We'll Bring The World His Truth
Hello! That's as clever as my intro is getting this week...sorry about that! :) How are you all doing? Thank you so much for all the emails and pictures. I can't believe how much you all have grown up...all my cute little cousins and siblings aren't so little anymore! I just hope you all remember me! It's only been a year, but man, when you see your family as much as we see ours normally, it's amazing how much everyone has changed. Also, Mom and Dad, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Holy cow you too, 21 years...geez. That's insane! That means I am 20...which is also insane! I remember last year writing you a card in the MTC and now I am in Finland...what is this? I am so grateful for both of you and for the example you are to me. Thank you for being married in the temple and for setting such a good example for me! I have always known that you two love each other and that is such a great blessing. Thank you for that and I hope you have the best day together! I thought about shipping you some chocolate, but I am saving that for Christmas, but know I will be thinking about you all day! :)
First off, I wanted to give you all a weather report live from Helsinki, Finland...it's actually not too cold! Heavenly Father loves us! :) It's not cold, but boy oh boy is it dark...I think that is really what's so hard about living in the Scandinavian countries. It's really not the cold so much, but the darkness that will get you. It sucks your energy like none other. It doesn't get bright outside until about 10 and the sun sets completely by 4. It's basically overcast all day.It's pretty incredible. I get so excited when we can see the stars or moon because it reminds me that I still live on planet Earth. But don't worry,we are taking care of ourselves. We have these lights that we call "The Happy Light". I don't even know what it is, but we turn it on whenever we are home and it really boosts our energy. I am taking my Vitamin D in ample supply and exercising and trying to eat right. It's amazing what you have to do to kestää loppuun asti here in good old Finland...that means endure to the end, by the way! :) But Dad and Mom, you have asked a lot about weather and how I am doing health wise so I just wanted to let you know! All is good! :)
Well we had a pretty amazing week this week. Sister Nielsen and I have become really good friends, fast. She is great! We actually found out this week that we are third cousins...or something! So her great great great grandpa is Breneman Barr Bitner...guess what...he's also my great great great grandpa or something. One of her family members actually wrote to her about it and so yep...we are cousins! :) We joked this week that we are really excited that we get to spend Christmas with our family! It's such a small world!
We wanted to really focus this week on inviting our investigators to be baptized. They have had so much success in this ward recently, in fact, we are working really closely with two recent converts, A, and R who have been baptized within the past 2 months. Don't you love their names? :) Anyways, A is from India. She has THE CUTEST daughters, S and S....hahaha man this is hard not to say their names, anyways, they are super cute. A was baptized about 1 1/2 months ago. We had a really good lesson with her this week about the apostasy and the Restoration. I just love when gospel principles click in people's heads. It's so amazing to watch the look on their face when it finally makes sense. We had this way brilliant idea to talk about the apostasy and then turn the lights off in their family room for "dramatic effect" and then when we talked about the restoration, we were going to turn the lights on again. Well A's youngest daughter S...2....is super busy. She is always putting everything in her mouth and is definitely a button pusher so as we are in the middle of talking about how dark the world was and confusing it was after the death of Christ and his apostles...with the lights of...S2 runs over and slaps the lights back on...it was super funny, and the desired affect was not achieved, nevertheless, we had a good laugh and still felt the spirit very strongly in that lesson. I am so grateful for the restoration of the gospel, especially the priesthood. Even S2 couldn't stand the "world without the light of the gospel." She was just way ahead of us! :) It was super funny!
On Tuesday, we were able to do splits for the first time...well my first time as a Sister Training Leader. We went to Haaga which is about 10 minutes away from Espoo...haha it's so amazing because in Vaasa, you could drive 100 miles in any direction and you would still be in our area, now it's like 5 minutes and you have already passed through 2 areas. It's amazing. Anyways, I was able to be with Sister Schellenberg for the day. She is in the same group as Sister Nielsen so she has about 7 weeks left on her mission. We had a great day together and I learned a lot from her. She is definitely one of those people I just felt like I have known forever. We hit it off way fast and laughed a lot during the day. We were trying to contact a former investigator and she wasn't home, so we decided to knock some doors in her building. Well, as luck would have it, every single person whose door we knocked was very scantily clad...is that how you say that? :) I don't know, but we had a good laugh over that! Oh the joys of being a missionary! We were in a building of a less active later that night and this little old, african woman walks through the door. She was talking on the phone and spoke finnish REALLY well. So after she hung up, we said, "Hey, where are you from? You speak finnish incredibly!" Well, she looked up at us...she was really short...and said, in English, "I don't speak Finnish. You can't convert me. What you all doing here, trying to convert people, I am an ORTHODOX. You hear me? ORTHODOX!!" Man, it was hilarious. We just meet the most wonderful, most hilarious people on a mission. It is really fun to talk to them and I really learned a lot from Sister Schellenberg about getting our street contacts to the gospel, FAST. She is very good at transitioning from small talk to the gospel and it was a great learning opportunity for me!
We had a couple of DAs this week with members in the ward. The S family was the first. So Sisar S is awesome. Want to know why? Ok, so she went to America with her family and they ate at the one and only, Cafe Rio. Yes, my home away from home! :) Anyways, she and her brothers came back to Finland and thought, "Hmmm...why don't we have that here?" (Brilliant question, I have been asking the same thing for months) but anyways, they decided to start up their own rendition of Cafe Rio in downtown Helsinki. It's called Tortilla House. So I have heard for months from other missionaries how amazing Tortilla House is and I was always like, "I need to go there, NOW!" So Sister Nielsen took me this week. Since members own it, missionaries get half off on everything...how sweet is that? But friends, I kid you not, I about cried as I tried the delicious sweet pork burrito with real live Cafe Rio ranch on it...guys, it's Cafe Rio! Oh my goodness! Anyways, just wanted to let you all know...I was a very happy camper! :) But her family is amazing for so many other reasons. Their youngest daughter M is just like Caroline...seriously they are the same person. It was so much fun to be able to talk with her, I felt like I was talking to Caroline the whole time! I will admit, I got a little teary-eyed, but it was so fun to be with them! I have been blessed to serve in the most amazing wards in the world! I love these members!
So, want to hear the best story of the week? Ok, so last week I wrote about D...D is the best! He is my favorite. Anyways, we had our first lesson with him this week. We taught him with a couple from the Temple, The S family in their apartment. Sister Nielsen and I had both prayed so hard that the lesson would go well and that D would feel the spirit. I have to tell you, I have never felt the spirit so strongly in a lesson as I did on Saturday. Seriously, I felt it like radiating through my body. I was in awe at how strong the spirit was there. I love teaching with Sister Nielsen. It is so easy and we play off of each other really well. It was amazing because I would be sitting there during the lesson and a thought would come into my head and immediately after, Sister Nielsen would say the exact thing I thought. She said it was the same way for her. We gave D a Book of Mormon in chinese and he was so grateful for it. When he took it, he looked like we had given him a million dollars. I have never seen anyone so grateful to receive a Book of Mormon. He said in China, he had looked for a church before and even bought the King James Version of the bible in english, but it was too hard for him to understand. He was so excited to read the Book of Mormon. Then we invited him to be baptized and without any hesitation at all he said, "Yes, of course I will." His baptismal date is November 29th and I KNOW it is going to happen! He is amazing! I have never experienced the spirit that strongly as I testified to someone about God's love for them. I could feel it in my heart. D is so special and he is one of the elect if I have ever seen one. I am so excited for him!
So this past Sunday was Father's Day in Finland so dad, Happy Father's Day! :) But it was also the primary program! Oh my goodness...it was hands down the CUTEST thing I have ever seen. I love primary programs. They are the same wherever you go. Someone always waves at their parents, someone is teasing someone else, someone always sings REALLY loud, someone forgets their line, but always, more than anything, the spirit is there so strongly. One of the first songs they sang was "He Sent His Son". The girls and the boys split up. It was so cute to hear the boys with their varied tones and depth of voice and then to hear the sweet little girls all singing so purely. Oh man, I was bawling! haha The best part though was at the end. M, or in other words, mini Caroline, and some other kids got up at the end as a group and they sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth." Of course, I got excited when the piano started playing, cause Hello, I love that song, but they sang it in ENGLISH. Oh my gosh it was hands down the cutest thing I have ever sing. I have never felt the spirit that strongly during that song! I realized at that moment that the gospel is for everyone. Little finnish kids sing the same songs as little american kids and little japanese kids and little mexican kids...it's all the same. We all have the same Heavenly Father and we really are His army. We have been taught by our parents and have been saved for this time so that WE can bring the world HIS truth. Afterwards, M told her older sister R that she watched the sister missionaries the whole time she was singing the song and she said, "R, the sister missionaries loved our song! They were both smiling so big and they were crying!" It was such a special sacrament meeting. D was there as well as S. I know they felt the spirit. Nothing is stronger than the testimony of the primary children and they were all so wonderful!!
This week I have really realized the reality of all of the prophesies that prophets have made throughout time. I am reading in the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon and as I have read them with a focus on Christ, I have learned SO much more than I ever have before, especially about the second coming of the Savior. There are so many signs of His coming. One of those is the hastening of the work of Salvation. We have watched that "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" video from the broadcast with a couple families this week (that song still gets me every time :) but I have just been in awe this week about the fulfillment of that prophesy. President Rawlings told Sister Nielsen that over the past year, the patriarch in Finland has given patriarchal blessings to 11 of the 12 tribes of Israel....just think about that for a second...11 OUT OF 12. Like Holy cow guys...it's really happening! I have felt this week stronger than ever before in my life the reality of the second coming of our Savior. He is coming back in power and glory and we are preparing the world for that day. I don't know if it's just because we taught S this week about the Word of Wisdom and other commandments, but I have been so disgusted this week with how much sin is in the world...it is terrible. But honestly, that's another sign of the times...it's just evidence to the fact that He really is coming. I found myself this week being so incredibly excited, but also I gained such a greater desire to talk to ALL the people about the gospel. They all need to know. We have what they don't and because of that, it's our responsibility to share it:
1. We have been born, as Nephi of old,
To goodly parents who love the Lord.
We have been taught, and we understand,
That we must do as the Lord commands.
2. We have been saved for these latter days
To build the kingdom in righteous ways.
We hear the words our prophet declares:
"Let each who's worthy go forth and share."
3. We know his plan, and we will prepare,
Increase our knowledge through study and prayer.
Daily we'll learn until we are called
To take the gospel to all the world.
We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord's missionaries
To bring the world his truth.
We are NOW the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth! We are living in the last days before the Savior comes again! How lucky and blessed are we! It's like Elder Bednar said to all of us finnish missionaries..."as bad as the world is now is the BEST it will ever be in your lifetime, but when you look ahead to your future, NEVER BE AFRAID." Those words really changed my life. We are all here for a reason. I know that. But I also know that the majority of us, if not all of us feel SUPER inadequate. Honestly there are so many days where I have woken up in the morning, gone into the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and been like "What the heck? Who do I think I am? What right do I have to tell people how to live their lives?" But you know what, those thoughts aren't from my Father in Heaven. Those thoughts are from the devil. He wants us to be miserable. How rude is that? Like for reals though...who does he think he is? What right does he have to tell us how to live our lives? He doesn't know jack squat. He always tries to push us down and make us feel terrible and usually when that happens, something amazing is just around the corner. I saw that again this week. We can't ever stop fighting against him. We are the army of our Heavenly Father. He needs us! How cool is that? I know the church is true. The Holy Ghost has been so strong this week in good old Espoo and I have felt a new sense of determination and strength. There will always be opposition, but thank heaven for that! Thank heaven we have a chance every day to strengthen our faith and to come closer to our Father. That's what it's all about! I love you all so much! Never be afraid! Be the kind of person that when you wake up in the morning Satan thinks, "Oh crap, he's/she's up". Yes, I stole that quote from Pinterest, but in my defense, they didn't put an author so I am claiming it as my own! :) But for real, I love the gospel. It's so true. The church is true. It's all good! You are all wonderful and I hope you have a great November week! Keep praying for the people in Espoo! We are in miracle territory folks! Big things are coming! :)
Minä rakastan teitä!
Sisar Olivia Bitner
P.S. Something Finnish...They have really cool wood ceilings...like paneled...I think I am going to bring it home with me to 'Merica...it's way classy! :) Love you all!!
|Sisar Schellenberg and I|
|The temple...in the dark :)|
|The famous lutheran church in Helsinki...it's really beautiful...too bad it isn't true :)|
|Sister Training Leaders for the mission|