In the summer of 1991 Gvido and Velga Senkāns and their daughter were living in Moscow, Russia, while pursuing education and training. Gvido considered himself a “convinced atheist” who was “too smart to believe in God.” When he met Latter-day Saint missionaries, though, he was struck by the happiness he saw in them. “I decided there could only be two reasons,” he said. “Either they had some hidden motives …, or, there was really something to their message.”
Gvido, who had trained as a detective, conducted a thorough investigation of the Book of Mormon, thinking he could “unmask” the missionaries. He found himself drawn to the text instead. “It created a logical and grounded model of the world,” he observed. Gvido, convinced of the book’s truthfulness, invited the missionaries to teach his family.
Velga remained skeptical. “In my soul,” she said, “were many doubts and prejudices: how could this American church be better than any others?” Still, Velga listened during the missionaries’ visits and tried to understand Gvido’s excitement. “I had an infinite amount of questions,” she remembered. “I usually received answers, which little by little convinced me.” The couple was baptized in 1992.
That summer Gvido and Velga decided to move back to Latvia and asked how to contact missionaries there. They were told that there were none but that they should pray for missionaries to be sent.
Two weeks after they arrived in Rīga, their phone rang. When Velga answered, she was excited to hear the familiar voice of a missionary who had taught her. He told her he was in Rīga. “Does your mission president know?” Velga asked, surprised and somewhat worried. He did—four missionaries had been assigned to Latvia. Regular Church meetings began that Sunday, and a branch was soon organized.
In 1998 Gvido was asked to translate the Book of Mormon into Latvian. “[It] seemed impossible from a practical point of view,” he said. He was branch president, the father of four small children, and the owner of a busy legal practice. Despite his reservations, Gvido recalled Nephi’s declaration that the Lord gives no commandments “save he shall prepare a way … that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). With the help of his family, Gvido made adjustments to his schedule and began translating. He found significant personal blessings in the translation process. Working on the translation helped him study the scriptures deeply, improve his English and Latvian, and develop his computer skills. Working just two hours each day, Gvido completed the translation within 18 months.