So I'm writing earlier this week because we're heading to Helsinki tonight for Interim Training all week. We'll return back to Tampere on Friday.
IT SNOWED. Yep, you just read that right folks. Snow fell on the ground. And on my head. It didn't stick and mostly it's just been raining all week, but still, it SNOWED and I snapped a couple of pictures to prove it! Also, it's freezing here! Everyday I put on under armour with plush lined tights over them, a long sleeve shirt, a thick sweater, a coat, a scarf, and gloves. When I mention how cold it is already, the Finns just shake their heads and say "just wait." The sun sets a lot earlier already. I can only imagine how it will be when we only have a couple hours of sunlight everyday. Oh how my life is an adventure!
For starters, the CHURCH IS TRUE YALL. but really. This is Jumalan tosi kirkko maanpalla (this is God's true church on the earth). I wouldn't be here if it weren't. We had our first zone conference on Thursday. Each set of missionaries cover/are assigned to a certain area. A couple sets of missionaries with neighboring areas make up a district. Multiple districts in an area make up a zone. The President of our mission, President Rawlings, came and met and talked with us all day. It was amazing. He has so many great insights and truly is called of God. He was so inspiring and the whole thing made me want to be a better missionary. And it was so fun because my MTC companion, Sisar Dayton, is in my zone so I got to see her! We pretty much almost tackled each other.
After Zone Conference, Sisar Hubner and I set out on our own to find a woman in our ward's area. Normally our trainer, Sisar Egan, manages the bus system and we just follow her lead. This time all we had was the two of us, a map, an address, and a limited amount of time. We headed in a direction that we had never been before. It was pouring rain and I didn't have an umbrella or a hood so I just wrapped my scarf around my head like the grandmas do here. We decided to just get on a bus and see where we went. Needless to say, I kind of felt like it was the blind leading the blinder. We just had no idea what in the world we were doing. We got off at a stop when we realized our bus was about to turn to go the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. So then we just started walking in the direction of the woman's house. We took turns holding the map because our hands would start to freeze. We trudged through the rain and kept giving each other pep talks about how "we knew this was going to be hard when we signed up to go on missions" and "when the storms of the world rage around us, we need to be the light that offers hope" and all that good stuff. After walking for about a half hour, we finally made it to the address. We knocked on the door and a girl about my age came to the door. "Does Tulla live here?" we asked. She said no. "Do you know her?" she said no. We then showed her the address we had and we were at it, so we then realized we had the wrong address! We decided to take the opportunity to teach this girl. She was a tough egg to crack. Basically, she doesn't believe in God. She's never prayed before. She refused to try later that night. She's never read the Bible. She doesn't care about what it would mean to her if God lived. She wouldn't take our card and she closed the door when we asked her her name. So there we were left in the rain. We looked at each other and said "wellllllll, let's keep going". Onward and upward people, onward and upward. We finally got a hold of Tulla, were able to find her house, and had a lovely conversation with her. As I think back to that girl, it makes me so sad. Her life must be so empty. What is the point of life if there is no God? What is the point of living if you have no hope? What is the point of doing good if you have no reason to? This gospel is everything to me. It gives me purpose in life. It gives me happiness and joy. It is my light. It is my life. It is the most important thing to me. I know who I am. I know that God has a plan for me, that He knows me, and that He loves ME. I'm sooo grateful for the knowledge that I have.
I TRIED REINDEER, so that's pretty exciting. After we tried it a person wearing a shirt with a reindeer on it walked by and Sisar Hubner wanted to cry. Tampere was having it's birthday party, and in the middle of town was a huge market with lots of stands. So we walked around it and the guy selling reindeer offered us free samples (it's expensive) and so we taught him about the gospel. It was pretty awesome. I love being a missionary! As we walked by a group of hippies playing music, one of them yelled "HEI SISARET!" we looked behind and he smiled and waved at us! Turns out he's met with the elders before (but they said he's hard to teach because he's homeless and doesn't have a phone so he keeps disappearing... kind of a problem), but he was very nice and I realized I've actually taught one of the girls that was with him on the bus before!) But really, this is the best job ever. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Some days it's reaaaaally hard. Some days it's pouring rain and it's freezing and I feel like everybody and their dog is rejecting us and that the animals here speak better Finnish than I do and that I'm never gonna see the sun again as long as I live, and then the Savior reminds me that I'm never alone, this is His work, and He will be on my right hand and on my left hand and lift me up. And so I hold my head high and keep going.
As we were driving this week, I looked up and saw that the sky was covered in huge churning storm clouds. Different shades of gray and black covered the sky. However, there was one small area where the light was breaking through. The sun beamed down from it and the sky was pure blue behind it. My eyes were immediately drawn to this little section of light. It was completely outnumbered by the storm clouds, but this little area of light gave so much hope and stood out brightly against the dark sky. So it is with us. When we live the gospel, it radiates from us. We are outnumbered. The storm clouds will push in all around us, but we must hold firm and stead fast. We must stand up, and stand out for the Lord. When we forgo our standards and break the commandments, we aren't cool or tough or "so rebellious", all we're doing is becoming gray and blending in with the crowd. When we keep the word of wisdom, dress modestly, obey the commandments, read our scriptures and say our prayers every day, when we SHARE the gospel with everyone around us, that is when we shine. That is when people notice us. That is when we are a light in the darkness. And that is when we stand out. I would much rather be a glimmer of hope, than a shade of despair. We must all remember to stand up for what we believe in. For when we do, we take our spot next to the Savior, the greatest light of all.
KIRKKO ON TOTTA. I'M SO STOKED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK. Life is good. Sometimes it's hard but I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us and that gives us the perfect reason to smile!
LOVE YOU ALL,