Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pull Out All The Stops...Experience All The Miracles
    No Moi!! Miten mene?? How is the world's most wonderful family doing? I hope you are all doing well! I just have to take a second to tell all of you a great big KIITOS for everything! I have the most supportive, amazing family in the world! I love emailing every week and seeing all your letters and pictures! I love that I am still a part of your lives and hopefully you feel like you are a part of mine! I talk about all of you all the people on the street, to members, to investigators, I show your pictures to I just love you all so much! I am so lucky to have you! :)

    Well, where to even begin this week! It has been awesome! On Tuesday I got sick for the first time on my mission!! WAHOO!! It was super fun...just the flu...not even very bad. It was so boring though and I laid in my bed on Tuesday and part of Wednesday and watched The Testaments, The Restoration movie, and Finding Faith in Christ like 147326 times. It was awful, but it made me so grateful for the healthy days! Sister Fronk was so great and brought me a smoothie and some toast. Good thing I have the best companion in the world! She goes home in 4 weeks....not really looking forward to that, but I have learned so much from her and we have so much fun together. It's great!! Anyways...I am feeling a lot better now. I was pretty happy that it took me this long to get sick though...Heavenly Father is always looking out for all of us!!

    So we went to Seinäjoki twice again this week. I am telling you, that place is a gold mine. We had the greatest lessons with our investigators there, and Sister Fronk and I both felt like we should go to church there this week because a lot of our investigators were going for the first time. Anyways,  we did and it was awesome!! We had 4 investigators in church this week in Seinäjoki and 2 in Vaasa without us even being there which is HUGE! It was seriously incredible! President told us last Monday that we all needed to focus on getting as many people to church as we could. Sister Fronk and I really pulled out all the stops. We invited EVERYONE to church. Investigators, Less Actives, random people on the street...everyone! It was so amazing to watch how after literally everything we could do, Heavenly Father made all these miracles happen. I am so grateful for church and that we have a place where we can come and really feel separated from the world! It's the best...insert Nacho Libre accent here! :) 

    I told you about Poe and Soe last week. Actually, I think I said her name was Bo, but that is just "her nickname"...her real name is Soe! Yes...that is all completely the truth! My mistake though :) So Poe and Soe are my best friends. We are still trying to figure out how to work around the language barrier with their parents. We have prayed and prayed and prayed about it, because this whole family is just incredible and needs the church, but we both felt like it would be good if for Poe and Soe's commitment, they could teach the lessons we just taught them to their parents. They only have done it once so far, but their parents let them come to church this week which is a HUGE step!! We are so excited to be teaching them. They really are such a blessing from Heavenly Father!! They even brought their cute little friend, Naomi, to church. She is from Congo and has 6 siblings and her mom and her dad are both extremely religious people in the sense that they love Jesus Christ and the Bible, but they don't belong to any specific religion....yet! :) We have an appointment with them this week so hopefully everything goes well with that!!

    I think I told you that both Poe and Soe LOVE soccer and have been asking and asking when we could come and play with them. They said if we would play, they would read the Book of Mormon everyday and teach their parents the lessons...well I mean, how could we say no to that? :) haha just kidding, but seriously, we took our "hour of recreation" that we are allowed each week and went and played soccer with them. It was so much fun and they just loved that we were actually playing with them. I think they liked to see that we don't always wear skirts too. It made us a little more normal which was good! But anyways, they really are so golden and are progressing so well. They are both loving the gospel and want to be baptized! I love teaching families. It hasn't happened very often on my mission, but man, the spirit is SO strong when you have a complete family together and we can testify of how much this gospel can change and bless their lives. It is such a wonderful thing to be a part of! I love it!! :)

    So Sadie is Poe and Soe's friend and our investigator as well! She is hilarious. She is from Bhutan...I got a few more of the facts figured out this week...and she is married to a finnish man who she met on the internet. He is a devout Christian and in her own words, "I am Buddha". I don't think she understands exactly how that works, but in any case, we are teaching Buddha! :) She came to church on Sunday as well an had on a neon yellow tank top, mickey mouse purple shorts, and orange high tops! I have to tell you, I have never seen anything so great as the sight of Sadie sitting next to Sisar Liuku, singing her heart out to "How Great Thou Art". It was wonderful! Sadie also prayed for the first time on Sunday. She is the biggest jokester and laughs at everything we say, but then she gets all serious and says, "Mä haluan yrittää". I want to try. She does everything. She has no fear and I know she is starting to feel the love of God in her life! Nothing is more rewarding than hearing someone pray for the first time. Before my mission, I remember someone telling me that when you bring others to Christ and God or kind of "introduce them", you not only feel how much God loves you, but you literally can feel God's love for them. Every time an investigator prays, I can just feel how happy Heavenly Father is that they are talking to Him. I have never felt the spirit so strong as in those moments!!

    On Saturday, we had one of the busiest days on my mission. We had tons of good, solid appointments set up, and we had vowed not to use the car all day. We had our sweet new bikes...seriously, I love my bike...and we just set off to get some work done. Well as luck would have it, most things cancelled, but we still worked so hard. I wish I knew how many miles we biked. We basically set out to conquer Vaasa after everything had fallen through! Not going to can all judge me if you want...but I was a SWEATY MESS!! First time sweating outside in Finland. I was super happy to see that I hadn't completely frozen over during the winter. It really was pretty exciting...for the first 5 seconds...and then I remembered why I wanted to go somewhere cold instead of hot on my mission. We had an appointment with a member family and we got there and were just gross...seriously I was so embarrassed. We were trying to help each other out...fix each other's hair, wipe leaves and grass off our faces, and then the dad came to the door before we could really compose ourselves. I wish I had a picture of his face...he looked like two sewer rats were standing on his porch...fairly accurate...but anyways, he went and got us towels and water and basically forced us to wait outside until we cooled off. All I can say is I love Finland and it's freezing temperatures!! :) Heavenly Father knew no one would talk to me if he sent me to Africa or the Philippines! The good news is though, I got some good color on my arms and face so kaikki on kunnossa!!! Everything is good!! That night when we were on our way home, it was a little after 9...the sun was still high in the sky...and there was a little ice cream vendor on the side of the road. We both just kind of looked over at each other, jumped off our bikes, and went and got our first Finnish ice cream of the summer. They love ice cream here and you can find little ice cream joints all over the place. Anyways, we got some ice cream, went and sat on a bench and did daily planning outside under a lilac tree! I seriously just sat there with my bike helmet on, ice cream in one hand, missionary planner in the other and just felt about as happy as I have ever felt in my life. It was one of those moments I wish I could just live in forever! It was wonderful!! I love Finland and I love being a missionary!! 

    We had the scariest thing in the world happen this week. Ok, so Chau is our investigator from Vietnam...he has a baptismal date...loves the church...comes every week...and then this week....Chau decided to go A-wall. We called him on Monday to set something answer. We sent him a text and said just to call when he had a answer. Tuesday goes by, Wednesday goes by, Thursday comes...we call him again (trying REALLY hard not to be pushy) answer...Friday, Saturday, Sunday...NOTHING!! Seriously I wanted to call the police and send a search crew out looking for Chau. K kidding...I am not that psycho yet :) But I was so confused. We had no idea what had happened to him. We said a prayer so that we could have some sort of peace about this and we both just had this feeling that everything was going to work out. We didn't count Chau in our numbers last night when we sent them in to our District leader and when we had call-ins, he asked us about our investigators. We told him about Chau, in very sad and depressed way...and said we had no idea where he was. Elder Lee is our district leader and he serves in Vaasa as well and he says, "What do you mean you don't know where he is? Chau was in church today!" Uh, what???? We were so confused!! So I guess Chau put his phone in his pocket after church last Sunday, forgot about it...left it on silent...and he didn't use his coat all week because the weather has been so nice so he had no idea where his phone was.....isn't that a funny thing that happened? hahahahahaha NO. that wasn't funny! But all's well that ends well! :) Chau is still our investigator and he is on his way to baptism!! Oh the joys of being a missionary! Sometimes I feel like a psycho girlfriend or something to all of our investigators. We call them all the time...want to know where they are...wonder why they are mad at us...take things they say over text WAY TOO SERIOUSLY and analyze every little thing...and then when they want to stop investigating or when we have to turn them over to the Lord, it's like this big, awkward, dramatic break up. Sorry...this probably doesn't sound very dignified or missionary like, but it's really a funny thing we do! It is kind of crazy! Good thing that the church is true!! :) 

    So we had interviews with President this week. He is awesome! I love him and respect him so much!! He and Sister Rawlings are leaving on July 1. President Watson and his wife come in. It's so weird to me that I will have 2 mission presidents. It's kind of cool I guess, but anyways they came to Vaasa this week and we were able to chat! The first question he asked me is how I feel about my mission so far. First, I was so grateful to be able to say that I literally love everything about my mission. I am so grateful for it and for what is had done for me in my life. Second, I told him that I have felt really bad these past few weeks about my "lack of success" as a missionary. I told him that I have felt as though my mission is good for me, but that I haven't necessarily been good for my mission. I don't feel like I have built up the Lord's kingdom here in Finland. It really is frustrating because I love this place SO much and I want Finns to join the church. I want the work to explode. Nothing would make me happier. President just looked at me and said, "Stop it." Woah. I was like Uh...sorry....he then proceeded to tell me a story about one of his good friends. This man was a genius! He created some sort of atomic engine for the satellite so that it could function for over 100 years without ever coming down, he was the man who made airbags actually usable in cars, and he was a brilliant public speaker. AND he was an amazing missionary for the church. He had done a lot of work in Detroit, in the inner-city area and had organized 13 branches there. Anyways, this man had lived in Detroit for a while and then he was coming back to live in California again. One day, a couple of weeks after he had come back, he called President Rawlings and told him that he needed a blessing. He had just been diagnosed with terminal, stage 4, pancreatic cancer and had 2 months left to live. 

    President said that over those next two months, this man received SO many letters and cards from people all over the world. His wife had to request that members of the ward come over and help him sort through all his mail. Also, people would take turns reading letters to him, as he lay in his bed. President Rawlings took a lot of turns reading to this man, because they were such good friends, and he told me that of all of the letters this man received, not ONE of them said ANYTHING about all the "things" this man had accomplished. No one commented on his atomic engine, or the 13 branches in Detroit, or about how brilliant of a speaker he was. All of the letters contained little tiny, seemingly "insignificant" things that this man had done for people. People said things like, "One day in church, you told me that I was doing a wonderful job as a mother" or "You helped me through one of the darkest times of my life by just being an example of a happy latter-day saint" or "You always smiled at me in church and it made me feel welcome." As President read these letters to this man, the man couldn't remember doing ANY of those things. He was so confused and just kept saying, "What? I didn't do that? They must be confused." President looked me right in the eye and said, "This is the scale by which we are measured. The "things" we do here don't matter. Numbers don't matter. Success is the Lord's to be given. All that matters is how we make people feel. All that matters is that we love the Lord and we love our fellow-man. That is how we make a difference in the world. Don't ever compare yourself to anyone ever again. You be the best that you can be. Be yourself. Love everyone and trust in the Lord." 

    WOW. Even now writing that, I know that what he said is true. It doesn't matter what we do. I have 0 baptisms on my mission. Numbers wise, I haven't had a lot of success...but I know that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is Love. The Beatles knew what they were talking about, "All you need is Love..." Obviously, they were talking about Christ-like love, right? :) No, but seriously....I am so grateful for love in my life. I am so grateful for all of you and for the love you show me. I am so grateful for our Savior's love. That song, "Our Savior's Love" has been going over and over in my head this past week...."Our Savior's love shines like the sun with perfect light, as from above, it breaks through clouds of strife. Lighting our way, it leads us back into His sight, where we may stay to share eternal life." I want you all to know how much I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon. I love this gospel. I love each one of you so much. When everything we do is motivated by love, we can never go wrong. We do missionary work because we love God and love His children. All of us do missionary work because of that. I can testify to the fact that when what we do is motivated by love, we will never fail. "Perfect love casteth out all fear." Excuse my lack of reference...I am working on becoming a sciptorian :) Let's all cast out our fears this week and go love people to death!! Sorry this letter was kind of crazy! But so am I so there ya go!! :) I love you all! Always remember that!! You are wonderful!! Have a great week and aina muistakaa että Sisar Bitner on aina ajatellamassa teistä!! Mä rakastan teitä!!!


Sisar Bitner 

Me and Sister Fronk after biking through a DOWNPOUR!! It was super fun!! 

My new I PROMISE it was the cheapest and cutest one there!! Thanks for the money! I really do appreciate it!! :)

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