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!