The Winds are Changing...
So this week has been pretty much insanity! Sister Egan and I feel like we have been through the ringer, but it's ok, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Every cloud has a silver lining, even in Finland. It may not seem like it, but we are strong. Just like Grandma Parkinson always says, "We can do hard things!" SO pretty much all of our investigators have gone A-wall. Zheng...my cute Chinese friend has dropped us like we're hot. We have no idea what happened. Last week she wanted to be baptized and this week she won't respond to anything. It's so crazy. I don't even know what to think. But I know that Prayer helps so much, especially when all you pray as well! Pray that we will be able to get in contact with her. She needs and wants this gospel so badly. I know it!
So Anna is doing really well. She is progressing, slowly but surely. She has taught me so much about patience. Obviously, my wish is that she would be baptized like yesterday, so it's really frustrating when she isn't keeping any of her commitments and we have to keep going back to square 1. I always tell Sister Egan that it wouldn't be so frustrating if I didn't love these people so much! haha Man, the life of a missionary. It's the best! Like for real though! It's awesome! So our other investigator, Kirsi, is also dodging us like a bullet. We have been trying to set things up with her for weeks and she has made every excuse in the excuse book and more. Now she just isn't answering our calls either. Man, it's hard getting dodged all the time...I can tell you that! :) But it's ok, we are trying to keep our spirits up!
Good news on Petteri. The Elders helped him out this week and he came to church on Sunday. He looked pretty bad, but I was so glad he was doing better. He is going to be a bishop one day. I know it!
So this week really has been hard. None of our investigators kept any of the commitments we gave them. We haven't had much finding success and man...it's just been rough. I have to tell you about this amazing experience that happened though. It seriously made everything we went through this week SO worth it. So on Valentine's day...BTW HYVÄÄ YSTÄVANPÄIVÄ! That means friend day in Finnish. They call it friend day here because love is a very sensitive subject for the Finns. They don't say I love you unless they seriously love you! They are a very literal people! Even the language is VERY literal I love it so much! Anyways on Friend Day, we decided that we were going to make cookies and take them to all of the less actives in our ward. We may have bitten off more than we could chew...there are lots of less actives. I know, I know, we're working on it! :) Anyways, so we start visiting all these people with these cute little cookies and....no one is home. Like literally no one. We were so discouraged. It was just like Man, what else could go wrong? That's a dangerous question to ask by the way...don't ask it! haha just kidding! :)
Anyways, so we went to get on a bus to go home, and I had pretty much had it for the week. I said a prayer right at the bus stop and said Heavenly Father, we need your help. If you will show me who to sit next to on this bus, I will teach them the gospel. Seriously, when the bus pulled up, it looked like there was a spotlight shining on this girl. I knew I had to sit next to her. I got on the bus and asked if I could sit next to her. She said "of course" and we were basically best friends. We started talking all about the church and turns out she has a mormon friend. Like what? That is unheard of in Finland. Mormons are friends with Mormons but yep, here she was. A nonmember who is best friends with a member. It was incredible. I had the thought to invite her to come see our church. We do church tours for people, it is actually a way effective way to contact! Anyways so I asked her about it and she said "Oh my word yes. I have wanted to see your church for such a long time. Can I come on Wednesday at 2:30?" Seriously I about fell out of my seat. I was so excited. I whipped out my good old missionary planner, we penciled her in, and now we have a new investigator and she is coming to a church tour on Wednesday!! It was so incredible! Heavenly Father answers prayers!! I have never had such a direct answer to my prayer and so quickly. It was amazing.
I know He is preparing people for all of us...not just us missionaries. We just have to pray for the opportunities and be willing to act on those promptings we receive. It is so key that we pray with real intent. Real intent means that we REALLY INTEND to act on the answer we receive. Heavenly Father knows when we aren't being sincere. He answers every sincere prayer we give. I can promise you that. I can also promise that if you will pray with a willing heart and really listen, Heavenly Father will make you equal to whatever task or situation he will lead you to. I promise! The spirit speaks so quietly and peacefully. It is hard to recognize Him but We are promised that the spirit will always be with us as we always remember Christ, take His name upon us, and keep His commandments. Pray Always and more specifically Pray to Find the One. That is what we are working on as a Finland Helsinki Mission. The Kingdom is built one by one. If every member in the church shared the gospel with one person, we would have over 15 million new investigators! Can you imagine? 15 million INVESTIGATORS!! Man it would be so amazing!! :) The best part is, that is totally possible. We all know someone who needs the gospel. Focus on The One and this work will skyrocket from there! I just know it!!!
Oh boy, I almost forgot, guess what else this week is....TRANSFER WEEK!!!! We got our change calls on Saturday morning. Sisar Egan and I have been stressing about it all week. She has been in Tampere for 1 year and we both felt that the winds were changing. We were playing out all the different situations in our heads of what could happen, and we were going back and forth and back and forth and man, we were going CRAZY!! By the end of the week, we were both convinced that we were staying together. Then, President Rawlings called us on Saturday morning and said, "Hello Sisters. How are you doing?" and Sister Egan blurted out "President, where are we going?" and he said "Sister Egan, you are going to Espoo and Sister Jones is coming to Tampere to finish Sister Bitner's training." Now a little background, trainers and trainees NEVER get split up in Finland! Ok, that's not true, but it is very rare! Sister Egan kept telling me all week that we would be together because President just doesn't take trainers away from their trainee, but apparently that is not the case this time 'round folks! Espoo (pronounced S-PO not like Poo, like poop, but Po, like on Kung Fu Panda) is right next to Helsinki and Sister Egan is heading down there and I am sticking around in good old T-town! Tonight...as I am writing this, is the last night I am spending with my trainer. It's really weird, but I am super excited that Sister Jones is my new companion. I am sure I will have pictures and tons to write about her next week so be expecting that. We did splits together when I was in Helsinki for Interim and she is awesome. We worked really well together and had so much fun! I know it's going to be great! :)
I am going to miss Sister Egan a lot though, but I know that she needs to get away from Tampere. She has been here for so long, and I know a change is exactly what she needs! I am going to miss her a lot. She has taught me so much. I have learned so much about loving people unconditionally from her. She really loves everyone regardless of who they are, what they have done, or anything else! She is an incredible person and missionary and I know we will be Sisters for life! I have grown more in these past 9 weeks with Sister Egan, no scratch that, past 4 months with her and Sisar Thayne than I have in the 19 years leading up to my mission. Seriously, the growth you experience on a mission is like insane in the membrane. I honestly have the best companions though. I 100% believe that and will say it til I am dead. They have both been angels!
It's funny though, as the days go by, you don't feel like you are changing. Whether it's with the language or your testimony or anything else. Then you look back and don't even recognize the person you were 9 weeks ago. I was really worried about my mission changing my personality and changing all these things that made me who I was. Now I thank Heavenly Father every day for making me into the person that He needs me to be. I realized something this week...we really do sell ourselves short a lot in life by not completely giving our lives over to the Lord. We have no concept of the potential that we each have as individuals. Heavenly Father is our literal Father. He knows us SO well and so personally. He knows exactly what we have the potential to become. That is why He gives us commandments and helps us know where to go in life because He sees the end result even when we can't.
I have this metaphor in my head that I want to tell you, so let's see how well it works. Ok, so life is like a maze. We all start out in the same spot when we are born and then from that point on, all of our different choices and situations get us to different places in this maze. Sounds scary right? I kind of envision the maze from Harry Potter 4 in my head, so try that on for size and see how it works for you. :) Sometimes the maze is dark. Sometimes we hear scary noises. Sometimes we are with our friends and family. Other times we are alone. Now Heavenly Father created the maze (well he supervised the creation, but that's beside the point), knows everything about the maze, and in fact is standing on a tower looking above the maze. He can see everything. He knows the fastest way for us to get to where we need to be and He wants to help us get there. In fact, He has a big spotlight (The gospel) that he shines in front of us and directs us exactly where we need to go.
Sometimes, however, we feel like we know the best route to take and so we set out on our own. Even though the spot light is going down another path, our "natural man" wants to figure it out for ourselves and wants to do what it wants to do so we go for awhile by ourselves. As time passes, we realize that we have no idea what is going on. But the good news is, even though we may have strayed from the light, Jesus Christ is the turn table that the big old spot light is sitting on. Because of Him, we don't have to be forever punished because we didn't always exactly follow the light. Our mistakes and shortcomings don't take us away from the light forever. Because of Him, we can stop at whatever point we are at in the maze and reevaluate our direction. We can choose to turn around and come back to the light. It will always be there to get us going in the right direction again.
There really is so much peace and happiness that comes from giving our lives over to the Lord. He wants us to start from where we are now and move forward. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, He just expects us to try. I got a quote from one of my friends in the MTC that I LOVE and look at every day. It is by Lorenzo Snow and it says, "Do not expect to 'become' at once. If you do, you will be disappointed. Be better today than yesterday and be better tomorrow than you are today. The temptations that partially overcome us today, let them not overcome us so far tomorrow. Thus continue to be a little better, day-by-day: and do not let your life wear away without accomplishing good to others as well as to ourselves. Each last day or each last week should be the best that we have ever experienced, that is, we should advance ourselves a little every day. In knowledge and wisdom, and in the ability to accomplish good. As we grow older, we should live nearer the Lord each following day." Nothing like a quote from the prophets to sum things up! :)
Anyways, I am sorry this was all over the place. Kind of matches my brain right now! :) haha but I am doing so well and loving being a missionary so much. It has it's ups and downs and rights and lefts, but at the end of the day, I am so happy to be exactly where I am. I know that this is Gods work. It would not go anywhere without him directing it. I know that we are so lucky to be able to participate in this work. It is so wonderful! I know that everything that happens to us in life happens for a reason and that we are strong enough to get through anything with the Atonement. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and My Father in Heaven. This church is true! It's as simple as that! :) I love you all so much! I hope you know how grateful I am for you and for how much I appreciate you! Have a wonderful week and share the gospel with one person! Get a referral for the missionaries! You will make their entire day...no week...actually probably life! Help them out! They need it! Members are the key!!!! I love you all so much!
Rakaudella, Sisar Bitner