Monday, April 28, 2014

Sisar Nielsen and her new companion Sisar Bates at the Helsinki Train Station

4/28/14 - I Am a Happy Sisar

First off, shout out to the FAM. Gotta say it cuz it needs to be said, I'VE GOT THE BEST FAMILY IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Thanks for the package guys! So glad our family is eternal. Sure do miss your funny faces! 

ANDDDDD round 4 in Kuopio has officially begun! I headed down to Helsinki last Monday to get my new companion. It was fun reuniting with other missionaries at the Helsinki train station, including my one and only äiti Sisar Egan, my trainer. It was great seeing her and it's crazy how fast my mission has flown by! After a tearful goodbye to Sisar Woods, we were off! The next day I met with President and the other trainers, all of which are quite young in the mission (in fact, I was one of the oldest and I've only been out here for 8 months). President said that he has chosen so many young trainers because we are the architects of this mission and will be able to help get this mission to where the Lord intends for it to be. So after a great pep talk from President, we got our new trainees!

My new companion is Sisar Bates. She's from Tooele, UT,  likes to eat really healthy, andddddd has the first name of JANESSA. yep, you just read that right. We have the same first name! Crazy! But obviously, her's is spelled wrong because the correct way to spell it is JEnessa :)... but still, way cool! We then hopped on a train and rode 5 hours back up here to our beautiful city! And the work is moving forward here wonderfully well! 

E is doing so great! She is delightful! She said that my face is like sunshine and that I just light up the room, so now when she sees me that's what she calls me. So cute! She literally just knows how to warm my heart. We had a little girl in our branch get baptized this week. E came to watch it and thought it was wonderful. She even teared up when the little girl's father baptized her. The next day we met with her and she said she's not scared to be baptized and that she knows that it's true, but that she doesn't want to until she receives an answer from God that she's ready. As we were talking with her, I was just praying to know what to say and how we could help her. All of a sudden a thought popped into my mind and I said it without really thinking about it. As soon as I said it, the Spirit filled the room. I told her maybe the reason she doesn't feel like she's getting an answer is because she's not asking the right question. Instead of asking "Am I ready?" I told her to ask "How can I become ready?". She looked at me like I was brilliant and was like "Yes! That's it!" She agreed to pray and do all she can to become ready. She also came to church on Sunday again and really, the members just adore her! She walked into relief society and went and sat next to a sister that was sitting by herself that she didn't know and introduced herself to her and started chatting with her. We have a ward party this week and they were asking for volunteers to bring stuff and her hand shot up and she offered to help. She is already part of this branch. It's amazing! Pray for her that she will feel ready to go to baptism on May 8th! We know she can be ready in time! 

We also met with A this week and had a great lesson! He had so many questions. He then also came to the baptism and thought it was way cool. Afterwards, he was socializing with the members and he kept saying to us how surprised he was by the kindness and friendliness of all the members! Yessss! He then came to church yesterday and loved it! Again, he stayed for all three hours and as a result, the Elder's investigator with whom he is friends with also stayed! Miracles! He also asked us to give him more chapters to read in the Book of Mormon. Amazing! And set up another time to meet this week. He is progressing really well and we hope to invite him to baptism this week! Pray for him! 

We found 2 new investigators this week just be praying always and listening to the promptings we received. We left a less active's house and started to walk home when I stopped and said "we should pray to know which way to walk." We both prayed and felt we should walk a different way than we originally were going to. We did and walked down by this beautiful lake and said hi to a guy walking his dog. He stopped and we ended up chatting with him for a while. He's in his mid-twenties, has lived in California, and has talked with missionaries before. We brought out the Mormonin Kirja and he was like "Hey, I have one of those!" I asked him if he had read it and he said not really. We then explained it more to him and testified about how it has changed our lives and how we know that it is true. He said "Well, I might need to give this book another look." We set up a time to meet with him and discuss it. Way cool! We also found a 17 year old girl! We were trying a potential who didn't answer. So we tried another one in the same building and they didn't answer. We prayed to know if we should knock the whole building but we felt that we shouldn't. So we went outside and were like "alright, why did Heavenly Father bring us here?" We prayed again and both felt we should go knock building E. So we did, and found a 17 year old girl who is interested to know what happens after we die. We gave her a Mormonin Kirja and set up a time to meet. It is so cool to see how the Lord really led our steps this week. 

THE SUN IS HERE. I know I keep saying it, but it's just so wonderful and I can't get over it! I spent so much of my time here in the dark, that I almost feel like I'm seeing my city with new eyes. Last night when we were getting in bed (10:30) it was still a little light outside. Crazy! We also haven't been wearing tights the past couple of days! YESSSSS! It's still a little chilly but we're so excited we can't help it! I'm excited for everything to start growing! Apparently most things don't start until June, but it's okay, because summer is almost here! 

I love my life. I love my Savior. I love this church. I am a happy Sisar :). Pray to come closer to Christ everyday. And pray to help others come closer to Him as well. You have the power to change lives. Bring others to Him! He can heal any wound, lift any burden, and loves everyone. He truly is the way, the truth, and the life. He lives! And because He lives, so do you. Always remember Him. And stand for Him. Defend Him. Love Him. Be true to Him. He will always be true to you. I love you!


Sisar Nielsen

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Woods with their bus tickets 

Sisar Woods and Sisar Nielsen at a member's home - "everywhere in Finland is beautiful!"-"and yes, we are wearing their crocs, they are very popular here."

Sisar Woods and Sisar Nielsen

Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Woods with Fazer Chocolate Easter eggs - they are real egg shells, they were made for the Russian Czar and his family back in the day

Sisar Nielsen eating Mammi

4/20/14 - Lessons Learned, Big Surprises, and Lots of Food

This week was marked by lessons learned, big surprises, and lots of food. Bear with me as I try to compress everything that happened this week into this one email. Sorry that it might be longer than normal!

One of the biggest surprises that happened this week came Thursday morning when we got a phone call from President Rawlings. It was our change calls, almost 2 days early! So that was a surprise. So were the transfer calls we received (in fact they were literally the opposite of what everyone expected). Sisar Woods is heading down to Helsinki and I'm STAYING IN KUOPIO AGAIN! Bring on change (a change lasts 2 months) number 4 here in this land of dreams! And the surprises didn't stop there... I'M TRAINING AGAIN. Uh, WHAT?! There's only 2 sisters coming in, about a million sisters that can train, and President is crazy enough to have me train again. So uh, yeah this is craziness. After I finish this email, I'm getting on a train to head down to Helsinki to pick up my new comp. 

This week was also marked by a really powerful lesson that I learned. In order for E to get baptized, we needed to meet with her about 4 times this week. We had a lesson planned last Monday with her but our member called and said "E just called and said she can't meet today. She's really upset about the things going on with her brother and she's just not up to meeting today anymore." (side note: her brother has a lot of health issues. He came to the hospital here in Kuopio to get treatments but they weren't successful so he left Monday to go back to his home. His situation doesn't look very promising and E was really upset about it because shes's really close with her brother). Well at first I was devastated. I was like "you've got to be kidding me!" I knew that her chances of getting baptized Saturday had shrunk a lot because that lesson was the make it or break it lesson. But then I got the feeling "fulfill your baptismal covenants. mourn with those that mourn." We baked cookies and showed up at her house with them. She just sat there and cried and we sang hymns and testified of Christ's love. The spirit was amazing. It was like Heavenly Father reopened my eyes to my true purpose as a missionary: to walk where Christ would walk, to say what He would say, and to do as He would do if He personally were here. E didn't get baptized, but I know she will! She is progressing amazingly! Her faith has grown so much and I can see the light of Christ shine through her more every day! It's truly amazing to see. And it was amazing the overwhelming peace that came into my heart. I expected to be really upset if E didn't enter the waters of baptism, but I wasn't. The Lord literally poured His Spirit upon me, it's almost difficult to describe exactly this peace that I felt. I knew that the Lord is in charge and that everything would be okay in the end. I'm so grateful for my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father and how much it has grown while I've been here. 

We also had our first lesson with our investigator from Ethiopia, Am. It went really well! We had him read a scripture from the Bible that talks about how the world would experience a famine from the word of God (the Apostasy, the space of time after Christ's death and before Joseph Smith restored the gospel when Christ's true church wasn't on the earth). He paused and said "I feel like this is me."He said he's searching for answers and he's searching for truth. Afterwards, I asked our member what she thought and she said "Well, there's no such thing as a perfect lesson, but if there were, that would have been it." Way cool stuff. 

And then on Sunday, we hit a new record for the Sisters here in Kuopio! We had 3 investigators in church! WHOOOT WHOOOOOT! Miracles and big surprises! E came and sat with all of her member friends (seriously the ward adores her!) Am showed up right after it started! Which was amazing! annnnd as we're standing by the doors welcoming people into the chapel, our old investigator A walks in! What?! we had gotten the feeling to stop by with cookies and invite him to church for Easter this week. And he came! it was awesome! and he stayed for all 3 hours, says he wants to meet and learn more again (we've only had 1 lesson with him), annnnddd he happens to be friends with one of the Elder's investigators! Which was an answer to prayer as well because during our correlation meeting the day before (when we meet with our branch mission leader and discuss missionary work in our area every week), the Elders had said they're really having a hard time with helping their investigator stay for all 3 hours of church and he really needs a solid friend to help him stay. Welllll guess what! The Lord works in mysterious ways! We asked the Elder's investigator to ask A to stay for priesthood meeting, and A did! And as a result, so did the Elder's investigator! Way sweet! Miracles are happening all over the place! 

This week we had 2 "red" days. Finland has way strict privacy laws (which is why I can only use people's initials in this letter and not their names). We can't knock any doors after 8 or on any holidays ("red" days.) Due to Easter- FridaySunday, and today (Monday) are all holidays so we knew we had to plan something special for those days. Well, we have this awesome part member family that lives an hour and a half away. The mom is active, and the two little boys are too, but the dad's not a member. We really wanted to visit them but the only time we had was Friday morning. We called and asked if we could and they said they were busy then. However, they called back and said that they rearranged everything so that we could come because they wanted us to come so badly! Friday morning, Sisar Woods and I hopped on a bus and rode out to their home in Iisalmi, a little tiny town. Their home is gorgeous and huge! Surrounded by the most amazing pine trees and in a gorgeous area! (ok, let's get real, everywhere in Finland is beautiful!) We stayed at their house for 3 hours! Which was way special and such a treat! They made a TON of food and we ate a delicious brunch with them: riisi purro (like rice porridge... so good!), smoked salmon, lamb, ham, tons of different kinds of berries (including the famous (and expensive) Finnish cloud berries, these delicious crepe type things with lots of different kinds of jam, breakfast cake, and so much more! It was incredible! And they sent a ton of it home with us! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay good! We were definitely eating like kings for days. 

This week, in honor of Easter, I also got to try mämmi! It's a Finnish Easter dish that is ruis (rye) porridge. It was interesting... but actually not too bad! I drowned mine in vanilla creme haha. It was way cool to try it though and I felt way Finnish! For Easter we also received homemade voi pulla from a member, tons of chocolate, and lots of other treats! I love our members here so much. 

ALRIGHT, now you all need to stop and watch this video right now. Sisar Woods and I watched it this week and it like changed my life. When it finished, we just looked at each other and were like "ddddddang!" I think I've already watched it like 50 times. It's called #BecauseofHim and it's all about Christ. Jesus Christ is for everyone. Because of Him, we ALL can live again. Without Him, this life would have no purpose and would have an end. Because of Him, we have a way to find happiness, peace, and receive Eternal Life. 

I love my Savior. I know He lives. I am another witness of Him. 


Sisar Nielsen    -  ps awkward moment of the week: we got back to Kuopio from Iisalmi and we were getting off the bus. I don't know why but I was struggling hard core. The whole time, this little boy was watching me. Sisar Woods got off and I finally got all my things together and was about to get off. The little boy said "hei hei" to me (bye) and I went to go down the steps and the doors closed! And the bus took off! With Sisar Woods outside of it and me still in it! When it took off, I fell into the seat and the last thing I saw was Sisar Woods' freaked out face as the doors closed. Well I stood up, composed myself, and hurried to the front of the bus (meanwhile falling into everybody's seat... I was really struggling!) I finally got to the front and was like "excuse me." Well I got off the bus, waaaaaay across the parking lot and had to walk back to Sisar Woods. She was laughing so hard she started crying. Man. Will this awkwardness ever end? and is President sure he wants to make me a trainer again...? I'm pretty sure I need to be trained again. Oh well. Church is true y'all! :) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sisar Woods, Sisar Nielsen and a set of missionaries serving in Oulu

"I serve in a beautiful frozen land!"

Ahhh Finland

Sisar Nielsen in the Tori (Town Square)

"My BLM gave me Pineapple Cheeries for my birthday - so yummy!"

Sisar Woods got these for her birthday - hahaha

4/14/14 - I Love...I Love...I Love...


Basically, I'm really excited for Easter! Why? Because it's just one more thing that helps us remember our Savior :) 

Yesterday was palm Sunday and all of the kids dressed up and decorated thin tree branches with feathers, colored paper, eggs, etc. and went and knocked on peoples' doors and got candy. It's one of the Easter traditions that's big in Finland. I love learning about their traditions! So cool! 

E, our investigator, is doing well! We're still hoping for her to get baptized this Saturday! We met with her this week and she said she knows the church is true! However, she said she still isn't sure if she's ready to get baptized so quickly. It's kinda one of the problems we have in our mission. Finns are very deliberate people. They really want to ponder and be 150% sure about something before they do it. In our mission, there are a lot of investigators who know the church is true, will testify about it, and attend church every Sunday, and yet are still not baptized. They get scared and have a hard time taking that jump. But we're just praying and trusting in the Lord. I know E will get baptized. We just have to put our trust in the Lord and His timing. I know everything will work out in the end :) because Heavenly Father knows His children better than we do. During one of our lessons this week, Sisar Woods and I gave E a picture of Christ (tip for my missionary friends: we got a frame at the thrift store and cut out a pic of Christ from one of the pamphlets... it looked way legit!) She started to cry and hugged and thanked us! Have I mentioned how much I love this woman?! She truly is a miracle and we found her by simply talking with everyone on the street.This weekend, her sister came into town which made everything kinda difficult because we couldn't meet with her. She ended up telling us that she wasn't sure if she could come to church because she had to go drop her sister off at the bus station at 12, and church started at 11. We were devastated. We explained the situation to one of our members and our awesome member left church after Sacrament meeting, went and picked up E, and brought her back for Sunday School and Relief Society! And E was sooo happy to be there, participated in Relief Society multiple times, and is literally BFF's with like the whole branch! It's amazing! The members here are incredible. We have a lesson with her tonight and it's kinda like the do or die lesson...  we'll decide exactly when her baptism is. Hopefully it will be this Saturday! Especially because we realized that change calls come this Friday and I've been in Kuopio for 6 months now so I have the higher chance of leaving.  Ultimately, I'm just putting my trust in the Lord and I know that He will take care of His children :) 

One of the things I love about serving in Finland is how many foreigners there are here. Because Finland is a place of peace, has a good educational system, and socialized everything, lots of people move here. This week we found a new investigator from Ethiopia! We were walking down the street and said hi to this guy while he was biking past us. He stopped and said "hey! how are you guys doing?" I was grateful for his friendliness but was a little confused, until he reminded us that we had met him before and had talked briefly. He had been in a rush before and we hadn't even had the chance to tell him that we are church representatives. Well this time, we were able to teach him on the street and he is interested in coming to church! It was awesome! He said he has a lot more time now to meet and would like to learn more about it so we have a lesson set up with him this week! 

We also met for the first time since December with the teenage girl my past comp Sisar Lund and I taught. I had a feeling last week that I needed to call her, so I followed the prompting and did. She answered and said, I was literally thinking about you this morning! Coincidence? Never! So we met with her and it just broke my heart. She is searching for something and keeps looking in allll the wrong places. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can fill that yearning for something more than we all have. As she was talking to us she said that she just doesn't understand why Christ is so important. She asked me, "What has Christ even done for you anyways?" Now before I continue, I want you all to stop and think. What has Christ done for you personally? What does He mean to you? Because that's exactly what I did. I paused for a moment before I continued and I was overcome by the love and gratitude that I have for my Savior. He has done everything for me. I am who I am because of Him. I can become who I want to become through Him. I can be healed by Him. Without Him, I would literally be lost. He enables, heals, and cleanses me. His is my hope, my love, and my salvation. This week, I watched this video and even though I wasn't born blind, I feel like because of Christ, my eyes have been opened. Watch this: you won't regret it. 

Basically being a missionary is the best thing I've ever done! I love it more than words can say. It's hard. It's really hard. But ya know, sometimes life is hard! But it's still worth living. I love everything about being a missionary. I love how crazy my hair looks after I take off my helmet. I love the yummy treats we get every Sunday from our wonderful members in our "to the missionaries" box. I love the way my comp and I jump out of our desks every time we hear the posti (mail) coming through the door. I love the sound of investigator's first prayers. I love singing my favorite hymns in a crazy foreign language. I love the hugs the members give us. I love the thrill of stopping people on the street. I love my smeared make-up from the rain. I love spreading this gospel message to everybody I meet. I love trying to gracefully jump off my bike in a skirt. I love being the awkwardest thing this world has ever seen and I love fighting for my God every day of my life and taking His gospel to the nations of the world. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This world is a beautiful place and there are so many reasons to be happy. What do you love about your life? Find joy in the little things. 

I love you! 

Sisar Nielsen        ps. we were contacting this guy on the street and we were starting to talk to him about the church when all of a sudden, he points to a car driving by and was like "oh, a pizza car!" of course Sisar Woods and I looked and we're like "uh.. okay?" and then we turn back and the guy was gone! He had hurried and crossed the street and got away! What a clever little man! Well next time, Sisar Nielsen and Sisar Woods are NOT gonna fall for that trick! no way! next time, that man is gonna get stuck with the word!... I still can't believe I fell for that.....

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Self Timer in a little European car makes for an awkward picture" - Kuopio Elders, Sisar Nielsen, Sisar Woods, and a visiting Zone Leader

4/7/14 - THE SUN IS HERE!

So Christmas came early this week.... in the form of GENERAL CONFERENCE. HOLLLLLLAAAAAA!!!!!!!

So basically, Sisar Woods and I have been so ridiculously excited for General Conference, we could hardly stand it. For those of you who don't know, we believe in the same organization that existed in Christ's original church. He had prophets and 12 apostles and we have a living modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and 12 apostles today just like in times of old. Twice a year they speak to the whole world and it's called General Conference. It's always way interesting, inspiring, and down right AAAHHHHMMMMAAAZZZING. We only got to watch the Saturday sessions and then the Sunday morning session because of the time difference, but I will be sure to watch the Sunday afternoon session later. It was so cool because we got to watch the Sunday morning session live! Of course it was late in the evening here but it was still so amazing to know that it was happening RIGHT THEN. As I huddled around a laptop with the 7 missionaries from my district in our little primary room to watch it, I couldn't help but just feel the power this gospel brings. I am a member of a world wide church! I never stand alone. As Sisar Rosemary M. Wixom said in the General Women's Meeting (which btw was literally like one of the greatest thing of my life), "as individuals, we are strong. together with God, we are unstoppable." That is exactly how I feel as a member of this church. 

The sun is here! It's crazy how after such a DARK winter, it's so BRIGHT here now. During the middle of the summer, it won't even get dark at all! Craziness! The sky feels so much closer here than it did back home. It's pretty exciting stuff. And way weird that I must drive with sunglasses on now. Ya know, I'm just a hip sister missionary rockin' some shades. No big deal. 

E is doing so great! We had 2 lessons with her this past week. She told us that she just becomes so happy every time we come over! She has been keeping her commitments and is progressing to get baptized on the 19th! Pray for her! She's seriously so hilarious and so adorable. When we were teaching about prophets we asked her why she thinks having a prophet is important. She said because it gives us a leader that helps us follow Jesus Christ. uhh perfect answer! We were like "exactly" and then went to continue and she was like "whoooaaa hold up. If i'm wrong, you need to tell me. Don't just nod and agree!" and we were just like "uh here's the thing, you're not wrong!" She told us she can feel her faith growing. That it truly is like a seed that is growing inside of her. She said it's kinda weird because even though all of these things are so new, they don't feel weird or strange to her. They feel good. They feel right. Ahhhh she is such a blessing! Every time she prays, I can't help just smiling through the whole thing! I leave on cloud nine after every lesson! She thanks Heavenly Father for sending us "angels" to her. It just warms my heart. Nothing quite compares to the joy of sharing the gospel. It is so special. It is so amazing. You feel so high you could fly! and guess what... IT'S NOT A FEELING JUST RESERVED FOR THE FULL TIME MISSIONARIES. Every member a missionary. That is the call! So do it! I promise you, you won't regret it. In my life, I have NEVER regretted sharing the gospel, sharing the most important thing to me. But I have definitely regretted the times that I didn't share it. It doesn't matter if we're 9, 19, or 99, as disciples of Jesus Christ this is what is expected of us by the Master. He gave us His all, the least we can do is open our mouths and bring others to Him. What are you willing to do for your Savior?

One of the themes of General Conference was defending our faith. We live in crazy, wicked, dangerous times. The world is moving farther and farther away from God than ever before. Our world is heading towards moral self destruction! A destruction of its own making. God sent us here for such a time as this because He knew that we could handle it. He knew that we would fight for Him. And we must be true to Him, at all times, and in all things, and in all places. Jeffrey R. Holland's talk in Conference was, as usual, way powerful and way amazing. He called us all out and said that we must defend Jesus Christ and defend our faith. So many of the other speakers said that we must take our STAND. We must stand up for what is right, regardless of the circumstances. It reminded me of this really good mormon message: so watch it!

We are worth sooo much more than what the world tries to make us think we are. Only through the gospel of Jesus Christ can we reach our true potential. This week I saw these 3 kids on the street smoking. All three were about 13. It literally made me so upset because they reminded me so much of my brother Josh. It broke my heart. They still had those young, innocent, boy faces. It was obvious that they were pretty new to the whole smoking thing. And I was so ready to just march over to them and whip those cigarettes outta their hands, sit them down, and give them a good talking to. Unfortunately, we had to run somewhere and when we got back they were gone. Later on the same street, we saw two guys my age. One was wearing a Chicago Bulls hat (my team!) so I turned to Sisar Woods and was like "we're gonna go talk to them!" She was like uhh.... ok. So I march right up to them and tell him that I like his hat. He was like "uh my hat?" and I was like "yeah! I'm from Chicago and that's my basketball team." So we started chatting. One of them was holding a beer can and drinking while we were talking. I asked them about school and they were just like "ha! we're not in school" I asked if they worked and they were like "uh no! we already did that whole high school thing. now we just hang out, party, and drink beeeeeer!" It was obvious that they were trying to act all cool. Honestly, it just made me sad! I told them "really? well I'm here as a church representative..." Unfortunately, a little after I brought that up all of a sudden they had "this stuff that they had to go do......". As we walked away, I could not get the image of those young boys out of my mind. Or the faces of those two guys my age who were securing themselves pretty bleak futures. People, we are children of God! Do we understand what this means?! We are children of the Supreme Being, the Master Creator, the All Powerful, All Knowing, All Loving Father. We are worth so much more than we understand! We are created for greater things than we realize! If you are letting yourself be tied down by sins, mistakes, or transgressions, turn them over to the Lord and become free. Become who you are destined to be! We existed before we came to this earth and we will live after we die. What we do her determines our destinies. This is our time to shine! As Gary E. Stevenson said in Conference, this is our time to perform! This is our chance. So RISE UP. YOU ARE WORTH IT. TAKE YOUR STAND NEXT TO THE SAVIOR. Become who you are destined to be! 

I love you!

Sisar Nielsen