Monday, November 24, 2014

11/24/14 - Sisar Nielsen's List of Gratitude

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 English Sunday School 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. Saturday 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 on Sunday 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!

Sisar Nielsen

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