Monday, November 12, 2012

Katie's Homecoming information

Katie flies home on November 15th to Dallas, TX.  She and her family will spend the week of Thanksgiving with her brother's family in Dallas.
 
 Katie will be speaking in Texas, in her old McKinney 5th Ward, on Nov. 18th at 9am at
1020 N.  Lake Forest Dr. in McKinney, TX.  Also speaking with Katie will be her friend Loryanne Williams who recently returned from the Billings, Montana mission. 
 
Katie will also speak on Nov. 25th at 9am at her family's new ward in Herriman, Utah (13375 S. 6000 W.) If you have any questions, you can contact her Mother, Julie Shaw at 214-864-9087.

November 12, 2012 - Last email from Finland

Well, for the last time: Terve!

I'm still in denial about this all. I can't believe I'm going home. I am so incredibly sad to be leaving this beautiful land and all of the beautiful people here. My mission has really come to mean so much to me. My life would be so empty without this.
 
What else can I possibly say? Words don't do any of this justice. How could I possibly hope to give justice to all of the tears shed, the miracles witnessed, the laughs, the lives touched, the people who have influenced me, the frustrating moments, the humbling moments, the moments that have drawn me to my knees, the moments that have cause me to rejoice, the lessons learned. I think I've caught just a taste of how the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon felt. And I think I can honestly say that I am a different person now than I was 18 months ago.

This past week was a good way to go out. I was still sick at the beginning of the week. The test results came back from the doctor-- I didn't have strep, but I still felt awful, so the doctor said that I probably had a virus. I asked if there was anything I could do about it. She replied that no, not really, except wait... Frustrating, but I guess I've learned a thing or two in 18 months, cause I was able to have the entire conversation in Finnish.

Well, now that I've learned the language, I'm going home!

This entire change has been kind of slow and disappointing, but we were miraculously able to reach our goal of 20 teaches this week--the first time all change! It was amazing cause I could really see the Lord's hand in how it all played out. The week went really well.

We went to Zone Leader Council at the end of the week--as is usually custom for the oldest sister in the missoin to attend just before she goes home. It was really great. We went to the temple in the morning--it was Russian week at the temple--so it was really neat to see all of the Russian saints there--most of whom I couldn't even hope to communicate with, but it just made me so grateful for the gospel that unites us all! And when else will I be able to go through the temple in Russian? Probably not ever. The meeting afterwards went well. I was put on the spot a couple of times-- once to sing an impromptu duet with one of the other elders there-- and then I was asked to "share a few words" at the very end. I smiled and asked President Rawlings "a few words... about whatever I want?" He smiled and said "as the spirit directs." I paused for a moment and then started to tell everyone in the room how incredibly jealous I was of them all that they all get to stay here in Finland. As excited as I am for the next chapter of my life, my mission is an experience that I'm never going to get back. I know that I have a lifetime of discipleship to look forward to, but it's going to be different. So what you said is so right, mom and dad. Missions are so unique. I've never learned so much, never grown so much, never laughed so much and certainly never loved this much.

But, I don't cry because it's over.
I smile because it happened :)

I love you all, and I promise that I'm excited to see you, even though I'm really sad to be leaving :)
 
Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

                                               One of my favorite members in Tampere.
                                                                 Happy Halloween 2012
                                                                 from the Espoo District
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

[Katie flys home on November 15th.  She and her family will spend the week of Thanksgiving with her brother's family in Dallas, TX.  Katie will be speaking in Texas, in her old McKinney 5th Ward, on Nov. 18th at 9am at the building on Lake Forest Dr. in McKinney, TX.  She will also speak on Nov. 25th at 9am at her family's new ward in Herriman, Utah (13375 S. 6000 W.)  If you have any questions, you can contact her Mother, Julie Shaw at 214-864-9087.]
 
From Katie:
 
Confession-- when I opened my email, I was bombarded with emails from friends who were all expressing how excited they were that I was coming home. And I started to cry. It's the first time I cried about any of this--cause it just doesn't feel real. Finland is my home now, and the fact that I'm leaving still hasn't hit me. My heart really is torn between 2 continents at the moment. Bittersweet doesn't even begin to describe it.

This past week was good. We had emergency splits in the middle of the week, so at the last minute, I found myself on a train Tampere-bound. Good on so many levels-- I got to experience the long-distance train ride one more time before I leave (the Lord really is mindful of us! I'm sure He had a hand in all this :))-- and I got to see my beloved city of Tampere one more time before I leave-- and I spent the day with Sisar Nelson, who was my companion while I was there! It was such a wierd experience being back there with her. It really just felt like we were companions again and I was just back in Tampere.

I arrived back in Helsinki Thursday night with a sore throat that still hasn't gone away. The timing is TERRIBLE! I seriously haven't really gotten sick my entire mission, and being sick my last week is not exactly how I imagine the end of my mission being. We were still able to have a few really great teaches--not as many as I would have liked, but we also had to cancel a lot of our appointments because I didn't want to get other people sick... :(

So things were kind of in a bit of a downer with my being sick, but remember what I said earlier about the Lord being mindful of us? We had a dinner appointment yesterday with Sini and her family--her husband, Kai and her husband's oldest son was also there visiting from out of town. In the middle of dinner, Sini turned to me and said "I know why you've been in this area for so long." I was like "Really? How do you know?" She smiled and said, "Well, when I tell you the reason, you'll know how I know." And so she told me that the reason that I've stayed here for so long is that the last time the missionary who taught her left, she left the church. And then she started to cry. Now, I have no doubt in my mind that even if I had gotten transferred that Sini would still be a strong and active member, but I also have no doubt that at least one of the reasons that I've just been "stuck" here for so long is that the Lord wanted to assure her that He is mindful of her. And as she shared that with me last night, I was reminded that the Lord is mindful of me too.

After dinner, we shared a thought with them about the Book of Mormon--and we didn't find this out till later, but Sini's husband's son asked to take a copy home with him!!! Such exciting news. So many good things are happening. We've got an exciting week ahead of us-- I just hope that my body will start cooperating with me!

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Terve!

Well, I was excited to tell you that we got our first snow last week-- but then you all beat me to the punch by saying that you did as well. The temperature took a nose-dive last week, and we're now in the negatives. But it sounds like the weather in Utah will be about the same when I go home... So just think, you're all getting a taste of the weather here in Finland :)

It sounds like you all had an exciting week! I was so excited to hear that you went to Sisar Christoffersen's homecoming! She is one of my favorite people, and really has influenced my life so much for the better. I'm so glad you got to meet her.

Well, this past week was one of those "up and down" weeks. I suppose every week is. Every week, every day has it's own ups and downs--but of course it's our job to just focus on the "ups." So, I'll share with you some of the "ups" from this week:

Our recent convert, James, is doing SO WELL! We taught the YSA FHE last week, and we had him come along with us. It was so good for him to meet others his same age who share the same values that he does. He had a great experience. He received the priesthood last week, and is so excited to "serve in the house of God," (to use his own words :)) It's just so funny because I never would have guessed that he would be doing this well when we first started teaching him-- but that just goes to show that our perceptions and impressions of people are so limited. We never see the big picture. I'm so grateful that my mission has given me the opportunity to really get to know people-- and the better I get to know people, they more often than not surprise me with what incredible people they are. I have a lot more friends now than I did 18 months ago--which I am so grateful for.

We struggled to find a member to come with us to a teach at the last minute one night this week--but we eventually did, and after the teach, she turned to us and said "that was exactly what I needed." It felt so good to hear. Our missionary efforts serve so many purposes-- and I'm grateful that our efforts have a far greater impact than we even realize. Of course it's frustrating that we can't see the big picture, but every once in a while, we're blessed with experiences like that that just reassure us that we're doing good. We're doing the right thing. We're blessing the lives of others--even when we may not realize it!

We went to the temple for district meeting last week. Always a good experience. I counted--and that was my ninth time to visit the temple here in Finland. It's possible that I've been through the temple in Finnish as many times as I have in english. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I like Finnish so much better. That is one thing that I know I will miss when i go home.

It's funny how it all works out. I really have come to love this cold land and this difficult language. I'm so grateful that God sees the big picture and knows what we need better than we do.

We have another exciting week ahead of us. I'm excited to continue to work hard till the end.

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 
 

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012

Terve!

So good to hear from you all. Sounds like good things are happening there on the home front. Good things are happening here on the Finland front as well :) Somehow I seem to be at a loss for words right now, though. I don't know why. Maybe my creativity has finally left me after writing you every week for 18 months. (well, 17 months. Not quite 18 yet.)

Anyways, good things are happening. I already said that. SEE, I told you my creativity is leaving me. We are continuing to teach Mary's husband, and he's doing really well. We met with their friend's family from Greece again this week--the mom ended up coming to church! And when we met with them, they were just RAVING about these cookies that I had made for them last week. They said they wanted me to teach them how to make it. Too funny. I just followed a basic chocolate-chip-cookie recipe from a cookbook.

For district meeting this week, we watched the last session of conference (it's not broadcast live here since it's too late at night Finland time.) So we all crammed inside the tiny family-history room at the Kerava chapel to watch it on-line--it was so good! Such good talks. I really felt like the theme for conference was discipleship. The opportunity I have to be a full time missionary and disciple of Christ has been so meaningful to me. But it's exciting to know that this isn't going to end once I take off the name-tag. In a lot of ways, this is only the beginning.

We did splits this week with the sisters from Oulu--here in Haaga. Although that would have been exciting to go to Oulu. I'm kind of bummed that I never did get to see northern Finland on my mission-- but I'm pretty fond of the south. It's funny what a difference it is, even in this small country. We were about to go outside, and the sister I was with was just putting on all these layers--and I was like: "I don't think you're going to want all those..." She ended up taking a lot of it off by the end of the day. Apparently they've already seen snow up in Oulu. All we've gotten down here is rain... and LOTS of it! It seriously feels like I come home every night just drenched from head to foot.

But probably the most exciting news from this week is that "Eric"--another friend of Mary and her husband--set a baptismal date for the same day as Mary's husband! Absolutely miraculous. It was funny the way it happened too. Every time we've ever talked about baptism with him, he's always just been like: "well, can't I just visit your church without getting baptized?" And he's come to church almost every week. But then the elders from a neighboring area knocked on his door a couple nights ago--not even intending to visit him-- but they ended up talking with him and said they felt the spirit strongly--so they set a baptismal date for the 10th of November! They didn't even know that was Mary's husband's baptismal date as well. So if everything goes well, we will be having another double baptism in just a few weeks!

Another cool thing from this week: we met with one of our investigators who we haven't met with in a long time, and as we were talking, he was like: "yeah, i went to your conference." We were like: "What!? We didn't see you there!" And he said: "yeah, it was the one on sunday at 12:00"-- which was the priesthood session, which explains why we didn't see him. I almost had to laugh-- I was so sad the other week that none of our investigators came to general conference-- but it turns out that at least one of them did! And he really liked it.

Well, I love you all :) Thanks for being so supportive of me. I got your letters in the mail last week! They really uplifted me. You guys are the best!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Hei! Moi! Terve!
(couldn't decide which one I wanted to use... :))

So good to hear from you all :) I know that P-days are inspired. We really do need that one day a week after a hard week's work to recharge for another week ahead of us!

We're definitely keeping busy--and constantly trying to find ways to be even better and more effective. At the end of the day though, I'm grateful for how simple it really is. It's not complicated. There's really not a secret "trick" to doing missionary work. The Lord simply asks for our heart, might, mind and strength. So whenever I get stressed about details, I always have to remind myself of that. Keep things simple by simply loving. We try different things out, we make mistakes along the way, but if I can say that I loved at the end of the day, then I know that I'm a successful missionary. So, I'm just trying my best to love all those around me.

Highlights from this week:

Something that our mission president has counseled us to do is to "not forget about the less-active." Helping these people to return to church is JUST as important as new convert baptisms. We realized that we had been perhaps neglecting this area recently, so we decided to focus back on it again. We went to go visit this lady who hasn't come to church in at least the amount of time that I've been here (over 7 months now...) and then she came to church on Sunday! It was as simple as that! All she needed to know is that her presence was missed, and to be reminded that her Heavenly Father loves her. Ihme.

We had zone conference this week. SO GOOD! Haha, I guess I realize that reading about our meetings and conferences has got to be boring for you--but they are just so exciting to me. I love them so much. And it never ceases to amaze me that our questions really are answered when we come prepared! The conference ended on a really cool note-- President played a slide show set to beautiful music with pictures of all the baptisms from the last year-- which I had no idea he was planning, so I'm not sure how he got all the pictures with me in it. It was really humbling to see. Humbling because I know that I have very little, if anything, to do with these people's conversions. The Lord has simply let me enjoy the ride. Afterwards I had an interview with president, and we talked about all of the really cool things that I've witnessed in this area, to which I said "I don't know why we're so blessed!" He kind of laughed and replied "sometimes there's not a reason." Haha, and it's true. A lot of times, we're not "worthy of the least of all the mercies" (Gen. 32:10). We simply need to be humble and grateful for them.
 
We FINALLY got to meet the mom of that young woman ("Päivi") that we're teaching. We went and had a teach at her place right in the heart of downtown Helsinki, and it went really well. She was incredibly nice. So now I'm just hoping and praying that her heart has softened, and that she will allow her children to be baptized. I think if I can still see one more thing happen before I go home, I want to see Päivi get baptized. Of course I know that everything happens according to the Lord's timetable, but it would just be really cool to see.

Mary and her husband continue to do well. They're both facing their fair share of hardships and trials at the moment, which is hard to see, but I can't do anything more than encourage them to turn to the Lord when things get tough. We all know that no one is exempt from adversity in this life-- but these trials can either draw us closer to the Lord or further away from him--but the choice is ours. I LOVED what was spoken about the trials of our faith in general conference. I can't wait to go back and read the talks again.

So anyways-- Mary and her husband and James could all use your prayers. It looks like we're going to have to push Mary's husband's baptismal date back a couple of weeks, but it will happen. Their faith is still strong though. It's been such a blessing to see them all face hard things and arise victorious--with strengthened faith in Christ. Some REALLY exciting news about them though, is they have this other friend, "Jim", who has been along for a lot of their teaches and his family from Greece just arrived here in Finland last week! We were able to meet them and share a message with them. I think they will be very receptive. They live in a neighboring ward's area, so the elders there will be teaching them. I'm excited for them!

Anyways, that's our life here in Haaga at the moment. Good things are happening. The weather is getting colder, which always reminds me "oh yeah, I'm in Finland." haha. So for those of you who are worried about your cold weather there in Utah--just remember that the trick is how you dress! Something to keep your hands, ears and feet warm is key :) Haha, my mission has taught me several things.

I LOVE YOU ALL!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

October 8, 2012

Terve!

WOW, wasn't conference amazing!?!? I was shocked, but also really excited to hear about the new age requirements for missions. I'm sure there will be a MASS influx of missionaries leaving in the near future, which is really exciting. I think the age drop to 18 for the young men is great-- that first year after high school just seems to be a really hard "waiting period" anyways--and I'm sure that Kyle and Steven really wish that 18 was the minimum age requirement when they left on their missions. So that's really cool. I'm not sure how I feel about the 19-year-old sister missionaries yet--but I know that this is inspired from the Lord, so this is what it needs to be now. But I'll just say that I needed to leave on my mission when I was 21--so for me, it worked out perfectly.

Aside from that, though, the talks at conference this year were amazing. To me, they all seemed a lot bolder. Which I LOVED. Oh, it was so good. Conference weekend here in Finland is quite different from back there at home--but I've grown accustomed to how it is here, so I'm sad that this was my last one in Finland. We watch the morning broadcasts live--which is 7 p.m. in Finland. Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, I'm more of a night owl, I don't know, but I LOVED ending my days on Saturday and Sunday with conference. The Saturday afternoon session is rebroadcast on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. So in between the two sessions on Sunday, our district made and ate dinner together-- probably the same time you were all having breakfast. It was a lot of fun. Our new district this change is really great--and as I sat there and realized that it was my last one (wierd)--I couldn't think of a better district to end my mission in.

Now in addition to all of the JOY that comes from conference weekend that I was feeling, I was also feeling a little bit of sadness. I felt sad as I thought about the investigators, less actives and recent converts that we are working with right now who weren't there. Every once in a while I would hear something in a talk and then think about one of the little "lambs" from our "flock"--something that was said that seemed so perfect for them-- and I was just so sad that they weren't there to hear it. But I guess it's like the parable of the ten virgins in a way-- I can exhort these people to fill their lamps with oil all I want, but I can't just give it to them. They need to want that and do it for themselves. And that's a hard realization. I'm sure it's how parents feel. And so while we did just that--encouraged them to come to conference and even arranged fellowshippers to help them get there (and many, many of these people seemed very excited and eager to come to conference, and said that they would come)-- none of them showed up. So while it was a very happy weekend, there was also that tinge of sadness :(

That's all I'll say about that though. Now on to happier things. Mom, I loved that you said that you thought about missionaries across the world (and specifically me and Tyler :)) as we all sang "Called to Serve" together. I can assure you that as I sang, there was a big smile on my face, and my thoughts were turned to my little brother who is serving in Bolivia, as well as my family back at home-- all of whom were singing that song together right at that moment. I love things like that that connect us to eachother--even from half a world away.

One other happy moment from this past week: We cooked Greek food together with Mary and her fellowshipper (who served her mission in Greece)-- it was SO much fun and the food was SO GOOD. Let me tell you, the Greeks are eating well. That's for sure. So that was fun. We started teaching Mary's husband this last week--it's really important to him that he and his wife are unified, and so he really wants to be baptized as well. We set a date for October 20th, so hopefully everything works out for that! Exciting things are happening.

I love you all :) I hope you enjoyed your "conference birthday," mom! I was thinking about how both of our birthdays fell on conference this year--but you really can't ask for a better birthday present :) I hope it was a great day.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw