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. 


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


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.


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.


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!)


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.