Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 25, 2013 - Everything's Funnier in Finnish

Overall, this has been a good week! I'M MORE THAN HALF WAY DONE WITH THE MTC. WHOOOHOOO. It's crazy how fast time flies when you're having fun! Or when you're constantly so busy you start to forget what life was like before you were a missionary. Or if you even had a life before the mission....
This week was full of all kinds of adventures. My companion was complaining of an ear ache on Monday so we hopped on the bus and went to the main campus so she could go to the doctor. Well after we arrived it came to our attention that I had somehow ripped my purple skirt (AGAIN) and that there was a gaping hole on the side of it. Well, seeing no other alternative, we went to the bookstore where Sisar Dayton bought a sewing kit and we went to the bathroom where I passed my skirt over the top of the stall and Sisar Dayton sewed it for me while I just chilled there in the stall. (What a great companion!) Some other Sisters walked in and were like "what are you doing" to which my comp responded "oh ya know... just sewing my companion's skirt". It's normal.  Then we went to the clinic. My comp left me alone in the waiting room while she went back to see the doctor. As soon as she left, all of these Elders started talking to me. I about had a panic attack. (okay not really, but I really am so awkward now when it comes to interacting with the Elders and being alone. wow.)
A couple days ago, I was sitting at dinner and felt something fall on my lap. It was the back of my earring. I was like "uh mitä?" (uh what?) I realized that I was indeed missing one of my earrings. I started looking all over for it. I searched my tray, all of the floor, and even went into the bathroom and gave myself a good shake down and I found nothing! I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me find my earring. I kept looking and looking and couldn't find it anywhere. We had to go to devotional so I had to leave. It was very saddening. I felt like Heavenly Father was going to answer my prayer, so I was confused as to why He hadn't. K, well get this. We get home, and my earring was sitting on the bathroom counter. WHAT? How in the world did that even happen? My friend saw the back of my earring fall onto my lap during dinner. How did it stay on my ear the whole day without falling off? I still can't figure it out. But I know one thing for sure, my earring sitting on the counter was God's way of telling me that He's got my back. He cares about the little things in my life. He was willing to help me find something as small and simple as an earring. I know He answers prayers. It's amazing how we have access to the greatest power in the universe, if we just simply get down on our knees and ask. This may be just a simple thing, but to me it reminds me that our God is truly a God of miracles.
Devotional this week was really good. My favorite part was the choir number I participated in. We sang "Praise To the Man". The power of that song sung by a big group of missionaries was incredible. The Spirit was so strong. I KNOW Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He was all that he claimed to be. I am so grateful for his sacrifice and the sacrifice of all of the early pioneers. After dinner on pioneer day, my district was walking to put our trays away when the head of all of the food came over to us. He gave us apple pie in honor of Pioneer Day! It was so kind. And the pie was delicious! It's amazing how as a missionary, it's the little things that make all the difference.
This week has been a week of self evaluation for me. Hitting my month mark and realizing that in less than a month I will be among the people of Finland was extremely humbling for me. Their salvation rests in my hands! It's incredible that the Lord trusts me with this work. I am so far from perfect it's insane, but it's amazing how the Lord is willing to show me my weaknesses so that I can turn them into my strengths. I've been choosing/reading about Christ-like attributes then striving to focus on them the next day. So far I've done humility, patience, and ceasing to find fault with others. These are all things that I need to be better at. Last Sunday I watched a recording of Elder Bednar's Devotional at the MTC titled "The Character of Christ". It was all about how the character of Christ turns outward, when we naturally turn inward. How Christ turns outward to help others during His trials, when we naturally want to turn inward and focus on ourselves. I want to do better. I want to BE better. He said something that really struck me: "conversion is being consistently true to what you know" Consistently true to what you know. If we truly strive to be consistent to what we know and who we know we should be, I know that we will see miracles happen in our lives and the lives around us.
This week I committed both of my "investigators" to baptism. (remember all of these lessons are in Finnish). It was amazing. I teach one of my comps and she pretends to be somebody that she actually knows. I gave her the lesson on baptism and she politely said she didn't want or need to be baptized because she already was. We ran out of time in our lesson but I told her that next time, we would address her concerns and questions. Well I prayed to ask the Lord to help me know what to say. He taught me as I taught her during our following lesson. He showed me the power of the scriptures. Even though technically this was a "fake" lesson, it felt very real to me. I could feel the spirit as I taught. The Lord inspired me to pick scriptures that ended up speaking directly to her concerns. When I asked her to follow the Savior's example and be baptized, tears sprung to her eyes as she said "okay". It was amazing how the Spirit testified to me that this is the work of the Lord. How baptism is essential. And how the Spirit is the real teacher here, not me. I'm just simply here to be a tool in the Lord's hands.
Okay so here's a couple quick Finnish stories before I have to go:
-In a lesson I accidently said "Christ gives us lots of problems" instead of "Christ helps us with our problems". oops.
-we had an SYL day and for the majority of the day, I spoke only Finnish! It was insane that I was actually able to do it. We still have tons to learn, but it's amazing to see how far we've come.
-There's the most adorable sister here who is from Finland going to Greece. Today I saw her in the bookstore and said "terve" (hello) to her. She responded back to me asking how my p-day is going and that she has a lot of things to do today. I understood all of it! It was amazing. I know it might seem like no big deal, but it was a big deal to me. Heavenly Father is teaching me Finnish! and it's amazing.
-we walked into the room to teach our lessons (our one on one lessons when we all teach other sisters from the district) and my and sisar crandall's room was missing chairs so we went to the other room and brought some in. As Sisar Crandall was bringing one in, I said "Terve Tuoli". She said "huh?" and I said "hi chair". I don't even know why, but all of us (the other sisters who were about to head into the neighboring rooms and our teacher in the hall) started laughing so hard!! We've decided that everything is sooooooooooo much funnier in Finnish. One of our favorite lines is "MAHTAVA POIKA" which means "amazing/mighty boy". See, in English, that ain't funny - in Finnish, it gets me every time!
Well, MINÄ RAKASTAN TEITÄ. KIRKKO ON TOTTA. (I love you all. The church is true!)
Sisar Nielsen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013 - One Month Down, 17 to Go

Well this week has been quite the eventful week. For starters, I HIT MY ONE MONTH MARK AS A MISSIONARY TOMORROW. CRAZY. I can't believe that I've been here for a whole month! And that  I have 17 more months to go of my mission! I feel like it's going so fast. Yet I feel like my life before the mission was all a dream....
I am no longer the District Leader. I am now the Sister Training Leader for our Zone. It's essentially the sister equivalent of being a Zone Leader so that's pretty exciting. I'm just super stoked to work with all of the amazing sisters in our zone. Our Zone consists of our Finnish district, one other Finnish district, two Hungarian districts, one Albanian, and one Estonian. So needless to say, we are all learning killer languages. One of the responsibilities that I have as a Sister Training Leader is to go around to all of the apartments at night and say goodnight to everyone. I absolutely LOVE doing it, but honestly it is wearing me out! I have never been more exhausted in my life as I am as a missionary. I've fallen asleep on my desk, on the couch in one of our teaching investigators rooms, on the keyboard of a computer, outside laying in the grass, on the floor of my classroom, sitting up, laying down, you name it! It's so frustrating because I work so hard to stay awake and next thing I know, my comp is waking me up! Sometimes I even dream that I'm still awake - like I honestly thought I was bearing my testimony to everyone on how the gospel of Jesus Christ brings our life hope and helps eliminate the darkness in our lives, but in the middle of my testimony my comp shook me awake! Yep, missionary probs.
This week I had a really cool experience with the language. We have this thing called TRC that we started for the first time last week. We teach members (volunteers that come into the MTC) different gospel lessons to help strengthen them. We were teaching an older gentleman on the doctrine of Christ. I had him read 3 Nephi 9:14 (one of my favorite scriptures!) and then I bore my testimony about it. (btw, all of this is in Finnish). As I was bearing my broken testimony, I was overwhelmed by the Spirit and I started to cry. It was the first time that I felt the Spirit that strong while speaking Finnish. I told him that I knew Christ was our Redeemer and that He loves us. Before I could realize what I was saying, the words "se on miksi me olemme lahetysaarnajia" (this is why we are missionaries) escaped from my lips. The Lord testified to me then and there that I don't need to know Finnish perfectly, I don't need to be an expert at conjugating the verbs, adjectives, nouns, pronouns, and everything else that we conjugate. I just need to work my hardest, be worthy of the Spirit, and trust in the Lord. This is His work and He won't let somebody as imperfect as Iam mess it up. Basically, KIRKKO ON TOTTA (church is true).
Sundays are one of my favorite days at the MTC! First off, we don't have any Finnish classes! Whooooohoooo! Second off, we get to watch Music and the Spoken Word which is awesome because I've missed music! We also get to go to a devotional every night and after devotional we get to watch movies! YAY! The films I've seen so far are Legacy, Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration, and The Testaments. They're all so good. It's kinda funny how this is one of our main forms of entertainment for the week. I love being a missionary!
This past Tuesday, we went over to the Marriott Center for our regular Tuesday Devotional. Elder Richard Hinckley spoke! So that was really exciting. He did a great job. I sang in the choir with the other sisters of my district, and Sister Hubner, Vincent, Dayton, and I were on the big screen! Hollllllllla. The spirit was amazing during the meeting. Afterwards, they took the new MTC picture. They've only taken 3 in the history of the MTC, and I get to be in the newest one! So that's really exciting. It's so cool because they have the old one hanging up in our cafeteria. It's a sea of suit coats and ties, and a tiny little group of sisters. In this new one, there's gonna be a LOT more sisters! And I get to be one of them! During the choir number, they had photographers going around and taking pictures. Well there was a lovely (aka awkward) pic of me, Sisar Dayton, Hubner, and Vincent taken while we were singing. And naturally, it was printed out and hung up in our cafeteria. Well, all of our Chilean Elder friends call us the "superstars" now. greaaaat..... hahaha oh well!
We had two SYL days where we tried as hard as we could to speak only Finnish. They actually went pretty well. It's crazy to see how far we've come, but we still have sooo far to go! What's hard is that towards the end of the day we usually start failing at it. We get so burned out that it's hard to keep speaking it, but we're improving and that's what's important.
When I first got here, I kinda just imagined that I would stick with my district for most of my time here, however, that has not been the case. We have made so many amazing friends! Many of them are starting to head off now to the mission field. This week, a couple of our favorite elders headed off. It's been so incredible meeting so many people that have sacrificed so much to be here. There truly is a power with all of us.
I've had a lot of awkward/embarrassing moments while I've been here (who's even surprised right now.....) but we had a devotional on Sunday about how awkward moments are good because sometimes we may feel awkward inviting people to do things (come to church, read scriptures, get baptized, etc), but we just need to take that leap and do it anyways. So what I concluded from the devotional is that I have a testimony of awkward moments... and that awkward moments can help bring people to Christ! YAY! There's hope for me!
I love you all and I know the church is true. I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I know the Lord cares about each and everyone of us. He answers our prayers. I am so grateful for that. This is the gospel of happiness! This is a gospel of hope! This is a gospel that gives purpose to our lives and invites us to be better. "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him". I'm grateful for my Savior. I'm grateful for His love. I'm grateful that He trusts me enough to send me on a mission to preach His gospel to God's children in Finland. It really hit me this week that I wouldn't let anybody walk around wearing my name and representing me unless I had complete and utmost confidence in them. And that's exactly what He's doing with me. Everyday I wake up and put my name tag on. A name tag that says in bold letters "JEESUKSEN KRISTUKSEN". Jesus Christ. The Lord has faith in me, and I must have faith in myself. 
Minä rakastaan sinua. (I LOVE YOU)
Sisar Nielsen

Monday, July 15, 2013

The 12 Sisters going to Finland - awesome!

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Dayton - MTC companions

The Sisters that traveled together to LA for Visas

Sisar Nielsen and her District

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 11, 2013 - Terve!

I miss you all! And hope you're all doing well! It's crazy to think that I just completed my 3rd week here! My how time flies! Yet I feel like I've been a missionary my whole life.....
This week has been good. On the 4th of July we watched 17 Miracles and then ate ice cream while watching the Stadium of Fire fireworks. It was awesome!
This past Tuesday we went to devotional at the Marriott Center. On the way there, I was praying so hard that I would be able to see Sister Cuevas (a special friend of ours from Chicago who recently entered the main MTC campus).  Sometimes it's really annoying not to have a cell phone. I just kept praying and praying that Heavenly Father would make our paths cross. My comp and I were walking around it and I just felt like I needed to keep walking. I kept walking and walking and walking. All of a sudden, I felt like I should stop. So I did. After some time had passed, I was starting to get anxious. But sure enough, Sister Cuevas came walking in through the door right by me. In a sea of over 3,400 missionaries, Heavenly Father made it possible for me to find her! We saw each other, ran to each other, and pretty much started crying as we tackled each other! It was so amazing. It was so cool seeing each other wearing our missionary name tags and I was literally so happy I was crying. We sat by each other during the devotional and the whole devotional was on prayer! I know Heavenly Father answers our prayers. Heavenly Father cares about the little things in our lives. Whether big or small, He cares. I'm so grateful for the power of prayer!
WE MADE HISTORY! This week the MTC had more missionaries in it than ever before in the history of the MTC. It feels so amazing that I am one of those missionaries!
I ripped my purple skirt. But don't worry, I sewed it :) although I do wish I had paid better attention in my 8th grade sewing class. It looks like it was done by a 5 year old. Oh well. If the hole is gone it's good right? 
This week actually wasn't all that eventful. We got both of our "investigators" to pray though so that was exciting! The language is coming along, even though it's still killer! It's hard for me not to get frustrated with it and with myself. I just have to keep reminding myself that learning it takes time and I just need to keep working hard and trust in the Lord.
 This morning we went to breakfast at the main campus. I don't know why everyone complains about the MTC food. It was amazing! Every morning for breakfast over here, we get bagels, muffins, and sugary cereal. That's it. They had breakfast burritos, all kinds of fruit, bagels, and muffins, cracked wheat, oatmeal, sausage and pancakes with syrup, and so many other choices! We were in awe! However, I love the campus I'm on. There's so much freedom and it's super chill.
Every night, Sister Hubner, Vincent, Dayton and I sit outside on the porch and eat otter pops, ice cream, or creamies and just enjoy the night air. It's on of my favorite things to do and is a great relaxer.
Whenever we go anywhere, we always say "Terve" to everyone (which means hello). Now most of the West MTC campus says "Terve" whenever they see us. It's very exciting.
Well, I love you and I miss you like crazy! Keep sending me letters. I love getting them! Mail time is one of the most fun times of the day.
Love you all,
Sisar Nielsen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 4, 2013 - The Ups and Downs of MTC Life!

This has been quite the week. I passed my two weeks in the MTC so that's pretty exciting! I can't believe I've been here for so long... but honestly I feel like I've been here forever! The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days!
Finnish is crazy. We've been teaching lessons in it which has been pushing me and pushing me. Our teachers pretend that they're Finnish investigators (real people that they taught on their missions) and we teach them the gospel. It's actually really hard because we're not allowed to have any kind of notes with us (Finnish or English). They only speak Finnish to us and it's really hard to understand them and they act like real investigators so they're not always that nice. My comp and I were teaching this guy Niilo yesterday and it was his second lesson. Earlier in the morning we were practicing and everything was going great. We were actually doing amazing and even our teacher said he was really impressed. The Finnish was just flowing. However, when we went into the room we forgot what we were trying to say and he wasn't receiving our message well. It was so frustrating! Afterwards, we saw how happy another companionship was because their lesson went amazing and my comp and I just felt even more upset. Well long story short, I ended up having my first breakdown here at the MTC. I just bawled my little eyes out in the bathroom and my comp came in and just consoled me as she was trying not to cry too. This language is killer. Seriously. The Lord is humbling me sooo much it's insane. But I'm so grateful to be here. And there are so many amazing people around me. My comp consoled me while I cried, this adorable Sister who's going to Estonia heard me crying and came into the bathroom and just hugged me and talked to me, I found an anonymous note on my desk and some chocolate saying how amazing I was and how this person believes in me. A girl who's also going to Finland in the other district sought me out to give me a hug and congratulated me on making it this far before my breakdown. She and her comp had their's last week, and so did a bunch of the other Sisters. So I gotta admit, I'm pretty proud of myself for making it this far! :) The elders in my zone are amazing. A couple of them heard that I was having a rough day and came up to me and told me to remember that I'm never alone and that we're a family and that they're there for me. One of them even admitted to me that he broke down and started crying his first week here (they've been here fore 5 weeks and are speaking Hungarian) so I felt a little better that I'm not the only one haha.
Despite yesterday being difficult, this really was a great week. I am learning more Finnish, it's just slow and steady. Verrrrrrrrrrrrry sloowwwwww and steady. We had our first SYL day (speak your language) and it was hard because most of the words we know are gospel related words. Needless to say, we just laughed a ton on our SYL day because we all made so many mistakes... and just kept repeating the same phrases over and over again.
I've only made a few bad mistakes so far in the language. We were in the cafeteria and I walked over to the ice cream freezer. I opened it up and there was no ice cream! I was so upset! I yelled over to my companion "EI JUMALA. EI JUMALA" and she was like "WHAT?? EI JUMALA?!" turns out I was yelling "no God" instead of "no ice cream"! I just hope I can work these little problems out before I get to Finland so the Finns know that I do in fact believe in God. and that I am really upset when all the ice cream is gone.
I really like going to the MTC here. We have a lot more freedom than the other campus. I seriously have the best teachers in the world! Veli Arnesen and Veli Stewart. They're so good at balancing each other out and you can tell that they actually care about us and that they love the people of Finland so much. I can't wait to get there and feel that love for them.
Today is the best p day ever! Since the temple is now closed (SAD DAY) we used our temple time for other things. My comp and I woke up this morning and went running with Sisar Hubner and Sisar Vincent. It was glorious running so early. Usually our gym time is in the middle of the day and the heat is unbearable. Afterwards we worked out our abs and then ate breakfast together. After that we hurried and got ready, did our service time, ate lunch as a district, then wrote letters, cleaned our apartment, and did laundry. Now I'm emailing you and planning on going to Brighams Landing after this for dinner. On our p days we're allowed to go to the little outlet mall near by. They have a jamba juice, burger surpreme, great harvest, and some other little restaurants. I'm really excited because quite frankly the food here is horrible. They're in the process of building the new cafeteria (and it should be done next weekish) so we get one choice for all of our meals and practically no fruits or veggies. But oh well, I guess I didn't come on a mission for good food.
On Tuesday we went to the devotional at the Marriott Center. Elder Richardson of the Sunday School General Presidency spoke. He did amazing. Sisar Dayton (my comp) and I were running a tad bit behind our group so we hurried the whole way there. When we got there we headed straight to the bathroom and my hair was a disaster. I just kept saying "ohmyhurrrrr" "oh my hurrrrr". An older lady who served at the MTC with her husband said "sister, what language are you speaking? I said Finnish. She said, that's so cool that they have a work that sounds like "oh my hair"!" hahaha I about died. I had to explain to her that that was actually not Finnish, it was just me saying "oh my hair" in a funny way.
Sisar Dayton and I walked into the devotional and we were ushered to the front. So even though we got there later than most people, we sat on like the 5th row! It was awesome. The Elders on my right were Lithuanian speaking, the elders on our left were Armenian speaking, and the Elders in front of us were Korean speaking. It was so humbling and amazing being surrounded by all of these valiant missionaries preparing to serve all over the world. We really are taking the gospel to "every nation, tongue, and people".
I love the gospel. Finnish is hard. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here. I love the MTC. I love the church. KIRKKO ON TOTTA. I just have to keep reminding myself that. God didn't send me on a mission to speak Finnish, He sent me on a mission to take the gospel to His children whom He loves so much. I just happen to have to learn Finnish in order to do that.
I love you all and miss you. It was so good getting all of your letters.  Also can I just say that I LOVE getting letters. It seriously sometimes is the highlight of my day, especially since we get to read our letters everyday but only our emails on p-days which is why it's so hard for me to write everyone back. But I LOVE YOU ALL AND HAPPY 4TH OF JULY.
Sisar Nielsen