Monday, March 24, 2014

3/24/14- I Felt So Much Love (alternate title - Happy 21st Birthday Sisar Nielsen!)

First off, thanks for all the birfffffday love!  Sure do appreciate it :)

This has been a week of miracles! This whole week our district and the branches that we are serving in have been praying and fasting for missionary work in our areas. All of the other Finnish missionaries have been praying for our district everyday. Everyday at 11 am our whole district has stopped what they are doing to specifically pray for each member of our district. We have been calling down power from heaven, and we have been feeling that power. 

We had a lesson with E, the woman that came to church. It was amazing! The Spirit was so strong and we testified and taught the restoration. At the end, we taught her how to pray and invited her to give our closing prayer. She was hesitant and said that we would probably laugh at her because she doesn't know how to pray well. We said that her prayer would be perfect and testified that God wanted to hear from her. She then said one of the most simple, heartfelt prayers I've ever heard. She started crying and thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to her. It was amazing. I got all teary eyed and our member had tears running down her face. The Spirit was really strong and I felt so much love for this dear woman. I could feel the love Heavenly Father has for her as her daughter. It was amazing. 

This weekend was the Kuopio District Conference. It's basically their version of Stake Conference (when multiple wards/congregations meet together). Since there aren't enough members in the north to form a stake, they are divided into Districts. It was crazy to compare my stake conferences back home to this. The Kuopio District consists of 3 branches and they all came to our chapel. Everybody could fit in the chapel without a problem. Back home, our chapel was like double the size of this one, plus we filled up the whole gym, and the surrounding classrooms. Sometimes I forget how small the church really is here. It may be small, but it sure is strong. District Conference was absolutely amazing. President Rawlings and his counselors came up for it because they act as the stake presidency for the whole Northern part of Finland. It was awesome to see them. There was a meeting Saturday night for the youth and adults. The whole thing was about member missionary work and hastening the work of salvation.  It was a really powerful meeting. President Rawlings gave an aaaaaamazing talk. He told the conversion stories of 4 men. All of these men were converted as a direct result of member missionary work. As a result of members 1) praying for missionary experiences 2 )talking normally and naturally about the church 3) giving a Book of Mormon away and 4) inviting. He then said that the man from his first story is currently the leader of the church that presides over all of Europe. He then said "will the man from my second story come stand next to me." The first counselor in the mission presidency stood up. He then said "will the man from my third story come stand by me." His second counselor stood up. He then said "the man from my 4th story is me." He then turned around and asked all of their wives to join them. They stood up and stood next to their husbands. These three powerhouse couples stood at the pulpit as President Rawlings really brought it home. The Spirit filled the room and I couldn't help but start to get all teary eyed. With tears in his eyes, President Rawlings said that as a result of member missionaries doing those 4 simple things, these 3 men now have their best friends for eternity. They have a happiness they never thought was possible. They have purpose in their lives. They have a hope for a celestial life to come. He asked if we could imagine the immense gratitude they feel for those members that opened up their mouths and shared the gospel. When we tell others about the gospel, this is what we help them to receive. This is why it's so important that we share it. 

On Sunday, we all met together for District Conference again. E came to church! She absolutely loved it! And the members just adore her! I got to sing in the famous Kuopio Branch Choir! It was pretty exciting. We sang an arrangement of Love One Another. It was really beautiful. The whole meeting was on how through love, we can bring others into to gospel and help them to share in the happiness that we have found through it. At the end, President Rawlings asked if he could change our closing song. He asked the choir to come back to the front and sing again, but then on the last verse have the whole congregation join in and sing together. Oh my gosh. Words can't describe the amazing Spirit that filled the room. I could feel Heavenly Father's immense love for all of those people there. I'm getting teary eyed just writing this. I truly felt the love that God has for all of His children and the love I felt for everyone in that room could barely be contained in my heart. I felt like it was overflowing. Everyone started crying. People that I've never seen come even close to shedding a tear had tears running down their faces. The love filled every corner of that room and gave us all a taste of how heaven will be. Can you imagine how much love will be there? 

This week we went on exchanges with the Sisters from Oulu. It was Sisar Woods and mine fasting day. I spent the whole day on a bike and ending up biking farther than I have the whole time I've been here. It was truly amazing because even though I hadn't had anything to eat or drink, I had enough energy to bike and talk with evvvverybody without feeling weak. It was honestly a tender mercy from the Lord. Between our two companionships, we taught 17 lessons in one day! Talk about a day of miracles! It was raining and really cold and windy and I actually woke up the next morning with a sore throat and stuffy nose, but it was totally worth it! :) 

It really amazes me the peace, safety, and hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us. A lot of the Finns are getting really anxious with everything that is going on with Russia and the Ukraine right now. Obviously, Russia is our very much larger and more powerful neighbor to the East. A lot of the Finns are uneasy with all of the things that Russia is currently doing. It is such a reminder to me of the fact that we are in the last days. These are the last days before the Savior of the World will return. The world is going to get even more and more crazy and more and more wicked. How grateful I am for the gospel! It is my anchor. It my foundation. It is my hope, my peace, and my place of refuge. I would literally be lost without it.  

I love the gospel. I love my life. I love my Savior. And I love you! Pray everyday to help somebody feel the immense LOVE their Father in Heaven has for them, through YOU. 
Church is true! 


Sisar Nielsen        p.s. quick funny story.... so sisar woods and I had a lesson with a less active that lives way far away. We had never visited her before but we had her address on our ward directory. So we show up at the appointed time and ring the doorbell. We hear somebody come to the door but then they don't answer it. So I'm all like "uhh...." so I call this woman and I'm all like "hey we're at your house right now." She then said some things I couldn't really understand but I thought we had reached the agreement that she would come open the door. So I hang up and we wait. Nothing. So we ring the doorbell again and knock. Nothing. So I call her again. She said she went and looked and nobody was there (so I'm all like great... this woman is crazy...) so I tell her that we are in fact there and she said okay, I'll come again. So I knock again and she's still on the phone with me and then I hear footsteps coming and on the phone she said "I'm coming." So then the door flies open to reveal.... A VERY ANNOYED LOOKING MAN! uhhhhhhh WHAT?! He's like "what do you want?!" I was so shocked and confused that I just looked at him and handed the phone to Sisar Woods (the woman was still on it). I tried to get my words out but I was so utterly confused that I didn't even know what to say. Finally I said "does Sisar M live here?" He said no, but her daughter does. Turns out that her daughter and her husband had moved into her mother's home and Sisar M had moved to a care center down the street. After finally getting my words out, we were given directions and made it to Sisar M's home. While in the middle of the the spiritual thought, her daughter called and said that "two girls came looking for you. They spoke really bad Finnish. I think they were Russian." uhhhhh no lady, I'm actually AMERICAN and you try speaking Finnish when a door flies open and you're expecting a little old lady and a frustrated man is staring you down! It's not easy! So basically missionary work is always fun, and you never know what to expect...... 

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