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.