Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

 He Lives

    "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"....but only if you're in Finland! Good Winter Morning to you all. Did you get the pictures I sent you? Yep, winter is back. I am not super surprised, but Spring Fever caught me pretty bad this year. I was getting ready to retire the winter boots, but it's all good. Finland is still so beautiful in the snow! I love doing missionary work in the snow. It's like I was born to do it! :) But HAPPY EASTER! HAPPY CONFERENCE WEEK! HAPPY MOAB WEEK! Wow, could this week get any more glorious? I am so excited for conference. Just think, this is my 3rd conference as a missionary. Woah. That's weird. This week I also hit my one year "Vaasa-versary". I was flipping through my old journal and I realized that I had moved to Vaasa exactly one year ago on March Sometimes I feel like I have been a missionary for about 2 weeks and then other times it hits me. Like on my Vaasa-versary....what in the world? I have been doing the same thing, everyday for the past 18 months. Isn't it great? I am so grateful to be here and am so excited for conference. We are so lucky to have a living prophet and apostles. I sustain them and am so excited to hear from them. It's going to be great!

    So we have had another week full of meetings and splits. It's been really busy, but good. I love being busy and always having something to do. It makes you feel so good at the end of the day to fall into bed and to fall asleep instantly. Mom, I know I have said this before, but I never understood how you could sit down and fall asleep instantly any time we tried to watch a movie as a family. I am sure I am not "mom-status" tired over here, but I really appreciate you so much. I will never force you to stay awake again! :) It's really funny actually, we have office chairs in our apartment at our desks, you know the ones that spin and roll and stuff, they are pretty legit, but anyways, when we pray at night, I kneel down next to the chair, rest my head in my hands and boom, I fall asleep. But I realized that if I sway back and forth while we pray, I stay awake. I don't know if it's disrespectful, but I figure falling asleep is worse, so I am going to stick with it! :) 

    Another funny story, so on Tuesday, Sister Rochette and I got permission from President to go down to Helsinki to get Luke and Dad's souvenirs. They are pretty legit guys...don't even worry :) But as we were in the store, these 6 young men walked into the store. I turned around because they were being so loud, and they were all literally glowing. It was amazing. I felt like I was staring at a light bulb. I had the thought come to mind, "Those guys are missionaries." But they didn't have name-tags on so I kind of brushed the thought off and continued talking to the worker at the store. Well, I bought the souvenirs and as we were leaving, one of the guys came up to me and said, "Hey, are you the missionaries here in Finland?" I said yes and he said, "We are the missionaries from St. Petersburg. We are here for the day renewing our visas." Apparently they can't wear name-tags when they are in Finland, but isn't that hilarious? They really were glowing, with the light of Christ. I have such a strong testimony of members and missionaries' ability to  shine with the light of Christ. It was a really cool experience!

    We had the Helsinki Zone Conference on Wednesday. It was a wonderful meeting again. The thing I love about the Helsinki zone is how many wonderful sisters we have down here. There are wonderful sisters all over Finland, but it's so much fun to be together. The principle of reading the same thing twice and getting something new out of it has always astounded me, but I realized and gained a testimony of the power of the Spirit in teaching again on Wednesday as President taught us. He followed a similar outline as the other meetings, but the Spirit, stories, questions, and ideas were completely different. He is an amazing teacher. We talked a lot in this zone conference about obedience. I am so grateful for obedience. I don't remember the exact quote nor who said it, but someone said something to the affect of, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." I think it was Ezra Taft Benson, but don't quote me on that. :) I have such a strong testimony of obedience. The thought came to my mind as we were discussing that we really don't have to be obedient. We don't have to do anything. But, if we want to be happy, if we want results, in the case of missionaries, if we want people to teach and baptize, obedience isn't an option. Dad, you said to me before my mission, "Coming home isn't even an option." That has always stayed with me and it came to me during zone conference again, disobedience to any of the commandments isn't an option if we want happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. It was a great discussion. Obedience is may quote me :) 

    I learned a lot about prayer, once again. I learned that we should pray for everything. Anytime we are nervous, scared, stressed, happy, excited, anxious, anything, we should talk to Heavenly Father. There really is no limit to the answers and knowledge that Heavenly Father is willing to give us. The only things that stands in our way is "our veil of unbelief" as the scriptures say. Once we get rid of that, so much is possible. My Chinese friend Li, the one you all met on skype last Mother's Day used to say in her prayers, "Thank you for the great light you have given us. Thank you for your great knowledge." I can't wait to do her accent for you all, Sister Fronk will remember it :) But I have started thanking Heavenly Father for the knowledge and light that He gives to me every day. Isn't it cool that we have the opportunity to receive personal revelation every day. Wow. We are so lucky. At the end of our discussion about prayer, President said, "I learned as a kid that we should pray like everything depends on the Lord and then work like everything depends on us." To me, that's what the prayer of faith means. President Hinckley has a quote that I love. It's hanging up next to my bed, but it says, "You are doing the best you can, and that best results in good to yourself as well as good to others. Don't nag yourself with a sense of failure. Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord and then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do." What a simple formula for life. I think I'm going to stick with it! :)

    So after Zone Conference, Sister Rochette and I went home, packed and went to pick up the Tampere Sister Training Leaders at the train station to go to the Mission Home for MLC the next day. It was great to see them. Sister Johnston and Sister Pack. Man, they are wonderful! I love them both so much. So we got to President's house and Sister Pack rubbed out my shoulder...just like old times. She is a professional. She used to always rub out our shoulders in the MTC. haha it was awesome. I told her I am hiring her as my eternal chiropractor. She agreed so it's all good :) Anyways, MLC consisted of the sister training leaders, zone leaders, Assistants, and all of the district leaders in Finland. This kind of MLC only happens once a quarter, but it was fun to have a big group there. Almost all of my MTC group was there, so it was fun to see them all. 

    At the beginning of the meeting President said, "Elders and Sisters, what do you know that the world doesn't know?" We had a wonderful discussion from that question into the Book of Mormon. We all went around and shared Book of Mormon verses that are meaningful to us. I shared on of my new favorites, Alma 28:14 which says:

14 And thus we see the great call of diligence of men tolabor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see thegreat reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrowbecause of death and destruction among men, and joybecause of the light of Christ unto life.

    I love that scripture. I think I mentioned this last week, but there really is no greater call than being a missionary. We are all called to be missionary. People always say how much Heavenly Father loves His missionaries. I know that is true, but I also know that every member is a missionary. Heavenly Father is proud of all of us. As we serve faithfully in our callings, we are all being missionaries. As we invite our friends to learn about the gospel, we are being missionaries. I am so grateful that I get to be a missionary for the rest of my life. The name-tag never comes off, you know? It's a beautiful thing! :)

    After our Book of Mormon discussion, President talked about Zion's camp. He told us that he hadn't planned to talk about this at all, but when he woke up that morning, the Spirit told him that we all needed to hear about Zion's camp apparently. :) Well, I have to say, it was one of the most amazing discussions/lessons I have ever had. I was not really familiar with Zion's Camp at all. For those of you who are in the same boat as I was, Zion's camp was a march of 1,000 miles that the Lord asked Joseph Smith and other members of the church to make in May 1834. Originally, the Lord said that 500 men would make the journey, but when the time came, only 200 ended up going. It was a horrible journey full of trials, sickness, starvation, and basically anything else that you can think of. It was really hard.

    Zion's camp turned out to be a test from the Lord for the members of the church at that time. He wanted to see who among them would be faithful to Joseph, but most importantly faithful to the Lord. It was a sifting. And boy, did it work. So many people complained and murmured, gave up, blamed, whined, and honestly, they had good reason to. But the ones that remained faithful ended up being the leaders of the church. Brigham Young was among one of the faithful men that endured Zion's camp. 

    I have heard about this story before, but I never really thought about it or compared it to me and my life. But after President gave us a little background he said, "Elders and Sisters, this is your Zion's camp. The Lord is here. He is watching you. He wants to know if you will remain faithful." Wow. Talk about a wake up call. The thought came to my mind, "Well, Sisar Bitner, are you going to stay faithful? Not just to your mission, but to the end of your life? What if it gets hard? What if people mock you? What if they cast you out? What if this...what if that?" The thought went on and on and on, and I decided that Yes, I am going to stay faithful. I am going to be faithful and I am not going to murmur and whine along the way. I will be who I become. This mission is the foundation for my life, for all of the missionaries' lives. This is the day to change. My mission has changed my life forever. I know I am being prepared and we are all being prepared for great things to come, but also for hard things to come. The Lord can't have whimpy members in these last days. He trusts us enough that He sent us here now, but we have to do everything we can to make sure we are strong and ready to stand the test. I am so grateful for my personal Zion's camp. This has set my course. I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to serve a mission.

    Anyways, MLC was wonderful. I love MLC. I love learning and improving and trying to be better. I always have things to work on when I come out of those meetings. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I honestly can't say enough good things about serving a mission. It really has been a miracle in my life. I will forever be an advocate of serving a mission. Every young man should serve, and every young women should pray about serving, knowing that she will know for sure if she is supposed to go. I had no doubt in my mind that I was supposed to serve a mission, and that's one of the things that has kept me here and has motivated me to work hard, I know this is exactly where Heavenly Father wants me to be. 

    So we had a great Friday after MLC. We had a DA with the A family again and they told us that their Indian friend to whom they gave a Book of Mormon is coming to meet with us. YIPPEE!! I am so excited and can't wait to meet them! After the DA, we had a lesson with H, the woman who watched "Because of Him" with us. The lesson went well. She has a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon, but we are working with her on that. She bought us each like 3 pastries from a really good bakery in Espoo and wouldn't let us leave until they were gone. I have never hated eating so much in my life. After the DA and then those pastries, I was about to die. Then we had to run for a train immediately after our lesson with H. Oh my goodness, talk about the enabling power of the Atonement. I know that's what it really is when we all say we had an "Adrenaline rush." It's just the enabling power of the Atonement. :)

    On Saturday we were on splits in Haaga. It was a great day. I went with Sisar Andersson who is from my hometown of Tampere. She is great. I also went with her trainer, Sisar Richards. They are in a tripanionship so Sister Rochette when with their other companion. We had a really good day. The thing about their tripanionship is that Sisar Richards has only been in the country for 5 months and Sisar Andersson doesn't speak English. Oh boy. We are working on helping Sisar Andersson develop a language study plan for English and Sisar Richards is working on her Finnish. She already speaks really well, but it's one thing to have to speak Finnish 24/7. They are great though. We had a fun day and focused on talking about our families with people. We set up a lot of return appointments and had fun doing it! I love splits!

    I had a really cool experience on Monday. I woke up Monday morning and felt really weird. I felt really frustrated for some reason, but I didn't know why. As I was doing personal study, I had a really negative vibe the whole time. Afterwards, I talked to Sister Rochette about it and I had the strongest feeling that I needed to call Sister Thayne. I had no idea why, but I knew that I needed to do it. So I called her, as she is in Helsinki, and I told her that I had no idea why I was calling her. We proceeded to talk and I felt like I needed to tell her how much I love her and how grateful I am for our friendship. I really do love Sister Thayne. She has been with me since the beginning and she knows me so well. I felt like I needed to tell her that I am always going to be here for her. Not just in the MTC, not just on the mission, but after as well. I am so grateful for all of my companions. I love them with all my heart and I know that we were put together for a reason. I know we are going to need each other after the mission and for some reason, both Sister Thayne and I needed to hear that yesterday. Anyways, moral of the story, trust your feelings. If it's a good feeling, it's from the Spirit, if not, work it out until you feel good again. The Spirit works in many ways, sometimes through weird feelings until we figure out what he is trying to tell us. I am so grateful for the Spirit.

    I am so grateful for this time of year. I am so grateful to be a missionary around Easter. I have been reading in Alma lately and a few verses have become so special to me, as they talk about the Savior. It is found in Alma 34: 8-12, 15-16:

 8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself thatthese things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I doknow that Christ shall come among the children of men, totake upon him the transgressions of his people, and that heshall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hathspoken it.

 9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made;for according to the great plan of the Eternal God theremust be an atonement made, or else all mankind mustunavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all arefallen and are lost, and must perish except it be throughthe atonement which it is expedient should be made.

 10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and lastsacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast,neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a humansacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.

 11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his ownblood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if aman murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, takethe life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.

 12 But the law requireth the life of him who hathmurdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short ofan infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of theworld.

 15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shallbelieve on his name; this being the intent of this lastsacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, whichoverpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto menthat they may have faith unto repentance.

 16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, andencircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercisesno faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of thedemands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faithunto repentance is brought about the great and eternalplan of redemption.

    I wanted to add my testimony to that of Amulek that I do know that Christ came. He atoned for our sins. He lived a perfect life. He is our older brother and was willing to atone and die for us because He loves us. He was the only one that was able to perform the atonement. I have thought a lot lately about our state without an Atonement. Honestly, it makes me cringe to think about it. Without Christ we have no hope. He is the only hope we have to return to live with our Heavenly Father. 

   I am sure you all have heard about or seen the "Because He Lives" video. If not, go watch it. It is so good. My favorite line from that video is "It doesn't matter who you are, or who you were, He is here." It really doesn't matter who we are. It doesn't matter what we have done. All that matters is that we trust Him enough to turn our lives over to Him, to allow Him to make us more than we ever could be alone. To become the best versions of ourselves. That is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't think any of us really can ever fully understand the Atonement. All I know is that if we believe in Him, if we have faith in Him, if we repent, if we are baptized, if we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end, we shall have eternal life. We are encircled in the arms of safety now and forever. He will stand by us. He will defend us. He will support us. He will strengthen and enable us. He loves us. I love Him. Jesus is the Christ. He rose on the third day and because He lives, we too shall live. All of us. The Lord is my Light and I love Him with all of my heart. I love you all and am so grateful for you. Because of Jesus Christ, we can all be together forever. There really is nothing better. Happy Easter! I love you all and hope you have a great week! 


    Sisar Bitner

    P.S. Something Finnish, They really like to feed the missionaries, here in Espoo. We got 7 DAs on Sunday! :) Wow! I love you! Hopefully I'm not too fat when I come home! JK :)

We all got the memo to match at zone conference :) The Kerava sisters Forrest and Herrmann

Our MTC group at MLC....we have all grown up so much :)

Sister Pack and Sister Johnston, the Tampere Sister Training Leaders...they are great!! 

Splits....Sister Andersson, the finn, and Sister Richards

Ya, it was a blizzard all day yesterday...I spoke too soon about spring...oh well :)

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