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. :)