I hope I can all of my thoughts expressed in this email. I have so many things I want to express and so little time!
First off: I am supposed to write more about the food. Honestly it isn't that much different than that you would eat in America except it is so much healthier! They don't use very many, if any at all, preservatives and all of their produce and dairy is pretty fresh! Their dairy is sometimes so fresh (and there aren't really preservatives in it) that is goes bad in just 2 days of having it. So on interesting thing then about milk here is they have something called Mužigais Piens (the means eternal milk) And yet, it can last a long time unopened. Once it is opened it last as long as most milk in america, about a week. But if it is closed it doesn't have to be refrigerated and can last for like six months! I don't know how that works, and I am not really sure I want to know. That is what we usually drink here, but the milk in general tastes very different from America so I don't drink it plain. Only for cereal. So, that then is where i start for what I eat everyday. Every morning for breakfast I usually have cereal with some fresh fruit (they have really yummy pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, and apples here). Other meals (lunch and dinner) are pretty much the same things I would eat at home. We use the same recipes and it is pretty much all the same. This last week we cooked a frozen pizza one day, had taco soup another day, and Latvian frozen food another day. The Latvian food we had is stuff that a local restaurant here makes and then sell it frozen (kind of like you would buy wantons frozen or dumplings). That is what the food is like that we buy and eat. I'll send a picture. Other foods that are super common here and eaten a lot is potatoes and mushrooms!! Latvians love mushrooms and we can find them at any store and there are tons of different varieties. Sadly, we aren't allowed to try a lot of the varieties because apparently as Americans, they would sit well in our stomachs. :( But that is okay, because I still love the ones we can buy! :) Yummy!! Anymore questions about food?? Send me some if you have them?
Second: (From Shayla Nuttall) So what is the perception of America and Americans there? Honestly it depends on who you talk to. In general it isn't lie we are that cool to them. :) We are Americans and a lot of the time they just think that we are weird. They mostly think that we are all obese and unhealthy. I can see why they think that because food in America can be very unhealthy, and they are very healthy eaters. They have to because they can't usually afford health care so they do all they can no to get sick. But overall, they don't have any bad perceptions of America. You'll meet the rare person who had awful opinions about Americans, but in general, they are just neutral. They do love Hollywood though, as in American movies and American music. So, that is always interesting to be grocery shopping and hear an American song (which is mostly all they play over the radio in grocery stores).
Last thing: Conference and Hastening the mission work. :) Man, I am so excited to talk about this!! It has been way fun to learn about these things in the last week! So for watching general conference here is going to be a little different. We can watch it with the rest of the branch I think in two weeks. That of course will be in Latvian, then we can watch it in English on our preparation days. It'll take about 5 preparation days to finish conference. I found out a lot more about how the translation works which was way cool! I found out that before conference even is given, the talks are already written and are being translated. Lots of the members here help with the translation! It is way cool! We answered a few question for one member. We couldn't see that talk, but she asked us some questions about the meaning of some common American/church phrases that have meaning for us, but don't necessarily translate over. For example, one was, "Stand together and lift where you stand." It doesn't really have any meaning to them so we explained it so that she could then write it in understandable Latvian. It was really cool to see. So, anyways, all of these members translate the talks and then at the same time conference is being shown, several different members get together and read the talks in Latvian at the same time that conference is going on in America! It is so cool how it all works! So, they stay up late here and stay at the church and read the talks. It is really fun think and see how the organization of the church works and all that goes into making it possible world wide to be able to hear from a prophet of God! I know he is a prophet and it makes me so excited! As far as my little tidbit on hastening the work, and sadly, this is where I will have to end. :( I know that the Lord is hastening His work. He wants all of His beloved children to hear about the glorious news of the gospel. I have started studying and reading the new testament (I read a little everyday and I love it). But there are some scriptures that I cam across that I had never paid attention to before that are literally being fulfilled in our days! It is cool. They are in Matthew 9:37-38. They say, "Then saith he (Jesus Christ) unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore for the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." The Lord is right now answering the members of the church, throughout all time, prayers. He is sending out laborers in plenty! The missionary age change started it and now there are more missionaries than ever in the field! But it isn't all, he has more directly than ever called every member to be missionaries! Take up the call and be a missionary. Be an example of a disciple of Jesus Christ and share this good news. The gospel is a happy wonderful thing and such an amazing blessing to bring into our lives! If everyone could truly realize how much joy the gospel of Jesus Christ brings, I think they would all want it. So, let us help everyone see that! I may be set apart as a missionary now, but I will be a missionary for life. I have the name tag engraved on my heart.
I love you all and I am grateful for your support! Sorry that this is so long and I hope it is understandable because I had so much to say!! I truly know this church is true. God is our Heavenly Father and he loves us. Christ is our savior and redeemer and also loves us! Turn to him and embrace the peace and forgiveness that he is holding out waiting for you to come take!
I love you all so much!