Well for starters, change calls happened this week and guess what folks... I'M LEAVING KUOPIO! It's craziness! I've been here for 8 MONTHS and President is splitting me up from my trainee during the middle of her training. He said that he doesn't usually like to do that but he felt like this is what the Lord wants. So I'm going down to ESPOO (pronounced es-poe.. not es-poo) WHERE THE TEMPLE IS to be a SISTER TRAINING LEADER! (like a zone leader but for sisters)! WHAT?! There are so many sisters in the Helsinki Zone! I'm so excited! As soon as he gave me my change call, I had this rush of peace and the spirit come over me and I knew that this is exactly what the Lord wants me to do. I'm soooo excited (and kinda nervous) for this change! I leavemorning so these couple days will be filled with packing and goodbyes :( I'm way excited for the opportunity to serve in the Helsinki Zone (quick background on my mission (sorry that I'm using super mormon lingo and if these words don't make sense, it's okay): we have 3 zones (each zone covers ones stake)- the Helsinki Zone, the Tampere Zone, and the North Zone (which actually doesn't cover a stake because there's not enough members to create a stake so it is a mission district). When I first came into the country, I served in the Tampere Zone for 2 months (1 transfer). The past 8 months I have been serving in the North Zone. And now for the first time, I'm serving in Helsinki!) I'm so excited because this is my dream change call, to be close to the temple and to be down South! Let's get ready to see what the Lord can make of me!
So basically,was the most insane of my life. Gosh, the members here are so ridiculously amazing. They don't make members everywhere like the ones in Kuopio. It was soo hard to say goodbye to them. And the next two days are filled with us running around and saying even more goodbyes. was a really big day in the Kuopio branch, full of lots of changes and a Spirit that is almost impossible to describe. My amazing Mission President, President Rawlings, and his sweet wife go home next week. I'm going to miss them so much :(. It was amazing because they came up to church so we got to see them again! They needed to come up because we needed a new Branch President. Our Branch President here is way cool. He's about 30 years old, a brain surgeon, and a father of the 3 cutest little kids ever. Well, about 2 weeks ago he was diagnosed with cancer that has spread everywhere. The whole little branch banded together to fast and pray for him. The feeling of unity and love between us all was incredible. It's going to be a long road, but through the power of God, President Rawlings was led to Kuopio and was here the day he was diagnosed so he was able to give him a blessing. This blessing has become their hope and has helped to anchor their faith. This family is such an amazing example to me. Due to the intensiveness of his cancer, he is no longer able to serve as the bishop. So this past President Rawlings came to release him and call a new one. I was able to witness firsthand the true power of God. The Spirit was so strong in that room and testified to all of our hearts that the Lord is in this. It is the Lord that has called our new bishop (who is about 25 years old). It is the Lord that will strengthen our old one. It is the Lord that leads this church. It is the Lord that leads our lives. President Rawlings was in charge of the whole meeting, and just prayed throughout it to know who to call up to bear their testimonies. He called me and Elder Hugie (who has been here as long as I have) to come up and say our goodbyes. It was super hard for me (I cried... shocker) as I stared out into the congregation at the faces that I have come to adore and love. These people have loved me, taken care of me, and helped me so much. There was hardly a dry eye in the room throughout the whole meeting. There was so much love in that room and the Spirit was so strong. So many of the members came up to me afterwards and hugged me with tears in their eyes. They told me that I'm welcome back anytime. They said the sweetest things to me (seriously, the SWEETEST things! gosh, to the point I started to cry.. shocker again!). I love these people so much. One of the coolest things, is that because Juhannus Päivä happened this week (the day where the sun never goes down), we had a lot of visitors. Our whole goal has been to fill our chapel by the end of the year. We have worked, and prayed, and tried our hardest. We set a goal in faith months ago as a district that this would happen and that our church attendance would be high by the last day of the change before the new mission president came. Well, because of all of the visitors, people started to file into the chapel to the point where the whole place was FULL. They had to open the overflow for 3 chairs! As I looked around, I realized that the Lord had heard our pleas and found a way to answer our prayers. My heart was filled to the point of overflowing as I realized this. And the Lord let it happen my last day here in Kuopio, a place where I have dedicated my whole heart and soul and given all I have. As I realized this while bearing my testimony, I said it out loud. The tears started flowing from everybody. The day will come when the Kuopio chapel will be filled every single . I am so eternally grateful that my loving Heavenly Father gave me a taste of what it will be like.
I'm running out of time and I'm sorry I forgot my camera cord so I can't send pics but I have TONS of pics to send next week! We went and visited the tower this week that looks over the city of Kuopio. It was way cool. Alsonight, one of our amazing members that lives far away (we had to drive on a ferry to get there) invited us over cuz it was my last Sunday. They made salmon and the most amazing food. They live on a lake in this beautiful wooded area! Ahhhh it was breathtaking. They took us through the woods to see their savusauna (smoke sauna) and the lake by their house. They said when I come back after my mission, I can go swimming in the lake and enjoy the sauna :) They are such an awesome family! Also we went to the most adorable, magical little market (called torikuja) that had all these cute little shops. It felt like something out of Harry Potter. It was sooo cool! We also went shopping through the square today because there's tons of stands set up and people selling stuff. I bought some riisipirakka and an I <3 Kuopio pin. It was a must. Gosh I just love my mission so much!
It's going to be really hard for me to say goodbye to Kuopio. This place has changed me. I learned what the word "refiner's fire" meant while being here. I have laughed and cried in this beautiful city more times than I can count. I have learned more fully what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ. These members have become my family. I have learned how to love more deeply. And how to be a better member missionary for when I go home. I love this place. It's going to be so hard to leave. But I know it's time. One of my favorite things about the gospel is the eternal perspective it gives us. I may not see a lot of these people again in this life, but you better believe that we will find each other in the next. How grateful I am for my membership in this church! How we are a family and how we have an instant bond with other members. How the Lord leads and guides our lives. He lives. And I am a witness that He loves us. And I love Him with all of my heart.
And I love you!
ps so I'm not really sure exactly why but Sisar Bates and I have really struggled in the kitchen. everything we try to bake just turns out wrong! we tried to make pannukakku (it's kinda like a german pancake... but not) and it turned out like mush! literally. this week we tried to make brownies and they cooked on the top and sides and we cut into them and they were completely RAW. and we put them back in and the tops started to burn but the inside wouldn't cook! so weird! so we ate the brownie tops and rolled up the insides into balls, put them in the fridge, and gave em to the Elders :). they all went crazy for em (but let's get real, Elders will eat anything). well then this week we also tried to make Finnish pancakes... and it was the biggest fail of my life. I'll try and send some pics next week so you can see what I mean. ugh. so apparently baking isn't one of my special talents... but it's okay folks because I'm a boss at making oatmeal now so that's cool.
pps on Juhannus Päivä, we set our alarms for the middle of the night so we could get up and see the sun... and sure enough, at, it was still light outside. CRAZINESS! It's so cool being able to experience this.
ppps I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF THE COLD WEATHER. WE ARE HAVING A COLDDDDD SUMMER! ugh. it's super frustrating putting on a coat and sweater and scarf and hat and tights in JUNE! but it's okay, cuz the church is still true.....