Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 5th

Terve!

So good to hear from you all, and I got your Christmas package this week! Mom, you were right in assuming that Thanksgiving is a North American holiday-- the families that we spent thanksgiving with had some sort of connection to America.

This last week was really really great! Yes, the daylight hours are getting increasingly shorter and the days are getting colder-- but it's actually been surprisingly warmer than I thought it would be. Heavenly Father has definitely been merciful with my first winter in Finland! The first snowfall finally came last night-- but it's honestly about what we experience in Texas. Right now it's just a very thin layer, and it's more ice than anything else. I'm so surprised that it's taken this long! I came here expecting snow in October! But I'm actually excited for the snow to come now. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas :)

So many good things happened this last week. First of all, our investigator from Albania is doing really well! Our teach with her last week was probably the best one we have had with her so far. She spoke of how much peace she feels when she meets with us and how different it feels from anything the world has to offer. She understands that her decision to get baptized will be a life-changing one, but it's sounding more and more like something she wants to do. She came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it! It was fast and testimony meeting, and she really liked how everyone spoke from their heart. She is a really neat lady, and it has been such a blessing to teach her.

Then we had district meeting in Lahti. District meetings are always really great. The theme of this one seemed to be not getting discouraged, which was really good for me to hear. It is a lot easier to get discouraged as a missionary than I realized it would be, so it's always good to step back and look at all of the miracles that I've witnessed and realize that the Lord is with me.

"...let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

It's so important to remember that I'm not in this alone--that we all are never alone-- and that once we've done our best, we really can just leave the rest in the Lord's hands.

Then on Saturday, I had my first ever splits! It was so much fun! The sisters from Turku-- Sisar Crowther ja Sisar Shreeve-- came here to Tampere for the day. It was a great learning experience working with other missionaries and seeing how they do things. Another highlight from a really great week :)

Before I go, I also wanted to tell you of a Brian Regan experience I had yesterday. As we were leaving our investigator's apartment after one of our teaches, they said goodbye and safe travels, to which I replied "kiitos, samoin!" which is the equivalent of "thanks, you too!" I laughed so hard.

I love you all! Thanks for your continued support.

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

November 28th - 6 Months

Terve!

Family, can I just say how much I love you? My letters home once a week don't seem to do it justice. Just know that I love you all, very very much. It just makes me happy to hear from you all every week and hear what everyone is up to. I'm so glad you all had a fun thanksgiving. I can just imagine Tyler and Arianna hanging out together. (and that picture of Adam is so cute! haha.)

We were really blessed to spend thanksgiving with a family here in Tampere-- and probably 20 or so of their close friends and family as well. It was a lot of fun. The food was delicious, everyone went around the table and said what they were grateful for, we shared a message about gratitude and then everyone sang while I played the piano. Then the next day we had a lunch appointment with another lady in our ward-- and she surprised us with a thanksgiving meal as well! We are definitely well taken care of here.

The highlight of my week was probably the teach that we had with our investigator who is originally from Albania. We read from the Book of Mormon with her-- we read from our Finnish copies while she read along in Albanian. She spoke with us about how she grew up in Albania where religion was forbidden. She told us of the first time she ever read from the bible and a bunch of other neat experiences that have helped to build her testimony of God. Our member who came along with us told her that Heavenly Father is mindful of her, and because he knew that she was searching for truth, sent the missionaries to her. Yes!!! I love it when members just say the right thing at the right time. Our investigator prayed for the first time with us, and it was a really beautiful prayer. Our member told her that her prayer was "täydellinen" (perfect), to which our investigator replied that it "just came" to her. One of those experiences that makes me grateful to be a missionary.

Mom, thanks for sharing those quotes from President Uchtdorf. While I love all talks from general conference, his talks have always had a special place in my heart and always seem to speak to me more than anyone elses. I was reading one of his talks recently in personal study called "Continue in Patience." Here was a quote from it that really stuck out to me:

"As the Lord is patient with us, let us be patient with those we serve. Understand that they, like us, are imperfect. They, like us, make mistakes. They, like us, want others to give them the benefit of the doubt."

That's actually something that I've come to learn as a missionary. I have felt of the Lord's patience with me, for which I am so grateful. And I am constantly reminded that I am imperfect, I have been called to serve with imperfect people and to teach imperfect people. But the gospel message which we share is perfect! I am so grateful to have it in my life.

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

November 21st

Terve!


Sounds like everyone has an exciting thanksgiving weekend ahead of them! We too will be celebrating with a family in our ward-- the husband is an American, and they have the missionaries over for thanksgiving dinner every year. We're excited about that! Maddy, you look absolutely adorable in your pictures! I hope you had a blast! I always loved performing in musicals. SO jealous that Boyd did Phantom of the Opera-- I think that or Wicked would be my top two musicals that I would want to perform in.

This last week was pretty good. It's finally gotten down to freezing temperatures, but still no snow! We had some great teaches this week, and we got two new investigators! We also had a really great district meeting here in Tampere with President and Sister Rawlings. We were well fed (both temporally and spiritually), as we always are. The highlight of the week for me was probably stake conference on sunday. I was a little out of my element-- we met in this really nice, big building and there were so many people there! It's been so long since I've been around that many Mormons. But it was a really nice meeting, and such a blessing that I could understand what all of the speakers were saying. It's a big contrast from my first few weeks in the country! Sister Rawlings grabbed me after the conference and said there was someone she wanted me to meet-- apparently there's a Texan in our stake! She was a really nice lady from San Antonio who is getting her PhD in Finland. Small world! I also met another lady who is married to a Finn who served his mission in Dallas a few years ago.

In closing, I want to share a thought that President Rawlings shared with us in district meeting this week. First, here's a quote that I found this week in the book Daughters in my Kingdom:
"The cultivation of Christlike qualities is a demanding and relentless task--it is not for the seasonal worker or for those who will not stretch themselves, again & again" --Spencer W. Kimball.
I really liked that quote because it is so true, and it's important to remember that our pursuit to become more Christlike won't be easy, just as Christ's life wasn't easy. But in district meeting, President Rawlings taught that we aren't alone in our pursuit to come unto Christ. Christ 's atonement covers sins and pains, but it also strengthens and sanctifies us. He taught us from the context of teaching this concept to our investigators when approaching baptism, but the same applies to all of us as we continually strive to come unto the Savior.

I love you all, have a GREAT thanksgiving week!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw