Late Friday morning we boarded a bus to downtown Riga for my first Latvian zone conference. We got off the bus and walked 3-4 blocks and then into a building and up a flight of stairs to the meetinghouse for the members of the Church in that part of Riga. It occupies an entire floor of the building and has a chapel, kitchen, and classrooms, etc.
Unlike in America and other places where the Church is well-established, the two chapels I have been in here are large open rooms with hardwood floors and chairs, as opposed to benches. The chairs had been arranged in the back half of the room and tables, festively decorated for Christmas, were set up in the front half of the room. There are between 40-50 missionaries (including 3 senior couples and Sister Harper and me). We began with musical numbers from very talented young missionaries, and sang Christmas hymns.
We were then treated to a delicious catered dinner: pork loin roast, delicious whipped potatoes, mushroom gravy, and a yummy green salad. The senior missionaries had brought desserts. It was the first whipped potatoes I've had in Latvia and the potatoes I've seen in the stores are not Idaho spuds!! They are very small, very dirty, and just not that appealing. However, after tasting them cooked and whipped, I decided it doesn't matter what they look like in the stores.
Following the dinner, we gathered again for wonderful training by President and Sister Dance and the Assistants to the President. I was so impressed with the young missionaries and their knowledge of the scriptures and their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. President and Sister Dance are very loving and caring people and are great leaders--building and teaching as the Savior did.
That was the most Christmas-y thing I've done this Christmas, other than my own study and pondering in the New Testament. As we left the Conference, it had begun to snow. That seemed perfect.