So for starters, major shout out to KIMMY, MEGAN, AND LAUREN. Y'all are the best. I'm currently wearing the scarf you sent me right this very second and the lama socks are my fave. kiitos! Also, a big shout out to JOLENE and MIKE NIELSEN for the awesome skarves (did you notice I was wearing one at the castle?) and another shout out to the Monument Park ward! I got the letters you all sent me and it was just what I needed. Thanks for having my back :) Thanks to everyone who supports me out here (i feel like I sound like the dedicatory page of a band's album right now..... but seriously, I'm so grateful for all of the love and support from everybody. It means more than you will ever know.)
This week..... where to even begin.
This whole week, a scripture found in 1 Nephi 20:10has been going through my head: "For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." My mission is making me grateful for trials. Yeah, you just read that right. I'm grateful. I'm going to give it to you straight right now. The mission is hard. It's really hard. Sometimes I cry because it hurts my heart to see people turn away from Christ. This week, we got dropped by 3 of our investigators. That was really hard. But here's the thing, I'm so HAPPY. I'm so full of hope, love, and joy. I LOVE my life. This is the most worthwhile thing I've ever done. I wouldn't trade being here for anything in the world! (except maybe for a really warm sunny beach somewhere... for like 3.2 seconds and then I would be DYING to come back here!). I seriously can feel that my Heavenly Father is with me more than I ever have in my life. On the day that we got dropped by one of our investigators (after getting dropped the day before by somebody else), I was on my knees pouring my heart out to my Father in Heaven. I felt this overwhelming impression that there are angels beside me, always. They are always next to me, "bearing me up," and standing beside me when everyone else seems to walk away. I felt so much peace and comfort knowing that I am NEVER alone. That my Heavenly Father has sent angels to help me! Little, old, insignificant me! It was the most comforting thing ever. And it's crazy because I remember at the beginning of my mission, even a couple weeks ago, when we would get dropped by our investigators it was so discouraging. And it's still really hard, but I just feel God's love with me so much that it's becoming a faith building experience instead of a faith destroying experience. For the Lord is refining me! I'm not perfect. I'm so far from it. But He has chosen me and is molding and shaping me into who He knows I'm destined to become! So one day I can be the mom for the amazing spirits that He sends to me, so I can be a righteous leader and a better friend, so I can be a more loving sister, daughter, and neighbor. I'm sooo grateful for my trials! It means that that Lord knows that I can change, improve, and become the person He has in store for me.
And as always, after the trials come the miracles! This week we got a new investigator! We had our first lesson with her and it went amazingly! She said she really wants to know if this is true so she can know which path to take. Talk about real intent! The Spirit was so strong and the lesson went really smoothly. At the end, we asked her to pray. She said it would probably be better if we prayed. We went through the steps with her again "start with Dear Heavenly Father, say whatever is in your heart, then close in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." She said that she would try. She said the most beautiful, simple prayer, asking Heavenly Father to help her find answers. I just love hearing people pray when they're not used to praying! It's so real. It's not rote. It really is straight from the heart, with meaning and conviction in every word. I've learned a lot from hearing our investigators pray. It's made me work more at making my prayers with God really more of a talk with Him instead of just the same couple phrases over and over again. She's such a solid investigator and we were really blessed to find her! Heavenly Father truly is a God of miracles :)
We, along with the Elders, were in charge of the youth activity this past Friday. It was waaaay fun! We made the theme "pikku MTC" (mini MTC). When they walked in, they all got their own missionary name tags that we had made. We then did activities like "language time" (where the Elders had made language sheets for everyone so that they could piece together words in English and make sentences.. example: they would find the English translations for words on the sheet and then say sentences like "God loves us." It was really cute), we played a game where it gives a word (like dog, music, food, etc) then your team has 30 seconds to come up with ways to mention the church like you would say it in normal conversation with friends (example: if the word was "dog" you could say "you have such a cute dog! A woman in my church has the same dog" BOOM. 5 points.), we all wrote our testimonies in Book of Mormons and gave them the challenge to give their's out, we had a mini "devotional" and had a young man preparing to go on a mission (to the Johannesburg South Africa Mission) talk about how he is preparing and we had a leader who's a convert talk about her experiences with the missionaries, then we had mud cake and ice cream that the Elders made. Basically it was a huge success. And what was even more exciting is that we had more less active youth there than active youth! We were waaaaay stoked! Basically, I love the youth here. They're all so great :)
I love you all. The church is true. What's amazing to me, is that it truly is true no matter where you go. Whether you're in Chicago, Johannesburg, Mexico City, or KUOPIO, the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. And how grateful I am for that!
Rakkaudella (with love),