And let me tell you, I have felt this happiness this week! This past week was Sisar Woods' birthday! Whooohooo! So now we're both 20! but only for one more week cuz next time you'll be reading my letter, imma be the big 21! I may or may not be having a midlife crisis! But moving on..... this week we had two lessons with new investigators! Both went really well and they asked great questions. We also hopped on a 4 hour train and headed up to Oulu for ZONE CONFERENCE. My favorite! It's where all the missionaries in the North part of Finland get together and our mission president pretty much just blows our minds. He's such an inspired man. It's incredible. Zone Conference is always so fun because we get to see other missionaries and remind ourselves that we're really not alone in this work. Sometimes it's hard because we don't get to see other missionaries often. The closest sisters to us live a 4 hour train ride away. But every time we reunite, we give each other pep talks and we're ready to head back to our own cities and convert the world! After zone conference, we got to go with a group of missionaries to do service for one of the members (chopping up boxes and wood in their backyard.) We show up and the dad was like "Hi Sisters! uhm... I bet my wife could use your help in the kitchen." UH KIITOS. I'M STRONGER THAN I LOOK OKAY. I can chop wood! hahah but seriously, TALK ABOUT A BLAST. We had so much fun cooking and chatting with his adorable wife! Normally we would never have time on our mission for such an activity, so it was really a special treat. That night the Zone Leaders had to take the missionaries back in shifts because our mission cars are pretty small. Naturally, we were the last ones to be driven home. The zone leader who drove us is new to Oulu and wasn't completely sure where he was going. As a mission, we pray every night at 9:45 and every morning at 7:45 as part of our consecration/fast that we're currently doing. Well 9:45 hits and we're almost back to the Sisters' apartment where we're staying. I say "okay, I'll pray and everyone close their eyes (but the driver of course.)" So I pray and we open our eyes and the driver says "so uhm... I don't know exactly where we are...." During the course of the prayer, he had somehow taken us to the OTHER SIDE OF THE CITY. Hahaha it was ridiculous, so then we're all trying to navigate home and it's getting way late and at this point all I can think about is the 7 am train we're going to have to catch in the morning and how I'm getting a greaaaat tour of Oulu. But don't worry folks, we eventually made it to the apartment and got a solid 6 hours of sleep. Life is good.
We've reeeally been struggling with getting our investigators to church. It's something that we've been working on and praying for and nothing seems to happen. We've been doing our best to follow counsel (having members invite them, setting up rides for them, offering to take the bus with them, giving them church tours beforehand so they're familiar with church, promising them blessing for coming and helping them see the importance of Sunday church attendance) and yet every Sunday they don't come! Well, we had such an amazing Sunday yesterday! The woman we met on the street last week forgot about our appointment this week so she didn't show (lame) but we called her Saturday and invited her to church. She said she wasn't sure yadadada so we said "well our friend would love to give you a ride" and E, our investigator, agreed. Well Sunday comes, we show up to church, and sure enough Sisar R walks in with a smiling E. She gave us big hugs and was so excited to be there. Sisar A (another member) came and introduced herself and sat next to E during Sacrament meeting (without us even telling her to!) E stayed for all three hours of church, participated in Sunday School, wrote down all the announcements in Relief Society so she could remember them, had members giving her hugs before she left, kept thanking us over and over again for inviting her to come, and set up a time for us to meet on Tuesday. Sisar R said "I will give her a ride to church every Sunday!" Sisar A got all teary eyed when we asked her to come to our lesson on Tuesday and said "she is a very special person." After sacrament meeting, E said "all of this feels so familiar." She was just beaming. As I sat in Sacrament meeting during the passing of the Sacrament, I felt the Spirit so strongly. I felt Heavenly Father saying "My daughter, I love you. I am always with you." I couldn't wipe the smile off my face or stop the incredible feeling in my heart. Tears sprang to my eyes. It's true what they say, your mission is a time of great disappointment, heartache, and pain, but the joyful moments are so sweet and the spiritual moments so powerful that they completely outweigh all of the hardships. She was the tender mercy from the Lord that I needed! Oh how I love our Heavenly Father. I AM SO HAPPY.
The sun is here! When we go running in the morning, it's up now! It literally feels like out of nowhere, all of a sudden we have the sun! And how truly glorious it is! Unfortunately, the weather is weird and it just went back to the negatives again, but it should be getting warm soon. I'm so excited for spring! HAPPINESS PEOPLE.
The Lord is in this work! Miracles happen everyday! Yesterday we said hi to a young woman from Bangladesh and chatted with her for a little bit on the street (she's a doctor here getting her PhD) and without us even saying anything, she said "hey I have to run, but let me give you my number so we can meet again sometime." uhhh WHAT? We also stopped a kid on the street (who ended up being 16... yeah I thought he was like 20) and had a great conversation with him about religion and he also said he would like to meet and discuss more about God. One of the new investigators that we met with this week said the reason he wanted to meet with us is because he's interested in learning about our religion and he just really wants to believe in God. He said it's so evident that we are happy and he wants that happiness too. Perfect! It's so amazing to see how the Lord truly is with us every step of the way. Many people we've stopped on the street lately have told us that we are "such joyful youth" or that we just "glow" or have asked "why are you so happy?" Our faith in Christ, the knowledge that we have, knowing who we are brings us a hope and a light and a happiness that this world just can't provide.
Share the gospel. SHARE HAPPINESS. Lift those around you. I think a lot of members think that "missionary work" means just inviting our friends to learn from the missionaries, but in reality, that's only a part of it! Missionary work is inviting our friends and family and neighbors into our gospel centered lives, into our HAPPINESS, so that they too can realize that this is something they want. It's inviting friends to activities, asking them to help serve somebody from your ward, inviting them to a child's baptism, inviting them to a BBQ where other members are, asking them to come and support us when we have a talk in church or a musical number. If they are our friends, they will want to do these things. They will want to partake of the HAPPINESS that we have.
So smile. serve. help. love. BE HAPPY. CHOOSE HAPPINESS. FOLLOW CHRIST. LIFE IS SO BEAUTIFUL, COLORFUL, AND WONDERFUL. God lives, He loves YOU. YOU are His child! And that's a pretty good reason to smile :)
I LOVE YOU.