"....I will give you rest".
Beunos dias! Psych...that's not my language either...Hyvää huomenta rakkat veljet ja sisaret! That's more like it! :) What's up guys? Man thank you so much for your wonderful letters and everything this week! It is always so good to hear from you all. I hope you have all had a wonderful, inspiring week. Can I just say how grateful I am that we have a living prophet on the earth today? Wasn't conference incredible? Man...for real I was just blown away, once again. I am sure everyone else felt the same, but I loved the themes of Conference this time around. Prophets, temples, the sacrament. Man...what else do we need? Nothing. It was just such a privilege to once again listen to the prophets, seers and revelators of our day. As I was walking home from the church last night, the thought came to me that people we pass by everyday don't even believe in God. Like think about that for a second....they don't know they have a Heavenly Father. After watching conference I was just floored at that. The thought kept coming to my head, "No one could watch this conference and not believe in God." It was straight up awesome. Anyways, I think conference as a missionary is one of the greatest things ever. I love sitting with the members. I love seeing the conference center. It reminds me that I still do live on planet earth and I really did live before my mission somewhere far, far away :) Sometimes I forget, but it's good to be reminded!
First off I have to give a shout out to Janiece. Thank you so much for your package. It was so wonderful and the sweaters are perfect for a nice cold finnish winter! The cookbook is also AWESOME and we are planning on making some of the recipes this week! That couldn't have come at a better time, so thank you! Also Abby G, Taryn P, and Jocelyn B...my sisters! Thank you so much for the notebook and bracelet. I read through all our old notebook entries and just laughed and laughed and cried and couldn't believe how much things have changed. I am so grateful for you all in my life. I am just so grateful for everyone in my life. I have been so blessed. Seriously, every person I know has influenced and changed my life for the better and I will be forever grateful to all of you for that!
So this week has been pretty hard...not going to lie. But it's been good. We are still plugging along and just trying to figure some things out. First off, I have to tell you about Milla. So we went to lunch with her last Monday after we e-mailed and it was awesome. We had a great discussion and had a really good time. I told you last week how we had organized the YSA activity to be watching the Joseph Smith movie so that she could come, but literally like 5 seconds before, she called and cancelled. We were bummed, of course, but didn't really worry too much about it. A couple days ago, we get a text from Milla that says, " I'm so sorry, but I have to cancel our movie date on Monday. I'm feeling really confused and I need time to figure things out in my personal life....I would highly appreciate it if we could cancel all our discussions for some time. And this isn't about you, or about the church and stuff, you've been so great and loving and it has given me so much strength. Love, Milla." Man...that was rough. I love Milla so much. I know that she is in Heavenly Father's hands now, but it's just hard to see these people you love back away from the one thing that really would fix all their problems. Sister Pace was super upset...she was crying...she doesn't cry normally...that made me upset and I started crying...man...it was just a rough time, but we were on our way to contact a referral and we just went into the woods for a second and said a prayer for Milla. It was a really powerful experience and I immediately felt right then that we had done all we could do and that Milla was going to be ok. Of course, it is still disappointing, but the Lord will take care of her. Thanks for your prayers on her behalf. I know she kept meeting with us as long as she did because you have prayed for her. You are wonderful!
I am just going to get the bad news out as soon as possible...Lili isn't our investigator anymore either. We had a lesson with her and when we got there, the first thing she said is "I don't want to get baptized." As bad as that is, it is something we can still work with. A lot of investigators get scared at the prospect of being baptized. As the lesson went on...she pretty much straight up told us that she wouldn't ever come to church. Now as bad as that is, it's something we can work with, but it was a really interesting experience. As I was sitting there, looking at her, thinking about what I could possibly say to fix this problem, I had that same feeling of peace come over me as with Milla. I knew that Lili wasn't ready right now to learn about the gospel. How could anyone not be ready to learn about the gospel? I don't know, but some just aren't. We walked away from the lesson and both Sister Pace and I knew and decided we needed to give her to the Lord as well. We needed to give up. It's amazing how much I have learned this week. I am competitive, I don't like to give up on people, and I definitely don't go down without a fight. My dear companion likes to call me "the Pitbull" because she says I just go until I can't go anymore. In the lesson with Lili and when Milla sent us that text, my mind was just racing at 1000 miles per hour trying to think of what I could do to fix it. What could I do? What could I say? What did I do wrong? Both times, however, the spirit shot into my heart and I really felt the words, "Peace, be still." God will take care of all of His children. When they don't want to listen or when they reject us, it isn't a failure on our part. God will provide a way for each of His children to learn about the gospel. That I know. We just have to have faith. And man, that's sometimes really hard!
Anyways, I am really grateful for hard times in life. I always used to hate when people said that. I was like "How on earth can you be grateful for hard times?" But I have come to realize that they really are opportunities for us to grow and stretch. It's all a part of life. I realized that things like this...disappointments, frustrations, and trials are always going to come. It's inevitable. The real question is, how are we going to respond? That's the only thing we have to figure out. With the gospel on our side, it's a lot easier to make the right choice. We do have this one investigator though, Joni, who is pretty hilarious. He has Asbergers...but not severe enough to really notice. He just is hard to keep focused, but he really has such a great desire to learn. He was a former investigator and he has come to every activity we have invited him to and has kept all of his commitments. We are really hoping things work out with Joni.
Sorry to be all debby downer, man, that doesn't feel good! But I am glad to get the sad stuff out of the way! The kids are all ready to be baptized! We have taught them all the lessons, the bishop is meeting with their dad, and everything just seems to be going great with them. They are super touchy and huggy, which has been an issue. I feel like each time we teach them ,they just get more comfortable and want to hug us and hold our hands. Man...it's hard and awkward sometimes when these cute little kids want to hug you. I just think of all my little cousins coming up and giving me hugs and it's really hard to side step it sometimes, but better to be safe than sorry. We are really excited for the kids though. They are with their dad for the next two weeks, so the only lessons we get with them are at their door, but that's ok. We are both just so happy and excited for these kids! They are great! I love them a lot!
Sidenote: I was just named the new district meeting accompanist. Do you want to know the funniest part? I can't play the piano! hahahaha just kidding I sort of can. Thanks to Jill Voss and years and years of practice...man I know this will sound lame, but I really wish I had practiced piano. I am going to take lessons when I come home. It's such a good skill to have and what's more beautiful than piano music? Nothing! But I played "We thank thee O God for a Prophet" and "Come Follow Me" on Wednesday. I was shaking SOOOOOOO bad. It's way intimidating. It's hilarious because I can play fine by myself, but man, once someone starts singing, GAME OVER. I was praying so hard that I could make it through, and Heavenly Father definitely helped me. This week I am working on "Be Still My Soul" and "Choose the Right." The classics! :) Just thought you'd like to know!
Man, I don't have a lot of time to write today, we haven't seen the last session of Conference yet so we are shortening e-mail time to watch it, but last week my friend Sister Farnworth sent me a talk my Sheri Dew called, "You were born to lead, you were born for glory." I have been reading that this week and it is AWESOME. I am going to forward it to you...definitely all read it, but I wanted to talk a little about Conference. I had so many thoughts during conference. I just have to tell you though, I have been amazed at how much my Father in Heaven loves me and how much he loves all of us. Everything in the church, prophets, temples, sacrament, callings, missions, commandments are just evidence of that love. The world is getting worse. We all know that. We see it everyday, but literally we have everything we need. We can hold it in our hands. All we need to be successful in this life, really, is scriptures, prayer, and church. That is freedom. Another thought I had was that the prophets and apostles literally can't lead us astray. They are such consecrated men, that their will really isn't their own anymore. They have devoted their life to the Savior and when you do that, something changes inside of you. We can always look to them and we will ALWAYS be ok. I know that and am so thankful for that!
The other thought I had during conference was that I need to get to know my Savior, Jesus Christ better. I love Him. I know He is my Savior. But I want to know Him. I want to know Him like I know my best friends and family. I love what President Monson said about how walking where He walked is not half as important as walking AS he walked. It's so easy to get caught up in the little things of life and even the little things in the church, but we HAVE to focus on the Doctrine of Christ. We have to make His gospel the CENTER of our lives, not just something we do. I know that as we "Take His yoke upon us" by making covenants and "learn of Him" by diligent scripture study and church attendance and obedience, we will find that comfort and peace we all so desperately want because He will "give us rest." He is the source of all peace. He is the source of love. He is the center of everything and I love Him so much.l am so excited to get to know Him a little better, day after day, and to apply what I learn into my life. I love this gospel. It's all true. It's all wonderful. You are all true. You are all wonderful. Never forget how much I love you! I pray for you every single time I pray and can't wait for the day when we are all together again! I love you so much!!
Something Finnish for the week....They really like earrings...especially the men...I have seen more men with earrings this week than ever before in my life! Kind of lame something finnish but I will think of something better next week! I love you all and hope you have the best week ever!! Rakastan sinua!! :)
Sisar Olivia Bitner