PARAS VIKKOA KOSKAAN!!! This was literally the best week ever!
Well Hello you wonderful family! How are you all doing? Mom and Dad are in Portugal...that's way too legit!! I can't believe how close we are...I hope you two have enjoyed Europe in all it's glory! It's like another world, that's for sure! Finland actually feels pretty normal...pretty home-like to me...maybe that's a good sign! It's so green and beautiful here...that's pretty different from home, but I can't imagine being somewhere like Paris! Man, everyone save your pennies, we have to come to Europe together someday...maybe next April...wink wink...:) Katsotaan!! Let's see!!
I hope you kids have had fun with grandma this week! We really are so lucky to have her...she is the greatest! Grandma, we are teaching this lady right now, Sirkka and she is JUST LIKE YOU!!! Needless to say, she is kind of my favorite, but every time we go to her house, I think of you and miss you so much! I think you two would be great friends!!
Well, this week in good old Finland has been pretty wonderful! I have a big surprise for you all, but I am saving it for the end of this letter, so you are just going to have to wait and see...and don't go read the end of the letter yet...it will spoil all the fun! :) But man, I just love you all and miss you so much! I hope you know that!!
So on Tuesday this week, we had district meeting up in Kokkola. It is about an hour train ride north of Vaasa, also on the coast. We only have 3 zones in our whole mission...The Helsinki Zone, Tampere Zone, and the north zone! It's super fun to be in the North though because we get to travel a lot more and see a lot of cool little "po-dunk" (don't know how to spell that) towns in Finland. It's great! Kokkola is pretty small, but it was way fun to be there! We have quite a few Swedish missionaries serving here in Finland. We have 2 in our district. Elder Strömberg (stromberry) and Elder Stegeby (stehguboo). They are super hilarious and it's really fun to get a little taste of Swedish culture as well! Elder Strömberg is huge, as in tall, and always has a very disappointed look on his face. He has the lowest voice I have ever heard and rocks a big old thick unibrow. He is hilarious. Anyways, his companion is this little baby-faced kid from Utah, Elder Cummings. He is SOOOO nice and so funny and just the sweetest kid you could ever meet. I LOVE their companionship so much! It is like watching a married couple.
This week in district meeting, Elder Cummings got up to share a spiritual thought and ended up totally embarrassing Elder Strömberg with a story of how he forgot his train ticket...again...I think Elder Cummings needed some backup before he could say how frustrated he was...Elder Strömberg is kind of scary, but anyways then Elder Strömberg stands up...because he wanted to and starts laying into Elder Cummings about how weird it is that Elder Cummings is always "invading his personal space" and touching his shoulders in public and making him "extremely uncomfortable". Elder Strömberg then proceeded to tell all of "us American missionaries" that we don't understand the concept of personal space. He said in countries like China, India, and America where there are so many people, we are used to always being packed in tight together so it's not weird for us, but apparently it is weird for the Swedes. I have never laughed so hard in my life! Man...I don't know where he is getting his facts, but we all laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed for like 5 minutes! Elder Strömberg was not amused, but man, it was so great! Sorry, kind of a random story, but hopefully you catch the gist of how funny this was! I just love the characters you meet on a mission. I could seriously write a book about it! :)
This week on "Something Finnish" I wanted to write a little bit about the finns and their dogs. I think I have already mentioned this before, but not "officially" so I will do that now. Finns LOVE dogs. Everyone and their dog, has a dog! And the best part is, they all look like their dogs! Mom, remember how we always used to laugh when we would see people like that on the street or something...it is like a multiple-times daily experience here in Finland. I have learned how to say so many different types of dogs in Finnish and my dog vocabulary may rival my gospel vocab in finnish! It is a wonderful contacting tool and yesterday, after attempting to explain to this man on the street what kind of a dog Mack was, he asked me to say it in English so I said, "Golden retriever" and now I know that "Kultainen Noutaja" is how you say it in Finnish. I really need a picture of Mack though...will one of you send me one? This is how I am going to make friends here in Finland! I know it is the key! :)
This week, we found 3 new investigators! YIPPEE!!! And the best part is, 2 of them are a mom and dad of the cutest little family ever! This family used to be investigating the church and for some reason, they just stopped. But the Elders gave their names to us, and we went to visit them. We knocked on the door and this little naked kid opens the door and just stands there, staring at us for like 20 minutes. It was hilarious. Sister Fronk and I were just laughing our heads off, but then the dad came to the door and invited us in and we talked with them for awhile. The dad, Tomi, is a doctor and the Mom, Maria is a stay at home mom. They have four little boys, ranging from 1 to 11 and are pretty much the cutest things I have ever seen! Plus, they all LOVE soccer! Why aren't they members yet? Don't ask me, but I know they will be one day! This is my dream family! We have an appointment with them on Wednesday though, so hopefully everything goes well with that!
Our other new investigator is Li Tran...it's funny because his name is a combo of my 2 favorite asians...Xiang Li...my chinese bff...and Chau Tran...Mr. "Normal". Li Tran is pretty hilarious. He has a wife and 2 little boys as well and is just awesome and we are pretty excited about him...especially now that we can take Chau on lessons with us....want to know why we can take Chau on lessons with us......
CHAU GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my goodness, everyone, Chau got baptized on Saturday!!!! SURPRISE!!! Isn't that the greatest surprise ever??? It was the greatest day...but I want you to get the full affect, so here we go...
So Chau's interview was on Thursday. I was a nervous wreck. I have told you a lot about him and how he always just saying that everything is "normal". Well I knew he was ready, but man, that morning I was just pacing around the apartment. I was like, "Is he ready? This is his salvation. Have we taught him enough? Is is testimony strong enough?" It was like a brain malfunction. But we went to the interview and he came out and had THE BIGGEST SMILE on his face ever. It was wonderful! He showed up the next morning for his baptism and was just beaming. I was so happy!
Funny sidenote...so we don't have a Ward Mission Leader...well we do, but he is less active...and Chinese...don't ask me about that...it's too frustrating...anyways, sister Fronk and I came to the church 2 hours early to fill up the font. We cleaned it all up nice and started the water and then went to get everything else ready. Well, everyone shows up, Chau is all dressed in his beautiful white clothes...he didn't want to wear them, BTW...I felt like his mother. I was like "Come on Chau, you can put the white clothes on for just a second." But he eventually put them on, thank heavens! :) Anyways, we do the first part of the service, walk to the font, and IT WAS ONLY HALFWAY FULL!! Now, I am not a pessimist or anything, but literally, it was half full. Veli Petersson, the one who baptized Chau marches right down into the water and the water WAS ONLY UP TO HIS KNEES!!!! I seriously wanted to cry. I was like Why? Why did this happen?? But anyways, it all worked out...Veli Petersson started telling lots of "interesting" mission stories, bless his heart, and the water filled up just enough for Chau to go all the way under! It was seriously the greatest thing in the world to see him come up! He looked so clean and happy! I thought I would be crying, but man, I was completely full of joy! I couldn't stop smiling the whole day!! The church is true everyone. The Atonement is real!! I love the gospel!!
Anyways, Chau was confirmed on Sunday and Veli Kronqvist said in the blessing that Chau would be a future leader for the church in Vietnam! How cool is that? I was just so happy for him! I am sure his face in the picture is a bit scary, but he just tries to be cool and doesn't want to admit how happy he is! :) I know being a missionary is not about the numbers, but just being able to watch someone completely go through the conversion process has been pretty amazing. We met Chau about a week after I got to Vaasa and he was baptized on Saturday! I really don't even know what to say! I am so privileged to be here! I love you all so much! Sorry this letter is kind of weird, but I know the Atonement is real. We can change. We can become better. Because of Jesus Christ, we all have second chances. I love Him and know he is our Savior. I hope you all have the most wonderful week! Pray for Tomi, Maria, and Li!
I heard the Netherlands beat Spain 5-1....talk about sweet revenge!! Chau is updating me on all the results of the World Cup Games. Haha he is awesome!!! I love you all!!!
Rakkaudella, Sisar Bitner
|This AWESOME church we drove by the other day...had to stop and take a picture. Too bad it's not the true church, but still beautiful!|
|This picture was taken at 10:30 at night...the sun doesn't go down. It's beautiful but man, hard to sleep sometimes!!|
|CHAU GOT BAPTIZED!!! YYYYYAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THIS IS ME CLEANING THE FONT BEFORE.....YYYYYAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!|