Hey! Sup! So you are all so great! It was so great to see all your beautiful faces on Christmas! It totally made my life. Mom, dad told me you were worried about me...Thank you! :) No I am just kidding, I am doing really well and I am starting to feel comfortable and a lot more adjusted. The language is just a kick...to the face, the head, the butt, and everything else but it is teaching me so much patience, I can't even stand it. Well ya I can stand it. It is definitely going to be worth it one day. I have started understanding so much more even in these past few days, and I can't even explain how happy I get when I understand. I just smile and smile and smile even bigger! It's so great! Thank you all for your e mails...ok thanks Lauren, Dad, and Mom and Grandma! :) Mom those recipes were great! Can you send me meatloaf and banana bread next week? Sisar Egan and I have too many bananas to handle! That would be so grand!! Oh also...news on sending packages...so you can totally send me as many as you want! hahaha isn't that exciting? The mission office e mails me and lets me know when I have a package and then I can pay to have it delivered or wait until I go to Helsinki or someone from Helsinki comes to Tampere. I go down to Helsinki for Interim Training in about 4 1/2 weeks so if something was there for me, I wouldn't be too upset about it! K I am done being a needy missionary now. Send what you want. When you want. If you don't want to send anything, that is great too! :)
So since I talked to you all, so many great things have happened. I don't even know where to start so I will just start at the Partunen's. The Partunen's are quite the family. K so the dad is Finnish, 55, and looks like Gru from Despicable Me. The wife is 33, Filipino, and served a mission in the Philippines. The wife has one son from a different relationship and they have 2 kids together. They are all members. But the best part about this family is the grandma. K so she is Filipino too. She is like Tommy's twin. Remember, my soccer trainer Tommy? Ya he is the best :) But anyways, she is so stinking cute. So we went to their house and had dinner on the 26th. We were sitting there and we had just finished up giving them a lesson and I had the thought to ask them what they do to keep Christ the center of Christmas and of life in general. So Gru answered (the dad) and then Sis. Partunen answered and then Grandma comes around and she just starts going off about how she hasn't read the Book of Mormon in a long time (background: she joined the church 2 years ago when she was working in Hong Kong) and how she loves Jesus but is scared to bear her testimony because everything she says is being "written down by da big man in da sky" and she doesn't want to be held accountable for what she says because she doesn't know a lot.
After that, she started crying and said how she knows that God loves her because he has watched over her family and has protected them. I looked at her...and I was bawling too at this point, and I just told her that she just barely bore her testimony to all of us and that I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with her and loves her so much. Then her daughter speaks up and says how she wants her family to be so strong in the gospel. She said how she reads the Book of Mormon with her kids every night even though they are little, because she knows that is what will keep them safe. I was just so floored by how strong this family is. They have gone through so much. Like their lives are so incredibly hard. They told me their story and I just sat there in awe thinking about my little sheltered Utah life and how I have never had to do anything as hard as them before. I was just so grateful that I have been blessed as much as I have and that I get to associate with people like the Partunen's and to hear their stories and experiences. It was one of the greatest most humbling experiences of my life. And now Sisar Partunen has given us 10 referrals and her mom wants to come out and teach with us. How bout them apples? We are so excited!
So we had zone conference this week which was so great. I love President and Sister Rawlings. So big news...Sister Rawlings was a soccer ref so now we are like besties! haha jk but it's pretty great! She told me to go by a soccer ball to keep my sanity. So I did today. Me and Sisar Egan are going to play tomorrow morning! I'm pumped. Ok back to zone conference. So it was so amazing. We talked about the difference between testimony and conversion. Pres. Rawlings talked about how a testimony is knowing that something is true and conversion is when you live what you know is true and aren't at war with yourself and God. It's like when obeying the commandments becomes our quest instead of just something we do. I loved that. Especially the part about being at war with yourself and God. I have been thinking a lot about it this week. I have been having a lot of "what ifs" going through my head. Like what if I can't learn this language. What if I don't do everything Heavenly Father wants me to do? What if I crack under the pressure? What if my testimony isn't strong enough to do this? I know...bad thoughts. No one let what ifs go through your head! But they were going through mine, and then we had zone conference and I just realized that I have been called to this mission because I can learn this language. I have been called to this mission because it's exactly where I need to be. I have been called to this mission because there are people here who need me. I realized that my testimony wasn't lacking, but my conversion was. Its almost like I have believed in Christ and the enabling power of the atonement, I just haven't believed Christ. I haven't believed that he can do what he says he can do. He can help me do anything...even learn Finnish and he will. BUT only when I exercise faith in Him and completely turn everything over to Him. I have to work hard and do my best, but he will make up for what I lack. No matter what happens here, it is all going to be exactly what God wants to happen. I need to, well we all need to QUIT WORRYING AND BE HAPPY. We need to enjoy the ride and do our best and turn the rest over the Lord. He has already atoned for our sins. The Atonement is there. It's done. Now it's up to us to use it.
Anyways...I hope that you are all just doing great! Finland is great. Tampere is great. I am doing great. I bought a coat today. It is super nice and warm and it was even on sale so check me out, dad, shopping the sales! :) I have realized that the more I buy here, the more Finnish I feel so be expecting some dips in the funds folks! haha just kidding...sort of. No I'm really just kidding. That's not why I am here, but I really do love that I am starting to feel like I belong here, not just that I am a visitor. I guess I will always be a visitor, but in my mind, I am becoming a Finn! It's pretty dang exciting! :)
Well I hope to hear from you all next week. I am so sorry I can't respond individually to e mails but I do print them off and read them all so don't think I just glance them over. You are all so important to me. I know that this mission is bringing us all closer together and that is such a blessing. I am so grateful for the gospel. I know that it is a bond we all share that nothing can take away or break. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful that we can all be missionaries. Help the missionaries in our home ward out. There is nothing that blesses their lives more than awesome members like you helping them preach the gospel! It's such a great time to be a missionary! I love you all so much and hope you have a fantastic week...Oh and a Happy New Year!!!