Okay first off, have I told you that we are in MIRACLE TERRITORY?! The Lord is with us and as we persevere and hold fast to our faith, miracles happen. For starters, our good friend D is getting baptized! Words can't describe the change that we've seen in him since we first met him. The gospel really is all about happiness! He just seems so much happier and it's been amazing to witness how He has come closer to Christ. Orginally when we asked him to be baptized, he said no, but we set a date with him as a goal that if he gave it his all (if he prayed and read the scriptures everyday and came to church every ) then the Lord would testify to Him that it is true. If that day came, and he wasn't ready, we would not force him to get baptized but that the Lord wanted him to try. He agreed to try. Well try he has! We had a lesson with him this week and we talked about God's plan for us. We asked him how he felt about getting baptized on the 16th (because just 2 lessons earlier he said he wanted to move it). He said that it feels nice. That he wants to do it. We promised him that Christ would always be with him. He said he believes that because ever since he's met wtih us, he feels so much happier and a lot of peace. We had given him a picture of Christ as a gift and I asked him what he's done with it. He said he put it by his bed so everynight when he reads "the book" and prays, he can look at the picture of Christ. You guys, he's so cool! It's been amazing to watch him change over the past couple weeks from the first time we met him to today. he will enter the waters of baptism and start a new life. He will be able to let go of all the mistakes, sins, and guilt he has through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He will become free. The gospel of Jesus Christ frees us. It offers us true freedom. We are no longer chained down by the things of our past, but we can start over and fill our lives with light. God lives and He leads this work. I have no doubt about that.
Also, we have something really exciting coming up. So here in Finland, there's a really popular, classy women's magazine called "Anna". It's in all the stores and has about 100,000 readers. Well within the past couple months, missionaries here have been in the news quite a bit - on the radio, in the newspaper, and on the tv. Well these things caught the eye of one of the reporters of this magazine and she contacted our PR rep and they want to do a whole article on the "Sister Missionaries in Finland" and our President chose us to be those sisters! So we will have a reporter and photographer following us all day so they can see what we do! This is an amazing opportunity to share the gospel with the women of Finland! After we found out about this, we were on the train and we saw women everywhere reading this magazine. It's so cool how the Lord really does spread His gospel by lots of different means. Pray for us that everything will go well! There's a lot of pressure for this to be good so we will need all the prayers we can get!
Oh in other news... I FINALLY GOT A HAIR CUT. I was so excited I could have cried. First real hair cut in over a year! One of the members here does hair and so she cut my hair for free. Too great.
Another huge miracle is with our friend T. SHE DIDN'T SMOKE AT ALL YESTERDAY. Guys, this is HUGE! She has been smoking for over 11 years and within the last week, she has really been working to stop. She has become such a good friend to us and she came to church yesterday as my "fani clubi" to support me during my talk. It's sooo cool watching the gospel change people's lives. I'm soo grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and to witness the mighty change that it brings and the happiness that comes with it. Also she is almost done with 3 Nephi. Seriously, she is just cruising! She loves reading the Book of Mormon so much and is a great example to all of us. She can't go to sleep without reading it because it's her "piece of sunshine" every day. Is that how we all look at the Book of Mormon? Is that how we feel about it? Can we not go to sleep at night if we don't read it? I encourage you all to stop and think about what the Book of Mormon really means to you -what it really means to you that our loving Father in Heaven has reached out to us to bless and support us by providing us more of His word.
In other news, it's been pretty hot and humid here! And as I've mentioned before, there's no air conditioning in Finland. One night, it was so hot we couldn't fall asleep! So we all grabbed our mattresses and slept outside on our deck. It was gorgeous! And it is still pretty light for most of the night but I don't even notice it anymore. And we got a couple bug bites but we all slept really well. Oh random thing about Finland, screens don't really exist here. So everybody - including us - keeps their windows and doors open for air flow but then there's a constant war raging in our house between us and the bugs. We've made fruit fly traps using a jar, paper, and bait and we've gotten good at killing or just ushering out the huge mayflies and other creepy crawlies that come into our house. Gotta keep our home safe, ya know...
This week we were on our way home from the temple with D after a lesson there. As we were walking, all of a sudden it started POURING BUCKETS! The raindrops were the biggest things I've ever seen! It was one of the craziest rainstorms I've ever been in! We tried to run but it felt like we were under attack! I couldn't see because the rain was messing up my contacts! The rainstorm only lasted for about 5 minutes but it COMPLETELY soaked us! And we arrived home sopping wet with make up streaming down our faces just in time to throw on a change of clothes and run to the train because we went and did exchanges with a companionship of sisters in Lapeenranta. It's right by the Russian border so that was really cool. Plus we saw the biggest sandcastle in Finland. They have all these way cool things sclupted out of sand on the beach. It was pretty sweet!
Last Monday we went to the Helsinki Tori (square) for our p-day. It was soo fun walking around and seeing all of the differents stands. I got to try a very Finnish food for free - mini fried fish. Basically they just take these little fishes and fry the whole thing and then eat it. It was pretty gross, but I got a picture with it to prove my Finnishness. I love Finland! I love Espoo! I love being here at such an exciting time. I love the Finnish people! I love my mission! It is the most amazing thing ever! This country is such a beautiful and special place! The Lord is gathering His elect and bringing them to the truth. I'm so grateful to be a missionary. It's crazy to me how fast the time is going. I can't think about it because I start freaking out. I never want my mission to end. The Lord has been shaping and refining and molding me into the person that He wants me to be. In order for us to ever reach our potential, we must allow God to be our builder. He will take us to greater heights than we could ever take ourselves. If you want to have a full, fulfilling life, turn your life over to God. He is the master creater, the great orchestrator. Don't you think that if you let Him, He will make something incredible out of you? As you pray and submit your will to His, you will fly. I promise.
I love you. He lives.