Well hey guys! How are you all doing! Thank you so much for all your e-mails and pictures and everything! It is so fun to see all of you guys! I get so excited to come and see what has been happening in your lives every p day and the pictures are just the icing on the cake! You are all so beautiful and wonderful! I show people our family picture all the time and brag about how amazing you all are! By the time I leave Finland, everyone will know how bomb awesome my Dad is at everything...like for real though, how beautiful and kind and loving and amazing and how much of a saint my Mom is, how hilarious and beautiful and smart and athletic and pretty much just legit Jocelyn is, how beautiful and creative and smart and athletic and hilarious Anne is, how my BB is my mini me and is a beast at tennis and everything else and I love her so stinking much, how handsome and hilarious and what a good bum spanker Luke is, and how Beanie Weanie is my little sunshine and how bomb awesome both of the twins are at soccer. Don't worry, I tell people all these things on a regular basis. You are all so important to me, it wouldn't make sense to not have you as part of my missionary work!! Just know that even though you aren't here, you are totally here. All of your influence is being felt by everyone I talk to. Thank you all for being amazing! Thank you for being you and for loving me! Your love and support keeps me going every day!!!
Man, where to begin with this week. I am not going to lie, this week may take over as "hardest week on my mission so far". It has been a struggle. But don't worry Mom, you have always said I don't like being sad or down and I work myself out of it. It was a struggle this week, but every cloud has a silver lining and I know that I have found mine this week!
So you all know about Petteri and what happened last week. This week it has just been the biggest headache and stress trying to figure out what to do with him. I was pretty shaken up after last Sunday, not going to lie. I couldn't sleep very well. I kept thinking he was going to find our house, all drunk and scary and stuff and I was pretty much planning how I was going to go all kung-pow chicken on him and protect Sister Egan. Good thing that was totally unnecessary, but still I was pretty jumpy all week. The Elders are teaching him now, but they went over to his house and they said you couldn't even see the floor, it was completely covered in beer cans. They said everything in his apartment was broken and he is really having a hard time. We have been so worried that he is literally going to die from alcohol poisoning. All we can do is pray for him now...the Elders are taking care of him, but please keep him in your prayers. He needs this gospel SO BAD. He is going to be a bishop one day...there is no doubt in my mind. Keep praying for him. I appreciate and can see the effects of all of your prayers every day! Thank you for caring about my investigators. I love them all so much. As much as Petteri scared Sisar Egan and I, it is breaking our hearts to see him like this because we care about him so much and want him to have the gospel more than anything else in the world. I know that Heavenly Father will take care of Him, but I know that he needs all the prayers he can get!
Sister Egan and I spent 3 days this week inside our apartment because she has been so tired and just doesn't feel well. It was so incredibly hard and frustrating and just awful, to be honest. We had some really good talks while we were inside and we are still trying to figure out how to help her. The doctors said other than her tonsilitis, she is totally fine. No other medical problems whatsoever, but she said she feels like she is going to pass out when we are walking around and she can't think straight and her throat hurts and her knee hurts and all sorts of problems. It is extremely hard because I honestly have no idea how to help her. I think her problems run a little deeper than inability to think and I just feel helpless sitting here, wondering what I can do to fix her problems. I have been praying and thinking a lot about it, and I think the best thing I can do is try to be as upbeat and positive and happy as I can so that hopefully some of my energy rubs off on Sister Egan. It's really hard to see this happening because she doesn't have a lot of time left in Finland and I know she wants to finish her mission strong. I really hope that my plan will work! I know that Heavenly Father has blessed me with incredible patience and love...more than I ever had before my mission. He really does make us equal to whatever task we are willing to do! I know that is true!!
I have decided that my two sunshines in Finland are Anna and Zheng. I sent a pic of Zheng last week...I still need to get one with Anna but they are both incredible! I get SO excited when we get to go see them! We had a lesson with Anna this week about the Book of Mormon. Not going to lie, I was not feeling the spirit at all. That day had been a really frustrating with Sister Egan's health and all our issues and it just was not there at all. I was praying SO hard that the spirit would come into the lesson even though I knew I wasn't in the right mindset. Heavenly Father blessed us so much. Sisar Egan and I were both frustrated and tired and honestly after I said that silent prayer in my heart, I felt like the Energizer bunny was let loose inside of me. I started talking about the Book of Mormon more excitedly and enthusiastically than I think I ever have in my life. Then some of my energy juice spilled onto Sister Egan and she started doing the same thing. Anna was a little shocked at first at how passionately we were testifying of the Book of Mormon, but at the end when we asked her if she would pray about the Book of Mormon, her eyes just welled up with tears and she said that she would....it was so amazing! I know that she is so ready for this gospel. She is yearning for peace and contentment in her life. She does live with her boyfriend though and she drinks alcohol just like everyone and their dog in Finland...man I seriously HATE the stuff, but we are working with her on that. We are trying to help her recognize the blessings that have come into her life because of the gospel already and how many more she could have. I know that she knows this is true. She just needs a little more faith! Good thing that is what we are here to help people do...build their faith! What an awesome calling!! I love being a missionary!!
So Zheng...oh my good golly goodness you all NEED to meet Zheng!! She is honestly the cutest, funniest, most sincere person I have ever met in my life. She is an exchange student from China, but she invited us over to her little apartment to have a lesson this week. When I say little, I mean little. It was like the size of our pantry. But she had cleaned it up all nice and cute and had peeled kiwis for me and sister Egan. Like isn't that the cutest thing you have ever heard? She stinking peeled kiwis and had them set on little plates. I was dying...it was so cute! :) Anyways, after the kiwis, we got to know her a little bit more. We gave her a Book of Mormon last Monday because she came to Perhe Ilta (Family Night) for the Young Single Adults. She had so much fun and they all loved her. We played this game at Perhe Ilta where we had to act out stories from the Book of Mormon and guess what they were. She was just eating it right up and then after we left Perhe Ilta, we were walking her to the bus stop and she said, "I think I need to know more about this book so I know what stories they are talking about next time." I wanted to jump up and down and scream I was so happy. We gave her a Book of Mormon, right at the bus stop and testified about it and then sent her on the bus, book in hand with a smile on her face! :) Anyways at our lesson, her two questions about the Book of Mormon...BTW, she had totally read like 10 pages in the Book of Mormon...it was like a miracle...but anyways, her questions were "Who is Mormon?" and "What does it mean in the Book of Mormon when they say 'preserve the records'". Now I don't know about you, but those were some incredibly valid questions :) It was way cute! We answered her questions and then got to know her more, and then launched right into lesson 1.
We taught her all about Heavenly Father and dispensations and prophets and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and from the look on her face, you would have thought she had just seen the sun in Finland for the first time in months (all jokes aside, that is a serious problem...be grateful for the sun) anyways she just loved and believed everything we were saying. She was so excited to be able to read the Book of Mormon more and when we had finished talking about Joseph Smith, she said, "this book is a gift from God." It really is Zheng, it really is! :) So long story short...probably too late now, but anyways we invited her to be baptized on March 1 and she said YES....to the baptism, no to March 1. She said she wants to learn more but she thinks it is "no good idea to set date, no good idea" :) She said that she would tell us this week if she feels good about March 1, so pray that she will receive an answer to her prayers. She has never been religious in her life so the concept of God is still a little foreign but we taught her how to pray and she said the most sincere prayer ever! She is totes getting baptized. It's going to be great!!
One thing I love about Finland...apart from other things, is how many different kinds of people you meet here. It really is a melting pot. You see people from the Congo and China and all sorts of Europeans and gypsies and middle eastern people and of course the Finns but sometimes I don't even remember where I am! It's so cool to meet people from all over the world! We actually teach quite a bit in English, which is sometimes way frustrating because my Finnish is uh, how you say, POOP...but I am working on it. I try to speak as much as I can and it is getting better daily! I know that the gift of tongues is real. I am trying to gain a testimony of the understanding of tongues, but I know that will come with time!
I am learning so much patience on my mission, it is not even funny. Mostly patience with myself. I had a revelation this week that Heavenly Father loves us so much. I know, I know, like how long did it take me to figure that out? But I have been thinking a lot lately about how hard it is to believe that Heavenly Father loves us so much when we have such hard things happen in our lives. That is a question a lot of nonmembers and I think members have. If God loves us so much, why do we have to go through such hard, crappy times in life? I can't tell you how many investigators ask that question. Anyways, as I have been thinking about it, I just realized today that Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. Like, think about that, he knows what we need more than we do. We may think we have all the answers. I thought I did. I thought I knew exactly what I needed in my life to be happy. Boy was I WRONG.
My mission...all 4 months of it...has taught me so much about humility and trust in God. He is never EVER going to take us somewhere we shouldn't be. He will NEVER give us anything we can't handle. He knows the strength that is within us, even though we don't or can't recognize it in ourselves. Whenever I feel like I can't continue, I think about how someone who loves me SO much sent me here to Finland to serve a mission because he knows I can do it. He knows that I need to do it. He knows there are people here that need me. He knows everything. There is a song Sister Egan and I listen to all the time in the mornings. It is way cheesy but something about cheesy church music and being a missionary just work, but anyways it is called "Better than I". One of the lines says "You know better than I, you know the way. I've let go the need to know why, for you know better than I."
This was and is something I have struggled with my whole life. Truly believing that God knows what is right for me. Now I know that sounds so awful and prideful and it is. That is one of the reasons I am so grateful for my mission. But I think there is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn. Quit trying to figure out why your life is the way it is. Quit thinking "what did I do wrong?" "what did I do to deserve this?" If we are trying to live good lives and trying our best each day to be the best person we can be, we are always ALWAYS going to be exactly where we are supposed to be. There is such a relief and happiness and joy that comes from letting go of the need to know why (Helaman 3:35) Cause honestly, he really does know better than all of us. I know, some of you are really smart and clever and witty and...yadda yadda yadda (Seinfeld joke) but I hate to break it to you, God is smarter. He knows what is best!
The best part about all of this is that he loves us. More than anything else, he loves US. Imperfect and prideful and "natural-manny" as we our, he loves us all perfectly and unconditional. Ehdotomasti in Finnish :) He really is our loving Heavenly Father. His whole work and his glory is for us to return to live with Him again. He was willing to do anything, even send his most beloved Son to save us from our sins so that this could be accomplished. He won't stop trying to bring us all back until each and every one of us is back in his presence forever. We can all be together forever someday. Have you ever really thought about what that means? Like not just for a long time, but we can live together as families with god FOREVER. That knowledge is the most incredible gift we have. Don't ever take it for granted! I will never take it for granted again. We are so blessed to have this gospel. Share it with whoever you can. It is too great to keep it all to ourselves! Everyone needs this. Heavenly Father wants everyone to have this and he has allowed us the opportunity to share it with others! What a blessing!!
Anyways, I am doing so great! I have really hard days, discouraging days, but the good days and the knowledge and experiences I am having are the most precious things to me in this world! I wouldn't trade it for anything! I love and miss you all so much and pray for you daily! I am so blessed to have you all forever! It is so wonderful and it is all because of Jesus Christ. Man, I love having his name so close to mine everyday! Nothing is greater than being a missionary!! Have a wonderful week guys!! Remember that I love you all so much, but more importantly, don't ever forget who you are as a child of God and that you have a loving Heavenly Father who wants you to be happy! Let go of the need to know why and I promise you will find peace and happiness! I love you so much!! Thanks for everything! Oh and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!! Spread some gospel love!! Haha
These pics pretty much sum up this week...a lot of sitting inside and being bored and getting creative by doing homemade facials....I know...I am hideous! Hahaha oh well! Jumala rakasta minua!!