Friday, August 26, 2011

August 22, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow sounds like a pretty week. I'm way jealous that Frank got to go to Oregon and make friends with homeless people that sounds like a party. Except I'm ok with it cause I get to meet a bunch of homeless people in kengarags latvia ;p. That's crazy that school is starting so soon. It seems like time just flies by. Is it starting this week?
I'm having a blast here in Riga. It's so much fun! Svetlana passed her baptismal interview this last week and she's getting baptized this upcoming Saturday. I'm so excited! She is so awesome. It's way incredible how much the Gospel has changed her life for the better. Everyone that I've seen progress all the way to baptism is changed so much for the better. I remember when we met Sveta on the street a few months ago she was way super shy and didn't really know anything about the Gospel. Now she's really opened up and has an incredibly deep knowledge of the Gospel. Every day I really how absolutely tiny my role in conversion is. I kind of just stand there and if they're ready to receive the Gospel then the Holy Ghost will work on them. I'm just happy that I can be in places where the Holy Ghost can work through me. I'll make sure to send you some pictures of the upcoming baptism! We also had a way crazy awesome miracle this last week. Last Tuesday we got a call from some other Elders that are in our zone, and they passed us a name from someone who was in their area from a long time ago. Her name is also Svetlana. We taught her three times this week, and now her, her son, and a family friend have baptismal dates! They are just so prepared. It just super strengthened my testimony that people change through time and God really works on people. Three years ago when she was investigating the church she just wasn't quite ready but this time around she's ready to do all the things necessary to find out if this Gospel is true. There's also another way cool miracle that I just found out about yesterday: Tanya up in Tallinn (who Elder Waddoups and I started teaching) is getting baptized this weekend also!!! Miracles never stop in missionary work. I'll take some time to answer the questions that you asked me now.
1. How late does it stay light there in the summer. I am assuming since you are about at the same latitude as northern Canada that it stays light for a while. That is probably pretty cool. And pretty dark in the winter. Yeah it's pretty crazy during the Summer you never see dark (at least as a missionary) One time I woke up at 3 in the morning to go to the bathroom and it was already getting light haha. And in the winter it's about the exact opposite. It gets completely dark at about 4 p.m. It's a lot of fun. I love the seasons here.
2. Tell me more about your companion. What does he like? What is his family into? My companion is really cool! He's really into music. He's really good at the piano and he did choir. I can't quite put my finger on what his family likes to do, but it sounds like they just love spending a lot of time together. He's the second to youngest out of 9 kids so a lot of his siblings are married and moved out, since he was a little kid. He went to Utah State! so that means we just have an automatic bond of love for each other and hate for BYU.
3. Tell me more about your mission president. What is your favorite thiing about him? He's just a way personable guy he really cares about each and every one of us. He's way funny, and he loves to tell stories, so it's really easy just to sit there and listen to him tell us what the olden days were like haha.
*4. These are just a few thoughts for mom's request: I'd say that the biggest way that my mission has blessed me is with my understand. I understand so much better the how and the why God does the things he does. I can see that He has a plan for each and every person. I more fully understand the power of priesthood, and the blessings of the Atonement. I don't know how to explain my thoughts right now way well. I'm just trying to say that before my mission I was a fool and didn't understand (even though I thought I did) but now I can see how much my eyes have been opened. It also has blessed me so much with desire in my life. Every day I just want to be a better person. I want to improve in every possible aspect, and with the help of the atonement that is all possible. I'm sorry if those ideas don't help you a lot, or if they're not understandable haha.
Well thanks for the email, and thanks for being awesome. Have a great week. I love you.

-Elder Pack

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Pictures

Vladislav's Baptism

Ivanovs Family Baptism

August 15, 2011

View from the Tallin Teaching Center
Elder Pack with the Branch President in Tallin
Elder Pack with Aleksander
Elder Pack in front of Estonian & Russian castles
Dear family,
Wow it's a lot better getting 6 emails instead of zero haha. Wow it sounds like you're all having a great time. I wish I could have gone with you to Red Fish lake with you that would have been a lot of fun, but that's ok because we'll just have to go next year *hint hint*. Dad I totally forgive you for losing my ski because you've put so much effort into finding it again. I'll just have to save up so money and get some new ones. It's ok though, for some reason on my mission I'm just getting way excited to be a lot better of a worker than I was when I was at home. Missions teach you a lot about working hard even if you don't want to. So I'll be able to save up some money. It's great that there are so many awesome things happening at home, it's crazy that school is starting up so soon, is seems like yesterday when last school year was starting.
The Baltics are just wonderful this time of year. It's not too hot and not too cold. People seem like they want to listen more, and I'm in Riga, one of the coolest places on earth. I hope that you can all see the Baltics one day, after Robbie and Frank serve their missions we can save up some money and just go on a mission tour of all of our missions. This week was a really good one. There was actually a really crazy miracle that I want to tell you about right now that has been happening for the last little while. Two transfers ago I was down in Riga for a zone leaders' council and I ended up forgetting my passport so I got stuck here in Riga for a few days. During that time I was with a couple really cool Elders: Elder Moffat and Elder Williams. We had a way miracle day and found a lot of really cool people. One of the people we found was a lady in a park (who we wouldn't have been able to teach if there wouldn't have been three of us) Which makes it a really huge miracle that I forgot my passport because Elder Thomas and I are teaching her right now and she's getting baptized next week! It's very incredible the ways that the Lord can work through you, even if it's something that seems annoying like forgetting your passport while you're in another country. I'll for sure keep you updated, and send you pictures when it happens.
Which reminds me. I brought my camera today! I can finally send you some pictures of my adventures in Tallinn haha. Thank you so much for all the great emails from all of the kids, it's actually a way awesome coincidence because I sent some little letters to all the kids this morning, and I actually talked about a lot of the stuff that they talked about in their emails haha. Have a great week, I love all of you!
-Elder Pack
P.S. Robbie I don't really have a lot of way good ideas for your talk, but I can definitely make a few comments. Gratitude is a way cool subject and I'm sure that you can find some really cool stuff on it, especially from President Monson's talk that was a year ago. One of the coolest things that I've noticed about gratitude is that if you make sure to always show your gratitude you won't have regrets after you're away from those people. Gratitude has an amazing changing effect on the person giving and the person receiving. When we express our gratitude we focus more on the people's good attributes and strengths than their weaknesses and flaws, our love towards them in turn grows and we can find things in that person that will help us grow. And when others show gratitude towards us we feel that love from them. As we get compliments for what we did well we want to do even better, we improve a lot faster than if that gratitude is always withheld. Those are just a couple ideas I hope that they help

August 8, 2011

Hey family!

Thanks for the emails that you sent me last week and this week. I'm sorry that I checked my email before I got all those great emails from you. It was ok though because I really had no time to be on the computer. I'm glad to hear that things are going well back at home. I'm happy that I'm able to serve and stay happy all the time because I know that everything is just going wonderful at home. It's crazy to me that school is starting up again so soon. It feels like school just barely got over like last week, time flies.

As you can tell from the subject of my email I'm in Riga again!!! We just had transfers this last week (they are going by faster and faster). I'm still a zone leader but now I'm in Riga center with Elder Thomas. He's so awesome! We actually came on our missions at the same time. I'm way excited to be serving here in Riga again. I'm actually in a different area this time, I'm in the south part of Riga in an area called Kengarags. I'm definitely sad to have left Tallinn, but it's ok maybe I'll make it back there someday. We have a couple people that are working towards baptism and we found a few really cool people this week. There was a really cool miracle that happened this week that I wanted to share with you. I actually didn't even see it but it was an awesome miracle. I don't know if you remember any of the investigators that I was teaching while I was in Daugavpils, but we had an investigators whose name was Nina. But anyways since I'm Zone leader in Latvia I get to hear all the things that are going on around the country. And a wonderful thing happened this last Saturday... Nina got baptized!!! I'm so happy I couldn't stop jumping up and down and hugging everybody. Elder Thomas was getting kind of upset haha. So that's a cool miracle, I'm glad I was able to play a small part in her conversion. Elder Thomas, my new companion, is so awesome. He's from Twin Falls Idaho (that explains how cool he is). He has a really big family and he's like the fifth missionary out of his family, that's some good tradition. I'll finally be able to send you pictures now that I'm out of Tallinn, but I'm in such a bad habit of bringing my camera to emailing that I totally forgot it. But I'll make sure to send you pictures next week of a bunch of the adventures that I went on in Tallinn.
This week I've been thinking a lot about the how we look at things has basically everything to do with how things go. Does that make any sense? I'll try to explain. For example when we go around and complain about how nothing goes right and we look for the bad in every body, the entire world to us looks like a way evil place. But when we go around and look at the world in a positive way we can really see all the wonderful things that we've been blessed with. We can see the potential that everyone has. I also think that it ties a lot to our faith. If we just look at the world for a little bit with faith, and just letting the thought into our head that this really is the work of God then our whole understanding gets opened. The world all of a sudden becomes a great place to be. We know that we have limitless potential and that makes us work harder. We know that everything happens for a reason and for our good and that makes the biggest problems not seem as huge. It's not the world that changes at all, it's us. Sorry if that doesn't make a lot of sense I just wanted to share my ideas.

Have a great week I'm excited to hear from you next week.

-Elder Pack

July 25, 2011

Dear Family,

It sounds like things are going pretty well at home, and that makes me happy. That lesson you gave in Primary mom sounds like it was a really good one. I wish I could have been there to hear it. Pioneers were amazing people, and its true what you said we all have the opportunity to be pioneers in our day. We effect so many people around us, a lot more than we sometimes than we even realize. If we can effect these people in positive ways we can change so many peoples' lives for the better. I've realized this a lot on my mission just looking at all the missionaries around me and how much they've changed my life for the better. As they're positive towards the work and notice all the blessings it really helps me notice all the blessing and enjoy the work with them. It's so hard to move forward when people are negative or focused on things that aren't that important in the given moment. We need to try to be the person who's a good influence and not the one who drags others down with them. Now that I'm thinking about it there are different kinds of pioneers, because the word pioneer doesn't automatically mean that they were a good example. This makes me think of Laman and Lemuel from the Book of Mormon. They were definitely pioneers... They traveled to a new world, they taught by example, and they greatly affected the lives of so many people, but it was in a very negative way. It just shows us that our examples are so impactful, what kind of impact do we want to make? We're all pioneers we just have the choice to be like our great ancestors, or to be like Laman and Lemuel. Thanks for the great lesson you helped me just learn mom :).
Our investigator Tanya is still on the right path towards baptism, she just accepted the word of wisdom and is doing everything she can to follow it. Tanya even came to church a full hour early yesterday in order to avoid the bad influences of the people in her home that smoke and drink. She's taking all the necessary steps and progressing really quickly. It's amazing to see the desire that the Gospel gives to people. As we learn more our desire grows, and as our desire grows we change. Change is the miracle of this Gospel, and I've seen that so much out here in the Baltics. No matter who we were, or what has happened in our lives it doesn't matter, all that matters is who we are today, and what our intentions are for tomorrow. This week Elder Waddoups and I had a great opportunity to go to Riga for a leadership conference (it feels like we're traveling every day somewhere) We learned about the importance of Gospel study, and ways we improve our studies. Not just now but for our whole lives. My mission is funny to me it's changing my whole outlook on everything. Before my mission studies were so lame and boring, but now I find more joy from studying the bible dictionary and Jesus the Christ than I ever did from video games or t.v.
Thanks for all the support and for all the good stories that you tell me on your email. Have a great week, I'm excited to talk to you next week.
-Elder Pack