Friday, August 19, 2011

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

Terve!

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

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