Monday, July 7, 2014

7/7/14 - Proud to Be an American

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY EVERYBODY. Aren't you just proud to be an American? In honor of the holiday, our recent convert friend from Vietnam here threw a BBQ. His nonmember Vietnamese friends came, along with members from Estonia, Spain, and Sweden. Plus the Elders and their investigator from the Philippines (who happens to be a pastry chef who studied in Paris and brought the most delicious treats everrrrr!) were there and a member from Finland. There's nothing like a group of people from all around the world coming together to celebrate the one and only US of A. We sang some good old fashioned American songs (in English... weird!) and had a lot of fun! One of the things I love about Finland is how it truly is a place of peace and refuge. People come from all over the world in search of peace and safety. Espoo is a LOT more diverse than Kuopio was. I love it! But honestly, one of the main reasons why so many people come here is because we have a temple here. It didn't make sense to build a temple in little, tiny Finland with only about 5,000 members in the whole country, but the Lord knew that this would be a gathering place for the Saints.  As a result, He has preserved this land and is bringing people to it. There is an energy and a Spirit here in this beautiful country. It was here when I got here but it has been growing. The Lord is hastening His work in this part of the world, and we truly are laying a foundation for it. 

This week we got to meet our new mission president and his wife, President and Sisar Watson! They're just great. And so kind. And they live pretty close to our house so they're actually in our ward! We took the opportunity to drop cookies by their house and they just invited us right in, sat us down on their couch, and just asked about our lives and showed us pictures of their family. They acted like we were just part of the fam. It was great. We had a "Meet the President" meeting last night for the Helsinki Stake that was filmed and broadcast to those who couldn't be there. There were a couple of small musical numbers and I had the chance to sing in them! (yeah we all know I'm not musically talented, but somehow I keep scoring comps that are) so that was pretty exciting! Honestly I feel like a new kingdom has begun here and it's exciting to be a part of it. 

Gosh, my comps and I are just having way too much fun. We laugh literally 24/7 which is great because right now one of our goals is to breath life and excitement back into the work here. Too many missionaries are getting stressed and discouraged. Our focus is to help them have fun while doing this AMAZING work - to feel the excitement of the Lord hastening His work, and to LOVE every minute of it. We got to go on our first exchanges this week, so I was sent off to another area to work with a Sister there and her companion came to our area to work with my companions here. I always love working with other missionaries because there are so many opportunities to learn new things. We had a miracle happen that was way cool. We had been praying like crazy and following the little promptings we received. We got to the bus stop and both prayed and felt we needed to walk down to the next bus stop. We did and met a man there who ended up getting on the same bus as us. Throughout the conversation, we got out the Book of Mormon and ended up giving it to him after showing him a chapter that answered his question "what is the purpose of life?" He was soo touched and grateful! And he started reading it right away. It was way cool and he's super excited to meet with the missionaries.

So being down here in the big bad South means that I'm always taking public transportation. Which also means that we're constantly running like crazy people to catch a bus or a train or catch a bus to take us to a train. Life is always an adventure here. Once, we accidentally took a bus all the way to Helsinki! That was a bit of a shock when we realized we were there instead of home. Being on public transportation gives us the opportunity to talk with lots of people and meet all kinds of different people! I love it! But it can also lead to some interesting or embarassing experiences. Yesterday I sat down next to this way cute girl in her mid 20's. I complimented her shirt and we started talking. Then a guy from across the aisle interrupted me and started asking me about my name tag. The problem was that he was extremely drunk. Well he ended up moving and sitting facing me and getting way to close for comfort and kept trying to touch my name tag. As soon as he came over, I watched this girl just close up. Even though I really just wanted to get sassy with this drunk man and tell him to get lost because I was trying to give this woman eternal life, I held my cool and just answered his questions. At this point, other people were watching and listening to everything that was going on, so it hit me that I should just teach this drunk man and thereby, teach like half the train! So he started asking me different questions like "why are you in Finland?" and "why does it say Jesus Christ on your name tag?" and stuff so I just started teaching him the basic principles of the gospel. It ended up being way cool cuz as I held my own and just stayed calm, the woman ended up asking "wait, how long have you been here?" and I was able to keep talking with her again. So I taught her and the drunk man. It ended up being a pretty successful teach. When we got off, my comp ran up to me and was like "are you okay?!" She had been in the row of seats behind mine and had seen the whole thing. Gosh, the life of a missionary. Oh also another embarrassing moment that happened on a train: so my comp was teaching this guy from Africa named Ola. Well, as we're getting off I go and shake his hand and say "moi" to which he says "Ola" to which I respond "Bonjour" and he just gave me a weird look and I kept walking. Afterwards I realized that the reason he gave me a weird look was because when I said hi in Finnish and then he told me his name, I thought for some reason he said "hola" so then I just responded in another language because I thought we were just being funny and saying "hi" in different languages. My companions died laughing. Gosh, why do I have to be SO AWKWARD. Oh, another cool experience was when we were on the train and I didn't have anybody to talk to but both of my companions did. I just prayed my heart out for them so that the Lord would soften the hearts of the people they were talking with and help them to know what to say. Well, as we got up to leave, a woman from across the aisle of my companion said "is that a Mormonin Kirja?!" to which my comp responded "yes it is." She responded with "I've been wanting to talk with people from your church! Can I get your contact information?" It was sooo cool how the Lord totally answered my prayer like that! Church is true folks! Another experience was when we were on the train coming home and my companions and I were all standing together. One of the train ticket collectors who was from Africa started to talk to us. He asked us why we were here and we explained that we were church representatives. He was like "well that's not fair! they send beautiful young women to tell people about your church? you girls are weapons of mass destruction. heartbreakers...." hahahaha we died laughing. It was the most ridiculous thing ever. So now when anything happens, we just turn to each other and are like "it's okay guys, cuz I'm a weapon of mass destruction." Weapons of mass destruction in the Lord's Army... :)

Basically, I know I say this every time but THE CHURCH IS TRUE FOLKS. It just is. Whether you support it, live it, love it, or build it- is up to you. But regardless, it is true. So ask yourself this question: are YOU true to the church? Do you live it in the light and in the dark? With your family and with your friends? At school, at work, and at home? When people look at you, do they see Christ? Are you a true Christian in word and in deed? He lives, ya know. He lives. And He loves you. It doesn't matter what you're going through. He wants to help and carry you. So stand for Him. A true disciple of Christ would not only die for Him, but more importantly, they want to live for Him. Be a true friend to all around you. Seek to bless and lift. You are amazing. And you are loved by somebody who knows you perfectly. Turn to Him. He's calling your name. He lives. 

I love you! 

Sisar Nielsen

ps we met this family from America that is here for 6 weeks. they're from Georgia. we ran into them and they said "hey we live in that big yellow house over there, come visit anytime". well last night, we stopped by and did. they were so kind and welcoming! I love Americans! they gave us butterscotch cookies (I forgot butterscotch existed!) and told us to come back! the mom's grandma was a member of the church so she knows a little about it. it was cool meeting an American family. I'm pretty sure it's the first actual American family I've met my whole mission! 

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