Thursday, December 24, 2009

The members of the Church in the Baltics

I've been thinking a great deal about these good people who learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, gain a testimony of its truthfulness, commit to baptism, and then remain steadfast and immoveable. We have many young adults who are searching for God and want a better life than they or their parents have. Many of them face strong opposition from their parents, but they persevere, believing firmly that what they have chosen is to follow Jesus Christ.

As I have mentioned, the general citizenship here walks down the street without looking up or from side to side, looking like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

On the other hand, as I associate with the members of the Church, they are happy and industrious and have hope.

One thing they do very well is attend the Temple. The closest temples are in Helsinki Finland and Stockholm Sweden. Either one requires a plane flight or a ferry ride, plus bus/train rides. The Saints here are so committed to the Temple that they take a week at a time, 3 or 4 times a year, to go. They take their children and take turns tending each other's children, so everyone has the opportunity to attend the Temple sessions. The youth do baptisms for the dead. And they feel such joy. Given the fact that their standard of living is far below the norm in America, they are making financial sacrifices, as well as the sacrifice of time.

And the Lord does bless them!

It has caused me to understand more fully what the early Saints endured for their faith in the Lord. How grateful I am for them.

The Baltic winter hit!

Sister Humphrey and I chickened out and didn't go to the Messiah. The temperature had dropped to -14 C and there is no heat in the Dome Cathedral. From my experience last year, I knew I would just sit and chatter through the entire performance. So, we missed out. Elder and Sister Gubler toughed it out and said it was wonderful. They are warmer blooded than I am.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Lucia last night and the Mesijah (Messiah) on Wednesday

The senior missionaries in Riga got together last evening for dinner at a new (to us) restaurant. I had wok chicken and veggies which were quite good. Our embassy friend Mischa joined us and ordered a raspberry white chocolate pie. She took one bit and then passed it around (she was headed for a party at the Marine house where there would be lots of food and besides she's lost a total of 70 lbs in about the last year and is trying to be careful about what she eats (she ate a plate of steamed veggies). Anyway, the pie was soooo good, with fresh raspberries.

Mischa went her way and the rest of us walked over to Olde Towne and looked at their Christmas booths for an hour or so. We then went to the Domas Cathedral for Santa Lucia by the Swedish choir. A 2nd choir took part, also. They are bank workers (Nordea Banka) who got together about 6 months ago to form a choir. They were very good. The highlight for me, though, was the wonderful Latvian soprano Inessa Galante. She sang at the Santa Lucia performance last year, also. She has one of the most beautiful, rich voices. And, I just discovered that you can listen to her by googling Inessa Galante, which will lead you to some performances on YouTube.

After the concert, we all walked about 20 minutes to the apartment of the S&I (formerly CES) couple, Elder and Sister Carson, for dessert. They had a variety of things for us to sample. Fortunately for me, they were all chocolate except for a cherry torte. Then we walked about 5 minutes to the bus stop, and another 5 minutes from the bus stop to our apartment. We get lots of exercise here!

On Wednesday, we will be going to the Mesijah (Messiah) also in the Domas Cathedral. Last year I nearly froze in the Cathedral but last night it was warmer, plus I was probably dressed better for the cold, plus until yesterday it has been quite mild here so the Cathedral felt warmer when we went inside. It's supposed to be colder this week, so we'll see how cold it is for The Messiah.

Elder Gubler has been our social secretary, unofficially, and has kept us informed about the concerts. He and Sister Gubler leave for home on Friday, so we'll see how much more culture I enjoy before I leave in May.

December 13 and it snowed!

After dinner today we came over to the office to email. I opened the window of my office and took these pictures. The one on the left shows the lights at the opening of the underground parking entrance. The one on the right is directly across from our building. During the weekday, there are Christmas lights among the shrubs. The lighted sign (with blue background) is a new business that sells windows. The one to the right of it is advertising friezetava (beauty salon) pedkurs and manikurs. I memorized the friezetava early on here. I always thought it humorous that a beauty salon would advertise "frizzy" hair. Of course, in Latvian it means something else.

We awoke to snow this morning and it continued to snow very lightly all morning. The temperature is hovering at 32 F or zero C. I'm finally getting use to psyching myself up that zero here is not sooo cold.