I'm changing my attitude daily so I can focus hard until the end of my mission. This is done, by finding once a day an opportunity to fell the love of God in my personal studies. I hope that I can accomplish this, and I'm grateful for wonderful leaders that instructed us. I know that a good attitude can change how we all look at life, but also will change how we treat others! Change your attitude and remember you are a child of God. He wants us to be happy in this life! Look for you joy. :)

Māsa Klauvarda

August 25, 2014

Čau manai ģimenei un draugiem,

This week wasn't anything super exciting. I've just been working hard and concentrating on fulfilling my purpose here in Latvia, which is to help people come unto Christ by living the Gospel of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). It is so rewarding to be about the work of the Lord. So, to explain the title a little more, here is a little bit more about Gundega that I wrote to President Harding, "We just have one progressing investigator right now. Gundega is all set for baptism this Saturday. She passed her interview Sunday morning. She had a few understanding problems with her baptismal covenant and that baptism is a covenant, but we got that cleared up and she was passed for baptism by Elder Wilson on Sunday morning. She is very excited to be baptized and that branch is also very excited to welcome her in. She is a sweetheart and we love her very much." Gundega is incredible and I love her very much. She is a divorced mother of three children who are now all grown up and living on their own. She is 47 and has never really had religion in her life until know. Since she was a child, she has believed in God, but she has never had the opportunity to do anything about it. She didn't really have any faith in Christ at all until we started meeting with her, but now has developed strong faith in Christ, that came from her work (reading, praying, and coming to church) as well as her desire to follow him by being baptized. She'll be baptized this Saturday at 1 o'clock. She is very excited and very ready. She is a wonderful example of devoting your life to God. It hasn't be easy as she had to give up smoking (for the last 9 years she has smoked a pack a day) and coffee (she drank 10 glasses a day sometimes). She has successfully done all this and has been converted to the gospel. What a joy to help guide her on this path!!!

Also in Liepāja, we have been working with several recent converts and less actives and they are all doing very well. All except for our little recent convert Viktorija who was baptized in May. (I helped her to the waters of baptism) She's 11 and was invited this week by her neighbor's to go to the baptist church with them. Well, she loved it a lot, and decided this is her new church and she wants to get baptized there. :( It was so sad to hear. After a few days of her ignoring us, she at least came to the church to help clean it and we were glad to see her. We love her tons, and the ward members are still looking after her. We going to try to teach her the gospel by having her help us with lessons, because she doesn't really want to meet with us for her own lessons. We think that if she feels needed, that she'l still come help with our lessons. Please keep her in your prayers so that she will find her way back and become fully converted to the gospel. I hope I can help her come back before I leave Latvia. 

I also this week have seen the power that working church programs can have for the benefit of the progress of God's children. Programs like Relief Society, Young men's and young women's, priesthood, primary, home teaching, visiting teaching, etc. Here in Liepāja, these programs struggle. They try really had to get these programs started, but it isn't easy when this hasn't been ingrained in you forever like in so many wards back home in Idaho and Utah. I am so glad to see how hard they are trying. The little branch also just recently got the strive to put together a temple prep class! I'm so excited for that, especially since so many members here have never been. It is sad that they haven't been too, because the church will pay for their first trip if they go and get there endowments! What a great blessing. So, in order to help more members go to the temple, they are soon starting a temple prep class! It is incredible how we take the blessings of things like this for granted, because we just have these classes and temples next door, but we don't see how that is not so easily available to everyone in the church, especially for these Latvians that have to take a ferry trip or plane flight to go to the Stockholm, Sweden temple. They don't get to go very often!

Well, I hope I have more excitement to write about next, but probably not, because two days will be spent in meetings in Riga and one day in Riga for a visa appointment. (I have to get a new visa because I'm staying until October and not going home in November). So, I'll leave early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning for Riga and won't be back until Thursday night around 7! A lot of time out of my area! I don't like it, but I know these meetings will help me improve as a missionary and sister training leader and also give me good training to bring back to my zone. Sister Berchtold will come back to the area with one sister from her MTC group and the two of them will take care of our area for a day in Liepaja. I hope that works out for them, considering they are both in their first transfers. I know it will be a growing and learning experience for the two of them. :)

I'll just end on my testimony of Christ. I know he lives and loves us. He completed the atonement so that we could return to live with God again. I know that he care about each one of us, and if we rely on him we can gain all we need in this life. He can help us overcome everything, both sin and pain, hardships, trial, all of it! What an incredible gift. Please thank God daily for the gift of His son and strive to follow him. :) I love you all and I know that you are loved!


Māsa Klauvarda