Monday, September 29

July 7, 2014 Photos

4th of July meal. Hamburgers of course. Sister Ormsby, Sister Mitton, and Sarah.

Catholic church outside of Sarah's study window. Built in 1747. Older than the United States of America.

Commision of a Missionary

Cookie hockey

The threesome: Sister Ormsby, Sister Mitton, and Sarah

July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014
Laimīgu neatkarības dienu!! (Happy Independence Day!)
Čau visiem,

I had a great week. :) Lots of fun things were done. I enjoyed the fourth of July and I hope you all did too. :) It felt like Latvia was celebrating with us a little bit, because they had a flag day on the fourth of july. So, all the Latvian flags were out and it was really pretty. The weather could have been a little warmer, but it warmed up the very next day and now it is good hot 80's to 90's! Gorgeous! ;) We enjoyed hamburgers for lunch, sang all the American songs in our hymn book (there are 3), and wore red, white and blue all day! It really was a blast. Simple, but fun.

Update on the work....First off, this week we have been serving with the relief society president a lot. She asked for our help to get the visiting teaching program started here in Liepaja. Apparently lots of relief society presidents have tried to get it started and it goes for a little and then falls. Well, we are really looking forward to getting it started now. We helped her form the companionships by giving her information on who is active and where everyone lives. Then, she asked us to teach about visiting teaching and how to do it. They really don't know what this program is, but of a branch of about 50 where 45ish are women, it is a must to get this program started. They need to start depending upon each other more and strengthening each other. We're excited to have helped them and hope that this time it sticks.

This week as well, we found some new investigators and recieved a member referral. We've been doing a program here called member night out and I love it! Members express a desire to serve with us and we go and do the missionary work that they want to do. We visit less actives with them, do recent convert lessons with them, or visit their friends who are not members. We are excited to see how excited the branch got about it and we are hoping it will quickly pick up steam. We went this week with one member to our recent convert Skaidrīte and talked about missionary work with all of them. We expressed the desire to have them all share the gospel with their friends. We asked Skaidrīte if she could visit anyone and share the joy with them that she has found from the gospel, who would she want to visit. She said one of her friends, but immediately said, but she won't be interested, I don't even know where she lives. Well, we told her that the Lord would help her if we just invite, and if she prayed she would know what to do that was right and who else she could help. Well, she said the closing prayer and blessed that the Lord would bless her with opportunities to share the gospel. Right after she closed her prayer, she said, I have my friend's number. Can I use your phone and I can call her right now?? We did call her, and sadly she didn't answer, but the member said, please keep calling her and when she answers just tell her how happy I am and I want her to find this happiness too. It was so touching and she was so excited to share the gospel.

Also this week, we got 3 new investigators! This was such a blessing! One is Ivars. He doesn't believe in God. He is in his early 20's and agreed to meet with us with the potential to possibly find out if God is. We'll be meeting with him tonight. The other two new investigators is this great family. They were on a pontential investigator sheet and there really wasn't any information about them. Well, we stopped by and they were the sweetest things. Andris and Gita are their names. They have a 3 year old daughter, Sofija. Andris is Russian Orthodox and Gita is Lutheran. They are a great family and very open. They are the cutest things in the whole world. They live on the upstairs floor of his mom's house. They have a beautiful piano and she played Claire de Loon for us and it was the prettiest thing I have heard in a long time. I am in love with this family and really hope that we can help them. They told us up front that they won't come to our church, but that they like to learn more. We're excited to help them learn more and be touched by the spirit so they'll agree to be baptized and start on the path back to God.

I still haven't met the new mission president which is weird, but I'm looking forward to meeting him this Wednesday. I'll have an interview with him and I'm looking forward to getting to know him. I'm mostly curious to how he changes the mission, or if there will even be changes. We'll see this week and I'll let you know next Monday.

So, I have some questions! Makes writing so much easier :)

How many Latvian sisters are in your mission now? We have 7 Latvian speaking sisters right now. there are 3 companionships. How many are coming before you go home? We'll be having 3 come in in about 2 weeks and one goes home so we'll have 9 sisters! :) Then we'll have 4 more come in after that and 3 go home and so they'll round off to an even ten by the time I go home. Which MTC do missionaries from those countries go to? It depends on what mission they go to. Most of them go to the Provo MTC, but sometimes they go to the Spain or England. It is based on what mission going to. Are you still a Sister Training Leader? Yep, I am and I'm loving. I serve with Sister Branchflower (my first trainee) as sister training leader. She is serving in Riga and I am here in liepaja and we work together to support and build the sisters. I love it. I'm actually going on an exchange this week and I'm looking forward to that. How big is your branch there? Our branch is small we range from 30-55 at church in a week. The most we have ever had is 60, but we haven't hit that in a while, sadly. It is a great little branch with its own building here in Liepaja. Do you have a full branch presidency? not quite. There are really only 3 active Melchizedek priesthood holders. So, one is branch president, one is 1st counselor, and the other is secretary. They had a second counselor, but he is now less active and doesn't come very often. Are you in a mission or a stake? We are in a mission. We don't have a stake yet. Each country is a district and then there are branches. We are working and praying for a stake, but not sure when that will be. Tell us about your branch and about the size/organization of it. our branch is great. It is a mixed russian/latvian branch, but it is mostly latvian. Our branch president is Russian though, but he's married to a latvian and is learning latvian. He does everything in latvian and is learning the language fast. I really love the branch here. It is mostly older women and it is interesting. There are about 3-4 young families that are active and that is about it. There really aren't many youth, only 2 really. But yeah. I love the branch, but it does need some building.

So, for my spiritual thought, it is a quote about the commission of a missionary. I'm attaching it as a picture. I just know that I was called of God to be in this mission to represent Christ and I am so grateful and glad to be doing that. I am working hard and trying to do that which Christ would do if he was here as well. I love my time to serve and love you all. Have a great week!! :)

Ar mīlestību,
Māsa Klauvarda

June 30, 2014 Photos

Wreath Sarah made for the holiday, Ligo.
Old forts that they walked through. I'm guessing they might be war bunkers. Not sure.
Inside the forts. Sarah said it didn't smell very good!

Sister Ormsby's hair and wreath - done by Sister Mitton.

June 30, 2014

Čau visiem!! (Hey everyone!)

Running low on time. I need to learn to use my time better with this email stuff. :) But I'll right all that I can. 

So first off, to describe the title, even though it is pretty self explanatory, it has been raining a lot. It has rained almost every day in the last week. It is crazy! We try and enjoy it, but it is a lot of wetness and cold. I like serving with Sister Mitton though when it rains. She always whistles or hums "I'm singing in the Rain." It is super cute! I love it! It is so much fun being with 3. It is always more laughter, more happiness, and just more fun. :)

So, the work in Liepaja is going well. We don't have any progressing investigators right now, but we are finding some. We found two new investigators this last week, Jānis and Alisa. Jānis is a man in his 40's who has never had parents. He doesn't believe in God, because he has always been alone. He agreed to meet with us because he is searching for answers and he has never been to our new church building. We will be meeting with him on Wednesday and I hope that all goes well. Alisa is a russian woman who speaks latvian as well, and wants to receive a Book of Mormon in Russian. After we taught her about it on the street we set up a lesson with her. She didn't come, but we have her number and will continue to try to get a hold of them. 

We do a lot of work with recent converts in our area. It is very rewarding to help them. We are meeting with 4 recent converts right now. Lelde was baptized in January. She is 19 and has had a really hard past and still has a very hard life right now. She is very solid in her faith and belief in God and just recently fully commited herself to God and this church. She has received a lot of opposition from family but stands strong anyways. She sent us several text messages last night telling us how her grandma doesn't want her to come to church anymore. We told her she got to choose what she did. Well, she told us that it doesn't matter what people say, she is converted to God and she will do all that he has asked her to do. She is such a champ! Ilze was baptized in April. She is super solid. She studies the scriptures for hours every day. She is amazing! She loves learning and has great deep questions. She has really learned though how to find answers for herself. Skaidrīte was baptized in May. She is wonderful. She was never much of a church attender before baptism, but continues to testify that she know she has found her real church, that is the only true church on earth. She just finished the Book of Mormon and started again all on her own because she is striving to understand and apply it all. Last, but not least, is Viktorija who was also baptize in May. She is 11 and is a fireball! She is very loved by the branch and we love her a lot! We have to get creative with her lessons to help her keep learning, but she is learning and the members have taken her under wing.

Well, for the highlights of the week, Monday night was the branch Līgo party! That was a blast. We started by making the traditional hair wreaths. The woman wear braided ones made from long grasses and flowers! They are really pretty and fun to make. I made several of them. One for myself and then for several people that asked for them. It was fun to make them.I'll send a picture of one of them. :) The men make these big ones from Oak leaves! they are huge and look like big manes on the heads! I don't have a picture, but I'm sure you could google it. :)

Before that for preparation day, we spent time just walking around and having fun as companions. We had a blast. I love being with my companions. We went and some some old forts. I am  not sure what they were used for, but they are hidden in hills. They are big long tunnels that are huge! It was cool!!! We spent a little time exploring them, but not long, because it is a common place for smokers and drinkers to hang out. That was not fun. But, it was beautiful and I got some beautiful pictures of the Latvian scenery. Sister Mitton also decorated Sister Ormsby's hair with flowers which was fun. :)

We had a zone meeting in Riga this week as well. That was great because we got to see President and Sister Boswell. That is probably my last time seeing them. It was good to see them. I love them a lot and I'm going to miss them immensely! I haven't met the new mission president yet, but I hope to meet President and Sister Harding soon. :)

Well, I just wanted to share a thought about gratitude this week. I have been studying conference, which I love, and spent a good deal of time on President Uchtdorf's talk. I look up every scripture they cite as I read the talk. It takes a while, but I get a lot more out of it. It is about not being grateful for things, but being grateful in circumstances. I really like it a lot and would encourage you to read it. Well, I found one scripture while reading it that I love that I want to share. Doctrine and Convenants 98:1 "Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything that they shall be granted." I know that if we are grateful in everything the Lord will bless us. Read the talk and pay attention to the blessings. One of the blessings that I love is we will be given true love and great happiness. I have seen this in missionary work and I am working to strive this characteristic. I love you all!

Have a great week!!


Māsa Klauvarda

Sister Woodland

This is Sister Woodland. She was in Sarah's MTC group. We got to visit with her! What an inspiration and she gave us a look into what our Sarah is like as a missionary. Thanks for the visit!

June 23, 2014

Ģimenei un draugiem,

There isn't a lot to write about, sadly, but I will write you. :)

Here is an update on my cute little Liepāja:

"The work is going well. I enjoy it so much. Liepāja is blooming and we are really building relationships with the members here. We take members out quite a bit and do exchanges with them. We are slowly gaining the trust in the members and we are striving in every situation to ask them who they would know that they would like to invite to our next activity. We know that as they see us as diligent obedient missionaries who love them, they will trust their friends to us and will think of those who will be ready.

"Viktorija is gaining an excitement to meet with us and learn. We are trying to be creative with the lessons. We let her invite the members that she would like to join us. It is fun. We still haven't worked on a solution to getting her to stay for three hours, but we are trying to come up with something. She told us also yesterday that she doesn't like to come because they were talking about those who have passed away. This is a touchy subject for her ever since her grandma died. She said that she doesn't want to hear about it so she isn't going to go to 2nd and 3rd hour at all anymore. :( We're going to work through Ilze, her "adopted" big sister, and see if Ilze could help her see the need.

"Skaidrīte is doing well. She lost her phone and so also lost her number, but she had a member's number written down. She called up the member and the member was able to help her out. It was great to see that friendship there between the members. It makes me very happy that Skaidrīte can depend on them and that the members are ready and willing to help her as well.
We are working on finding, but haven't had a lot of success recently. We are really trying to work through the members so we hope and pray that something will come through with that soon. I love this work and know that is so very important! I love to be a missionary!!"

Today is President and Sister Boswell's last Monday in our mission as my mission president and his wife. President and Sister Harding will be arriving and taking over this Saturday! It is crazy that they are already almost done!!! I am going to miss them a lot, but am excited to meet the Hardings as well. Here is what I wrote to President and Sister Boswell about what I have gained while serving with them:

"President and Sister Boswell have made a lasting impact on my life. I know I was called to serve in the Baltic mission because they were here. I know that I knew them before this life and I love them for all that they have done for me. I have really learned about obedience while serving in this mission under President Boswell. He is a man called of God with the keys to guide this mission. I can feel that power every time he shares his insights and teaches us. I have really learned to be exactly obedient while serving with him and I am very grateful for that! There are times when I wasn't sure why he was putting a rule they way it was or enforced a rule, but every time I have followed it, I have been blessed and protected. I know that he has received revelation in my behalf.

"Sister Boswell is a sweetheart and gem. If I could run a home like her and be even a tenth of the person she is, I would be a much better person than I am now. She truly shows charity for those around her. I know that she loves each and everyone of us. She listens to our complaints of pain and illness and prescribes exactly what we need to get better. She is so patient as well as loving. She has become my mother here and I know that I can rely on her always. She is very wise, quiet, and dignified. She is the perfect match for President Boswell.

"I love you both! I know that I was foreordained to serve in the Baltic mission with you. Thanks for this opportunity to serve with you. I love and support you with all my heart and can't wait to see and give you big hugs after the mission! Thanks for the love and service you have shown to me. I know that you have truly consecrated yourselves to the Lord. Thank you for the example of consecration."

So, that kind of gives you an idea of the biggest changes and things going on. It is weird to me that the next time I write you, I will have a new mission president. I am going to miss them a lot. Luckily, I will get to see them one more time before they leave. I will see them this Tuesday (tomorrow) at zone training. I am excited and looking forward to that. I love them both so much. They are angels from heaven. 

Now, to describe the title to my email. It is Līgo holidays today and tomorrow. This is a pagan holiday to celebrate the longest night of the year, which is tonight. The sun won't set until like 11 and will rise again at about 2 in the morning! This is one of their biggest holidays!! We'll be celebrating tonight with the branch. How they usually celebrate is they jump over a bonfire (it is supposed to bring fertility). They also will cook meat and cheese over the fire. Sadly it is also a VERY BIG drinking holiday. So, we have to be careful for ourselves. It is sad that they drink so much, but that is just how it is. They also create these wreaths for their heads.Girls make pretty one that is grass braided together with flowers and men have ones that are very big oak leaves. It is so interesting and the whole holiday comes from their pagan roots. It also is all supposed to be to suppport fertility! :)

Well, I'm running out of time. I just want to share my testimony that God loves us. I have really truly felt his love this week. He wants us to succeed in this work, and we can . We are on the winning team! He has given angels to protect us and will do all he can on his side to help us succeed, we just need to decide if we want to succeed and if we do, follow him and keep his commandments. It is possible for all to find God and find the path back to him. It is a happier life with him than without, I know that as a fact! I love you all. Thanks for the love and prayers.

Laimīgus Līgo Svētkus! (Happy Līgo holiday!!)
Māsa Klauvarda

June 16, 2014 photos

Broken chair. This is significant because they have three sisters in the apartment and every piece of furniture is needed.

Sister Ormsby fixing the broken chair. After all, it broke when she was sitting on it!
Liepaja district: (left to right) Elder Mitchel, Sarah, Sister Ormsby, Elder Wilson, on the chair, Elder Steel is sitting, Elder Webb is on his lap.
Excitement for the biking pday activity!

Sister Ormsby in the Karosta prison

Sarah in the Karosta prison (Her jacket is huge!)
Peppermint leaves she is drying so she can have peppermint tea.

June 16, 2014

Hello my family, 

So I have so many emails to reply to and so little time, but I am so glad that I get to write you all!! I can't even begin to think of what to write you all, but I will do what I can. A lot happened this week and I want to express it all!!!

First off, we had a zone conference this week with President and Sister Boswell. It was his last as mission president. :'( I was so sad! We're going to miss him a lot. We'll have a new mission president in about 2 weeks! It is so crazy, but I'm excited to get to know President and Sister Harding as well. They will be wonderful to be around. :)

So, to describe the title, we had transfers last week!!! Crazy!! No one really moved, and all that happened is we just got another sister with us! My second trainee, Sister Mitton, has joined us in Liepaja. It comes with sad situation as her companion had to go home due to health problems I got an opportunity to say goodbye to her and cried a lot. It was my beloved Sister Woodland, who I was in the MTC with. I love her to death, and will miss her dearly, but will see her in no time at all!!! Here is what I wrote President Boswell about transfers, "I was surprised about transfers, but I am so excited at the same time! I am enjoying the time with a threesome! I love Sister Mitton and Sister Ormsby. We work well together and laugh a lot. I love it! We are open with each other so that we can make the threesome work. We have done several splits with members in the last few days already so that we can cover double the amount of ground. We really like that concept and hope it can continue. I love this work and I'm glad to share it with these two great missionaries!"

So now, updates about recent converts, because that is mostly who we are working with right now.

"Skaidrīte came to church yesterday! It was such a blessing! I was so happy to see her there! She came and paid her tithing for the first time. The members missed her so much and took her right in. She formed some new friends. We didn't even get a chance to deal with the guy that had come and said he wanted to live with her, because she kicked him out before we got a chance to get to action on it! Skaidrīte is such a champ!! She also told us yesterday that she is going to talk to her boss and work extra hours on Friday so that she can always have Sunday off. She is bringing her boss pictures from her baptism to show him why she doesn't want to work. She tells everyone that she is a Christian and attends the only true Christian church and that is why she doesn't want to work on Sundays. She is strong and is trying her best. Of course, mistakes are still made, but she does the best that she can. I love that about her.

"Viktorija is doing well. She is coming to church again, but not staying for all three hours. She doesn't like primary because 1) there is no one her age and 2) the closest people to her age are two boys that pick on her. We are working on figuring out a solution, but we are not sure what that will be yet. At least she comes to sacrament meeting and she is well befriended by Maija and Inga (the Elder's investigator). We are going to talk to Ilze (also a recent convert we are working with) about what she thinks will be a good solution.

"We don't really have any updates on investigators, but we are continuing to find and that is the most important thing. We are really working on building the relationships with the members through service and PMG lessons. We have a lot of lessons with members planned for this week, and we hope that soon we will be able to see them come through with new investigators. We have potential."

Another update about someone, something sad that really had me down yesterday. We have a recent convert we are working with who has a cute 5 year old daughter that I love! This convert has had such a rough history. She is 19, but really changed her life around to be baptized. She is incredible. Well, her daughter was stabbed in the back this last week at this member's house. Someone from this member's past came to visit her and tried to hurt her. It was awful! Well, her daughter was in ICU for a few days, but yesterday she called us and told us that she had passed away. I cried hard. I love this member and that little girl. I got a blessing after that and was promised strength from the atonement. I know that I have received that. I called the member again later that night and talked to her more about it. She is shutting everyone off in her life, but will at least talk to us. I cried with her and testified of the power of the atonement and the fact that she can live with her daughter forever. I told her to work on going to the temple. I know that she will be able to make it there and will be able to be with her daughter forever. She has a hard time believing it and seeing it now, but I know that it is true. Families can be eternal and I am so glad that my family is eternal through the ordinances of the temple. Please keep this member in your prayers.

Something I learned at conference this last week that I want to testify of is the pre-mortal existence. We knew each other before this life. In this mission we talk a lot about the fact that as missionaries we knew and chose our mission president to be our mission president and that we loved him. We talked a lot about the fact that we helped each other grow as spirits so that we would be valiant and come down here and complete our mission. I know that this is all true! President Boswell said that  another missionary told him that he prayed for President Boswell from heaven while President was serving as a missionary, because he knew that President needed to succeed in his mission. President then shared that with us, and I felt a confirmation of that. I know I prayed for the people I love who came to earth before me so that they would succeed at that, which they were foreordained to do. I prayed for my mission president, but I also prayed for my parents and grandparents, and I know that my future children pray now for me! What a blessing! Think about it, pray about it, and you will know that that is true too.

I'm out of time, but I had so much more I wanted to say. I love you all and I'll write the rest next week! Keep in touch and have a great, wonderful, sunshiny week!!!

Ar mīlestību,
Māsa Klauvarda

June 9, 2014

Čau ģimenei un draugiem,

I know right off that this email will be shorter. I want to spend more time writing to people personally and there isn't a lot new in the work this week. 

Here is my update to President Boswell on the area:

"Irene decided this week that her branch is true (she is a member of the salvation army....I didn't even know that was considered a church. but apparently here it is and they have a preacher and baptism and everything!! If someone wants to look up information about that and send it to me it would be very appreciated). She stopped reading and hasn't come to church. We are going to keep in contact with her and help her see the need for this. As of right now, she is not planning on getting baptized. She also moved back to Saldus this week (Saldus is an hour and a half from Liepāja), and isn't planning on coming back to Liepāja soon. We still talk to her on the phone and she is super nice. She wants to learn still and we are going to push the urgency with her this week for her to find out for herself. We are glad that she is out of the hospital and can think more clearly now. Our plans with her are mostly to help her see the need for baptism. 

"Before we could meet with Martiņš he decided that he didn't want to meet with us. (Martiņš is a new investigator from last week, who didn't believe in God, but had some great questions) We were really looking forward to helping him progress towards finding out if God exists. We'll give him another call and invite him to activities and see what happens.

"We did get a new investigator this week. She is an 80 year old woman who wants to read the Book of Mormon. We'll see how she progresses. She has the Book of Mormon and is a super sweet little thing, but we want to make sure that she is fully there and accountable. She might have some memory problems. She thought that Sister Ormsby had been at her house 3 years before. :)

"We also have been working with our recent converts. Viktorija is doing really well. We have gained the trust of her parents. We are going to try to get lessons at her house, but for now her parents say no, because mom works longs hours and dad drinks a lot. She came to church yesterday and sat next to a member! (that was one of our concerns because she likes the missionaries more than the members) Ilze has taken on the role as bigger sister and told Viktorija that. They laughed at it, but have already formed that relationship. We are going to try to do more with Ilze involved (as much as Ilze's schedule allows). 

"With Skaidrīte, we are a little more worried. She got a job (a blessing from Heavenly Father) and she started to work the Monday right after baptism. Well, now she works everyday, really long hours!! They work her from 5 in the morning to 8 at night. The pay is really low and it is a horrible situation. She hasn't been able to attend church since her confirmation. She'll be coming this Sunday though. She says she only gets one free day a month and she'll use it for Sundays, but that is only one Sunday a month. She also has a guy trying to move in with her. He is a total creep who she doesn't like, but he is using her. We aren't sure what to do and how much we can tell her to do. We want to tell her to call the police and get rid of this guy. She told us that she doesn't want him around. We're going to try to get her member friends to go and visit her at night more when she gets of work. We hope that they'll be the ones to give her advice on what to do. 

"We also started teaching Ilze, another recent convert. The Elders passed her off to us. She was starting to crush on the Elders and it was getting awkward. We love her and enjoy the lessons with her. She is very smart and has great questions. She is also very good at finding answers on her own."

Our week was pretty normal, but good. We played ultimate Frisbee as a district on Monday with a few members. That was a ton of fun!! I really love playing. My back pains have come back, but the good exercise helps a ton. Sister Ormsby is great and is keeping me in good shape. We go running 3-4 times a week! I love it!

Today will also be a fun preparation day as we are going to rent bikes and ride to a place in Liepāja called Karosta. There we will see the only former military prison in Europe that is open to public, a russian catherdral (russian orthodox faith), and some old forts! We are really looking forward to it. I hope I will be able to send some pictures, but I don't know. 

It really hasn't been any special of a week. We've been trying to find less actives and new investigators this week and that is what we have spent most of our time doing. We are also kept busy with the lessons with the recent converts )we have four recent converts that we are working with). I love this work, and even if there wasn't anything exciting I am still really enjoying the work I get to do. 

One spiritual insight I wanted to share. This last Sunday was fast Sunday for us because of the conference last week. I love fast Sunday. Well, I also played the piano for the branch this Sunday and while sitting up at the piano, I was thinking about the sacrament and what it means. There is so much symbolism in the sacrament that can help us think of the atonement. We could spend all the time that the sacrament is being passed and still not come up with all the symbolism that the sacrament carries. Also, the more I learn about the atonement, the more I catch of the symbolism. I know that Christ died for us and suffered for our pains and sins. He did that so that we could progress. He wants us to challenge ourselves and do things that are hard. He wants us to achieve great things. He sees something that we can become that if we could see we would be shocked! But I know that we can become all that Heavenly Father has foreordained us to become. I love this work and I love my part in it. I get to help people find Christ and strengthen there testimony in him! What a joy! I love you all and I know that you can do hard things, but the most important thing to do is follow Christ!!! Don't ever lost sight of that!

Ar mīlestību un prieku, (with love and joy)
Māsa Klauvarda

June 2, 2014

Labdien ģimenei un draugiem, (Hello to my family and friends,)

So, I am going to try to type all my thoughts clearly and understandably from Elder Bednar. It isn't going to be easy, and I'll miss a lot, but here it goes. Just know that I learned a ton and was very spiritually fed. I love this work and I know that is it true.

First off, update about the work that I sent to President Boswell':

"Irene is doing well. She is continuing to read, but decided to slow down, because she wasn't getting as much out of it a she wanted to. She is now somewhere in Mosiah though. She reads fast, and enjoys the reading. She is still progressing towards July 12th. She is wonderful.  She continues to ask God if she should join this church. We are pretty convinced there is no accountability problem. She is very smart actually and very on top of it. She mostly is in the hospital for headaches that just won't stop. She is probably going to be out in a month. We had two lessons with her this last week, and she seems to be responding very well to everything and she accepts it all."

"We also had a great teaching moment on the street yesterday with a man named Martiņš. He doesn't believe in God, but had been questioning and searching the last few days for how could he know. We talked about it a lot. He was very open and had LOTS of questions. It was fun to teach him just after getting back from Elder Bednar and try to apply some of those new principles into my teaching. I used more examples and asked him questions based on those. Sister Ormsby and I taught well together and really got him thinking. We set up a lesson with him this week after talking with him for 30 minutes." 

"I was also very well spiritually fed by Elder Bednar while he was here. I learned so much! I know that I received exactly what I needed to hear to improve myself and the work that I am doing for the Lord. I gained a more profound testimony of Elder Bednar as an apostle of God. I know he is an apostle and I love him. He truly spoke by the spirit and helped us to learn. He is incredible!"

So, this last week was great. We had a wonderful meeting with all the missionaries serving in Latvia with Elder Bednar on Saturday. Elder Bednar was there with his wife, Elder Senkāns was also there with his wife (he is a Latvian from the Rīga branch who is a seventy), and President and Sister Boswell were there. It was a small gathering. About 50 people. It was so great to be in such a close, friendly, comfortable setting with an apostle of the Lord. Elder Bednar said that only 3 times as an apostle has he had a privilege to meet with such a small group of missionaries. I am blessed that I got to be in that group. It was a mission conference, so that meant it was 3 hours long. It was wonderful! Sister Bednar spoke a little bit and then we listened to Elder Bednar for 2 and a half hours! It was great! He is an incredible teacher. He first asked us to share what we had thought from the three talks he had sent us and asked us to read. We would stand up and share thoughts that we had. It was incredible to do that. He would very politely ask us if he could ask us another question sometimes in response to that which we had said. Really he is a great teacher and helped us learn from a big example how to be agents and try to learn for ourselves. Through the way he taught he opened us up to receive personal revelation and I received so much! I hope that this is understandable, because it sounds like gibberish to me. 

I'll share a few thoughts that I had and hope that you will think about them in relation to you and apply them to yourselves. First off, one big thing I learned is how it is our responsibility to learn and understand. We need to be agents to act and not be acted upon. It is up to us if each Sunday we learn from Sacrament meeting or from the lessons. We must apply ourselves in a way that we really learn. For example, if they share a scripture, look it up so that you can read the words and write notes in them and look at the scripture in context. As you look at the scripture think about your life and ask, "How can I live this more in my life today?" or some other question to open you up to revelation. The same thing goes for teachers or speakers. Help the listeners become agents. Ask and present questions in a way that they get thinking. Allow the listeners to have time to open up the scriptures. These are things I learned just by watching how Elder Bednar taught us. He helped us to learn these things for ourselves. Every person in that room learned what they needed to learn and for each person, it was completely different. How, 1: the spirit was the real teacher and 2: we were trying and seek to learn by our faith. We wanted to learn and we were ready and then Elder Bednar invited the spirit and we were taught by that. I know it is hard to understand, but it is powerful. The things I learned at that conference will stay with me long term, because I discovered them by the direction of the spirit.

I really gained and strengthened my testimony of little things making great things. Elder Bednar talked a lot about line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. It is something that he very commonly teaches. In particular he talked about this in relation to everyday. Everything we do should be little tiny steps of progress that we string together, day after day. Truly the little things are more important then the big things. The daily scripture studying and praying in the end are what help us have big things happen. It is incredible what can happen when we put in the daily little effort. 

I also gained insight about how to help people learn in lessons and on the street better than I was doing before. I need to invite them to act by helping them think and apply it to themselves. This is done most accurately through the spirit and with questions. The spirit has to be the main teacher and then by using questions directed by the spirit and examples that apply to the person, I can help people figure out the principles of the gospel for themselves. It is so powerful. I know that I learned more by just watching Elder Bednar teach, then by what he said, and ever more than both of those, what the spirit taught me.

Something else I realized is how much Elder Bednar reminds me of my dad in such a good way. I love my dad so much and the way he and my mom have raised me. Well, I saw Saturday how my dad taught and raised me and how that was so much then same way of what my parents do with me. My dad loves Elder Bednar and especially enjoyed the time he serve with him at BYU-Idaho. Well, Elder Bednar remembered my dad when I metioned that I was his daughter and said that he was a great man. He passed on his hellos. Sister Bednar also passed on a hello for both my parents when I shook her hand afterwards. 

I also got the opportunity to ask Elder Bednar a question. He told us to not ask anything if we thought of it ahead of time and really pay attention to the situation we were in and ask a question that really fit who we were with and that I couldn't really ask anyone else. I asked Elder Bednar how his talks have changed from being president of BYU-Idaho and now as an apostle. I mentioned how there are correspondences with his talks at BYU-Idaho and in conference, but how does he study now that is different from before? Well, Elder Bednar said that yes, there are similar things in his talks from before and now, but he said that is not what is important. What is important, is that which has changed. He said look for the differences in the talks, because they represent his spiritual growth and he shares those spiritual insights sometimes. For example, he has given several talks about the atonement. Well, he said a difference in his last talk in general conference and from times before was that when we make covenants with God we yoke ourselves with Jesus Christ. That is all I'll say about that. Go and study Elder Bednar's talk from last conference and think about that together with the scripture in Matthew. 

There is so much more I could share, but I just can't express it all. I'll give you the talks that we read and you can read them as well and learn and study these same things. Study them deeper then you normally would and you'll get your own personal revelation. Invite the spirit and then read these talks and you'll learn that which you need to.

We also had District Conference on Sunday with Elder Bednar and all the saints from Latvia. I got to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a while. It was a great time. We rode back on a bus with all the members from Liepaja and that was a lot of fun! I know this church is true. I know that Elder Bednar is an apostle called of God. He is a normal person, called and given power to do a special calling. I love this work! I know that this is God's church. I love you all and I am grateful to be a missionary!


Māsa Klauvarda