Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19 - Week 6

Terve! (or should I say Hola?)-- ja hyvää syntymäpäivä, Kyle!

So good to hear from you all as usual. Dad, I hope you are loving every second of Colombia. I have a small glimpse of how special that experience must be for you.Finlandand its people already have a very special place in my heart!

This past week was amazing! It started out Monday night, we committed our family to baptism!!! And then we were super sad to leave them and go to Helsinki, but we kept in contact through texts and calling, and we had the elders here in Tampere teach them the Plan of Salvation while we were gone.

Our week in Helsinki was like a vacation. Every day was spent in a room filled with some of my favorite people in the world--namely President and Sister Rawlings, my companion Sisar Herde and my elders from my MTC district (and their trainers.) We were richly fed (both spiritually and temporally.) And then Sister Herde and I were really spoiled and we spent the nights in the mission home with President and Sister Rawlings which meant home-cooked meals, comfy beds, surrogate parents and morning runs by the Baltic Sea! President Rawlings and Sister Rawlings would tell us how nice it was to "have daughters again," but Sister Herde and I were the truly lucky ones. (Oh, and it turns out that I actually worked with one of the Rawlings' daughters in the CTL... small world!) At the end of the week, we all had the privilege of witnessing the baptism of a family that the AP's taught here in Helsinki. It was a beautiful experience.

By the end of the week, I knew it was going to be hard to go back to Tampere, but upon arrival Sisar Herde and I received the best "welcome back" present we could have hoped for! Our family came to church again, and the ward was amazing in really fellowshipping and welcoming them. There was a member waiting outside the church building before they came up to greet them, and another member was sitting in the chapel with seats saved for them. After sacrament meeting, several members asked the family if they would stay for "pyhä koulu" (sunday school.) They didn't end up staying, but they asked us when we could come teach them this week! There was only one day this week that seemed to work with both of our schedules, but the Dad ended up switching one of his evenings around because they really wanted us to come over twice this week. We could not ask for more golden investigators! And then, as if things could not get any better, one of the members overheard when our teaches were with them and offered to come along to one of them! Sometimes it can be a little stressful to try and find a member to come on a teach with you, so it was perfect. Before we left the church building, we talked with the Bishop and thanked him for the wonderful support from the ward. And things got even better! The parents in this family we are teaching actually aren't married to each other, so they will need to get married before they can be baptized (and they expressed a desire to get married in our church.) Anyways, the bishop offered to come along on our other teach with the family this week so that he can offer to marry them and arrange a time for the wedding! We have an exciting transfer ahead of us!!! We already have such a love for this family and a real friendship with them-- which is amazing when I think about how inadequate my language abilities are. But the language continues to get better! I can already see a difference from when I first came to the country till now! I've officially been here for a transfer! Aika rientää! (Time flies!)

I learned a lot from this past week, and I thought a lot about what I wanted to share with you in this email, and one thing that really stuck out to me was the power of language. Language is something that I've thought a lot about as I've embarked on this adventure in Finland. The scriptures speak a lot about the power of words. What we speak is what we are and if we want to be Christ-like, we should speak pretty well. James 3:2.

Well, I'm out of time, I love you all!!!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 12 - Week 5

Terve! (ja hyvää syntymäpäivä, Steven!)

So good to hear from you all as usual. One of the elders here actually told me the result of the BYU-UT game right before I read your email, and I actually cheered to hear that Texas won-- but I would have been happy regardless of the outcome.

Well, Fall is now here in Finland. I was really grateful to enjoy about a month of really nice weather, but now starts the rain and the cold (and eventually the snow...)

This past week was actually probably the happiest I've had so far on the mission. It's just so amazing to think of all the discouragement and disappointments we face as missionaries everyday, but all it takes is one experience to turn it around and make all of the discouragment worth it. Early in the week, we received a referral from the elders in Pietasari. A recent convert there of about 2 years wanted us to go teach his friend here in Tampere. So, we went to go visit them on Thursday. We were fairly nervous beforehand, but they were actually really excited to see us and immediately told us to come into their house. They are an adorable family from Angola (Husband, wife and cute 3-year-old son.) It's been really cool for me to talk with them because since they are foreigners, Finnish is their second language as well (so they speak Finnish that i can understand!)

 Anyways, they are awesome and very receptive to our message. It turns out that the husband actually asked his friend in Pietasari to send us to him! We gave them a couple copies of the Book of Mormon-- one in Portugese (their native language) and one in Finnish and invited them to come to church on Sunday. And they did! It was an awesome day. The family got all dressed up, they followed behind Sisar Herde and I in their car so we could show them where the chapel is (oh yeah, did I tell you we have a car here? It's pretty great.) and they even brought their Book of Mormon with them! We talked with them afterwards and they really seemed to enjoy it and they even talked about coming again next week. It is unbelievable how happy this family makes me and Sisar Herde; like I said earlier, this past week I was probably the happiest I've been on my mission so far.

Here's the one down-side: Sisar Herde and I have a training meeting in Helsinki all week this week--we leave tomorrow morning and return Saturday night. We've actually been looking forward to this meeting the entire transfer, but now that it's here, the work here in Tampere is really starting to pick up--but now we don't have any time this week to meet with our investigators! As a result, we opted out of a "normal" P-day today and we have 3 teaches set up later today: one with the family I was telling you about, one with another investigator and one with a potential who hopefully becomes an investigator.

In closing, I just want to say how much I love being a missionary! I have already developed such a love for the people here in Tampere. The day I get transferred out of here will be a sad one (but hopefully that won't be for a while) I won't lie, I haven't been here for long, and I can already tell this mission will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done. But I think about how much I've already learned on my mission, all of the people I have been blessed to meet, and all of the miracles I have already witnessed, and I already can't imagine my life without a mission.

Sorry my mind is kind of all over the place right now-- so many exciting things are happening. Hopefully my email is coherent anyways. Minä rakastan teitä paljon!!!

Sisar Shaw

P.S. I finally figured out how to attach pictures using a public computer. Enjoy!

Arriving In Finland - Katie With President and Sister Rollings

Katie's apartment in Tempere

Katie And District Visiting Finnish Castle
Helsinki Finland Temple

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5 - Week 4

Terve!

Oh, that's right, it would be labor day in the states. I've just been in a different world lately. Every once in a while I have to remind myself "I'm in Europe. I'm in Finland." WEIRD! (but so cool.) Good to hear from you all, as usual. Erica and Maddy, it sounds like you're both doing great things. Did you buy slurpees after you broke your PR? The house must seem a bit emptier with Tyler gone, but I'm sure you girls are loving having your own rooms. Maddy, it's great to hear that you're really into "gospel" songs now. I've been pretty into that too. In fact, as a missionary, it's all I listen to :) Sisar Herde and I discovered this Finnish Christian singer named Edellmann (ehh... not sure how to spell it.) Anyway, he's pretty great. Hymns in Finnish are kaunis!

Mom and Dad-- what an amazing opportunity to return to Colombia! Even in my short time here in Finland, I already hope that I can return to visit someday :) And I would love to stay with a family we helped to enter the waters of baptism--but first we have to find that family! Good to hear you received the letter and picture from President Rawlings. One of the Senior missionaries here asked if you had gotten it, and I said I didn't know. She will be happy to hear that you did :) (and if you want to scan said picture and email it to me, feel free :))

President and Sister Rawlings are two of my favorite people in the world. They are both so filled with light, and you can't help but feel happy and uplifted simply by being in their presence. This last week we had a combined Zone Conference in Helsinki where we were able to listen to them speak. Always an amazing experience. I was able to see my companion from the MTC- Sisar Christoffersen, which was really great, as well as Kyle and Tess' friend Sisar Crowther (who is Sisar Christoffersen's trainer) and a couple of the elders from my district in the MTC. It was a great experience.

On Saturday we had an amazing teach with one of our investigators. We've been struggling with her for a while, wondering how we can teach to her needs. At times it didn't seem like she was progressing, but she's always been willing to continue to meet with us. We've prayed and fasted to know what to do, that her heart would soften and I feel that we may have received our answer. Our investigator asked if it was alright if her mom came to the teach because she was in town. Her mom is a recent convert who lives in Helsinki. Of course we said yes. It was the best thing that could have happened. Having her mom there was a huge blessing, and they both came to church on Sunday! (Which was fast and testimony meeting, and yes, I bore my testimony in Finnish :)) Just before coming to the library to email you guys, we saw our investigator walking down the street, so we hopped off the bus and ran to catch up with her. We walked her to her apartment and talked for a little bit. She was very excited to see us and she asked us when we could meet with her this week! We love her so much, she is a huge blessing to us.

Well, I love you all. I look forward to hearing from you all again next week and telling you more about our exciting adventures as the Lord's servants here in Tampere.

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Saturday, September 3, 2011

August 29 - Week 3

Terve!

This past week flew by. I can't believe it's P-day again! Hearing from you all was so wonderful. Tyler-- I can't believe you're in college!!! It sounds like you're already having a wonderful experience. Good to hear that choir (might be?) in your plans--you'll have a blast. And, not gonna lie, super jealous that you and Kyle are going to be taking biology together--I still need to take that class! Haha. Oh well, there is no where else on earth I would rather be right now. But definitely let me know how school goes. I'm sure you'll love it.

This last week we had an amazing, humbling experience. We haven't had much success finding yet (although we certainly have hope!) and we decided to start a fast. Immediately after we started our fast, we received a call from the elders here in Tampere. They asked if we were sitting down. Long story short, there's a lady in our area who wants to get baptized and they set a date with her for September 10th! Now, to explain a little more, our first sunday here, one of the members said she had a friend who might be interested. We asked her for her number, but she was reluctant to give it, so instead she asked for ours and said her friend would call us. A week passed and nothing happened. We tried getting a hold of the member, and we didn't see her at church on Sunday--the situation didn't look super hopeful. It turns out that the member gave her friend the wrong number--so she had actually tried calling us! Luckilly, she had the elder's number as well, so she called them and they were able to meet with her. Since she is in our area, the elders are handing her over to us. Words can't describe the joy that Sisar Herde and I felt! It was definitely one of those moments that makes you so grateful to be a missionary. It was so humbling because we didn't do anything-- it really is a complete miracle. But it taught me a great lesson. Miracles come when we do what the Lord expects of us-- so it is in all aspects of our lives, and just as in the case of this story, sometimes the blessings aren't necessarily a direct result of your efforts-- but they undoubtedly come! Sisar Herde and I have been doing what the Lord expects us to do. Sometimes the blessings come after doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether or not you want to do it.

Well, we have an exciting week ahead of us. We have a combined zone conference on Friday in Helsinki, which we're very excited for! One of the greatest blessings that I have received in my short time as a missionary in Finland is my association with the other missionaries here. It is so humbling to be serving with the people I am serving with. Without exception, the missionaries here are stalwart and amazing! Humbled really is the best word to describe how I feel to be a missionary here.  I am so blessed to have this experience.

I love you all. You guys are awesome & I look forward to hearing from you all next week!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw