Monday, August 22, 2011

Week Two In Finland


This past week went by very quickly. It was so good to hear from you all. It's so weird to think that school is starting back up again-- you were all still in school when I went to the MTC; now I've only been in Finland a couple weeks, and school's starting back up again! Time flies for sure.

Yes, you should all be very jealous that I get to enjoy such things as amazing weather and strolls to the baltic sea, but soon enough that will all change and I will be wondering how I can possibly survive the Finnish winter... definitely not looking forward to that! For now, I'm trying to enjoy the weather while I can. Tampere is a nice area,  and I can just imagine you all looking it up on google maps. You should see if the new church is there. Its address is pelleruonkatu 1.

To answer some of your questions, Sisar Herde and I are pretty much building our teaching pool from scratch. The elders here are keeping themselves busy with people to teach, and unfortunately we did not inherit any investigators from them. There is one girl here they taught a couple times that they gave to us; she apparently lived as a foreign exchange student with an LDS family in Canada and would like to be baptized-- her parents said that she needs to wait until she is 18 and everytime we try to get a hold of her, she says she is too busy. It's a little sad. But, we did get a new investigator this week, and she has been a great blessing to us. She is definitely a tender mercy from the Lord. Her name is Inga, and Sisar Herde met her while she was serving in Oulu. Inga's grandma was baptized in Oulu, and Sis. Herde met Inga while she was visiting her. She said she wasn't interested in meeting with the missionaries then, but when Sisar Herde got the call to come to Tampere, she thought to call Inga. I am so glad she did! We gave her a tour of the church on Tuesday and had another teach with her Thursday morning. She has a lot of questions, which is great. She is a genuine seeker of truth. She came to church on sunday, and the members have been great in fellowshipping her. I already care about her so much, and I can definitely see her getting baptized. Hopefully she has the same vision for herself!

Well, the highlight of this past week (besides Inga, of course) was district meeting on Thursday. It was in Hämeenlinna, which is a quaint little Finnish town (but then again, I think all Finnish towns are quaint). I think "quaint" is the right word I want to use anyways, I guess I'm not entirely sure what it means. Anyways, my district is awesome. It was a bomb meeting for sure. Afterwards, we went to the local castle. It was way cool. It made me really grateful to be serving in such a historically and culturally rich place. Pictures will hopefully follow shortly!

Well, I love you family! I am so grateful for your wonderful examples and continued support. In closing, I want to leave you with a plug for member missionary work. I never realized how important it was until I came on my mission, but I know that missionary work cannot move forward without the help of the members! There were a couple really great quotes about this in the last general conference. The first is from Elder Ballard:
"Another way we can serve Heavenly Father’s children is through missionary service—not only as full-time missionaries but also as friends and neighbors. The future growth of the Church will not happen through just knocking on strangers’ doors. It will happen when the members, along with our missionaries, filled with the love of God and Christ discern needs and respond to those needs in the spirit of charitable service.
When we do this, brothers and sisters, the honest in heart will feel our sincerity and our love. Many will want to know more about us. Then and only then will the Church expand to fill all of the earth. This cannot be accomplished by missionaries alone but requires the interest and service of every member."
And the second is from President Uchtdorf:
"There are times when the Lord reveals to us things that are intended only for us. Nevertheless, in many, many cases He entrusts a testimony of the truth to those who will share it with others. This has been the case with every prophet since the days of Adam. Even more, the Lord expects the members of His Church to “open [their mouths] at all times, declaring [His] gospel with the sound of rejoicing.
This is not always easy. Some would rather pull a handcart across the prairie than bring up the subject of faith and religion to their friends and co-workers. They worry about how they might be perceived or how it might harm their relationship. It doesn’t need to be that way because we have a glad message to share, and we have a message of joy."
We have been sharing these quotes with the members here when we meet with them, and I thought that y'all might enjoy hearing them as well. I know you are all great member missionaries, and such an example to me! If you ever have any missionary experiences, I would love to hear about them!

Sisar Shaw

Friday, August 19, 2011

Minun ensimmäinen viikko suomessa! (My First Week In Finland)


Sorry it took me a while to email you guys. Our P-day was on Monday, but apparently you can't use the computers here unless you have a library card and I can't get a library card until I get my Finnish social security number, and I'm not sure when that's going to come... I tried using my companion's card on Monday, but it won't let you log in for more than an hour a day. Anyways, hopefully I haven't kept you all in too much suspense!

Finland is great! The first couple of days I had to keep pinching myself and reminding myself that this was for real! The weather right now is perfect, and there's all these beautiful lakes and trees everywhere. Our plane ride over here was quite an adventure. Our luggage didn't make it with us when our mission president was there to greet us at the airport. That eventually got sorted out, but we spent the first evening at the mission home where Sister Rawlings had prepared us a delicious meal. She is quite the cook, and you'll be happy to hear, mom, that she is very healthy. She fed us quinoa. Anyways, we ate and were uplifted by the words of our mission president and some of the departing missionaries. I went for a short walk with Sister Rawlings and one of the other sister missionaries to the edge of the baltic sea... it was absolutely breathtaking! I so wish I had had my camera with me so I could have taken a picture. That night we stayed with some of the sister missionaries living nearby in Haaga. President Rawlings told us to not set any alarms and just let our bodies get the rest that they needed... we were all shocked but very happy to hear that. Let me tell you, jet-lag is killer. But, I got to sleep in till about 9 and it was glorious. The next day we went to the Helsinki temple to sit on the grounds and have some time to reflect. The Helsinki temple is beautiful. Definitely my new favorite. Afterwards, we went to the mission office where we received a little orientation and everyone received their first companions and area assignments! It was really neat to see and just know that everyone was going exactly where they needed to go with exactly the right companions.

So, by this point you're probably dying to know where I am and who my companion is. Weeeellllll, I am in Tampere with Sisar Herde! It's really cool because Tampere has been closed to sisters for a while now, but I knew I really wanted to go there, so I was hoping we would eventually get enough sister missionaries so that I could. Well, it happened! Sisar Herde is great. She has only two transfers left, both of which are most likely going to be spent with me in Tampere, but we'll see. We actually both found out that we have the same major at BYU! She's really great, and we're both really excited to be here. Another really cool thing that we learned upon arrival is that the members had prayed us there. The Tampere 1st ward has seen a lot of success with the Elders here, and last week in sacrament meeting one of the members of the 2nd ward prayed that they could receive missionaries. Sisar Herde and I arrived on Wednesday. Needless to say, the members have been great and they love us already. The church building here is by far the prettiest church building I've ever seen. It's brand new, and such a blessing to the members here. I'll definitely have to send you all a picture sometime!

Life in the field is harder in some aspects than I expected, but also easier in others than I expected. The language actually hasn't been as hard as I expected. I still can't really understand what most people are saying or express myself as well as I would like, but I know enough! The Lord has definitely blessed me with this language. Haha, some people here have literally been in shock when they hear that it's only my first week in Finland. I know that my growth in the language will be slower than I want, but I know it will come.

Well, in closing I want to share an experience that we had yesterday. We were riding the bus (we ride the bus everywhere) and usually, people will avoid sitting near us--Finns tend to keep to themselves. Anyways, this older man ended up taking the seat facing us, although there were plenty of other seats around he could have taken. He asked us if we were the mormons. We were shocked and ended up having a relatively lengthy conversation with him (we ended up missing our normal stop, but we figured this was more important anyway.) Apparently he has a Book of Mormon, had met with the missionaries years ago, and was thinking that maybe he should learn more about our church. Of course we were very happy to hear that! We invited him to church on Sunday, he said he couldn't cause he's visiting his grandson. We asked him for his number so we could contact him later. He called our phone to make sure that we had his correct number! It was probably one of the neatest experiences I've had so far. The Lord is preparing people everywhere!

I love you all. Thanks for sending those pictures! My nephew is adorable. Good luck as school and everything starts back up again! (Enjoy BYU, Tyler! You will love it!)

Sisar Shaw

Monday, August 8, 2011

Last week in the MTC

Terve, minun perheeni!
Olen hyvin innostunut menna Suomeen!!! (Hello, my family! I am very excited to go to Finland!!!) Haha, I'm really not sure what else to say. Suomi is all that I have on my mind now. I can't believe my MTC experience is coming to a close. Some days it feels like I've been here forever, and others feel as though I just arrived yesterday. You really lose all sense of time here. But I've LOVED my time here. I came to love my district, even when they acted like the 19-year-old boys that they are. I love the language, I love teaching, I love the gospel. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to miss the MTC-- this really is a great place. But now-- off to bigger and better things!
My district and I all survived our consecration week. I was amazed to see how much we have all learned in our (relatively) short time here at the MTC. Some of the elders in the younger Finnish district told me yesterday that it was weird to hear me speaking english. It feels weird to speak english! And if that's how I feel after only one week of only speaking Finnish, I can't imagine how I'm going to feel after 18 months.
We had a pretty cool experience on Sunday. Some news station in Finland did a report on Mormon Missionaries. Our Branch presidency showed the clip to us. So. Cool. It was really hard to understand the news reporter-- native Finns speak tosi nopeasti (very quickly), but when they interviewed the missionaries, we could understand everything they said! It was cool to see them walking the streets of Finland and contacting people--it made me very excited to go (more so than I was already.)
We received our travel plans on Thursday. We leave the MTC at 4:00 AM on Monday (yay...) Our first stop is Washington D.C. at 1:30 p.m. (local time.) We will then have a 4-hour layover, so that will probably be the best time for me to call you guys (so open up your schedules! I'm so excited to talk to you!) Our next stop is Frankfurt and then Helsinki! We will arrive in Helsinki at 12:15 PM on Tuesday. It will add up to be about 24 hours of traveling. Piece of cake when you're a Shaw. I've been on much longer car rides. It will be quite the adventure though. I've never been outside the country. Dad, I imagine my experience will be very much like the one you had when you arrived in Bogota. Being immersed in the language will be good though. The native Finns (and my teachers) here keep telling me that that's how I'm going to learn the most.
Well, I love you all so so much. I love hearing from you and how things are going on the homefront. Wish I had more to say, but I will talk to you all soon! 
Rakkaus, rauha ja siunaksia! (love, peace and blessings!)
Sisar Shaw

Consecration Week!

This past week was pretty exciting. (By MTC standards, anyway.) My district and I started our consecration week yesterday (se tarkoittaa etta me emme voi puhua englaneksi--vain suomea!-- It means that we cannot speak in english-- only Finnish!) So this next week will be interesting. We'll see how it goes. I was called to be the coordinating sister this week--I guess it's comparable to a Zone leader, but I have stewardship over the sisters in my zone. The calling really surprised me since I'm only here for 2 more weeks (12 days!!!) and they usually call a sister who still has a lot of time ahead of her. In all honesty, I'm glad that I only have the calling for 2 weeks--it's definitely a responsibility! On sundays here at the MTC, we usually have a lot of time on our hands for personal study--hours upon hours--and I usually don't know what to do with myself! But this last sunday I didn't have any personal study time cause I was in meetings all day! I think the calling will be good for me, though, because it will help me to remain focused my last couple weeks. In other news, our fire alarm went off at 2:15 in the morning the other night. It was nuts, but fortunately there was no fire. Just a terrible inconvenience!
Arva mita! (Guess what!) I will get my travel plans either today or tomorrow!!! Next week I will be able to tell you exactly which stops I will take and when my layovers will be, and we can plan a time that I can call y'all from the airport! This is so crazy. I have been at the MTC for so long, although some times it feels like no time at all. Time flies by for sure. In two weeks time, I will be writing you from SUOMI! (I hope you all can sense how excited I am :)) I still have a loooooooooong way to go for sure with regard to the language, but this morning Sisar Fitzsimmons (the Finnish sister going to Russia) complimented me on how well I spoke, and said that she hopes to speak Russian as well as I do Finnish by her 10th week as well--I told her she will probably speak it even better! She's probably the nicest person I've ever met. There are a couple other Finnish missionaries here that I have a very hard time understanding-- it's a little disheartening because they are natives-- these are the people I will be interacting with soon! I have to remind myself to be patient. I have only been learning the hardest language in the world for about 8 weeks (Which is confusing--we've only been here for 8 weeks, but it's considered our 10th week.. go figure. By the time I leave, I will have been in the MTC for 10 1/2 weeks.) I dream of the day that I think and dream in Finnish and start forgetting english words! 
I love you all,
Sisar Shaw