I just love you all. Seriously. You have been praying for me this week, haven't you? :) I have felt so many angels round about me...not going to lie, this has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission. I haven't felt so sad and alone in a long time. I know, pretty depressing way to start off this letter, but man...your prayers and love have carried me! Thank you all for your support! I love you more than anything!!!
First off, I need to give a shoutout to my AWESOME grandpa!! CONGRATS on County Commissioner!! That is so exciting Grandpa and I am so excited for you! You are in my prayers and I know you will make such a great difference! Also a shoutout to Caroline for scoring a goal on Luke's soccer team, and a shoutout to Luke for being a good sport about it! :) I am trying to think of more shoutouts, but that's all I have for now! Oh no, wait, shoutout to my trainer, Sister Egan, and my compy comp, Sister Fronk. The Finland Helsinki Mission lost two of the best. I love you both so much and CANNOT thank you enough!!! You are all wonderful though, shoutouts to you all!!!
So, the subject of my letter is Pace's forever! Oh wait, this is another shoutout to Elders Love, Obray, Hale, and Stone for all of our days at Pace's! Let it stand forever! :) When are they putting our monument up, by the way? Maybe if we go back next year or something! haha Not going to lie, I want nothing more right now than a country burger with cheese, onion rings, fry sauce, and a lime rickey, but alas, I will just eat ruis leipä and get over it! :) But seriously, the title of my letter is Pace's forever because my baby's name is SISTER PACE!! She is from Highland, UT, she has 8 siblings, she played the viola, she speaks fluent Spanish, and she loves Shania Twain. Thank you and good night! No just kidding, but she is awesome and I can't wait to tell you more about her, but first, the stage needs to be set...here we go...
So last Monday, Sister Fronk and I had a crazy day...she had to get all packed, but of course, Chau wanted to do something special for Sister Fronk so he made us food...again...he loves making us food...good thing we love eating! :) But we had to leave for Helsinki on Monday morning. Li and Wan Ling came to the train station to see us both off. Li was BAWLING. Seriously, that girl runs like a fountain. It was so sad though...I sent a picture home of our view from the train. I am not going to lie, both Wan Ling and Li are back in China and it about ripped my heart out to say goodbye to them. I am telling you, it's hard being a missionary. You grow to love the people you work with SO much. Like I can't even explain what Li and Wan Ling mean to me. Same with Sister Fronk. Three of my sisters left me this week. I haven't been this sad since I left you all at the MTC. Seriously. It's been way hard, but it's ok...I am done venting...for now...anyways we left Vaasa and headed down to Helsinki. The AP's were there to take Sister Fronk away...I was SO sad. I love Sister Fronk. She is the most wonderful friend I have. I have missed her so much this week. It's been really weird not having her here to make me laugh, but I know we will be friends forever!
Good news though, I was able to go on splits with Sister Woods from my MTC group! :) It was WAY too fun as we talked about the good old days. I love those friendships you have where you cannot see each other for 6 months and then you see them again and it's like nothing changed at all. Sister Woods is wonderful and it was great to be with her! Later that night we went back to the Helsinki train station to pick up my wonderful Sister Thayne! I was SO HAPPY to see her. Not going to lie, my eyes got a little sweaty, but we had the most wonderful time on splits. That night, we just talked and talked and talked and talked and talked about all the things that have happened. It's amazing when you know someone so well and then see them after 6 months of "refining", how much they have changed. Sister Thayne always has been the best missionary I know, but I was just amazed at how different she was in the best possible way! I love her so much! Having her train with me is the greatest thing in the world!!
Anyways, on Wednesday morning, we woke up and headed down to the office for the trainer's meeting. President wasn't there at first because this group of missionaries who just got here, including Sister Pace, had the craziest time getting over. The MTC messed up their flights so they were all sleeping over at the London airport and had no way to get to Helsinki. Anyways, long story short, President was figuring that out so the AP's gave us all our training materials...which means the 12 week program. It is the most inspired thing in the church! President told us that it gives each missionary an extra 6 months of effectiveness as a missionary if they religiously follow the program! Needless to say, it's worth it to follow it, especially for Sisters!
So during the trainers meeting, President Rawlings was super emotional and man, I don't blame him. He has been here for 3 years and this was his last trainer's meeting. It was awesome, as always, and he looked at us 9 trainers sitting there and said, "There isn't a better group of missionaries in the whole world. You are it." Now I know he is biased, but still hearing that from him, meant so much. I respect and love President Rawlings so much and am SO GRATEFUL for all he has taught me. Anyways, we went upstairs to eat lunch and I looked down the hall and saw this new missionary I had never seen, in this life, before. She looked at me and smiled this BIG old smile and waved and I waved back and thought, "Yep, that's my trainee." I had totally seen her before. It felt like deja vu. We ate lunch and went downstairs. They always have the trainers sit in the second row and all the trainees sit in the first row. Well my "deja vu" sister walked in and sat down right in front of me. President said, "Well, do you want to meet your companions?" SOOOO many memories flooded into my head of the meeting where I met Sister Egan. I felt like it happened 25 years ago, but I just couldn't believe how long ago it was and how short and all the things that have happened since then. This week has been a reflection week like none other. Man...but anyways, he called my name and then he said, "You will be training Sister Pace." I was right...she was my trainee! I was so excited to get to know her! Later on in the meeting President talked about how the trainees were probably super tired because of jet lag and Sister Pace blurts out, "Sleep? I want to work." And that's the kind of trainee I have! :)
I know you all know me, so this won't come as a shock, but I can't even explain the pressure I felt, receiving this call to be a trainer. I love my trainer and she taught me so much, even though she wasn't perfect. But, I wanted to be the perfect trainer. I wanted Sister Pace to think I had everything under control, that I wasn't COMPLETELY TERRIFIED to be the one in charge now, and that I knew how to do all the things. I know, stupid to think that, but I did. The first few days, I tried to make as perfect as possible. We had to do weekly planning on Thursday, but Sister Pace was super tired, so she slept for awhile and I just sat there at my desk, staring out the window thinking, "What in the world am I doing here? Did I sign up for this? This isn't fun. I want to go home. I want my mommy." Seriously...ask me if that's exactly what was going through my head. I was feeling so sorry for myself. "I have only been in Finland for 6 months and now I am supposed to teach someone how to do things I still don't know how to do? WHAT? WHY? HOW? WHEN?" Man, needless to say, I had a good chat with Heavenly Father and had a good cry and let it all out and realized that A, I wasn't being myself with my trainee, I was trying to be perfect, B, it's ok that I don't know everything, Heavenly Father knows that and still called me, and C, I know the Lord doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. I realized that I needed to quit feeling sorry for myself and love this new little trainee I have been given. I know this probably sounds way weird, but I was thinking a lot about how I will feel when I have a brand new baby of my own. I am sure the exact same thoughts will just be racing through my head. "What am I doing? I didn't ask for this. How am I supposed to take care of this? I have no idea what I am doing." It's funny how a mission literally prepares you for everything. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for trusting me with this responsibility. I am SOOOO not perfect. I know that better than anyone, but I know that with His help, this is going to be great! I am still trying to convince myself of that at the moment, but I am working on it! It's all about the climb...thank you Miley Cyrus!!
Sister Pace really is awesome though! She takes everything I tell her and just runs with it! She has no fear...except of speaking finnish. At the beginning of the week, I was thinking, "Man, she is just like Jocelyn, she hates when I ask her penetrating questions!" I love you Joce! :) But it made me smile. The more the week has gone on, I have realized how similar Sister Pace and I are! It's been the greatest tender mercy, because it really is so true. We handle everything the same. We have the same fears. I feel like I am training myself and it's really such a blessing because Sister Pace and I kind of have crazy brains. We aren't normal. :) If I don't know how to tell her something or make some sort of correction, I just do it how I would want to receive it, and it has worked out so far! Sister Pace is supper sassy and really likes to do things on her own. She is a leader and I think it's hard sometimes to lead a leader and for leaders to be lead. It's not natural. But we had our first finnish lesson this week with Tarja in Seinäjoki. Tarja is super argumentative, and our lessons are always crazy, but as I was speaking with Tarja, Sister Pace puts her hand up and stops both of us and just starts testifying her heart out in broken finnish and I have never been so proud of anyone in my life. I was like, "YES." The power of the greenie, its a real thing!!
So, we have dropped a lot of our investigators this week. Honestly, I love transfers...it is such a good time to reevaluate our area and our baptism, not teaching, pool! :) We have spent most of our time finding, which has been great practice for both of us, and we have some awesome potentials who want to come to church tours, want to read the Book of Mormon, and who are looking for answers to their prayers. GOLDEN! We really have been praying to find the elect. It's super frustrating because everyone leaves on vacation in the summer, but we are working hard and I know Heavenly Father will bless us with success!!
I have been thinking a lot about the Atonement this week and the enabling aspect of it. I want to know how to actually USE the atonement more in my life. Sister Pace and I have talked a lot about it this week, but the Atonement is the most wonderful gift we have and I know I don't use it to it's full potential, but honestly, I just don't exactly know what that means to "use it" especially the enabling aspect! I wanted to ask you all to share your experiences or thoughts next week...I would love to hear from you all. But I do know that the Atonement is real. I know that as we follow the spirit, we will never go wrong. That is my goal for this change....I want to follow the spirit in every single thing we do! I know if we do that, we will always be doing exactly what Heavenly Father wants. In spite of everything else, that is where true happiness is to be found!
I love you all with all my heart. This week has been rough, not going to lie, but we can only go up from here! I have tried to be as positive as I can for Sister Pace, and she told me last night that this has been the "best week ever." It made me so happy to hear that! :) Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts on my behalf. I have felt your love and support so strongly this week. I pray for you each day and I know that you are in the Lord's hands. I got a blessing this week and Elder Chapman told me that my family is safe and protected and that the Lord is blessing me with added strength to do what he has asked of me. I know that if we change our prayers from, "Heavenly Father, take this away from me" to "Heavenly Father, give me the strength to overcome this", we will all find answers to our prayers. I hope you all have a fantastic summer week...Oh ya, "Something Finnish"...the cool thing to have in Finland during the summer is a möki...a little summer cottage where you can go and just sit in the sauna all day. When we ask people if they can meet, the answer is always, "Uh, well, we might be at our möki." I think I would love mökis as a civilian, but man, it sure is a dampener to missionary work! :) Just kidding! The finns are great, Vaasa is great, and I can't wait to write more about our adventures this week! President Rawlings always says, "Life is an adventure. It will be good for your character. Rejoice in all things." What a wise man! :) You are all the best and I love you dearly!! Have the greatest week ever!!
Rakkaudella, Sisar Bitner
P.S. Netherlands is winning the World Cup...calling it! Any bets?? JK that's against the white handbook!! haha love you!!!
|Me and my best friend....Sisar Fronk|
|Oh and my best friend...Sisar Li|
|Dinner with my favorite asians...China, the phillippines and Vietnam|
|My real two favorite asians saying goodbye to us at the train station...Li was BAWLING|
|Me and my one and only Sisar Thayne!! I LOVE HER!!|
|My mom and my baby...family history!!|
|Me and my baby, Sisar Pace|
|VAASA IS BEAUTIFUL!!!|