It's a Girl!
Well Huomenta you lovely people you! How are you all doing? Mom and Dad have returned home, Joce is done with soccer, Anne...I don't know how you did but I hope it went well, and Lauren and the twins are just growing up like little weeds...I mean that in the most loving way! :) I love seeing all the pictures you send me! Seriously, it's like my favorite thing in the world! You are all wonderful and I am so blessed to be a part of your family!!
So...we got change calls this week...guess what....I AM TRAINING! It's a girl!!! I am training. Can you believe that? President called us on Friday...sidenote, this is his last change call as my mission president, and he said, "Well Sister Bitner, you are losing a companion and gaining a brand new companion straight from America. You are training."....long awkward pause as I sat there in shock....then he said, "I know what is going through your head right now and I want you to stop thinking that and throw all your fears aside. This is you and the Lord. This is the chance of a lifetime. You are a wonderful missionary and you will do great things for your trainee. Have a wonderful day"...and the line goes dead. I am not going to lie, I am PUMPED! Seriously, I have wanted to train since day 1. Don't ask me why...couldn't really tell you, but I have really wanted to. It's interesting because when President told me, I had this feeling of terror come into my heart...I had about 50279025 thoughts and doubts and insecurites come rushing into my head. That made it all the more hilarious when he said, "I know what you're thinking, STOP IT!" President knows me too well. But all fears aside, I am training. I get a brand new greenie! I still feel like a brand new greenie sometimes but I feel so grateful to be training in Vaasa. It's a wonderful place with the best ward in the world and I am just super excited! This is insanity!
Anyways, Sister Fronk and I are leaving to Helsinki tomorrow morning at 7:31. She packed up all her stuff and is ready to go! It's been weird seeing her get ready to leave, but we are both so happy that I get to go all the way to Helsinki with her to pick up my trainee. The new missionaries get here tomorrow night and then we go to the office on Wednesday to pick them up and then we will be on our way back to Vaasa together! I am really excited and can't wait to tell you all about her next week!! One thing that is SUPER cool is that I get to go down and stay in Helsinki with Sister Woods from my MTC group and SISTER THAYNE!!! She is training as well and we get to stay with each other tomorrow!! I am so beyond excited to see her, I can't even tell you! It's kind of nice to know that my sister is training at the same time...and we are training in each other's birth cities...kind of crazy! But anyways, I also get to see Sister Egan, my trainer, before she goes home...she is in Sister Fronk's group, but I am SO excited for that as well!! Talk about tender mercies from the Lord. I really feel like Heavenly Father blesses me with the most wonderful companions. I know everyone probably thinks that, but really, my companions are the best people I know. They are my truest friends and I love each one of them so much!! And yes, this was a shoutout to all of my companions who read this letter each week!! :) #loveyouall #stuartsmom #kiinalaisia #doilikebananasorwhat
Man...I just have so much to tell you all from this week...where to begin...well first things first and I am only telling you this because I am on a different continent, but I got a speeding ticket. Yes...my first ticket in my life...in Finland...for speeding. Dad, I am really sorry. In my defense, the speed goes from 80 km/hr here to 100 and back again like 98895470 times along the road and we were in a 100 zone and it changed to 80 and I didn't notice until we had passed one of their traffic cams so I was going 92 in and 80 zone. Which brings me to "Something Finnish" for today...they don't have police man on the roads. Like never. Haven't seen one. Insteady they have these wonderful little cameras that look like eyeballs and if you are speeding they flash at you and that is how you know you got a ticket. We were driving home from Seinäjoki the other night, and I thought I saw a flash on one...needless to say, I was sick about it and almost cried, but then I thought I might have made it up in my head...Turns out I was dead wrong. But anyways, Sister Locke from the office told me that because I am not working and am a volunteer, it won't be too expensive, so thanks to Heavenly Father for that one...man I really am sorry! I don't know why I felt like I needed to confess to you all, and then explain myself, and then beg for forgiveness...I think it's part of the repentance process! :) But anyways dad, put it on my tab! I will pay you back...or better yet...can I pay half? hahaha man I crack myself up....ok probably not the best time to be joking, but anyways...I really am super sorry!
So now onto the not stressful stuff...this week was crazy! Oh wait first things first, Sister Fronk's homecoming info....Sunday July 13th, 9:00 am, 465 North 300 East Providence, UT. She is SO excited to meet you all, and whatever she says, don't believe her! :) I am just kidding! She is wonderful and really has changed my life! I am so excited for you all to meet her!! Ok but anyways, on Monday this week, we had a lesson with two of our new investigators, Sara and Patrick. Sara is from France and kind of looks like a witch and Patrick is Finnish. Did I already tell you about them? Sister Fronk met Sara on the street when we were on splits and Sara gave them cookies...I mean, anyone who is willing to give the missionaries food is tops on my list! :) #fatty Anyways there are pretty hilarious and just show up to appointments whenever they want. Luckily, we were at the church on Monday finishing up some stuff, cause they just walked in, sat down in the chapel and said, "Ok, we are ready to learn about the Mormons." I was like..."Uh, well then, let's get started." It was a pretty hilarious lesson. Sara is really into witch craft and feelings and meditating....my kind of girl...hahaha....but I think she has basically the same beliefs as us, but she just calls what she does different things. Anyways, Patrick doesn't really say anything, he just stares lovingly at Sara. Problem is, they live together and are way in love...it's kind of like PDA x 90989. Luckily, there is no such thing as awkward as a missionary, so I had no problem asking them to stop kissing in the chapel. It was gross. Anyways, we are teaching them about the Book of Mormon tonight so hopefully all goes well!
After Sara and Patrick on Monday, we had a lesson with Chau and then he was DYING to teach us how to make Vietnamese food. One thing I have noticed about Chau is that he LOVES to feel needed and loves to help people. I think he found the right place! Anyways, he knows I love food...I promise I am not too fat...hahaha....but he made us fresh spring rolls with pork and fresh lettuce from his garden. They are literally the most delicious thing in the world, and I am buying the supplies today to make them at home. Something you all have to look forward to when I get home, fresh spring rolls from a vietnamese recent convert! How wonderful is that? :) Later this week, we were teaching him about the Book of Mormon and he was being really quiet, well, quieter than usual. I was kind of worried and asked, "Chau, what do you think about all of this stuff?" He just sat there for a second, then he looked up at me with the biggest smile on his face and said, "I think it's great. I love how the prophet Joseph Smith wanted to find the truth and he prayed and now we have Christ's original church on the earth again. I am going to read the Book of Mormon whenever I get a chance. I think that would be a good thing for me." Honestly...I about started crying and just about did again writing that. He is wonderful! I have thought a lot this week about the first day we met him on the street. He was all dressed in black and had his head down. It was one of my first days in Vaasa and Sister Foster and I had just been talking to everyone that day. It was super fun! But anyways, We passed Chau and said "Moi!" and he kind of stopped, looked back at us and didn't say anything. We proceeded to get to know him and eventually started talking about religion and he said, "No, I don't believe in God. He isn't there. I don't belong to a religion." And now, he is reading his scriptures everyday and preparing to receive the Aaronic priesthood...seriously...what is this? We are involved in the most wonderful work in the world. Seeing the gospel physically change Chau has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. He is so happy. He smiles all the time. He never used to smile, like ever. He kind of scared me, but Oh my goodness, I just love him! He is keeping me updated on the world cup as well so he is pretty cool! :) No but seriously, I love the gospel. It's true. It works!
We have a lot of interesting investigators right now. None are really progressing. It's really been pretty frustrating. We haven't had any investigators in church for 2 weeks. Whenever a transfer comes, it is an interesting time for missionary work. I think having a brand new companion is going to be really good. She is coming from the incubator....all primed and ready to go and I am really excited to get her insight on some of these investigators. I love them all, but I don't know if all of them are ready for the gospel right now. Sister Fronk and I were talking this week a lot about Finland...it's been cool to see how much she loves Finland and how her heart really is here. We were talking about why there is a temple in Finland. Seriously, there are less than 5,000 members here, In the whole country. Logically, it doesn't make sense to have a temple. President Rawlings told Sister Fronk a while ago that during our lifetimes, we will see thousands and thousands of people join the church in Finland. I am not going to lie, sometimes...most of the time...when I am walking down the street, trying to talk to people and no one is listening, it's really easy to doubt if missionary work will ever go forward here. This is a hard mission. Our numbers are getting better all the time, but in comparison to other places, it's pretty low. President told Sister Fronk, however, that we are laying the foundation for the missionary work boom here in Finland. People come here from all over the world looking for peace and safety. A lot of them are refugees who just barely escaped from their countries. It's pretty humbling to hear all of their stories. I really believe what President said. Sometimes it looks pretty bleak and grim, but the best people I have ever met are the Finns. They are honest. hardworking, loving people. They are a little cold at first, but once you get to know them...they are wonderful! They have changed my life and I know that this country will be full of foreign and finnish members all loving the gospel and serving God together! I can't wait to see what happens!!!
Anyways, I was just thinking this week that missionary work here really has changed, even since I have been here. It's only been 7 months, but the members and missionaries are changing. We are all growing together and are part of this "Finnish revolution". Yesterday, Sister Fronk and I taught the english sunday school class at church and we talked about the Restoration. As I was sitting there...Sister Fronk was talking...I just looked around at all the people in the class. We had Chau, our Vietnamese recent convert, Prosper, an recent convert from Tanzania, Li, a recent convert from China, Sister Bassett, an american woman...yep....but she is still cool :), and then a russian family who had been the bishop of one of the missionaries from the Vaasa ward who served in St. Petersburg. Seriously, I just looked around at all of them and the thought came to my mind, "We are living in the Restoration. This is HUGE." I can't believe how many different nationalities I have met on my mission and they are all here in Finland. Most of them think it's for school and work, and that may be true, but they are also here to find the gospel. I am so grateful to be a part of this work!!
Well, sorry not too many stories to report....we had a pretty slow week as far as finding and teaching goes...it was Juhannus päivä here in Finland...Or Midsummer day! A lot of people go out of town...it's a really big holiday, but we really focused on our less actives and recent converts and it was great! We have been listening to conference a lot lately in the morning when we get ready, and I listened to President Monson's talk again. He is so wonderful! I love him! He shared a poem that says:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
that to somebody's need made me blind.
But I never have yet, felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.
I LOVE THAT! His talk is incredible. It's all about love and kindness. I thought it was so interesting how of all the different topics he could have shared with us, he chose to talk about love and how that really is the essence of the gospel. It reminds me of my favorite hymn, "I Stand All Amazed" (by the way, I can sing alto for it now...kiitos Sisar Fronk haha) but anyways, I love the chorus that says, "Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me." It really is wonderful! Jesus Christ is our Savior. I love Him with all my heart! You are all an inspiration to me. I am sorry if these letters are lame most of the time, I just feel like I am talking to each one of you personally and I just want to tell you all my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I remember when I got set apart and President Bernards said that I should include my family in my mission. I hope I have done that because there is nothing I love more than this gospel, my mission, and my family. Nothing else matters. You are all the greatest blessing to me and my commitment to each of you this week is to pray each morning to find one person every day who needs a little extra kindness. I can promise you that Heavenly Father will answer your prayers if you listen and are brave enough to follow the promptings. Sometimes it is hard. I am working right now to become better at following all the promptings I receive, regardless of what it is. Heavenly Father knows everyone's heart. He sees things we can't, but if we are worthy and faithful, we can be an answer to someone's prayers. All of you have been answers to mine and I love and appreciate you all so much! Pray for me this week...It's going to be stressful, but I am so grateful and humbled for this opportunity to train a new missionary! I hope you all have a wonderful week! You are the best...never forget that I love you!!
Rakkaudella, Sisar Bitner
|Me, Chau, and spring rolls|
|Me and Sister Li...she took us to lunch|
|My home...it's beautiful!!|