First off, thanks to my family and my grandma for the Christmas packages that finally made it!! It took them a while, but they came and I LOVED THEM!! For those who also sent one, I'm sorry I haven't gotten them yet. :( I hope they come soon. Also, for those who sent letters in the last little bit. I've gotten them. I have a stack of 8 or so waiting for replies. I'll work hard these next weeks to reply to them all. Be patient and eventually you'll get a letter from me. :)
Šeit, Latvijā, mums ir sniegs un mazi brinumi!! :D Here in Latvia, we have snow and small miracles!! :) This week was really great!! I loved it! It was one of the best weeks I have had in a long time. For those who don't realize this, I have been working in this are now for seven months! That is a long time to be in one area. I've been working hard here and LOVE THIS AREA! A lot of things that have been in process for my whole time here (and before me) have all just started to work out this week! It was wonderful! I wrote about it below in my email to President Boswell.
"Several things panned out for us really well this week! It was wonderful! We got three new investigators!! Sadly, two of our now four investigators, have told us they can't and don't want to meet until February. :( That was sad. I hope that they will change their minds. That is Agija and Ivo. They are dating, and they both decided together that they don't want to think about religion right now. We haven't heard anything from Ivo. He's been ignoring us, sadly. But Agija said that she has been reading the Book of Mormon when she gets a free moment, and that she would like to put her focus on religion as soon as she is done with examens. I think she has a ton of potential. Simona knows about them both, and hopefully through Dita and Simona we can reach out to Ivo soon. Dita also is overwhelmed with school, and we are worried about her too. She hasn't been reading or praying everyday, as well as she wasn't able to come to church this sunday. So, we are really going to focus on building her testimony back up as well right now. We haven't been able to meet with her for a month because she has just been swamped!
"Well, the other two of our three new investigators are Paula and Emils (Agnese's kids)! They have never been counted as new investigators because none of us ever knew what to do to help them, and we haven't ever been able to work towards baptism with them. Well, Sister Mitton and I had a lesson with Agnese and Henn this last week where we talked about the role of Holy Ghost in their lives. They both see and feel his influence daily, especially as a guide. So, we pulled on that. We talked about how grateful they are for the gift, and then asked, "Who you want everyone to have that gift?" They both said yes. I then asked, "What about your children?" They both said of course, but there were things that could keep that from happening. When I asked what, we found out the problem that no one has known, and I wish we had known all along. The problem is Agnese's ex husband. If she forces the kids to do anything (even just go to church), or just asks them strongly, she can lose custody of the kids. They have to do this all because they want to do it. She can't encourage or really ask. She has to be very careful. So, we want to make this work for them. We gave them several ideas to start to work with dad. I told Agnese that while right now, she couldn't work with the kids as much, she could definitely work with her exhusband. So, that is our new focus. We are going to pull every string to try and soften the dad's heart! We want to help these kids get baptized. So, we all set a goal that they are going to get baptized this year. So, they both have a baptismal date for some time this year. We will be meeting with the family again soon, and hopefully can set a more exact date! We know that if we prepare the kids on our side and do everything we can, that the Lord will soften the dad's heart. So, we just need a lot of prayers for Paula and Emils dad. The great thing also, is it looks like Paula is also want these things for herself too. She came to church yesterday because she wanted to. She love young women's and also has a personal progress book that she has been working on! It is wonderful!!
"Also, another little miracle. I told you how we haven't been able to do anything with Inga's daughter Linda, because Inga wouldn't let us. Well, this week, Inga gave us Linda's number!!! We had a lesson with her where we tried to commit her to start reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning this year. She said no, sadly, but talked about how she likes opening up randomly, because she finds something that stands out to her. We asked if she would share those thoughts with Linda. She just said, "She doesn't like to read. She won't listen to what I tell her that is out of a book." I then asked, "Does she read test messages?" And of course Linda reads texts! So, Inga, said yes, of course. I then asked if she would read scriptures if they were in a text message!! She said, "Yes!! She will!! HEre is her number! You can send her a verse a day as her guardian angles!" So, we send Linda a text daily with a verse from the Book of Mormon. Hopefully soon she'll begin to feel the spirit of this all more and desire to meet with us."
So, yeah. That was great. Paula, Emīls, and Linda have been being worked with, thought about, or prayed about since before I got here, and we had some big advances with each of them this week! It makes me so excited! All of it happened after a priesthood blessing I received. I got a priesthood blessing this week because I was a little stressed and also felt a little lost. I wasn't sure what to do or how to help get this area going. Well in my priesthood blessing, I was told that the Lord was proud of the work I had done, and that I didn't need to feel bad, because he knew and saw what I was doing. I was told that if I kept moving forward with patience, relying on the Lord, that I would see success in the next couple of weeks!! Well, I didn't think it would come so fast, but Linda, Paula, and Emīls all happened after the priesthood blessing! The Lord truly listens to our prayers and keeps his promises! So, I have to keep working hard, but the Lord is managing his work as always.
So, I didn't think I would see this in my time here in Latvia, but I got to go to a traditional Latvian funeral this last week. A wonderful member down in Jelgava (which is a mini group from the branch I'm working in) passed away this last week. He had brain tumors that he has been fighting for a while. It was sad, but at the same time, it was his time to go. The sisters down there have been working and visiting with his family at this time (not a single one is a member) while he's been in a coma, and they have really softened the heart of the family. Enough so, that this anti family asked the branch to run the whole funeral, not the catholic preacher (the rest of the family is catholic). It was a beautiful funeral. I was only there because the branch president called me and asked me to get some musical pieces put together for the funeral!! I was a little shocked, but touched and surprised that the Branch President (who lives in my area) trusted me to put it all together. So, I put it together in two days, and we went and sang at the funeral. It was beautiful, the whole thing. As I've heard, funerals are usually very depressing and gothic here because they don't have the truths of the gospel. So, a funeral is an end for them, but with the branch in charge, it was filled with the truths of the restoration and the plan of salvation! Several people from the branch testified that they will see him again, that the truths he had will save him, and that if they listen to the same truths and find them in their lives, that they can live as a family forever! I know that is true! I loved the Latvian tradition at the end. They actually lower the casket into the ground at the end (usually four men of the family), and those four men bury it and build up a mound above that is a shape of the casket. They then cover that with pine boughs, and all the flowers that people brought to the funeral. They then light candles and stick them in the dirt all around it. It is beautiful and very respectful. They have huge respect for the dead and for graves. I wish we had that in America too. It was beautiful and very memorable.
Well, that is all I have time for today. If you want to know more, send me some questions. :)
Just know, that I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. We are his children. He created a plan. We lived with him before this life and knew about the plan. We are here to learn and grow and prepare to live with God again. We CAN live with our families forever in the presence of God, but the only way we can is if we have the true, restored gospel in our lives. We need to prepare and gain that life, but we all can. I ask you all to reflect on that. Do you want to live with your family forever? Your parents? Your kids? What do you need to change today so that you can be there? If you aren't sure, ask a missionary, they can tell you all about this and what you need to do. :)
I love you all!!
Ar mīlestību un lūgšanām,