Monday, November 10, 2014

11/10/14 - A Blessed and Special Land

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! 

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 baptism November 29 and 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. On Sunday, 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!

This Sunday 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. 

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. 


Sisar Nielsen

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.

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