Well we had quite the week this week!
For starters... WE HAD A BAPTISM. It was seriously the most amazing thing ever! Sarah is so amazing. We were scared the baptism wouldn't happen because her husband hates the church... well actually he just hates all churches in general and in order to get baptized, she had to get his consent. We felt like she was Esther going into the King. We all fasted and prayed last Sunday, then she went and asked for permission... and he said yes! It was truly a miracle! She said she was so shocked, that she asked him again. He said "yes....". She said that she still didn't believe it, so after he left for work, she called him and explained it all to him again and he said "I already said yes. Why do you keep asking me?" When she told us, it was all I could do to not stand up and cheer (but we were in public so I restrained myself). She said this is not like him... that he never ever would just say "yes" without a fight. I know that God answers our prayers and that He cares about our lives! Saturday dawned a beautiful morning. Sarah came to the church wearing black dress pants and a nice black shirt. The baptism was done in English so that she could make sure she understood it all. After she was baptized, she came back into the women's bathroom and just praised God. She looked like she was glowing! Afterwards, she changed back into dry clothes, except this time she wore white dress pants and a white jacket. She looked so pure and holy. This is why I love her, because only she would think to wear something so symbolic as all black before and all white after. She just radiated with the joy of the gospel. I could not wipe the smile off my face. She has so much enthusiasm for this church, I just love it. The light of Christ shined through her so brightly, it was incredible. The next morning at church she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the Holy Ghost. The Elder (male missionary) giving her the blessing said he felt impressed to tell her that one day her children and husband would follow her example and be baptized and that they would be an eternal family. He blessed her with patience and said that it will take time, but that it will happen. I couldn't control my tears. It truly was amazing. This gospel changes lives. We can become new people through it! The happiness and light that she radiates now is unlike anything I've seen in her before (and she was soooo amazing before!). She just kept thanking us over and over again for helping her receive this amazing gospel. We just kept thanking her and thanking God. We truly have a God of miracles.
We started riding bikes! My trainer had her appendix out a couple weeks before we got here so she wasn't able to ride for awhile ... but now she can. Let's just say, my butt and legs were real sore afterwards. But I couldn't help but let out a squeal when I realized that I was riding a bike in FINLAND! With the wind whipping through my hair, the tall majestic pines all around me, and the most beautiful white puffy clouds above me.... I gotta say, I love my life.
For our district meeting, we drove about an hour away to a city called Hameen Linna. We had our district meeting by a castle there. OKAY, HOW COOL IS THAT?! Finland is so amazing. And sometimes I literally still can't believe how truly gorgeous it is. Every time I say that to Finns, they always say "it is.... but just wait till winter." I think that's why they're all so reserved and not very open. They're all just getting ready to hibernate and deal with the winter. Well I say, bring on the winter! (except feel free to stay warm for as long as possible.....)
This week in our mission we had a "talk with everyone week" in which we tried to do just that- talk with EVERYONE. I had lots of great conversations and we found a lot of new investigators this week! So many of the Finns I talked to said that usually on the bus, people just sit and don't talk to each other, but how nice it was that I talked to them. Even though many of them didn't want to accept the gospel, it still gave me an opportunity to bear my testimony, extend commitments, and give them a positive view of the church. Almost everyone I talked to left the bus with a smile on their face. So that was cool. It was kinda hard though because we got a lot of fake numbers. LAME. Who gives people fake numbers anyway?? It was hard not to get discouraged when we thought that we had a lot more investigators than we actually did. But I really just prayed hard to focus on the positive and not get down.
During one of my personal studies, I was feeling extra discouraged. I prayed for strength. Through a series of footnotes, I read Doctrine & Covenants 33. It was exactly what I needed! It testified to me that this is the last time the Lord will call laborers to his vineyard. This is crunch time. He will "gather [His] elect from the four quarters of the earth" (verse 6). He then says "the field is white already to harvest" (verse 7) and talks about how we must labor with all our might, mind, and strength. "Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old" (verse 8). We can become like the great prophet Nephi. He was courageous, bold, and true to the Lord at all times, in all things, and in all places. WE can be too. The Lord will give power to our words and testify that what we say is true. We can't be afraid of rejection. Every time we are rejected, we take our place next to the Savior because he was despised, rejected, and cast out by men. And honestly, I'd take a place next to the Savior any day. That's a pretty great place to be.
I love you all and I miss you all. I'll probably be 200 pounds heavier by the time I get home. One day we had a teach (lesson?) and the lady bought us hot chocolate and pastries, we then went to our next teach and she gave us juice and these potato type things and 2 pieces of apple cake/pie, and then we went to another teach and they gave us a sprite type drink and these amazing apple filled pastries that looked like huge crescent rolls covered in sugar. Needless to say, I was afraid my companions would have to roll me home.