Doubt not, Fear not
Hey!!!! Did you all think I was dead? I couldn't remember if I told you that P-day is now on TUESDAY or not. If I did, then I am relieved, if not...SURPRISE!! :) Sorry about that. But anyways, all is well. I am alive and well and hope you all are too! Man, I just have to say, your skiing trip looked WAY TOO FUN! Holy cow, I had a little heart twinge when I saw all the pictures, but I am so glad you all went and had a great time together. Save me a seat on the gondola next year! I am going to go crazy up there. It's been way too long. But I hope you all had a Happy New Year! 2015 is going to be a year to remember! I can feel it!
Well this week has just been crazy, but I don't have too much time today so I am just going to explain...no wait, let me sum up :) This has easily been the most productive, most "New Years Resolution-y" first year of the week I have ever experienced in my life, and also craziest New Year's week of my life. I honestly can't even gather my thoughts, so many things have happened, but I will try my best!
So we have just had the craziest week of time and all eternity. On Monday it was Sister Nielsen's last P-day and we had like 89087 dinner appointments which was so great and all these wonderful members wanted to say goodbye to her. Then on Tuesday, we had a DA with another member at a sushi buffet for lunch....way too good...and then we were about a 10 minute walk away from our train to go pick up Sister Nyman from Helsinki, but we had only 2 minutes to get there, so we SPRINTED through the mall in Leppävaara and barely made our train. Man...seriously, I need to just stop and take a breath...I am getting tired just writing about this week :) But anyways, we made it to Helsinki and picked up my new and only non-American companion, Sister Nyman! I will write more about her later though. Anyways, after that, we went back home, dropped off Sister Nyman's stuff, then ran to the temple to have a lesson and another DA, then we went to another member's house...they also fed us...and then we went to A's house so Sister Nielsen could say goodbye. Tuesday was insanity. Man...talked about angels round about us bearing us up. There is no way I could have made it through that day alone. I was so tired. But it was so good and I was really glad that Sister Nielsen was able to have a good last few days. I really miss her. She was an awesome companion and we had so much fun together. Sisar, if you are reading this...just keep ROFLing and preaching the word! I love you so much! :) Anyways, she is going to do great things and I am so glad you all get to meet her this week. Tell her I said "MOI!" :)
So on Tuesday night, I almost forgot, we had to go pick up 2 other sisters from Helsinki that were coming to stay with us for the night because they were picking up their trainees the next day. All of the missionaries that were being transferred and ones that were going home and ones that were training all congregated at the main train station in Helsinki as they waited for trains and rides and someone to come pick them up. It was insanity, but was so good to see everyone. I got to talk to Sister Jones, who went home with Sister Nielsen. Man, I love her so much. She looked so great and definitely took care of Vaasa for me :) She is wonderful! But anyways, we went home on Wednesday night and then woke up at 5 the next morning to go pick up another sister who was going home from the train station at 6:50. So Sister Nielsen, Sister Nyman and I all went down and then we dropped Sister Nielsen off there and Sister Nyman and I went back to do Weekly Planning. It was a crazy couple of days. I felt like a zombie!
Anyways, later that day, Sister Nyman and I were at the temple, and we were able to see all the going home missionaries as they came out of their temple session. They all looked so great and I was so glad to say goodbye to them all again. I was crying my eyes out as I said goodbye to them, especially Sister Jones and Sister Nielsen. It's amazing. You really are like soldiers on the same side....you fight together...you laugh together...you learn together....you change together....but most importantly, we defend our Savior together and that creates such a special friendship and bond. Anyways, sorry to rant about their group...I just love them and miss them and hope they are all doing well!
So we had MLC on Friday which was great...as always! This is such a good group of missionaries. There was such a special spirit in that meeting. I really felt like we were all very unified and very willing to do what it's going to take to take our mission to the next level. We were all asking each other for advice, sharing ideas and building each other up. Sister Woods, from my MTC group and I were talking about it and we both commented on how we are just ready. Ready to change the way we think and get some serious work done. We are all so committed to our new Standards of Excellence and it was so great to feel that spirit of unity!
We have been struggling with finding in our area for the past few weeks. I am not going to lie, I have been really frustrated and it's been hard to believe in these standards when we really have no one to work with. At MLC, a few missionaries who have been having a lot of success shared that you really just have to make the decision before you talk to someone on the street or bus or wherever that this person is going to become an investigator. You have to be persistent, not annoying, but present the message in a way that they wouldn't dare to say no. I was pretty skeptical of that advice. I thought in my head, "Ya, right, like that would ever work." But as the meeting went on, the spirit really spoke to my heart and told me, "You need to have faith in this." So that night, I prayed for a real long time until I felt like I had faith in the standards. I prayed until I believed and I made up my mind that Friday night to literally do everything I could do the next day to find these new investigators and that we would find 4 new investigators as we had planned during nightly planning. Then I went to sleep. :)
Well, Sister Nyman and I had some pretty good plans. The first appointment we had on Saturday was with a Part member family, the R family. We got there a little early, and instead of taking a longer way around or kind of "stalling" as has been a habit in the past, we decided to knock some doors. Well, nothing happened with the doors...in fact someone yelled at us...which was fine, but we had a lesson with the R family and the wife, who is not a member, became a new investigator....like literally we did absolutely nothing and she just said she would like to learn more and we could come back....Uh.....what? :)
So then we get on the bus to come back home for lunch....I sat down and felt really strongly that I needed to get up and go sit by this lady. So while Sister Nyman is chatting away with some lady, I moved and talked to this woman S. I asked her if she had ever heard of the church and she said, "Yes, I have. Missionaries used to visit me." She then proceeded to grab my planner out of my hands, wrote down her phone number and address and told me we could come over on Friday (this Friday) night to teach her about the gospel. Uh....what?
So after S became a new investigator, our bus stop was coming but Sister Nyman was really into a conversation with this lady, so I just decided we could stay on the bus and take the train back. So we stayed and Sister Nyman got the man's information who she was talking to. So we get off the bus and are standing, waiting for the train when we both turn around at the same time and walk over to this man in a bright blue coat. Well, one discussion about prophets later and we have a return appointment for Sunday night. Uh...what? :)
Then, on the train back home, we start talking to this african guy who, very rudely, states that "He doesn't believe in anything...religion just gives people something to do." Well....5 minutes later, we have a return appointment for a temple tour with him tonight. Uh...ok....like really...what???? This really was a day of miracles.
Sister Nyman is an amazing missionary. She is so hilarious and she is so kind and good. She radiates the love of Christ and has no fear. She is such an amazing companion and I feel like we have the exact same goals and the exact same vision of how to get there. She is so ready to work and to make some changes so that these standards of excellence become the norm. Man, I am so blessed to be her companion. Seriously, she is so great! We have laughed so hard this week and have just had the best time with each other. She really pushes me to be better and to get out of my comfort zone and I know that is exactly what I needed at this time of my mission.
So after our miracle day, we decided to do it again, on Sunday and Monday. We didn't find 4 investigators in 1 day again, but we found 2 more and found so many potentials that are really interested. My gosh....I just don't even know what to say. Heavenly Father has blessed us so much this week. I was worried before about knowing how to use our time effectively and what were the most important things we could do to fill our time, and now I am worried we won't have enough time to teach all these people. It's a miracle. I have been thinking these past few days about what in the world is going on around here, and it really comes down to the power of the mind. I have talked to so many people on my mission, but until this week...I never went into a conversation, determined to keep talking to them until they became an investigator. We really can't take no for an answer in this work. We don't want to be obnoxious but heck, we have eternal life in our pocket. We can't back down to a sketchy "No, I'm too busy" answer or some other excuse like that. This is way too important. Anyways, I just feel like I got a reboost this week. I have a new purpose and fire and drive and I am so grateful for the timing of that. I know that Heavenly Father knows us. He knows exactly what I needed, right now, at this time, and He has helped me change and has sent me a companion to continue to help me change and to help our area move forward. Big things are happening! This is so fun!!!
Sorry this email has been really strange. I am just overcome with gratitude and frankly, I am still in awe at what happens when we GET OUT OF THE WAY of the work of the Lord. When we just allow Him to use us to bless the lives of others, miracles happen. I was reading in D&C 6 this week and a few verses stuck out to me that I wanted to share:
8 Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be unto you; and if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.
13 If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
20 Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?
33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
I love that chapter. This week it made it into the "My go-to scriptures" list. I love the message it contains and as I read it this week, I felt as though the words were exactly for me. Doubt not. Fear not. Look unto Christ in every thought. That is what it means in my mind to be a successful missionary. That is who I want to become. I love the scriptures. I love the ability and opportunity we have to receive personal revelation daily. I think that is one of the greatest lessons I have learned from my mission; how to receive revelation. Anyways, I just love you all so much. I will write a more coherent letter next week, I think, but all is well in Zion! :) I hope you are all doing well. Continue to pray for us. Pray that we will find those that are ready. I know the Lord is ready to give them to us, we just have to be ready to help them! Have the most wonderful week! Anne...if you have any dates planned for your upcoming birthday, cancel them and tell them not until after May 7! Thank you! :) Have a great week!!
Sisar Olivia Bitner
P.S. Something Finnish: Not really something crazy but right by our house is a cross country skiing track...these people work out until the day they die...it's pretty inspiring :) love you!
|The trip :)|
|My greenie and my bestie!!|
|Last pic with my comp...and yes my skirt was hiked up into my coat #inappropriate :)|
|The MTC group kicking butt as Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders|
|When I asked Sister Nyman what pic she wanted me to send to our family...she made this face....hahahaha this is sister nyman :)|
|Guess who came to visit Espoo? CHAU!!!!|