One year older...still working on the wiser part... :)
No, Moi! Miten mene? Well how the heck are you all doing? I have the best family in the world...truly...you are the best...speaking of Truly, Joce, Anne, Lauren, Luke, and Caroline...never forget Lionel Richie...."I'm TRULYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY, Truly in love with you girl." I tried to explain to Sister Pace this week how funny it is when we all scream that song together in the car, but you just have to be there I guess! :) Remember me when you hear that song! haha But anyways, I hope you all had a great week. First week of school...man I want to hear all about your classes and teachers and everything! Fill me in! Also, Thank you ALL so much for the birthday wishes! I missed you all so much on my birthday...we always go so ham with birthdays in our family, but I knew that you were all thinking of me and I am SO glad you bought a cake and ate it at the ranch...that is hilarious and AWESOME!! It made my whole day to see that! Thank you so much! Also, a couple shoutouts, thank you so much to the ward for the wonderful birthday card! It was so nice of you all to think of me. We have the best ward ever...but I am not going to lie, I didn't know about half of the names, so that's going to be a little weird when I come home, but hey, that's ok! I am sure all the newbies are wonderful and I already flipping love the oldies so anyways, you are all just great and thank you so much! Also....GRANDMA IS SINGING IN CONFERENCE!! Heck ya!! I am SOOOO beyond excited that I get to see your beautiful face Grandma! Keep me posted on where you are sitting and you best believe I will be glued to the screen until I see you...I'll probably cry, but that's ok! I just love you so much! :) Also, shoutout to my madre...minun äitini...New Young Women's Prez!!! Dang girl! I am way happy for you mom. You evidently are just meant to help the young women of the church...I mean you had 5 daughters and have been in a Young Women's Presidency for most of your life...you are so wonderful mom and I am so blessed and humbled to be your daughter! You are pretty much the perfect example of what a good wife, mother, daughter, friend, and just person in general should be! Just be yourself in this calling and you will KILL IT! I know you will and I am always praying for you!! I love you all so much!!
So...drumroll please....Sister Bitner is staying in Vaasa and finishing Sister Pace's training! This will be my first companion I have had for more than one transfer...wow...what an experience! I am really happy to be staying here in Vaasa and Sister Pace and I really have worked things out and are so much better friends than we were before. It's amazing to see how much that has reflected in our missionary work. People can feel when there is tension and people can feel when you are having fun and loving everything! It's so much more effective when you are on good terms with your companion, but at the same time, I am so grateful that last change was so hard. I learned so much from Sister Pace and will still continue to, I am sure. She is a great missionary and really has such a strong desire to be here. I am grateful to be her companion. But hey, keep us in your prayers still. We can use all the help we can get. But, I just have to say that it is the greatest tender mercy in the world that I can stay in Vaasa. I freaking love Vaasa. I didn't even want to think about leaving this place, and I am SO glad I don't have to worry about it for a few more months. The thing is though, now we are getting closer and closer to Christmas and I would LOVE to be here for that. These people are my family. Like seriously though, I love every single member of this branch here. They are the greatest but I am just so grateful to have another transfer here. At the end of this change, I will have been in Vaasa for 7 months...that's a long time!! YIPPEE!!! :)
Well, We are at the beginning of a new transfer. That is always a super cool and interesting time as a missionary. I love it because you really get a chance to step back and ask yourself, "How can I take my missionary work to the next level?" Sister Pace and I went out this morning and rededicated Vaasa to the Lord. I love doing that at the beginning of a transfer. It really reminds me why I am here and that the Lord has given me stewardship over this place. It's super humbling and it's really easy to feel super small sometimes...even though Vaasa isn't very big, but still I just love it. One super cool thing though I wanted to mention is about "Visions". Not like..."Oh an angel is next to my bed," but establishing visions for ourselves of where we want to be. Sister Fronk and I established a vision for Vaasa in May that, by the end of September 2014, we wanted to have 2 "youth" baptisms, 1 reactivation, 2 "other" baptisms, and 6 member family implementing family mission plans. Also our "overall vision" was that we wanted to FIND THE FINNS. Vaasa has been notorious in the past for missionaries just teaching foreigners...not that that is a bad thing, but we really wanted to focus on finding people who are going to stay in Finland and build the kingdom here. Well, it's just been amazing to look back and see how much Heavenly Father has blessed us to accomplish this vision. Definitely by the end of hopefully October, we will have 1 youth baptism, 3 other baptisms, and hopefully 3 reactivations and we are still working with a lot of members in our ward which are in the process of having mission plans! I think one of the greatest things about setting goals is that we can look back and see how much the Lord has blessed us and we can DEFINITELY see his hand in our work and in our lives! I am just super excited for this change and I know a lot of good things are going to happen!
Something Finnish for the week...Nordic walking. Go google it. It's hilarious and literally EVERYONE AND THEIR DOG does it. They walk around with ski poles and really pump the arms. All the Finns do it. It is so funny, but man, it looks like pretty good exercise. Also, some people roller blade with ski poles too...I don't really see how that is exercise, but hey, I can't even remember the last time I rollerbladed. Is that a verb? Probs not! I bet it Probably would be hard for an old fuddy duddy like me....mom and dad, I am 20.....hahahaha you have a 20 year old child! That is weird!! Anyways, it's really funny and SO FINNISH. I love it about them!!!
First things first, I have to write about the Nåsman's. I LOVE THE NÅSMANS!!! Brother Nåsman is the district president, and they are just the most wonderful family. They have 4 kids. 2 boys. 2 girls. 2 are married and one is on a mission in Taiwan and one is still at home. I am sure I have probably mentioned them, but I have just grown so close with their family over these past 5 months. They really remind me so much of our family...especially Brother and Sister Nåsman and Mom and Dad....I just love them a lot. They have us over to eat every other week. It is so wonderful of them to feed us and Sister Nåsman is always making sure we are doing ok and she always offers to help. It's kind of nice to have a sort of "mom" figure sometimes. I really miss my mom #bestmomever #loveyoulady :) But I just really appreciate all they have done. We had a DA with them this week with a less active and one of the elder's investigators and they are just the most awesome missionaries and members EVER. Brother Nåsman is a lawyer and he has a SUPER SWEET BMW. Funny story...so last week, we went over to their house to do some service. They have a summer home aka möki and they had cut some trees down so they could cut some firewood for the möki. Anyways, Veli Nåsman felt super bad that Sister Nåsman had asked the sisters to come help haul all of this wood out of the forest, but Sister Nåsman is just hilarious and said, "Oh the Sisters can do it." I love her. Anyways, we just had the best time hauling wood out and chatting with Veli Nåsman and then afterwards, he hooked up his trailer to the BMW and said, "Hey sisters, would you like to come with me and my wife to the möki to unload the wood?" Sister Pace and I have been talking about this car for 10 weeks and we jumped at the chance to ride in it. Sister Nåsman comes running out with Fazer chocolate bars and gives them to us and just kept saying "Thank you so much sisters, we just love you." So my companion and I sat in the back of our district president's BMW eating Fazer chocolate, riding through the forest of Finland. #poshlife No but seriously, it was so fun to be with them and to do service and I just love their family. They have the same sense of humor as our family and it just cracks me up to be with them. I feel so welcome in their home and anyways, I am done rambling about the Nåsmans, but they are awesome!!! Plus their youngest daughter looks just like Anne and I always tell her that when I see her. It's crazy!!! She's beautiful, just like you! :)
So on Wednesday evenings, we have been teaching a Finnish class for foreigners. It's super hilarious!! We have 2 vietnamese "students" and 1 nepalese...person from Nepal...is that how you say that? Oh well, they have been coming and two more are coming this week who are also from Nepal. It is seriously HILARIOUS and is a great way to get people to come to the church. I never thought in a billion zillion years that I would be able to teach finnish to someone....it's kind of been nice to know that I am still not a complete idiot, but seriously! I don't speak finnish well, but just the fact that I can get around this place and buy train tickets and talk to members and shop at the store and all these things astounds me every day. I do not have a "kieli pää" as they say in Finland or a language brain and Heavenly Father really has blessed me so much. So for all of you future missionaries who are learning a language...if I can learn Finnish....ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. But on the other hand, I have worked my tail off to understand this crazy language and I know that Heavenly Father has made more of my effort than I could by myself. Anyways, I have just been super grateful recently that I can speak Finnish so I thought I would share that with you!!! There can be miracles if you believe...and study!!! :)
We reset Tuulia's kid's baptismal dates this week for October 18. We are going to try this another way...SLOWWWWWWWW!!!!!!! Sister Pace and I have both been feeling that we can't just baptize these kids and throw them to the dogs...they need some support when they are done, so we are working with both of the parents now and just really trying to make it so they will have a support system after they are baptized. It's amazing how baptism is the first step, but that is SO NOT the end of it all. Getting baptized is the easy part. The hard part is "Enduring to the End" but man, it's so worth it! The kids came to church on Sunday though and LOVED it. They both wanted to sit by me which is so cute...hasn't happened in awhile :) jk Sister Pace was giving a talk, so I was sitting by myself, with the kids, but anyways, it was just great to be there with them! I love these kids and can't wait for them to be baptized!!! Pray for their family though. There are a lot of pretty serious problems with the parents and they could definitely use your prayers!!!
Our investigator Milla is doing pretty well...she has been kind of flaky lately, but we went and had lunch one day at the restaurant where she works. We aren't sure if she is completely ready right now, but we have another lesson with her this week so hopefully all goes well. It's been really interesting lately for me to realize how CRUCIAL it is that these people we teach have real intent. We cannot and should not drag someone to baptism. All we can do is invite these people to make and keep commitments. Actually dad, that is what I wanted to tell you for mission prep. Have the missionaries practice teaching to commitments! That is an aspect of teaching that is SO STINKING IMPORTANT. If we don't invite them to do anything, they don't even have the possibility to change. Earlier in my mission it was really hard for me to commit people to do things. Partly because investigators are sometimes few and far between and I didn't want to lose the ones that we had, but I have come to realize that we HAVE to invite them to make and keep commitments. That is the whole point. We don't want to teach those that aren't ready. We are here to find the elect and the elect are around us, but if we waste all our time teaching those that really don't have that "willing heart and mind" that is so critical, we won't go anywhere. It's super hard though because you really grow to love these people so much, but our job is to give them the best chance that we can and to teach it simply and clearly so that they can choose for themselves. Anyways, that's my two cents for the week on mission prep! :)
So on Friday, we had a miracle day in Seinäjoki...seriously....it is only by the grace of God that this day went so well. So we drove down there and as we were driving along the road, this big yellow house with a red roof really caught my attention. I have driven to Seinäjoki TONS of times and have never ever noticed this house before. We passed it and I had the STRONGEST feeling ever that we needed to go knock on that door. At first I was like, "Psh, ya right, then I'll get kicked out of the monastery", but then I thought...Ok...follow the spirit...duh! So we flipped the car around and set off to find this house. Well...I kid you not, the house is not real. We looked and looked and drove and walked and climbed and hacked through the bushes and....NOTHING....it wasn't there. I didn't know if I was crazy or what, but we got back into the car to finish driving to Seinäjoki and honestly, I was a little ticked. I was like, "What the heck, we just wasted like 30 minutes looking for this dumb house that isn't even real." We get to Seinäjoki and we had planned to go contact a referral when we first got there. We go to this lady's house and I am still secretly bugged that the yellow house isn't real and this lady opens the door and says, "Oh good, you two are here. Come in." I was like, "Wait, what? Are you serious?" I didn't ask her that...good thing :) But anyways we go in and talk to Terttu, and she said, "I knew you guys were coming today"....we never have met her before...she continued, "but I was so worried that I would miss you...I just got home 5 minutes ago." Now let me take a few steps back...we have tried to contact Terttu like 32327 times and she has NEVER been home. So earlier Friday morning, Sisar Pace and I told Heavenly Father that we would try Terttu one more time and then we weren't going to go back. Well, He knew we weren't kidding so he helped me lose my mind for a few minutes while seeing mirages of "yellow houses" so that we could actually get the chance to talk to Terttu. Anyways, she is awesome and is a new investigator and I just still can't get over how involved Heavenly Father and the Savior are in this work. It's amazing and it was super hilarious and I don't think I am crazy...yet! Heavenly Father just has a sense of humor! :)
Anyways, as the day in Seinäjoki goes on, we got 2 phone calls from former investigators asking if we could come back and meet with them again...what? Ok....TOTTA KAI!!! Of course!!! Poe and Soe Meh, those two Burmese girls we taught awhile back are investigators again and one girl named Sam from Vietnam. I haven't ever taught her, but she was progressing really well apparently and then left to pick Strawberries on a farm for 6 months #finlandlife but good news, she is back and is now a new investigator! Then at 18:00, we had a lesson with Päivi, another former investigator who the elders had talked to. She came to the church and was just glowing. I have never seen someone like that. She has had such a hard life...her husband is an alcoholic...can I just say how much I HATE alcohol. It is horrible. Anyways, she has probably the strongest faith in Christ I have ever seen an investigator have and she LOVES him. It is my favorite thing in the world to teach and testify about Christ. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Anyways, the branch president in Seinäjoki said that the next baptism there is going to be on November 15. I think it is going to be Päivi!! I am super excited about her and really just love her already! She is wonderful!
Sidenote: there is this one turkish guy who plays soccer with us and is Muslim...yay....they are always trying to argue with us about our religion and Jesus and Mohammed and all that other stuff, but anyways, he came up to me on Saturday and said, "Jesus Christ is not God's son." That's all he said... and walked away. After he walked away I felt absolutely SICK TO MY STOMACH and I just looked at him walk away and then I ran over to Him and I said, "I know that Jesus Christ is God's Son and He is our Savior". It sounds kind of weird, but it was one of the coolest, most black and white experiences of my mission. When he said that horrible lie to me, I felt like all the light and love and hope and goodness drain out of me. I felt empty and sick. It was weird. But when I testified of Christ, it all came back so strongly and I was SO happy and grateful that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Anyways, it's really cool how sometimes when people bash our beliefs or laugh at them or mock them, those are the most wonderful times to testify. It was a way cool experience for me and it happened on my birthday! IT WAS AWESOME!!!
Speaking of my birthday...it was way good! :) I had a wonderful 20th Finnish Birthday! I always wake up super happy on my birthday and this year was no exception. The only downer was that Sister Pace didn't feel well. She has had a SUPER bad sore throat and cold, so she slept in a little bit, but I was able to study and write in my journal and ready some old letters from my family and just have the greatest morning ever. I was so full of gratitude and joy for all that Heavenly Father has blessed me with, especially my mission, the gospel, and my family. I missed you guys so much...not going to lie, I cried a bit, but it was really good and I just kept thinking about how grateful I am that I can be with you guys forever. I am not going to lie, sometimes I get homesick...still. I miss you guys like crazy and just can't wait for the day I get to see you again. I usually don't let myself think about it, because it's just hard, but this time was different. I miss you guys, yes, but man, I am so grateful for eternal families. This week, dad, I testified to one of our investigators about God's plan for us and about families being together forever. I shared the story about when you had cancer and how terrified I was. That really was the first time in my life I ever really thought about Heavenly Father's plan and what that really means. But as horrible as that trial was, our family is so much stronger because of it. I am so grateful for this plan our Father has for us. It seriously is the greatest source of hope in the world!
Anyways, we played soccer on my birthday...I scored some pretty sick goals which was awesome! It makes the turks mad which secretly makes me happy...don't worry, my competitiveness has toned down....hahahahaha....NOT. Just kidding, it has but I love to play soccer. It was our last game. Now we start playing sähly or floor hockey on Saturdays, but it was a great way to end the soccer era. The best thing though was after soccer, the members all came around and sang "Happy Birthday" to me in Finnish and then our friend Vesa from the ward...he is awesome...gave me a bar of my favorite finnish chocolate which was freaking awesome!!! I was way happy!! Sister Pace also made me a burger shaped like a heart for my birthday....I love burgers...she is awesome and it was so good! Then we had some chocolate chip cookie dough so after we had planned that night, we made some cookies and I blew out a match for my 20th birthday! I didn't even know what to wish for, but I made a good one...I am pretty sure it will come true! :) I just love birthdays and thanks again for all the birthday wishes. I didn't get the package yet mom, but we go down to Helsinki next week so I will probably get it then!! Thanks again for that!! :)
Well guys, I am just really happy! Granted, we all have our days, but I have learned so much on my mission about the reality of choosing to be happy. I love the quote from President Monson, "We can choose to have a positive attitude. We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. In other words, we can choose to be happy and positive, regardless of what comes our way." It's so true. I have been studying a lot about Faith lately...Elder Bednar told President Watson to have us study 3 of his former talks before he comes, which I will forward to you, by the way...they are all BRILLIANT...but anyways, he talks a lot about acting vs. being acted upon. There are so many ways to apply this principle, but I have especially thought about it a lot recently regarding happiness. We can be agents unto ourselves and literally DECIDE to be happy or we can let other people's actions or behavior make us sad. It's really that simple. I think when we all really take control of our lives and our happiness and say, "You know what, this is not going to bring me down anymore. I am choosing RIGHT NOW to be happy." It doesn't come all at once, trust me. Just saying that isn't enough. We have to work with ourselves and really work ourselves out of funks or sadness or just feelings of BLEH!!! But I know that with consistent and persistent effort, it comes. Being happy is a habit, just as much as reading your scriptures or saying your prayers. Someone said that you have to do something 20 something times in order for it to be a habit...do you like my quoting skills back there...sorry :) But anyways, it's so true. Taking control of our happiness gives us a sense of freedom like none other. Heavenly Father wants us to be free. He will help us get there, but we have to decide. He can't and won't take away our agency. Anyways, I would be lying if I said I was happy everyday, cause I'm not, but I know that we can work through our sadness and we really truly can be happy, always. My favorite scripture is Mosiah 2:41. It says
41: And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
I love that so much. It is on my mission plaque. If we are keeping the commandments and we decide that we want to be happy, there literally is nothing standing in our way. At the same time, it's not just a "one and done" deal. It's like brushing your teeth...you can't just brush your teeth really well on Monday and then hope it lasts for the whole week. You have to brush every single day. It's the same with any good habit. We can't just go to church on Sunday and never read our scriptures or prayer for the rest of the week and hope that our Sunday juice carries over. We can't just have one good day where we are bubbles and sunshine and happiness and hope that it carries over for the rest of the week. We have to decide every day what kind of person we are going to be, if we are going to brush our teeth or not, if we are going to study our scriptures and pray, what kind of a day we are going to have, and if we are going to be happy. The funny thing is, most things turn out the way we decide they will. Kind of funny how that works. I think I have quoted dad's and mom's letter before, but when I was in the MTC, you both wrote me a letter and you said, Dad, "Who cares if the home grass is greener, make the most of the grass you possess." Mom, you said, "Take the love that we have for you and let that make you happy." You have no idea how many times I have thought of those letters during my mission and especially those lines. You are both so right. I hope that we all can choose today to let our blessings and the Lord's hand in our lives make us happy and also to make the most of the grass we possess. Let's all adjust the sails on our happiness boats this week and make it the best week ever!! I love you all to death and hope you have the most spectacular week in the history of the world!! You da best!!!
|Sisar Kristo...she is hilarious...member....|
|Elders in our district|
|Me eating pizza...yay!|
|Our Seinäjoki friends...Päivi|
|Poe and Soe Meh|
|First pic as a 20 year old YAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!|
|Sister Pace made me a heart burger...YAYAYAYAY!!!|
|My birthday cake...Chocolate chip cookies...YAYAYAY!!!|
|Some selfies after we went running....I am so cool....NOT!!! hahaha|