Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Another Testament

    Hyvää Huomenta! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Happy Birthday Dad and Lauren! Man, so many good things happening this week! How are you all doing? I hope you have had the most ihana week of your lives. Ihana means lovely. Or like Lilo says in Lilo and Stitch, Ohana means family. So moral of the story, Finnish is close to Hawaiian. haha psych. It's not. But Family is ohana and ihana so it's fine. I love you all so much. Dad, you are just getting younger every day. You are such a spry young sap. I tell people that my dad is turning 44....that's right isn't it? :) But they are floored that you are so young. Same with you mom. People ask if you are my older brother and sister. hahaha so either I look old or you two look really young...I think the latter is more flattering for all of us so let's go with that. And Lauren, oh my lanta, you are turning 14. WOW. That's just all sorts of weird. I am so happy for you. 14 is a good age to be. When I was 14 I was your age! :) haha did you catch my throwback Tuesday reference to our Disney cruise? Oh man, good times. But seriously, I love you both so much. I hope you have the most wonderful birthdays ever! I am working on writing you some letters and sending you some good old Fazer chocolate, so stay tuned! I love you both!

    Well we have had another grand old week here in the magestic land of Espoo. It's a wonderful place. I love living by the temple. I could get used to this. :) I am just going to jump right in to all the stories. There is so much to tell. So a couple of weeks ago, we met this man from Thailand on the street. He was really cool and told us that we could come over and talk about our church. He kind of seemed a little sketchy, but we had an appointment with him Tuesday night, and he called us that morning to make sure we were still coming. Wow. That's pretty cool. So his name is K. The lesson was kind of shaky in the beginning. He was pretty "aggressively Buddhist" as in our ideas about God and Jesus Christ were all wrong, but we really did our best to answer his questions and promise him blessings. The spirit was there so strong. By the end of the lesson, I asked, "K, are you willing to do your part to find out if what we have taught you is true?" At the beginning he had basically said he would never pray or do anything in a Christian church, but after that, he said, "Why not? What do I have to lose?" What a brilliant question, K! You have NOTHING to lose and everything to gain. He said the sweetest prayer I have ever heard and invited us back this week. We are really excited to teach him. I love Asians. goal in life, apart from like education, marriage, family, happiness, you know the usual is to serve a mission with my husband in Asia. I don't care where, preferably China, but just somewhere. He is a really cool guy and we are excited to teach him more. I love missionary work! I love seeing the change in people. Literally in 20 minutes, this guy went from no belief in God to saying his first prayer. Wow. The Spirit is amazing. He works miracles.

    So I am just going to get this sad story out at the beginning. I am still a little sad about it, but it's ok. So K, the Canadian girl we met last week who is golden and came to church? Well, that is still true! We had a lesson with her Tuesday night and she kept asking us over and over again to continue teaching her and to help her get closer to Heavenly Father. We really wanted to focus the lesson on helping her learn how she would receive answers to her own questions. We talked about the Holy Ghost and she said, "Well if the Holy Ghost is what I felt in church on Sunday, then keep it coming." Oh my goodness. She is like a member already. It's incredible. Anyways, we talked about baptism and she set her own baptismal date for May 2. I felt like I was pulling an Elder Rogers from The Best Two Years, having a baptism right before I leave, but it felt so good and right. The Spirit was there and we all felt it. She said a prayer at the end and just kept thanking Heavenly Father for sending these two "wonderful girls into her life." She kept saying over and over again that it was divine intervention that we met. Honestly, I have never been so happy or optimistic after a lesson that I was after that. She is so ready.

    So we had another amazing lesson with her on Friday. We had committed her to ready the Introduction to the Book of Mormon as well as the Restoration pamphlet and she did that and more. She came to the lesson and told us that she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. It was another amazing lesson. So this lesson was on Friday and they had a YSA lunch at the temple guest house on Saturday. We invited her to come to that. Oh, by the way, she brought us cookies to the lesson. #lovethisgirl haha it was great.

    And now the sad music Saturday morning, we texted her and asked if she wanted to meet us at the train station or the temple. Well she sent us back a text that literally broke my heart. She said that her parents in Canada had gotten wind of her intentions to join the church and that her family, dad specifically told her that she isn't allowed to meet with us anymore and breathed out some pretty serious threats. We aren't sure what they are exactly, but they were serious enough that she didn't respond back to our text, asking her whether we could meet and just talk about what they said. I am not going to lie guys, it about killed me. I was so sad. You come to love these people so fast. I just saw so clearly in my mind all of the wonderful things that were in store for K. I know they still are, just at a different time. Man, I really could have used a hug from one of you in that moment, but Sisar Rochette and I said a prayer and we both felt peace about K. It was a blessing to meet her. I really don't know why it happened the way it did, but I know that Heavenly Father will take care of her. We have plans to hopefully stay in contact with her. She made friends with one of the members, so we are hoping they stay in contact. Anyways, keep praying for her. I know something good will happen. I love her a lot and am grateful I was able to know her. It was just another witness to me that people really are ready. Although her dad is pretty against religion in general, God is greater than all and K will find the church again. Now she has the Book of Mormon. She knows it's true. She is one step closer! :) That's pretty cool when you think about it. But anyways, no more sad stories. We are happy and I hope she is happy too. Things will all work out. 

     So on Wednesday night, we had a late-coming new missionary come to Finland. She is a Finn, so she didn't need to learn Finnish...lucky her :) But she doesn't speak English, so that will be a good learning experience for her as well. She is so great. Since she missed the welcome dinner with all the other missionaries, President invited Sisar Rochette and I and the Assistants to come to dinner with Sisar Andersson and her new companions. They are a threesome which is pretty cool. We had a great night and got to know her better. Man can I just say how much I love the Finnish people. I was able to talk with her and get to know her and I have such a special place in my heart for these Finns. They are wonderful and she is such a valuable addition to the mission. I am so grateful for the Finnish youth and their desires to serve. They are going to change the culture of this country. We have a Sister returning home to the Espoo ward this week. Get this, I actually met her in the MTC. WEIRD!! She has been in France and I am really excited to get to know her. I love being around missionaries. I wish they had an MTC in Logan so I could teach at the MTC, but alas, I will just have to help Dad teach mission prep! That will be awesome as well! I can't wait!

    So we had splits on Thursday, my last splits in Helsinki. I was able to go with a brand new greenie, Sisar Hales. She is from Nevada and has been in Finland a whopping 10 days. Well I guess 2 weeks now. She is HILARIOUS. Oh my goodness, I have never seen a missionary with so much energy. It is great! She had a goal to talk with everyone effectively, meaning that she wanted to set up return appointments on the street. My goal for the day was to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in contacting. So, we combined both of our goals. We each carried a Book of Mormon around in our hand all day. I felt like Captain Moroni, armed with my Sword of Truth. It was legit. :) Anyways we talked with EVERYONE and had a great time with each other. She kept asking me for "advice" and "words of wisdom from a dying missionary" to quote her specifically. It made me smile. She is great. I told her to be herself. That's the best thing any missionary can do. Well, one of the best things. We are where we are for a reason. I know that is true. 

    One cool experience from splits. Ok, two cool experiences from splits. So we were in downtown Helsinki, standing at a bus stop. We started trying to talk to this lady. She was really nice, but not super interested. I noticed, however, that another lady was standing right behind her, totally eavesdropping on our conversation. So the first lady left to get on her bus and this other lady just kept staring at us so we asked her how she was doing. Her response was, "Can you tell me more about what makes your church different from other Christian churches?" TOTTA KAI! That's my favorite thing to tell people about! Anyways, we talked about the Book of Mormon and got on the same tram as her so we continued to talk. We told her that we would love to come bring her her own copy of the Book of Mormon. She was really excited. Ok this is my Something Finnish for the day. So as we were talking to this woman, she was helping us find directions to our next appointment because neither of us knew where we were going. She started looking at the map. Now Finns pretend that they aren't paying attention to what you are doing. They have some pretty intense poker faces, but as she was helping us, 2 other random guys from the tram came over, after completely listening to our conversation and told us where to go. Then they both started telling us about their families (we had asked the woman previously about her family) and wanted to show us pictures and tell us stories. I just had to smile. Everyone always says that Finns don't want to talk to anyone, but I am here to tell you, that is a FALSEHOOD. They are the kindest people I know, you just have to be willing to get to know them. But once you do, man, they are the best friends you could ever ask for. You make friends with a Finn, you're a friend for life. I love that about them. They are worth fighting for. Anyways, we got the woman's name and address and gave the two men our card. It was a great experience and I was glad Sisar Hales was able to experience what Finns are really like. 

    So second cool experience from splits, we were walking down the street and we saw this man approaching, pushing his daughter in a stroller. We stopped and started talking to him in Finnish, and he says, "You're from America, we can speak English" in perfect American English. So this guy's name is D. He is from Wisconsin and is here teaching English in Helsinki University. Way sick! Anyways, we started talking to him about the church. At first, he was pretty condescending towards the things we were saying. There were a lot of scoffs and coughs and lame sounds that people make when they aren't pleased with something. He started listing off all of these facts to us. I could tell by Sister Hales' body language that this was the first time someone had started ripping her head off for believing in God. Luckily, it's happened for me a few more times. :) So, instead of arguing, we did the only thing we can really do. We testified. We testified of God, Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, a living prophet, the Plan of Salvation, man we just testified the heck out of that contact. D got really quiet after that. We looked him straight in the eye and said, "D, you can know all of this is true for yourself. You are smart. You like experiments and evidence. Well, give this book a chance. Try it out for yourself and see if you get the same results as we did. If you really do it sincerely, you will get an answer that it is true. Are you willing to try?" Man, I felt like I was on fire. It was like the best black and white opportunity I have ever given someone to accept the gospel. The Spirit was SO stinking strong on the street, I felt like flames were coming out of my body. D looked at us and honestly, he looked kind of sad and he said, "No, I am not willing right now. But I am very grateful I met you today. Thank you for stopping and talking to me." 

    I have never felt so good about being rejected before. I gained such a strong testimony of the fact that when we do the work we are sent here to do as missionaries, that is when we find happiness. I have thought before on my mission, "Oh man, going to a movie or sleeping in or calling my family would make me so happy" But boy oh boy, how false that is. Of course, I would be happy to talk to you all, but it wouldn't last, because that's not what I am supposed to be doing right now. I am a missionary and that is what I have signed up to be for 18 months. I don't get why someone would go on a mission only to break the rules. That's never really made sense to me. So much happiness awaits us as we labor int he Lord's vineyard, but only as we try our hardest to be obedient and to allow our wills to be swallowed up in the will of the Father. I have never been so happy as I have been on my mission, but that happiness has only come in the times when I am trying my best to actually be the missionary that Heavenly Father expects me to be. Now let me just rant for a second, that is the common folly of so many people in the world. They look for happiness in all the wrong places. They want to be happy, but can't figure out how to do it. Why can't they? Because they are not turning to their Father, the one who knows them, created them, loves them more than they could ever imagine, and knows what they need to get back to Him and to be happy here and forever. It's so easy to turn to Him. It just takes a little courage! It takes courage to be obedient, but oh what blessings come as you are! It's pretty incredible! Thanks for letting me rant....I'm done now!

    So things went good on splits. It was the best day ever and I love Sisar Hales a lot. I was so grateful to be able to meet her. It was definitely a tender mercy!

    So things are going well with T. We weren't able to meet a lot last week, for various reasons. I think she likes us a lot, we are just working on getting her to love the gospel too. She is so hungry for truth and answers. We are doing our best to help her learn how to get answers. Continue to pray for her and her daughters. We hope to get all 3 of them to church this week.

    Way cool experience happened at 6:40 in the morning this past week. So, we decided to go running. As we were coming around the corner, a cute little Indian mom and her daughter came walking past us. We had the thought to stop and talk to them, but seeing as we were not clothed in proper missionary attire, we figured it might be kind of scary for them. So we ran past only to have the Spirit give us a good punch to the face. We both stopped and turned around. And guess what? The little girl had turned completely around and was staring right at us. We ran back to them and told them who we were and why we were here and the mom agreed to come to a church tour this week. WOW! Finding investigators koko ajan! :) All the time! We didn't have our phone, so we called our phone from her number and set up the church tour later that day. Heavenly Father is so funny sometimes. :) It was a really cool experience.

    Sisar Rochette and I talked this week about how we personally receive revelation. We dedicated one of our personal studies to it and had a really good discussion during companionship study. Sisar Rochette said for her, revelation comes strongest at the temple and during General Conference. I thought that was way sweet. I realized for me that revelation comes during my personal scripture study, specifically the Book of Mormon, and during Sacrament meeting. Of course I love the temple and General Conference and Sisar Rochette loves Sacrament and the scriptures, but it was cool to see how we both receive personal revelation. I think it's an important thing for all of us to figure out. Where do you go when you need to receive revelation? I have found that as soon as I said my revelation spots out loud, I was more eager to study and go to church. I knew that I would be receiving revelation. I would encourage you all to do it!

    We had a really cool lesson yesterday with just Sisar J and her visiting teacher Sisar V. We watched, "Because of Him" and talked about how prophets ALWAYS testify of Christ. That is their main purpose. I always love hearing President Monson and the apostles testify of Christ. I know that they know Him. As Elder Packer said, "He is no stranger to His servants." We  are really focusing on helping them get ready for General Conference. You can bank on the prophet, if you know what I'm saying? :) I think it will be really good for them. Sisar V shared a really special experience from her childhood. She said that she was about 12 and her family went to Stockholm because President Kimball was there. He was the prophet at the time. Well, they had a meeting and then President Kimball started to walk out of the room. Sisar V said suddenly about 30 moms ran to the front of the room with their babies and wanted President Kimball to touch them. It reminded me of my favorite Bible Video where the same thing happened to Christ. In the video, Peter and James tell the people that Christ doesn't have time to see them and he needs rest, but the Savior comes up behind them and says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." It is the sweetest video I have ever seen. 

    Sisar V said she was so worried for those moms because President Kimball's bodyguards were pretty large and authoritative and looked like they had a place to go and were going to get the prophet there, but just as the Savior did, President Kimball stopped the bodyguards, and touched each of the babies that were there. He said something to each of the mothers. Even though they didn't all speak English, Sisar V said, "It was in that moment that I knew he was a prophet." I thought about that. What a powerful story. We have a prophet on the earth today that represents the Savior, Jesus Christ. Of course, we all do as disciples, but the Prophet is a special witness. I just pictured that experience in my mind and felt an overwhelming appreciation and gratitude for our living prophet, President Monson. He is standing in the place and stead of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the greatest example on earth of Christ--like service and love and we get to hear from him in a few weeks. How amazing is that? I am so grateful for prophets. I know President Monson is God's prophet on the earth today. I love him, sustain him, and am so grateful for him!

    Well my spiritual thought today is pretty simple. After everything happened with K, I had a pretty rough day. Not pertaining to missionary work, but I felt pretty low. I know Satan was working hard on me, but I just felt so stupid about everything. I felt like a pretty sad excuse of a missionary. I felt like what had happened was my fault. I felt like had I just taken care of her better, none of this would have happened. I didn't understand why Heavenly Father would even bring her into our lives if He was just going to take her out again. I have changed a lot on my mission, but sometimes I just wonder why I don't understand God's will. I know that His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are way higher than my thoughts, and that just really frustrated me so bad for some reason on Saturday. It frustrated me to think that after how much I have changed, I am still like ions away from being who I need to be in the end of all things. I went to bed that night with a pretty heavy heart. I felt numb, in a way. I was letting Satan get the better of me, but honestly, I didn't really care. I wanted to be sad, so I cried myself to sleep that night and had a nice good whining session.

    I went to church the next day, still feeling pretty crappy. I was so grateful to be going to church, however, because REVELATION. I needed answers pretty hard core. I wanted to feel Heavenly Father's love and support. I wanted to know what He expected of me and what I was doing wrong. Well as I was sitting in sacrament meeting, praying my heart out...actually during the sacrament, I heard the song from Primary come into my head about President Hinckely and the North Star. The line, "Be constant as the North star that shines for you and me, anchored in the gospel with pure integrity. Steadfast in your service to God and fellow-man. President Hinckley has shown us that we can." Man...I am so grateful the spirit can bring things to our remembrance. I hadn't thought about that song in like a decade. But a lot of examples from President Hinckley came into my head. One of course was, "Forget yourself and go to Work." Man...can service really fix our problems? Was that really the answer to my question? Yep. Totally was. 

    I realized that I am forever a servant to my Heavenly Father and how wonderful that is. I realized that as I have served His children, I have grown closer to Him and that closeness has brought more joy into my heart than I ever could have imagined. I realized, once again, that the scriptures are always right. When they say, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God," they aren't kidding. But 2 other scriptures came into my mind during sacrament. The first was Mosiah 5:31 which says:

 13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

    The next one was Matt 6:19-24:

19 ¶Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thievesbreak through and steal:

 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eyebe single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

 24 ¶No man can serve two masters: for either he will hatethe one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    Service is the answer. Losing ourselves in the service of others and making the decision to serve one master, God, is the answer. I am so grateful for sacrament meeting and for the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for reminders every day that help me stay on the path back to my Heavenly Father. I tend to wander...I am glad he keeps pulling me back. I know that the Holy Ghost is real. He will bring all things to our remembrance. He really is that peace that Christ promised to us all before He left. The Holy Ghost helps us remember Christ. You know those times when you feel the Holy Ghost and you're just like, "Oh man, is there anything better than this?" The answer is no. There isn't. There isn't because visitations from the Holy Ghost really are visitations of our Heavenly Father. That is just a foretaste of what our joy will be in the eternities. Wow. I can't wait to live in that state of never-ending happiness! What a joy that will be when we are all there together with all of our friends that we have helped find the gospel. How great shall be our joy! :)

    Well I just love you all so stinking much. Man, I look at your faces everyday and think, "How in the heck did I get so lucky?" Thank you for being my family. Thank you for supporting me in everything. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you for your letters. Seriously, I am the most spoiled missionary to have a family like you! Thank you for everything you do. The song "Families can Be Together Forever" brings more joy to me than just about anything else. I love you so much. God lives. He is our Father. Christ lives. He is our Savior. This is the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today in it's fullness. We are so blessed guys! Let's never forget that, Ok? Ok. Good. Well have a great March week and I will talk to you next week. Same time, same place. Be there or be square! :) I love you!


    Sisar Bitner 
Our church building in Espoo

Sisar Hales and I on splits!! I LOVE HER

Some graffiti in Finnish. I don't know what it says, but the picture is funny 
This is what happens at the bus stops late at night....haha way too fun

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My companion made us green breakfast

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