Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Monday, December 30, 2013

   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 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 on sending 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!!!


Sisar Bitner

Monday, December 23, 2013

HOOOOOOOLLLLLYYYYYYYY Cow family. I do not even know where to start. First things first though, if there are like 1,456,734,857 errors in this e mail, its because the keyboards in Finlandia are nuts and I am used to typing pretty speedily so I apologize in advance. But on the other hand I AM TYPING ON A FINNISH KEYBOARD BECAUSE I AM IN FINLAND!!!! Can you even believe it? Honestly, I can´t. Every day I wake up and have to remember where I am! It is so cool!

So a little info before story time. So my companion is Sisar Egan from Corvallis, Oregon. She is so great. She has been in Finland for 10 months so ya, she is kind of a pomo (boss) haha She has trained 4 missionaries and all of her (2 were at the same time, they were in a threesome) but ya she knows what it takes to be a trainer. She is actually related to the Egans in our ward so there ya go! Not Katrina, but Tim and Laura so let them know we are companions! We get along really well, I think. It is always weird trying to figure each other out those first few weeks, but I know that we will be great friends. She told me to start thinking in the mindset of a trainer because everyone she trains is a trainer as soon as their training is over. hahahaha can you imagine? I do not even want to think about training someone in 4 months so we can just focus on the now!

Oh ya....I am serving in Tampere!!! You say it like tom-pear-eh(like how Canadians say eh) Go Google it. It is the cutest place ever. I love it so much. It is pretty south in Finland which I am SO happy about. It is cold, but definitely bearable. The people up in the North have temps of about -30 Celsius right now. I do not envy them in the least but I am pretty much guaranteed to be here for 4 months and I am way excited about that! There are two wards in Tampere...Tampere 1 and Tampere 2. We are the sisters in Tampere 1. We are in the same ward as the zone leaders which is pretty exciting! Oh my...I have so much to tell you all...I am going to save some for Christmas though. I am so happy I get to see you all!! So we are going to skype around 5 or 6 Finland time! I am not sure what that translates to in Utah time, but be expecting me to skype you around then. I think you should just use my skype account because I will call you from the members. 

Oh my...what else to say. So we got to Finland on Tuesday afternoon and the APs picked us up. We had a little problem at funny...but I will tell you about that on Christmas! haha so we went straight to the temple in Helsinki. It is so beautiful!!! We got out of the vans and I just looked up at it all shiny in the darkness of Finland and got SO emotional. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I felt SO much peace and I just knew that I was supposed to be here! It was like Heavenly Father welcomed me to Finland :) 

After that we went to the Rawlings house and had some delicious dinner and then we were so tired and went to bed. We got up the next day, went to the mission office, had orientation, and met our trainers. I was a little sad to see Sisar Thayne go, but I know we will keep in touch. So Sisar Egan and I hopped on a train which was so legit...I have never been on a train before...and we headed to Tampere! Our apartment is way cute. Its really small but its ok because thats not why we are here, right? haha I love it though. So we went contacting that night. Sisar Egan gave me a Book of Mormon and said, k, go give this away....uh, what?? I about died. But I figured hey, I have nothing to lose and everything to give so here it goes. I sat down on the bus and said "terve, mita kuulu?" to this Finnish man and he rambled something off and I smiled and said "siisti" which means cool and then he said, in English, "Do we know each other" and I said "Ei" and then he spouted off in English about how much he hates Finland and what a crappy place it is to live and how everyone is drunk and no one talks to each other and yadda, yadda, yadda :) We actually had a way good English...and I gave him the Book of Mormon and told him that it would bless his life and help him to make the trials and frustrations of life a little easier to bear. He said "Kiitos" and then off he went. Unfortunately I am a NOOB and did not think to ask "oh hey, would you maybe like to meet with the missionaries sometime?" Its ok though guys, he has a Book of Mormon. I have faith that he is going to contact us somehow! But rest assured, I will not make that mistake again!

So this week has been crazy. Sisar Egan has served in Tampere her whole mission, but since there are two sets of Sisters in Tampere, we had to get a new apartment and phone so we had none of our investigators numbers in our phone. We still have not had a real lesson. I am kind of frustrated about that but its ok. Things are going to pick up. They have to. Sisar Egan said that the last time she was in this area, her companion and her did not do a lot of work because her companion had a lot of problems and they could not do real missionary work. So I think she is kind of going through some weird deja vu and is just trying to figure this place out. So it is kind of hard to be a greenie wanting to run and jump and yell the gospel, but I cant speak Finnish and my comp is going through a hard time, but we are working on it together. I have realized this week especially the importance of prayer and of being in tune with the spirit, especially when we are trying to help someone out. People will not always tell you what is wrong with them, but the spirit will.

One person I want you all to pray for is Juhani. He is an extremely old extremely awesome Finnish grandpa. He has a baptismal date for a week from this Saturday but his back hurts him so he does not like coming to Church and sitting for 3 hours. We have not taught him yet, but I met him at our ward Christmas party which I will tell you more about on Christmas. It was so great to see an investigator there. Anyways pray for Him. I know that you all want to and should be a part of this with me! You have such strong faith! Juhani needs you!!! haha

The people here are so great. Honestly. People says Finns are quiet and reserved. Totally true. people say Finland is dark and cold. Totally true. People say Finland is a hard mission. Totally true. But what they do not say is how amazing these people are and how beautiful it is when it is cold outside and how awesome the members in Finland are. I seriously feel so blessed to be here. It is so extremely hard to not understand and to want to help so much and not be able to. I know that it will come though. I know that with the Spirit and hard work, I can learn this language and we can make some serious changes in FInland. That is what I am so excited about. A lot of changes need to be made here. In Tampere especially. I think so many improvements can be made with how missionary work is done here. I am so excited to be able to work with this ward and with these people to build up the kingdom in Finland and make it as strong as it has ever been. I know that it will happen. I really do! Its such a great time for all of us to be missionaries!

Anyways this email is all over the place but I want you all to know how much I love and am grateful for each of you. You are the reason I am here today. You have all been so supportive and so wonderful. I could not do this without you! Pray for Tampere. Pray that these members will catch the missionary fever! Help the missionaries in our ward as much as you can! Seriously being on a mission has changed forever what kind of a member I am going to be. Teach with the missionaries when you can! Feed them when you can! It makes all the difference in the world, I promise!! You are all so wonderful. How did I get so lucky to have a family like you? Merry Christmas and I will talk to you all on Wednesday!!! I love you so much!!


Sisar Bitner 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peace Out 'Merica!!!

Terve minun I don't know if you have heard but I AM LEAVING TO HELSINKI, FINLAND IN 4 DAYS!!!! I have been pinching myself for the past week. This is real life. I am leaving :) Holy cow. What is going on? Is this serious? My brain is running at like 79,756 miles per hour. I am so excited to be in Finland! :)

Ok, now that that's out of the are you all doing? We get to talk on the phone on Monday!! Talk about BDE...Best Day Ever! I am so excited to talk to you! Let's get some of the logistics out of the way. Ok so we are leaving the MTC at 4:30 on Monday morning. Our plane leaves at 8:30 and we fly to Dallas. We have a four hour layover so I will probably call you around 12-1ish or something. Pretty vague, I know! But plan on that! Joce, Anne, Lauren, Luke, and Caroline, you guys will probably be at school, but maybe if you ask really nice, mom will let you come home. If not, I get to skype you all next week so that's AWESOME too! :) I am planning on calling our home phone so if that's not ok, send me a dear.elder within the next few days and let me know if that doesn't work. But Anyways after Dallas, we fly to London and then onto Helsinki! This is so nuts. I honestly can't believe this day is finally here! AHHHH!! It's gonna be great!

So this last week in the MTC has been an even bigger emotional roller coaster than the week before I left on my mission. I am so excited, but also SOOO nervous. Anxious is definitely the best way to describe how I'm feeling. I feel so prepared, but I know that setting foot in Finland and trying to understand a Finn speaking Finnish is going to be a nice little wake up call! haha I am really excited though because our teachers have said that it's so much easier to pick up all the crazy Finnish grammar rules just by listening to how they talk. I can honestly say I never thought this day would come. The MTC still kind of feels like limbo life but now I am going to be in Finland, speaking Finnish and serving the Finns. Seriously, it's kind of hilarious when you think about it! Definitely an out of body, amazing experience! I have changed so much. Honestly, the MTC has changed my life. I am so grateful for it! :)

DAD!!! I met President and Sister Snow this week. I gave the prayer in the new sisters meeting on Sunday and afterwards, Sister Snow came up to me and said, "Sister Bitner, I am your mission grandma. I was your dad's mission mom" I was SO excited to see her and I got to talk to both of them for about 15 minutes. They told me that you were such an amazing missionary and the koreans loved you so much! I was so proud to be able to stand there, knowing that someone else knows how amazing both of my parents are. They love you both so much and I hope to be half as good of a missionary as both of you are! :) Definitely a tender mercy to meet them!!

This week we had a great Tuesday night devo. Our last tuesday night sad? NOT! JK they really are so great. But Elder Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve was the speaker. It was so great. I am in the choir, you hilarious is that? haha but anyways we sang my favorite Christmas hymn, "The First Noel". It was so beautiful. I have grown to love that song just by being on my mission. That first Christmas is the most important day in the history of everything! Christmas is just such a happy time! I love it so much! But Elder Cook's talk was really good but the thing that stuck out to me the most was what his wife said. She told this story about a little girl who had a Christmas program at school. She was so excited for her mom to come see her because she had the most important part in the play. Her mom thought that her part would be like Mary or the Angel, but when her daughter came out on the stage, she was holding a big tin foil star and smiling just as big as she could! I thought that was so cute and so true! All of us that are fortunate enough to have the gospel in our lives can be that star and light that brings people closer to Christ. I read this quote that says something to the effect of, "When you introduce someone to Jesus Christ, you come to find out how much he loves you and how much he loves them!" What a great opportunity and responsibility for us. It is the most wonderful blessing to already have the gospel in our lives, and now we get to share it with other people. Even the smallest things make the biggest difference! I love Christmas and more than anything, I hope that all of us will strive to be that light and to bring as many people as we can unto Christ! Let's make every day Christmas this year! :)

So I can't believe that I will get to hear your voices before I send my next e-mail and my next e-mail will be sent on a Finnish computer. Holy cow! I am so excited to share this amazing experience with all of you. Thank you all so much for your support and love. I am so grateful that we know that we can be together forever because of Jesus Christ. I want the people in Finland to have that same blessing! I hope I covered everything in this letter "logistics" wise. I had Hannah bring home a Christmas present for you's nothing great but I wanted to give you a little something something! I am working on writing you all personal letters before I leave and Mom, I am sending my testimony home for Monica. I think that is such a great idea! She would be such a great member :) I am so thankful for all of you! The church is true. Christ lives. He loves us so much. I love you all so much! Hyvää Joulua!! Merry Christmas!!


Sisar Bitner 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Terve minun mahtava perhe!! I can't believe another week has gone by at the MTC! It really goes by so fast. I hope everyone is doing well and is getting excited for Christmas. It's going to be so weird and hard not to be home, but I can't wait to hopefully get to skype! It will be the best thing in the world! I hope school and work and tennis and callings and soccer and friends and everything are just going great! I love hearing from all of you. I wish more than anything that I had more time to write you individual letters, but just know that I appreciate everything you guys do for me. I appreciate all the prayers and faith on my behalf. I honestly can feel your faith and prayers so much. You all mean the world to me and I am so grateful I have been blessed with a family as wonderful as you. We may not be together now, but just think, we get to be with each other forever. Maintaining an eternal perspective is a great way to avoid homesickness...I have come to find! Plus I know that we are all doing what we are supposed to be doing! I couldn't do this if I didn't know for sure that Heavenly Father has a work for me to do. He has a work for all of us to do. We just need to figure out what His will is and then get to work and do our best. I know that He will help us when we do this!

 This week I have really started to feel comfortable at the MTC...too bad I'm leaving in 10 days! Isn't that so great, just when we get comfortable we have to pick up and move again! Only this time, I am really excited for my transfer cause it will be in FINLANDIA!!! All of the feelings I have right now are the same ones I had before I came on my mission. I feel a little better equipped this time and I think this change will be harder, but easier at the same time. I am so excited to get to Finland. I can't believe I have been in a 1/2 mile radius for 9 weeks, but now we can start counting down the days to Finland because it's so close! It's going to be great! :) 

So we are starting to wind down here at the MTC. Sisar Thayne and I got released as Sister Training Leaders. It was kind of sad. I have grown to love all of the sisters in our zone so much, but I am glad that someone else will have the opportunity to serve. I really have been thinking a lot this week about forgetting ourselves and serving others. The MTC has its ups and downs, just like life, but I know that when we really forget ourselves completely and serve others and try to make their days better, that's when we are truly happy. There was one day this week when I decided that I wasn't going to think about myself at all that day. I had kind of been frustrated with Finnish and everything else so I decided I needed to do everything I could to be happy.

I was reading on and I found a quote by President Hinckley that said something to the effect of if you want to be happy, forget yourself and get lost in this great work. Lift up the heads that hang down and serve other people. I tried this out on Wednesday and it was honestly the best day I have had at the MTC. The days before, I had been so nervous about Finnish and about leaving 'Merica for 16 months and about everything, but yesterday when I forgot about my problems and tried to help others, I was so happy. It's a hard thing to do to forget about yourself and to focus on the positive things in life, but I know without a doubt that selfless service is the recipe for happiness. I know because I've tried it. I have always thought that I was pretty good at serving and I tried to do it with good intentions, but completely serving selflessly is a whole different story. Try and make other people happy. Try and make their lives better. Build them up. Inevitably you will be blessed when you do this. It's funny how that works. The more we give, the more we get back! Heavenly Father wants to bless us so badly and He will as we faithfully strive to follow Him. He asks so little of us and promises so much in return. We will never catch up with him! :)

So this past Tuesday we were told that we were going to have one of the 12 apostles come speak to us. We were all so excited. It's better to see a member of the 12 than to see a for real though. They are rockstars! Anyways so we get to devotional on Tuesday night and as we are all staring at the screen waiting to see who is going to speak, the name Bruce C. Hafen pops up and you could literally feel everyone's faces drop. Elder Hafen got up and said that Elder Ballard was supposed to speak to us, but the snow kept him in Salt Lake. We were all a little disappointed. Then Elder Hafen started talking and honestly I believe that Heavenly Father sent the snow so that He would have to talk to us. His message was EXACTLY what everyone needed to hear. We have devotional reviews as Finnish districts after all of our devotionals and we were all bawling and saying how amazing his talk was. I wanted to share some of my "notes" with you from his talk. Honestly it changed my whole mindset:

"The temple endowment is an endowment of power. Because of the gifts that the Savior has given me, He will help me step up and turn my days of trouble to days of joy. All of the sufferings, sorrows, and afflictions we go through will be compensated for by incomprehensible joy. You can never know the good if you never know the bad. Stay positive. Be patient with people. Be patient with the language. Be patient with ourselves. We never know what will come of our efforts. Allow ourselves to stay open to the Spirit. We can come to know God on our missions (in our lives). We have no concept of the growth we will experience when we do what the Lord asks of us. We are all God's sons and daughters. He has a work for us to do. Heavenly Father doesn't just need workers to get His work done. He has called each of us and blessed us with unique and individual talents that will bless others lives. He loves us and He needs us. My mission does not end in 16 months. I have my family world, my mission world, and my world between me and God. This mission is life-altering. We come to know God in our extremities. It's an honor to pay that price."

Sorry that those are all over the place but I HAD to share that with you. It was honestly one of the greatest talks I have ever heard and if we can all take one thing from that and work on it or apply it to our lives, I know that it will make a huge difference. After he talked, we sang Away in a Manger. The last verse says, "Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the Dear Children in Thy tender care, and fit us for Heaven to live with thee there." That is my prayer for each of us this Christmas season. I want each of us to develop a stronger relationship with our Savior this Christmas than we ever have before. We do that by learning about Him and trying to become like Him. We do that by living His commandments and loving His commandments. We do that by forgetting ourselves. Like really, just don't think about yourself for one day and see what happens. I promise you will be happy :)

I guess one more thing I would say is that we all need to remember, especially me, that every hard thing we go through is for our good. I love that analogy about the stones and how the smoothest stones are the ones who have gone through the most. Every trial we go through is refining us. It is "fitting us for Heaven". I want so badly to be fit for heaven so that when the day comes and I get to see my Savior, that He will look at me and say, "Well done." Nothing could be better than that! :)

Anyways I love you all so much! I am so sorry this letter is like up and down and in and out, but that is how my brain is working right now! :) It's probably going to be a quiet week...BTW consecration week means that we can only speak Finnish. It's already been extremely hard and frustrating, but I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will help me. They have already helped me so much. I love them so much and want to do whatever they require of me with a happy heart. He will help us reach our righteous goals. I know that without a doubt!!

I love you all so much and am so beyond grateful that you are my family. Honestly, I have been so blessed. Everyday I say my prayers and thank Heavenly Father for allowing each of you to be in my life. I miss you with all my heart, but I am so grateful I get to serve this mission. It's going to be extremely hard. It is extremely hard, but He never said it would be easy. He only said it would be worth it! Yep, I totally made that quote up! :) Just kidding! Vitsi Vitsi! Anyways I hope you all have the best week ever and remember that Sisar Bitner loves you so much! You are the greatest and I can't wait to talk to you all! I love you!!

Love, Sisar Bitner 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Olivia Bitner
To Me

Nov 29 at 6:08 PM
Terve minun perhe!!!! How are all of you doing? I hope everything is going so great and I am sure you all just had the greatest Thanksgiving ever! Of course I was a tad bit homesick, ok scratch that I missed you guys like crazy...even more than normal, but we made the most of our Thanksgiving and it really was a great day!! Guys, I LOVED your jared munchies and Thanksgiving cards! You have no idea how much it means to hear from family and friends! Seriously I know I sound desperate and I never thought I would get this way, but every time you get a letter or package or something it's like Christmas and all of a sudden Finnish doesn't seem so hard and I'm not as tired as I was before! It's a major morale booster so Mom and everyone else...thanks so much for thinking of me! It means more than you know! :)

So I hope Thanksgiving was great! I want to tell you about our day here! It was pretty crazy!! So we woke up and had breakfast and the whole MTC ate together so it was pretty nuts. Usually we eat in shifts so the cafeteria isn't as packed but yesterday morning it was. Then we had choir practice because you know, I love singing now :) and then we had a general authority devotional. Guess who the general authority was? Russell M. Nelson! Ya it was pretty sick. Definitely not going to forget that Thanksgiving morning. He and his wife spoke to us. I loved his wife's talk. She talked a lot about putting aside childish things and becoming a missionary. I think that was much needed. The age change for missionaries is AMAZING and totally inspired, but it is pretty apparent that some of these elders have been out of high school for 5 months. They are great, but I think it was good for all of us to hear! Time to grow up and learn to rely on the Savior. Ahhh man I just loved it!

Elder Nelson spoke about family history and missionary work. It was so great! He said that we need to pray as missionaries to be led to those people whose ancestors have accepted the gospel and are ready for their work to be done. He talked a lot about the spirit of Elijah and said that more and more people are becoming interested in family history. I never really thought how much of a missionary tool family history work is. He commented on how, as missionaries, our best friend should be the ward mission leader (which totally made me think of you Dad :) and how our second best friend should be the family history consultant. It was so crazy because I love families and I love history and yesterday as I was listening to his talk, I really had an impression that there is a reason I love both of those things so much! I have never really been gung ho about family history, but I am excited to learn more about it on my mish! Another cool thing he said was that the ancestors of some of these people I will teach are praying for me and for their posterity who I will be teaching. How awesome is that? They have waited so long for their work to be done and I am so grateful to be a part of it!

So after the devotional we had our Thanksgiving feast. It was actually really good. Coming from the food snob, that means a lot :) Mom, they didn't have banana cream pie so I was bummed, but I had some cookie dough pie which was pretty good...I don't know, you have spoiled us so much I don't think anything will compare to your pies! :) After lunch we walked to the temple, wrote letters, and just kind of hung out. Then we got to do this way cool service project for the Utah Food Bank. We made 350,000 soup kits for kids in Utah. It was so fun to participate in something like that. We had some sick hair nets....I wanted to take pics, but they didn't want cameras in the room so you'll just have to envision me in a bright red hair net. Ya, it was awesome! :)

So we just had sandwiches for dinner and then we got to watch Ephraim's Rescue. If you haven't seen it yet, get it for family night and watch it. It is so great! I love the pioneers. Ever since Nauvoo, I have felt such a love for them. They were more brave than I could ever hope to be. I love them and am so grateful for our ancestors who made this life possible for us!

The rest of this week has been good. I am so excited to go to Finland!! I would be lying if I told you I wasn't scared! I am scared out of my mind. At the beginning of my MTC stay, I kept saying that I didn't want to speak the language wrong until I had more Finnish under my belt. Sadly, that was not the right way to go about it. I totally had the wrong mindset as far as that is concerned. I am really trying to catch up on my SYL(Speak Your Language) and I am working as hard as I can, but it's just hard to learn a language! That's all I can say! Haha I knew Finnish would be hard, but I didn't know it would be this hard. I really do love the language though and during the hard times, I always repeat over and over in my mind, "Focus on the Finns, Focus on the Finns" because that's why I am here learning this. It's for them. It's to help them. I just can't wait for the day when I can walk up to a Finn and talk to them like it's NBD. That day will come. I know it will. I just have to keep trying! Pray for my Finnish! We start our consecration week next Thursday which means we can only speak Finnish all week. I have an odd feeling it's going to be super quiet, but it will be good! haha I really feel if I take that week very seriously, I will progress a lot. It's crunch time messin' around!

I have been thinking a lot this week about why I am serving a mission. Now, don't freak out and think I am second guessing myself, but I have just been thinking about my reasons for serving. In the beginning (like last December) the only reason I was thinking about serving a mission because I felt like I had to. I didn't know why and I didn't want to go. Mom and Dad, you definitely know how I felt about serving a mission :) I have to admit, when I got to the MTC, my motives were the same. I was doing it out of duty. Young women don't have a duty to serve, but I knew without a doubt that it was what Heavenly Father wanted me to do, so I came because I was obedient, not because I wanted to.

I think that held me back for a long time. I felt like this was a punishment or a test of my faithfulness or something else of a negative nature. It was like I was fighting against Heavenly Father and my Savior instead of fighting with them. This week has been one of the most incredible of my life. Honestly I don't even know how to describe the feelings that are in my heart right now. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. Being away from you guys is SO hard, but I am so beyond grateful to my Heavenly Father and my Savior for helping me to get on this mission. I have been shocked, like literally shocked at how much I personally need this mission. I have been thinking about my life over just this past year and I am absolutely certain in my heart that all my decisions in life have geared me towards this mission. I thought my testimony was strong, but being here has taught me that it was not strong enough! Sorry, I don't mean to go all "grim reaper and ya'll need Jesus" on everybody, but if nothing else, being on a mission has taught me who the Savior is. He is everything to me.

 Honestly, I wish I could describe my feelings of love for Him. All that I guys, my testimony, everything I owe to Him. There is a mormon message called "Wise Men still seek Him" and at the end, there is a quote by President Monson that says something like "Christ doesn't ask us to bring gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but of all the treasures we possess, he asks that we give of ourselves." I could never express my thanks to the Savior for getting me to this point in my life. My love for Him and relationship with Him is what is keeping me here now. He loved me enough to get me here, and I love Him enough to stay. I think that goes for everything in life. He loves us each enough to take us where we need to go, and then He stays with us. He helps us if we let him. He will NEVER leave us. Life is so full of change and uncertainty, but the one thing we can ALWAYS count on is our Savior's love. He will never leave us alone. He is our best friend. I have such a strong testimony of Him. I have so much more to learn, but I am working on it every day! It gives me such hope everyday to be able to wake up and learn about my Savior. And for the next month, we get to think about Him and his birth and His life and His Atonement. That is why Christmas is so great! I LOVE JOULU!!!

 Anyways, sorry to ramble on and on, but I have wanted to share this with you guys all week! Mom and Dad, thank you so much for raising me in this gospel. I have never appreciated it as much as I do now! This Thanksgiving I have realized that all we need in life is the gospel of Jesus Christ and our families! They are the two greatest blessings in my life and I wouldn't trade my relationships with you guys or my Savior for anything in the world! I love this gospel so much and I am so excited to share it with the Finnish people. I may not be able to speak their language, but I can love them and I can do my best. That's all God asks of us. That we love each other and try every day to get better! I know we can all do that!! 

So now that I am off my soap box, I will try and write to each of you as soon as I can! I cannot wait to talk to you guys on the 16th and then again on the 25th! Talk about Best Christmas Present EVER!!!! We will have to figure out the details later. Mom and Dad, are you still planning on sending me a phone to use or do I need to buy some phone cards? Also, we need like boatloads of money for our bags. I should have enough in my bank account but I didn't know if Dad had been borrowing money from me or something :) hahahaha totally kidding dad. Don't worry guys, I still have my sense of humor! hahah Mom I would love a green cardigan and a purplish one. Those colors will work best I think. Oh and I don't need it right now, but it might be easier to send me with some Tonya makeup now so I don't have to have it shipped to Finlandia! Write me when you can! I love you all with all of my heart! I pray for you all everyday! Have a fantastic week and keep reading the Book of Mormon and saying your prayers. They are the primary answers, but we learn them in primary for a reason! He ovat tosi tarkea!! They are so important!! Mina rakastan teita!!! Talk to you soon!!

All my love, Sisar Bitner 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My wonderful family!!! How are all of you doing? Honestly I miss all of you so much! I never really understood how important mail is to a missionary, but getting your guys' letters makes me want to run up and down the halls of the MTC doing a skirt....:)  Family support is what keeps me going! Lauren I can't believe you got BRACES! Holy cow! I bet you look so cute! Please send me pictures! I want to see all of you! Luke I am so glad you are playing with Quinton now! Keep it up! and Caroline I loved your card and your poem! All of my friends from my district thought it was so cute! And my companion is really nice. She has a little sister that is 9 too and we think that you two should be best friends! She is funny just like you! :)

Mom thank you SO much for the cookies and letter! Oh and the skirts! There are times throughout the day when I get frustrated with Finnish or anything else and then I think about you all and your letters and how much I love you and then I keep working on my verb conjugations and noun and adjective stems! :) So basically what I am trying to say is...KEEP SENDING ME LETTERS. I'm not desperate or anything....Hahahahaha did that sound creepy or what? no but for real! It's so great to hear from you all! I just love you more than I can say!

So the subject of my letter this week is Go time because IT'S GO TIME!! My teacher, Veli Stewart, looked at us the other day and said, "So how do you feel about going to Finland in less than a month?" We all just stared at each other and about threw up. I can't believe I will be in Finland in a month. There is still so much to do! I can't wait to get there though. It's the weirdest emotion because I am like scared and nervous and I feel so inadequate with the language and my testimony, but I was called to serve a mission...not to stay in the MTC for 18 months! :) Thank heaven that is true! The MTC is great, but I can't wait to meet real people! It's going to be great! Plus we get to talk on the phone in less than a month and then we get to skype over Christmas!! HOLY CRAP I am so excited for that I can't even stand it!! We will have to figure that out more in a few weeks but just know, I am pumped!!

So today was our last day at the Provo temple until 2015! They are closing the temple to earthquake proof it so we all had a nice session this morning and then we had brunch at the temple! It was so delicious. The MTC food is good, but I had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream at the temple and it was so great! Reminded me of Valentine's day with the fam :) It wasn't as good as yours though mom so don't worry, but it was still way fun! I am sad that it's our last time in the temple...that is always the best part about P-day but the next time I go to the temple it will be in Helsinki. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? I still don't feel like this is real life! I am going to Finland. Holy cow!!

We had a devotional on Sunday and the lady that came was the funniest person I have ever heard. Her name is Mary Allen Edmunds and she seriously had the whole MTC crying we were laughing so hard. She talked a lot about being happy and how Heavenly Father makes up for what we can't do. Some of my favorite one liners she said were "A might change of heart = a mighty change of mind", "All you can do is the best you can do", "What do you know about what you can do? You don't know you as well as Heavenly Father and Jesus do. Let them have you." "Have an attitude of happiness and a spirit of optimism" "Let Them Love You" "Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have wonderful plans for me." Needless to say, she definitely has inspired me to work on being optimistic and happy. I didn't know that was a weakness of mine, but I know it has been brought to my attention so I can work on it. That's the great thing and the hard thing about life. There is always something to work on but Heavenly Father and Jesus will always help us! I have no doubt in my mind about that! 

Thanksgiving is coming up! I'm not going to lie, it's hard not to be homesick right now with the holiday season coming up, but I am excited for our Thanksgiving schedule here at the MTC. We have some big shot GA coming...they won't tell us who...and then we get a two hour Thanksgiving lunch and we are doing a huge humanitarian service project later in the afternoon. Plus we don't have any class so that will be nice! All of us decided that we are so glad that we are in the MTC on Thanksgiving cause apparently they don't celebrate it in Finland...what the heck? I hope you know I'm being sarcastic right now :) My brain is fried, but not that bad! It's going to be good though! I will probably be e-mailing you next week on Wednesday because our P-day is on Thanksgiving so expect an e-mail then!

So Finnish is coming along really well. I had some "personal study" with my teacher Veli Stewart yesterday and he really helped me. I would tell you what I am going to work on, but I think it would bore you so just know that I am getting better every day :) We have started playing name that tune on our chalkboard in class. You get to go up and write lyrics to songs in Finnish and then whoever guesses the translation first gets to write the next one. It's actually way funny and it helps us learn a lot of vocab and grammar surprisingly! 

I don't know if I have told you about how we sing a hymn in Finnish before every class or not, but let me tell you it is AWESOME! I have grown to love singing so much here in the MTC. I can't sing, but I love to sing! I sing all the time! In the morning, at meals, in class...I'm pretty sure I drive everyone crazy but it's so easy to be happy when you're singing! I mostly stick with musicals and hymns...trying to keep the spirit, but occasionally "I'm Yours" or "Feeling Good" or "Good Time" pop in there. What can I say? It's sometimes nice to remember that normal life is going on somewhere! :) I love singing the hymns in Finnish though. Music really does bring the spirit so much! I love it!

So this week I have decided to focus on humility as my Christlike attribute. It's still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I am serving a mission. I wake up some days and I'm like "Is this real life? What the heck am I doing here?" I think that has been holding me back a lot. I was thinking about which attribute I could work on and humility kept popping into my head and I was like, "Ya, ya whatever...I don't need humility, I need diligence or charity or something." Then I realized that just the fact that I thought I didn't need humility just proves how much I need humility. hahaha I think a lot of times in our church we just say, "Be humble" but I never really understood what that meant. I don't think I do now, but as I was studying last night, I came up with my own definition of humility. Let me know what you think about it. K so it goes "To be humble is to submit to the will of the Lord with a happy heart, having faith that He will be with me wherever I go." Now that is totally not doctrine or anything, but it works for me!

I found this quote in Preach My Gospel that says, "I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work - there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work." I want this more than anything and I am really working on it everyday! I don't want you to think your letters make me sad or distract me because they don't. They strengthen me so much! If I can forget myself and go to work...and still have your support, I know that I can learn Finnish and survive the Finnish winter and do anything else Heavenly Father will ask me to do. Please pray that I will be able to lose myself in this work. I never realized how selfish I was until I came to the MTC but I am trying to stop thinking about myself. Each day gets better and I know that the more I get into this work, the happier I will be. I think that is true for all of us! The more we lose ourselves, the happier we will be! Isn't that funny how that works? Who would have thought? :)

Well Dad, Mom, Jocelyn, Anne, Lauren, Luke, and Caroline I love you with all of my heart. There is nothing I am more grateful for this year than my Savior Jesus Christ, his gospel and all of you! We have all been so blessed. Seriously it blows my mind everyday when I think about it. I love you all so much and think about and pray for you everyday! Pray for the gift of tongues! It might come in handy at some point! Have a great week and know that mina rakastan sinua!! 

All my love, 

Sisar Bitner 

P.S. So Mom, you asked about Christmas....I think what I want most and will have room for is slippers...A Ross special are fine, I just need something warm! regular socks, like to wear with sweats and stuff. Not ankle socks, just cool, cute, warm, socks! :) Oh and I would LOVE another cardigan or two! I want to wear them like everyday but I only have three! Oh and some more tights. If you could send the tights before Christmas that would be great! I have a run in my black ones so black solid tights would be great! I love you so much lady!! Thanks for all you do!! Thanks for loving me so much all of you! You're the best!!! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pictures From Weeks 4 & 5

Thanks for the mustaches Rae! Pulling an Uncle Dave! :)

Thanks for the mustaches Rae! Pulling an Uncle Dave! :)

Thanks for the mustaches Rae! Pulling and Uncle Dave! :)

Vanhin Coffey

Vanhin Hunter

Vanhin Stimson

My beauty...NOT :)

I am converting Sisar Thayne to be an Aggie!

Where the magic happens aka our classroom

My desk

Me after a hard day of Finnish :) I love selfies!

Our Purpose as missionaries :)

Vanhin Coffey and Vanhin Hunter playing "Name That Tune". I'll explain later :)

I've converted to the nun life!

Sisaret at the temple...again!!! Sorry I send this pic so many times, but really all we do is sit in class, eat, and go to the temple haha!

We love temple walks!!!

We love temple walks!!!

Sunday devotional


P-day Eve party....aka we found  vending machines in our basements

Our last time at the temple... the Provo Temple is closing until the beginning of the year so we did a session and a breakfast there this morning! So FUN!
Doing laundry.
Another temple pic.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Terve perhe!! Holy cow one month of my mission is already gone. K, that's kind of gross. I can't believe it's been a month. Ok scratch that...I feel like it's been years since I left but then I look back and I'm like wait How long have I been here? It's kind of hard to believe that I actually did anything other than be at the MTC! It's great though! I have learned SO much. I think that's why missionaries get so tired...a lot of knowledge coming at you from every angle! 

I am so sorry about my lack of letter writing. You are all so great to send me dearelders and letters. I am trying to write back as fast as I can. Just know that I am so grateful for your support and love. It means the world to me and literally is what keeps me going. You are all in my prayers everyday. I have honestly been blessed with the greatest family and friends in the world. I don't know what I would do without you!

So this week has been pretty good! Sisar Thayne and I have reevaluated our language study plan and our Finnish is coming along a lot better. We finally figured out a system of taking notes that works really well. It's so easy to get overwhelmed when you are learning a language, but we are focusing on learning 15 words a day and trying to implement as much Finnish into our conversations as we can. I really can testify that the gift of tongues is real. People always say that the only ones who can learn Finnish are Finnish babies and mormon missionaries and it's SO true. I've probably already said that in one of my letters, but it's all good, right? :) I am working really hard though on the language and I know that one day I will be able to speak it....preferably sooner than later but hey, I guess we'll see :) 

We have decided that the language we can speak right now is called "Spenglinnish" a combo of Spanish, English, and Finnish. Occasionally we will be teaching a lesson and I will throw a "Si" or a "muy bien" in there. The other day we were teaching our "Investigator" (our teacher, Sisar Shaw) and I said Minä tiedän että Mormonin kirja on muy bien kirja" which means "I know the Book of Mormon is a "muy bien" book. Ya she laughed for like 20 minutes. I didn't think it was that funny...idk maybe I'm losing my sense of humor :) Just kidding, I'm not. But it is funny how your language brain just puts together every language you have ever heard. I love Finnish though. I am so grateful that I get to learn a language and especially one not a lot of people know. It's so stinking cool!

So our teachers taught us a funny Finnish phrase this week that apparently all the "cool kids" say in Finland. So you know how we say, "What's up dawg" in America? Well in Finland they say "Morro Porro" which means "What's up Reindeer?" Ya they are kind of legit :) Isn't that funny? I can't wait to see a reindeer. I will definitely take pics!! So you should all walk around saying Morro Porro and you willl be as cool as the sick kids in Finland! :)

L. Tom Perry came and spoke to us on Tuesday which was pretty legit. He talked about companionships which wasn't what any of us were expecting, but it was still good and apparently needed to be addressed. I love Sisar Thayne, but we have been talking this week about how being with someone for 24 hours, 7 days a week kind of sets your teeth on edge a little bit. It's like having a shadow that talks back to you. We talked through some of our probs and decided that it's great that we are learning to be with someone 24/7 now cause when we get married, we're going to be so excited to get any time with our husbands! So it's definitely a good thing...we think :)

So I have been thinking this week a lot about the Savior...I know, shocker huh? :) But an Elder in my district shared this quote with me and I wanted to share it with all of you. It's by Bruce C. Hafen and it says, "Some church members feel weighed down with discouragement about the circumstances of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts. Frequently these feelings of self-disappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may not be fully to blame. The Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to all these experiences because it applies to all of life. The Savior can wipe away all of our tears after all that we can do. The Savior's atonement is the healing power not only for sin, but also for carelessness, inadequacy, and all mortal bitterness. The Atonement is not just for sinners." 

I love that quote so much! I have to tell you, being at the MTC has broken down my thick, stubborn shell. All my doubts and inadequacies and weaknesses have been brought to my attention. I know, it sounds bad, but it has made me realize how I literally need my Savior in every single aspect of my life. I have always had a rock of a family to help me through all my trials, and I still do, but I only get to talk with you once a week. Who are we supposed to turn to to help us get through every day life? We are supposed to rely on the Savior. He is always there to help us. He knows every little tiny thing we feel. I have realized that my first convert on my mission is me. I have always had a testimony, but there is always room to improve and to increase our faith in Jesus Christ. He is our best friend. He will not fail us, nor forsake us. NBD I came up with that on my own. JK I stole it from President Monson but I know that is true. Anything is possible when we rely on the Savior!

I want you all to know how much I love you and how much I love this gospel. It is the greatest thing that any of us have. It is our responsibility to share it. I am grateful for the MTC but I cannot wait to get to Finland. Every day Sisar Thayne and I wake up and look at each other and say "Finlandia for Life", then we laugh, and get to work :) It's such a strange thing being on a mission. You experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows but all you remember at the end of the day are the highs! It's so wonderful! I am so grateful for each of you and I appreciate your love and support more than you could ever know! One cool thing I have started doing with my scripture study is writing a question down from the day. It can literally be anything, but when you read your scriptures, try and look for answers to that question. I promise that you will find answers even if your question is "Why are my friends rude to me?" and you are reading about Ammon cutting of the arms of the Lamanites....for real though :) you will get answers and then the Book of Mormon will become a tool for you to use in your life instead of just something we do at the end of the day. I love the Book of Mormon. It is my favorite part of the day when I can sit and study that book. It's amazing!! Hey guys, did I mention I love the Book of Mormon? Ok, I'm done now :) I hope you all have a fantastic week! Please be safe and look out for each other. I love you with all my heart!

Minä luvatan että Mormonin Kirja siunataa sinun elämä. Luket Mormonin Kirja aina!!!!

Haha Finnish is so great! :)

I love you guys! Rakastan sinua!!

Love, Sisar Bitner 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week 3 baby!! We made it. Honestly the MTC time warp is the WEIRDEST thing I have ever experienced. I decided this week that my favorite day at the MTC is Wednesday A, because it's P-day eve, but B, because all the new missionaries come in on Wednesdays. It is so nice to see new people. It's great not being the noobs anymore :)

So this week has been great. We teach "investigators" in Finnish every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It's like the scariest thing in the world, but it's amazing how the spirit can be there even when I'm saying "God loves you" and "I know the Book of Mormon is true and will bring you peace." Translation: "Jumala rakastaa sinua" and "Minä tiedän että Mormonin Kirja on totta ja tuot sinua rauha." NBD, I speak Finnish. Totally kidding. Finnish is a struggle. But we're working on it. Whenever our teachers teach us a new grammar concept, and don't worry, there is a new one every class, we always yell at them and say "Brain dart". That's what the Finnish grammar makes you feel like. Someone is throwing a dart at your head. But it's great and I love it! When our teachers speak it, it is so beautiful. Honestly it sounds like they are singing. I can't wait until I get to that point! I have little love bursts for Finnish. Very few and far between but I know that I will eventually love it! :)

So I was talking to my teacher Sisar Shaw this week and she shared me our mission president's family motto and I wanted to share it with all of you. It goes:

"Life is an adventure. It will be good for your character. Rejoice in all things"

I love that so much. It is so great to remember that everything we go through in life is there to help us grow and progress. If we can just remember that life is meant to be an adventure and to be happy whenever we can, we will get far in life. The Finnish sisters are basically best friends now. Sisar Pack, Sisar Woods, and Sisar Dixon are all so amazing. We are in different districts, but we hang out all the time. It is so great to have them here and we all get along so well. Sisar Pack is our masseuse. Like seriously, she gives us back massages. It's the greatest thing ever. I am definitely spoiled here at the MTC. There are ups and downs for sure, but I have learned that when we enjoy the highs and try our best to push through the lows with a positive attitude, the lows come less often and the highs last a lot longer!

Our zone plays volleyball during gym time. I never liked volleyball but now it is my favorite thing in the world. Probably cause it's not in Finnish, but it's way fun just the same. Our zone leaders are leaving to Hungary this week and we are all SO sad. We have grown so close and they really are some of my best friends. Me and Sisar Thayne were talking about how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to each other. We have known our zone leaders for 3 weeks and I am probably going to cry when they leave. I don't even want to think about not being with Sisar Thayne. Oh well...we are enjoying the time we have with each other :)

So there are a lot of missionaries here from Finland. Ok, not a lot, but since all of us have met about zero Finnish people in our lives, meeting one person from Finland is like the best thing ever. I think they are kind of scared of us because whenever we see them, we all run and yell "Terve, mita kuulu" which means "Hi, How are you". Finnish people are pretty quiet and reserved so I think all the attention is a bit much, but they are good sports and always talk to us. They all look Finnish. Mom, I think Finnish people do have a look, although I don't think you match it like that lady in Macy's thought. Haha That was so funny. But they are all blonde, blue eyed, and Scandinavian. It's great. It's so hard not to want to be in Finland right now. But then I remember that I can't speak the language so it's a good thing I have 6 more weeks. :)

This week I have been thinking a lot about how to become more like Jesus Christ. There are so many places to improve, but that train of thought kind of got me thinking about who Jesus Christ really is and what he did for each of us. The Atonement is the ultimate expression of love. He literally sacrificed himself for us. He is our advocate with the Father. He is pleading to the Father on our behalf. Everyone should go and read D&C 45:3-5. It made me cry this week as I was studying. We are his friends. He wants us to return to live with Him again. All he asks is that we have faith in him, repent, always remember him, and do what he asks with a cheerful and happy heart, and we get eternal life in return. Talk about unprofitable servants! I love my Savior. Everything that I am and have I owe to him!  

I am so grateful for each of you. Seriously I have been thinking how I am going to stand being away from you all for 18 months, but then I realized that I can be gone for 18 months because I have all of you. You are such a strength to me. All of the packages and letters boost my spirits so much. I am so beyond grateful for the temple which allows us to be together as families forever. It is honestly the most unbelievable blessing and I want everyone in Finland and in the world to have that blessing as well. We are so blessed to be members of this church. To have this direction and peace in our lives is SO amazing. AHHHH I love this gospel and this church so much! I am feeling the love today! :)

So this week we get to hear from L. TOM PERRY on Tuesday night. I am freaking out! I am so excited!!! I will let you know the highlights of his talk for sure. It's going to be so great! Mom and Dad I also want to say HAPPY ANNIVERSARY this week! I don't even know how to express how much I love you two. You are everything I hope to be! Thank you so much for everything! I love all of you so much and am so grateful for the support I receive. I couldn't do this without you! Pray for the gift of tongues! It will probably come in handy for me one day :) I love you all more than you could ever know! Have a mahtava week...Awesome...mahtava means awesome! :) 

Kirkko on totta!
Moi Moi!

Love, Sisar Bitner

District walk on Sunday to the temple.

District walk on Sunday to the temple.

Me and Sisar Thayne by Provo Temple.

Sisar Thayne and I in class.

Sisar Thayne and I in class.

Sisar Thayne and I in class.

Sisar Thayne and I in class.

My face after Finnish class...woof!

Lunch in cafeteria.

'I love you' in Finnish.

Bored in class.

Me and Sister McCleary... what a small world.

Sisar Thayne looking for her retainer... long story :)

My desk.

Famous Map pic.

Map Pic.

More map pics.

Our zone after gym time.

Me and Sisar Thayne.

The Finnish districts.

Our zone by the temple.

Temple Thursday.

Love you all