Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Monday, September 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday

    Hey guys! How are you doing? It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood in good old Vaasa...remember Mr. Rogers? Oh my about flashback. I loved that guy. I hope he is having a good time in the spirit world being everyone's neighbor and stuff! :) But I hope the fall is beautiful in Utah...I know it is! I have missed the mountains this fall like NONE OTHER. It has always been my favorite thing to go sit on the front porch and look at the church with the fall mountains in the background...if no one else has realized how beautiful that spot is...go try it. It's wonderful! Anyways...I just hope you are all doing so well! Mom congrats on the cooking class...I didn't know you were TEACHING one, I thought you were going to one. That is so cool! Janiece sent me some pictures of you teaching. A, you are beautiful, B, that chocolate cake about made me want to mouth is literally watering. Who's a fatty? It is me, I eat everything I see :) hahahaha remember that song I made up? It's my motto...sort of...I am trying to be healthy...I just don't buy junk food... But I hope the class went well. Dad, I have been thinking a lot about you...October is coming...the elk are, that sounded gross! :) I hope you get a big one! Could you send elk jerky to Finland? That would be lovely! haha all the I miss you guys like crazy! I hope school and friends and soccer and tennis and all the other good stuff is just going great! You are all wonderful and I miss and love you like crazy!! By the way Anne, how is driving going? Lauren, how was NYC? Luke and Caroline...what in the world is up with you two? How is soccer? Joce, thanks for your letter! It is way long! You are too kind! I have the best siblings in the world. are all my best friends. I love you so much!!

    Oh, BTW...I just found out my actual release date as a missionary. This is horrible. It's May 7, 2015. It's about 2 weeks later than my original date, but don't worry...I think I might get home before Mother's Day so that will be fun! Anyways, just thought you would like to know...maybe you already knew and I didn't...oh well! It will be a great day, but I still have loads of time...thank heaven for that! I know I have said this already, but honestly, if you would all just like to move to Finland really fast, I will gladly stay here and do this forever. K cool! :) I already have a house picked even has a farm mom! :) We would have way too much fun in Finland! One day though, one day!!

    Man, where to even start with this's been way good. All the weeks are good. Even when they are hard, they are good. I remember before my mission, Grandma Parkinson always used to say, "Liv, you can do this because we can do hard things." I have thought about that so many times on my mission. With our Savior's help, we really can do hard things. It's such a comfort to know that in spite of whatever comes in our lives, we really can get through anything and we are never given anything we can't handle. Man...I just am so grateful we have that knowledge, but always remember that everyone...we can do hard things! :)

    So this week...first off I have to explain the title of my email. So in our car...there is a little port for a USB. Since I am brilliant...NOT...I bought a USB a long time ago and loaded it up with quality EFY music from to listen to in the car. I was super bummed because I have my iPod with all of my favorite church music, but alas, no iPod jack in the car. About a week ago, Sister Pace said, "Why don't we listen to your iPod in the car?" I said, "Man, I wish we doesn't have an iPod spot" then she said, "Have you really been on your mission that long? Your charger has a USB on the end of can plug that into the car and listen to your iPod." .................................................................................................................................dang it. I have been living a lie. Did you all know that iPod chargers have a USB on the end of them? What the heck? Man, I felt so old when she said that...I was like "Oh, ya, I totally knew that...." Ya, I had no idea. But anyways, long story short....its probably too late for that...but we have been listening to my iPod recently and its way better!

    We were driving home from Seinäjoki on Thursday this week and "My Turn on Earth" popped up. It was "The Golden Rule". I had totally forgotten about those songs so I said, "Oh man, Sister Pace, do you know My Turn on Earth?" She looked at me like I was a weirdo...which is true...but we proceeded to listen to the My Turn on Earth CD. Oh my goodness I was laughing and crying and singing my heart out. I kept having flashbacks of Jocelyn singing the "Jesus' plan vs. Satan's plan" song and jumping up and down from the fireplace...oh my goodness! It was way too funny! Also the "Everybody ought to have a body" song...remember how we would always do the kick line at the end when the song starts to pick up? Oh man...we are too funny guys! I missed that so much! But anyways, just wanted to share that story with you! I was laughing super hard and felt like you were all here with me! :)

    So I told you about our investigator Heini last week or a couple weeks ago...the one we met doing "10 doors". We had our first lesson with her last Monday. She has the cutest little baby Alexi. They are just a cute little family...well she said her boyfriend isn't that's a bummer, but still she is great. We went into their house and come to find out, their dog is the mental dog from a few weeks ago that tried to break down the door with it's's messed up! :) Anyways, she opens the door and this dog just goes CRAZY. I have never seen that look in an animal's eye before, but it looked like it was going to kill me. So the dog is standing there, blocking the door and Sister Pace and I are awkwardly standing outside saying, "Oh, what a lovely dog." Actual train of thought=how am I going to kill this thing when it tries to attack me? But all the while, Heini is just standing there, ushering us in, assuring us that he is totally harmless...come to find out he is...big phony...and by the end he was trying to jump up in my lap. Can I just say, I love dogs...always have, but being a missionary has just solidified in my mind the fact that my dog or any other animal I have will NEVER be in my house. Anyways...Heini had a TON of questions. We started getting to know her, but by the end, it sort of turned into an interrogation on her part. She asked us all sorts of things about polygamy, having horns...which I just learned the word for in finnish during that lesson....then she had more realistic questions like "What happens if you fall in love with a non-mormon, can you marry him?" and "Why do your members drink caffeine in soda, but not in coffee." Those are valid questions...thankfully the answer for all of the crazy questions these people have are 99.9% of the, pray, go to church. But we resolved some of her concerns and ended up having a really good lesson. We hope all continues to go well this week...and we are friends with her dog so 10 points to Gryffindor! :)

    I just have to tell you....this week I have gained the strongest testimony of DAILY CONTACT with our investigators. That is something Preach My Gospel mentions all the time, but I have always struggled with it. A, it's kind of awkward, B, we don't want to be too up in their grill, C, I am just not creative enough to come up with ideas. After I stopped rationalizing why I shouldn't do daily contact, I started doing it and HOLY COW. It's been amazing. We have worked with our members to just shoot our investigators a text or to invite them to FHE or to invite them to church or to ask them how their day is going or to stop by and say hi and ask about their reading...all sorts of great ideas. I had a strong feeling in mission conference that daily contact would really change my missionary work, and it totally has. It's been amazing. Now, our investigators trust us more. They feel like we actually care about them, not just getting our message in. It's super important that they feel special. We just take a little time during nightly planning to actually write out HOW we are going to be in contact with these people on a daily basis. It requires a little extra planning, but man it is so worth it and you really get to know your investigators better that way. But anyways, for all you future missionaries out there, daily contact is the secret. I really believe that!!

    So we had a couple of miracles happen this week. I decided this week that I am really glad I am serving in Europe. Yes, what everyone said is true, it is a "hard mission". But man, when you have success, it just makes it that much sweeter! Our chinese investigator Lili is one of the miracles. She works here as a nurse and is planning on staying here forever which is great. She speaks finnish basically fluently. Chinese people have great finnish accents...who would have thought? Anyways, we had a lesson with her. Sister Pace and I were both kind of hesitant about whether we should continue to teach her or not. She is super nice, but she hadn't kept her commitment to read the Book of Mormon for like 3 appointments in a row, and we were just it. She really is so nice and great! But anyways, on Tuesday, we decided that we needed to invite her to be baptized. We were explaining about Christ and how through Him we can become clean from everything. We can get rid of guilt, shame, anything from our past, and we really just testified of His love. The spirit was so strong in that lesson...we were praying for each other super hard during the lesson and you could tell. Anyways, as we had finished explaining baptism, before we could even invite Lili she said, "Well I haven't been baptized yet. Do you think I need to get baptized?" hahaha yes. We do. Sister Pace said, "Everyone needs to get baptized. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding the priesthood authority of God?" and Lili said, "Oh yes, I would love to." YIPPPEEE!!! Her baptismal date is November 29. It is kind of far out, but she basically has no knowledge of God...well now she does, but we just want to make sure she understands before she is baptized. We are super excited for her though! It's always so great to see the light in someone's eyes change when they say they want to be baptized. It's true what you said Dad, you really can tell so much about a person by their eyes. It's amazing how true that is!!

    So miracle number 2...well more like 124789, but the second one I want to talk about is Milla. We had a lesson with her on Wednesday morning. It went really well and we talked about faith and repentance. We really have been trying so hard lately to improve our skills as teachers so we can get out of the way of the spirit. This lesson really was a discussion and the spirit was there so strongly. Milla shared with us how she doesn't think it's right that people can just say they believe in Christ and then they are saved. Thank you Milla. But she said she doesn't really know how we can really be saved other than just by saying it. Can somebody say SEGWAY?? It was brilliant. We then talked about baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost and invited Milla to be baptized. At first she said maybe. I really appreciate when they say that...I know, weird, right? But then we are able to talk about what would be stopping them from being baptized. Anyways, she said that she doesn't know if she is ready to give up beer and coffee. It was way funny she said, "I don't know if I am weak or if I am just finnish." She knows that it's right to quit those things, but that is a hard thing to do...give up something you literally depend on. Also, she lives with her boyfriend and she asked us the same question as Heini about whether or not she could marry her boyfriend if she were a mormon and he weren't. She really had so many valid concerns and I was just so grateful that the spirit was there and she felt like she could trust us and really tell us how she was feeling. We testified of the power of the Atonement and how Christ really can help us change things about ourselves...even our very natures. She agreed to work towards the 22 of November as her date! We are just so excited and she is coming to FHE tonight to watch the full length Joseph Smith movie. We are super pumped. But pray for Milla and Lili. This is always when Satan tries to make them doubt, but these two are strong. I know it will all work out!

    During zone conference, President challenged us all to get in contact with every less active in our wards or branches. We have been in contact with all of our less actives and now we are working with one specifically. Her name is Ha. She is from Vietnam and has the cutest little restaurant in the center. She is 27, is WAY pretty, and is really into horoscopes and stars and signs and stuff like that. I kind of was teasing her awhile ago and I told her that I could read handwriting. She FREAKED OUT and has written me pages and pages of stuff and wants me to read her handwriting. That's what I get for trying to be funny. Every time we go over there she is all like, "Sister, have you read my handwriting?" probably wasn't smart of me to say I could. I thought she knew I was who can really read stuff like that? But oh no, she believes it. So if anyone wants your handwriting read, send it on over! I am in high demand here in Finland :) 

    Anyways, Ha has been saying a lot lately that she wants to come back to church. She is really struggling financially and doesn't believe she can pay tithing. I think the thing with her is that she really wants a huge solution to her problem, when really it all comes back to the basics. She said that she feels she has lost her faith. I was reading the Book of Mormon the other day and I had the thought, "Hello, Heavenly Father has given us books and books of instructions on how to increase our faith...its called the bible, book of mormon, pearl of great price, and doctrine and covenants." I think human beings in general just aren't satisfied with the simple answers which really would solve their problems. I think we all do it because if our problems can be fixed by something simple, then we really have no excuse not to change. We want big solutions because then we have more of a "safety net" of excuses to fall back on like..."but my problem is too big to fix, that's why I am the way that I am." Honestly, that's not true. Elder Holland said when people say "That's just the way I am" it makes him want to scream. There is no such thing as "That's just the way I am." or "That's just how hard my problem is." Nothing is so big that the gospel and the atonement can't fix. Nothing...anyways...pray for Ha. We are trying to work with her on daily scripture study and prayer and coming to church. The 3 pillars of success!! :)

    We taught the kids about the word of wisdom this week! Man...that was hilarious. So we brought this whiteboard we have in our apartment and we drew a bunch of pictures on it of vegetables and fruit and wine and beer and coffee and just all the things. We taught about the word of wisdom first and then showed them the pictures. Man these kids just went crazy. They "x-ed" out those bad things so fast and did it with quite a bit of aggression...kind of scared me a little bit :) but it was just great to teach kids again...we teach SO simply, but that's how we should teach all the time. It made me miss my primary kids a lot...Avi, Ammon, Nathan, Tiia, and Samantha. I love those guys and hope they are doing well! If you guys see them at church...tell them I said I and that I love and miss them!! 

    So a few months ago...Sister Pace and I were riding our bikes over this bridge in Vaasa. There was a woman at the bottom of the bridge, waiting to cross the street. She had a way cute dress on, sunglasses, and was pushing her baby in a stroller. I distinctly remember saying in my head, "Ok Heavenly Father, if you keep the light red, I am going to talk to this lady." Well, the light stayed red, I jumped off my bike and started talking to the way, the bike dismount in a skirt...definitely an art form...I have gotten pretty good at it :) but I asked this lady how her day was normal she looked at me like "Why are you talking to me? Who are you?" She didn't really respond back and every time we asked her a question, she just responded shortly and tried to ignore us. Well, after many attempts we just decided, ok, she doesn't want to talk so we told her to have a wonderful day and proceeded on our way. 

    About a month after that day, after church I was standing in the foyer talking to some members and this lady comes up to me. She says, in english, "Hey I talked to you on the street the other day." I hate when people say that...cause that means I am supposed to remember and I had absolutely NO IDEA who she was. I was like "I am so sorry, I just can't remember." She proceeded to explain that day to me about us coming from the bridge and jumping off our bikes to talk to her when she was walking with her baby. Apparently, she had thought about NOTHING ELSE for the past month. She read our nametags when we talked to her that day and said she had been trying to find that place. Long story short, she meets the Elders on the street, they invite her to church and she came! Her name is Suzanne!

    Want to know the best part of the story? SHE WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY! It was awesome! She is so stinking cute and has a 6 year old and a 3 year old daughter. I made your lemon sugar cookies for her baptism mom...everyone loved them by the way! :) Her baptism was so wonderful. She even got up and bore her testimony and talked about the "2 crazy girls that jumped off their bikes and talked to her that day." It really is amazing how we really don't know what a difference the little things we do everyday will make. Honestly, I felt sick about talking to her that day because we didn't really testify or invite her to church or whatever, but we just talked to her and got to know her and she was baptized yesterday and asked us to come over for dinner. She is amazing! I love her so much!! 

    It's just been a great week! Another week in the life of a Vaasa missionary folks, it doesn't get much better! Which brings me to "Something Finnish/Something European" for the week. So did anyone else know how big of a thing hitchhiking is in Europe? After buses, that could possibly be the most used mode of transportation. There are hitchhikers all over the place. One of the elders investigators actually hitchhiked from France to Finland and met his girlfriend while he was hitchhiking. What the heck? Is this some unexplored bit of genius that we need to adopt in America...hahahaha No. It's not. But it's still way funny! 

    So I have thought a lot about everything that has happened recently on my mission. I feel like I have had a spiritual feast to end all spiritual feasts. It's been so incredible. I have felt an increase of the Holy Ghost in my life as I have really tried to tighten up the screws and change the things about myself that I know I need to change. President Watson encouraged us during zone conference to really study, pray and think about what we all want to become because of everything that has happened. This week during personal study, I came across Mosiah 3: 19 which says: 

 19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

    I decided that this is what I want to become. I want to put of the natural man and refuse to be occupied with the things of this world that hold me back from being who Heavenly Father wants me to be. I want to yield to the spirit and get out of His way. I want to become a "saint" through the atonement and to become as a child. But mostly I want to be willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict on me. My year mark is coming up as a missionary...ew. that's gross. But I have been thinking a lot about what I was doing a year ago. I was writing my farewell talk, cleaning our house, and spending as much time with my wonderful family as I could. I was terrified. I have never been that scared in my life. I didn't want to go. It's horrible, but I really didn't want to.

    I started my mission and didn't want to be there. I had absolutely NO CONCEPT of what it really meant to be a member of this church and what the gospel could really do for me and for everyone else in this world. I probably sound like a broken record, but I am really just ashamed of my state of mind as I left on my mission. It was bad. I have been really frustrated with myself lately about that...super lame to be living in my past, but holy cow, I had so much and have so much to still work on. I really don't understand how even in my stubborn and prideful state, Heavenly Father still loved me enough and was merciful enough to help me. I just just now...that he really doesn't ever give up on any of us. We have never fallen too far to be out of the reach of his love. It took me getting hit in the face with a spiritual 2x4 to realize that I needed to serve my Heavenly Father. I needed this. I don't want to make Him have to pull out all the stops to get me to do something again. I want to be submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to all things. I am taking a part of this scripture for the next few months and stuyding in depth about how I can implement this into my life. I will keep you all posted for sure. Next week is "Yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" week. Sweet! I am way excited for this!

    On the other hand, I have come to realize this week that I need to chill out. You would think after a year of being a missionary I would have learned some of these lessons I really need to of them being to chill out. Flip, I don't know how to chill out. I really don't. Sister Pace and I had a great talk about it this week and she said, "You need to be as nice to yourself as you are to those around you." There is no way that can be an answer to my problems. I have some sort of sick problem in my head where I feel that if I am not struggling, I am not moving forward. If I am not improving in some area, I am going backward. I know we need to improve every day, but I also know I can't kill myself trying to do that. I don't know...I am kind of in turmoil about it all, but thankfully....anti-turmoil weekend is this weekend! I am so excited to watch conference and get answers to my questions. One of the best things I have learned from this past two transfers though is how important it is to be ourselves and just to LOVE people. Love can change the world. It has definitely changed me. You know that song on the Best Two Years where it says..."Don't you know, can't you see, I'm not who I used to be. Don't you know, can't you see, what Your love has made of me." That's really how I feel. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for us can change us. We can become better. I know we can, but we also need to enjoy the journey. Sorry if this is all over the place today. I just really have a lot of questions and thoughts in my head and I know this weekend, I will get some clarity! I love you all so much and am so excited to talk about conference next week! We haven't watched the women's meeting yet and I am really excited to watch that on Saturday. We get to watch the Saturday morning, and Sunday morning sessions live with you guys, so think of me when you watch those! I love you all so much and be sure to eat a cinnamon roll for me...just think, next conference, I will be 1 month away from coming home....that's gross! Ok I love you all and mom and dad, please be safe when you travel! Have fun!! Minä rakastan teitä!!!


    Sisar Olivia Bitner

Monday, September 22, 2014

The week of the apples!

    Hyvää päivää you wonderful people you? How the heck are you all doing? Mom, Dad, and Lauren....I got the New York pics...holy looks like you had way too much fun! :) I am so happy you were able to go and be there together. I don't know what it is about that place, it's just magical...the good old big apple!! I loved the pictures though and I seriously can't believe how old and beautiful Lauren is and how not old and beautiful my parents are. Seriously...I feel like I haven't seen you ever! It's crazy! Mom, I don't know if I have said this, but I really love your hair! It's real nice and you look super always! Can't bring a classy lady down! :) Lauren though, for real...when did you get so old? You are just gorgeous and way tall....then Grandma sends me pictures of her with the kids at home...Anne, Joce, and Caroline are just so dang beautiful and Luke with his little bow tie? Oh my's too great and you look way handsome Luke! Seriously though, what the heck is happening here? No one was supposed to change!! You have all sprouted! It's amazing! We have all changed so much...I can't get over it! But I am glad you had fun and that you are all safe and sound! It's good to travel, but it's so nice to come back home! Thanks for all the letters and emails from everyone, by the way. I love, love, LOVE reading about everything and pictures are wonderful as well!! Selfies included...send them my way! :)

    So mom, I am definitely ready to write Sister Fronk's intro...that is so awesome you are having her for dinner...she is my best friend and I am so glad you guys have spent time with her! She is wonderful! Just let me know what you want me to write about and I will spill my better watch out, Sister Frog...hahaha totally kidding! All the facts about you are good and wonderful so don't worry about it! :) Also...speaking of former companions...shout out to my mother/trainer Sister Egan...just got a letter from her today that was AWESOME! Man, I have appreciated her and what she did for me so much more ever since I became a trainer. I am sure that's how you feel when you become a look at your parents and think, " did they raise me? How did they do it?" I have thought that so many times, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful family members, friends, leaders, and companions who have changed my life for the better. I have met my best friends on my mission and most of them are my companions. I love them all!! 

    Sister Pace and I are doing really well. She is convinced I am leaving Vaasa next transfer. We'll see. Anyways, It has been super funny this week. I have noticed recently that whenever I turn around, Sister Pace is always way close to in my former life I would have said she has been "all up in my grill". Yes, I used to be a gangster. :) But it's been way funny. I didn't really think anything about it, but we were at a restaurant with some members and I was trying to decide what to order and Sister Pace looked at me and said, "What are you going to get?" I was like "I don't know yet, I am kind of torn between two" and she said "K well tell me when you decide." At first I thought she was just wanting to make sure she didn't order anything more expensive than me, which is polite #goodgreenie, but I ordered and she said, "I want the exact same thing as her." It kind of struck me as funny because I know she doesn't like burgers very much and that's what I ordered, but I kind of brushed it off. Didn't think too much about it. As the week went on, I noticed she was doing it ALL THE TIME. Whatever I would say, she would echo. Whatever I would choose, she would choose the same. It's been super funny. I don't really know what brought about the change, but although it has been a process for us to become friends, I really think we are both going to miss each other a lot. She told me the other day that it scares her to death to think that I am not going to be her companion in a month. Granted, we don't know that for sure, but it really hit me that this isn't going to last forever. None of it is. This is precious time. President Watson said something to that effect to me in his letter last week. He said that before I know it, I will be with a new companion and this opportunity will be gone. I was like...dang...he's right. It has been such a good experience for me to be Sister Pace's trainer and companion. We have had our ups and downs, for sure, but it's amazing how the people you struggle with the most, you end up loving the most. That's probably why families are so tight. I am just really grateful for her and hope our last month together is super fun! Sorry...a little sentimental...but I am just really grateful for all the people I have met on my mission. I will never forget them, that's for sure.

    This week was a great week in good old VAASA. We are just plugging along and I have just been so happy with the work that we have done recently. There is a line in Preach My Gospel where it asks how we would feel if we had to present our area book to the Lord. That really hit me for some reason so over the past few weeks I have just been going nuts organizing and cleaning out and getting our area book in tip top shape. It really is a tool for revelation and can be your greatest ally as a missionary. I know Heavenly Father has blessed us because of our efforts cause guess how many investigators we have? 17. That's right. I have never had so many on my mission. Granted, 17 is not manageable and we are working to focus on the "real-intenters" but man, we have contacted so many formers and potentials we have been wanting to get in contact with and the results have been miraculous. I know this is God's work and He is working with us.

    So one former investigator we found is named Emmanuel. He is from Angola and has been in Finland for about 10 years so he speaks finnish pretty well. Apparently Angolese people speak finnish really well....who knew? Anyways, we found his teaching record in the "Olympia swamp" and went to visit his house, but no one lived there anymore. We called his number and he told us that we could come over. So on Tuesday morning, we took a member and headed over there. We sit down, and the member we brought with us apparently knew him so they just started chatting it up. I was like "oh man...this is golden...already a member friend...." The lesson went really well, except Emmanuel has some issues with people being baptized that aren't ready. He said that he knows a mormon who got baptized and had never read any of the bible and very little of the Book of Mormon. He was all like, "I love the mormon church, but it worries me that you let people get baptized who aren't ready." It kind of hit me way hard when he said that. Baptism is so important and sometimes it's easy to forget what it really means to be baptized. It isn't just so that people can join the church or so that they can follow the example of Jesus Christ. Those things are important, but I was reading today in 2 Nephi 31 and Nephi is explaining why Christ was baptized. In verse 7 it says,

     Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

    That really stuck out to me. Christ was perfect. He didn't need to be baptized. But he HUMBLETH himself before the Father and WITNESSETH unto the Father that he would be OBEDIENT unto Him. That's pretty simple but SO crucial. So many people in the world say, [read in african voice] #notracist "Oh Lord Jesus, I am a vile sinner, but I believe in you and have accepted you...thank you and good night". What the heck is that? That's not humbling yourself before the father and witnessing unto him that you are willing to be obedient and keep his commandments. How many "christians" are there in the world who take the name of God in vain and don't keep the sabbath day holy and commit adultery and steal and lie and covet....way too many to count, that's for sure. Flip, I am so guilty of doing some of those things...we all are. That is why we have to be baptized. Christ can cleanse us from our sins but only on the conditions that he has set forth. In Preach My Gospel it says...

    The Savior satisfied the demands of justice for those who repent of their sins and endeavor to keep all of His commandments when He stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins. This act is called the Atonement. Because of this selfless act, Christ can plead with the Father on our behalf. Heavenly Father can apply mercy, withhold punishment  from us, and welcome us into His presence. Our Heavenly Father shows mercy when He forgives us of our sins and helps us return to dwell in His presence.

    However, Jesus did not eliminate our personal responsibility. He forgives our sins when we accept Him, repent, and obey His commandments.Through the Atonement and living the gospel we become worthy to enter the presence of our Heavenly Father permanently. We must show that we accept Christ and that we have faith in Him by keeping His commandments and obeying the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

    I love the "However" portion. He did not eliminate our personal responsibility. We have to have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. Those are the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. That's why it doesn't work just to say you have accepted Christ. Baptism is a witness before God and has to be done by someone holding God's authority or there is no point. Anyways, sorry to get all preachy, that has just been festering and ripening in my mind so I wanted to share...yay for how much I want to share, right? Just kidding...sorry if it's annoying how much I really don't have to read the whole thing...I promise! I won't feel bad...k kind of, but just don't tell me and all will be well! :) But long story short, Emmanuel is an investigator and he has a wife and a cute daughter named Belma...sick name huh? Mom and Dad, get ready to have a granddaughter named Belma someday. I am using it! 

     So after our lesson with Emmanuel, we finally were able to meet with Milla. Holy lands I was so apprehensive about this lesson. I don't know why...probably because I love Milla so much and know how much she needs this....Milla needs this so bad. Everyone needs it, but she REALLY needs it. Anyways, we get to her house and chat for a second. Then we pray and follow up on her Book of Mormon reading. Sidenote: It's always super cute when we go to investigator's homes...every single pamphlet, card, book, movie, or whatever we have given them is always sitting on the table so we can see it. It's awesome...either that or they "lost it". But anyways, Milla had everything on display and when we asked about the Book of Mormon, her eyes lit up and she said, "Oh my goodness, I love this book. I have read 10 chapters since the last time we talked." Mitä? Come again? She had read all the way up to 1 Nephi 10 on her own. It was amazing. When Elder Bednar taught us, instead of asking us "How we feel" he would ask "What did you learn from your experience?" I really liked that and thought that was one way we can help those we teach to learn by faith, not just by "force-feed." Anyways, we asked Milla what she learned and she opens up to 1 Nephi 7:17 which says:

 17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord,according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me fromthe hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I mayburst these bands with which I am bound.

    She then proceeds to tell us that she loves that Nephi prayed to be given strength, not that his circumstances would change. She looked at me and said, "Can I pray like that, too?" I was like, YES Milla, you can pray like that too! :) Talk about best question ever! She really loves the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon, a willing heart, and the spirit...that's all it takes. Anyways, we watched the Restoration video with her afterwards and she just loved it and said, "I feel like that movies really starts when it ends...I want to know more about Joseph Smith." Man...I just can't even tell you how happy we were after that! The spirit was so strong and we had planned to invite her to be baptized when her boyfriend calls on the phone and she had to leave to go pick him up from for about opposition in all things. We need to get her a baptismal date so that she can have a goal and be working towards something, but that lesson was so good and we are just really happy about everything with Milla. She is wonderful!! 

    So Tuesday afternoon, we headed up to Oulu for splits with the sister training leaders. It takes about 5 hours by train to get there, but I love riding trains. I wish we had them more in America and they were used, but anyways, we were with Sister Hubner and Sister Lund again...they are both wonderful missionaries and I learn so much every time we go on splits. I was with Sister Hubner this time. She is hilarious and we get along really well. People kept asking us if we were germans because our names are both german...we debated lying and pretending to speak german but then figured....that was no but we had a great time! I really love Oulu as well. It is a beautiful place and has the best bike paths IN THE WORLD. Biking in Oulu is one of my greatest joys! It was so much fun. We taught one of their investigators about the Word of Wisdom. That was fun. This guy is half Pakistani, half Finnish and he speaks finnish about 42432789 miles per hour. I had no idea what he was saying. It made me feel like a greenie again and boy oh boy...I didn't miss those days! :) It's great to be a greenie, but it's even greater not to be a greenie! It was great though and I love Sister Hubner a lot.

    We had zone conference up in Oulu the day after splits. It was awesome to be together again. President said that when he drove Elder Bednar back to the airport, Elder Bednar just thanked him for allowing him to be a part of that meeting. He said that out of the 4 groups of missionaries they talked to, we were the most prepared group. Not to toot our own horn, but I was just so grateful that we had all prepared so much. Elder Bednar said that the spirit can only teach us what we are ready to hear and I was just so grateful that he had encouraged us to prepare. It was amazing. But Elder Bednar said something interesting to President. President said they were driving in the car and Elder Bednar looks at him and says, "You know what you have to do now right?" I love President...he is way honest and hilarious and told us, "I had no idea what he wanted me to say...I was nervous." But then Elder Bednar said, "You need to follow up with these missionaries in zone conferences soon. Much has been given today and where much is given, much is required." Woah. That's cool. 

    At the beginning of zone conference, President talked a lot about how wonderful the conference was and how great we all are and yadda yadda yadda, then he kind of stops and looks at us all and says, "So what? What are we all going to change about ourselves because of this meeting?" I thought a lot about conference when he said that. Like how many times in our lives have we watched conference, taken notes, felt uplifted, and then gone on with our lives exactly the same as before. That's not the point and I really realized that we are cheating ourselves if we aren't putting into actions those promptings we receive during any meeting in the church, not just conference. We should be changing and becoming better a little bit, every single day. That's the purpose of it all. Anyways, we got a lot of good counsel about rules and procedures at zone conference. A lot of good things about how to become better missionaries and how to take our work to the next level. It's going to be so great and I can't wait for conference!!

    Anyways, zone conference lasted the whole day, so we came home on Friday morning. On Saturday, we played sähly, or floor hockey, with the ward and our investigators. I have never been really good at sähly. Thankfully I have played sports however, so I know where to run but when the ball comes to me, I just can't control it with the dumb stick. My first impulse is always to kick it...which I just found out is allowed...WHAT THE HECK!!! 10 months of lies! :) I am just kidding, but it was way funny because one of the members in our ward who was on my team came up to me and said, "Sister, you have an eye for the game. This is just like soccer. Get your self in the game and win." hahaha I was laughing so hard, but man...he knew how to get me fired up. I just started playing hard...not crazy, inappropriate hard, but I was going pretty hard. I scored 2 goals....that's right! I am a floor hockey pro! Just kidding...I really used my feet the whole time. What's that the kids are always saying, you can't teach an old dog new tricks? :) Alls I'm saying is Sister Pace informed me yesterday that she misses playing soccer and really enjoys work here is done! :) The members are awesome though and I have made some friends here in Vaasa I know I will have for the rest of...well forever I guess! They are great!

    We have these two investigators Lili and Salem. Lili is from China and actually was the elders former investigator and Salem is from Ethiopia. They are roommates and best friends. Its the cutest thing ever. Anyways, we had a lesson with them on Saturday night and I had the brilliant idea to bring my main man Chau along with us! haha I have never been on a lesson with him before...flip we were teaching him 3 months ago...but we invited him and he was so excited. He testified about the Book of Mormon in his wonderful little way..."Look, Lili, the sisters were always telling me to read the book if I had questions...but I didn't want to...but I did and I get answers. Every time." Man....that made me so happy!! There is nothing better than seeing the gospel change someone's life. Chau has changed so much. He is coming to church, blessing the sacrament, playing sähly with the members, and just really changing for the better. I am so happy for him!! 

    The kids came to church this week again...all 3 of them!! YAY!! I was super happy. We had to move their date back AGAIN one week because the ward is going to be gone on the 18th for a temple temple trips! No I am just kidding! I am glad they can go, I am just so excited for these kids to be baptized! The ward has been really excited about it and I know their baptism will be a wonderful day! I am so glad I get to be here for it!! Also, we got a new BML in our ward or Branch Mission Leader. I am SO EXCITED!! This is the first BML I have had in 6 months of being here....ya...not so good...but he is an RM, was the AP in his mission and is just super pumped to do missionary work. We have our first meeting with him tonight so hopefully all goes well! 

    Funny story/ cute story of the week. So Sister Pace and I were walking home from a Dinner appointment down the most beautiful road in Vaasa....I have dubbed it as's my fav...sidenote: can we just all stop and appreciate how beautiful fall is? Oh my goodness. Like does Heavenly Father love us or what? He does. But anyways, we were walking and just chatting about all the good things in life when out from a bush...literally jumps this little girl. She definitely startled both of us, I thought Sister Pace was going to pass was hilarious. Anyways, she blurts out, "I speak english too." We proceeded to talk to this little girl. Come to find out she is a finn, is 4 years old, has a baby girl sister, is from Tampere, and is staying with her cousins. As we are just having the best time talking to this girl we start seeing heads pop out from the windows of the house, the garage, the shed, all sorts of places. All these adults looking at this little girl like "What the heck is she doing? Is she actually talking to someone?" We told her it was nice to meet her and shook her hand and then started walking away. Sister Pace yells back to the adults, "Hän puhuu englanti todella hyvin." or "she speaks english really well"...they all nervously laughed and ran back into their house. But all the while this little girl was standing by the fence waving and yelling, "Have a good day. Nice to meet you." I was floored at how this reserved-ness and Idon'twanttotalktoyou-ness is not inherent in these people. They really do want to talk to us, they have just followed "the norms" set by who knows who, but they really do like talking. It may be uncomfortable for them at first, but then their little girl inside bursts from the bush and they talk and talk and talk. Finns really are the best people I know. I love them so much!

    Which brings us to "Something Finnish" for the week. The finns are so literally they would give you anything you asked for. We received this referral from a member my first week in Vaasa and we have tried to contact this lady so many times but have never been able to get in touch with her. Anyways, Sister Pace and I were in her area about a week ago and I said, "Hey, let's go see if Marja-Leena is home." So we walk past her house and this little rat of a dog jumps out at us and starts barking and going crazy. Luckily it was tied to a tree...but Marja-Leena comes walking out from her back yard and looks at us and asks, "Are you two the mormons?" We said, "Yes we are." and she said, "Come here, I want to show you something." Sounds a little sketchy, right? No just kidding! It wasn't sketchy at all! :) Anyways, we walk into her backyard and there are literally thousands of apples all over. In the trees, on the ground, on the table...flip I should have taken a picture, but anyways, they were everywhere. She then said, "I don't want to listen to your message...I have heard enough about the mormons, but will you please take two bags of apples home with you...I don't know what to do with them all." haha we said of course and helped her kind of reign in her apple explosion. You best believe we made some dang good apple crumble, but it really is so true. They want to help each other...they just don't ask for help. It is kind of an interesting phenomenon, but yes...I love finns and we have so many apples from all the members and investigators that we don't even know what to do with them. Apples in the fall though...nothing better than that!!

    Well anyways, I just hope you all know how much I love you and how much I love this gospel. It really is so amazing and I know that when we do all that we can do, God makes up for the rest every single time. I have so many things about myself that I wish I could change or wish I didn't do, but I know that Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to be perfect NOW. It's all about the progression. I was reading over my journal a couple days ago and I found from my MTC days when I picked my mission motto. It is 2 Nephi 31:20 and it says: 

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness inChrist, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God andof all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon theword of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith theFather: Ye shall have eternal life.

    I love that so much. It really is the way. It's the only way and it's all possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have loved reading the Book of Mormon recently and focusing on his Atonement. It really is the greatest miracle and blessing in all of our lives. I have also gained a greater appreciation for the Book of Mormon. Because of that book, we know how to get back into our Father in Heaven. It literally gives us the steps and we just have to be brave enough to follow them. While reading my journal, I was really emotional. I am really good at expressing how I feel...did you all know that? :) and I wrote exactly how I felt in the MTC and during training and all the other times on my mission. Everyone always says that the mission is the best of times and the worst of times and it really is. I was really cut down in the MTC. I know I have said that before, but I didn't even know who I was. It was so hard, but for the first time in my life, I didn't fight the process. I didn't fight my life. I think Heavenly Father had to bring me low enough to the point where I literally couldn't fight anymore. I am not strong enough to bring myself out of the place I was, but my Savior is. He brought me out of that place and I really have changed. I will never be the same because of my mission and thank heaven for that. I love being a missionary. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love Finland. I love the gospel. I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon. I love it all and I hope that we all remember every day how truly blessed we are to be members of this church and to know what we know. I just love you all and hope you have the most wonderful, conference-prepping, fall-enjoying week ever! I love you all so much and I will talk to you soon!!


    Sisar Olivia Bitner 

    P.S. I am still working on some ideas for your lesson is coming, I promise! Thanks for everything lady...I love you!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Try a Little Harder to be a Little Better

    Hei! Miten sinun päiväsi on mennyt? That's what I say about 350 times a day! How are you all doing? Man I miss you so much! I hope life in good old USA is just going strong! I miss America! Finland is a very, very close second, but America has my heart! I bleed red, white, and blue! :) On the 11th, Sister Pace and I sang all the America hymns in the hymnbook and I read 1 Nephi 13 to pay my respects to my motherland! It was a great day...also we ate burgers! :) I hope you all had a great 9/11 remembrance day. I can't believe how long ago that was...I was 7 years old when it happened, but I still remember being scared and wondering why someone would do that. I still don't know why, but I am just so grateful to have been born in America! We are so blessed! So some shoutouts...Taylor and Ashley, WELCOME TO DAVIS COUNTY! It's the best place in the world...especially now that your family is there! I am way excited to see your new house! Also Anne, I hope you kicked some Davis butt this week...if not, that's ok too! :) Lauren...YOU GO TO NEW YORK THIS WEEK. Oh my goodness, get ready to have your mind blown, my friend! It's the greatest thing in the world! I want to hear about everything! Send me ALL THE PICTURES and go to Shake Shack for me! It's delicious. Also make sure you listen to "New York, New York" by Tony Bennett when you drive into the city. Mom tried to do that when I was 13 and I didn't appreciate it like I should...but do me! It's the greatest place ever! All the people, the sights, the smells, the buildings, the food, the grime...ahhhh...I miss it! Anyways, I hope you 3 have a party and just enjoy being there! It's wonderful! :) Make sure you tell Mom and Dad thank you...we are so lucky we get to do that! Also, Dad...I was reading the Liahona this week and read all about the church in Korea! It made me WAY happy to read about your mission land! If you haven't seen the article yet, read it!! It's way good! Anyways, all the rest of you are just amazing and I love and miss you so much!! 

    We had such a good week this week. Oh just get ready guys...I don't know if I can even explain how awesome this week was. First off, we went to Seinäjoki on Tuesday. Can I just tell you how beautiful the Finnish countryside is? Honestly, I have driven back and forth from Vaasa to Seinäjoki about 100 times...I did the math...and I never get sick of it. It is gorgeous. We all need to come to Finland, rent a big old car and just drive...and drive...and is so green with all the trees and the cute little farms and the houses and the clouds and ahhh...I love it! But we went to Seinäjoki and all our investigators there went a-wall...not like they dropped us, but we just couldn't meet with any of them, except for Poe and Soe. We went and taught them about the Restoration...again...and invited them to be baptized. They said they want to, but wouldn't commit to a date because their mom said no. It's super hard...she doesn't speak finnish and I don't really blame her for being a little apprehensive about the american girls wanting her kids to join their church, but she has felt the spirit with us before, and I know she knows this is good, we just need to keep working with them. Also, at the end of the lesson, Poe and Soe asked us to sleepover...hahahaha uh, that's never happened before! I am not going to lie, it took me way off guard. I was super awkward as I miserably tried to explain why we can't do that in my high quality finnish....hahaha NOT. But anyways, I thought it was pretty hilarious. Sister Pace and I had a nice long laugh about it on the way home. 

    But ya, not too much to report from Seinäjoki. It's a hard place to work...not a lot going on, but we have been so blessed to have investigators there. Actually, President Watson just closed down Seinäjoki as it's own area and now Vaasa includes Seinäjoki so the Vaasa Elders go to Seinäjoki three times a week and we go twice. Do you know what this means? Yes, that's right...the Elders have their own car and we do too now!! YIIPPEE!! We don't even use our car that much, but's hard sharing a car when you have such different schedules. Sister Pace and I did a number on our car this morning though...I vacuumed that sucker out like it was my job and we washed the outside and's running like a charm. Dad, thanks for teaching me how to clean cars...I found so much joy in it this morning, I think I know what I want to major in now! :)

    So tracting...let me tell you about it...we don't do it anymore...THANK HEAVEN. I have never been a fan. President Rawlings was big on ruling on tracting except, he has this policy called "10 doors". So what it means is when you go to check on a former investigator or a potential or something, you tract 10 doors on either side of their door. I am not going to lie...I have always hated it...even though it's only 10. I know missionaries used to do that ALL STINKING DAY. I don't know how they did it, but I think it's super ineffective and at least in Finland, people get super offended and don't like to be disturbed at home. Although I have strong opinions, hahaha I try not to rock the boat, so I have always followed the 10 door rule and have never really seen much success with it. But boy oh boy, did that change! So about 4 weeks ago, Brother Aromaa gave us a referral of a childhood friend he used to have. Now he is pretty old, so we didn't really know what to expect, but man a referral is a referral. So we set out to find this lady. We knocked on her door, and no one was home. Immediately "10 doors" shot into my mind like a bolt of lightning. I kind of stood there and was like "" But my pouting lasted like 0.2 seconds and we started doing 10 doors. We start at the top of the building and worked our way down. Anyways, no one was answering. I am pretty sure that one dog almost broke the door down, headbutting it however, so thankfully he didn't break through #couldhavebeenbad but anyways, not too much was happening. This is about to get dramatic, we come to the last door and knock...we stand and stand and nothing. Then, the door opens really really slowly. It's dark inside...I can't see anything...and then I see a hand reach stop the door from opening because this guy didn't have clothes on...hahahaha sorry not too intense, but anyways, this guys says, in Finnish, "Let me put some clothes on." Thank heavens it was dark and I couldn't see anything, but anyways, this guy comes back. His name is Janne. He lives with his girlfriend and they have a cute little baby. #potentialeternalfamily He was kind of "busy" at the time, but he told us we could come back. 

    So that was about 4 weeks ago. We had a DA with the Nåsmans on Wednesday and they sort of live out by where Janne lives. We were sort of/borderline late for another appointment, but we had the strong impression to go check on Janne. So we go back and this time his girlfriend comes to the door. Her name is Heini and she is SO STINKING NICE. She told us we could come back and that they would love to hear more about our message! Guys...we found a finnish family....ok not really a family bound by matrimony, but we can work with that! I gained a testimony of 10 doors this week and we have a lesson with them in about 6 hours!! WAHOOO!! I hope with all my heart that all goes well! I have a good feeling about these two!! Oh in case you were wondering...we weren't late for our appointment. Follow the spirit always works out! 

    So on Thursday, a member in our ward asked us if we could come do some service at her brand new möki...aka summer house! We said TOTTA KAI...and so Thursday morning we all set off. This member is awesome! She has 3 sons...all are super active, awesome members and she is just a rockstar. She has had such a hard life, but man, she really is so strong. I admire her a lot. But we had the best time cutting down trees and bushes and loading them up with her. She just kept saying how glad she was that we were there and she showed us all around the möki! Do we have möki's in Utah? Cause if not, we need to build one! Our family would have WAY too much fun with a möki! Plus..of course it had a sauna! It was awesome! But anyways, we just loaded up all these branches and bushes and set off for the dump. After we had unloaded all of the stuff, Sister Weijola looks at us and says, "Is it your lunch hour?" It was. We had gone over a little on our lunch hour. Anyways, she says, "Can I take you guys out to get burgers?" Sister Pace and I were like, "oh my goodness, no, you are totally fine, we love serving, please don't" blah blah blah and Sisar Weijola just sits there and then when we had finished she said, "Ok, well I am taking you to get burgers so get in the car." hahaha yes ma'am! You don't have to ask me twice when it comes to burgers! Anyways, we got burgers with her and it was just a great time! I love these members!!

    So Sister Thayne has the same birthday as me...I think you all know that, but we decided that we were going to get each other birthday presents and give them to each other at the mission conference! BTW, she got me a SUPER CUTE scarf that I love! #kiitsBFF anyways, there is this bakery in Vaasa that is MY FAVORITE! They make this delicious banana cake and Sister Thayne loves bananas so I wanted to buy her a piece and take it down to the conference. The lady that works in the bakery is super cute and is going to be an investigator. We want her to get baptized SO BAD. Luckily, we frequent the bakery enough...not too much...but enough that we are buds! Little by little...she is warming up to us. Last time we were there she even asked us about the church! YAAAA BABY!!! The power of the banana cake folks, its real!! 

    Later that night, we were down at the mission home in Espoo with all of the missionaries from the North. It was so great to see the Watsons. I just love them so much! I know I say it all the time, but they are WAY too easy to talk to! I talked to President while we were eating dinner for like 30 minutes about all the things, and Sister Watson is the same way! I feel like I have known them forever and they really make you feel like what you have to say is important. I think that is a great quality to have and one I hope I am developing! Anyways, we got to stay in the mission home which was super fun! I have to tell you though, I couldn't sleep AT ALL. It was like Christmas. I mean flip, David A. Bednar was coming to Finland. Holy cow! I have looked forward to this for weeks! I actually slept terrible that night because I was so excited. You best believe I woke up right at 6:30 that next morning, ready to go!

    So we all caravan ed to Haaga and were in the chapel by 10! First off, it was SO awesome to have all the Finnish missionaries there! There are only 110 of us and it was just so wonderful to see everyone especially my MTC group and Sister Jones and my other BFF Sister Curtis! I just love them all so much! I sent some pics home of my's amazing how much we have all changed. I just can't believe it has almost been a year, but that's beside the point. Anyways, we all were sitting in the chapel, studying, and then in walks President and Sister Watson, Elder and Sister Kearon of the area presidency, and Elder and Sister Bednar. I love how we stand up when they walk's so cool! Anyways, the spirit was strong in that room before they came in, but man, after they came, it was incredible! I could literally feel the spirit around me! gives me the chills just to think about it. I have never been in that "intimate" of a meeting with a general authority, let alone an apostle. It was awesome!!

    Sidenote: so our investigator/friend/"can't learn about the church" guy Viet was at the church on Tuesday and Sister Pace and I were talking to each other about how excited we were for Elder Bednar and Viet, who is hilarious and nosy, comes around and says, "Who is coming to Helsinki?" Sister Pace says, "Viet, do you know what an apostle is?" Viet said, "An apostle, you mean apostle? as in a package?" hahahaha he thought we meant A PARCEL. hahahaha man, you may not think that's funny, but I about died! I thought my siblings would appreciate that! It was super funny! 

    So anyways, the meeting. So Elder and Sister Kearon spoke and it was SUPER good. Mostly because Elder Kearon has a british accent! Man, it's a good thing I didn't go to England. I would have been too enthralled by their accents...anyways, both of their messages were really good. Then cute little Sister Bednar gets up and talks to us. She started off by saying "The spirit is here, can you feel it?" We all totally could. It was awesome and you could really tell how much everyone had prepared. Anyways, I don't know if you know this, but Elder Bednar's son served in Finland and he actually served in Vaasa. Isn't that crazy? But anyways, she talked about that and she said, "Before my son got his mission call, I was so worried because I wanted him to go somewhere safe. Elder Bednar wanted him to go somewhere hard. Well, we were both satisfied. Finland fits the bill." She talked about the gift of tongues and how our families need to be praying for us to receive the gift of tongues...I know you guys have been praying because there is literally NO WAY ON EARTH I could speak this language without it.'s a miracle. But anyways, thank you for your prayers. :) 

    She also said something that gave the heart strings a nice little tug, she said, "I wish your mothers could be here to see your faces right now. This is magical." Man...I wanted nothing more than that right then. But it really got me thinking. If my mom could see me right now, would she be proud of the missionary and person that I am? I hope with all my heart that the answer would be yes! After that she gave us all a challenge....she told us to get a Book of Mormon and to go through and read it, highlighting any instance or evidence or mention of the Savior's atonement. She said to read it from cover to cover and then at the end, write a one-page summary about what we have found. She said her son did that on his mission and sent home is summary to his family to read for Christmas and it was amazing! I am starting that right now! I have wondered about how I can more fully understand and incorporate the Atonement into my life. This is such a simple way to do it. She said that she and Elder Bednar have done this and still do this for any gospel principle they want to understand better and she said it's amazing what you find. I love that! I mean flip, what better resource to learn about Jesus Christ than The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ! I am way excited to get started and would challenge whoever wants to...wink do the same! :)

    Then Elder Bednar got up and man, you should have seen his smile! He was so happy and he just looked thrilled to be there which was awesome! The way he taught us was amazing. He started off by saying the three words of finnish that he knows, which was awesome and way funny! He knew "kiitos" or thank you, "joulupuki" or Santa Claus and he said the third word he knows is harbor but in finnish that word is dangerously close to a swear word and his son, who speaks finnish, told him not to try to pronounce that third word or we would all laugh and laugh and laugh! Anyways, we thought that was funny and it was just funny to see him speaking finnish! No one speaks finnish! Ok, anyways, he then went on to talk about agency and the difference between acting and being acted upon. He said that he would never force anyone to answer a question and he hates playing the "Guess what's in my head game". He talked a lot about the culture of the church and some of the things, that are not doctrine, that we do, just because it's "the culture". He was way funny about everything, but a couple of things he told us to do that I want to share with you are to never force people in your classes to answer question, invite them to act, never take notes on exactly what the speaker is saying, listen to what the spirit tells you. Also, he said that when we give talks, we should just study and pray our hearts out before we speak to prepare, and that we really should speak without notes. Now flip, he is talking to the note taker of all note takers, but I determined that during my homecoming talk, I am not going to have notes. You can all keep tabs on my for that. But it really is way true. When it is unscripted, the spirit it there so much stronger.

    Anyways, I could sit here and try and tell you everything he said, but I don't remember, because I didn't write it down. But man, the things I wrote down in my study journal are answers to prayers that I didn't even know I had. He taught us about so many good things. Literally, I felt like all barriers were down when he was teaching and he was just saying exactly what Heavenly Father wanted us to hear. The notes that I took are evidence of that. I received answers to questions about my past, about what I am doing now, and also about my future, during and after my mission. I have never felt so inspired and uplifted as I did in that meeting. I felt like everything was possible, because we have Christ on our side. Christ is everything. We become yoked with Him by making covenants and we remained yoked as we keep them. He talked a lot about keeping covenants and trying hard each day to be a little better. He told us that the world we live in now is as good as it's going to be during our lifetimes. Kind of a scary thought, but he promised us each that as we keep our covenants, we will be alright. I knew that was true. I felt the truth of that statement so strongly, I can't even tell you. It's a scary thing to think of raising a family and being a parent in this world. I want nothing more than that, but It scares me to death. But he told us, "As you look ahead to your future, don't ever be afraid." I was so grateful to just be in his presence and to have the opportunity to be taught by a prophet of God. Seriously, I can't even describe it! 

    Man...I wish you all could have been there with me, but you were and I felt your love and the love of my Heavenly Father so strongly. I realized so many things and had so many personal prayers answered. It was wonderful! As we headed back to Vaasa, I had the thought come to me that as wonderful as that experience was, that is how General Conference should be every single time we watch it. We have the opportunity in about 3 weeks to be taught by every single prophet, seer, and revelator we have on the earth today. We all prepared so hard for Elder Bednar to come, and I know that if we all prepare ourselves for conference by praying that our questions will be answered and our minds and hearts will be open, they will be. I wrote down a lot of questions that I had before, and I put the list away. I didn't even look at it during the meeting. But when I came home, I looked at the list and literally, every single question was answered. It was awesome! I know that can happen for us all this conference. Let's all prepare and be spiritually recharged. We need it now more than ever!

    Man, there is so much more I want to talk about, but I don't have time. I just hope you all know that I know the church is true. There is no doubt in my mind. I am so grateful for prophets. They are evidence of God's love for us. We can look to them as another source of revelation and direction from our Heavenly Father. We are so blessed. This week for the first time on my mission, I woke up and it just felt normal to be a missionary. I felt like this is what I have been doing for my whole life. I didn't have to remind myself of where I was, I just knew where I was and knew what I was supposed to be doing. Being a missionary is incredible because we have our purpose in our minds all the time. I realized I have been nervous lately about going home and falling back into the trap of not doing missionary work. The thing is though, we can't fall into that trap and if we are in it, we better get the heck out. The work is moving forward. The Lord is Hastening this work with or without us. He gives us each the opportunity every single day to share the gospel. There really are no excuses to not share the gospel with those around us. I know that each of us, especially me, know at least one non-member person or family with whom we could share the gospel. We all need to stop making excuses, and start doing missionary work. 

    Now everyone pause for a second....I am a missionary and I am here to tell you that just giving the missionaries the names of your friends is not missionary least not anymore. We need to have our friends over to our homes. Invite them to do things with our families. Talk about the gospel "normally and naturally". Help people see the blessings of the gospel before we throw up the doctrine in their face. People recognize a difference in us and tell them about it when they want to know what it is. We don't have to teach them anything, just tell them the truth. Think to yourself about why you are a member of the church. How has it blessed your life? Why do you do all the things you do? Dad you said this in your letter last week, but really think about those questions. Write the answers in your journal. Add to it when you think of other reasons. Man...I am sorry to monologue, but I just know the blessings that come from missionary work and I never want to stop doing it. I know it is so easy for me to say because I have nothing else to think about right now, but I really think if we "try a little harder to be a littler better" in missionary work, we will see amazing results. I know if we all pray for opportunities to share the gospel and REALLY INTEND to act, they will come. Without fail. We need to help our brothers and sisters get back to Heavenly Father. 

    Before conference comes, everyone should pray and ask Heavenly Father to tell us one person that we know who would accept the gospel soon in their lives and what we can do to help them. We will ALL get an answer and I promise you will be amazed at how closely the Lord is willing to work with us when we let Him in. This is His work. We just need to get over ourselves and our insecurities and get out of the way and share it. We can be tools in His hands...I never understood what that meant until I experienced it, but it's true. Trust the Lord. He will take care of us and our friends that we care so much about! Heavenly Father loves us. He wants us to know that. He wants us to feel that. He wants us to be brave and strong and to know that everything is going to be ok, regardless of what comes in the world. If we keep our covenants, we are independent of what the leaders of the world or anyone says or does because we are yoked with our Savior and we have made promises with God. Everything changes for the better after we make covenants. I am so grateful for baptism and for the temple. I know this is all true. It's all real and because of Jesus Christ, we can all live together again as a family! Wow. He literally saved us from death! We can never repay Him but man, we can sure do our best every day to be a little better! I love you all so much and hope you have the most amazing week! God answers prayers in His way and in His time...always!! You are all great! I love you so much!!


    Sisar Olivia Bitner

    P.S. Something Finnish for the you know how I said there are no cops on the road in Finland? Well everyone and their dog has one headlight that is burnt out because no one is there to pull them over and tell them! It's hilarious and Sister Pace and I are "perdiddle" masters now! If you don't know what perdiddle means...ask a kid or teenager! They will know! You are all awesome!!

    P.P.S.S. I just got called to be the district language coordinator...hahahahahaha I have to teach a finnish lesson in district meeting each week for 10-15 minutes! I laughed for about 234 minutes, but I just thought I would let you know! I love you all!!

Here are some photo's of us!

Me doing service at the möki

The möki
Switching trains in Tampere...the land of my birth!

My traveling companions

Monday, September 8, 2014

"For all the WONDERFUL you add to the world..."

    What up, buttercup? :) How the heck are you all doing? Another week down...where does the time go...ok I am done with the intros...Guys....I GOT YOUR PACKAGES THIS WEEK....oh my goodness. Seriously you guys are the best thing that has ever happened to me!! Two elders from our district were down in Helsinki this past week so they were able to bring my packages to district meeting...not going to lie, birthdays have always been my favorite, but this birthday and getting packages from you all was something special! Grandma, Rachel, and Anna...thank you so much! It was AWESOME to have all that birthday the way, how did you get my name on that banner? You guys are the best! Thank you so much for thinking of me and I especially loved the scratch and sniff root beer all know me too well! :) They don't have root beer in Finland so it was great to get to smell it at least! hahah I love you and thank you for the sweet cards! You are my best friends and I love you all! and Mom, Dad, Jocelyn, Anne, Lauren, Luke, and Caroline...HOLY FRIJOLES! You guys are the best. I LOVE the new shirts...they couldn't have come at a better time! And thanks to Jose Eber as hair is not completely boring anymore! :) 

    Thank you for the sour patch kids, white chocolate hersheys, cheez-its, no bake cookies, earrings and all the other wonderful things. You all know me WAY too well! :) Thank you for the letters you wrote...I have read and re-read them so many times this week and every time I read them, I just think, man, I literally have the best family in the world. It's not even a contest! Seriously, I don't deserve you guys. Thank you so much! I have to tell you though, above everything else....the Louis Armstrong card...OH MY GOODNESS. K, so I just have to tell you the story...I could tell that it was a thicker card and I was like, "Oh man, if it's one of those voice recorder cards I am going to die" know how you can do that now, like put your voices in the card? Anyways, I was kind of nervous cause I knew I would bawl my eyes out if I heard your voices so I saved it until the end. Anyways, I am sitting there and Sister Pace is watching me and I open the card and read, "For all the wonderful you add to the world..." then I open it and hear, "YEEEESSSSS, I think to myself, what a wonderful world." Guys....I was bawling my eyes out. I was laughing and crying and ahhhh...I just missed you so much and was SO stinking happy that you found that card! It literally made my life. It is the most wonderful thing in the world! Thank you so much! Sister Pace was crying was hilarious... and she said that my face was priceless...I wish I had a picture, but just know it made me so happy! I loved what you said Anne, "I wish I could see your reaction to this card" and then Mom when you said, "I saw this card and couldn't resist" really are the best! I love you all so much! Dad thank you for the money and for your sweet note...I love you so much and am so grateful for your example and for how hard you work for our family! We don't tell you half as much as we should, but we all appreciate it so much! I think about what how hard you worked to get through school and everything and how hard you have worked for everything that you have. The best part is, I know you have done it all because you love us...Thank you and I love you! are wonderful and thank you so much for all the sweet things you said! P.S. your schedule looks bomb awesome! You have Brother Palmer? He is a way good teacher! Tell him I said Hi! Lauren, thank you so much for your letter! I was laughing SO hard when you were talking about cursive and spelling! You have changed so much, but will always be my BB! Luke and Caroline, thank you so much for the pics! I have them hanging up in my room! And Doce...Thanks for the email! You are the best too! I have just had the biggest bursts of love for you all this week...for as much as I type and ramble in these letters, I really can't express how much you all mean to me. Hopefully one day you know, but for now, just know that I love you all with all my heart and pray for you in every prayer! I hope you never forget that! :)

    One thing I wanted to say though, Mom and Dad, I have thought a lot this week about saying "I love you" to our family members and I just wanted to thank you both for making that such a big part of our family. I can't remember a time in my life when I walked out of the house or got off the phone with a member of our family and didn't tell them that I love them and have them say it back to me. I never really thought much about it as a kid, it was just what we did. Now that I am an old woman, however, :) I have come to realize how important it is to tell the people we love that we love them. All the time. There is no reason not to and it makes relationships SO much better. Just that little thing. Mom and Dad thank you so much for making that a part of our lives. I have been thinking a lot this week about "laying up treasures in heaven". I have just been so grateful for the value and importance our family places on relationships. Apart from knowledge and our testimonies and experiences in life, relationships are, in my opinion, the most important things in life and really will be our greatest treasures in heaven. They are the hardest, but most important thing and I am so grateful to you all for the relationships I have with each of you. Man, talk about a full heart this it almost Thanksgiving? Everyday should be thanksgiving, No but seriously, I just love you all and hope you know that!! Thank you for everything!

    Man...whew...that was fun to talk about! But now, onto our week! We had a really good week this past week. Our numbers were the best this week they have been in a transfer and a half...not that numbers matter, but it is always good to be progressing and Sister Pace and I are really working on tightening up the screws and taking our missionary work to the next level. We had another lesson with Milla this week. She has read so much of the Book of Mormon on her own which is so awesome! I am so happy that she is enjoying it and really seems to understand it. We had planned on inviting her to be baptized this week, but I don't know, it's kind of been rough with her because she kind of doesn't take us seriously. She loves the Book of Mormon which is so really, I have such a strong belief that the Book of Mormon, a willing heart, and the spirit are all it takes in missionary work, but as we were testifying and about to invite her to be baptized, she cracked some joke and the spirit totally left her home. We tried to bring it back, and I think she knew that and just kept laughing and talking and offering us pulla aka finnish delicious bread and anyways, the lesson didn't go so well. She lives with her boyfriend and we are pretty sure she knows that is wrong and that we are going to say something about it, but I know she likes us and likes when we come. It's hard sometimes because people feel the spirit when missionaries and members come and they know it's good and they like how they feel, but it scares them at the same time. Anyways, she is super busy with work so we are just trying to meet with her, but pray for Milla! She needs all of your faith! :)

    The kids are doing well. We are still trying to figure out how to work with the parents. The kids want to be baptized, but Caspian and Ronja are so young and to be honest, they get bored at church. But they really have no support from their parents to come so if they don't want to go, the parents don't make them go. That's what happened yesterday. Tinja, the 11 year old wanted to come to church. In fact, when we went to the door to walk with them to church, Tinja came running out of the door and ran out of the apartment building...she told us she loves how she feels at church because it is a "pyhä paikka" aka holy place! Man...become as a little child folks, its the way to go! Anyways, the kids are with their dad this is SO much harder to work with him, but I am not giving up on these kids. They need this and if we have to keep driving to their house, teaching them at the door when they are with their dad, then that's what we will do. It's funny because the parents both like church, they just don't want to "pressure the kids into joining." I totally agree. No one should be pressured, but these kids want to be baptized, they just have 0 support. I don't know, maybe I am way off base. The bishop has said SO MANY TIMES that these kids need to be baptized and heck, I know they need to be baptized and Heavenly Father knows it, but maybe we are working with the parents the wrong way. The thing is though, if we keep pushing back the date until the parents are coming to church and supportive, it may never happen. Anyways, sorry to ramble, I am just at a loss right now of what to do with these kids! Just pray for these kids! They need some serious's easy to feel small sometimes, working with people that have BIG problems, but that's when we turn to the Lord! Sister Pace and I were talking about that this week as we were walking down the street. She asked, "You know, I am not trying to destroy faith here, but why would anyone want to stop and talk to two american girls on the street who don't speak finnish about God? It's kind of crazy." It really is when you think about it. After much debate...ok it lasted like 30 seconds...we came to the mind blowing conclusion that they listen, because it is true and the ones who are prepared recognize the truth when we tell it to them. There is no other way this would work! I am so grateful that this is all true! It's all real! It's the best!

    So we taught Terttu and Leinä again. Seriously, they were two of the best lessons I have taught on my mission so far. It was funny because both of these ladies are SUPER active in their churches, Lutheran and Pentecostal. They both just wanted to bash with us...why do people like that? :) Anyways, at the beginning of Terttu's lesson, there was just a real bad spirit in the a spirit of "We're about to throw down". We started talking and, just as expected, she just started ripping everything apart. As the lesson went on, what I had studied in personal study just kept pounding in my head...the words, "Make this personal...this is all about her" kept running over and over in my head. I have always known that...I think...but this was the first lesson in a long time, especially when someone is ripping apart everything that I believe and love, that I just stopped, looked at her and felt Heavenly Father's love for her and I knew in that moment that all he wants is for her to return back to him. She paused for like 0.4 seconds to take a breath and while she was pausing, I jumped in and testified of Heavenly Father's love for her. I told her how important she is to him and how He really just wants what is best for her. It's funny because what I said is something that I think in almost every lesson I teach, but I realized, right then, that I don't say that as much as I should. That really is what all of this is about. It's to bring Heavenly Father's children back. It's not about numbers or the missionaries. In fact, it never has been, never will be and never should be about anyone other than the investigator. It was just a super cool experience and afterwards, she committed to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and to pray and ask Heavenly Father if what we had taught her was true! I had a really fun time teaching Terttu and Leinä that day! That is one thing I really want to do from this point on is to make everything we teach totally and completely personal for these people. That is when the spirit can testify that they really do have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for them and wants them back. It's awesome!

    So we have been doing really well with finding investigators these past few weeks. Last week we found 5 and this week we found 4. BAM! We have really been focusing on talking with everyone, by the spirit, asking for referrals from EVERYONE, and utilizing our assets better. We found 1 new investigator through "The Area Book Cleanse". Sister Pace had the flu on Friday and Saturday. Friday we did work, but Saturday she was super sick, so she was sleeping it off and I went through and cleaned out the Area Book. So here's the Vaasa, there is a block of student housing known as "Olympia". I think I have talked about it before but know the slums on Batman Begins? Ya, that's what Olympia is like but not as dark or scary. It's just this maze and this place is chuck full of foreigners. Well, in the past, a lot of missionaries have tracted out Olympia to find investigators, because you are pretty much guaranteed to find someone. We teach anyone who will listen, but the problem with doing that is that these students who the missionaries teach live in Finland for like 4 months to 1 year and then they leave and never come back again. Anyways, our area book was just stuffed with teaching records of people with only their name and their telephone number. So while Sister Pace was sleeping, I called all the people...ALL the people. It was awful, but we got it cleaned out and actually found one new investigator through it. His name is Femmi. He has lived in Finland for 3 years and LOVED meeting with the missionaries about 2 1/2 years ago and then for some reason, they never came back. Anyways, we taught him last night and he is super genuine. Like I was a little skeptical, not going to lie, but he had a lot of good questions and we are teaching him again this week and are super excited about it!

    While we were going to Femmi's house, there was this african woman standing outside her house, smoking. Sister Pace and I stopped and started talking to her. Come to find out she is like hard core Protestant and believes she is saved...sidenote: I can't believe people really believe all you have to do to "be saved" is to tell God you sinned and "mean it" saved on those terms seems like a little puny's so not! Anyways, this lady wasn't wanting to talk, but she said, "Hey, I have a roommate who needs God...she is from China...would you two like to talk to her?" Of course we said YES and this cute little chinese girl in footie pajamas #rockon came out and said, "I would love to learn more about the God." The chinese are back everyone! The whole in my heart is being filled! :) Anyways, we have a lesson with Hexiayan tonight...that's her name...she wrote it down...I have no idea how to say it...and I am way excited for it. Honestly hearing someone pray for the first time who has never prayed before is my favorite thing. We are focusing on prayer tonight, so hopefully all goes well and hopefully she prays with us! :)

    We have a new district...that's always a fun time! We got two new greenies in our district, Elder Smith and Elder Reyes. All the rest stayed the same! Elder Reyes is a convert of a little over a year and he told us his conversion story during lunch after district meeting. Man, it was so cool. He is from L.A. and he told us how earlier in his life, he had nothing. He didn't believe in God at all or really anything for that matter and he told us that when he thought about life after death, it scared him. He worked as a paramedic...or was studying to become one...and he said this 40 year old guy came in one day...or his family brought him in because of heart failure. This family had been playing basketball and the dad just dropped. Anyways, long story short, they couldn't save this dad and he passed away. Elder Reyes said that when he watched the man die and then went out into the hall and saw his kids and wife crying and mourning for their father, he knew that there had to be something more after this. He said, "I never really understood why I wanted to be a paramedic, but that day, I knew that I needed to have experiences like that in order for my heart to soften." Anyways, he had a member friend who he talked to about life after death and all the good things. He started meeting with the missionaries, but he was drinking way hard and was into drugs. He said the missionaries literally saved his life and he loves them so much. It was so cool to be able to hear about someone's conversion from their perspective, especially a young, "punk" surfer dude from California who really didn't care about anything and now he is here in Finland, wearing a white shirt and tie, talking to people about God. The gospel is incredible and can change anyone. No problem is to big. It was a really cool experience to hear his story!

     Sorry this letter is kind of lame. Sorry if all of my letters are kind of lame. I found myself wishing the other day that I had amazing stories of "thousands being baptized" and all the other stuff, but I have learned a lot this week about gratitude. You know, we all see miracles in our lives everyday. I see them all the time here in Finland. Ya, there may not be thousands of members here and we don't have the highest, record breaking numbers here, but the work is going forward, unhindered. It really is. Every time I start to get frustrated or start to lose hope, I just think of how much the mission has changed since I have been here. It's pretty incredible to see how things that we used to focus so much on when I was a greenie are just second nature to all the missionaries now. I am so grateful for President Rawlings and all he did for this mission and for President Watson's leadership as well. I am just so grateful to be where I am. Granted, it's not always easy. I have to tell you, I have been really worried about being in one place for a long time. I have been in Vaasa for 6 months...that's not too long, I know people are in places for 1+ years, but I just don't want to get too comfortable. I have this fetish in my brain that I think I have developed on my mission. I feel as though if I am not struggling or having a super hard time in life, I am not progressing or moving forward. 

    Right now, life is pretty simple. My companion and I are friends now, our area is growing and doing really well, we love the members and they love us, my family is all happy and well, my friends are awesome and are all being just their amazing selves....I have found myself looking around and thinking, "What the heck, this is too easy...I must be doing something wrong." Talk about backwards thinking. I was praying the other night and was just super frustrated with myself. I have been thinking and praying a lot to know why I am still in Vaasa and what Heavenly Father wants me to do here because honestly, I felt like I was leaving and I felt like I needed a change. I was just kneeling there by my bed, not really saying anything, and I really felt the "still, small voice" tell me that I need to slow down, look around myself, and enjoy the journey. It really was that straightforward and simple. I think I have a tendency to get so focused on the task at hand or the end goal that I completely forget to stop and look around me and just to enjoy my life and enjoy all the blessings my Father in Heaven has given to me. I have been better with this at times on my mission than at others, but I just look back on my life and my mission and I have realized I haven't let myself enjoy my life as much as I should have. Now I don't mean to say that I haven't enjoyed my life at all, because I have, but I just want you all to know that I have a testimony of Heavenly Father's love for us. That love includes his desire for us to be happy and to enjoy our lives and to be grateful for all that we have. He wants us to work hard, but he wants us to SLOW DOWN. We can never stop trying to be our best, I know I can never stop trying to improve, but I know that Heavenly Father wants me to enjoy this time I have in favorite place in the world with people that I love SO much, being supported by a family as wonderful as you. I really don't know why he has blessed me so much. I feel so unworthy of all that I have, but I just hope you all know that I am working as hard as I can here in Finland. I want nothing more than to make you all proud and to do the will of my Father in Heaven. If serving a mission is a way that I can say thank you to my Heavenly Father and my Savior for all that they have done for me, I would stay here and do this forever. You all mean the world to me. I know I am so not perfect, but thank you for loving me in spite of that. When I opened your package, I just cried and cried. Why am I so lucky? What did I do to deserve you all? Probably nothing. Heavenly Father just knew I needed you all. Thank you for who you are! I wish I had time to write you all individually, every single one of you and tell you everything I love and appreciate about you, but I pray every day that Heavenly Father will help you all to feel of my love for you. Anyways, I just hope that you all feel that you are a part of my mission. I know I ramble and write about things that probably don't matter, but I just want you to be a part of it and to really know and feel what it's like to be a finnish least through my eyes. Ok, I am done now! I just love you! :) Thank you for all "the wonderful you add to the world."

    Anyways, "Something Finnish" for the week...a member in Tampere told English...that all Finnish people fall into the category of gnomes, trolls, or elves. Let me ' their facial features resemble that of a gnome, a troll, or an elf. I read my journal the other day about that and I laughed for about 43895 hours because it is SO TRUE. There are 3 distinct groups and you can pretty much put them all in is that for generalizing my favorite people in the world? :) It's just way funny...Finns are the best and I love them a lot!!! 

    We are super pumped this week...we go down to Helsinki on Thursday and then ELDER BEDNAR IS SPEAKING TO ALL OF US ON FRIDAY! I am so excited and I have been praying so hard that I will be able to receive some answers to my prayers during this meeting. Elder Bednar told President Watson that he REALLY wants us to prepare well. I have heard Elder Bednar has cancelled meetings before because he felt people didn't prepare or weren't hope you guys enjoyed those talks I sent and really studied them. They are so good and apply to each of us for different reasons! Anyways, I am so excited to tell you about it next week and will probably have all sorts of good pictures of me and ALL MY FRIENDS!! 3 of my former companions are dead...RIP Sister Egan, Sister Foster and Sister Frog...Fronk.. :) But I am SO PUMPED to see Sister Thayne, Sister Pack, Sister Woods, Sister Dixon, Sister Jones, and all the other wonderful missionaries I know and love! My best friends are in this mission! It's going to be so great and we get to stay at the mission home! Party on! Anyways I love you all so much and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know! I want to help you all if I can! Keep me posted on all the good things! Thanks again for the literally made my life! :) I am saving the blue shirt for the Elder Bednar day...I have my outfit all planned out! hahahaha some things never change! I love you so much!! Have the best week ever!


    Sisar Olivia Bitner

    P.S. My bike is a champ...seriously she is holding up really well! Thank you so much dad for letting me buy one and for all the other stuff! I am just really grateful for you! Ok, bye!!!

My greenie and our ex AP, Elder Heaney...he just went home

My attempt at being creative...I was a photographer for the Fairfield Junior High yearbook

Finnish clouds...dang girl


I love you all more than life itself!!! Thank you so much for everything!!