Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One last picture with Sisar Lund at the Train Station (With Elders Durrant and Hugie)

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Woods

The Sisters of the North Zone with Sister Rawlings wearing new hats they were given for Christmas

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Woods making pastries

Sisar Nielsen showing off her baking skills

Christmas Eve with Joulu Pukki

Sisar Nielsen Christmas Eve

Sisar Nielsen's and Sisar Woods' Christmas tree with their presents underneath it.

Sisar Nielsen Christmas morning - "Thanks everybody!"

12/30/13 - A Finnish Christmas

I can't believe Christmas has come and gone. What a magical time of the year it truly is... especially as a missionary.

First off, high light of my week was skyping my family! SHOUT OUT TO THE FAM. miss and love you guys so much! that was so cool to be a part of your Christmas morning. afterwards my BML (branch mission leader) was like "wow, that was quite the skype call. all we heard was 'josh!' and then you would start crying. and then we would hear 'ahhh michael!' and then more crying. and basically there was just a lot of crying.. and then you would be like 'guys, i'm gonna start crying!' but the thing is, you were ALREADY crying..." hahaha... yeah. story of my life. 

My week was truly amazing. here in Finland, Christmas Eve is our version of Christmas morning. That's when they open all their presents, that's when they have their big meal, that's when the family all gets together and they do all their traditions. we went over to a really awesome family in the ward and spent the day and evening with them. (Christmas Eve, Day, and the day after were called "Red Days" and we weren't allowed to knock doors or do normal missionary work so we got to spend more time with the families we were with than normal). We spent the day fully experiencing a Finnish Christmas. Their mom taught us how to make riisi purro (rice porridge, a Finnish tradition). She also taught us how to make Finnish tähti torttu (pastries) and she let us make all of them! We got to listen to Christmas music and spend time with their 4 teenage daughters. We played board games and really got to bond with the girls (which was great because they don't come to church very often). Joulu Pukki (santa claus) came! He comes and delivers all of the presents Christmas Eve and then everyone opens them. He even brought us presents! It was really exciting. We ate a HUGE typical Finnish Christmas Eve Dinner, with Christmas Kinkku (ham), bread, potato casserole, carrot casserole, cold smoked salmon, salad, and about a million other things. Later we had dessert and ate the pastries we had made with Glögi (a type of warm drink, kind of like apple cider), gingerbread cookies with different kinds of cheese on them, and chocolate. I felt like somebody needed to roll me out of there, but it was so good. Their mom made us homemade socks that are so cute! We also got a pair from the relief society and I have about 50 pounds of Finnish chocolate at my apartment right now from the ward members. We gave a spiritual thought and shared this video with them: http://www.mormonchannel.org/christmas-videos?v=2919740155001

 
(Watch it). The Spirit was so strong as we talked about what we can give to the Savior of the World.  Long story short, I ended up crying as I talked about my Savior and my gratitude towards Him and this family for taking such good care of me while I was away from my own. Then they started crying. So basically we were all crying and hugging each other and I just felt so much love in my heart! I just LOVE the spirit of Christmas. The Spirit of Christ.

The next two days were also filled with Christmas festivities... and lots and lots of food. Basically Finns have special Christmas food that they only eat at Christmas time. So they literally eat it straight for those three days then they don't eat it again for the next year. Long story short, I'm gonna have to set some good New Year's resolutions because I think I've gained 90 pounds this week alone. But ohh, everything was so good! But what wasn't good is that we didn't have a white Christmas. yes, you just read that right. In FINLAND, the land of ice and snow and darkness, we didn't have a white Christmas! We all of a sudden had a warm front come in and it's been raining this whole week and all the snow has melted. All of the Finns are in a fury. They all keep telling us that they can't remember the last time this has happened. That they've never had a black Christmas before. Then they launch into stuff about global warming and a bunch of vocab I don't understand. But it seriously is crazy. And there's gravel all over the sidewalks now (here when it snows, they just push the snow aside and put gravel on top. so basically before the snow melted there were layers and layers of snow and gravel that we all just walked on). It's crazy. 

WE SET A BAPTISMAL DATE. We set a baptismal date with our amazing Vietnamese investigator H. She is so great. We've set the date for February 8. When we asked her how she felt as we were talking about baptism, she said she felt that same "magical feeling in her heart that she gets every time we talk to her about these things". It's so amazing. Please please please pray for her. She's going out of town for the next week and a half. Please pray that she will be able to be baptized and that she will resist any temptations that come her way. We love her so much and we want to her to come unto Christ and partake of His goodness so much! I know that the only way for us to truly, seriously, REALLY be happy and find lasting joy in this life and the life to come is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

As I stop and reflect upon this past year, I can't help but feel overwhelming gratitude for my life and for my Savior. I wouldn't be where I am today without Him. A year ago I had no idea that I was going to be serving a mission in Finland. I'm so grateful that the Lord writes better stories for our lives than we can even dream of. I love Him. And I'm so grateful for Him. As you all think of your New Year's Resolutions, I encourage you all to add a couple more to your lists. Make a goal to pray EVERY DAY that you will have an opportunity to bring others closer to Christ and share the gospel. It doesn't matter if you're young or old, if you live in Utah ("where there's tons of Mormons") or you live in a place where there's none, just do it! There Lord needs valiant people fighting for Him, everywhere. "At ALL times, and in ALL things, and in ALL places". Also, if you haven't already, grab a Book of Mormon and read it. From the beginning to the end. Read it on your own. Read it with your families. Either way, just read it. The whole thing. I don't care if you've read it a million times or you've never read it. Pick one up and start. I promise you that it will bless your life. You will feel your faith increase. You will come to know your Savior better. You will have questions answered and you will feel greater happiness and peace. I promise you that your life will seem smoother (not easier, but smoother and better) and that you won't regret it. I know it's true. I know it's the word of God. What does that mean? That God, the Supreme Creator and Being of the Universe, has given it to us as a gift to help and guide our lives. So allow it to bless your life. I'm grateful for my Savior. I know He lives. I'm grateful to be His representative. Come unto Him.

I love you!

Sisar Nielsen

Monday, December 23, 2013

12/23/13 - The Spirit Of Christmas is Real

Wow, I can't believe that CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE. What an amazing time of the year this  is.

I have had quite the busy week. I got on a train on Tuesday and took Sisar Lund to Jyväskylä, her new city. There I picked up Sisar Dayton(!), my MTC companion, and I rode the train the rest of the way with her to Tampere. I dropped her off there with her new companion and I picked up Sisar Egan and Sisar Hubner! My companions in Tampere! It was quite the exciting day! Plus, there were so many missionaries going through the Tampere train station to get to their new cities and it was so fun having an elevator open and seeing a missionary inside! or turning a corner and there's a group of Elders walking! or seeing a Sister in distress, grabbing her bags and running to catch her train that is  about to leave! It was so fun seeing all of them! Sisar Egan, Hubner, and I then boarded a train and went down to Helsinki. All three of us are training so we had to go fetch our new little trainees. We stayed with 4 of the Sisters in Helsinki, all of which were in my MTC group and it was so fun seeing each other! The next day I picked up my new companion!!!! Whooooohooooo! Her name is Sisar Woods and she is from Oklahoma. She's basically my same height and I can already tell we're going to get along just great. 

We boarded a train Wednesday evening and road back to Kuopio. The next day we hopped on another train and road 4 hours north to Oulu for our Zone Conference. It was truly amazing. I love all of the missionaries I serve with. Basically what Zone Conference is is all of the missionaries in our zone (in our case, all of the missionaries in the Northern part of Finland) come together and our mission president, President Rawlings, and his wife teach and talk with us. They train us to be better missionaries and give spiritual lessons. It went from 9am-6pm, and it was worth every second! For Christmas they gave each of us very nice mechanical pencils made from Finnish pine. Basically they're the greatest. At the end, we had a testimony meeting. It was amazing being able to come together and share our testimonies with each other. Everyday, all of us face rejection, opposition, and trials. It was such a strength to come together and realize that we are all going through the exact same thing, and that we CAN do it! 

We got back to Kuopio Saturday afternoon. We've only been back here for 2 days, but so much has happened - this really is the season of miracles! One of our members invited us over for dinner. Afterwards she gave us cookies and cards to take to some of her neighbors. It was so cute because she said "it's really hard for me to do missionary work, but I'm trying so hard." This sweet sister is so amazing. As she said these words, the Spirit filled the room. I knew the Lord was proud of her efforts. By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. These members are realizing their duty to share the gospel. As members of the church it is our responsibility to share what we have. To share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had fun running these cookies to people and were able to share a Christmas message with some of them. It was something simple, but it was a great missionary opportunity. 

Yesterday was church. It was amazing! The members here are so great to us. We got tons of chocolate and homemade socks :). It felt awesome being loved the way they love us. We watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional during the third hour of church (granted it was in Finnish but it was still great). The closing song was Silent Night. As the choir started to sing, tears flooded my eyes to the point they were running down my face. I thought of the little Christ Child, born in Bethlehem. How He came to this world to literally save us. How He is my joy and my light. My heart swelled with love for my Savior and a longing for my family. As we approach the rest of this Christmas season, may we be able to remember the reason for the season. That it truly is about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Who came to this world as a little babe. I love my Savior. I will stand for Him forever. I am a witness that He is the Christ. 

After church, we went and contacted a potential that I had met when I first got to Kuopio. We have tried to contact them multiple times with no luck. Well, it just so happens that the mom came home while we were talking with her son and we were able to set up a return appointment! Then we went and contacted a referral that another member in the ward had given us! (side note: we had had dinner with this member a couple weeks ago. We had asked her if there were anybody she knew that we could share the gospel with. She had told us no, so we asked her to just pray about it. Welll.... last Sunday she ran up to us and said "Sisters! I've thought of somebody." She gave us a Book of Mormon with her testimony in it and asked us to give it to this man. Obviously, we said YES!) So we went and knocked on the door. The wife answered and had a "no thank you" look on her face. We asked if her husband were home. She said yes, but didn't move. We asked if we could talk to him, because we had a present for him. She reluctantly called for him. He came to the door and we told him we had a present for him from Sisar K. We gave him the Book of Mormon and he looked very surprised. We then just asked if we could sing a Christmas song. We sang "Silent Night" in Finnish. When we finished and looked up, their barriers had completely come down. They welcomed us into their home, gave us chocolate, asked if they could take our picture, AND asked us to come back! The man H. even got a little teary eyed. He was so touched and so grateful. It was truly amaaaaazing! Later we went and contacted a former investigator that Sisar Lund and I had tried to reach multiple times. Well, this time she was actually home! And set up a time for us to come back! She was so kind and so open! It was truly a miracle! And then, we went with the Elders to one of their areas. The night was almost over and they wanted to contact one of their investigators. We asked if there were anything we could do and Elder Durrant was like "wait! actually, there's a woman who lives right there. We talked to her once and she was nice." Elder Hugie hit the brakes and we got out of the car. We knocked and told her that the Elders had sent us to sing her a Christmas song. We again just sang "Silent Night". We looked up and the woman was crying. This woman literally had tears streaming down her face. She thanked us over and over again. She said that was her favorite song. She then said that this is her first Christmas without her dad because he recently passed away. She just kept thanking us and telling us to thank the Elders. We testified to her about Jesus Christ and His love for her. That He is always with her during the hard times and that she is never alone. I felt so much love for this woman that I had never met before. And I knew that Christ loves her so much. She was so sincere and so grateful, and basically said that the Elders are welcome back anytime. When we told them this they were shocked. The Spirit of Christmas is real :) 

I love and miss you all. This time of year is all about our Savior. I love Him. I'm grateful for Him. I'm getting teary eyed just writing this (surprise). But really, He truly is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He came for ME and He came for YOU. Do something for somebody this year that will bring them closer to Christ. I love Him. I worship Him. I will praise Him all the days of my life. May we all give Christ a gift this year, by giving of ourselves and bringing those we love back to Him. HYVÄÄ JOULUA. Merry CHRISTmas. 

Rakkaudella, 

Sisar Nielsen

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ahh Finland...Taken while driving...

Our District with President Rawlings

The Tori (Center of City)

Our Ward Christmas party

Sisar Lund and Sisar Nielsen with Joulu Pukki

Lovely!

Sisar Nielsen, Sisar Lund and "Jerry" - R.I.P.

I got the Christmas package! Zingers! I laughed so hard!
(Inside family joke :)

12/16/13 - So Many Surprises!


I think that if I had to sum up my mission in one word, it would be "surprises," because every day is full of so many surprises! 

To start off the week, we hopped on a train and took a 4 hour train ride even more NORTH to Oulu, the farthest north city that sisters serve in. We went on exchanges there and I got to spend the day with Sisar Nyman, the most adorable sister missionary ever from Norway. We seriously had a blast! We spent the whole day biking in the FREEZING snow. The snow whipped and numbed our faces and my legs literally burned because it was so hard to bike in the snow. We had so much fun just talking with everybody and trying not to die. We couldn't even wear any make-up because then our eye lashes would freeze. Everything was going great, until we started biking down a hill. The hill went under a bridge and I was following Sisar Nyman. Well next thing I know, everything goes black - my hat had fallen down over my eyes. I tried to pull it up but I was wearing mittens and I wasn't able to grab it. I was trying to brake but my wheels weren't stopping because it was too slippery. I just started yelling "Sisar! Sisar!!!!!" I finally came to a stop and took my mittens off and lifted my hat up. Well turns out, I was literally an inch from hitting the brick wall under the bridge! Later Sisar Nyman said she was confused as to why I was heading so fast towards the wall hahaha. Even the Finn riding her bike the opposite direction was laughing out loud at me (and usually they don't laugh at the stupid things I do because they're so shy and reserved). So basically the church is true because I didn't die. And it was so much fun biking around in a good ole fashioned Finnish winter snow storm (but I'm grateful we have a car in Kuopio....)

Speaking of cars - JERRY DIED. For those of you who don't know, Jerry is our car. He's so cute and he has done sooo much to help the missionary work here progress. Well, we had to turn him in for a newer one today. I was so sad to see him go. But I guess it's okay because I'm about to start a new chapter in my life anyway because........

I'M GOING TO BE A TRAINER. AHHASDLFKJASÖLDKFJASLÖDFJ. President Rawlings came to our district meeting this week because he was visiting the branch up here. He announced our change calls during district meeting to all of us. Sisar Lund is leaving and I'm staying here and training. WHAT. I'm still in shock! I haven't even been here for 4 months yet! Transfers are happening a little earlier this month because of Christmas and everything. All week I've had the feeling that this change call would be a big step for me and a lot to handle, so I've just been praying that whatever happened I would receive the confirmation that I would be EXACTLY where the Lord wanted me to be. Well after President announced the changes, he said "I just want you all to know that I always pray really hard to know where you're all supposed to be, but for this one I even prayed for each of you individually again last night to be sure, and I got the answer that these are the places the Lord wants you to be". When he said this, it answered my prayers. There are 5 new sisters coming in and I will be training one of them. I feel so inadequate, so unqualified. I can barely speak or understand Finnish, I really haven't been in Kuopio for very long, and I still don't even really know what I'm doing! But I know that I have to just trust in the Lord and He will take care of the rest. Now that I'm almost over the shock of it all, I'm so excited! I'm so sad to see Sisar Lund go (especially right before Christmas... we've already shed a tear or two) but I know that the Lord knows exactly what He's doing, and I just have to trust Him. I head down to Helsinki tomorrow and pick up my new companion on Wednesday. I have lots of long train rides ahead of me, but I'm so excited for this new chapter of my mission to start! 

We had our ward Christmas party this week! Oh it was so fun! And I was so happy because many of the members brought nonmember friends. They're really starting to catch the spirit of member missionary work. Joulu Pukki (Santa Claus) came and it was so much fun singing traditional Christmas songs (like Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town) in Finnish. This is arguably the most musical branch in the world, and they had an amazingly adorable orchestra for one of the musical numbers! Earlier that day, we went caroling with the Elders (and another set of Elders that was in town for our district meeting) in the Tori (center of the city). It was so fun standing underneath the huge Christmas tree there and singing songs about the Savior.  I love the Spirit of Christmas! 

Another wonderful surprise happened! We visited many of our members and less actives this week so we could share a Christmas message with them. Have I told you yet that the members here are absolutely amazing and I have come to love them soooo much?! Anyway, we went to the first counselor in the bishopric's house for dinner this week. We were talking and he said "you sisters have been such a blessing to this ward." We laughed and he got really serious. He said "no, I'm serious. The members have been talking about how much of a blessing you two have been here. How much they love you and how much of a difference you've made here." Oh my gosh I wanted to cry! We have been working soooo hard to gain their trust, to gain their love, and to gain their respect. Hearing him say those words brought so much happiness and peace to my heart! Things are changing here in Kuopio! It's amazing to see the difference that has occurred over the past 2 months. And I'm so excited to be able to continue to witness the changes that happen! 

We have been sharing a Christmas message with everybody. One of the messages we share is found in the Book of Mormon. It is 3 Nephi chapter 1 verses 9 and 12-13. It's my family's "Christmas Eve" scripture. It talks about how there was a day set aside by the unbelievers (those who didn't believe Christ would come) to kill all those who believed in Christ. Nephi, the prophet, was so sad and cried unto the Lord for help. The voice of the Lord came unto him and said "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand... and on the morrow come I into the world." Imagine what it would have been like to be there!  I believe in Jesus Christ and because I believe in Jesus Christ, I would have been killed. Surely it was very scary for all those that believed in Him. And surely they had to really decide for themselves if they believed or if they didn't believe, there was no gray area for them to choose. And then I wonder what it would be like for Nephi to hear his Savior say "tomorrow, I come. tomorrow, I come."  I know I would have cried! Well, I wasn't there, but I am here now. And Christ is coming back soon and this world isn't ready yet. That is exactly why the Lord is hastening His work.  This is crunch time people. This is such an exciting time to be alive! Every member a missionary takes on a whole new meaning now! I'm so grateful that He came for me. I'm willing to do anything for Him. He simply asked "feed my sheep." May we all help Him feed His sheep and bring others to the light of the gospel, especially during this wonderful Christmas season.

I love you all. The church is true. KEEP CALM AND LOVE ON. Merry Christmas! HYVÄÄ JOULUA.

LOVE,

Sisar Nielsen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Lund -"We got a Christmas tree!"

"This picture was taken at 3:15 in the afternoon." Yep, it's dark.

Beautiful!



12/9/13 - I'm Serving In Narnia

TIS THE SEASON to remember our Savior.

For starters, I FINISHED THE BOOK OF MORMON AGAIN. Oh my gosh! That book is seriously my favorite! Every time I read it, I feel like I'm reading it for the first time. I always learn so much and strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As I read the closing verse, I thought "wow, this truly is the word of God". As I thought that, the most amazing feeling came over me. I got goosebumps and just felt so happy and warm. The Spirit testified to me that it really is true - the Book of Mormon really IS the word of God. I encourage and invite everyone who reads this to get a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it. If you've never read it before, read it! If you've read it a million times, read it again!  I promise you that it will help your life more than you can even imagine, because if the Book of Mormon is true, than everything this church believes, stands for, and teaches is true. Therefore, there is so much power in this one book! READ IT READ IT READ IT. And give it away as gifts for Christmas to people. Help bring others closer to Christ by giving them Another Witness of Jesus Christ. 

So basically I'm convinced I'm serving in Narnia. Really, it's the most amazing winter wonderland here! I feel like I'm walking through this frozen land trying to warm up the place with talk of the Savior. And as we all know, in Narnia the people are scared to be different. They're scared to talk about Aslan the Lion because they're scared of what others might think or about what will happen. Well, I feel like it's that way here. C.S. Lewis made Aslan to be a type or symbol of Jesus Christ. And it is just amazing to me how many times we'll be talking with somebody and they will be so kind and friendly and then as soon as we mention Jesus Christ's name or as soon as they see His name on our name tags, they turn cold and run away. We've even had people say "sorry, I just read your name tag and it says Jesus Christ and I don't believe in Him" and then they walk away. It makes me so sad. But that's why it makes it even more sweet and wonderful when we talk with people who are open to our message and want to learn more about Christ. I LOVE being here during Christmas time. I wish I could just teleport you all here for 5 minutes so you could see how gorgeous it truly is. I love being able to talk to people about Christ during the Christmas season when we celebrate HIM. I feel closer to my Savior here than I ever have before in my life. We've read the Christmas story every time we've visited members this month. It's incredible how strong the Spirit gets every time. I think about what it would've been like to be there with the shepherds and have an angel of the Lord come to me and tell me "You're Savior is here! He is here!" Surely, I would've cried and been so overwhelmed with emotion and gone to Him. Well I wasn't there, but I'm here now. And I get to stand as a representative of that baby born in Bethlehem who came to save the souls of men - not just because I'm a missionary, but because I'm a member of His church. And every member in His church is a representative of Him in all that they do, whether they realize it or not. What an exciting time to be alive! The Savior of the World is coming again! And we must ALL help prepare the way for His second coming. And the BEST way to do that is to bring others to Him. 

This week has been really good. It was Finland's Independence Day which was fun. But it was also really weird because we weren't allowed to contact people or tract, so we spent most of the day at home. Ugh, it was the worst! It's crazy how when I'm home all I want to do is just get out and work and preach the gospel! Oh the members here are the greatest! We have grown SOO CLOSE with so many of them these past couple weeks! They truly are becoming my family here and some even call me their child :) or their sister :). It's so cute. And they are all so excited to have us over for Christmas and take good care of us. I love these people with all of my heart. It truly is amazing how the church is so world wide, and that it really is the same everywhere you go. 

We had an interesting experience tracting. We knocked on a door and a woman answered. All I got to say was "hei" before she SLAMMED the door with such extreme force that I thought the whole apartment building would collapse, and then she started yelling at the top of her lungs things like "Israel" and the "bible" and "Hallelujah" and then she started chanting and it scared Sisar Lund and I so much that we ran up the stairs. We made it about 3 flights up and then we stopped and we could still hear her! We just couldn't help but start laughing! So many crazy things happen to us missionaries. I wish I could write more of them but then I'd be here all day. 

So Sisar Lund and I got a Christmas tree! We found it and okay, we may or may not have just taken it out of the ground. But it came out with one tug and could've easily been mistaken for a weed. We hung our earrings on it, cut a star out of paper, strung buttons on it, and it's the greatest Charlie Brown Christmas tree ya ever did see :) 

BASICALLY, the church is true! I love being a missionary and telling people about my Savior. What a wonderful time of the year this is - when we can pause and reflect on all of the amazing blessings that we have, when we can stop and focus on our Savior. REMEMBER THE MEANING OF THE SEASON. 

HYV'ÄÄ JOULUA (Merry Christmas!)

love,

Sisar Nielsen  - ps. We were tracting and I slipped on a hill and fell. My hat fell over my eyes so I couldn't see and I fell on my hands and just grabbed for anything I could to stop me from falling down this steep hill. My companion had already made it to the top and realized I was no longer beside her and she had to come back down and rescue me. So pretty much I ate the snow and almost died. Oh the things I do to take these people the word. Good thing the CHURCH IS TRUE :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

12/2/13 - A Pea On My Fork Flying

HAUSKA JOULUA! (MERRY CHRISTMAS). I can't believe that December is upon us! Where has the time gone?! I've been a missionary for almost 6 months! Now that's just crazy! 

This place looks like a winter wonderland. The world is covered in snow and it is just gorgeous. The lakes are frozen and the snow-covered pine trees look like they're out of a movie. It is quite cold here (today it's -9) and it's just going to get colder.... but that's okay. I'm going to survive this winter! 

The members here are so amazing! I have just come to love these people so much! This week we had a lesson with an investigator and we asked this older woman to come with us. She's the grandma of basically half the ward (literally). Apparently she's never been asked to teach with the Sisters before and she was just tickled pink! She even brought us yummy chocolates in her pocket, it was so cute. Well the investigator didn't show, so we ended up going and giving her and her grandson, who was visiting her, a spiritual thought. It was awesome, especially because this grandson is from the part member family that the branch has asked us to focus on. And this sweet woman just kept telling us over and over again how lovely and wonderful we are. It was the cutest thing ever! Later that day, we went and visited a 17 year old girl (who happens to be this older woman's granddaughter from another one of her sons...) and we role played with her giving a Book of Mormon away for Christmas to one of her friends. And she totally said she's willing to do it! It was great! And she was so darling and made us riisi pirakka and cookies. Then we literally had to SPRINT across town (we looked like total goons with our coats, backpacks, boots that act as ankle weights, and our skirts) to go visit a recent convert. She's 55 and is just so stinkin' cute! She bought us pizza and Christmas chocolate and told us her conversion story (she was baptized last April) and she literally just glowed. My heart was so full of love! After that, we went contacting outside around a lake nearby. We ended up saying hi to a man walking by us and he didn't understand us. So we started talking in English and it turns out he's from Estonia and this grown man (probably 30) admitted to us that he just broke up with his girlfriend and that he'd been crying. Well, we ended up having a 2 hour conversation with him as we walked around the lake and just talked about life and learning about him (he's a sailor and has sailed all over the world) when he stopped and asked us why we are here and what we believe. So we ended up having an amazing gospel conversation!  He's atheist (kinda.. he kinda believes in God but he doesn't have any kind of a relationship with Him) but by the end of the conversation his whole countenance had changed. He said that he has seen missionaries like us in Estonia before but he's never talked with them. He told us that when he goes back, he's going to. He also took a mormon.org card from us and said he wants to check it out. He also started giving us his schedule because he wants to find time to go to church haha. It was amazing! It was so cool how the Lord placed us in his path in his very hour of need. This man even thanked us as we parted ways, saying that we had saved his night and brought a new sense of hope into his life. He was excited to learn more about the gospel and I'm excited to meet him again one day in heaven :) 

We had two Thanksgivings! (WHAAAT. I know right? I go to Finland, basically the farthest place ever from America, and I end up having two Thanksgiving meals. It was magnificent.) We had one after our district meeting in a little city called Joensuu. It was a potluck with the other missionaries in my district and it was really fun eating our attempts at making traditional Thanksgiving dishes without a cookbook, limited ingredients, and even more limited experience. But it was really fun! The next day, we had Thanksgiving Dinner at my BML's (branch mission leader, the guy that helps us organize our missionary work) with his cute wife and little daughter. He's from America so he fully understands the need for a Thanksgiving meal. And he invited his friend from school (another American) and a random guy from Peru he had met on the street (haha our BML is half Hispanic so he heard this guy speaking Spanish and they ended up just talking and he invited him over). It was so fun! The food was beyond incredible! Oh! And I had like a bajillion embarrassing moments... like at the end, the guy from Peru (who was very much outgoing, loud, happy, welcoming, etc.) just threw his arms around me in a big hug, and I stood there like a dead fish. Because I'm a sister missionary and the most awkward thing on the planet! haha He gave me the strangest look when he let go... Also during the meal, I may or may not have laughed at something funny, which sent a pea on my fork flying, which landed on an Elder's plate, which he then ate without realizing it (and before I could warn him), and only the guy from Peru saw and basically started dying of laughter. When I told the missionaries later what happened, a.) they finally understood why the guy from Peru and I started laughing so hard randomly, and b.) they all started laughing really hard too, except for the Elder who ate the pea, he just looked shocked.  

Miracles are happening here. We had another amazing lesson with our investigator from Vietnam. And we finally were able to give her a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese. She thought it was so cool that we had it in her language. We told her that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children and He wants them all to come to know Him and Jesus Christ and to have His truth. The Spirit was so strong. Also, we had another lesson with the guy we met on the street. Well, last time we asked him to pray at the end and he basically started meditating.... This time during our lesson, his whole countenance seemed to have changed. We literally could see that the Spirit has been working on him. At the end, he said a sincere, heart felt prayer. It was perfect. And it was so cute because he asked us to remind him before he started how to begin and how to end it. It was ahhhhhmazing! We left and the member that was with us turned and gave us this open mouth, wide-eyed look. We said "what?" She said, "that's the best lesson I've ever been in". (and she's gone out with the missionaries many times). It was so cool! And we met with the 18 year old girl that came to church last week. We just prayed and prayed that we would know what to say and that we would have the Spirit with us. Well we ended up having an amazing lesson. The Spirit was SOOO STRONG. It was incredible! She asked us if we had ever looked into other churches, churches that were more open minded and less strict than ours. We basically just testified to her about why we are members of this church. I told her about how I have seen a lot of different things in my life. I have seen a lot of good, and I have seen a lot of bad. This gospel is my light. This gospel is my hope, it is my truth. I have seen a lot of people go down paths that I cannot follow. I explained to her that our church is open minded, but that doesn't change what is right and what's wrong. I explained that Jesus Christ is light and that I want to be in the light. I know what's the opposite of what our church stands for, and I don't want it. I don't need to go into the darkness. I don't want to! I was made for so much more than that. I'm so much better than drugs, alcohol, and sleeping around. I want more out of life. I respect myself more than that. And this gospel gives me the tools and the ways to find lasting, REAL happiness in this life and in the life to come. She just stopped and said "wow. that's impressive". And after that, we had her full attention. We were basically like "look. this gospel has changed our lives. we know it's true. and you can too." It was so cool. Also, she asked a question that she said she's had forever - that she's asked priests and pastors from many other churches for answers and she said that none of their answers really answered her question. Well, I can't even really remember what I said because I just opened my mouth and all of a sudden the words were coming out. But she just sat there and listened and all of a sudden her face started to change. She said "oh my gosh. you just answered my question. oh my gosh. you just answered it. I can't believe that you just answered it." It was insane! And the thing is, I can't even remember what I said! Because it wasn't me talking! It was Heavenly Father giving me the words to say through the Spirit. It was so cool! 

This is the Lord's work! This is the truth! His is the way, the truth, the life! I love being here! I love serving my Savior! As Christmas is approaching, pause and think about all of the things your Savior has done for YOU. I challenge you all to bring at least ONE person closer to Christ this Christmas! Invite them to church. Give them a Book of Mormon. Invite them to go caroling and sing songs about Christ with you. Act out the Nativity with them. GET CREATIVE. Everyone needs this gospel, what a perfect opportunity Christmas gives us to help bring them to it! KIRKKO ON TOTTA.

Love and miss you all!

Sisar Nielsen  - p.s. last week, we found 84 new investigators in one week in our mission. THAT IS A NEW FINLAND MISSION RECORD. MIRACLES ARE HAPPENING HERE. THE LORD IS HASTENING HIS WORK.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beautiful!




11/25/13 - I Love These People With All My Heart

TIS THE SEASON TO BE GRATEFUL. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

This has been a week of miracles. And a week that has helped me come closer to my Savior. 

So remember how I talked last time about our golden investigator? The one where we taught her and the Spirit was so strong, how she came to the ward concert and absolutely loved it, and left beaming, telling us how grateful she was that she came and asking us to call her on Wednesday to set up our next appointment? Well, Wednesday came and I excitedly called her and I proceeded to get an earful (of which I mostly couldn't understand because it was in Finnish) about how she has been talking to her mom and her mom says we're bad and as a result she refuses to ever meet with us again, our beliefs are wrong, the Book of Mormon is false, etc. I couldn't believe it. I felt numb. I had felt so good about her. And at this point, she was one of our two investigators. And the whole time on the phone (15 minutes), I just kept bearing my testimony to her and just kept thinking "no! I don't want to lose her! I don't want her to walk away from this truth! From this thing that I KNOW will bless her life". But something I've learned is that agency is a gift from God. He has given us the ability to choose. And as a result, we are the captains of our own lives. When I hung up the phone, my companion just looked at me and I started to cry. I love these people with all my heart. I want them to experience the joy and lasting happiness that I have found in the gospel. I want them to have what I have! But they have the power to choose. Afterwards, I was just crying and thinking "Heavenly Father, why?? Why couldn't you have softened her heart? Why couldn't you have given me the words to say that would've convinced her to meet with us just one more time?" why why why. All of a sudden, the most incredible warm feeling came over me. It was like somebody had wrapped me up in a blanket. I just felt so much love and peace. It's difficult to describe, but the Lord testified to me that He is with me. That He loves me. And that my Savior died for me and knows EXACTLY what I'm going through. It was the most amazing feeling. I dried my tears and quietly said "okay", got up, and just kept going. I know that our Savior is always with us. It's like that Footprints in the Sand poem. During our hardest times, that is when He carries us. My Savior has been carrying me. 

After the trial of our faith comes the blessings. And boy, have the blessings been flowing! So that night, as we were contacting people on the street (and getting rejected over and over and over again) I just prayed that the Lord would send somebody to lift our Spirits. The next person we said "Terve" to stopped. I said "wow it's really cold" and pointed to the lake next to us that was starting to freeze. And unlike the frozen water, our conversation just started flowing! She's an 18 year old girl and very outgoing. SHE ASKED US if she could come to church with us to check it out sometime. UH WHAT? and SHE CAME. She stayed for all three hours of church. She has a lot of strong opinions about things and has a bit of a push back towards God and church (and it didn't help that we had the Law of Chastity as our Sunday School lesson... it was pretty heavy stuff hahaha) but she said that there's something about our church that she likes, and that she wants to learn more. We're meeting with her this week! So we got a new investigator! ANDDDDD, a woman in her 20's with bright red hair came to church. I thought she was one of the member's friends, but it turns out that she just decided to walk into our church building on her own and the members grabbed her and sat with her. And she said she wants to learn more about our church and asked us for our number so we can go teach her! WHAAAAAT? Folks, that does not happen.... UNLESS WE HAVE A GOD OF MIRACLES. OH WAIT, WE DO. It was amazing. 

And then this week, we went to go contact a "potential" (somebody who has never been an investigator or been taught but has expressed interest to the missionaries before). She is from Russia and she is a 20 year old student here. She has been dodging our phone calls but keeps telling us to try again later. Well, we got to her house and she wasn't home. Her roommate opened the door. She's from Vietnam. She said that her roommate wasn't home and as she was about to close the door, we just decided to start talking to her. We explained who we are and what our purpose is. She is Buddhist, 19 years old, and studying Business here. We testified to her about how we have a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior, Jesus Christ. We told her we have a book that testifies of Him, and we asked if we could come back sometime. She said she would really like that. Well we went back later this week to teach her, and had one of the most amazing lessons I've ever had. It was all in English and we had to teach everything sooo simply, because English is her second language and she has absolutely no Christian background. We opened with a simple prayer and asked the Lord to bless her. When we closed the prayer, we asked her how she felt as we were praying. She said that as we prayed, she felt this warm feeling come into her heart and that she got goosebumps. We taught, simply, that we have a loving Heavenly Father, we are His children, and that He knows us. We testified about Jesus Christ and used pictures to explain His life, His death, and His Atonement. We read together some of the verses from the Book of Mormon - the part where Christ comes to the Americas, the crowning moment in the Book of Mormon. As we testified to this sweet young woman, the Spirit was incredible. It was amazing, and as I spoke these words about my Savior and the role He has played in my life, tears sprang to my eyes. It was the most amazing, powerful feeling introducing the idea of Christ to someone for the first time. And she felt it. She asked us if we could please come back and teach her more. We said OF COURSE! We're in the process of getting her a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese. At the end, we taught her how to pray. We happened to have a Vietnamese pamphlet in our apartment that has a page that explains prayer. Using the English and the Vietnamese pamphlets, we taught this sweet, humble young woman how to pray for the first time. Unlike many other people that we've taught, she agreed to try praying for the first time right there. She knelt down, and offered a short, sincere prayer in Vietnamese using the outline we had given her. The Spirit was so strong. We asked her how she felt, and she said that she had this strong feeling in her heart, a feeling that she had never had before, but it was a good feeling. She said it was difficult to describe. Earlier in the lesson, we had taught her about the Holy Ghost and how he testifies to us about truth and about what is good. It was so cute, because we had to make it sooo simple and explain to her that he's not a ghost like in the movies (she looked a little scared at first haha), but that he's a Spirit sent from our Heavenly Father to help and bless us. Oh the lesson was just so good! We truly have a God of miracles! I'm so grateful for the knowledge I have of my Savior. 

We also had tons more miracles this week! Including being able to finally meet with the part member family and less active family that the ward has been asking us to focus on! And both said they want us to come back! It was a miracle in and of itself that we were able to meet with them both, and another miracle that they both want us to come back! So today we are going to the less active's house to teach her children English and about the gospel (both of the kids aren't members) and we're really excited! And we met with that guy we had met on the street a while back who took the Book of Mormon from us and had tons of great questions! And the lesson went well and we're meeting again this week! AND HE'S NOW OFFICIALLY A PROGRESSING INVESTIGATOR. whooohoooo!

I know God lives! Jesus is the Christ! As I pause and reflect on the bajillions of blessings I have in my life, they all come from the Lord! I am so grateful for Him! I know that our Savior is always with us, during the hardest and the easiest of times! If we endure, even when things are really hard and look bleak, we will be blessed a million times more than we could ever imagine. 

THIS IS THE LORD'S WORK. This is an exciting time to be alive! The truth is on the earth today! We have a living prophet. We have a witness and evidence that this is God's one and only true church. We can hold it in our hands. We can read it. We can pray about it. And we can know for OURSELVES that the Book of Mormon is true, and as a result, this church is true! The Lord is hastening the work. Miracles are happening all over the earth! Will you allow God to work miracles through you? Will you join the effort to bring the world His truth? Will YOU be a part of it? The choice is up to you. 

I love you all! Keep warm! 

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Nielsen  - ps I had a dream I was basking in the warm sun. It was so bright, I had to squint. I was wearing a t-shirt and I could feel the sun on my face and on my skin. It was glorious.... and then my alarm went off. Oh well, THE GOSPEL IS MY LIGHT. And I'm really excited because I'm so far north that during the middle of winter, I'LL BE ABLE TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. HOW SICK IS THAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Lund

An old Finnish church

The Kuopio Museum

Sisar Nielsen and her District

"It's so beautiful here!"



"I finally succeeded at making cookies!"

Kuopio!

11/18/13 - I SAW THE SUN!

FOR STARTERS, I FINALLY MADE SUCCESSFUL COOKIES FOLKS. (after some more failed attempts.. including more flat cookies with just mounds of broken up chocolate bars in them...) Aaaand they were dang good. so I took a picture to prove it :)
 
This has been an amazing week! I seriously don't even know where to begin! So many miracles have been happening and I finally feel like everything is starting to come together. I kinda feel like Kuopio has been somewhat of a refiner's fire for me, which has been good because I feel like I've been on my knees a lot more here. It has strengthened my relationship with my Heavenly Father and I know that He always supports us in our trials.
 
Okay so we have this new amaaaazing investigator! She's a super cute girl, about 25. We had our first lesson with her this week and it went so well! It was one of the smoothest first lessons I've ever taught. The Spirit was so strong and she even asked us if she could have the Restoration pamphlet! We can't wait to meet with her again! And we found some other amazing people that we hope to teach soon. All of a sudden, they're starting to appear. My district leader asked me last night what we did differently this week because all of a sudden, we're starting to have more success. I told him that we're doing nothing differently, but that that's just it. We're not letting ourselves get discouraged, we're not slowing down, and we're not letting up. And the Lord knows that and when we're doing all we can, He makes up the rest.
 
And then yesterday (Sunday) my heart was so full of love it was bursting at the seams! For starters, it was the primary program! THE BRANCH I'M IN IS SO AMAZING. I truly feel like they are trusting us more! I don't even know what has made the difference, but I can feel it! And they are becoming my family here! These members are sooo strong. They are few in number, but they are all so amazing. Some drive 1 1/2 hours to church every Sunday! It's incredible. Well anyway, I ask you, WHAT IS CUTER THAN A PRIMARY PROGRAM... IN FINNISH?! Uhm the answer is NOTHING. My heart was dying. I was practically crying the whole time! And I could understand it ALL because the kids were like "Jesus loves me" and I was like YESSSSS. I understand you child! It was adorable. And so cool to hear all of the familiar primary songs I've grown up with my whole life, sung by little kids in Finnish. It's also so great that the church is worldwide, and that its members are basically the same everywhere. We  had the typical franticly waving child, the one that cries when they get to the pulpit, and the ones that fan themselves with their little talks. So great. So basically, church was amazing. And then we had a concert that night at the church. And through a series of crazy events and miracles (I'll save you all the details) our investigator came! And the ward just welcomed her in and she was just beaming. And then all of a sudden right before it starts, the elders run over and say "Sisters, another one of your investigators is here" and a guy had showed up that we had talked to briefly on the phone. We were like whaaaaaat? And he really enjoyed it and we're meeting with him this week too! Seriously, the miracles are just flowing! THE LORD IS IN THIS WORK. This branch I'm in is arguably the most musically talented branch in the world.  Seriously. They have a musical number every sacrament meeting, and the concert was amazing. And my heart was bursting because the Bishop's sons (ages 6 and 3) both played the violin together with their dad. It was the cutest thing ever.  Sisar Lund and I sang a duet in the program (in Finnish!). (I KNOW I KNOW, I DON'T SING. But I'm doing soooo many things that are forcing me out of my comfort zone here, and that is one of them! and it helped get our investigator there because I told her I needed a fan club... so I was willing to sacrifice the ears of the congregation for her:)) That night, as we were sitting home eating some very yummy famous Finnish ice cream, my heart was so full I wanted to cry! I know the Lord is there for me always, during the hardest and the sweetest of times.
 
I saw the sun! It was glorious. and short lived, but absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I love being here! I love this gospel! I love the happiness, joy, and purpose I have found in it! I love that I can share it with others. Finland is gorgeous, the members are so loving, and the church is just soo true sometimes I can barely handle it! I LOVE MY LIFE.
 
Love and miss you all!
 
Sisar Nielsen - ps This week while we were tracting, I was talking to a guy at his door and I accidently took a little step back and literally fell off his porch!  It was awkward, and he laughed at me, and then I just kept right on going with preaching the gospel to him because all these people need it. Unfortunately for them, they have an imperfect, uncoordinated, unable to speak their language missionary like me -  but they ain't getting rid of me anytime soon :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Lund

"We were given this mask - scurry! And I can hear you now, Dad, "that's an improvement!" haha

"I tried making cookies again. I give up :)"

The Sisters in the North Zone

11/11/13 - ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ASK

MOI. I love you all.
 
Okay for starters, the church is true! Sometimes when things get really hard, I just have to remind myself "well, at least the church is still true," because ultimately, that's all that really matters. And I know that no matter how hard things feel, my Savior understands me because He has felt all my pains, disappointments, and hurt. And I never walk alone. What a powerful concept that is.
 
We're working our hardest to just build Kuopio from the ground up. Apparently Kuopio has been known as a bit of a "goof off" city in the past and as a result, I don't feel like the members here really trust us. They absolutely love us, but I just don't feel the level of trust I want to from them yet. But we're gonna change that, and we've already seen some change! The other night, Sisar Lund and I had somebody give us a Book of Mormon back that the previous sisters had given her. As we walked away, we were feeling a little saddened. We ended up running into the Elders and they had just been told by a member they were working with that he's done living the gospel. Needless to say, they were feeling down and frustrated too because this man has been struggling for a longgg time and these Elders obviously love him a lot. We ended up talking outside in the freeeeezing cold darkness (BECAUSE THE SUN SETS AT 4) about how we're sick of this and that things here need to change. And that we're gonna be the ones who do it. This whole time Sisar Lund and I have been saying these things, but we were never this united with the Elders. The 4 of us are the Lord's representatives in this city. He has trusted us with these precious souls. And we're gonna do everything in our power to strengthen the members, find new people, and baptize powerful and future leaders that can raise their families in the gospel here. The elders are both pretty inexperienced too (one got here about 3 weeks ago). But I have no doubt that the Lord deliberately put this city in the hands of some of the most inexperienced companionships in the mission because we have no choice but to trust in Him! As the four of us talked, the Spirit became so strong. TOGETHER, we are the Lord's army. We are HIS. And this is HIS work. I am soooo grateful that I am here! IN FINLAND. IN KUOPIO. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Being a missionary is the greatest thing I've ever done.
 
So basically, I have a testimony of awkward moments. This past week, Sisar Lund and I were walking home at night and she was telling me a story. I got distracted and stopped listening to her because I got the feeling that we needed to go talk to this guy who was walking the other way. All of a sudden she said "Sisar Nielsen! you're not even listening to me!" I apologized and explained that I got a feeling we need to go talk to that guy. She responded with "dang it! I got it too but I just pushed it away" Well, we both crossed the street and tried to hurry after him. We couldn't figure out where he went, and then we saw him standing at a bus stop. We awkwardly walked up and looked at the bus schedule like we were waiting for the bus (for the record, I couldn't understand it at all) and then just sparked up a conversation with him. Just when we started talking he said "oh sorry, this is my bus" and ran and got on. We both looked at each other so frustrated because we didn't even get to the gospel! We both got the feeling we needed to still talk to him! So we ran, paid 6 euros for a bus ticket, and got on the bus. We smoothly sat in front of him (okay, who am I trying to kid, it was WAY AWKWARD) and we were basicallly like "Oh fancy seeing you here! The reason why we're here is because we're trying to give people eternal life" (we might've used some other words but that's pretty much what we were saying). We had a bomb awesome (semi-awkward) teach with him and then we realized that we were totally leaving the city and we had no idea where we were going! So we exchanged numbers with him and just got off at the next stop. We started walking and realized there was no way we were gonna get home in time to call our District Leader (we call every night to say we're home and safe and report on the day) so we ended up having to call the Elders for a ride. Well, our District Leader was visiting from another city that night so he actually came and picked us up. We felt like little kids getting picked up by their mom. We got in the car all sheepishly and were like "okay we're really sorry we made you drive all the way out here to rescue us but we had to help save his soul!" Long story short, sometimes I feel like  the Lord gives us these random impressions just to test us, to see if we will follow them, even when everything in our right mind tells us not to. We called that guy, and he never responded to us, but I know that we did exactly what the Lord wanted us to do. And I just have this CRAZY AWESOME INSANE feeling that things here are about to change- for the better. And fast! The Lord is working miracles here. I witness them everyday. And as we follow the Spirit and do everything in our power to obey His will, we are blessed beyond measure.
 
So I tried making cookies again.... this time I got a recipe from one of the Elders here because he's famous for his baking skills. Well, Sisar Lund made this recipe last week and it turned out great. So last night, I went to make them too. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong this time.. but they were the flattest cookies I've ever seen in my entire life. And they tasted like home made caramels, not like cookies! It was the weirdest thing! And they flattened out in the oven to be huge. I just don't understand! What am I doing wrong?! Because these hardly resemble cookies, I couldn't really give them away. So what do you do when you have a bajillion paper thin cookies that taste like caramels? You give them to the Elders. When the Elder who gave us the recipe tried them, he said "whoa! these are way good! and so cool! can I get the recipe??" When I told him it was his recipe, he looked at me with pure confusion. sighhhhh.... I guess the talent of cooking just isn't one that I possess.
 
The church is true. MIRACLES HAPPEN. As we seek the Lord in prayer, HE ANSWERS. Knock and it shall be opened unto YOU.
 
LOVE YOU ALL,
 
Sisar Nielsen  - p.s. one of the awesome miracles we had this week is we set a goal by the Spirit to teach 27 lessons this week. Through a series of miracles, we got EXACTLY 27. I know it's because we did little things like stalk a guy and follow him onto a bus :). As we show the Lord we are willing to work and give it our all and follow the Spirit, He shows us that He is our loving Heavenly Father and that He wants to help us. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ASK.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

11/4/13 - Well, We Didn't Have Any Ginger

MOI FROM THE LAND OF THE COLD.
 
Well for starters, Finland is amazing. It is so beyond beautiful here I can't even do it justice with pictures or trying to describe it. This week we had our Zone Conference up North in a city called Oulu. We had to take a 4 hour train ride to get there. It was fun meeting with the North Zone (all of the missionaries in the North part of the country) for the first time. There are practically NO sisters in this zone! Especially compared to the zone I just came from. The Sisters gotta represent :)
 
This week was full of its challenges, but also full of lots of miracles. For starters, some of our investigators have been dodging us (not cool people! we're trying to give you eternal life here!). So we decided to be super nice and make them cookies to take to them and to some less-actives as well. All we had was a cookie recipe for ginger snaps in Finnish so we decided to just go ahead and try to make them. Well, we didn't have any ginger so we made them cinnamon sugar cookies instead. And the recipe called for 1 RKL of syrup. Okay, who in the world knows what a RKL is? Not us! So we just put in half a cup. But then the dough was really weird and really dry so we decided to add another half a cup (for a total of a whole cup of cane syrup). I mean if you think about it, it makes sense to have an equal amount of cane syrup as the amount of sugar you put in it (FOR THE RECORD, THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, but whatever). And then it was still way dry so we added an egg (the recipe didn't call for one) and baked it. Well the cookies were really good until after you ate them... because then our throats started to burn. Turns out 1 RKL is a tablespoon! But we had no choice but to give them away. Maybe the burning in their throats will awaken them to the importance of repenting or something... who even knows. Long story short, we got a new cookie recipe so we can warm people's hearts with them and not burn their throats :)
 
Last Monday we had an awesome miracle! After a dinner with a member we didn't have any other plans. So we decided to go contacting in the center of the city. We went and drove the car to the car park and were about to get out of the car when it hit us that we hadn't prayed about it! So we did, and we both got the feeling that we should not go contact in the center. So we just started driving again and I was trying to navigate and we weren't even sure where we were going but then all of a sudden we realized that we were right back in the exact same parking place that we were for the DA (dinner appointment) at the member's house! Well, we prayed again and both got the strong feeling to go visit a less active nearby. So we went and bought chocolate (sometimes we have to bribe our way in to people's houses (and their hearts)) and went and found her house. Well we went to go open the door to get in the apartment building and it was locked! What?! and there was no button to push to tell this woman to open the door. So we were way confused because we had gotten a distinct impression to go there. Well, we turned around and a man was coming towards us. I turned to my comp and said "okay, let's talk to him". I said "terve!" and he stopped and asked "do I know you?" I told him no but we're new to Kuopio and just wanted to be friendly. Basically we just started talking with this guy- and then all of sudden we're talking about the gospel. And he said he'd visited our church many many years ago once! But he didn't know much about it. So we proceeded to tell him all about how when Christ was on the earth He organized His church, but when Christ and His apostles were killed then much of the truth was taken from the earth. We talked about the Apostacy (the period of time when Christ's true church was not on the earth) and that that is why there are soo many different kinds of churches on the earth today. We then taught about Joseph Smith and how he wanted to know which church to join. We talked about the first vision and that the true church has been restored today and that THIS IS THE TRUE CHURCH. We told him about the Book of Mormon and about how that was our witness that everything we were telling him was true. He had so many amazing questions and was so interested. He said he wanted a Book of Mormon and was going to go to the library to find one. I said "Wait, I have one with me!" he told me he didn't have any money. When I told him it was a gift, he got really excited and gladly took it! We have a meeting set up with him this week. And what was so cool is that throughout the whole conversation, I could just speak! I felt like the words just kept coming! And I was able to understand him! I couldn't understand all of the vocab he used, but I could feel  what he was saying and I just knew. It was the coolest thing! and then right after that, we stopped and talked to a girl and I couldn't say ANYTHING. and I could barely understand her. It was the weirdest thing. I know the Lord is blessing me to learn Finnish.
 
OH AND GET THIS. Later that night after we parked the car at the car park and were walking home through the center, we ran into the same guy! He was wearing different clothes and had a different bag so at first we didn't recognize him, but he called out to us and we stopped to talk to him. He was on his way somewhere and he reached into this new bag and pulled out the Book of Mormon! He said he had already read the intro and was excited to read more. It was so cool! I can't wait to meet and talk to him about MY FAVORITE BOOK. Seriously, that book has so much power. LOVE IT.
 
So something cool this week was Pyhä Päivä, or Holy Day where the Finns honor their ancestors. They put tons and tons of candles throughout the cemeteries. It was so beautiful and Sisar Lund and I detoured for a minute to walk through. It was so peaceful and like something out of a movie. There were tons of old graves, but lots of newer ones too. There was a huge main one with tons of candles. On the back of it, it said "Minä Tiedän Lunaastajani Elävän" (I Know My Redeemer Lives). I, Sisar Nielsen, KNOW that MY Redeemer Lives. I know that He loves me, and that He knows me personally! I know that He came for me. If I were the only person on the earth, He still would've come and suffered the Atonement, just for me. I love my Savior. I'm so grateful to wear His name everyday. Sometimes the mission is reaaaaally hard, but I know that He walks with me through the hardest and the sweetest of times. I am a witness that Jesus is the Christ. That He loves all men and He wants us all to come unto Him. He is my rock and my salvation. He is my hope and my best friend. Learn of Him. Come closer to Him. Go to Him. He's waiting for you to take His hand. I know He loves you. And I do too :)
 
Rakaudella,
 
Sisar Nielsen - ps i got to carve a pumpkin! our BML (branch mission leader) is from the US so he and his wife invited us over to carve a pumpkin and have some halloween treats. it was way fun :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sisar Egan, Sisar Nielsen, and Sisar Hubner - one last picture together

Sisar Nielsen and her former District Leaders

"The Finnish Flag - which is only flown on Flag Days. Notice it's cloudy - it's always cloudy."

Sisar Nielsen and her new companion Sisar Lund - "We are basically clueless, but we're ready to work!"
 
 

10/28/13 - Long Story Short, I'm Alive! I'm Well! and I'm Happy!

MOI FROM KUOPIO.

After my last email, I boarded a train (BY MYSELF. weird.) and rode 3 hours to the North to my new city. The longer we rode, the more snow there was. When I finally arrived, I was greeted by my new companion Sisar Lund. She's from Utah and we get along really well! I'm so excited to see what we will do together this change. We are officially the youngest companionship in the mission. I've been in the country for 2 months, she's been in the country for 4. We are by far the most inexperienced and neither one of us knows the language all that well. She's only been in Kuopio 2 weeks longer than me because of a mid transfer transfer so everything's pretty much new to her too. Long story short, WE ARE PRETTY MUCH CLUELESS. But we're ready to work! This area apparently has a rep for being a low baptizing and low finding area. When I got here, there were no progressing investigators (somebody who learns about the gospel continually) and only about 2 investigators (people who are interested in learning more). We decided that we don't care what the past is here. We don't care what is "expected" or "possible" here. We don't care what people say we can or can't do. We're just gonna do it! We drove around Kuopio (WHICH IS GORGEOUS BY THE WAY) and found a place to stop. We got out and said a prayer together asking the Lord to help us to take Kuopio where He desires it to be, because we both know that He has greater things in mind for this place than the limitations that have previously been set for it. After we said "Aamen", we were ready to work. 

On one of the days this week, we didn't have any plans at all. So we decided to make it a "finding day" so we could find more people that would be interested in the gospel. We also made it a "pray always" day (which we pray all the time anyway, but we reaaaaaally prayed A TON that day). We felt we should go stop by a less actives house, so we took her some cake and went to introduce ourselves. She let us in and we were able to give her a nice teach. Then we decided to tract her whole building. It was interesting because earlier that day, I had been praying to ask the Lord where we should go. I had gotten the feeling that we needed to go tracting. Now here's the thing, I hate tracting! I think it's so inefficient and quite frankly having the door slammed in your face time after time after time eventually starts to get old (call me crazy). But I had gotten that impression and I knew that's what we needed to do. We also knew that the Lord had brought us to this area for a reason so we tracted that building. And guess what! WE FOUND 3 NEW INVESTIGATORS. AND TWO WERE FAMILIES. It was amazing! We also had met a really awesome 20 year old girl on the street the day before and we set up an appointment with her the day we found those other 3 investigators so that means we found a total of 4! WE MORE THAN DOUBLED the current investigator count. It was insane. As we walked home in the freezing rain, I could not wipe the smile off my face! This is why I'm a missionary! And it just amazes me that we have a Father in Heaven who cares about us and loves us! And lets imperfect people like ME do HIS work. I have witnessed so many miracles in my lifetime, and I think on my mission I am just more aware of even more. God lives. and He cares! When we called our district leader that night (we call in every night to let him know we're home safe and give a mini reporting of the day) he could not believe that we had found 4! He just kept being like "4?! What?!" We're going to take Kuopio to the next level. It's not going to be easy. It's actually gonna be way hard. Pretty much impossible if we didn't have the Lord on our side. But we do and with Him, all things are possible. 

I have witnessed the miracle of the gift of tongues even more apparently since coming to Kuopio. Both Sisar Lund and I are at a similar level of understanding... which basically means most of the time we are totally clueless as to what is happening. But here's the thing, so many times this change I feel like all of sudden I can understand everything perfectly! It's crazy. And then all of sudden, I go back to not being able to understand anything at all, like literally nothing. It's the craziest thing. But I've noticed in times where we need to understand what is being said, all of a sudden it comes clearer to me and it's almost as if I'm hearing it in English. CRAZZZY. And then on Sunday there were some nonmembers at church who were from China and didn't speak Finnish. The teacher of the class asked if Sisar Lund and I would translate for them. UHHHH MITÄ?! We didn't really have a choice so we said "okay....". And I mean it was probably the worst translating job in the history of translators (and who knows... we might've just taught them our own lesson instead of what the teacher was saying) but we did it! Through the Lord, we were able to do it. 

So long story short, I'm alive! I'm well! and I'm happy! I drove in Finland for the first time here so that was pretty exciting. We have a car so we drive a lot. It makes it harder to contact people but it's nice when it's raining/showing and it's freezing cold. Pray for the people of Kuopio. They don't know what's about to hit them. Pretty much, they're all gonna join the church, the teens are all going on missions, and everybody's gonna get married in the temple and live with their families forever and be HAPPY. Sounds like a pretty good game plan to me. 

LOVE YOU ALL. THE CHURCH IS TRUE. 

Sisar Nielsen - p.s. I just got myself a new reflector. Because it's so dark here, it's required by law that everybody wear reflectors all the time. So now I'm all legit and stuff (and obeying the law... ya know us missionaries - we gotta be obedient.)