Monday, August 25, 2014

8/25/14 - If We Know That

1 year ago I stepped off the plane into the fresh Finnish air for the first time. I remember being in awe at the size of the pine trees (the tallest I'd ever seen!) and beauty of the clouds. I was exhausted and looked rather haggard, but I was determined, full of hope, and so ready to just set the world on fire! As I passed my 1 year mark in the country (I've been eating Finnish chocolate for a whole year now folks!), I couldn't help but pause and reflect on what has happened this past year. My word, I could have never imagined the change that would happen in me in the span of one year. It has been incredible to witness the Lord's hand all around me and participate in His great work. He is with us. I can feel it. And I'm so grateful to be a part of it!

D got the priesthood this week! He is doing so well and looks sooo happy. He said that his friends say that he's nicer now that he's been baptized. One of his friends tried to describe it to us and they said that D is like a "drum in a night club" hahaha meaning that he's just full of so much more excitement now. It's so cool to see. We met with him this week and he has been reading the Book of Mormon every day. He says that he completely believes that it is true. That before his baptism, he still had a few doubts about it, but that since his baptism he just feels really strongly that it is the word of God. He attributes it to the Holy Ghost and says that the Holy Ghost has been helping him. Ahhhh soo awesome! We discussed with him how everything in the gospel can be traced back to whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. If we know the Book of Mormon is true, we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. If we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, we know that he had the priesthood, or the authority of God. If we know that he had the priesthood, then we know that we have a living prophet today who also has that same power. If we know that, then we know that the gospel was truly restored and that this is Christ's church on the earth. If we know that, we know that He lives, He is our Savior, and He loves us. If we know that, then we know that God lives and that He is our loving Heavenly Father. If we know that, then we know that we are His children and He has a plan for us to help us return to live with Him again. If we know that, then we know that we must keep His commandments so we can qualify for those blessings. If we know that then........ well as you can see I could keep going all day long. No wonder we focus so much on the Book of Mormon! It is the keystone of our religion. It holds everything in place. If you ever feel your faith faltering or weaken then simply go to the foundation of your faith and build from there. Start with prayer and the Book of Mormon, and everything else will fall into place.

I got to ball it up this week for the first time in almost a year! I've really missed basketball! It was soooo much fun! We had 3 friends from Vietnam, a Finn, a 6'4" guy we met on the street from Nigeria, our WML (ward mission leader (who is from America)) and the Elders and us. Our Vietnamese friends had never played before, our Nigerian friend is amazing at basketball, and the rest of us just reminded ourselves how we haven't played in way tooooo long! Our WML is about 40 years old and he was playing great and we just kept saying "hey, your American is showing!" haha sometimes I just really miss America. 

I got to go to the temple TWICE this week! Once with my district, and once as part of MLC (mission leadership council). It was amazing. I love the temple with all of my heart! There is seriously such a special spirit there. It really hit me how important it is to make promises and covenants with God, and then to live true to them our whole lives. We must be covenant keeping people. If there is anything in your life keeping you from attending the temple, make the necessary changes so you can. It is worth it. Our eternity is at stake. And Heavenly Father is just waiting to bless us. 

This Sunday was a pretty emotional Sunday. My companions and I sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in Finnish and it was so beautiful. So many people cried. Which set the stage for the rest of the meeting. One of my companions, Sisar Cribbs, goes home tomorrow! It's so weird! When I got in the country, she was only 4 months ahead of me. And now she's going home and I only have 4 months left! She gave her farewell talk and we all cried. One of our friends was sitting next to me and she just started crying way hard (that's our friend that is working on quiting smoking and can't go to sleep at night without reading the Book of Mormon). I've never seen her cry before. After Sisar Cribbs was one of my good friends here who is leaving on her mission this week to Leeds, England. By the end of her talk even more people were crying. It was amazing to hear from one missionary going home and one missionary about to go out. The work is always moving forward and there will always be more people to answer the call. At the end we all sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and then there really wasn't a dry eye in the room. My friend going on her mission was sitting next to her dad (the Bishop) and her dad started to cry. I've never seen him even get teary eyed before. She saw her dad crying, threw her arms around him and she just cried. Well, with that, everyone really lost it. The Spirit of this great work, missionary work, was so strong in the meeting. We really are part of something so much bigger than us. Throughout the meeting, I just kept reflecting on how over a year ago, I stood at a pulpit and I gave my farewell talk. How I said goodbye to my family and my friends and my life, to leave everything behind for 18 months and give it all to the Lord. I am soooo grateful that I made that decision! Words can't describe how amazing it is! We are doing the work of the eternities here. 

Jesus Christ is the true shepherd. He loves us. We can never stray to far or fall away too hard that we can't return to Him. We can never escape His love. He will always come rescue us. When we share the gospel, we can help rescue His lost sheep. They are His. He knows where they are. And He is calling their names. And He is calling our names. As we come unto Christ and put our trust in Him, He will calm our raging storms and heal our broken hearts. For He loves us more than we can ever know. 

I love you! Church is true. 


Sisar Nielsen

ps quick funny/awkward story. do you remember me telling you about how we were on the train a while ago and a train conductor started talking to us (he was from Africa and it was in English) and he said he had seen us Mormon girls around a lot and how it was unfair for our church to send such beautiful girls to preach about our church because we are just "weapons of mass destruction". hahahah well we were walking with D the other day off the train and the same conductor walked by and was like "ohhh it's the weapons of mass destruction again! is this your new victim?" hahaha we didn't think D really heard until later this week, he made the comment "so do you guys have any more victims....?"  oh dear.... 

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