This week was really good, but really, really long. We literally wake up every morning with the mindset of "how are we going to get everything done today?" which I guess means that we're doing something right.
I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS SATURDAY. We have Sarah's baptism! The Lord has prepared her so much for this gospel. This week we taught the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. We started by saying "alright we've got some more commandments to discuss..." and she responded with "give it all to me sisters. If you don't tell me then I won't know to repent and that'll be on you." She accepted everything readily. Her enthusiasm for "the word" (as she calls it) is inspiring. Her sister was the one that called her up (from London) and told her that she must find the missionaries. While we were in a discussion, Sarah said that she wants her brothers and sisters back in Africa to have this gospel too. At our next lesson, she was so excited to inform us that she had called her brothers and sisters in Africa to tell them about the church and they are already in the process of taking the missionary discussions! This truly is a world wide church. It's so amazing to be a part of it.
WE HAVE ANOTHER BAPTISM. This was my first time meeting Hannah. She is the sweetest woman you ever did meet and had drinks and cookies waiting for us when we got there. As we were talking, I felt the impression that she was going to commit to be baptized today. (The other sisters had been teaching her before we came. She's super knowledgeable in the Bible and is a very spiritual woman). As we were talking and discussing baptism, it got to the point of the lesson when we extend the commitment. I looked at her and asked her if she were willing to follow the Savior's example and be baptized. She said she just wasn't ready and that she had already been baptized. She asked if we were saying that her previous baptism meant nothing and that she just didn't feel like she should do it yet. I was so confused as to why I got the strong impression that she would be. We kept discussing and I told her that her previous baptism was great. She showed her love and obedience to her Heavenly Father, but that we only ask people to bring all the good they have and see if we can add more to it. I then talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost. She said if she didn't have the gift yet, why could she feel the Spirit. As my companions were trying to explain, the distinct thought came into my mind to have her read Mosiah 18:10 ("Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?"). I asked Hannah if she would please read it. As she read it, the Spirit filled the room. It was absolutely incredible. She said "I can feel it". I said "I can feel it too." I then testified to her that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I told her that I know that the Lord has been preparing her to receive this gospel and that this is what He wants for her. She pointed to the scripture and said "as you were talking I realized that I need this. I need this Spirit more." I had the feeling to extend the baptismal commitment again, so I looked her in the eye and I did. I could feel the power of the Spirit flow through me. She said "alright. yes." She then explained how she had been praying for more direction. How she had been praying to God to give her more truth. She said that right after that, the sister missionaries had knocked on her door and she knew that we were her answer. I felt like I was on fire, the Spirit was so strong. I thought "wow, the Lord really has been preparing people." As we left, it was all I could do to not just jump up and cheer right then. This is the Lord's work. I did nothing. It was all the Spirit of the Lord and it was honestly amazing to be able to witness it.
WE STORMED THE CASTLE. Okay so we have this phrase that my comps and I have developed called "storming the castle". Pretty much, there are TONS of punk kids here. Everybody smokes. Everybody drinks. Everybody does drugs. I've seen more colored hair, piercings, and crazy hair cuts here than anywhere else. When we see a group of punk teenage kids, we say "alright, let's go storm this castle" and we go up to them and start talking to them. The first time we did it, it was perfect because there were three of them sitting by some motorcycles. The leader was wearing a Bulls hat and a New York shirt. I started out by saying "hey, you like the Chicago Bulls?" and Sisar Hubner said "hey you're a New York fan?" He said no, that he was just wearing them. We said "oh well we're from those places so we got really excited." We then jumped into asking them about religion and God. Apparently one of them said "religion is garbage" and the other said "Mormons are crazy". Well Sisar Hubner and I couldn't understand them (Sisar Egan told us later) so we just kept right on talkin with them. As the conversation progressed, they started warming up a bit more. We invited them to church, they said no. We invited them to play Sähly with us (a Finnish sport similar to field hockey... super fun! we played with the ward last Wednesday). They said no. We asked them to visit the mormon.org website. They said yes. Score! When the conversation was wrapping up, I stepped forward and shook all of their hands. My companions followed. These three punk kids looked like they weren't quite sure what had just happened. As we were starting to walk away, I turned back and bore a simple testimony about how I know that God lives, that He loves us, and that He knows us. That we have a Savior and this gospel brings me so much happiness in my life and gives me purpose. I smiled and said hopefully we'll get to see them again. They said "yeah, we'll see you around". As we left, I looked back and they were all smiling! (WHICH DOES NOT HAPPEN. I don't know why but usually all this teenage kids NEVER smile. It's so sad!) So pretty much we stormed that castle real good :) and whenever we see other punk kids, we try it again. They're always so shocked that anybody's even talking to them. (except sometimes they're high or drunk and don't really know what's going on... and it's so sad because they're like 15 years old.) But that's why we're here! To storm the castle.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to attend the Stake Relief Society Activity. It's amazing how this really is a world wide church. All of these woman came from all over to go, some traveling 2+ hours to get there because the stake boundaries are so big. They had work shops and classes. Then they provided lunch and had lots of different cakes. It was fantastic. Then they had this pioneer Relief Society program with music and stories. It was amazing. I couldn't understand most of it, but I could feel the Spirit really strong. It was so awesome seeing so many of these women dressed up in pioneer clothes, telling stories of the early pioneer women. It's so amazing that none of these women have ancestors who were pioneers, but they feel this deep connection to them. Most of these women are pioneers, as a large part of them are converts, themselves. I loved every minute of it.
I'm trying reeeeeally hard not to get frustrated about the language. It's so difficult not being able to understand what people are saying. I just keep trying to remind myself that eventually it will come. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the dark and I'm seeking for clarity and it's just not coming, but I'm just trying to be patient with myself and trust in the Lord.
Jacob 6:12. Aina.
Love you all and KIRKKO ON TOTTA.
ps It rained for the first time yesterday. And the cold weather is definitely rolling in.... pray for me. It's going to be a long winter.
pps Everybody likes to give the sisters apples from their trees, which is pretty cool.