|Sisar Nielsen, Sisar Heggie, (and one of their favorite Temple Missionaries) - and the fuzzy vests they wore to church their last Sunday together.|
Monday, October 27, 2014
Every 2 months, our President calls us to give us our change calls. He tells us where we will be serving and who we will be serving with. This pastwas the last time that I will ever receive one of these calls. It's incredible to me that I really am one of the oldest in the mission now, when I feel like I am still such a baby! I still have so much to learn! But luckily, I still have time to learn it :) Well, President called and he is splitting up Sisar Heggie and I. My new companion will be Sister Bitner and she will come down to Espoo to be a Sister Training Leader with me and Sister Heggie is going to Kerava to train! It's crazy because somehow beforehand, I knew that Sister Bitner would become my companion! So when he said that, Sister Heggie was just like "whoa... you totally called that." Sister Heggie had said that if she had to leave Espoo, there was only one place she wanted to go: Kerava. However, we didn't think that would even be an option but President took out the missionaries there and is putting Sister Heggie in. So that was crazy that we both got what we thought/hoped would happen. We're way sad to spit up (Sister Heggie said she thinks I'm rubbing off on her because this is the first time she cried after she got a change call haha). The past 4 months have been a BLAST. I don't know if I've mentioned this earlier but for the past 4 months, my companions and I have matched our clothes every day. It started the 2nd or 3rd day back when Sister Cribbs, Heggie, and I were first together and has continued all the way till today. We are known as the sisters that match and have the "amazing rain boots" (all of our members adore them! they're super Finnish). It's been great and we have seen TONS of miracles together! But now it's time for us to sprint to the end and give it all we've got.
, R GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! Ah man, it was amazing. And the perfect way to end a change. He was so prepared. When we taught him this week, he just kept saying how everything we teach just adds on to what he already knows. That he had studied the bible his whole life but what we teach him answers questions he's never been able to find answers to. Before he was baptized, we went through the baptism interview questions (every person must answer these questions before they get baptized to make sure they understand what is expected of them and to make sure they are ready) and he passed with flying colors. When we asked the word of wisdom question, he said that coffee and tea were his only problems. We got a little nervous because people must live the word of wisdom for at least a week straight before they can get baptized. We asked when the last time he drank them was and he responded "even though it was hard, I gave them up right after you told me about it." So sweet! When he came up out of the water, he looked so happy. The blessing he received when he got the Holy Ghost was amazing. He's so solid. And he will for sure be a kingdom builder, especially when he goes back to Ghana. Heavenly Father is the bestest! :)
This week we had a way fun evening. We met with L and S from Taiwan and a recent convert from the Philippines that taught us how to make traditional Filipino spring rolls! They were sooo good. And it was so much fun. The whole night we were all laughing nonstop. G (the recent convert) shared her conversion story with the girls and L started to cry. The Spirit was so strong. G looked at us and through her tears said she is so grateful that our parents loved us enough to let us leave them to come on missions. She talked about Heavenly Father's love and how grateful she is to now know who she really is - a Daughter of God. Of course, I started to cry as well. Thanks family for supporting me on my mission. I can't imagine my life without the mission. I'm so so grateful that I have been able to serve. Plus what made the evening even cooler is that S and L came to hang out with us when their friends were getting drunk! Church is so true. And we seriously had sooo much fun! We also met with them this week and watched "Finding Faith in Christ." Gosh, these girls feel the Spirit sooo strongly. It's truly incredible to see. It's so fun watching them come to know Christ better. And they eat up everything that we tell them. They just want more and more and more. They have been praying and reading the Book of Mormon everyday and the light of Christ is glowing brighter and brighter inside of them. They have become some of my best friends and I'm grateful to still be with them for a couple more months.
This week we also got to help with the Halloween party for the primary kids! Whooohoooo! Halloween isn't very big here but it's starting to get bigger with the younger generations. At the end, Sister Heggie and I got to go head to head in the eating a doughnut off a string with no hands competition (side note: everybody here makes homemade munkki (doughnuts). it's crazy). It was hilarious. And way fun. Also this week we were asked to come to a youth gathering at the temple guest house and testify and sing a song. Well we thought it was just the youth from our ward. Nope. Turns out, it was a stake thing. So we walk into a room full of youth. That was a bit of a shock. But it was cool to be with the youth and we sang the youth theme song "Come Unto Christ" and the Spirit was way strong. It was then their testimony meeting so it was cool to be a part of that. It's hilarious how youth testimony meetings are the same all around the world. And that young men are the same all around the world hahaha.
We went to the temple this week as a district. My word. Words cannot describe my love for the temple. It increases every time I attend. The peace I feel there can't be felt anywhere else. I went with some things weighing on my mind and I left feeling light and like a new person.
I FINISHED THE BOOK OF MORMON AGAIN THIS WEEK!!!!!! It was great! I had taken a brand new copy and read it from beginning to end with a focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was such an edifying and enriching experience. I highly recommend it! And really, you can do it with a focus on any church topic you want. When I finished it, I once again took Moroni's promise at the end of the book to ask God if these things are true. I went into our room, knelt down by my bed, and prayed. Once again, I got the strong reassurance that the Book of Mormon really is the word of God. It is part of my foundation. Whenever I have doubts or questions, I can always fall back on the fact that I know the Book of Mormon is true. Thanks to this knowledge, I know Christ lives, Heavenly Father loves me, Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and a living prophet leads God's one true church today. If you are not currently doing so, grab a Book of Mormon and read it from beginning to end. Read at least a little bit everyday. I promise that you will feel a new source of light in your life. You will feel guided and strengthened in a whole new way. You will receive answers to your questions and your faith will increase. READ IT!
I love you! God lives. We found this song about the temple: https://www.lds.org/
youth/video/2012-theme-song? lang=eng. Go to the temple! It's so worth it!
ps for Sister Heggie's last Sunday, we wore these huge fur vests. all the members loved it. it was pretty hassu (funny). gotta end our companionship with a bang ya know?
Monday, October 20, 2014
Happiness. That is the result of the gospel You wanna be happy? Come unto Christ. You want to find happiness that lasts forever, follow Him. It's as simple as that.
This week was a happy week. We started it off by hopping on a train and heading to Lappenraanta, a city that is close to the Russian border to do exchanges with the sisters there. It was super fun. The sister serving there are so great! One is from Russia, one is from Norway, and one is Sister Woods, the sister I trained back in Kuopio. So great! They are so fun and it was a beautiful city. The next day we were back in Helsinki for a Zone Meeting. I love getting together with the other missionaries in the area. There is so much power and strength having that many missionaries together in one room. We focused a lot on how the Savior went one by one during His ministry and we need to do the same. We need to love the people around us one by one. It really is a great reminder to all of us, to stop and take the time to really love the people around us.
Ahhhh man, and the week just got better from there! We met with R, our friend from Ghana. He is soo prepared. When we taught tithing, he was like "I already pay tithing so it will be no problem to just pay it to this church." When we taught fasting, he testified to us about the power and strength fasting brings us. We found out there's a temple in his home town in Ghana and he was soo excited! He said he went on lds.org and has been reading tons of stuff about the church there and how he watched a video about the temples and how one of the women in the video spoke in his native language about the importance of visiting the temple and the power he felt with her words. It's been really cool to see how ready he really is for this. He announced in priesthood yesterday that "by the grace of God, he will be baptized into this church ." Heavenly Father is blessing us so much. Sometimes I am just in awe at the love that He has for every one of us.
And D, our friend baptized back in August, CAME TO VISIT us from Turku! It was soo fun to see him! We went and did baptisms with him at the temple. It was his second time doing them and he was just glowing. While waiting for our turn, I turned to him and asked, "ok so you've been a member for 2 months now, how does it feel?" He replied, "it feels good. I'm proud to be a Mormon!" He came to a lesson with us with our friends S and L from Taiwan and he was testifying and teaching like a pro! It was sooo cool to see! Because just a couple months ago, he was the one being taught and now he's our member testifying to them! AHHHH the gospel is so wonderful! He prayed and asked the Lord to help us "endure to the end so one day we can all be together in your kingdom". And he was teaching us about what he's been reading lately in the Book of Mormon and he loves it! It is the most fulfilling feeling to see somebody completely embrace the gospel and become as happy as D is now. The gospel really is happiness :) And words can't convey the happiness that I felt as well.
S and L are doing so great! Oh my gosh you guys I love them sooo much! They have seriously become some of my best friends. They are just eating everything up that we teach them about the gospel. They are so ready and willing. After the lesson we had with them and D (which we talked about the temple) L said the closing prayer. Right before she closed her prayer, she said something I will never forget. She said, "I hope one day we can be baptized and go to the temple so we can be closer to you. I feel so happy. I hope you feel it too." As she said these simple, truly heartfelt, and powerful words, tears sprang to my eyes. This is what the gospel is all about: coming closer to God and feeling happy. As we had walked together to the temple, S had asked me "can we go to church???!" (2 weeks ago was General Conference and last Sunday she and L were in Russia). I said "yes" and she cheered. It was the cutest thing ever. One of our friends (who was baptized last year) threw a Filipino LDS reunion party . We attended it with the two of them and had a BLAST. The whole walk back to the train, we sang "I Am a Child of God," their new favorite song. It was the greatest. Pure happiness people. That is what I've been experiencing these past couple of days :). Also we did a huge pinky promise with them that they will send us pics of their baptism when they get baptized in Taiwan. I love these two so much!
And the happiness doesn't stop there.... A who was baptized a couple of weeks ago went to the Temple for the first timeas well! It was glorious to be in the temple with her! I love the Temple so much. The peace I feel inside it is so amazing. I've said it once, and I'll say it a million times more, GO TO THE TEMPLE. Make the decision, set the plans, and GO. If for some reason you can't go right now, make the necessary changes in your life so you can. It's worth it :) We also went to A's house last night to eat dinner with her family. VOI ETTÄ! She made us traditional Indian food and lemme tell ya, it lit Sisar Heggie and I up like a Christmas tree. It was so spicy! I'm pretty sure I had at least 6 glasses of water. And then at one point I got up to get more water, Sisar Heggie was sneaky and squeezed some of the SUPER spicy pepper seeds onto my already very spicy chicken, and I almost died! (we have this ongoing thing where we pull little pranks on each other's food... like she made a turkey sandwich for lunch the other day and left the kitchen for a second, so I smeared some nutella on her sandwich and she came back and took a big bite and was like "what the...." hahaha it's the little things that keep you from getting too stressed as a missionary :)). Anyway, I still have to get her back for those spicy pepper flakes..... But it was so fun just being a part of their family!
So basically, CHURCH IS TRUE. I know I say that every week but honestly the gospel brings so much happiness to my life. I'm so grateful for it. I'm grateful for the way it helps me and lifts me when I need strength. Being a missionary is the greatest. Christ died for us. He loves us. We don't have to be perfect, all He asks is that we come unto Him. He is waiting for us. He is ready to take our load. He will heal us. So come unto Him.
I love you!
ps I had quite the cultural week as you can tell. I ate traditional Filipino food, Indian food, and Japanese food at a new Japanese restaurant. Our member made Sisar Heggie and I try the salmon sushi. It was awful.
pps one of my new favorite kinds of ice cream is black licorice ice cream. black licorice is soooo popular here, especially salmiakki (salted black licorice). I've come to love the ice cream. do we have that in the states? I can't even remember anymore...
ppps Sisar Heggie and I saw a guy wearing a utah jazz hat. alright, we're in Finland. everyone wears Chicago Bulls hats (they still love Michael Jordan.....) but NOBODY wears Utah hats. We saw him and literally chased (ran) after him. Turns out his uncle lives in Provo and he visited BYU when he visited there. We were in shock! How cool is that? Then he ran for a train so we couldn't talk to him anymore (ugh... public transport....) but still way cool. And hopefully he doesn't think we're that weird for chasing him down haha
pppps we were chatting with this lady while I was on exchanges in Helsinki and I introduced myself and she was like "hey, you were in "Anna" magazine right??" pretty cool. We were then able to chat about the gospel when before I don't think she would've. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways. I just love Him!
Monday, October 13, 2014
Being a missionary is the greatest thing in the whole wide world. Luckily as we all know, every member is a missionary. We don't need a tag on our chest or to sport skirts all day long to be a missionary. But oh my word, it sure is wonderful to be a full time missionary in the fine land of Finland! I love my life!
We went to a member's housefor Family Home Evening. A lot of our friends came with us, including S and her best friend L, also from Taiwan. We taught the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ using candles as an object lesson. We put 13 candles on a platter and talked about how the candles represented Jesus Christ and His 12 Apostles. We lit Jesus Christ's candle then lit the other candles with it, talking about how Christ had the Priesthood or the authority of God and gave it to His disciples to lead the church. Unfortunately, people rejected Christ and killed Him. We blew out the candle that represented Him. We then proceeded to blow out all the candles that represented the Apostles and it became dark. We talked about how there was an apostasy and that Christ's true church and Priesthood power was no longer on the earth. We then taught about Joseph Smith, how the Heavens are open once again and that we have Apostles and Prophets today that speak on God's behalf. We all then talked about how amazing General Conference was and what we learned. It was suuuuuper cool and the spirit was very strong! It was so neat hearing S testify about what she learned at General Conference and it was so awesome teaching L for the first time about these things. I went and sat by her and S and I taught L together. As I looked into her eyes and said "L, your Father in Heaven loves you. You are His daughter. You are so important to Him" she started to cry! It was incredible. She felt the Spirit sooo strongly. Sis Heggie taught her how to pray and we had a lesson later with them this week and they are both doing soooo amazing!!! They made us traditional Taiwanese food (yummm - soo good!) and we had a great lesson with them. They both have been praying and reading everyday. And they both feel the Spirit in a very special, powerful way. It's really cool to see. And they teach each other and help each other understand things better. It's amazing! This past week, L told us about a really beautiful experience she had with prayer. Now she had never prayed before until we taught her, so everything is completely new to her. Long story short she had gone home late one night and lit some candles in her room as well as the overhead light. She said she was freeeeezing and found an electric blanket in her apartment. She went and plugged it in and as soon as she did, her light went out! She had blown the fuse. Now she was freezing and in the dark except the few candles she had previously lit. She said she tried to fix it but could not figure out the fuse box. So she laid down on her bed, frustrated, tired, and a little mad. She said she prayed. She said "Heavenly Father, I know you can fix this. Why did you let this happen?" She said right then, very distinctly, a sentence came into her mind. It said "though sometimes you may be in the dark, I will always give you candles to light your way." She got choked up as she was speaking these words. She said she then went to sleep and was able to fix everything in the morning. It was such a powerful lesson to me. God does give us candles to light our way. Sometimes He doesn't give us a huge bright light, but He gives us enough to keep leading us along and light our path. We just have to trust Him and hold fast to the light, knowing one day, the darkness will indeed pass. L decided that she wants to be baptized even before we had a chance to invite her! However, they both told their parents and their parents said they completely support them, they just want them to wait and do it in Taiwan so that they can be a part of it. They said that they would like their families there, hoping their families can feel this same feeling too. They already have a missionary mindset. The problem is, they don't go home until next summer and that's a long time. So we're going to work with them to get missionaries to their families and just follow the Lord and what He directs :)
We had 2 great lessons with our friend R from Ghana this week. He was being taught by the other sisters in Espoo but just moved into our ward boundaries so now we're teaching him. He's way cool and is set for baptism on the 25th of this month. I don't know why the Lord is blessing us with so many amazing, prepared people. Pray for him! The Lord is definitely working on him, but so is satan. Gosh, "anti" material online is SO STUPID. He's come across some of it but luckily we've been handling it all and directing him towards the true and reliable source: God. We can't expect to learn the things of God from secular sources. (ps loved when they talked about that in conference!). But other than that, he's doing really well!
We also met with our friend T, the one from Vietnam, this week. He's doing really well and it's been so great to watch him change over the past 3 months. He told us that he would not be able to come to church with us this week. I called him out on it and was like "why not?" and he said he was busy to which I responded "what have you got going on? give me your whole schedule from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep." I'm sorry, but Sister Nielsen is not taking "busy" as an excuse! Well it ended up coming down to the fact that he did not want to take the sacrament because he didn't want to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior because he has nothing to give back to Christ. So he would rather just not take it. I explained, "T, the sacrifice has already been made. Christ has already paid the price. He already came, suffered, and died for YOU. We will never be able to pay Him back for what He has done for us, but He doesn't expect us to. He just wants us to do the simple things He's asked us to do." I then asked, "T, how do we give back to God" he responded "repentance, praying, keeping the commandments, reading the scriptures, and...... going.... to... church......." I said exactly. He said "I still can't come." And I said "well T, we're not going to force you" and then we left. Well, sure enough he wasn't at the train station when we went to go to church in the morning, but as they were getting ready to bless the sacrament, he slipped into the seat next to Sisar Heggie. When they passed the sacrament around, he took it! We didn't freak out, we didn't do anything, but secretly, we were way happy :) He told us that he felt really bad for staying home so he finally just got up and came to church. The Spirit is working on him a ton! It's amazing. This church really is true. There is no way that Sisar Heggie and I could do any of this on our own. It is all the Lord. It's just so sweet to be a part of it.
I love you. I love this gospel. Jesus Christ lives. I finally got to watch the last session of General Conference. Uhm.... HOW AMAZING WAS THAT?!?!? SERIOUSLY. Elder Bednar's talk... was INCREDIBLE. I know he was speaking to people not of our faith but it really spoke directly to me. Why would I NOT want to share this truth with others?? I've found this peace, hope, and joy. I have this healing power in my life. Though sometimes I may come off as being kinda weird or just plain awkward, I will do all I can to bring others to this light and spread the truth of my Savior. Because I love Him. And that love is my motivation. Choose the right. The Lord will give you candles to light your way. Just trust in Him.
I love you!
sisar heggie and I bought these new scarves. they are literally the size of blankets! they're the most amazing things ever and way popular here. i love finland :)
Monday, October 6, 2014
CONFERENCE CONFERENCE CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!
Alright that doesn't even begin to cover the excitement that I felt watching General Conference! It was seriously so amazing! I love gathering and hearing a prophet's voice. It is such a testimony to me that this really is God's one true church on the earth. It is lead by living day Apostles and Prophets. They shatter the myth that the heaven's are closed and God no longer speaks to us. GOD SPEAKS. What a joyous message that truly is. I hope you all go back and review the things that happened in General Conference. Watch the talks. Read them. Apply them. Hearing the uplifting and inspired messages doesn't do us much good if we don't actually apply what we heard and read and live it. Make goals and plans, choose little things to work on, and make those changes. As Elder Hale said: "We gather to hear the word of the Lord, and then return to our homes to live it". So live it :)
Miracles. That word could sum up this week. Alright, so maybe I say that every week, but as a missionary I seriously witness so many miracles every single day. A is doing amazingly! I got to watch the women's session of conference with her this week. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. She loved it! The whole focus was the Temple and how we need to prepare for it. And ok why is Elder Uchtdorf just like so amazing at speaking right to my heart?!? He talked about how sometimes we feel like God has locked all these blessings up in heaven and is withholding them from us, but in reality, they are constantly raining down and it is us that puts up umbrellas to block them. As we lower our umbrellas by being obedient to God's commandments and coming closer to Christ, that is when the blessings really come. In A's closing prayer, she said "please help us to put down our umbrellas." Something we truly all need to do. It made me stop and think about what are some of the things I can do to put down MY umbrellas. It truly was a great self assessment. I encourage you all to do the same. Also, we were over at their house earlier this week and her 6 year old daughter said the closing prayer. She said "thanks for the church. thanks for the sisters. thanks for the happy." How adorable is that?! My word, the church is true!
S came with us to watch conferencenight (because of the time difference, we can only watch the S morning session .) It was amazing! And S LOVED it! She wrote her notes about it in Chinese and in English. I looked over at her notes and she had written on one of the lines "Jesus will heal us". So simple, but so powerful. She really is the cutest thing ever! We've already talked about how she's going to have to come visit me in Utah and come out to conference with me :). We watched the women's session with her as well and the Spirit was so strong. She is progressing amazingly and is excited for her baptism on the 25th. Pray for her. Also we found out that there is a Temple in Taiwan 40 minutes from where she lives! WE WERE ALL FREAKING OUT. How cool is that?? Heavenly Father sent her here to find the gospel so she can go back and be a powerhouse there. I just love her.
T finally had a break through. So apparently, his buddist traditions have been messing up some of his understanding this whole time and he basically thought that if he were to get baptized, he would go straight to heaven. We were having a lesson this past week and we asked him if he believed that this church was true and if God lived. He said he had received an answer after he prayed and that he believed that it was. My comp then asked "so what does that make you want to do about it?" he proceeded to explain that he must take a break from learning because he has stuff he still needs to do on this earth but that he will return to the gospel afterward. That's when I finally understood that he really thought he would essentially be translated when he joins. I was like "uh, T, the gospel is all about helping us LIVE our lives. Heavenly Father gave us this beautiful world and everything on it to bless us and help us to be happy. The gospel helps us navigate through life, it gives us life. It doesn't take us from it. The prophet is 87 years old! Do you think he has been following Jesus Christ his whole life?" to which he interuppted by saying "so he's being living the gospel his whole life??" and I said "yes! he has! And he's still here!" T got really excited when it all finally clicked! He turned to my comp and said "ask me that question again!" we all laughed and he is now set for baptism on the 18th! I think one of the coolest things about that lesson was watching the Spirit teach T. There was one point that we sat in silence for over 2 minutes. Everytime I went to go speak, I felt "just wait". I could literally see on his face his understanding grow and his testimony increase while we were sitting there in silence. All of these stories I write home, all of the miracles, teaches, baptisms, everything is all the Lord doing His work. I can assure you that none of it is me. It is so humbling to be in that moment and really see how much the Lord loves and communicates with His children. Heavenly Father loves us. He loves you. I hope you feel that.
The leaves are changing and it is magnificent. Fall in Finland is gorgeous. I'm shocked it's lasted this long and I hope it continues. It's been kinda cold and rainy but nothing horrible so that's been a huge blessing. Sometimes I just stop and breath the fresh air and still am in awe that I live in this gorgeous land! And that I get to represent my Savior here. One of the things I loved from conference was just the way I felt myself come to know and understand my Savior better. My relationship with Him has become so much more real during my time here as a missionary. And so much more meaningful. God lives. Jesus is His son. He is your Savior. He is your Redeemer. While teaching T this week, a metaphor came into my mind that really helped T understand the Savior better and in turn, taught me. So basically, my family means the most to me. I love them more than words can say. It's been hard being away from them, it was hard to leave them, but I knew that I needed to and that it would be worth it. What would happen if the day I go to go home, I show up at the airport and they say "sorry, in order to leave you must pay a $15 million fine." I don't have that much money. I could work all my life and never have that much money. I would feel heartbroken. I would plead. I would argue. I would feel helpless. As I go to leave, feeling my world is shattered, a man walks up and says "I will pay it. Give me what you have, and I will pay the rest. Then you can go and be with your family." I would jump for joy. I would thank this kind stranger through my tears. I could never pay him back, but I would we eternally grateful to him. And that is what our Savior does for us. When we came to this life, we left our Heavenly Father. We knew it would be hard, but that we needed to leave. After this life, we will be brought to stand before Him again. We will long to enter heaven with our families and God forever, but in order to do that we must be perfect. And none of us are. But the Savior walks up and says "I have paid the price. I have paid the price for her so that she can walk through and be with her family forever." If I feel that a year and a half away from my family is a long time, I don't even want to think about eternity without them. The Savior of the world has done all this and more for YOU. Remember how great your soul is worth in the sight of God. He loves you.
I love you. Church is true.
ps we got serenaded by a rather drunk man on the train coming home late one night. he even did an air guitar and said we were beautiful and he wanted to buy sister heggie's boots. ah man. i have strengthened my testimony of the word of wisdom so much while i've been here..... hahahaha