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!