Take It Easy :)
Sup guys? Oh man...how are you all doing? I am only going to say this once....ok maybe not...but I AM SO EXCITED TO TALK TO YOU GUYS IN 13 DAYS OH MY GOODNESS OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE I AM SO HAPPY I AM SO HAPPY THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST EXCITING THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME!! Whoo, K I am done now...probably! I am just so excited to see you and talk to you all! This is going to be the best day ever! If I ever start to get frustrated or something during the week, I just smile and think, I get to talk to my family though, so it's fine! I am so pumped!! I can't even begin to express my happiness! But it's going to be so good!!! Oh man...Life is good!! :)
Well it sounds like you all had a great week! I am sorry I don't respond to each individual email, but I read them all and LOVE to hear how you are all doing! Luke and Caroline...I hope you are alive and well! I want to hear from my twins man!! :) I have so much to talk about this week, I don't even know where to start...first things first...I was wondering if it would be at all possible to ship my soccer cleats over here....I know, random, but the ward here LOVES futbol...I am saying it like a European starting today...but we want to organize a game and I want to be prepared...I have to earn their trust somehow! Anyways, we can talk about it later, cause we get to talk to each other in 13 days...ok sorry, no more! :) I am done.... :)
Ok anyways, let me tell you about Sister Fronk. Oh my goodness. I love Sister Fronk. Seriously...my best friend is my companion. She is honestly the funniest person I have ever met. We have been laughing nonstop for 7 days straight. I have popped one too many blood vessels in my head. Honestly, I have a constant headache from laughing. It is wonderful! :) But let me explain why we are best friends...ok 1, she is from Utah. I love Utah. B, She is from Logan, therefore she is an Aggie, therefore I love her. 2, she loves her family as much as I love mine. She has 12 siblings. They are really cool...or so I've heard, but so are mine so it's great! (By the way, did anyone catch my Home Alone reference?) E. She has literally seen every single movie I have ever seen. Like all of them. Like she loves Slipper and the Rose, Pete's Dragon and Doris Day? Um what? Where has she been all my life? :) No one here in Finland has understood my movie passion until now and it feels pretty dang good to be understood! haha but anyways F. She loves all the same music as me and has an incredible voice. She loves jazz and sings like Ella Fitzgerald so she is pretty cool. Basically, I wish I was Sister Fronk. She only has 2 more months as a missionary...I know, it's way sad! But she has done so much good on her mission. She has been down in Helsinki area the whole time, so this is her first time up north as well, but she is really loving it up here! It's a great place to be!
It is so easy to teach with her. We really have such a great time just doing anything and it really has helped our missionary work a lot! I think that is something I have learned a lot over my mission....everything, literally EVERYTHING works better when you and your companion are unified. You don't have to be best friends or anything (it's just a bonus if you are) but when you really want what is best for the area, when you both love the Lord, and when you support each other and work to make the other one successful, miracles follow. It's amazing! But She really is so good to me and is so supportive! We have talked a lot this week about the friends you meet on your mission and how great they are. I am so grateful for my mission for so many different reasons, but I think one of the biggest reasons is all the people I have met, particularly my companions. I know I sound like a broken record, but they really are the best people I know! I have been so blessed to serve with each of them and I know that Sister Fronk and I are going to get some serious work done here in the Promised Land! :)
So man, this week has been great! I got to ride bikes for my first time on my mission...I don't know why, but in my mind my mission would not have been complete without riding a bike! Just a note, don't wear a pencil skirt and try to ride a bike...I think we can leave the story at that! :) Bad idea...anyways it was way fun! I think one of the challenges about having a car is that you don't walk around on the streets and talk to people. Finding is so much harder, but man if two girls in skirts on bikes don't catch your attention on the street, I don't know what will. We are going to use the bikes more this week, without the pencil skirts, so hopefully we can find some great people!!
One crazy thing about Finland is the summer. Now, I have been hearing about Finnish summers for the past six months, and now I am starting to experience it and see what happens. Everyone here leaves in the summer. Like literally, they just ship out. They all go to their "mökki" 's which means "summer home" and they are all up in lapland. Good news for the Finns cause they get to go relax, but bad news for us because the city vacates. All the students go home and basically everything dies. We are kind of worried because a lot of our investigators are getting ready to fly north for the summer, but we just really want to work on finding this week!
This week, Sister Fronk and I wanted to focus on inviting all of our investigators to be baptized...even the ones we had already invited. Before my mission, I always thought, "Man, inviting is going to be so hard...I don't want to be pushy." At the beginning of the mission, I kind of felt the same way. But man, my perspective has completely changed. Baptism is the greatest thing that could ever happen to someone. This church is the greatest thing that could ever happen to someone. When they find it and are interested, why not invite them to be baptized and to accept more of the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for them. Now granted, there is definitely a pushy way to ask and a non-pushy way, but when the spirit is strong and we are just testifying about baptism and the blessings it has brought into our lives and will bring into their lives, man...there is nothing better. We invited all of our investigators to be baptized this week and 2 accepted!! It was a miracle! Riitta, our finnish investigator is one! Her date is May 24th. We are a little worried about her because her best friend who is a member is not exactly on board with the whole thing. Riitta is more on board than she is. But I know if we all pray this week for Riitta's heart and the member's heart to be softened, we will see miracles!!
Our other investigator who accepted a date is Chau. Chau is from Vietnam and Sister Foster and I met him on the street a few weeks ago. I think I have told you about him, but anyways, on Monday, we had a service project at the church, all thanks to my brilliant father, Justin G. Bitner! :) Sister Hedin wanted the church cleaned...like deep cleaned, and I thought that we could invite our investigators and YSAs to come and help. Now I know, cleaning doesn't sound super duper fun, but it was incredible to see how many people came. Chau was one of our investigators who came and man, he just went to town. He stayed until the bitter end and helped us out so much! I really have realized how much people like to be needed. Everyone wants to feel that someone cares about them; that their presence somewhere actually means something to someone else. I think that is one of the greatest things about the church. We all build each other up. We all strengthen each other, but we all NEED each other. Chau loved helping and we really got to know him a lot better through that experience. It was cool cause it actually helped a lot when we invited him to be baptized. We were able to apply the gospel to his life. To help him feel the revelance this has for him. The spirit was so strong and he accepted so fast. Seriously, it took me off guard. Usually people are like "Well...maybe...I don't know...I need time...blah blah blah" but man, Chau was like "YES. This is a good thing. I want to do this!" The spirit is so crucial in everything we do as members and missionaries, but miracles come when we pray for the spirit to be with us! I know that is true! Chau's baptismal date is May 31st!
I have to tell you about Bill. Oh my goodness. I love Bill! Bill is from China. Bill is the nicest person I know. Bill loves soccer. Bill is so cool. Man he is great! I think I told you about him and how whenever he texts us...like literally, his texts say "Hello. I am Bill..............Thank you and good night." It is the best thing and it has become the greatest inside joke of all time...I guess the joke is out, but you guys can all be included! :) Bill is so sincere and really wants to find truth. It is the most interesting thing teaching someone without a christian background. Sometimes it is really hard because you say one word like "agency" or "eternal" or really anything of that nature and they are like "WOAH WOAH WOAH...what are you talking about?" It's really helped me a lot though to simplify my teaching. Bill is one of those we have to teach incredibly simply, but he is progressing so well and he came to church on Sunday and he brought his friend Jackie. Man, missionary work through investigators...I love it! :) But we gave Bill and Jackie a church tour with Li...I love Li...and it went really well. The spirit was really strong especially in the chapel and when we showed them a picture of the temple. I just love the temple and miss going SO much! I haven't been in Finland yet...but I am dying to go. Anyways, Bill is great. Jackie is great. Li is great. One of my favorite things in the world is seeing someone who professed to be "aethiest", say their first prayer to Heavenly Father. I wish I could explain how wonderful that feeling is and how close heaven feels in those moments. It is so special and I am so grateful I get to be a part of this great work! It's the best thing in the world!!
I think I have told you about Francis, our investigator from England. Actually maybe not. Oh well, I will just tell you again. Ok so Francis is about 24. She just moved here to Finland because "she likes it" and has decided to stay here forever. She is the most prepared person I have met for the gospel. She has basically lived the gospel her whole life and she told us that it has "really bugged her that she hasn't been baptized yet". Wow. Talk about prepared. Anyways, she originally lived in Turku, which is another city in Finland, and she moved to Vaasa for only 6 weeks. The sisters in Turku met her and taught her the Restoration, but then they sent her teaching record to us and we have taught her everything else. She is amazing and really has grown to be one of my best friends. The problem is that she wants to get baptized in Turku when all her friends can be there. I guess that's not a problem, but the thing is, I can't just jump down to Turku so we are missing her baptism. Her date is May 10th, she leaves on May 1st and it's really killing me that I can't be there. But oh well...all that matters is that she is getting baptized! :) I am so happy she has finally found the truth she literally has been searching for all her life. But anyways, this week we taught her about family history and showed her familysearch.org. It was so much fun!
We showed her all the tutorials and I showed her my family tree and got to look at picture of Great Grandpa Bitner and Grandma and Grandpa Russell and man, it just made me so grateful for the wonderful family I have. Francis was so excited about family history. We looked back a few generations to our family who came from England and she said that she has distant relations who were from that same part of England. Who knows? We are probably related. Anyways she just got super excited especially when we told her that a lot of church members can trace their heritage back to England. She thought that was pretty cool. Got some British pride in the house :) But it made me so grateful for families and temples and everything that goes along with it. Family HIstory is so important. When I was in the MTC, I remember thinking, "I don't think it is a coincidence that I love families and history so much". I have such a testimony of missionary work on both sides of the veil. Jocelyn wrote me a couple weeks ago and talked about how when she did baptisms in the temple, it almost feels like you can hear a sigh of relief when it is completed. There are people waiting for us to do their work. Our family is waiting for us. Can you believe that? We have family members that lived not too long ago that need us to help them accept the gospel and all the blessings that come with it. They are so much closer to us than we realize. I feel the strength of our ancestors each day as I try to share the gospel with people. This gospel connects us all in a way that really can't be described. It is so incredible and I am so grateful to be a part of it!
Anyways, I want you all to know that I know with all my heart that this church is true. It is amazing. It has changed my life forever. The Book of Mormon is a gift from God. It is evidence of everything. If you have a question, concern, doubt, or anything, turn to the Book of Mormon. Read it. Pray about it. Sincerely ask God if it is from Him. I can promise you that you will receive an answer and that answer will bring more peace and happiness and joy and sunshine into your life than anything else. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He was one of the bravest people to live on the earth, and I am so grateful for him. Families can be together forever. I know that with all my heart and I thank Heavenly Father every second of the day for that blessing. You are all incredible and I am so blessed to be a part of your family! Always remember how much I love each and every one of you. I don't even think I could explain it if I tried, but take my word for it! :) I hope you all have the best week!! Oh and always remember THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!
P.S. we get to talk in 13 days. thank you and good night :)