Sunday, July 24, 2011

8 down, 3 to go....

It was so great to hear from you all this week! Good luck with braces, baby teeth and wisdom teeth! (That should be fun, Tyler. I remember my experience well. Can't wait to hear all about it.) By the way, Tyler, I had a dream that you received your mission call to the New York, New York South mission, English speaking. I know you're still a year out from going on your mission, but when the time comes, that will be my state-side guess for you!
Well, my MTC experience is coming to a close! 19 days and counting! We don't have our travel plans yet, but probably will in a week or so. When Sisar Christofferson left, she made stops in Washington D.C. and Amsterdam (I think.) It was interesting to hear that you had your sacrament meetings in Spanish at the MTC, Dad. Ours are definitely in English, and I'm pretty sure all of the sacrament meetings here are held in missionaries' native languages.
I actually met the Sister Shaw that is going to the Phillipines; I didn't realize her first name was Katie as well.
Anyways, this past week was like any other, filled with lots of learning. The MTC is a great place to be, but lately it's been harder and harder to remember why it is I'm here. I've been here so long it's beginning to feel like this is my mission and I lose sight of the fact that this is only to prepare me to preach the gospel in Finland. I'm way excited to go; more and more so the closer it gets, but I want to love my MTC experience until the moment I leave, and it gets harder the longer I've been here.
I did have one experience this week that was awesome. I was standing in line at dinner, one of my elders walked by and I said something to him in Finnish. The elder in front of me in line turned around and asked me if I was from Finland. I said no, and I pointed to my nametag and said I was going to Finland on my mission. I looked at his nametag and noticed it was in Finnish as well. I had heard that there was an elder here who was going to Finland who already knew Finnish, so he's only here for 3 weeks, and they put him in an English district since he already knows the language. I put two and two together and figured out that was this elder. We continued to talk, and then he asked me "are yousure you're not from Finland?" He thought I sounded like a native! He had a hard time believing that I only started learning the language on May 25th. That was a great boost to my confidence. But, like Paul says in Phillipians chapter 4, I know both how to abound and be abased. I went back to class after dinner and our teacher gave us some sentences to translate into Finnish... and I got them all wrong. Haha. I'm still struggling with the grammar.
Anyways, my time is almost up. I love you guys! Make it a great week.
Sisar Shaw

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 7 (July 13)

Glad to hear you all had fun at Bear Lake! Sounds like it was a blast! And Happy Anniversary to Kyle and Tess! Can't believe it's already been a year, congrats!
The MTC is a great place, and this week was no exception. Ode Nef and I were joined by Sisar Shreeve this week. Sisar Shreeve is from Alaska, so she is more than prepared for the weather in Finland. We actually figured out that we both received our calls on the same day--her availability date was about a month before mine, but she was called to report to the MTC six weeks after me. I'm really grateful that I got to leave when I did and didn't have to wait too long! It's nice to have another Finnish sister again. It's weird being the "Mama Finn" now. I think it's so funny that the new Finnish missionaries look up to us and think we know so much. We've only been here 6 weeks longer than them, but then again that is exactly how the elders in my district and I viewed Sisar Christofferson. She was so much older and wiser and more mature than we were. But I like it. Being the Mama Finn is great.
It was really cool having the new missionaries come in this week also because it helped me to realize how much we've learned in such a short amount of time. It's easy to lose sight of the miracle that is learning a language at the MTC. There are 3 Suomalaisia (Native Finns) at the MTC now-- a Sister going to Russia, a Sister going to Czech Republic and an Elder going to Sweden. I love talking to them! They are all really great and really patient with our limited capacity. Of course, they recognize that their language is crazy hard. One sister said she was really grateful that she learned Finnish the way she did instead of how we are learning it. Still, I think learning Finnish is fun, in its own way. It can get pretty frustrating when you realize how much you don't know, but it's really interesting to see how the language is structured and recognizing patterns and stuff--maybe I'm a nerd but Finnish is a way cool language.
Sisar Beckwith, one of the Finnish teachers here, received a letter from Sisar Christofferson last week. Apparently she already has 7 investigators and 3 baptismal commitments! I knew she would be a great missionary, and it's so encouraging to hear how well the work is going in Finland. Sometimes I just want to go there right now! Other times I wish I had more time to learn the language. Either way, I leave August 8th! It's coming up soon! I'm stoked. I know it will be rough at first, but I have heard nothing but good things about Finland--the land, the people, the culture--and I can't wait to experience it for myself. For the time being, the MTC is a great place to be. Sometimes I get a little stir-crazy, and it's a little disheartening to think of how many groups of missionaries I have seen come and go since I've been here, but I think being here for 12 weeks is a great opportunity. I can't wrap my brain around the fact that English-speaking missionaries are only here for 3 weeks. That's about enough time to get used to it and then leave!
Well, I love you family. Thanks for your continued support. Everyday I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving a mission. You guys are the best! (Te olette paras!)
Sisar Shaw

Week 6 (July 6)

Good to hear you are all having a good time at Bear Lake! Did you see any cool firework shows? On Saturday night, we had the closest thing to a party we'll probably ever have at the MTC. We had a very nice presentation that included music and a keynote speaker, and then we all got ice cream bars and watched the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire (sort of... they were pretty hard to see through the trees of the MTC, but it was cool nonetheless.) It made me wonder how your 4th of July was going. Did Adam get to see the fireworks? Did he like them? Something that I really enjoyed at our 4th of July celebration was when we sang the national anthem. We hardly ever get to sing all 3 verses, so it was really cool to sing them all, especially when we sang:
"Then conquer we must,
when our cause it is just,
and this be our motto:
In God is our trust."
I think it is the perfect anthem for missionaries (I might have butchered some of the words, but the message is really cool.)
I continue to love it here, and I continue to feel like I never get enough sleep. I am truly amazed that I am able to get up at 6:30 every morning and make it till 10:30 every night! It's tough, but it's a lot easier when you know it's for a good cause. When I hear my alarm go off every morning, I think of Nephi's final words: "I must obey, amen." Haha. We had a pretty cool fireside on Sunday. Jenny Oaks Baker came, shared some great spiritual thoughts with us and played her violin for us. She is amazing! I recommend buying her new CD (I think it's called "Then Sings My Soul") She truly has a gift.
We get new Finns today! I'm a "Momma Finn" now! My new companion's name is Sisar Sheeve (I think... I haven't met her yet, but I can't wait to!) It will be nice to have another Finnish sister around... it's been pretty rough with just me and 6 elders the past couple weeks. My elders are great though. I will be sending some pictures in the mail this week (finally!) so you guys can see a little bit of my life here at the MTC. I think you'll enjoy them!
Well, I love you family. (No, minä rakastan teitä, perhe.) I love to hear from you every week. I'm beginning to lose sight of life outside of the MTC, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Before you know it, I'll be in Finland! Crazy, but very exciting to think about!
Sisar Shaw

Week 5 (June 29)

This past week was amazing! Of course, it came with its hard things too. Before my companion left for Finland, she and I taught together, which was possibly the most frustrating experience I've had at the MTC. I would try and keep up with everything that she was saying and everything our investigator was saying, but it was difficult. At one point, I wanted to cry, but fortunately, I held myself together, and I was able to say something to out investigator (in what I hope was grammatically correct Finnish) that really helped him to understand what we were teaching. Overall, it was a great experience and I think I got a taste of what it's going to be like in Finland. Finnish really is a beautiful language, and I feel so blessed (and humbled) that I get to learn it and teach the gospel in it.
Sisar Christofferson left for Finland on Sunday, and it's been hard without her. She and I got along really well, so I miss her a lot but I'm so excited for her, she was so ready to go. On Friday, we got to hear from Elder Bednar. It was awesome! He was very bold with his remarks. He talked about how to be a "Preach My Gospel" missionary. As amazing as it was, though, my favorite part about Friday was when my district and I got to spend an hour with our new mission president after the devotional. President Rawlings and his wife are saints! They are some of the strongest, kindest people I have ever met. The spirit in that room was very strong, and that experience got me very excited to go to Finland... I'm almost halfway there!
Yesterday, my district and I had our first SYL (Speak Your Language) day--that is, we spent the entire day speaking only Finnish. I was surprised with how well we all did! The only frustrating part is trying to communicate with someone who doesn't know Finnish, but we were all able to communicate with each other very well. The most rewarding part for me was when I met a native Finn at dinner yesterday--a sister who is going to Russia-- and we were able to have a conversation in Finnish! Although it was short and simple, it was really neat that I was able to understand the things that she was saying and the questions she was asking me, and I was able to answer in a way that she understood!
Have fun driving to Idaho... definitely not jealous of that, although my plane ride to Finland will probably be just as long as your drive. How long will you be at Bear Lake? Can't wait to hear about it. Also--I really wanted to send you some pictures this week, but the bookstore messed up my order--I'm not sure how that's possible, but I've ordered some more so hopefully I will be able to send you some soon!
I love you all,
Sisar Shaw