Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baptism of 3

Last Saturday (before we got lost), we were able to attend the baptism of a young couple (who have a 2 year old daughter) and their friend who lives with them. They are Russian-speaking Latvians and have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ with joy and thanksgiving.

The member who baptized them was very involved with the missionaries in teaching the three. It is so important for the members of the Church to fellowship and help teach investigators. That is always true, but more important here where the Church is so new and small. It's so helpful for the new members to have the support of those who have been in the Church for a longer period of time. I hope to have that opportunity when I return home.

I have now attended about a dozen baptisms and each time, as the baptismal prayer is offered and the person immersed in water, the Spirit testifies to me that the Lord's work is going forward and that it is, in very fact, the work of the Lord in bringing souls until Christ.

It looks right now like we will be celebrating the 4th of July with a young Latvian family being baptized and at least one other person--here in Riga. Hopefully there will be others baptized that day in Estonia and Lithuania.

Monday, June 22, 2009

#4 Autobuss doesn't take us home!

Sister Humphrey and I had an unplanned adventure on Saturday night. We left the office at 8:50 and boarded the first bus that came, because I realized I don't know how late the busses run and I thought #4 sounded like one that would take us home.

It did go in the right direction, crossed the river and stopped at Stockman's. But that's when things changed. Instead of taking a left turn, it went straight, on a road that veered to the right, and kept veering to the right. I decided we needed to get off but the next stop was the end of the line for #4--at the bus barn.

We began walking back (I was confident I knew in which direction we needed to go--no mountains or anything to get my bearings here). We went 3-4 blocks, crossed the street and walked down a street. I was praying as we went, as I had no idea where we were. We came to a place where we had to choose to go right or left. I decided left was best. And then I looked up and saw the name of the street--Gertrudes! Yeah! That's the street where this huge old church is that is located just above where we meet for Church. I knew Brivibas (our street) intersected with Gertrudes. I just didn't know how many blocks away we were from Brivibas.

We probably walked 8-10 blocks before I could see the big old church. We reached Brivibas and turned right (now I knew where we were) but had to walk a couple more blocks before we came to a bus stop. Once we are on Brivibas, we can take any bus that comes by to reach our place. So, we boarded the first one that came by. We walked into the apartment at 9:50--an hour after leaving the office.

Of course, we were blessed that it is daylight until who knows when here (sometime after I go to bed). And the other thing for which I feel greatly blessed, I have never felt unsafe here.

So, now we know we don't take the #4 autobuss unless we just want to go to Stockman's.

The miracle is that, as I thought about our adventure, I realized that if we hadn't found ourselves on Gertrudes, I have no idea where we would have ended up. I thought I knew which direction we needed to go, but I was wrong. I know the Lord heard my prayer and that He does watch over His missionaries.

I also feel confident now that I can find my way around, even when I get lost, with the Lord's help!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You've heard of surfing the waves---

We have a different kind of surfing here. It's called tram-valj or trolley buss surfing.

We are riding a lot more public transportation since moving our apartment away from the current office. Some of the drivers seem to be playing a game to see how many passengers they can toss around the inside of the vehicle. I'm trying to get my sea legs but it's taking a little time.

What I've learned from the young sister missionaries is that you have to plant your feet, with your feet a foot apart, then bend your knees slightly--and after all of that--hang on for dear life!

The blessings of serving a mission--as a couple

Following our walking tour, and a lovely dinner at the mission home (where the sisters gathered in the kitchen, putting the food together, and the brothers gathered in the living room, discussing mission business), we shared testimonies. I was touched as each one stood and spoke of the joy and satisfaction they have serving together as couples. One couple arrived on Tuesday, to serve in Lithuania. One couple will leave after 23 months, the first part of August. One couple, also serving 23 months, will leave the middle of November, and our office couple leaves the middle of December.

It's different to serve with your eternal companion.

The charm of cobblestone streets is wearing thin

After a couple of hours walking on cobblestone streets yesterday, my legs and feet are no longer charmed by them. The amazing thing to me is that the women (mostly the young women) wear very spiked heels and seem to have no problem walking on the cobblestones. I can't help but wonder what foot problems they will have when they "mature" a little.

The walking tour of Riga

Yesterday all the senior missionaries, along with President and Sister Dance, took a walking tour of Riga with a travel agent who is a member of the Church and a native Latvian. She was so informative and interesting. Some of us had already seen everything, but she explained some of the background and traditions of Latvia. We learned that the Art Nouveau architecture for which Riga is famous, has 3 types: the romantic, the functional and the ostentious or for show. Some of the buildings were built just for show on the outside and the inside was not nearly so nice.

We even saw one house built by a tradesman (this was not art nouveau architecture) who built the front to be about 4 stories high but the back (and the living portion) was only 1 1/2 stories high. He even put windows all the way to the top, just for show. They had to pay for each window and so it looked like he was prosperous because he had so many windows.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The new apartment!

Below is a view of the living room, looking from the entry hall. That's Sister Humphrey studying her scriptures. This furniture is as comfortable as it looks and, after sitting on the hard wood seats for 7 months, it's wonderful!!! The other two pictures below are different views of the living room. The landlord left the TV and DVD player, the art work, the nice wood furniture and the decorative plates.

Below is the front door/entry hall.

This is the Toilette room.

This is a shoe holder that sits in the entry hall just outside of my bedroom.

The kitchen may not be any larger than the other one, but is configured differently. The washer is larger than the other one, and we have much more storage now. We have a microwave and a good-sized toaster oven, but not a regular oven. This window looks out on the back courtyard where we have a large, lone tree.

Note the lamp over the table. There are recessed lights in the ceiling but this is the one we have to use whenever we have the washer, microwave, or toaster oven on. We were all settled in by Saturday evening and, after doing quite a bit of cleaning, had found a place for everything. Sunday, after raining for two days, it felt a bit chilly in the apartment, so we had 2 small space heaters going, lights on in the living room, and the toaster oven roasting chicken, when the power went out. We thought it was related to the rain and expected it to come back on shortly. Fortunately, the chicken was cooked and we had dinner with light from the windows. After awhile, Sister Humphrey noticed a light on in the building across the way. I opened our front door and saw the light on in the hall. So, after a call to the landlord, trying to reset the circuit, a visit by the landlord and, two hours later, the arrival of a neighbor who had a tool to open the electrical box outside of our apartment, we had power again. That's when we learned that we are quite restricted in what appliances/lights, etc. we can use at the same time.
It was such a surprise and a disappointment to me, because they have done some very nice things in the apartment, including placing outlets all over the place (the old apartment had very, very few outlets), but they didn't re-wire the apartment. So, I will learn how to live with this.

The saying came to mind: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

This is our large jacuzzi tub which we enter from the end. We both prefer showers so haven't tried the jacuzzi. The shower head is very nice and I am, once again, very thankful to be limber and agile at my advanced age.

This is the view of the bathroom from the tub. The floor is heated as is the towel rack (the curved tubing). It's very nice to have a larger sink.

This is my bedroom. It's so luxurious compared to the bedroom I shared with Sister Humphrey. It has more furniture than needed, but at least I've found a place for everything.

My bedroom from the other side. You can't really see the desk, but it's a very nice wooden desk and the chair is very comfortable. My bed is beneath the window.

I thought I took pictures of Sister Humphrey's bedroom, but apparently not. She has a large queen size bed and a wall of closet, but one third is being used by the landlord and 1/3 is cubby holes, which are very handy for many things.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Moving day--to a new apartment and a new office

Sister Humphrey and I will be moving into our new apartment on Saturday and are excited to have more room and nicer places to sit and study.

I won't bother to give you the address of the apartment because we don't receive mail there. But, I do receive mail at the office so want to let everyone know that, as of August 1, our office will be moved to Cesu 3-1, LV-1012, Riga, Latvia. Cards, letters and care packages always welcome!!!

Actually, e-mails are still the safest, most reliable way to communicate with me here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wal Mart has arrived!

Well, sort of. The Carsons took us to the new Riga Center. We parked in covered parking--like at home. We walked through the doors of Prima and were blown away. It was large and clean and more like a store back home than anything we've seen. The aisles were wide enough for two shopping carts to pass, side by side. There was the food section and the clothing section, and the gardening section, and the electronic section, etc. etc.

I didn't get a picture of the outside of the very large building called Riga Center, but it does remind us Americans of the Titanic, sinking. It's design is unique and the colors/materials they have used on the outside are definitely not like anything we've seen in America. It's too far away for us to go there by bus, probably, but it was fun to go inside and actually feel like "back home."

The Palace and gardens

In an earlier blog I told of having visited Rundale Palace. There was snow on the ground, the trees were bare and it was very cold. Today, there was no snow on the ground, the trees were leafed out, the gardens were visible and planted, but it was still on the cold side.

This is the entrance to the palace. There were quite a few people there today.

Here are some pictures. The gardens are beautiful, but the tulips had bloomed, only one of the peony bushes was in bloom (it will be spectacular in another week or so) and only a rose here and there in bloom (another couple of weeks and it will also be beautiful). The gardens go forever and are well cared for. There are two little cafe areas/picnic areas amongst them. We had brought a lunch, but ate it in the car as it was too cold to do so outside.

Real live storks!!!

Elder and Sister Carson (the CEs missionaries) kindly took us to Rundale Palace today. Again, it's such a treat to ride in a car, especially with someone else driving. On the way we saw real live storks!!! And their nests. They come back in the Spring, build their nests and lay the eggs.
The first picture above (with nest on tall chimney) has a stork standing and there were little babies we could see, but don't know if you can see them, or if I even caught them.

This stork made it's nest on the top of one of the chimneys at Rundale Palace. Their nests are so huge!