It's challenging to serve a office mission, doing secretarial work, among English-speaking people, and feel like a "real" missionary. One thing that helps is to be able to attend District Meeting each week with the 4 Elders and 2 Sisters serving in our Branch. They are great young missionaries and we are invited to participate as they practice teaching the Gospel to one another.
Another thing is to be able to attend so many baptisms. Our mission doesn't have a lot of baptisms--it's a relatively new mission and is growing slowly.
Last evening we attended the baptism of one of the young East Indian men I mentioned in an earlier blog. The other young man from India had to leave Riga earlier than expected because of visa problems. He plans to move to Mumbai, India, where there is a branch of the Church and be baptized and become involved there.
Sunil Patel is the young husband and father, studying at the University here. He speaks English so was taught in English, but by Russian-speaking missionaries (from the U.S.). He is a very humble young man.
The Area Presidency, in their desire to help the Baltic branches and districts become wards and stakes, asked that the missionaries not perform any of the ordinances or give talks at baptisms, etc. That has been a tremendous blessing for the members who now have the opportunity to perform the baptisms. Sunil was baptized by a young man who was baptized just over a year ago. He is Latvian and doesn't speak English well but, because Sunil's language is English, he performed the ordinance in English. It was beautiful to see this young Latvian man, so desirous of performing the ordinance correctly, speaking what is to him a foreign language. He did it flawlessly. I think there were many of us praying for him as he did so.
The other person being baptized is a Russian-speaking Latvian woman who also was well-prepared to enter the waters of baptism. The talk on baptism was given in Russian so one of the missionaries of Sunil was translating into English what was said. The talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost was given by Brother David Pater, an American who is in Riga, teaching the Latvian Army to speak English (he works for the State Department, I believe). He gave an excellent talk, which was translated into Russian for the sister. So, it was kind of an international baptism service.