Monday, September 8, 2014

9/8/14 - I SAW STARS

I SAW STARS. I SAW THEM WITH MY OWN EYES. this is the first time I've seen stars since spring! It's been so light the whole summer that I haven't seen the stars at all. I saw them for the first time yesterday. And you know what that means.... WINTER IS COMING. YIIIIKKKKKEEEESSSSS! I'm trying not to freak out and to remain calm. I just really don't want to have to endure another Finnish winter. I'm gonna remain calm and take one day at a time. 

I'll start by telling you what happened this past week. Man you guys! D is sooo cool! We met with him Monday and had a lesson about temples and the importance of family history. He thought it was the greatest thing and talked about how he's excited to meet his ancestors in God's kingdom and how he wants to help them by doing their temple work. At the end of the lesson he was leaving and he stopped and pulled out a box of famous Fazer blue chocolate (soooo good!). He said "you guys have changed my life. I was trying to think of something I could do to thank you but nothing can thank you enough for what you've given me. I know you like chocolate, so I got you some." It was the SWEETEST thing! Sisar Heggie and I about cried. And then we were typically awkward and were like ahhh we really wish we could hug you but we can't so we'll hug each other. Afterward we were laughing and realized that we're not sure if we've explained to him yet that we can't hug guys. So he probably thought "I gave you chocolate and then you just hugged each other....?" hahaha. Well regardless, it was super sweet and he is just soo rock solid. He loves the gospel soo much! Tuesday was such a special day! D and his roommate/best friend H (who joined the church back in November) and us went and did baptisms at the temple. The Finland temple is just SO SPECIAL. It is sooo Finnish.  I love it so much. When we met at the temple, D and H were looking way cool in their suits. (did I mention that D went out and bought a new suit for church cuz he didn't have one?) When I asked him how he felt before we went in, he said "excited to service God." ahhhhhh! He was way happy the whole time and loved the whole thing. That night he moved to Turku, a city on the coast, for a school/work project that he has for the next 2 months. He made sure he visited the temple at least once before he left. Luckily he'll be back to visit so we'll see him again. And it was way cool cuz when we were at the temple, there just happened to be people from Turku there and they just welcomed him with open arms. Gotta love awesome members! Remember folks, there is a difference between being just friendly and being a friend. Reach out and actually help those that are struggling, don't just say hi to them and hope that suffices. The Lord deals with us one by one. And we must do the same. 

We met with our friend T this week, the one that is trying to stop smoking. We asked her where she was in the Book of Mormon. She said "I finished it :)" We were like WHATTT?! And she just smiled and responded that she had already finished the whole thing and she knows it's true!!!!! She recently met with her doctor so that he can help her quit smoking and she wants to get baptized before the end of this year. Oh my gosh you guys it was so cool! She has changed so much since I first met her. And now she's starting the Book of Mormon over again, because we don't just read it once and then say "well that was good. next." we read and reread and prayerfully reread it again. I read a cool scripture about the importance of reading our scriptures during my personal study this week. We must read our scriptures every single day. Helaman 3:29-30: "Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." Daily, meaningful scripture study is one of our greatest defenses and protection. And it is ESSENTIAL, CRUCIAL, AND MANDATORY that we read it as a family everyday. So read the Book of Mormon everyday :) It will change your life. Also, while at T's, I noticed that she had a big stack of CD's. Well guess what CD's they were friends?! BACKSTREET BOYS. I died. She had like 9 of them! (SHOUT OUT TO THE QUAD - Kazia, Kim, Christina). I freaked out and then she freaked out and was like I even have their t-shirts and brought out 3 Backstreet Boys t-shirts (one was super old that she got when she was like 15) hahaha we were all laughing so hard. I love how I have come so close and such good friends with the people that I teach. Being a missionary is the best! 

We had an awesome stake conference yesterday! The first counselor of the Europe Area Presidency came and spoke to us. It was cool hearing some talks in Finnish and then some in English (they had translators). And it was just way fun to meet in Helsinki and attend a stake conference. It was my first one on my mission! (the other times I was in a little branch so it was just a district conference). We met in an auditorium in a cultural building (there aren't chapels big enough to hold everybody here) so that was also cool. It was fun because a lot of the members recognized us from the magazine. And Elder and Sister Kearon did too and were soooo sweet and Sister Kearon gave us big hugs and got teary eyed and thanked us for serving. T came and really liked it. They focused on some main points during the whole conference and gave us some challenges that I would like to give you. One is that Elder Kearon told us to all go out and be a true friend to just ONE person. To be a guide and a help to that friend and help bring them (or bring them back) to the light of the gospel. Think about it. If we all just went out and found ONE, that would change sooo many lives. And would build the kingdom in a whole new way. He also challenged us to rise to a greater sense of duty when it comes to daily praying and scripture study. We need to pray with conviction and meaning and study our scriptures with purpose, diligence, and prayer. As we do this, we will see an added measure of happiness, direction, and peace in our lives. We will be equipt with the strength to "divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil." So I give this invitation to all of you. Engage in more meaningful and diligent and heartfelt daily scripture study and prayer. It has the power to change your life.

We also had a special lesson this week with our investigator M. I say special mostly because maybe it was actually something that I needed. We focused on who God is and went through the scriptures reading passages that help us to grasp and define God. A lot of people think of Him as being scary, or judgmental, or this man in the sky, but really He is a loving, merciful, and caring Father who knows us and wants to be a bigger part of our lives. We read verses about how He is the creator, merciful, all knowing, and is able to comprehend more than we can. We talked about His great love for us and His desire to help us more. We then watched this Mormon message: I am so grateful for my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. He knows me. He loves me. He holds me when I cry. Picks me up when I fall and though I don't understand it all, or how, or sometimes even why, He is always there. Constant. Never changing. Always loving. Always knowing. Giving me purpose. Hope. Love. Peace. I love Him. Sometimes I forget who I am but He never does. And He tries to help remind me everyday. And as I follow Him, I can become who I am destined to be. Who I can be. Who my Father wants me to be. Because with Him, I can do all things. I am His daughter. He is a Father to me. 

One of the reasons I love being a missionary is the different and fun experiences I get to have everyday. Like we went over to a couple's house from Estonia and they made us oven apples (way good.. basically they stuck an apple in the oven and put sugar and cinnamon and raisins on it.. apparently they eat it a lot in Estonia), we visited a less active from China and her mom was here visiting from China and though she didn't speak any English she invited us through her daughter to come visit her in China anytime we wanted because she really liked us, we met with a guy from Iran this week and we taught our awesome family from India who is doing so well. The mom A is just a rock star and when we went over she was reading stuff out of Alma 7 to us of things that she really liked. She said that she had never heard of our church before, but that she firmly believes that Christ is coming back and that maybe this church is the church that will actually be prepared to meet him. Ahhh she's such a star! And has such strong faith in Christ it glows. And her 6 year old daughter is just my best friend now. Love it. 

I'm happy. I love the gospel. It is my strength, hope, and light. I am so grateful that I can share it with others. This verse has been running through my mind this whole week: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy bretheren" Luke 22:32. When we are converted, we must strengthen others. Sharing the gospel is a sign of true conversion. And as we do it, we realize that it actually truly converts us. So share this light. 

I love you!

Sisar Nielsen 

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