Monday, December 8, 2014

12/8/14 - Your Faces Light Up This Dark Finnish Winter

This has been a really good week, in spite of the fact that many things have gone really badly. Throughout it all, this quote has been going through my mind:

Be grateful. Be happy. Know that the Lord, in His time, will bring about all your righteous desires. Sometimes in ways we predict. Others in ways we could not have possibly forseen. Those who delight in the Lord even in times of adversity will carry with them through their trials an inner and abiding peace - Jospeh B. Wirthlin

With that being said, I will recount to you some of the miracles and trials for this week. Let's save the best for last so we'll start with just some of the trials. This week I got pink eye! It's the worst! Especially as a missionary. Plus it's been raining all week (which is just aweful) so everything is muddy and wet (including my glasses). "Hey, I'm Sister Nielsen do you want eternal life?... oh wait let me dry off my glasses so I can see your face." Yeah, not fun. Oh also, remember that way awesome American lady? We got a text from her and she said she doesn't want to meet again. So that was really sad. It's also been so dark lately! In the whole month of November, the sun shined a total of 13 hours. Yep, you read that right. In the past 2 weeks, we've only had 20 minutes of sunshine. The sun rises really late and sets really early, so basically we're always in the dark now. Plus it's always so cloudy that even if the sun is up, we can't see it. And to top it all off, I can't find my memory card anywhere! Like the memory card that has my entire mission minus the last 5 months on it. I opened up my passport case (a very safe and secure place to keep it) and it wasn't there. I literally about died. So there goes the pictures from my mission... 

But friends, as I mentioned above, this week has been a really good week and that quote has been sticking in my mind the whole time. I can't even describe the peace I've felt this week. Even the incredible peace I felt as I wrote the above paragraph. Everytime I have gone to get upset (especially about my memory card) I feel like I'm wrapped up in a blanket of peace and I just feel so good. It's seriously the WEIRDEST thing. It's like I go to get mad, remind myself how frustrated I am, and tell myself how this is basically the end of the world and then I just can't help but feel happy and grateful to Heavenly Father. I just keep getting this feeling in my heart like "everything's okay." When I watched the "He is the Gift" video again this week, the thought came to me "this is what is most important. everything unfair in life is swallowed up in Him." It was such a humbling experience for me to feel so peaceful and calm when it seemed that everything around me was falling apart. It's so interesting for me to think about the Sisar Nielsen a year ago and the Sisar Nielsen now. The Sisar Nielsen a year ago would be pretty irate and probably depressed right now. The Sisar Nielsen today just feels... happy. And I'm not saying this to be like "wow, everybody look at me and how righteous I am" or "wow, I'm just such a good person now." No, I don't mean any of that. All I mean is that Sisar Nielsen today understands the Atonement of Christ more than she ever has in her entire life. I've felt the power of the Atonement more now in every aspect of my life, not just the repentance part. And as a result, He's changed my heart. I encourage you all to come closer to Christ and really work to understand and apply the Atonement in your life more. I promise you, you will feel happiness on a level and a depth you've never felt before. 

So let's move on to the miracles of this week! Tuesday we went and did exchanges with some sisters that I just love! Their area has really been struggling lately and we prayed that the Lord would help us know how to help them. When we planned together Monday night for our adventures the following day, both sets of companionships had only a couple lessons and lots and lots of extra time. We made it a goal to use the "He is the Gift" campaign and focus the whole day on bringing others closer to Christ. We set out on Tuesday with that in mind and had an AMAZING day! We seriously just focused on really testifying about Christ in every contact: on the street, bus, and train. Throughout the whole day, this sister and I could not stop laughing! We were full of so much joy from telling others about our Savior. We got on a train and this man that had been waiting near us came up and asked "may I sit with you?" we were shocked because Finns NEVER talk to people they don't know and so of course we said "absolutely." He said, "I just have to tell you something. You two shine. You have a light in your eyes. I could see it while you were waiting for the train. Your smiles and the light in your faces light up this dark Finnish winter. I was shocked by how happy you were and how much you glowed, until I saw your name tags. Then I realized why: 1. because your Americans but 2. because you're Mormon missionaries." He emphasized the last part. We were shocked. He is a very strong Catholic, but we had a great conversation about Christ. It was so cool that Christ really is what unites all of us. We all need Him. He is the Savior of us all. We were able to share the "He is the Gift" video with him and he was really excited to watch it and said that he has a Catholic blog he writes every week and he might just include our video on his next post. It was a really cool experience. Later that day, we were on a very crowded bus. I was standing because there weren't many seats and I saw a woman at the front of the bus wearing an orange hat. I had the feeling "go sit by her" so I turned to my comp and said "I'll be back" and I walked up and sat next to her. And guess what... she was ASLEEP. Well, I did not just walk the length of the bus for her to be asleep, so I made some noise and moved around until her eyes shot open (hehe) and then I turned to her and was like "hey, how are you?" She was from South Korea and we had a great conversation. I told her I was here as a church representative and she said "oh, I don't believe in Christ. I'm buddist". Well I also didn't move over here to get shut down this quickly, so I brought up the He is the Gift video. The Spirit got waaaay strong as I testified of Christ. She said "yes, I want to see this video" and took my card. She then jumped up and said "oh, this is my stop! but have a good night. and thanks for waking me up :)" She then got off. It was a way cool experience. When the four of us gathered together that night, we counted up our numbers and realized that we had solidly taught 25 PEOPLE about Christ that day! It was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. It was seriously amazing! The sisters looked SO HAPPY and we all left feeling so good. They said that that day alone almost fulfilled all of their goals for the whole week! We told them to wake up the next day and do it all again. We got a call from them on Thursday. They were like "sisters.... we have been teaching so many people! Are our numbers supposed to be this high?... is this okay?" we assured them that this is in fact AMAZING and to elevate their thinking and keep raising their goals. Ahhhh this He is the Gift campaign is taking over Finland! I love it! :)

We also had a way cool opportunity this week to be invterviewed by a journalist. He is about to graduate from college and for his big final project he decided he wanted to write about Mormon missionaries. Our President called us up and asked if we would do it. It was so cool to meet with him and answer questions about what we do and why we're here. At the end he was like "so... if people want to learn more about this and your temple, what do they do?" We explained that we teach them and give temple tours. He paused and we asked "would you like a temple tour....?" and he quickly responded "yes I would love one!" so we're meeting with him again this week. Super cool!

Saturday was Finland's INDEPENDANCE DAY! HAPPY INDEPENDANCE DAY SUOMI! We got to spend it with one of my favorite families here. And oh my word the food was AHHHHMAZING. I about died. They have a tradition where they light 2 candles and set them by the window in honor of the soldiers. They let me be the one to light them this year :) It was so fun to celebrate with them and they treat me like I'm part of their family :) On Sunday in church, the person that said the prayer prayed for the missionaries in our ward. He then said "bless Sisar Nielsen, Sisar Bitner, Elder..." and proceeded to list out the names of all 6 of us missionaries in the ward! It meant so much to us that he prayed for us BY NAME. Pray for the missionaries in your ward by name. If you don't know their name, go up and ask them or at least just look at their name tag and write it down so you'll remember. The work of the Lord will go by even faster if we truly help each other and work together. For the closing song, we sang "Finlandia hymni" (Finland's Anthem to the tune of "Be Still My Soul." Fun fact, the composer is actually Finnish so it's a Finnish song) and so many people started crying, including me. It just really hit me how much I love this land. How much I love these people. How much they mean to me. And how much I will miss them when the time comes to say goodbye. I love Finland. I love the trees, I love the sun. I love the snow, I love the chocolate, I love the fresh air. I love the thousands of lakes, I love the temple. I love how crazy the language is. I love how it's a refuge for foreigners. I love the peace. I love this place. 

So moral of the story, Christ lives! He is the gift! And with Him, we can be happy and have peace, even when we experience trials. I love you! I love this gospel. #sharethegift this Christmas season. 

With lots of love, 

Sisar Nielsen

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