December 22, 2014

Baltic Mission

Here are free resources about the Baltic Mission:

Baltic Mission Address

Here’s a recent address for the Baltic Mission. We try our best to keep this info up to date, but it’s a good idea to check the address with several sources, including your mission packet or the mission office.

Baltic Mission
Cesu iela 31-2K2
Riga LV-1012
Latvia

Phone Number: 371-6761-2420
Mission President: President David P. Harding

Baltic Mission Map

Here’s a link to the mission map for the Baltic Mission (LDS). To access the official, up-to-date LDS.org map for the Baltic Mission:

  1. Log into your LDS account here.
  2. Click here.

Videos with Baltic RMs

Here are in-depth YouTube video interviews with returned missionaries from the Baltic Mission.  We interview hundreds of returned missionaries each year, so check back regularly to see new RM interviews.

mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview  mission interview

LDS-Friendly Videos about Latvia

Here are LDS-friendly educational videos about Latvia. We scoured YouTube to find the best quality videos about Latvia, that are free from inappropriate music, immodesty and profanity.

places  history  food  nature  language  time lapses

LDS-Friendly Videos about Estonia

Here are LDS-friendly educational videos about Estonia. We scoured YouTube to find the best quality videos about Estonia, that are free from inappropriate music, immodesty and profanity.

places  history  food  nature  language  time lapses

LDS-Friendly Videos about Lithuania

Here are LDS-friendly educational videos about Lithuania. We scoured YouTube to find the best quality videos about Lithuania, that are free from inappropriate music, immodesty and profanity.

Language  Food

Baltic Missionary Blogs

Here’s a list of LDS missionary blogs for the Baltic Mission. This blog list includes the missionary’s name, URL and when their blog was updated.

*Send your missionary a gift (mission-specific shirts, ties, Christmas stockings/ornaments, pillowcases, etc.)

Baltic Returned Missionaries lifey.org/baltic-mission 2017
Sister Kayleigh Jerman lightinglithuania.blogspot.com 2017
Elder Yost eldersyost.blogspot.com 2017
Elder & Sister Allred allredsinthebaltics.blogspot.com 2017
Elder Thomas Barden thomasjbarden.wordpress.com 2017
Elder Brandon Colvin colvinscalledtoserve.blogspot.com 2015
Mission Alumni mission.net/lithuania/vilnius 2014
Elder Bradley Young elderbradleyyoung.blogspot.com 2014
Sister Sarah Cloward sistercloward.blogspot.com 2014
Sister Shay Chestnut odetoestonia.blogspot.com 2013
Sister Sarah Peterson sarahtheswede.blogspot.com 2013
Sister Alisa Woodland sisteralisawoodland.blogspot.com 2013
Sister Cortney Thorn sistercortneythorn.blogspot.com 2013
Sister Madison Gallacher sistergallacher.wordpress.com 2013
Elder & Sister Davis balticmissionarymemories.blogspot.com 2013
Elder Thomas Long missionsite.net/elderthomaslong 2013
Elder Alex Farnsworth missionsite.net/alexfarnsworth 2013
Elder M’Kay Driggs missionsite.net/eldermkaydriggs 2013
Sister Josephine Bangerter missionsite.net/sisterjosephinebangerter 2013
Elder James Sanford elderjamessanford.blogspot.com 2012
Elder Colter Reeves missionsite.net/eldercolterreeves 2012
Elder Conor Hilton elderconorhilton.blogspot.com 2012
Elder Reginald Pack elderreginaldphillippack.blogspot.com 2012
Baltic Mission balticmission.blogspot.com 2011
Elder Lane Leishman elderleishman.blogspot.com 2011
Elder Jordan Lynch missionsite.net/elderjordanlynch 2011
Elder Dallin Frank missionsite.net/elderfrank 2011
Elder Jeff Manning jeffsmissioninbaltic.blogspot.com 2011
Sister Missionary biggmission.blogspot.com 2010
Elder Jordan Argyle elderargyle.blogspot.com 2010
Elder Justin Martin eldermartin.blogspot.com 2010
Elder Austin Atkinson adventuresofaustinatkinson.blogspot.com 2010

Baltic Mission Groups

Here are Baltic Mission Groups- for LDS missionary moms, returned missionaries, mission presidents and other alumni of the Baltic Mission.

  1. The Mighty Baltic Mission Facebook Group (726 members)
  2. Baltic Mission Facebook Group (436 members)
  3. Czech Republic, Poland, Baltic Mission Moms Group (38 members)
  4. LDS Baltic Mission Facebook Group (27 members)

Baltic Mission T-Shirts

Here are T-shirts for the Baltic Mission!

Shirt designs include Baltic Mission logo/emblem shirts and Called to Serve shirts. The shirts make great gifts for pre-missionaries, returned missionaries and missionaries currently serving. LDS Mission shirts come in all sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, up to 4XL.  The mission designs are printed on white shirts and are shipped to you.

*Simply click on a shirt design to view the details and submit an order. The designs on mission t-shirts may also be printed on other LDS mission gifts, including: Baltic missionary aprons, Christmas stockings, ties, pillow cases, teddy bears and Christmas ornaments.

*Click here to browse Baltic Mission gifts

baltic-mission-t-shirt-1 baltic-mission-t-shirt-2 baltic-mission-t-shirt-3 baltic-mission-t-shirt-4 baltic-mission-t-shirt-5

Baltic Mission Presidents

Here’s a list of current and past Mission Presidents of the Baltic LDS Mission.

  1. 2017-2020, Hal G. Anderson
  2. 2014-2017, David P. Harding
  3. 2011-2014, Jeffrey G. Boswell
  4. 2008-2011, Douglas Dance (Listen to an interview with President Dance)
  5. 2005-2008, Russell N. Watterson
  6. 2002-2005, Peter Roland Barr
  7. 1999-2002, Robert K. Lund
  8. 1996-1999, Bartell C. Jensen
  9. 1993-1996, Robert W. Blair

Baltic LDS Statistics (2015)

  • Church Membership: 1,189 (Latvia), 969 (Lithuania), 1,106 (Estonia)
  • Missions: 1 (Latvia)
  • Temples: 0
  • Congregations: 5 (Latvia), 5 (Lithuania), 4 (Estonia)
  • Family History Centers: 4 (Latvia), 3 (Lithuania), 2 (Estonia)

Helpful Articles about the Baltics

Coming soon..

Baltic Missionary Survey

Here are survey responses from Baltic RMs, to give you a snapshot into what it’s like to live in the mission.

*Click here to take a survey to help pre-missionaries going to your mission.

When did you serve?

  • 2014-2016 (Brianna)
  • 2013-2015 (Jake)
  • 2013-2015 (Thomas)
  • 2013-2015 (Samuel)
  • 2013-2014 (Sarah)
  • 2011-2013 (Kelsey)
  • 2010-2012 (James)
  • 2008-2010 (Miles)
  • 2008-2009 (Jordan)
  • 2007-2009 (Stephen)
  • 2006-2008 (Jared)
  • 2005-2007 (Anonymous)
  • 2004-2006 (Chantel)
  • 2004-2006 (William)
  • 2003-2005 (Geoff)
  • 1997-1998 (Rebecca)
  • 1996-1997 (Jane)
  • 1995-1997 (Ken)
  • 1994-1995 (Rand)

What areas did you serve in?

  • Siauliai, Kaunas, Vilnius. (Brianna)
  • Tallinn and Tartu. (Jake)
  • Riga and Imanta, Latvia; Narva, Estonia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Minsk, Belarus. (Thomas)
  • Riga, Narva, Minsk, Narva again, Tallinn, then Daugavpils. (Samuel)
  • Liepaja and Riga. (Sarah)
  • Rīga and Jelgava. (Kelsey)
  • Latvia and Estonia. (James)
  • Pärnu, Tartu, Tallin, and Keila. (Miles)
  • Riga, Tallinn, Jelgava. (Stephen)
  • Narva, Parnu, Daugavpils, Riga, Klaipeda, Liepaja. (Anonymous)
  • Liepaja, Imanta, Lithuania. (Chantel)
  • Riga, Liepaja. (William)
  • Daugavpils, Riga, and Narva. (Geoff)
  • Kaunas, Klaipeda, Vilnius. (Rebecca)
  • Tallinn and Tartu Estonia. (Jane)
  • Kaunus, Vilnius, Klaipeda. (Ken)
  • Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Klaipeda. (Rand)

What were some favorite foods?

  • Borscht and kali(drink). (Jake)
  • Borscht, sausage. (Thomas)
  • “Baltic Tacos” (bean/rice/corn burritos), noodle salad, Mac and cheese, ham and cucumber sandwiches. (Samuel)
  • I loved potato pancakes. They prepare and eat them many different ways. My favorite way was with cheese on top with a creamy mushroom sauce. They also love pork and any way that they made pork was very yummy! (Sarah)
  • Maizītes (little Latvian pastries), Piparkūka (Latvian gingerbread), and most of the chocolate. (Kelsey)
  • Blinnie, Borsh, cucumber sandwiches, honey cake, chocolate, shaslinkie, pelminie, all dairy products, and turk kebabs. (James)
  • Any kind of dairy item! (Yogurt, sour cream, ice cream etc), palmerni (Russian food not Estonian), pancakes(more like crepes) (Miles)
  • Everything. But specifically: Rosols (a mayo-based salad) Kotletes (like meatballs) Karbonades (like chicken stakes) Dzeramais Jogurts (drinkable yogurt) Sierini (no translation, but imagine if cheesecase were about 100x more delicious and better for you) Pelekie Zirni ar Speki (gray peas with a bacon-like sauce). (Jordan)
  • “Alma” brand yogurt! -Blinchiki -Shashliki -Pelmeni -Borsch -Solyanka -Smetana (sour cream) -Kalev chocolates -Drakon candies -Selga cookies -“Log”- missionary dish but supposedly Lithuanian?? (Stephen)
  • The little dumplings filled with beef, potatoes, and cheese. I forget what they’re called. You could buy them frozen at any market. Best served fried. Also “log”, “stop your heart”, and baltic tacos. These weren’t native foods, but missionary specials. (Jared)
  • Pelmeni, anything dairy, cepelini, meat patties, pastries. (Anonymous)
  • Stat dogs, Honey cake, Cabbage roll. (Chantel)
  • Borsch, Shi, Fresh bread, Smitana (sour cream), and Texicana (salsa). (Geoff)
  • Cepelinai, blynai, borscht, thr garlic bread at the restaurant Ritas was amazing!! (Rebecca)
  • Valio yogurt, hapukoor (Estonian sour cream), taco fest with our district with home made tortillas. (Jane)
  • Koldunai, cepelinai, borscht, ice cream, chili. (Ken)
  • Unfortunately the food is not very good. (Rand)

What was a funny experience?

  • Ceppeleniai (fried), cold beet soup, borcsh, potato pancakes, bandeles. (Brianna)
  • We went to visit a member in the hospital on Christmas. It turned out to not be a hospital, but rather the women’s wing of a mental institution. We got surrounded by… interesting women. (Thomas)
  • When my companion and I knocked a door and the guy was very drunk and passed out as soon as he opened the door. (Samuel)
  • My companion face-planted off a bus onto the icy sidewalk right before my first district meeting. It’s probably only funny because she didn’t experience any permanent damage. (Kelsey)
  • Learning all the fun Russian sayings and trying to teach drunks. (James)
  • Getting rained on so badly at about a half hour bus ride away from home and already knocked the doors of all the houses around us so we jumped in the puddles splashing like kids for like ten minutes around the bus stop while waiting for the bus to come. (Miles)
  • There were many…I returned from my mission over 5 years ago, so I can’t think of any in particular. (Jordan)
  • There was a convert lady who gave up coffee and turned to a Postum-like product. Once when we were visiting, she offered us some. I initially declined but she pressed and I finally accepted a cup that she had prepared extra bitter for herself. No amount of sugar could save this cup. I was usually good at muscling down undesirable food and drinks to avoid offending the host. However, I was only a fourth of the way through my cup and truly thought I would be not able to finish. (Stephen)
  • Too many to count. A ton of silly inside jokes mostly. (Jared)
  • Trying to street contact but it was so cold the only thing showing on us were our eyes. (Chantel)
  • I was walking home with my companion and a member of our branch in Narva, Estonia and it was in the middle of winter when the ground is a solid block of ice (November to March) when the next thing I know my feet are up by my eyes and my back and head were rushing toward the ground…luckily I landed in a puddle of water that had not yet re-froze for the night. Good times! (Geoff)
  • Falling on the ice covered streets in the winter and pulling my companion down with me and trying to get back up. Laughing so hard made it that much more difficult. (Jane)
  • I made a chocolate cake that uses mayonnaise in place of the eggs and oil, but at the time, my Lithuanian wasn’t good enough to realize that the mayo I bought for it was dill flavored. Took the cake to zone conference and had several missionaries ask me why the cake tasted different-as they were on their 2nd or 3rd piece. (Ken)
  • Every day something crazy would happen. I mean really crazy. We found passed out drunk guys in our apartment elevator frequently. (Rand)

What was a crazy experience?

  • One time my companion and I received a very threatening text from an unknown number. We had to hide out in our apartment all day for two days till mission security was able to find out who it was and why they sent it. (Brianna)
  • My companion and I were attacked by a drunk and I took him down. (Jake)
  • Basically every day, we had to be careful with how we reacted to drunk people
  • Someone told us to disappear, then tried to steal my tag and hit me. Then he chased us as we ran away. The funny thing is, he wasn’t even drunk! (Thomas)
  • Sometimes there were people under drug influence who we had to get away from as well, carefully, but asap. Those were the really creepy ones. (Samuel)
  • One time my companion and I almost got split up while riding the bus. She was in the bus and was stuck behind a big crowd of people. As she went to get off she got stuck and the bus started to drive off with her on it still. The elders we were with had to chase down the bus and get the driver to stop and let her off. She hadn’t been in the mission long and didn’t speak the language so it was a scary thought to think she would be in the city without me. (Sarah)
  • I was serving in a Latvian-speaking three-some, and we were all standing in the middle of a bus. Out of nowhere, a large man approached us and started yelling in Russian. He tried talking to both of my companions, who told him in Latvian that they didn’t speak Russian. Frustrated, he turned to me. I tried a different tactic by telling him in Russian that I didn’t speak Russian. This was apparently a mistake because he suddenly grabbed my companion’s copy of the Book of Mormon and started hitting me with it. I turned toward the window, trying to ignore him, and he reacted by ramming his head into my shoulder a few times. Luckily, another guy on the bus intervened. Looking back, the experience is kind of amusing, but trust me, it was definitely alarming in real life. (Kelsey)
  • When a man misunderstood what we were saying and thought we were police and pulled a gun on us. Also trying to master the ice and being able to run without falling down. (James)
  • All the dogs seem pretty aggressive and one bit at my shoe once, also a very grumpy Russian man tried to hit me with a police baton while screaming at me in Russian. (Miles)
  • While knocking, we spoke with a lady through her door. She was pretty freaked out that somebody was knocking so “late” at night (it was 8 PM, but the sun set 3 hours before). While talking to a nice family the next flight of stairs down, her husband came out bearing a pistol, and just wordlessly pointed it at my chest until I left the building. (Jordan)
  • A lady in one of the branches passed away and several missionary companionships planned to attend the funeral/burial. However, the husband didn’t show up for the bus so most of the companionships went to different places to look for him. My companion and I went ahead to the cemetery. We got to the open grave, casket to the side, and the workers told us they needed to bury the wife right then so they could go do another burial. By this time, the husband had been found and everyone else was on their way. The husband begged that we not lower the casket until he arrived so we asked the workers if we could do it. They said sure, left us some shovels and took off… Once the husband arrived, we had a short service and then I helped lower the casket and refill the hole. Craziest thing I ever did as a missionary. (Stephen)
  • Crazy drunk man pulled a gun out of his desk and told us we couldn’t leave his apartment. We quickly neutralized him and sprinted out of the building. Never went back to that part of the city. (Jared)
  • Punched and chased by cops who were off duty. Gun pulled on me 2 times. (Anonymous)
  • Pushed down the stairs by a drunk man. (Chantel)
  • Being attacked by a dog behind a fence. (William)
  • I had a “gang” member rip my name tag off and grab me by the collar and pull me close to his face and tell me that he’s killed people before and I could be next. I knew he was drunk and wouldn’t remember a thing and probably could walk straight but luckily we were in public and nothing came of the situation. (Geoff)
  • We taught a 1D to a husband and wife who we later suspected being in the mob…during that 1D he seemed to have someone hiding in another room and they were acting really weird and antsy throughout the visit. (Rebecca)
  • Having a drunk lady trying to beat us up at a bus station. She was drinking really cheap “perfume” for the alcohol content. Luckily a policeman drove by and got her away from us…and she didn’t have good aim because she was drunk. (Jane)
  • Had a gun pulled on me once. Got taken to jail in a paddy wagon one night. My companion had his lower lip split open and a tooth knocked out by a big Russian guy. Got pulled off of trains by border guards several times because I didn’t have the correct visa. (Rand)

What was a spiritual experience?

  • Many. (Jake)
  • When we talked to a guy at a bus stop, gave him a handout and went our way. My companion felt he needed to start praying for him a few weeks later, and prayed for him for a week. One day we got a call from him, and he said for about a week (since my companion had been praying) he had a nagging feeling that he should call us, and he finally did. He had a baptismal commitment on the third meeting, but crazy things happened in his life and he moved to Russia with nothing, and lost contact. (Samuel)
  • I think one of my most spiritual experiences was in the beginning of my mission (I was still in my first transfer). We were meeting with an investigator and I had such a strong connection with her. I hardly spoke the language at all. Well, there was one lesson and we were talking about trials. She was currently really struggling with many trials. Well, I felt prompted to share a scripture with her about Heavenly Father’s love. I felt the spirit so strong as I was able to find the words to testify to her about the love that we feel in our lives from our Heavenly Father and I was able to help her feel His love. (Sarah)
  • Some amazing things happened in Latvia. A lot of experiences are still near and dear though, so I’ll leave it at that. You’ll have spiritual experiences of your own. 🙂 (Kelsey)
  • How I was able to make many people smile no matter how hard the day was. (James)
  • Setting goals to get two people baptized by next week without them having dates set and making it happen by committing them and following through with all the interviews and such. (Miles)
  • I was teaching the most incredible church member who was having a really hard time. She asked for a lesson on a specific topic, and after thinking a minute or two about how to teach it, and praying to open our lesson, I opened my mouth to teach about that topic. To my surprise, my mouth started talking without me. The Spirit put into my mind the exact words to say, the exact verses to use, everything that the dear sister needed to hear. This divine lesson continued, beautifully flowing from her topic to other topics that blessed her with strength and hope and fed her spiritual needs, for almost an hour. I have never heard a more beautiful, loving sermon since. (Jordan)
  • When I was in Jelgava, we met in a rented apartment building for church. Since we didn’t have a font, we either did baptisms in the river or we took a bus to the church in Riga. We were teaching a lady, Lilija, and she chose to be baptized in the river. This was in the fall and the water was already getting cold. After the baptism, we had a short service back at the “church” apartment building. This sister talked about how cold the water was when she was immersed, but as she came up, she said she felt a lightness, almost like being so completely free that she would float away. Though the water was freezing, she said she would happily do it again 🙂 (Stephen)
  • Obviously there were many. Zone conferences stood out in particular, but some of the most sweet experiences were at the most unexpected times and places. (Jared)
  • Teaching lessons, and then the Spirit would fill the room. No one could deny it and actions were taken by investigators to build a relationship with God. (Anonymous)
  • Teaching a woman that had the Spirit around her. You could feel the love of God surrounding her. He cared so much for this woman and made us love her. (Chantel)
  • When we had a zone fast for Andreas. His job had been threatened because of his decision to be baptized a member of the church. (Rebecca)
  • Tracting one day, we spoke to a man at his door who said we should be out at the beach sunbathing, not wasting our young lives trying to share the gospel. We were able to tell him we were doing what the Lord would have us do. The Spirit testified to my heart that day that I was where I should be. (Jane)
  • The whole mission. It is a special place. We saw people converted, healed, you name it. We experienced it. (Rand)

What are some interesting facts about the Baltic Mission?

  • Religion is a big tradition in the culture, yet plays almost no part in their daily lives. That makes it very hard for people to become converted for basically every reason possible. (Samuel)
  • My mission is very small. There are four languages in my mission. It was so small that anyone who spoke Latvian was in the same zone the whole mission. Baltic missionaries get very close to one another and are the greatest of friends after the mission. (Sarah)
  • Rīga claims being the home of the first Christmas tree. The people love going to the countryside in the summertime in the weekends. Līgo is the summer solstice holiday in the middle of June. It’s a HUGE deal that involves jumping over fires, eating lots of food, and singing traditional music. Latvia was occupied by Russia and Germany, and its history is incredibly tragic. People who lived most of their lives under Soviet rule have a lot of interesting stories to tell. (Kelsey)
  • It’s one of the only missions that covers 4 countries and speaks 5 different languages. (James)
  • Four languages! It gets really cold in the winter. One of the most unique places to live in the world for all of its history. When I served, there were about 30 missionaries in each country so about 90-100 missionaries total. (Miles)
  • The mission covers 4 countries. 3 of them are proselyting countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), and one service (Belarus). There are 5 main languages spoken by missionaries: Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, and English (and Belorussian in Belarus, but since they aren’t teaching per se, I don’t count it). Official Church business is often conducted in Finnish and German, so the members that know those languages often deal with those logistic interactions. There are only a few cities in each country that are open to missionary work. Riga (the capitol of Latvia) is over 800 years old, and each of the other states have similarly ancient cities with a very rich history. (Jordan)
  • These are post-Soviet countries. There is some amazing history from the Cold War, plus their own beautiful histories. (Stephen)
  • Well a multi-country mission is pretty unique. Back when I served the Russian speakers could serve in all three countries. I accumulated a LOT of entry stamps in my passport. The former soviet union aspect also makes for some interesting social and cultural peculiarities. Russians were mostly “transplanted” in the mid 19th century, so you now have families that are second or third generation in Latvia/Lithuania/Estonia yet are still considered outsiders by the “natives”. There’s quite a bit of world war II history that I wasn’t aware of beforehand. Cool museums and monuments. We typically learn about the Western front against the Nazis but the Eastern (soviet) front was especially brutal though not as emphasized in school. (Jared)
  • 5 languages, 4 cultures, small branches. (Anonymous)
  • Baptisms tripled under our Mission President. He was truly directed by God. (Chantel)
  • We were told Lithuanian is one of the oldest and hardest languages to learn. (To this day, almost 20 yrs later, I sometimes dream in Lithuanian and wake up remembering AND UNDERSTANDING everything I’ve said!) (Rebecca)
  • Our mission included 4 countries while I was there, but as an Estonian speaker, I only served in Estonia. I spent more than half my mission in Tallinn. There were only 4 Estonian speaking sisters for most of my mission…so we were companions for a long time. Estonians are strong and have fierce patriotism and love for their culture and country. (Jane)
  • People like to hunt for mushrooms and go berry picking like it is a sport. (Rand)

What was the weather like?

  • Cold. (Brianna)
  • Cold, windy and muggy. (Jake)
  • In the winter. it was constantly overcast and very cold. In the dead of winter, it would be dark by 3:30 in the afternoon. The summers were pretty warm and sunny. (Thomas)
  • Either really good, or really bad. When it is cloudy, there are often “uniclouds” (complete cloud cover) because of the flat terrain. It’s very humid. Cold winters but not always much snow. (Samuel)
  • It is pretty hot and humid in the summer and it rains a ton in the fall and spring. Winters can be humid and cold. While I was there, it would be cold, but there wasn’t a ton of snow. (Sarah)
  • If you’ve heard about Alaska’s contrasting seasons, then you probably have an accurate description of the weather in Latvia. In the wintertime, it is freezing cold and the snow is amazing!! The rivers freeze over, and you can see people ice fishing for several months. During the winter you can expect 6 hours of daylight, which heavily contributes to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). That entails feeling sad and depressed beyond what missionaries typically feel. Vitamin D seriously does the trick though. As soon as I started taking that in November, I was a different person. I should have started in September. In contrast, the summers are warm and you have to put foil in your bedroom windows to keep the sun from getting in your eyes at 4:30 in the morning. The summers in Latvia are gorgeous and extremely green. I remember that it rained a lot. The cloud formations in Rīga were amazing. (Kelsey)
  • Cold … and cold then a little bit of summer and more cold. (James)
  • Humid, 75-80 degrees in summer and it rains frequently, humid and freezing cold in the winter (-5 degrees for the entire month of January). (Miles)
  • Summers were hot and humid, with very short nights. Winters were cold and humid, with very short days. Spring and summer were several weeks long and stunningly beautiful. (Jordan)
  • Crazy humid all the time. The spring and fall are beautiful but the winters are cold and the summers, though not too hot, are suffocating with the humidity. And always be ready for rain! (Stephen)
  • Temperate and humid. It gets very cold but not like Siberia or anything. Summers are fairly warm and humid. The biggest adjustment is the sunlight. The latitude is approximately the same as southern Alaska. In summer the sun is up by 5 am and doesn’t go down till 11 pm. Winters are opposite, gets light around 9 am and is dark again by 4. It is also usually overcast in the winter, so you can go several weeks at a time without actually seeing the sun. The bleak sea of bland concrete buildings doesn’t help. (Jared)
  • Very cold long winters, very short fall and spring, hot summer. (Anonymous)
  • Freezing cold for 9 months out of the year and humid the other 3. (Chantel)
  • Cold in the winter and comfortably warm in the summer. (William)
  • COLD winter, HOT summer! LOTS of rain in between! (Rebecca)
  • Frigid, dark, long winters….very pleasant summers. (Jane)
  • Dark and cold in the winter. Bight and humid in the summer. (Rand)

Any things you really like about the area/people?

  • It was beautiful in the summer. The people seem really cold but if you talk to them often times they are actually very friendly. (Brianna)
  • They don’t sugarcoat anything. (Jake)
  • They were very nice. They were mostly patient with your language, and willing to help you learn. I love how they really value teaching youth. They also value families, though their actions don’t always support their words. (Samuel)
  • The people I served were wonderful. They were slow to trust at first, but when they opened up they were some of the most loyal people. I gained some of the bestest of friends while I was serving in Latvia. (Sarah)
  • The people are sincere and very kind. If you ever drop something on a bus, 5 different people frantically try to get your attention and make sure you retrieve whatever fell. (Kelsey)
  • I loved the history and the strength of the members who have to push and push to become strong and independent in a world that is always pushing back. (James)
  • The Estonians loved talking to Americans about America, not so much the gospel, but for the most part they are a very friendly people. I made excellent friendships and learned how to love others more than myself. (Miles)
  • They are very proud of their families, their culture, and their history. They will fiercely defend what they consider their own. While usually aloof, once you befriend them, they are true, dear friends. (Jordan)
  • Three countries, five main languages (counting Russian and English) plus several others. It’s an amazing blend of cultures. (Stephen)
  • Most of the people are very sincere. They aren’t always quick to open up or be friendly – they’ve had very hard lives and their history gives plenty of great reasons to distrust strangers. But once they get to know you and you earn their trust the loyalty and love they will show you is truly amazing. (Jared)
  • Everyone had history and were proud of it. Everyone knew the history of their country and were excited to share it. (Chantel)
  • Loving, super nice to us!! Humble, grateful for the little that they had. Faithful! (Rebecca)
  • I love how patriotic Estonians are. I love how they celebrate their heritage through song and dance festivals. Old Tallinn is beautifully preserved from centuries ago. (Jane)
  • The Baltics left an indelible impact on my life that can’t be erased. My personal character and testimony were forged in the crucible of the early church in Latvia, Lithania, Estonia and Russia. (Rand)

Any packing/clothing advice?

  • Bring good socks and great thermals. Make sure you have a good jacket as well. (Jake)
  • Buy your coat and other winter clothes over there. You can get pretty warm clothes for somewhat cheap there. (Thomas)
  • Pack warm, but don’t go crazy. Get slimmer fitting suits (but not tight). Don’t be surprised if iPods are not allowed. Don’t buy a giant bag/satchel/purse, you will want a smaller one to carry just a couple things, or else you will get bad back pains carrying that around all day for 2 years. Boots can be nice, but aren’t always needed if you have shoes with good grip on the soles.  (Samuel)
  • I loved all the scarves and other accessories I brought. It is hard to bring a lot of variety of clothes, but I found it was fun to be able to accessorize in lots of different ways. It made the outfits feel new even when they weren’t. (Sarah)
  • Buy your winter coat once you get over there. They have amazing down coats for less money than you’d have to spend in the States. (Kelsey)
  • Echo shoes/boots, scarves, different types of gloves, peanut butter, root beer extract, and warm socks. (James)
  • I bought my winter coat there to save luggage space and I had my parents ship me some winter boots/professional style boots because I thought they’d have some there but they didn’t have professional looking boots. Only bring three or four ties from home and just buy more ties there because they have a European style that you’ll like. (Miles)
  • Bring both warm and cold weather gear, but don’t go crazy. You can buy hats, coats, etc in the Baltics that will keep you warmer than almost any foreign coats or hats will. Make sure you do your research on shoes. I blew through 4 or 6 pairs during my mission, and that’s not counting the times I took them in to be cobbled. You’ll be doing a lot of walking (my pedometer recording showed 7500 KM, but that’s probably an underestimate), so make sure your gear can handle it. (Jordan)
  • Unless you’ll be arriving there between like October and February, put off buying your big winter coat until you get there. It’s bulky to pack and fly one out, or they make them better for their own weather and the missionaries there can help you find something. (Stephen)
  • Just take whatever basic stuff is recommended. Definitely wait to buy coats/hats/scarves until you are there. It will weigh too much to travel with and any American-style coat will just look out of place. It’s not a third world country, they have malls and supermarkets. (Jared)
  • A small packable waterproof jacket you can take with you anywhere. (Anonymous)
  • Buy it there. But definitely buy colorful clothing. People notice how drab you dress. Plus, it will help you stay happy in those depressing winter months. (Chantel)
  • Layers for winter…leggings, tights, boots, warm socks, scarves. GOOD walking shoes as you walk a lot! (Rebecca)
  • Definitely some good winter boots, warm coat, and thermals for the winter. (Jane)
  • Buy everything there. The open market in Riga has all of the clothing you could ever need. You might buy a nice pair of sturdy black Dock Martin’s with a good thick sole. (Rand)

What blessings did you receive from serving a mission?

  • I learned so much about life and what I want from it, I was able to get my priorities straight. (Brianna)
  • I grew in experience. (Jake)
  • Greatest of all was my relationship with Father in Heaven and an understanding of Christ’s Atonement. Another great one, I gained self esteem and confidence in who I am (but not pride). There are too many blessings to even count. (Thomas)
  • Knowledge, a testimony, Christlike qualities, and direction in my life. I found out who I was and who I want to become. (Samuel)
  • I gained some friendships from my mission that have played a huge role in my life now. I also found that I have become the person I have always wanted to be. My mission made me better. (Sarah)
  • Too many to count, but I definitely came away with a “can-do” attitude and the belief that anything is possible. (Kelsey)
  • My whole family was blessed by having more than what they needed even though they were supporting me. Also I was able to grow in more way than if I didn’t serve a mission. For example, I can cook very well now whereas before I was just average. I can remember scriptures better and doctrine is a more central figure in my life because of my mission. (James)
  • I learned how to study and memorize better from the language. I also learned out to step out of my comfort zone and be talkative in front of others. It also taught me how to live with a companion which has blessed my marriage. (Miles)
  • I was taught the true meaning of the Enabling Power of the Atonement. I was taught about the purpose of church. I saw true faith and devotion, and learned what it was like to attend a church meeting where all are unified in the faith — where more than two are gathered in His name, and He is in their midst. I learned true sacrifice from the members there. I learned the value of the temple. I learned a deep charity. I found my wife. (Jordan)
  • I loved working with people and learning about their culture/history, and that continues today. I learned to focus and work hard, how to manage my time, and how to connect to people personally. But most importantly, I developed a sacred relationship with my Savior and I learned to trust completely in the Lord and His timing. (Stephen)
  • I’m not sure how to really answer this question… my whole life has been blessed. In addition to strengthening my testimony by serving others, my mission fundamentally changed my perspective of the world and how I view and understand other people. Probably the two of the most formative and important years of my life. (Jared)
  • My testimony, my family was taken care of while I was gone, My amazing husband and beautiful children. I can trace everything back to my mission. (Chantel)
  • Still receiving them today! TOO numerous to count. Keeping in contact with the families there and seeing the progress of their branches is heartwarming and I feel blessed to have served the people there! The blessings I receive each day are no doubt linked to my serving a mission! (Rebecca)
  • So many I can’t possibly name them all. Learned perseverance, self-motivation, rely on the Spirit to guide, patience, love…I know from enduring and working through hard times on my mission that I can do anything I put my mind to with the Lord’s help. (Jane)
  • Everything. A testimony. Work-ethic. (Rand)

What are some skills you gained?

  • Piano. (Brianna)
  • I gained communication skills. (Jake)
  • I gained the ability to love complete strangers. I also learned great social skills such as teaching, correcting, uplifting, etc. (Thomas)
  • Listening, speaking with people, patience, diligence, leadership skills, and I could list hundreds more. (Samuel)
  • I gained the ability to talk to others. I was always shy, but now I find myself being an extrovert more and enjoying talking with others. (Sarah)
  • You are out of your comfort zone all of the time, whether that’s contacting people or teaching Sunday School lessons in a foreign language. Being able to push fear aside and jump in is one of the greatest take-aways from my mission. (Kelsey)
  • Baking skills. (James)
  • I learned how to cook, iron clothes efficiently, pay rent and utilities; basically how to be responsible. (Miles)
  • Social abilities, leadership, confidence, perspective that changed the meaning of all things I have experienced since, trust in the Lord, the expanse of mind that comes from new cultures and languages, and probably a ton of other things that I can’t quite pinpoint anymore. (Jordan)
  • Above all, confidence that I can do hard things. Also, I’m much more comfortable just talking to people in general. People like when you pay attention to their interests, goals, families, problems, and opinions. You do this all day as a missionary so you get pretty good at it. Having 8-12 companions, all of whom are very different, taught me how to get along with just about anyone. (Jared)
  • Ability to speak to strangers comfortably, share my testimony freely. (Chantel)
  • Talking to people. Bearing my testimony. Teaching. Not being afraid. (Rebecca)
  • Speaking a foreign language, self confidence, perseverance through hard situations, getting along with people with different views. (Jane)
  • Ability to memorize anything after learning 2 languages (Latvian and Russian), medical school was easy. I also learned to choke down nasty food. (Rand)

What do you wish you knew/did at the beginning of your mission?

  • How things worked in the field. (Jake)
  • Lean on Christ with everything you have, and focus on others in all things and at all times. (Thomas)
  • Try to copy what native speakers say, and how they say it. Even if you feel awkward, talk as much as possible, because if you don’t open your mouth, you aren’t giving the Holy Ghost an opportunity to carry your words to their hearts. Be a normal person and connect with people, so they see you aren’t a robot. TALK TO EVERYONE. (Samuel)
  • I wish I had known and better understood how to trust in God. I learned that slowly throughout my mission and I see how it made a difference in my life. (Sarah)
  • Missions are emotional roller coasters, and that’s NORMAL. Lighten up! You can control yourself, but you can’t control everything else. When things get rough, remember that the phrase “men are that they might have joy” applies to missionaries just as much as it does to everyone else. (Kelsey)
  • Listen to my senior missionaries; they know best most of the time. (James)
  • Practiced memorizing words more in the MTC. I only memorized like 3-5 a day and I forgot most of them by the time I left. (Miles)
  • Work hard. Don’t let older companions cow you into not working. Stay faithful and focused on the mission work. You will be discouraged; you will find more people who will ridicule or ignore your message than you will find that will accept it. Don’t let that get you down–the Lord uses you to prepare some, and to offer a change to others. (Jordan)
  • I wish I came out with more fire and swung right into the work. It took me more time to get the hang of things. I think it would have helped to work more with the missionaries before I left. (Stephen)
  • There’s probably no magic advice you haven’t already heard. It’s gonna be hard – exquisitely hard at times – but you will lose yourself in the service of others. And you always love what you serve. As President Watterson said, “Your mission will be the hardest thing you ever loved.” Just go in with faith, a good attitude, and a strong work ethic. You’ll be fine. (Jared)
  • Not to let other peoples agency affect me in a negative way. (Anonymous)
  • How important learning the language would be. (Chantel)
  • That time would go by fast and to use it wisely. Not to be afraid to make mistakes with the language. (Jane)
  • More about how to teach the gospel. (Rand)

Any advice/testimony for pre-missionaries going to the Baltics?

  • Be optimistic!! (Jake)
  • The decision to go on a mission was one that I would never take back in a million years. The people I fell in love with continue to bless my life incredibly. The skills I developed will help me in all phases of life. Most importantly, you will come closer to Heavenly Father than you can even imagine. That will be a relationship you will continue to cherish for the rest of your life, and it will continue to bless you for eternity. (Thomas)
  • Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. Be patient. (Samuel)
  • Do the basics. People always says it, but scripture study and prayer are our lifeline and survival kit. (Sarah)
  • Don’t worry about the language–that will come. The most important thing to do in advance is read the Book of Mormon and study Preach My Gospel. If you have a strong testimony going into the field, you won’t have to spend as much time developing it at the beginning of your mission. (Kelsey)
  • Learn the letters of the language. (James)
  • The Estonians will have softer hearts eventually and be receptive to the gospel. Don’t give up hope if they turn you down. I like to think of the great prophets in the scriptures who got rejected at first only to see conversions flow later. (Miles)
  • It is the Lord’s work. He directs it. The Baltics is a particularly hard mission, with people hardened by hundreds of years of forced religious devotion or forced removal of the same. Love the people, be a ray of God’s love, and they will be moved (and sometimes weirded out enough to be intrigued 😛 ). (Jordan)
  • Same thing I answered for the “what I wish I knew” question. I’ll copy/paste in case these aren’t in order. It’s gonna be hard – exquisitely hard at times – but you will lose yourself in the service of others. And you always love what you serve. As President Watterson said, “Your mission will be the hardest thing you ever loved.” Just go in with faith, a good attitude, and a strong work ethic. You’ll be fine. (Jared)
  • Don’t compare yourself with other missionaries/missions. Read the “successful missionary” part in Preach My Gospel. Have faith and believe that explanation. (Anonymous)
  • Come with a testimony. You can study the gospel there but you can’t expect to do the work well without a testimony. It will save lives. (Chantel)
  • Be completely obedient. Pray always and be happy, optimistic and have FUN!! Love and pray for your companions no matter what their downfalls. Have faith in the Lord…that He makes things happen for a reason. (Rebecca)
  • Love the people, love your companion, do your best. (Jane)
  • Go and leave everything behind. Your life, your girlfriend. Teach everyone as though they are your family. Contact everyone you see. (Rand)

What was a funny language mistake?

  • Instead of saying I know him like I am familiar I said something that meant I knew him in a different way. (Brianna)
  • My companion accidentally said that he wanted our investigator to pray naked. (Jake)
  • So the word for flour in Russian sounds like muka, with the emphasis on the u. The word for torture sounds like muka with the emphasis on the a. Enough said… (Thomas)
  • An old lady was talking to me about her aching hip when we took a trip to the doctors. I was fairly new and not understanding much, so I was smiling and nodding. She asked a question and I had no idea what she said, so nodded and said yes. It was her turn so she went into the doctor room. My companion turned to me and said, “What did you say?!?” I asked what he meant, and he said, “She asked if we were gay, and you said yes!!!!” Oops! (Samuel)
  • The words ‘apartment’ and ‘pregnancy’ are very similar. I’ve had companions mix those to up before. (Sarah)
  • The word “runāt” means “to talk,” whereas the word “rūnīt” means “to castrate.” If you conjugate “to talk” incorrectly, you’ll end up saying some form of “to castrate.” (Kelsey)
  • Don’t say väga hea (very good) after everything! I got into that habit of saying that every time someone talked and once a woman told me that her son died! If you don’t understand what they said; be polite and ask them to repeat. Don’t just guess. (Miles)
  • We spend a lot of time visiting older Latvians, and the vocabulary of the older generation is radically different from the under 30-year olds, so when I went to talk to a group of teens, I pretty much sounded to them like a Shakespeare character sounds to us. (Jordan)
  • In Russian, you can’t say “I want you to…” because it literally means “I want you” in a romantic sense. So you have to say “I want so that you…” In my first week, I was street contacting and accidentally made this mistake…I immediately realized it and, red-faced, corrected myself and apologized. The guy just laughed it off but it was pretty embarrassing. (Stephen)
  • In Russian a very common mistake is when you’re trying to say “I want you to… (go to church, or whatever)” to accidentally say “I want you [intimately]; Go to church.” You must always say the equivalent of “I want so that you went to church.” Everyone makes this mistake a few times. (Jared)
  • In Russian, pronounce the word for prophet perfectly. If you mess up, if could sound like door stop. Prorok or Porok. Roll that r at the first. Also, pay close attention to the “e” and “eh” in Russian. e should be “ye”… Americans get lazy with this sound. (Anonymous)
  • I accidentally said that living the gospel brought me money instead of peace in one discussion early on…just a slip of the tongue at the end of a word. (Jane)
  • One Russian speaking elder was teaching the Word of Wisdom and committed the investigator to not eat chicken, instead of not smoking. (Ken)
  • The worst one is when new missionaries say to grow and develop ourselves in the first discussion, they always accidentally said to take their clothes off. (Rand)