HAPPY 25TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TO THE PARENTS! Man, 25 years is a longgggggggg time! Good thing you guys have ETERNITY together! Thanks for the amazing example you guys are for me and for marrying in the temple and raising us kids in the gospel. You guys are the besttttttt!
andd.... HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO MY #1 DADDY-O! Sure love you lots! Thanks for always being there for me. For teaching me, helping me, and loving me. Thanks for helping me understand what it means to feel and experience the blessings of the priesthood in my life. I sure am grateful for you!
So this week has been great. Full of lots of miracles and cold weather. But seriously, what the heck Finland?! It's the middle of JUNE and we're wearing tights, coats, and scarfs again. Ugh. I love this place with ALL my heart and soul, but the weather is just not my favorite. But that's okay, cuz the gospel IS!
I hit my 1 year mark this week. It's crazy to me how fast the time has flown by. It feels like just yesterday I was getting ready to go, yet at the same time I feel like I've been here FOREVER. Hitting my one year mark has made me pause and do a lot of reflecting over what has happened this past year. I am not the same person that walked into the MTC June 19, 2013. I have done so much growing, changing, and learning. The Lord has shaped and refined me so much. It's incredible to see and more importantly to feel the difference. I have such a stronger personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I have a better understanding of the gospel. I have a greater capacity to love. My Savior has truly become my best friend. I have a better understanding of what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ and the importance of being one forever. This past year has been really, really hard. It's been full of so many nights where I have just knelt by my bed and had tears stream down my face. So many days where I've felt like my heart was breaking. So many times where I've thought "man, this missionary life ain't easy". But boy, has it been full of so much happiness and joy that I can't even fully describe it! I love being a missionary with all my heart! To be a defender of my faith and of my Savior! To help make Him known. I love Him, and I am willing to do anything for Him. Becoming a missionary has been the best decision I ever made! Church is true folks! Church is true.
So last week I mentioned that we found an 18 year old investigator by praying always. Well lemme follow up a little bit about what happened with that. His name is T, and he has had a very hard life. Pretty much almost anything bad that can happen to a kid has happened to him. It's way sad. We had set out last Sunday to find "the one" whom the Lord would have us find that night. As soon as we left the house, the thought came into my mind that we should go to the park/super old cemetery (welcome to Europe! I love it) in the middle of the city. I didn't know if it was my own thought or not so we started out heading in that direction. At every crossroad, we prayed to know which way to go, and every time we would follow the feelings that we got. All of a sudden, we were almost to the park and my companion said "we should go to the park", which validated to me that clearly that earlier thought really wasn't my own! We walked through it and there was nobody to be found! We were almost about to walk out the other side when we ran into 3 punk teenage guys. One of them we had talked to briefly earlier on train when Sisar Bates first arrived in the country. His friends had to leave but he ended up staying and talking with us for a really long time. And guess what. He came to church! And stayed for ALL three hours! And said he wants to come to our addiction recovery class (he's addicted to cigarettes. don't worry guys, I already gave him a good talking to about why smoking is bad and that he should quit!) And our members are sooo wonderful! He wore a snapback hat, baggy pants, a t-shirt, and big headphones to church. He definitely stood out like a sore thumb, but our members just welcomed him with open arms. It was great. What I love about the gospel is that it seriously is for EVERYONE. It doesn't matter how old or how young you are, what kind of a past you have, or what kind of problems you have now, the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal, sanctify, and cleanse you.
We also had some other cool experiences with praying always. We were praying and following the Spirit and felt we needed to go back and visit a potential (somebody that said we could come back sometime). Well she answered the door, said "uh yeah no thanks!" and slammed it in our faces. Gotta love rejection. So we prayed and felt we needed to knock the door on the floor right below us. The door opened to reveal a woman we had met on the street back on Mother's Day. She had given us her number but when we called she basically had said she was just too busy to meet. So imagine our surprise when she opened the door and there she was! God knows where His children are people! You can't escape the word :) Well, she invited us in right then and we taught her and her son. She's from Sudan and has lived here for about 12 years. Her son is here studying and he knows English (she doesn't, we just spoke in our broken Finnish with each other). Turns out his friend gave him a Book of Mormon many years ago. It was way cool because we were able to teach him more about it and spark his interest enough so that he agreed to try reading it. It ended up being a great teach and it was just such a miracle that we found them. She even asked, "how did you know I was here??" hehehe sometimes I feel like a secret agent cuz we have the Lord on our side and the Holy Ghost like a walkie talkie to lead us. These people don't even stand a chance :)
We also met these 2 guys our age by praying always. Even though talking to guys my own age freaks me out now (oh the life of a nun! uh.. I mean sister missionary), I still followed the Spirit and said hi to them. We ended up talking to them for almost an hour! I love being able to be like "look, I'm your same age okay I get it. Maybe religion is something you think doesn't apply to you. But here's the thing, I'm here to tell you that it does! You can still live your normal life, but be happier, have more hope and a better knowledge of who your are and your purpose on the earth, and it's just true okay and you chose this plan before you came to earth and you have a Savior who died for you and this very much DOES apply to YOU because without HIM you have nothing! But because of HIM, you will live again! Death has no sting! Our sins don't have to chain us down! Sorrow can be turned into sunlight and happiness can last longer than one night!" The hard part is is that I have to work this normally and naturally into the conversation even though I just wanna yell it in their faces! But that's okay, I love giving people the word :)
Basically, I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! THIS PAST YEAR HAS BEEN GREAT! It kinda makes me sad it's going so fast, but the good thing is is that I'm not just in this for 18 monthes, I'm in this for a LIFETIME. I love you all! I love Finland! I love the gospel! I love my Savior! I really don't love mosquitoes because my legs look like I'm a diseased person. But that's okay.