This week has been a good one. We're excited for this coming week because we'll finally be in Kuopio for a full week! Obviously last week we were in Helsinki, and this week we hopped on a train on Tuesday and went up North to Oulu until Friday. We had a Zone Meeting, where all of the missionaries in the North get together, and then we did exchanges with the Oulu sisters (where we switch companions for a day so we can see how others do missionary work and we get to work in another area and take ideas back to ours). It was a lot of fun. Luckily we didn't have any "running to the train" incidents this time so that was quite the relief :)
Zone Meeting was really good. We discussed the nature of God and the nature of Satan. How both of them see us and what both of them want for us. It was really interesting as we examined the complete polar opposites the two possess. As our mission is currently doing this consecration fast, we really are working hard to put down all of our weapons of rebellion. When we rebel against God or aren't completely in line with His standards and commandments, whatever they may be, we allow Satan to have an opportunity to step into our lives. Our zone leader said a quote that I really like: "it's hard to fight against an enemy that has outposts in your head." When we let Satan creep into our lives, when we put down our defenses, get down on ourselves, justify our actions, or excuse ourselves from doing what we know is right, we allow Satan to build outposts in our heads. I don't know about you, but that just doesn't fly with me. On my mission, I've felt my relationship with God strengthen so much. I've also realized how it truly is the little things-going to church every Sunday, reading the scriptures every day, praying a lot every day, listening to good music, surrounding yourself with good influences, etc- that really make alllll the difference.
In Oulu I got to go on exchanges with Sisar Francis. She's from Australia. Change calls are coming up this week (ah!) and she's going home! We're loosing quite a few awesome missionaries this change - along with a lot more over the next couple changes. It makes me so sad seeing these missionaries go home :( but luckily our missions really never end. We don't just come here to "do our time" and then go home. Being a missionary is a life long commitment. Bringing others to Christ is a life long commitment. Standing as a witness is a life long commitment. So even though it makes me so sad to see my fellow brothers and sisters and friends go home, I know that they'll keep fighting for the same team.
While in Oulu, we walked a ton! I love walking because it gives us a chance to talk with everyone on the street. I love street contacting because we get to meet all sorts of people and it just makes you feel like a real missionary. While walking we had to stop in a store to grab something that we needed to do an object lesson. We passed the ice cream section and the ice cream just called to us...... (Finnish ice cream is seriously the best thing ever...) so we may or may not have purchased some ice cream and walked through the freezing snow eating it. I guess you know you're doing something crazy when the Finns (who pride themselves on their ability to withstand the cold) give you weird looks. Oh well, it was fun :) and way tasty even though I did feel a little frozen.... (also I got to try cactus flavored ice cream cuz that's what Sisar Francis got. apparently it's a pretty popular flavor here. who knew?)
Well we got back from Oulu and were way stoked because we had our day stacked with lessons with investigators and less actives. every. single. lesson. fell. through. Ugh. Talk about frustrating. We also got dropped by another investigator and had to drop another. So we were down to one. But we refused to get discouraged. We had 2 hours left of the day and so we jumped in the car and just prayed always (something our mission is really focusing on... how as we pray always, we will be able to align our will with the Lord's and allow Him to direct our path). We went to go visit our one investigator but she had guests at her door so we didn't want to go. So we were just like "alright. the Lord brought us here for a reason. What's the reason?" We felt like we needed to keep walking, so we just started walking. We ended up in the neighboring apartment complex and I felt like we needed to knock building B. So I turn to my comp and was like "how does B sound?" She said she was thinking the same thing (yay for the Spirit!) and so we went and knocked it. There were only 4 doors in it but here's the amazing thing.... We knocked the first door, talked with the guy about eternal families for like 15 minutes, gave him a Proclamation to the World pamphlet, and he ended up becoming a new investigator! and he has 4 young adult children. The next door we knocked, we talked about the Book of Mormon for about 20 minutes and the guy was way interested. He set up a time for us to come back so we can teach him more. BAM! Another new investigator! And he has 4 young kids! The next door we knocked was a mom in her mid 20's, we talked to her about God and how He blesses and strengthens our families. We talked with her for about 15 minutes and BAAAAM, she welcomed us back and became a new investigator! Then the next door was way sketch and it was weird. BUT HEY WE GOT 3 NEW INVESTIGATORS in an hour. It was truly a miracle. And it really was because we pray always. I know that prayer is a real power, that it actually works, and that miracles happen. Then we talked to a woman on the street who had been crying and it was obvious she was having a rough day. We simply just bore testimony that God loves her and knows what she's going through. She sincerely thanked us and took our card. It was so amazing because I could just feel the love Heavenly Father has for this woman. It was incredible. God is a God of miracles. His timing is perfect. I know He lives and that He loves us.
I gave a talk in church on Sunday. It was 15 minutes... in Finnish! But it actually went really well. My whole topic was about how the Lord is hastening His work. The Spirit was incredible. The Lord truly is hastening His work like never before. This is crunch time. Read this! http://www.lds.org/
liahona/2013/10/hastening-the- work-of-salvation?lang=eng& query=hastening+the+work+of+ salvation. I used that a lot in my talk. It has some great ideas. Christ lives. This is HIS work. I challenge you all to pray EVERYDAY that you can bring somebody closer to Christ. As we pray everyday, the Lord truly answers our prayers. I am a witness of that. As the article says, success in missionary work comes as we invite, not with the end result. Meaning that if we invite, share, and testify, we have done our part. We can't control what other people do, but we can control what we do. Who's side will you be on? Will you let the enemy build outposts of doubt in your head? Take your stand.
I love you!
Sisar Nielsen p.s. Sisar Woods and I ate kanakukkoja, it's basically a fish put into bread. It was weird, but it's very Savo (the area I'm serving in) so I had to try it. Needless to say, I was glad I tried it because I felt all cool and savo, but I didn't take another slice when they offered it to me.
pps. Today we're going to a member's house for dinner. We have to take a ferry to get there. These members are all so faithful, they travel so far to church and how cool is that that we get to drive onto a ferry?! I LOVE MY MISSION :)
ppps. Also it's getting way slippery here with all the snow and the traction on my boots is basically gone... so I've had some interesting sliding, trying to catch myself, remembering I'm wearing a skirt, trying to stay dignified but also alive, experiences. Life is good.