We went to a YSA FHE (Young single adult family home evening - wow, we have so many acronyms in the church) in Helsinki. It was a Christmas party! S and our friend C that we had a lesson with a couple weeks ago came. It was way fun. We were asked to be the ones to give the spiritual thought at the beginning. They had already decided to share the "He is the Gift" video and they just wanted us to testify about Christ to everybody. Uhhhh hello! That's my favorite pastime now! So that was cool :) We had to leave the party early and catch a train to Lapeenranta, a cute little city near the Russian border. We had splits there all day which was fun. I went with one of the new missionaries, Sister Hyde. It was so crazy having her ask me for advice and to impart some of my "wisdom." I fully realize that I'm going home soon (so therefore I am one of the oldest missionaries in the mission) but sometimes I still just think I'm a young missionary trying to figure things out. Time flies when you're having fun. We talked to a ton of people and found them 2 new investigators in one day! Which was awesome. We also had a great chat on a bus with this kid from Germany. I love being in Finland because I have met so many people from ALL over the world. It's so cool.
This week was also hard because I had to start saying some of my goodbyes. A couple weeks ago, we had a great lesson with S and L about baptism. They both know the church is true and want to be baptized, but they were afraid to tell their parents. Well they finally did. S said that her parents said they don't want her to get baptized yet but want her to continue to learn more about it. L got kinda distant. She went to Sweden and other trips and we hadn't really talked to her much. We texted her to come to church last Sunday and she didn't and didn't answer when we called her., S gave me an envelope and told me to open it later. When I did, the tears streamed down my face to the point that I couldn't see the words anymore. It was from L. She had drawn me a beautiful picture of the Finland temple and had written me a long letter. She told me how she is so so sorry, but she asked her parents if she could get baptized and they freaked out and forbid her to ever contact us again. She said that she is so grateful that we met and that she knows it was not an accident. She wrote that she knows the church is true and that she's so grateful we've taught her and that she met God (has come to know Him). She talked about how she still prays for me and that she hopes I will continue to be the happy, smiley person that I always was when we were together. She wrote many more things that touched my heart. She included a picture of herself hugging her Book of Mormon. And I simply just sat there and cried. Not out of frustration, but out of love. I love L soo much! She is such a special person and feels the Spirit so strongly. She and S have truly become some of my best friends. I very much believe that S and L will both be baptized in the future. They are such special people and so dear to my heart. It gives me comfort to know that there is a temple in their home town and that one day, they will be there. We also met with S one last time alone. She has officially been taught all the lessons, but the missionaries will continue to teach her and help her progress to baptism. She left for Madrid and Paris and gets back . It's so crazy that I won't be here. But our goodbye wasn't one of sadness, but one of hope. She is taking her Book of Mormon with her to read on her trip and she will continue to pray everyday. I know I will see L and S again. This is not the end.
This week we also had our ward Christmas party! WHOOT WHOOOOOT! I love celebrating Christmas - Finnish style! We sang traditional Finnish Christmas carols and had a lot of fun. We missionaries had a musical performance as well. We did the cup routine for "O Come All Ye Faithful" and promoted the He is the Gift campaign at the end. It went really well! Which is a miracle cuz the practices were pretty awful... but we pulled it together and the Lord really helped us out! Joulu Pukki (Santa Claus) came - I love him! And there's also a Finnish Christmas song called "Joulu Pukki" that we always sing when he comes which is so great. It's such a fun song to sing! Last night we went to a stake Christmas Singing night and we all sang lots of Christmas songs and different groups also performed. It's so interesting because most traditional Finnish Christmas songs are pretty somber. They are often in minor keys and are full of emotion. It's also so hard to tell where the next note is gonna go. I'm serious. Like usually in America when we sing songs, you can kinda guess where the next note is to sing it. But it Finland, it will be a high note then a low note than a middle note than a low note then a really high note then a random middle note and you're just like what the heck is going on?! It's kinda hilarious.
Oh I wanted to follow up real quick on the guy that told us that we glow. Remember him? Well I was sitting at the FHE in Helsinki talking with people and the friend of this guy was like "hey! my friend posted on my facebook wall that he had met some very nice, beautiful, happy mormon missionaries on the train and that it was a way positive experience. He also said that you showed him the "He is the Gift" video and he posted it on his own Facebook and said that everybody needs to watch this video!" How cool is that?! This hard core Catholic posted the "He is the Gift" video for all to see. SHARE it people! We only have a little time left before Christmas is over!
Yesterday in church we had the opportunity to teach the young women. It was great. I love being with the youth! We shared the "Because of Him" video and talked about discovering, embracing, and sharing the gift. It was such a powerful lesson. It was really cool because we showed the "Because of Him" video on an ipad. I was holding it so I couldn't see it, but throughout it I kept getting like surges of feeling the Spirit. It was so cool that even though I couldn't see what was going on, I could just feel the Spirit getting stronger in the room. It really is real. We committed all of the young women to give a Book of Mormon away as a gift for Christmas. And they accepted! We ran into a young woman that night at the singing activity that hadn't been in our wardbecause they had to go visit a different one. I told her we taught and she was so sad she missed it. I told her how we gave everyone the challenge to give a Book of Mormon away for Christmas this year. She paused and looked at me and said "where do I get one?" We quickly gave her one and she gave me a very determined "I can do this" and smiled and walked away with it in hand. This is what it's about people! We all can do this! Let's bring hope, and life, and light to people's lives this Christmas season! The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. What a perfect way to share the gift!
As Christmas is quickly approaching, remember to take time to pause and reflect about our Savior. He truly died for us, but He also lived for us. Can we do the same for Him? Are we willing to live for Him? This is a personal question that only we can answer. I love Him and I am so grateful for Him. May we all focus on discovering and embracing Him this Christmas season. Because, as my wise Uncle Mark reminded me, one day He will truly embrace us in His arms and we will see Him face to face. What words do we want Him to say at that day? "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou wast not ashamed." I want the whole world to know that He lives. Oh come let us adore Him.
I love you!
ps one of my favorite things about Finland is the ice cream. It's INCREDIBLE. and one of my favorite flavors is licorice. who would've thought? Finland has changed a lot about me :)