Greetings blog readers!!! This is another plea for letters for Sisar Nielsen for Christmas. A huge thank you to everyone who sent them last week! I really really appreciate it - they are wonderful and I know she will love them!! To everyone else, PLEASE just send a quick email to Sisar Nielsen wishing her a Merry Christmas and letting her know who you are and why you enjoy her blog - what have you learned? did something make you laugh? cry? inspire you? You can say whatever you want - it can be 2 lines or 200! Please please please! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org (make sure you spell her first name right). These letters will be her whole Christmas morning in Finland before she arrives home January 1st to her presents under our tree. Thank you so much for supporting and loving Sisar Nielsen - I know how extremely busy you are and I appreciate you taking time to send her some Christmas cheer. Deadline is December 1st - no time like the present to make someone's day - both mine and Sisar Nielsen's :) Merry Merry Christmas!!!!
Monday, November 24, 2014
HYVÄÄ KIITOS PÄIVÄÄ! Happy Thanksgiving! Even though they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, I sure am grateful for the tradition of stopping and thinking about all of the blessings I have in my life. There is so much to be grateful for! So I'm going to organize this letter a little differently and make it into a list of gratitude.
Sisar Nielsen's List of Gratitude:
-I'm grateful for good food! This week we visited a less active family and the husband is from Finland and the wife is from China. We show up and they surprised us with traditional Chinese food! yum! Also while I've been on my mission, I have missed Mexican food so much! I've craved Cafe Rio! haha and Finns just do not understand how Mexican food is supposed to be... well 3 of the members of the church got together last year and started a place called Tortilla House. It's the closest thing I've had to Cafe Rio in 17 months! And because they're members, they gave us half off :) Which is also glorious. Also our friends S and L and their friend K from Korea made us homemade cheesecake. And words can't even describe my love for Finnish Chocolate! Their Christmas flavors are out now (imagine ginerbread cookies, and cranberries, and christmas put into the yummiest milk chocolate you've ever had!)
-I'm grateful for a warm coat. Something that I didn't have the day we got our first big snowstorm this week. Sister Bitner and I had just left a member's house (after she had literally just FORCE FED us.... i felt SO sick! so many of our members just try to stuff us till we pop. I love 'em. And I'm so grateful for their desire to feed and love us. But let's just say I'm gonna have to go to the gym for months after I get home... oh well. maybe they're just trying to fatten me up for winter) and we got stuck in a snow storm. We were wearing light coats because we were the only ones who didn't get the memo (thanks to our nonsmart brick nokia phone that freezes up when we get too many texts....). Well because of the storm, there ended up being tons of car accidents and bus's couldn't get through. So we had to bus hop our way home. Needless to say, after being outside an hour and a half without warm clothes, I became very much more grateful for the warm coat mama and I bought me before I came to Finland. Even though it looks and feels like a sleeping bag, it is necessary for these Finnish winters. (ps I'm also grateful for good bus drivers. the bus was literally DRIFTING and at one point we were going backwards on a hill. oh also I'm grateful to be alive! seriously so many things to be grateful for....)
-I'm grateful for my family. One of the highlights of the week was getting a handwritten letter from my little brother and his cute 4th grade pic. GOSH he has grown so much! And his new braces are the cutest thing I've ever seen. I'm so grateful for the family I was raised in and how much fun we have together. I'm grateful for the gospel that really is the glue that keeps families together. I'm grateful that I was raised in a home that valued family time, daily family prayer and scripture study, and attending church weekly as a family. And I'm grateful for a family that taught me to roll with life's punches and make the most out of every situation. And to stop and enjoy the little things and to make life fun! Sister Bitner and I were walking home and there was a circle street sign up ahead. I stopped walking and drew a line in the snow with my foot. Sister Bitner was just like "uh....." I said that we were not allowed to cross the line until one of us hit that sign with a snowball. Well, I am happy to report that both of us did (after a little while of trying hahaha). A guy from China passed by us and said "what are you doing?" we responded "we were just trying to throw snowballs at that sign" he laughed and then we were like "so like, you wanna hear about the gospel?" haha ok so maybe it was a little more smooth than that but we did end up inviting him to church so that was cool :). I'm grateful for a dad that did fun stuff with us like that growing up. It sure keeps life interesting. And it was funny cuz the next day walking to church, one of the YSAs (young single adults) was telling us how he went and did work with the Elders and how they tried to throw snowballs at a street sign and not a single one of them hit it. They were all very impressed when we reported we did the same thing and we hit ours. It really is the little things in life that help you calm down, breathe, and then go forward with new enthusiasm and excitement for life and the work. Thanks fam for teaching me that crucial and important lesson early on in life. And I'm sooo grateful that my family is forever. That I have an eternal family thanks to the temple. How lucky am I!
-I'm grateful for our recent converts. They're doing so well! A got a calling yesterday! She is the new EnglishSchool Teacher. She's gonna be great! I'm so excited and pleased with her. We did family home evening with her family this week and it was tons of fun. I miss family home evening with my family. So many great times. As my mom always says: "It's organized chaos between two prayers." Yeah pretty much, but it's still worth it to have it. R is just a ROCK STAR! Seriously, I have witnessed the biggest change in him since his baptism. He now walks with a skip in his step everywhere he goes. He talked to a woman on the train that he didn't know (which goes against EVERY social norm here) and ended up telling her about the gospel and referred her to the missionaries. He has been testifying to his friends about the gospel, the Book of Mormon, and his decision to join the church. He went home teaching yesterday for the first time and his companion said that he was blown away by R. That he bore such a powerful testimony and really brought the Spirit. He talked with us about how he was talking with one of his friends about the church and that friend's biggest concern is the Book of Mormon-that the Bible is the only word of God. R said that he explained to him how it's another witness. And how when he first heard about the Book of Mormon, he thought the same thing but that everything changed as he started reading it. He said as he read it, he just knew it was true. It was so cool to hear him bear such powerful testimonies. He's such a rock.
-I'm grateful for the opportunity to teach. Seriously, one of my FAVORITE things is teaching people about the restored gospel. I love it so much. We had an amazing first lesson with a 25 year old guy this week named C. He's originally from Romania but has lived here almost his whole life. He had so many questions and the lesson was definitely led by the spirit. At the end of the lesson, he prayed. I LOVE hearing people pray for the first time. It's seriously one of my favorite things. It was so simple yet so powerful and heartfelt. I love teaching people about the truth that I've found. Sister Bitner and I set a goal last week that we want to give away 85 Book of Mormons before I go home. It's kinda a big number but we're going to work our hardest to do the best we can.
-I'm grateful for good health.was the first day my entire mission that I stayed inside sick (it was the day after I was outside without a warm coat). It was awful!!! Sister Bitner had to basically force me because I kept being like "we need to go outside" "we need to go contact so and so," "let's go stop by and teach so and so" and she was like "sit back down!" hahaha. It really was probably better to be out one day and completely get better so I could go hard again instead of running myself to the ground and being out for a week. But it made me grateful for the good health I've experienced in my life but especially on my mission. I've been surrounded by many sick people throughout my mission but the Lord has truly blessed me with getting nothing more than a cold. I'm so grateful!
-I'm grateful for Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for His life and His example. I'm grateful for His Atonement. I've used it so much more on my mission than I ever have in my entire life. He truly can heal our broken hearts and enable us to do what we can't on our own. I'm grateful for His restored gospel. That He still leads THIS church today. That everyday I get to wake up and put His name on for the world to see. This week we talked with S and L about different commandments and then asked why they want to get baptized. S said "because it is the gate" and L said "so I can be clean." That's what the gospel is all about. Opening the gate for us and showing us the path back to our Heavenly Father and cleansing us. I'm so grateful for Him.
-I'm grateful for Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for prayer. I'm grateful that He cares about little old me. That He knows me and that He wants to have a bigger hand in my life. That I can always rely on Him and that He truly is a Father to me. I'm grateful that I get my confidence from Him. That it doesn't matter what other people do, or say, or think, but that the only person I truly care about, the only opinion I truly value is His.
-I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon. I have a goal to read the entire thing during my last transfer. So far it's been going pretty well. I love to drink freely from living waters every morning. To have that moment for peace and revelation. I'm grateful that the scriptures have come to mean so much more to me. I have always tried to read them everyday before my mission, but now I have come to love to study them. There's a difference between reading a verse while I'm falling asleep in the middle of the night before I crash into bed, and studying, pondering, and learning from them during my personal study every morning before I go out and face the world. This is definitely something I want to take home with me: meaningful daily scripture study.
-I'm grateful for my mission. Words can't describe how grateful I am for the choice I made to come here. I have learned so much about the gospel, about life, and about myself. I literally feel like my mission has given me a whole new life. I'm grateful for this beautiful, breath-taking land. I'm grateful for the Finns, for their honesty and their determination. I'm grateful for the foreigners here, for their different cultures and friendly faces. I'm grateful for the gift of tongues, that I've been able to learn (at least somewhat) the hardest language in the world. I'm grateful for my friends, the ones I have back home and the ones I've made here. I'm grateful for all of the wonderful people the Lord has put into my life. I'm grateful for snowballs, hot chocolate, and our little Charlie Brown tree. I'm grateful for the babe that was born in Bethlehem and my Savior that died on the cross. I'm grateful for all of my companions, my mission presidents, the prophet, the wonderful members of the church, all of my past young women leaders, and anyone that has been an example, a guide, and a light to me. Thank you.
As you can see, I could go on for days about what I'm grateful for. And it always feels good to stop and ponder about all of the blessings that I have been given. As you approach this Thanksgiving, stop and truly think about all of the blessings your Father in Heaven has blessed you with. He loves you. He wants you to be happy. Church is true!
I love you!
Monday, November 17, 2014
Hello! If you are reading this I need your help! As you may know Sisar Jenessa Nielsen will be in Finland for Christmas before coming home on January 1st. AND I NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE CHRISTMAS EXTRA SPECIAL FOR HER. So here's my idea - I want to send her letters from you - people who have read and enjoyed her blog the past 18 months. Was there something that made you laugh? Did she say something that inspired you? Did you learn something? About the gospel? Yourself? Finland? Were memories of your mission relived? Whatever it may be - long, short, serious, humorous - she would love to hear from you. I have set up a special email to receive these - email@example.com. Please make sure you spell her first name right :) Please include your name and where you live and how you came to find her blog. This will be so special for her to open Christmas morning!! Thank you so much!! (I will need to mail it by the first week of December so please go do it right now and start your Holiday season off right!) Merry Christmas!
Voi että! This week has flown by! I swear the days just keep getting shorter and shorter and the weeks keep going by faster and faster. So before I go over my week, SHOUT OUT TO THE DADDY-O! HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLD MAN! CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE HAVING ANOTHER BIRTHDAY! Hope that it's wonderful and joyful and full of lots of Costco cake and zingers. Thanks for being my dad and for blessing our family with the priesthood and your funny face. Sure am lucky to have you as a father!
So remember D, the guy from China who is AMAZING? Well we had two more lessons with him this week. We taught the Restoration and once again, the spirit was off the charts! It was so cool! After we taught him about Joseph Smith, he said "I believe he was a prophet." We asked him to pray that night and ask God if Joseph Smith is a prophet and if the church really is true. He responded that he already believes that it is but he will ask God to just strengthen that belief. wow! Also after we taught the restoration, he said "I know this might sound crazy, but I feel like I've heard this before. Like I feel like I've seen this in a dream before. I know it sounds crazy but I really do....." We were just like it does not sound crazy! That sounds like a miracle! I've secretly wanted somebody to tell me that my whole mission! I've never met anyone like him before in my life. He's lived in China his whole life and moved to Finland 2 months ago. There is no way he's ever heard about Joseph Smith and the restoration before. Yet he says it sounds so familiar. The Lord has been preparing him so much. In Preach My Gospel (our missionary manual) it says the following: President Boyd K. Packer said, "It is important for a... missionary... to know that the Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ. A teacher of gospel truths is not planting something foreign or even new into an adult or a child. Rather, the missionary or teacher is making contact with the Spirit of Christ already there. The gospel will have a familiar ´ring` to them." It has been so humbling to teach D and realize even more fully something I've learned on my mission: it's not us, it's Him. People's lives don't change because we're such great teachers, such friendly people, or because we're just "so wonderful," but because they can feel the love of God and the Holy Ghost in their hearts. Our job as missionaries is to get out of the way and allow the Holy Ghost to do the teaching. We taught D again later this week and taught the Word of Wisdom. He said he used to drink everyday, but 2 years ago he decided to quit. He also said that he is willing to completely give up coffee and tea, a big part of his culture for this. He is seriously so cool! He came to stake conference this weekend and loved it. He told 2 other missionaries that he feels like this is what he's been looking for his whole life. And here's the sad part.... he just moved so he is now no longer in our area. He now lives in the ward right next to ours. So we had to pass him over to the Elders there. I'm honestly so sad. Not because "I really want another baptism blah blah blah" but because I leave every single one of his lessons feeling edified and taught by the Spirit. But I know the Lord wants him there now and I'm grateful that we can still go to his baptism November 29th :) It's been so cool to see him already change and grow so much! It was such a miracle to find him and it has really strengthened my testimony that there are people who are prepared for this message! We just have to find them.
We taught S and L, our friends from Taiwan, this week. We have been praying about them a lot lately and feel like they're ready for baptism even though their parents want them to get baptized in Taiwan. We really feel like they can get baptized the beginning of December. We talked with them about it and after praying about it, they are willing to work towards it as a goal. Gosh, they are so sweet! Please pray for them and for their families so that they will get baptized December 6th! The Lord doesn't want to wait any longer to give them the blessings he has waiting for them. He wants to bless them now!
This week we met with A and R, our recent converts, and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. https://www.lds.
org/media-library/video/2011- 03-01-joseph-smith-the- prophet-of-the-restoration? lang=eng <- if you haven't watched it or haven't watched it recently, WATCH IT. It reaffirmed to me again the truthfulness of the Restoration and that Joseph Smith really was a Prophet of God. There is no way that a man could have done what he did if it weren't for the help of the Lord. It was the first time I had watched it since the MTC and it was such a great experience. Watch it! You won't regret it :)
We had a way cool opportunity this week when Elder Texeira, the Europe Area President and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, came to do a mission tour. He gave us so much great counsel and advice. One of the biggest things he focused on was our need to be BOLD. That we are here to help people go back to live with God again and that we need to be straightforward and bold with the things we do, the things we say, and the commitments we give. I'm really excited to step up my game and just be even more straightforward with people like "HEY do you want eternal life?! yes or no?" (ok maybe not quite like that.. but you get the point). Also it was really cool because I was chosen with one other missionary to be interviewed by Elder Texeira. He videoed it which was kinda nerve wracking but still really cool. And it was sweet to have that one on one time with him and his wife. They are both great people. Also it was fun to see old companions and friends. Our mission is divided into 3 zones, so our meeting this week was ours and another zone together. I saw so many sisters from my original group. It's amazing to see how we've all grown and changed and come closer to the Lord. It was so cool to hear updates about people I teached or baptized in other areas. I'm so grateful to be a part of this work.
We found a new investigator this week! It was actually by visiting our recent convert R. He wasn't home....... but his roommate was :) He's also from Ghana and we had a great chat with him about the gospel. We later told R what had happened and he looked like a little kid on Christmas! He was so excited! He's been trying to share the gospel with his friends. One of them is taking the lessons from other missionaries. R said that his friend asked him what it was like to be baptized and R said that it was amazing! That it was the best feeling and that after he's been baptized, he's been able to understand everything even more! That everything just makes so much more sense! It's amazing how having the gift of the Holy Ghost makes all the difference. The gift of the Holy Ghost is such an amazing gift from God. We can feel the Holy Ghost before we are baptized (telling us what is true, what is right, and what to do) but he is not our constant companion. After we are baptized, if we live worthily, we have that guide with us always. He will warn us of danger, testify to our hearts truth from God, and give us answers to our prayers. One of the reasons the Holy Ghost is so crucial is because through it, we can be cleansed and purified. Every Sunday when we take the sacrament, we can be cleansed from all of our mistakes and sins and start over - thanks to the Atonement of Christ.
I love you! I love this work. I love representing my Savior. When Elder Texeira asked me what advice I would give to new missionaries, it was this: make every moment count. I feel like that applies not just to a mission, but to our lives. Make every moment count. Life is much to short to live with regrets. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. Use every day to become a little better, improve a little more. Just pick one thing you want to change, and do it. Then pick another and do that. As we improve step by step, little by little, we make every moment count and can truly live our lives to the fullest. And we can be happier :)
Church is true! Book is blue. I love you!
Monday, November 10, 2014
Hey friends. Well another week has come and gone. We hardly saw the sun at all this week! But it's okay, because as we all know, we can find light in other places :). This has been one of those weeks where I've done a lot of thinking, contemplating, and reflecting. I think it's good to have weeks like that. It shows yourself how far you've come, realigns your priorities, and helps you realize where you want to go. I've been thinking a lot about my call to be a missionary. What it meant when I put that name tag on. What it means to me to still put it on everyday. What it means to represent Jesus Christ. Who Jesus Christ really is to me. How my relationship with Him has grown. How the Lord really is hastening His work. How He is letting me be a part of it. How I get to be a part of it my whole life. How He is calling everyone to join the fight. To defend the truth. To stand taller. Be stronger. Hold tighter to the things that are right. And to be true emissaries of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. My mind kept being drawn back to how evil the world is and how strong we must be. How the Savior of the World is literally going to return to the Earth in full glory. How when He comes I want Him to recognize me as one of His own. As a true disciple. As someone He has relied on and someone He can rely on. I love Finland so much. It is such a blessed and special land. The Lord has brought so many people out of other countries to this land as a place of peace and refuge. When I got my call to Finland, I never thought I'd fall in love with so many other cultures and peoples. I love the Finnish people with all my heart. I also love the Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, African, and Filipino people with all of my heart as well (and I've been introduced to a lot of new food as well :)). The Lord has literally brought people out of their homelands to find the gospel here. In this past year alone, the Finnish patriarch has given patriarchal blessings to 11 of the 12 tribes of Israel. Yeah you just read that right! If that isn't proof of the Lord Hastening His work, I don't know what is! I love being a missionary. I love being here. I love serving these people that I have come to love so much. I got another letter in the mail today about going home. As my time is approaching, I'm just going to sprint to the end and "finnish" strong (did ya see what I did there ;)). Give it all I've got and leave it all on the court. I love this work. Being a missionary is the best experience ever!
was also amazing because it was the PRIMARY PROGRAM! WOOT WOOT! For those of you who don't know, the primary program is something that happens once a year all over the world. The children of a congregation get together and put on a program during sacrament meeting (the first hour of church). They sing songs and give talks about the gospel. It's always fantastic! And it just tickles me pink that they are the same literally everywhere! There is always the kid that waves obnoxiously, always the kid that sings louder than everyone else, always the kid that forgets their lines, always the kid that speaks waaaaay to loudly into the microphone, and there is always a stark contrast between the boys and the girls. There was one song that the boys and the girls keep switching off singing every line. The boys were all over the place, squirming around, hitting the wrong notes, yelling their part, and forgetting the words. When it got to the girls, they stood perfectly still, sang like angels, and smiled the whole time. hahahah oh my word I was literally laughing out loud. It was the funniest thing. At the end, they had a small group of children come to the front to sing a song. They sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth." This is already a way special song to me because it's all about missionary work and I remember singing it as a kid and hoping one day to go on a mission. When they started singing, they sang it in ENGLISH! It shocked me hearing it in my native tongue when I haven't for so long. And it was so cute because the little girls that were singing looked straight at me for almost the whole song. So naturally.... I started to cry. Gosh, I love this work. After Sacrament meeting, R (who was baptized a couple weeks ago) sporting his white shirt, suit, and tie, GOT THE PRIESTHOOD!!! Ahhhh he's doing so well! Gosh there's nothing I love more than seeing people feel the Spirit and the happiness of the gospel.
Ok so enough with Sister Nielsen going off on her tangent and lets move on to what actually happened this week. Ah you guys! This week was fantastic! Ok I just gotta start with our friend D from China (the guy we met last week). Oh my word! We had our first lesson with him this week and it was hands down one of the most powerful, spiritual lessons of my entire mission. It was that incredible! We met with him at the temple guest house in one of the temple couple's (a senior couple from the States that were called to be missionaries here and work in the temple) apartment. We literally just turned the lesson over to the Lord and the Spirit did the rest. D is sooo cool! He talked about how he first started to believe in God when his mom died 10 years ago and how ever since then, he has been searching for God. He said it's very hard to learn about God in China. He said he searched and searched and finally found a bible, but that it was so hard to understand (it was in English). I wish you could see the face he gave us when we gave him a Book of Mormon. I thought he was going to cry! He was soo excited and touched! We focused the whole lesson on the importance of building our faith and how we must do 3 basic things to build and strengthen our faith: go to church, read the scriptures everyday, and pray daily. He talked about how when he came to church last week, he felt so good in his heart. We explained that that good feeling is the Spirit and was God telling him that this church is the right place. And then oh my word! You guys! I turned and invited D to be baptized and without hesitating, he said "yes I will" with so much sincerity and determination. MITÄ?! Sister Bitner told him how we will be holding a baptismand he said he will absolutely prepare to be baptized on that date. Oh my gosh! I don't think I have ever taught somebody that committed that strongly to be baptized in the first lesson. The Spirit was literally off the charts. The temple couple was teary eyed the whole time. We all were. , D showed up with his Chinese Book of Mormon in hand and wearing a suit and tie. He stayed all three hours and loved it. He is seriously going to be such a kingdom builder. And his wife and cute little baby are moving from China in 2 months. They will become an eternal family! The Lord has brought them out of a country where they couldn't find the gospel and brought them to a city that has a temple! Heavenly Father is the best! Church is true!
We met with S this week and taught the Word of Wisdom (the health code from the Lord that prohibits us from using drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea or any other harmful substances and encourages us to eat healthy and exercise). The lesson went super well and she committed to live it! At the end, she prayed and said "I will live this commandment so I can live with you again." How simple and powerful is that? If we want to live with God, we must keep His commandments. Ya know, maybe having a cup of coffee or a sip of wine won't keep you out of heaven, but your disobedience to follow His commandments will. It's that simple. If you love God, you keep His commandments. Not just the ones that are easy, or comfortable, or fun, but ALL of them. I have learned so much from the friends I'm teaching about the power and importance of obedience.
This week was really fun as well because we went on exchanges with the Haaga sisters. And my friend T, who I used to teach here until she moved, lives in their area so I got to go surprise her! It was so fun to see her and help teach her. She has officially been smoking free for over 3 weeks now! It's so cool to see! That was something that we worked so hard with her to help her do. She wants to get baptized before the end of the year. I really hope she does so I can be there. I love her so much :) It's just amazing to me the amount of love I have for so many people here. The Lord has taken the love that is in my heart and has magnified it 3 fold!
So like our members here are pretty much the greatest people in the whole world. I love 'em so much. We went to a member's house this week and they gave us ROOT BEER FLOATS! (it's the same family that gave them to me last time) Gosh you guys, they don't even sell root beer in Finland! They had to go to Sweden to get it and they shared their limited supply with us because they know how happy it made me last time. Our members are just so dang good to us. I'm so grateful for their love. And speaking of love, SHOUT OUT to the fam for the post cards! It was fun to see a little piece of your trip. Wish I could've been there. Know that we're going to go on lots of trips when I get home :) real life posti is the bestest, so thanks so much for that!
Well I love you. I'm a happy missionary. Church is true.
ps it was father's day here yesterday. SHOUT OUT TO THE BEST DAD IN THE WHOLE WORLD! THE ONE AND ONLY DADDY-O! Hope you had a great Finnish Father's Day and partied hard and enjoyed every minute of it! oh ps mom, I was talking to R and he said that in Ghana, they have mother's day, father's day, and KID'S DAY! remember how when we were kids and would say "it's so unfair! you get mother's day and dad gets father's day and we don't get a kid's day!" and how you would always respond "that's because EVERY DAY is kid's day!" well guess what, it turns out that we just needed to move to Ghana! wish I would've known that earlier.........
pps TURNS OUT SISTER BITNER AND I ARE RELATED! yep yep. family history, I am doing it, my family history. so we're like 3rd cousins or something but how sick is that?! that means we get to spend Christmas with family! yay yay yay.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Happy Halloween friends! I dressed up as... a missionary. shocker. Also it was probably the greatest Halloween of my lifetime. I spent all day with my Mission President and his wonderful wife for MLC (mission leadership council). We spent the whole day at their house with the zone leaders and sister training leaders of the mission (which included Sister Hubner my former comp/twin, Sister Woods my former comp/trainee!, Sister Crandall from my MTC district, and Sister Dixon who I've done exchanges with multiple times), eating yummy food, and basking in the Spirit. It was a blast! At the end of the day we all went to the temple together. OH MY WORD. Seriously, greatest Halloween ever.
So transfers happened! And Sister Bitner arrived here from the North. It's been so fun and we get along great! She is from Utah, was in the same group as Sister Woods, and loves soccer. I seriously have been blessed my whole mission with amazing companions! I've been so lucky to get along with and love every single one of them. night we went to FHE with some of our friends. It was in Helsinki and was tons of fun. I love being a missionary and living in this beautiful place. And I LOVE Helsinki. It's such a great city. I went around with Sister Heggie to say goodbye to people. Voi että... it was rough. Many a tear was shed. I'm so not excited for that to be me. But luckily I've still got some time :) Due to the craziness of everything, we hardly had time to shop for food this week. And now I must say, the story of the loaves and fishes has greater meaning for me. We had Sisters Heggie, Bitner, and me here night, Sister Heggie and her trainee with us night, all of the sister training leaders (Sisters Hubner, Woods, Crandall, and Dixon) night (and oh my word was that a BLAST OR WHAT!!! IT WAS SOOO FUN!), Sisters Crandall and Dixon again night, and finally just us for the weekend. As a result, we have been completely cleaned out of food. Like I opened the jar of peanut butter and it was scraped clean haha. But some how, none of us went hungry and we were all able to be fed. It was incredible. The Lord definitely provided (including a senior missionary couple randomly showing up to our district meeting and giving us bread, grapes, and brownies to take home with us haha). The Lord takes what we have, and magnifies it. When we think about the story of the loaves and the fishes, the Lord never asked "what do you lack?" or "what do you need?" He simply said "bring me what you have" and He blessed it. And that's what He does for us with our lives. He doesn't ask us what talents, skills, or possessions we lack. He simply says bring what you have and let me bless it. Let me help you become something you can't on your own. Let me help you do the impossible. Allow me to heal you. Allow me to bless you. Bring me what you have and let me do the rest. How grateful I am to have such a powerful and loving Savior, healer, and friend.
This week was a great week! We had 3 of our friends in churchwith us! Including S and L and a new friend D from China! We met him on the street a couple days ago and started talking with him. The whole time we were chatting, I was just praying that we could turn it to the gospel in a meaningful way. We started asking about his family and he said that his mom passed away 10 years ago and that it was really hard and still affects him, but he said that as a result of that experience he started to believe in God. We then were able to explain why we are here and talked about the temple and how families can be together forever. He wants to meet and came to church and loved it! It was so cool! He has a wife and little boy that are moving here from China towards the end of this month so that's extra exciting! And it was so cool because after Sacrament meeting, we explained that there were two more classes to go to and he said that he had an appointment at 12 so he needed to leave but that he was sooo sooo sorry that he didn't know and next week he will stay for the whole thing. Well that's what every missionary wants to hear. We are so excited to help him and his family become an eternal family. That's what this is all about :)
We had a great lesson right before Sister Heggie left with S and L. Their understanding of the gospel is incredible. We had an amazing discussion about the restoration and what it means to us that the church is true. That if we really know it's true, then we have to live it. When we asked them what they should do because they know it's true they said, "pray, read the book of Mormon, and go to church." Um, that's exactly right! and then they brought up that they should be baptized! Oh my word, I wish with all my heart to be there when they get baptized but as of now, they are still set on getting baptized in Taiwan when they go home in June. But ultimately, it's not about me it's about them. I know the Lord will take care of them and help them do what is best for them. He sees the whole picture, we just see a part of it.
R is doing really well post baptism. When we met with him, he said he had already gone through and started reading all of the pamphlets again on his own. He's so solid and loves being a member of the church. It's so cool to see.
With November here (CRAZY!) we've officially started listening to CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! Neither of us had Christmas music last Christmas so we have to make up for lost time :) It's so crazy that I will be in Finland for another Christmas but I'm so excited! If I have to spend Christmas away from my home and family, what better way to spend it than as a missionary in the fine land of Finland?! Yeah, I know. There isn't anything else that would be better.
I've been thinking a lot lately about giving things over to the Lord. Giving our burdens, our sins, our pains, our sadness to the Lord and allowing Him to heal us. When I was studying Preach My Gospel (our manual) this week, I read something that I really liked. It said that when we repent, we receive a remission (forgiveness) of our sins. This remission is Jesus Christ healing us spiritually. He wants us to come as we are, and He will heal us. As a missionary, sometimes I try to put too much on my shoulders. Sometimes I feel the weight of the work pulling me down. Sometimes I try to take too much responsibility for other people's salvation and hold myself accountable for other people's actions. Sometimes I blame myself for other people's mistakes or wrong actions. Last night was one of those nights. As I knelt in prayer with my overwhelmed and disappointed heart, pleading with my Father, I felt a load lifted off of me. Literally, I felt it leave me. It was incredible. It was real. The Lord loves each and everyone of us. He is all powerful, understands infinitely more than we do, and is a just and loving Father. As I talked with my Father, I realized that these people I love are His. He has them in His hands. All He expects of me is to be the best person I can be and do my best to bring others to Christ and He will take care of the rest. It was amazing to feel the power of the Atonement take this burden away from me. The Atonement is not just for the sinners, it's for anyone with a burden, pain, load, or hardship. Anyone that feels lonely, lost, or abandoned. It's for anyone that needs help, strength, and love. It is for all of us. It has been incredible to see how my understanding and use of the Atonement has changed since the beginning of my mission. It has become such a real and enabling power. I'm so grateful to have a Savior that loved me enough to do what He did for me. Little, insignificant, awkward me. Oh Lord, how great thou art!
The church is true! Think, like S and L did, what that knowledge means to you and what you want to do about it. What you are willing to do for it? What changes in your life do you need to make as a result?
I love you!
ps during the FHE activity, I was walking with Sisar Heggie and it was rather dark. I ran right into a WC (bathroom) sign that was made out of metal and shaped as an arrow. Needless to say, I have a sick nasty bruise on my thigh now that became a pretty big bump. Sisar Heggie was cracking up and making fun of me until later in the evening she ran right into a pole. hahaha maybe there's a reason why President split us up.....