Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Better Way

    Hey guys! What's up? I have to start off this email by telling you all thank you so much for your prayers. I have noticed your prayers all throughout my mission, but especially this week. I will explain a little more about that later, but I just wanted to say thank you! The power of prayer is real and at least from my end, I have felt so many blessings come from your faith. I love you all more than I can say! :) Also, I have the list of souvenirs now! Good choices will not be disappointed! :) Ok, I love you all!

    SO...this oh man...where to even begin. It's been so great. I think this has been one of the busiest weeks of my mission and I am feeling it! I am pretty exhausted, but that's ok! Nothing better than collapsing into bed every night! :) On Wednesday, Sister Nyman and I were doing companionship study and we got a call from President Watson. He asked us if we could take care of some Russian sister missionaries that had come to Finland to renew their visas and had missed their plane! haha We said "Totta kai!" (that means of course by the way...I say it like 4384 times a day) but anyways, we had Russian companions for a day. Well, they aren't Russian, but they are serving in Russia....actually Siberia. Man, doesn't that just sound cold? They were super cool though and we got to be with them for a large part of the day. I went with Sister Larsen from Utah. She goes home in about 6 weeks and it was really fun to talk with her and get to know her. As we walked around and talked to people, she kept commenting on how nice Finland is and how clean and how new the trains are and how the people are really friendly and how warm it about slap to the face. I really felt so grateful to be serving where I am. It is such a wonderful place and it was good to be reminded of that.

     It was so funny also to be with someone who doesn't speak Finnish. She was just amazed at Sister Nyman and I and that we could communicate with the Finns. It was an interesting realization to remember that there are people in the world that don't speak Finnish...ok, like no one in the world speaks Finnish. :) But we had a great day and became friends really fast! I loved talking about the similarities and differences of our missions. It's so cool how we do the same work, everywhere. The church is the same. I have had a lot of people on my mission say to me, after they have come to our church, "Wow, I have visited Mormon churches before and it is always the do you do it will different bishops leading the congregations?" Well, we do it because the bishops are presiding over their wards....God leads this church. It's the same everywhere because it's the truth. I am so grateful for that!

    So after our surprise day of splits on Wednesday, we packed up for 3 days and headed to Kerava for splits. Kerava is about 20 minutes away by train. I was able to go with Sister Reynolds. She has been in Finland for about 3 months. She is so amazing and we have become such great friends over these past few weeks. She is really strong and one of the bravest people I know. She does things because she knows they are right, not necessarily because she knows the reason why. I love that about her and really learned a lot from her. We found 2 really cool new investigators and talked to EVERYONE. It was really fun. It snowed all day...none of that sissy snow, but big, fluffy, beautiful flakes. Needless to say, my hat and hair and face and everything was soaking wet, but we had a great time. They don't really have public transportation out their so we walked EVERYWHERE. It was really fun to walk and talk with her and to get to know her better. I have realized again this week the amazing truth that everyone has a story. Everyone has their own tale to tell and I love hearing them. That is one of the things I love most about being a missionary....hearing all the stories. It's so amazing. Sister Reynolds is an amazing missionary. She is going to do great things! :) 

    So Thursday night, we took a train all the way down to Helsinki and got picked up by the APs to go to President's house for MLC. Although we live like 10 minutes away, President has asked everyone to stay the night before and after MLC so we met up again with Sisters Dixon and Johnston, Sisters Woods and Pack, and all the elders! It was so fun to see them all. I don't know if I have told you about this, but when I was with Sister Jones in Tampere, we developed this thing called, "One for the days". Basically at the end of every day, you say one thing that you appreciate about your companion or a strength that they have. Well, we did a combined "One for the day" session with all the sisters there, and man, a few tears were shed. It just feels so good to be here serving with my best friends. They are the most amazing women, sisters, friends that I know and I am so grateful for all of them. I am going to do "One for the days" forever. :) It's a great thing to end your day on.

    We had MLC all day Friday. Oh my goodness, it was so amazing. Such a powerful meeting. The first thing we were able to do was to watch "Meet the Mormons". HOLY COW, that movie is SO SICK!!!! I was so emotional as I watched it and it just made me so happy to be a member of the church. How lucky are we to be surrounded by such wonderful people. Dad, remember when you said that the first time I see the American flag when I come home, I will cry? Well, I totally bawled when we watched the Navy football coach's story and I saw the beautiful football field, the flag, and the old American culture..nothing better! I really loved all of the stories, but I loved at the end of the Nepalese man's story when he said, "You know, I'm not perfect, but I am perfect at one thing. I am perfect at trying." I loved that. That's a good ambition to have. We can all be perfect at trying!

     I will talk more about the rest of MLC later, but I wanted to write about the rest of the week. So on Saturday, Sister Watson asked Sister Nyman and I if we would be willing to do some service for her because President was out of town that day. She needed to go grocery shopping in order to make 10 meals for 30 people this upcoming week. So Sister Nyman and I said absolutely...we didn't have any set appointments until the end of the day. So we studied with Sister Watson and shopped with her and then we ate lunch and she took us home. It was such a fun day and it was so great to get to know her better. I love the Watsons so much. They are the most wonderful people in the world.

    So church this week was awesome. We had our investigator K there from Vietnam. He is way cool. We invited him to be baptized last week and he said "I have already been baptized." He is Catholic so he was baptized as an infant. We have a lesson with him tonight and are really hoping to focus on helping him see that this is all for him. The gospel, us serving missions, everything is because Heavenly Father loves him. I think he needs to hear that. So stay tuned on K.

    We had two random people show up at church on Sunday, "seeking for truth" in their own words and wanting to learn more about the church. One of them is a friend of the Elders recent convert, P, and she is way sick. Her name is H and we have a lesson with her tomorrow. Hopefully that goes well. The other woman was a former investigator who Sister Fronk met....holla...:) and she wants to learn more as well. President Rawlings used to say that he had a vision for Finland of people lining up to get in the church. We saw a mini version of that this Sunday. We are way excited to be teaching all these people. 

    So we had a DA with the B family that lives in Lohja again this week. They took us home with them after church. My gosh, their kids are so cute. I love them so much. Their daughter E and I are officially besties. We made up a handshake and everything :) She told me that she is going to send me birthday gifts for the rest of my life and she wants me to send her birthday gifts from there you go. We are buds! It was so great to be with them!

    Our recent converts are just tearing it up. My goodness. They are rockstars. A taught Sunday School for the first time this week an really has been making progress with the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. R is going to the temple for the first time this week with a member in our ward and is so excited! I am just so happy for them. This week R said, "Ever since I have been meeting the missionaries, I feel like a part of my heart is touched that I didn't even know existed. You have something good here. This is all true." Man. R is so sick! He has so much swag...he walks with a bounce in his step ever since he's been baptized :) He is so cool and I love them both.

    We had such a cool lesson with J and L last night. Their mom still wants them to learn "all the lessons before they decide" which is cool. We can work with that! We taught about the Restoration and J said, "How can I get an answer? How can I know that God loves me?" We asked her if she had ever asked him and she said, all frustrated, "Yes of course, I ask him like 100 questions a day and he never answers me." We then asked her what kind of answers she was expecting to get. She told us that she wanted to see an angel like Joseph Smith. We explained to her that most of our answers come through the Holy Ghost and are quiet, warm, peaceful feelings we feel in our heart. She sat there really quiet and then said, "I just prayed in my heart and I felt those warm, peaceful feelings. I JUST GOT MY FIRST ANSWER." She literally screamed that last part and was so excited. There was such an amazing spirit in that home and I know she will remember that experience forever. I know I will.

    Man, it's been such a good week. Especially MLC. I had a lot of really cool realizations this week I am not going to lie, I have been so tired lately. It's kind of been scaring me a little bit. The changes we have made and the way we are now doing work is much more demanding then it's ever been. I am so happy, but so tired. I have been doing my best to eat right, exercise, drink water, sit by the "happy light" go to bed on time, get up on time, but nothing has been working. One of the questions I had going into MLC was "How can I combat this? I still have a long ways to go and I am exhausted. What am I going to do?" Through President, the spirit definitely answered my question. President said that it's ok to be's a good sign....hahaha not what I was expecting...but we had a discussion about how we need to be tired for the right reasons. Am I working harder now than I ever have because of numbers? Am I doing it to be the best? Or to achieve goals? Those are all valid reasons to work hard for something, but as were were talking, my favorite scripture from the New Testament came to my mind:

 28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    I love that scripture. But I realized this week and President commented on the fact that the word rest in that scripture doesn't necessarily mean what we think it means. Rest means joy, satisfaction, relief and contentment. I have experienced that over these past few weeks. I am way more tired than before, but I am so much happier. It's amazing the peace, joy and contentment I have found as we as a mission have aligned our wills with the Father and really done His work, His way. I have felt that rest.  

    I also felt during MLC a sense of increased accountability. Heavenly Father has shown us all a new way to do missionary work. We have such a tendency as people to turn back to our old ways once a challenge arises. I do it all the time. But as I have been tired, I have found myself not necessarily wanting to go back to the old ways, but thinking about it. I realized that I can't ever go back. Not even just as a missionary, but as a person. There are so many things that have changed about me. Things that are going to affect who I am when I come home. I am not the same person and I know that it's going to be strange to sort of "reestablish" my place in our family and in the world. But I realized this week that I am not ever going to be who I was before. Not only that, but I literally can't. My nature has changed. I am still the same, personality wise...for better or worse :) but my accountability has increased. Uncle Ben in Spiderman says it so well, "With great power comes great responsibility." hahaha :) Now I don't mean that I have power...but I have the spirit with me, and that gift also comes with responsibility. Sister Nyman said something way cool this week as we talked about this. She said, "Progression in the gospel is like climbing a tree...the higher you get, the more dangerous it is to fall off." that deep or what? This is my companion folks...she is incredible. But it's so true. The higher up we go, the more important it is for us to do what the Lord is telling us to do. He knows how to get to the top of the tree safely and he will help us all the way up, but we can't go back. I can't go back. My heart has been changed. A couple of scriptures really stood out to me as I was studying this more fully. They are Mosiah 5:12, 2 Cor 3:3, Ezekiel 11:19. They say, 

12 I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

    I love those scriptures so much. I can't go back. I know a better way now. None of us that have had spiritual confirmations and experiences can go back. We all know a better way now. But how exciting is that? We all get to progress and go forward...forever! :) We always have something to live for. I think that is what so many people nowadays are missing. That hope that something could be better, that we can be better. But we have that hope because we live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the secret to success. 

    President testified really powerfully about these truths and told us all that we have just barely experienced the joy and abundance of the Spirit that are available to us. Wow. That is such a powerful statement. It really made a difference to me and made me want to progress even more and to bring more people to the knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel through doing the work of the Lord. If I have just scratched the surface of the happiness and spirit available to me as I have served a mission, then as it says in 2 Nephi 2:3:

 3 Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

    My days shall be spent in the service of my God. I know that when we keep the first and great commandment, to love and serve God, everything else works out and we really are happy. I don't know how it works, but it does. I can only testify to what I know and have experienced and that's it. :) The gospel=happy. Loving the Lord and serving Him=happy. I know that is true. God lives. He loves us. He knows us. He is with us. Our Savior, Jesus Christ lives. Because He lives, we too shall live again. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. The church has been restored through Joseph Smith, the prophet. President Monson is a prophet today. We all have been blessed to know a better way, but how lucky are we? I love you all so much. Mom and Dad, I hope you are nice and tan. Anne, Lauren, Luke and Caroline, take care of Grandma. Joce, don't party too hard up at USU! :) I love you so much. Thanks for all you do! Nähdään pian! :)


    Sisar Bitner 

    P.S. Something Finnish....they have this unspoken rule that if they find a glove or hat or scarf on the ground, they hang it up on the nearest tree so that the snow doesn't bury it and the owner can come back and find it. There are gloves and hats everywhere on the trees. It's hilarious! :) Love you!
hahaha nacho never dies :) 

Our Russian sister kind of got cut off..but she was cool!
Sister companion for a day

Lunch with Sister Watson

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