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 folks...no 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 have...you 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