Monday, November 12, 2012

Katie's Homecoming information

Katie flies home on November 15th to Dallas, TX.  She and her family will spend the week of Thanksgiving with her brother's family in Dallas.
 
 Katie will be speaking in Texas, in her old McKinney 5th Ward, on Nov. 18th at 9am at
1020 N.  Lake Forest Dr. in McKinney, TX.  Also speaking with Katie will be her friend Loryanne Williams who recently returned from the Billings, Montana mission. 
 
Katie will also speak on Nov. 25th at 9am at her family's new ward in Herriman, Utah (13375 S. 6000 W.) If you have any questions, you can contact her Mother, Julie Shaw at 214-864-9087.

November 12, 2012 - Last email from Finland

Well, for the last time: Terve!

I'm still in denial about this all. I can't believe I'm going home. I am so incredibly sad to be leaving this beautiful land and all of the beautiful people here. My mission has really come to mean so much to me. My life would be so empty without this.
 
What else can I possibly say? Words don't do any of this justice. How could I possibly hope to give justice to all of the tears shed, the miracles witnessed, the laughs, the lives touched, the people who have influenced me, the frustrating moments, the humbling moments, the moments that have drawn me to my knees, the moments that have cause me to rejoice, the lessons learned. I think I've caught just a taste of how the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon felt. And I think I can honestly say that I am a different person now than I was 18 months ago.

This past week was a good way to go out. I was still sick at the beginning of the week. The test results came back from the doctor-- I didn't have strep, but I still felt awful, so the doctor said that I probably had a virus. I asked if there was anything I could do about it. She replied that no, not really, except wait... Frustrating, but I guess I've learned a thing or two in 18 months, cause I was able to have the entire conversation in Finnish.

Well, now that I've learned the language, I'm going home!

This entire change has been kind of slow and disappointing, but we were miraculously able to reach our goal of 20 teaches this week--the first time all change! It was amazing cause I could really see the Lord's hand in how it all played out. The week went really well.

We went to Zone Leader Council at the end of the week--as is usually custom for the oldest sister in the missoin to attend just before she goes home. It was really great. We went to the temple in the morning--it was Russian week at the temple--so it was really neat to see all of the Russian saints there--most of whom I couldn't even hope to communicate with, but it just made me so grateful for the gospel that unites us all! And when else will I be able to go through the temple in Russian? Probably not ever. The meeting afterwards went well. I was put on the spot a couple of times-- once to sing an impromptu duet with one of the other elders there-- and then I was asked to "share a few words" at the very end. I smiled and asked President Rawlings "a few words... about whatever I want?" He smiled and said "as the spirit directs." I paused for a moment and then started to tell everyone in the room how incredibly jealous I was of them all that they all get to stay here in Finland. As excited as I am for the next chapter of my life, my mission is an experience that I'm never going to get back. I know that I have a lifetime of discipleship to look forward to, but it's going to be different. So what you said is so right, mom and dad. Missions are so unique. I've never learned so much, never grown so much, never laughed so much and certainly never loved this much.

But, I don't cry because it's over.
I smile because it happened :)

I love you all, and I promise that I'm excited to see you, even though I'm really sad to be leaving :)
 
Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

                                               One of my favorite members in Tampere.
                                                                 Happy Halloween 2012
                                                                 from the Espoo District
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

[Katie flys home on November 15th.  She and her family will spend the week of Thanksgiving with her brother's family in Dallas, TX.  Katie will be speaking in Texas, in her old McKinney 5th Ward, on Nov. 18th at 9am at the building on Lake Forest Dr. in McKinney, TX.  She will also speak on Nov. 25th at 9am at her family's new ward in Herriman, Utah (13375 S. 6000 W.)  If you have any questions, you can contact her Mother, Julie Shaw at 214-864-9087.]
 
From Katie:
 
Confession-- when I opened my email, I was bombarded with emails from friends who were all expressing how excited they were that I was coming home. And I started to cry. It's the first time I cried about any of this--cause it just doesn't feel real. Finland is my home now, and the fact that I'm leaving still hasn't hit me. My heart really is torn between 2 continents at the moment. Bittersweet doesn't even begin to describe it.

This past week was good. We had emergency splits in the middle of the week, so at the last minute, I found myself on a train Tampere-bound. Good on so many levels-- I got to experience the long-distance train ride one more time before I leave (the Lord really is mindful of us! I'm sure He had a hand in all this :))-- and I got to see my beloved city of Tampere one more time before I leave-- and I spent the day with Sisar Nelson, who was my companion while I was there! It was such a wierd experience being back there with her. It really just felt like we were companions again and I was just back in Tampere.

I arrived back in Helsinki Thursday night with a sore throat that still hasn't gone away. The timing is TERRIBLE! I seriously haven't really gotten sick my entire mission, and being sick my last week is not exactly how I imagine the end of my mission being. We were still able to have a few really great teaches--not as many as I would have liked, but we also had to cancel a lot of our appointments because I didn't want to get other people sick... :(

So things were kind of in a bit of a downer with my being sick, but remember what I said earlier about the Lord being mindful of us? We had a dinner appointment yesterday with Sini and her family--her husband, Kai and her husband's oldest son was also there visiting from out of town. In the middle of dinner, Sini turned to me and said "I know why you've been in this area for so long." I was like "Really? How do you know?" She smiled and said, "Well, when I tell you the reason, you'll know how I know." And so she told me that the reason that I've stayed here for so long is that the last time the missionary who taught her left, she left the church. And then she started to cry. Now, I have no doubt in my mind that even if I had gotten transferred that Sini would still be a strong and active member, but I also have no doubt that at least one of the reasons that I've just been "stuck" here for so long is that the Lord wanted to assure her that He is mindful of her. And as she shared that with me last night, I was reminded that the Lord is mindful of me too.

After dinner, we shared a thought with them about the Book of Mormon--and we didn't find this out till later, but Sini's husband's son asked to take a copy home with him!!! Such exciting news. So many good things are happening. We've got an exciting week ahead of us-- I just hope that my body will start cooperating with me!

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Terve!

Well, I was excited to tell you that we got our first snow last week-- but then you all beat me to the punch by saying that you did as well. The temperature took a nose-dive last week, and we're now in the negatives. But it sounds like the weather in Utah will be about the same when I go home... So just think, you're all getting a taste of the weather here in Finland :)

It sounds like you all had an exciting week! I was so excited to hear that you went to Sisar Christoffersen's homecoming! She is one of my favorite people, and really has influenced my life so much for the better. I'm so glad you got to meet her.

Well, this past week was one of those "up and down" weeks. I suppose every week is. Every week, every day has it's own ups and downs--but of course it's our job to just focus on the "ups." So, I'll share with you some of the "ups" from this week:

Our recent convert, James, is doing SO WELL! We taught the YSA FHE last week, and we had him come along with us. It was so good for him to meet others his same age who share the same values that he does. He had a great experience. He received the priesthood last week, and is so excited to "serve in the house of God," (to use his own words :)) It's just so funny because I never would have guessed that he would be doing this well when we first started teaching him-- but that just goes to show that our perceptions and impressions of people are so limited. We never see the big picture. I'm so grateful that my mission has given me the opportunity to really get to know people-- and the better I get to know people, they more often than not surprise me with what incredible people they are. I have a lot more friends now than I did 18 months ago--which I am so grateful for.

We struggled to find a member to come with us to a teach at the last minute one night this week--but we eventually did, and after the teach, she turned to us and said "that was exactly what I needed." It felt so good to hear. Our missionary efforts serve so many purposes-- and I'm grateful that our efforts have a far greater impact than we even realize. Of course it's frustrating that we can't see the big picture, but every once in a while, we're blessed with experiences like that that just reassure us that we're doing good. We're doing the right thing. We're blessing the lives of others--even when we may not realize it!

We went to the temple for district meeting last week. Always a good experience. I counted--and that was my ninth time to visit the temple here in Finland. It's possible that I've been through the temple in Finnish as many times as I have in english. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I like Finnish so much better. That is one thing that I know I will miss when i go home.

It's funny how it all works out. I really have come to love this cold land and this difficult language. I'm so grateful that God sees the big picture and knows what we need better than we do.

We have another exciting week ahead of us. I'm excited to continue to work hard till the end.

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 
 

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012

Terve!

So good to hear from you all. Sounds like good things are happening there on the home front. Good things are happening here on the Finland front as well :) Somehow I seem to be at a loss for words right now, though. I don't know why. Maybe my creativity has finally left me after writing you every week for 18 months. (well, 17 months. Not quite 18 yet.)

Anyways, good things are happening. I already said that. SEE, I told you my creativity is leaving me. We are continuing to teach Mary's husband, and he's doing really well. We met with their friend's family from Greece again this week--the mom ended up coming to church! And when we met with them, they were just RAVING about these cookies that I had made for them last week. They said they wanted me to teach them how to make it. Too funny. I just followed a basic chocolate-chip-cookie recipe from a cookbook.

For district meeting this week, we watched the last session of conference (it's not broadcast live here since it's too late at night Finland time.) So we all crammed inside the tiny family-history room at the Kerava chapel to watch it on-line--it was so good! Such good talks. I really felt like the theme for conference was discipleship. The opportunity I have to be a full time missionary and disciple of Christ has been so meaningful to me. But it's exciting to know that this isn't going to end once I take off the name-tag. In a lot of ways, this is only the beginning.

We did splits this week with the sisters from Oulu--here in Haaga. Although that would have been exciting to go to Oulu. I'm kind of bummed that I never did get to see northern Finland on my mission-- but I'm pretty fond of the south. It's funny what a difference it is, even in this small country. We were about to go outside, and the sister I was with was just putting on all these layers--and I was like: "I don't think you're going to want all those..." She ended up taking a lot of it off by the end of the day. Apparently they've already seen snow up in Oulu. All we've gotten down here is rain... and LOTS of it! It seriously feels like I come home every night just drenched from head to foot.

But probably the most exciting news from this week is that "Eric"--another friend of Mary and her husband--set a baptismal date for the same day as Mary's husband! Absolutely miraculous. It was funny the way it happened too. Every time we've ever talked about baptism with him, he's always just been like: "well, can't I just visit your church without getting baptized?" And he's come to church almost every week. But then the elders from a neighboring area knocked on his door a couple nights ago--not even intending to visit him-- but they ended up talking with him and said they felt the spirit strongly--so they set a baptismal date for the 10th of November! They didn't even know that was Mary's husband's baptismal date as well. So if everything goes well, we will be having another double baptism in just a few weeks!

Another cool thing from this week: we met with one of our investigators who we haven't met with in a long time, and as we were talking, he was like: "yeah, i went to your conference." We were like: "What!? We didn't see you there!" And he said: "yeah, it was the one on sunday at 12:00"-- which was the priesthood session, which explains why we didn't see him. I almost had to laugh-- I was so sad the other week that none of our investigators came to general conference-- but it turns out that at least one of them did! And he really liked it.

Well, I love you all :) Thanks for being so supportive of me. I got your letters in the mail last week! They really uplifted me. You guys are the best!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Hei! Moi! Terve!
(couldn't decide which one I wanted to use... :))

So good to hear from you all :) I know that P-days are inspired. We really do need that one day a week after a hard week's work to recharge for another week ahead of us!

We're definitely keeping busy--and constantly trying to find ways to be even better and more effective. At the end of the day though, I'm grateful for how simple it really is. It's not complicated. There's really not a secret "trick" to doing missionary work. The Lord simply asks for our heart, might, mind and strength. So whenever I get stressed about details, I always have to remind myself of that. Keep things simple by simply loving. We try different things out, we make mistakes along the way, but if I can say that I loved at the end of the day, then I know that I'm a successful missionary. So, I'm just trying my best to love all those around me.

Highlights from this week:

Something that our mission president has counseled us to do is to "not forget about the less-active." Helping these people to return to church is JUST as important as new convert baptisms. We realized that we had been perhaps neglecting this area recently, so we decided to focus back on it again. We went to go visit this lady who hasn't come to church in at least the amount of time that I've been here (over 7 months now...) and then she came to church on Sunday! It was as simple as that! All she needed to know is that her presence was missed, and to be reminded that her Heavenly Father loves her. Ihme.

We had zone conference this week. SO GOOD! Haha, I guess I realize that reading about our meetings and conferences has got to be boring for you--but they are just so exciting to me. I love them so much. And it never ceases to amaze me that our questions really are answered when we come prepared! The conference ended on a really cool note-- President played a slide show set to beautiful music with pictures of all the baptisms from the last year-- which I had no idea he was planning, so I'm not sure how he got all the pictures with me in it. It was really humbling to see. Humbling because I know that I have very little, if anything, to do with these people's conversions. The Lord has simply let me enjoy the ride. Afterwards I had an interview with president, and we talked about all of the really cool things that I've witnessed in this area, to which I said "I don't know why we're so blessed!" He kind of laughed and replied "sometimes there's not a reason." Haha, and it's true. A lot of times, we're not "worthy of the least of all the mercies" (Gen. 32:10). We simply need to be humble and grateful for them.
 
We FINALLY got to meet the mom of that young woman ("Päivi") that we're teaching. We went and had a teach at her place right in the heart of downtown Helsinki, and it went really well. She was incredibly nice. So now I'm just hoping and praying that her heart has softened, and that she will allow her children to be baptized. I think if I can still see one more thing happen before I go home, I want to see Päivi get baptized. Of course I know that everything happens according to the Lord's timetable, but it would just be really cool to see.

Mary and her husband continue to do well. They're both facing their fair share of hardships and trials at the moment, which is hard to see, but I can't do anything more than encourage them to turn to the Lord when things get tough. We all know that no one is exempt from adversity in this life-- but these trials can either draw us closer to the Lord or further away from him--but the choice is ours. I LOVED what was spoken about the trials of our faith in general conference. I can't wait to go back and read the talks again.

So anyways-- Mary and her husband and James could all use your prayers. It looks like we're going to have to push Mary's husband's baptismal date back a couple of weeks, but it will happen. Their faith is still strong though. It's been such a blessing to see them all face hard things and arise victorious--with strengthened faith in Christ. Some REALLY exciting news about them though, is they have this other friend, "Jim", who has been along for a lot of their teaches and his family from Greece just arrived here in Finland last week! We were able to meet them and share a message with them. I think they will be very receptive. They live in a neighboring ward's area, so the elders there will be teaching them. I'm excited for them!

Anyways, that's our life here in Haaga at the moment. Good things are happening. The weather is getting colder, which always reminds me "oh yeah, I'm in Finland." haha. So for those of you who are worried about your cold weather there in Utah--just remember that the trick is how you dress! Something to keep your hands, ears and feet warm is key :) Haha, my mission has taught me several things.

I LOVE YOU ALL!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

October 8, 2012

Terve!

WOW, wasn't conference amazing!?!? I was shocked, but also really excited to hear about the new age requirements for missions. I'm sure there will be a MASS influx of missionaries leaving in the near future, which is really exciting. I think the age drop to 18 for the young men is great-- that first year after high school just seems to be a really hard "waiting period" anyways--and I'm sure that Kyle and Steven really wish that 18 was the minimum age requirement when they left on their missions. So that's really cool. I'm not sure how I feel about the 19-year-old sister missionaries yet--but I know that this is inspired from the Lord, so this is what it needs to be now. But I'll just say that I needed to leave on my mission when I was 21--so for me, it worked out perfectly.

Aside from that, though, the talks at conference this year were amazing. To me, they all seemed a lot bolder. Which I LOVED. Oh, it was so good. Conference weekend here in Finland is quite different from back there at home--but I've grown accustomed to how it is here, so I'm sad that this was my last one in Finland. We watch the morning broadcasts live--which is 7 p.m. in Finland. Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, I'm more of a night owl, I don't know, but I LOVED ending my days on Saturday and Sunday with conference. The Saturday afternoon session is rebroadcast on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. So in between the two sessions on Sunday, our district made and ate dinner together-- probably the same time you were all having breakfast. It was a lot of fun. Our new district this change is really great--and as I sat there and realized that it was my last one (wierd)--I couldn't think of a better district to end my mission in.

Now in addition to all of the JOY that comes from conference weekend that I was feeling, I was also feeling a little bit of sadness. I felt sad as I thought about the investigators, less actives and recent converts that we are working with right now who weren't there. Every once in a while I would hear something in a talk and then think about one of the little "lambs" from our "flock"--something that was said that seemed so perfect for them-- and I was just so sad that they weren't there to hear it. But I guess it's like the parable of the ten virgins in a way-- I can exhort these people to fill their lamps with oil all I want, but I can't just give it to them. They need to want that and do it for themselves. And that's a hard realization. I'm sure it's how parents feel. And so while we did just that--encouraged them to come to conference and even arranged fellowshippers to help them get there (and many, many of these people seemed very excited and eager to come to conference, and said that they would come)-- none of them showed up. So while it was a very happy weekend, there was also that tinge of sadness :(

That's all I'll say about that though. Now on to happier things. Mom, I loved that you said that you thought about missionaries across the world (and specifically me and Tyler :)) as we all sang "Called to Serve" together. I can assure you that as I sang, there was a big smile on my face, and my thoughts were turned to my little brother who is serving in Bolivia, as well as my family back at home-- all of whom were singing that song together right at that moment. I love things like that that connect us to eachother--even from half a world away.

One other happy moment from this past week: We cooked Greek food together with Mary and her fellowshipper (who served her mission in Greece)-- it was SO much fun and the food was SO GOOD. Let me tell you, the Greeks are eating well. That's for sure. So that was fun. We started teaching Mary's husband this last week--it's really important to him that he and his wife are unified, and so he really wants to be baptized as well. We set a date for October 20th, so hopefully everything works out for that! Exciting things are happening.

I love you all :) I hope you enjoyed your "conference birthday," mom! I was thinking about how both of our birthdays fell on conference this year--but you really can't ask for a better birthday present :) I hope it was a great day.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw


 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Terve!

Well, change calls came this week. But I'll let you know what those were at the end of my email.

We were blessed with 2 baptisms on Saturday. It was such a happy day :) It was so incredible and humbling to witness the changes that our investigators were making in their lives--and how HAPPY they were as a result. They had to overcome their fair share of opposition to get to that point--but they knew that it was worth it. For the sake of this email, I will call them James and Mary. In one of our teaches with them this week, their friend asked "wait, WHY are you getting baptized again?" Mary paused for a moment and then replied "because this is the church where the authority has been restored." Then James, who hardly ever speaks up in teaches, said something along the lines of "Look, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't know it was the right thing to do."-- AMAZING! And it's so humbling too, because I know that I've just been a bystander watching this miracle unfold. The Lord is the one who's been doing all the real work here. I'm just grateful to be a part of it.

So a lot of our week last week went to preparing them and getting everything ready for the baptismal service. Which went really really well :) When Mary came out of the water, we asked her how she felt. She replied "beautiful." And she was, she was just glowing. Watching James get baptized was such a joy. He was beaming from ear to ear. You could tell how excited he was. This is something that he's wanted for a long time.

Then Sunday was a really neat day. They were both confirmed in sacrament meeting, and the lesson afterwards in sunday school was very appropriate-- it was about the gift of the holy ghost. Mary shared a little bit about her experience when she got baptized. She said that Saturday was a really bad day. Everything was going wrong, she got in an argument with her husband, and said that at one point, she just threw her bag on the ground and said that she wasn't going anywhere. So she stopped and started to think for a moment. She decided that if she wasn't going to do this for herself, she was going to do it for everyone that loves her. She said that she really feels like it was the devil that was trying to keep her from getting baptized--that he tries to keep us from doing what is right and good. And then she said that when she and James got baptized and confirmed, she felt like there was a celebration going on in heaven. We assured her that there was, as well as here on earth :)

Such a good week. Such a good end to the change.

So, change calls. I now know where I will be serving for the rest of my mission, as well as with whom-- and that is in Haaga with Sisar Ballif :) It's so crazy to see how my mission has unfolded-- I've only served in 2 areas, with 3 different companions in each of those areas. But I know that our missions are tailor-fitted by the Lord specifically for us. My mission has been, is, and will continue to be exactly what I need. I love my mission.

I love you all :) I'm so grateful for my family, and above all grateful for a loving Father in Heaven.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw


September 24, 2012

Terve!
 
Greetings from the WAY far north. It's getting colder :( But our spirits are warm :) So many good things are happening. Here comes that question that seems to come every week: where do I possibly begin?

Well, just before coming here to the library to email you guys, I received my "don't get trunky" letter in the mail from my mission president. So wierd. I guess that means that the end is coming up. Which I am very much in denial about. I never thought I would be this way, but I seriously will NOT think about it. But whether I think about it or not, the fate for where I will be for the remaining 6 weeks of my mission comes this Friday. Yup, change calls are once again upon us and I have NO idea what is going to happen. I hope more than anything that I will be able to spend my last transfer here in Haaga, but of course I am willing to serve wherever I am needed at this time. I just hope I'm needed here :)

So many good things are happening in this area right now. The baptisms are scheduled for this Saturday. We are praying and fasting that everything will work out. They are both doing so well, and really seem ready in so many regards. But one of them still needs to quit smoking. That is the one thing that is worrying me at this time. Even if she does not get baptized this weekend, I have no doubt in my mind that she will get baptized. It's only a matter of when.

We had a few teaches with them this past week, and they were all really good. My favorite was probably when we watched the Restoration DVD together and taught and testified about the prophet Joseph Smith. It was so good. The spirit was present. They even had a friend along who asked a lot of good questions, accepted a Book of Mormon and is now a new investigator :)

Oh, another cool thing with them: We taught them the law of tithing with the Bishop this week, and before the lesson started, one of them was like "hey, last night I was really tired when I came home from work, but I decided to read a little in the Book of Mormon. I found a passage about the Plan of Salvation that you taught us about. It was really nice." Mom and Dad, I'm not sure what it feels like to be a proud parent, but I can only imagine that it feels somewhat like how I felt in that moment.

So, good things are happening. But I still feel stressed sometimes. Like that feeling that there's always more to be done, there's always something more that I can do. Which is true. There is always more to be done. Our duties and responsibilities as missionaries (and in other capacities in life) are never ending. I definitely feel like we really can only do so much-- we do all that we can and leave the rest up to the Lord. But where is that "point" that is "all that we can do"? At what point do I hand it over to the Lord? Well, I've come to realize (and am still coming to realize) that this perspective is very different from the way the Lord sees it. He isn't waiting at the finish line marked "all that you can do." He doesn't look at us and say "well, you didn't quite make it, so I'm going to withhold my grace." He's with us every step of the way. He rejoices in our righteous endeavors and desires. And He sees the potential in each of us. So He is right there by our side--helping us when we are tired, discouraged, stressed, uncertain, etc. We just need to remember to look to Him. I'm praying right now that I can more fully trust in Him.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

September 17, 2012


Terve!
 
I think I say this every week, but I really have no idea where to begin.

This past week was miraculous.

And I really don't feel like we're doing that much differently. But things are happening. We were so incredibly busy this past week--with good things. We were constantly teaching. If a teach ever fell through, it just meant more time to do other necessary things (like more teaching.) Man, it was a crazy week. But so good. Very rewarding. Our issue is no longer how we fill our time, but how we manage our time with all of the things we need ot do! We saw a dramatic increase in teaches with a member present. We had 3 investigators at church, as well as 3 potential investigators. Our investigators with baptismal dates are doing well. We're finding new investigators. SO much is happening!

So that's a very broad, general overview of all that's going on in this area right now. I hope you can get a sense of how difficult it is for me to pick and choose what I write in my emails to you. There is so much that happens every single day and week in the life of a missionary, it's impossible to capture it all. But with that being said, here's a few things from this week:

I called one of our investigators on the phone this past week (remember the atheist who came to church?) He's been hard to get a hold of recently, and as we talked he apologized for that and thanked us for calling, telling us how much it meant to him. Said he's going through a really hard time right now, and says that he's searching for something, he just doesn't know what. It was a really good conversation! So we have another appointment with his this week :)

Just yesterday I sat next to a 4-year-old girl at the bus stop who reminded me a LOT of Ariana. I smiled and asked what her name was, to which she just shook her head. I asked if she had a name. She nodded. I asked how old she was. We then proceeded to have a great conversation about our favorite colors and our bus cards until the bus came. We then got on the bus and sat in different places. After a few minutes, this little girl got up with her grandma and came to sit next to us. Said she wanted to keep talking with us. So we proceeded to talk about our favorite foods, and what we wanted for Christmas and our families until we had to get off the bus. It was the cutest thing ever.

We had a teach with one of our investigators this week about the Plan of Salvation. He's a very sincere guy, and while he said that he can't promise that he would get baptized in our church, he's committed to read the Book of Mormon, and in the last teach he mentioned to us how good this has been for him to be reminded of spiritual things--of the things that are really important. It felt really good to hear.

We saved up some P-day time from last monday to have a sleep-over on friday night with the senior sisters that work in the office. It was too much fun. One of them is going home this week, so this was our little farewell party for her :( (She's the one whose daughter works at the same place as Dad.)

We taught our investigators with baptismal dates this week about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. While they will need to make some changes before they can get baptized, they are so eager and willing to do so and so excited to continue learning more. I love teaching investigators like that--who really hunger and thirst after righteousness and just want to learn more and come closer to God. It in turn makes me want to do just that as well, and it strengthens my faith.

It was so cool to hear from Tyler this week. I don't think our missions could be more different-- here I am in a large, european city while he's out in the jungles of south america. But we're involved in the same, great work, and I am so excited that we both get to be a part of it. It's humbling. At times it's difficult. It's life-changing. It's so rewarding. I can't think of a better thing to be doing at this point in my life.

I love you all. I loved hearing from you. Hearing from my family I'm sure does just as much for me as hearing from me does for you all (did that make any sense?)

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

 

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012

Terve!

AMAZING week this week! Seriously, our lives are just too dang exciting right now. We're working hard and following counsel and doing our best and constantly trying to be better every day, and we're really being blessed for our efforts. But the humbling part is that it really is the Lord that does all the work that counts. We just try to be effective instruments and not get in the way :)

So where do I begin this week? Well last week I fasted for one of our investigators--the young woman whose dad is a recent convert and mother is not a member (her parents are divorced, and we're just waiting on the mother's permission before she can get baptized.) So I fasted for her mom. This week was the young woman's birthday (actually the same day that baby Austin was born--congratulations to Steven and Robin by the way :)) So we held a family home evening with them to celebrate her birthday. It went really well, and we received some exciting news. Her mom wasn't able to come to the family home evening, but really wanted to and wants us to come to her place sometime in the next couple of weeks to meet her! (we haven't met her yet), so it sounds like things are moving forward! I also received a text from the father the following day thanking us for the spiritual thought, and said that they were now as a family going to have a routine of reading the Book of Mormon together every night. I love experiences like that that confirm to me that I'm where the Lord wants me to be.

Then, I was able to go to Marjaniemi for the day on Thursday for splits with Sisar Christoffersen-- my old companion from the mtc :) She goes home soon-- just a few more weeks! It was a lot of fun to be with her one last time. We had great day together, and it was fun to switch things up and work in a different area. By the time I came back to Haaga with Sisar Ballif, it felt like I had been gone and away from her for a whole week!

But then we had an incredible and miraculous end to the week. Some elders in a neighboring area found some investigators in our area a little while ago, and they handed them off to us this week to start teaching them. They are the coolest, and one of them had a baptismal date for the 29th of this month. Another one of them is a lady from Greece, and has very strong faith in Christ. She loves meeting with us and talking about Christ, but was very turned off to the idea of being baptized again. She had previously been baptized in a different church, and had a great experience with that. We tried addressing her concern, and asked her to pray about it.

Then in church on sunday (side note-- our investigator class was FULL. Add that to our list of miracles for the week :)) this woman brought up her concern about baptism again in the middle of the lesson, which I am SO grateful that she did. There were so many people in that class who had experienced the same thing-- being baptized in a different church and then being baptized again in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after learning about the restored gospel-- and they were able to tell her about their experiences and help resolve her conern. It was seriously so good. Later that night we met with her again and asked her what she thought about the sunday school lesson. She proceeded to talk again about her previous experience with baptism--so to me it sounded like she was still set and didn't want to change. But then she surprised me. She said that she was willing to be baptized again, and believed that God would answer her prayers before the 29th of september. I could hardly believe it! We were so thrilled.

So the week ended on an unbelievably high note. We also met our goal of 20 teaches this week--we've actually been a little lacking in that the past few weeks. Such a good week. Very rewarding. So grateful to be a missionary. So grateful to be in Finland. I love this work. I love the gospel. I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and our savior Jesus Christ.

I love you all :)

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

On splits with Sisar Christofferson -- at a dinner appointment with a member and her son -- a future missionary:)
With Sisar Baliff -- countdown to General Conference -- only 26 more days!  We're reading a conference talk everyday leading up to it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012

Terve!

What a great week. I hardly know where to begin! One thing that has constantly frustrated me throughout my mission as I have written in my journal every night and sent you all emails every week is that WORDS DON'T DO THIS JUSTICE. But I write anyway, hoping that although my words don't give my experiences the credit that they deserve, someday I can look back over what I've written and remember the feelings that i had. And maybe you all can just get a taste of what I'm experiencing :)

So here's a "taste" from this week: Zone Conference with Elder Richards. He's a new member of the European Area Presidency (and gave a talk in conference last year I think: "The Atonement Covers All Pain"). He and his wife are such amazing people. He served as a mission president in Texas! (San Antonio) Way cool. I always love meetings like that, and it's always impossible to capture in words the feelings and the spirit that was felt there. He said something interesting though: He said (something along the lines of): "This is more than just a spiritual 'pump-up' meeting. We are coming here to receive answers to our questions and then make changes in our lives based on the answers that we receive." What he said was so good--and something that I've been learning on my mission. So much of the inspiration and revelation that we receive is dependent upon our personal preparation AND our "real intent"--actually following through with the answers that we receive. And it applies to almost everything that we do in the church-- sacrament meeting, general conference, other church meetings, etc... in order to really receive all that we can from our church meetings, we need to approach them as more than just a "spiritual pump-up meeting." We need to view them as ways of receiving answers by coming prepared with questions, and then we need to leave those meetings with the resolve to make changes based on the answers that we received.

This might be a good point to tell you of a really cool experience that i've been having lately. I'm so grateful for the time that we spend every morning as missionaries studying and reading from the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. I recently finished the Book of Mormon again and started over once again from the beginning. But as I thought about how I didn't really seem to gain anything from my reading the last time around, i decided to do something differently this time. I now read the Book of Mormon every morning with a question in my mind-- I write that question down in my study journal, and i also write down the answers that I receive through my scripture study. And the amazing thing is that without fail, I have received an answer to my question every single day.

One of my favorite experiences from this week was when our investigator came to church on sunday. It was such a victorious and joyful moment. We have been meeting with this investigator for about a month now, and she hadn't come to church yet. She has always expressed a desire to, but has lacked the courage to do so. So last week we all committed to pray every single day that the Lord would prepare a way for her to come to church. So that's what we did--she prayed and we prayed collectively and individually every day. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when she showed up, but I honestly was! It was such a joyful moment. She was just beaming and we were so happy and I was so grateful because I felt like that was the greatest teaching moment that we've had with her up to this point. We've visited her house and read from the Book of Mormon with her, but in this instance she was putting a principle of the gospel into action and learning for herself the power of prayer. It was once again a testimony to me that the Lord hears and answers our prayers.

My time is running short--there is so much more that I wish I could tell you, but I'll just say this: The gospel is true. Heavenly Father lives and loves us.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

Terve kaikille! (Hello to everyone... hey, actually I was looking in my sanakirja (dictionary) the other day and guess what was one of the definitions of the word "Terve": Howdy. No joke!)

So Howdy.

Time continues to roll right along. Hard to believe that another week has passed. This past week was a bit of an adjustment--getting used to it just being us 2 now, which also caused me to realize: "hey, wait a minute! I'm training Sisar Ballif!? When did this happen?" Well, at least I realized what a blessing it is (or was) to train in a threesome. I think this past week I started to feel a little bit of the pressure that comes from being a trainer--which I had never experienced before even though I've trained before and we've already been training Sisar Ballif for 6 weeks now--but this is my first time to do it alone. I just really want to give Sisar Ballif the best training experience possible because she is so wonderful and really just deserves the best. I'm learning from her everyday.
 
But it was a good week. I think we saw a lot of cool things happen. We were able to get a less active that we've been working with out to a fireside at the church--which is a step in the right direction towards getting him back at sacrament meeting! We had several teaches with investigators with members present at every single one. Members are the best! I think they are one of our best and most valuable missionary tools (so remember that :)) On one particular day we said a prayer right before leaving the apartment that we would find someone to teach on our way to our next appointment (which was all of a 5 minute walk away.) Sure enough, on our way there, a man riding his bicycle stopped us and said he had met with missionaries before and wanted to be in contact with us again. We met a man on the train a few days ago and invited him to come to church on sunday. And he came!
 
That's just kind of how our life goes. I wouldn't say that any of those things appeared to be huge miracles. But it's amazing to look at each of the small miracles that we see every day. They're all around us--we just need to keep our eyes open for them, notice them, and then write them down. It's true that the Lord's hand is in our life, but it is usually through small and simple means that He brings about that which is great. And we need to learn to rejoice in the little things. They really do make life wonderful.

Here's a cool story from yesterday: A bus load of about 50 tourists from America showed up at church on Sunday. One of them happened to be Elder Groberg (remember The Other Side of Heaven?) So I got to meet him and his wife and shake their hands. Elder Groberg left us with his blessing on us and our investigators. He was a really friendly man. And he spoke during sacrament meeting-- him and his brother, who actually served a few missions in Finland! Since there wasn't enough english translation headsets for all of the tourists, I translated the meeting for a couple of people. It was really cool to notice how dramatically my understanding of Finnish has increased. I'm not sure when that happened!


Well, I love you all :) I'm always glad to hear about all of the fun (and little) things that you do. Cherish those moments! I can't wait to hear about everyone's first week of school!


Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 20, 2012

Terve!

Well I'll cut to the chase with the big news that you've all been waiting for: change calls came on Friday, and I wasn't all that surprised to hear that I'm staying in Haaga for at least 6 more weeks--and very likely until the end of my mission. It's wierd to think about how I'm going on my 5th change now in Haaga--which is how long I was in Tampere-- but time seems to be going by a lot faster here. It's also wierd to think that I'm going on change number 10 and I've still only ever served in 2 areas. I wouldn't say that that's super common, but it's also not unheard of either. I'm not sure why I keep sticking around so long--but I think the Lord has had a lot to teach me through that. And if I'm honest with myself, Tampere and Haaga were the only 2 areas that I even really wanted to serve in, so it's actually been a huge blessing. And I love this area :) I'm excited to see what the next change brings.

But our threesome is being broken up-- Sisar Shreeve is getting transferred to Marjaniemi--which is just across town in Helsinki, and is now the 6th area for sisters to serve in and it does mean a realignment in our districts. The Marjaniemi sisters are now part of the Helsinki district, which means that Haaga is now part of the Espoo district-- and that in and of it self feels like quite a change. (The Espoo district might be considered the "greater Helsinki area"). But it's an exciting change and a chance to meet new people. Sisar Ballif is staying here in Haaga with me :)

And our last week was good, although the news of change calls always seems to overshadow everything else. We had leadership training this week--my fourth time to attend (probably my last?)--and it was really great, as those meetings always are. And then while our trainees were in kieli koulu (language school) on thursday, I was able to attend the temple with Sisters Shreeve, Braegger and Mäki. Always a good experience :) I love the temple!

We continue to teach a lot--which is a blessing. It's why we're here :) But it can still be difficult at times to really know that we're doing the best things-- that we're really teaching and reaching out to all of the people that Heavenly Father wants to at this time. I think that's the most difficult thing for me. And it can be really stressful and overwhelming at times. But I never let myself get too stressed, because then I know I'm not doing what Heavenly Father wants me to. Stress can be an inhibitor of the spirit. God doesn't want us to be stressed :) That doesn't mean that like doesn't come with its fair share of difficulties and stresses, but it's our job to find joy in the journey. Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. And life sure is wonderful :)

Well, I love you all. No, I cannot believe that Cole is 12. There is no way that's possible. There is no way that Connor is leaving on his mission. There is no way that Bethany is already back from her mission. Time is such a wierd thing. I tell that to myself pretty much every day.

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

p.s. yes, that was a correct use of the word "terve" :) hyvin tehty! (well done!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Audust 13, 2012

Terve, Terve!

So hard to believe that another week has come and gone. By the end of this next one, change calls will have come, which will probably mean that I will know where I will be spending the rest of my mission. Wierd wierd wierd thought. Just yesterday I had my first experience of being asked to speak right before sacrament meeting started--and in finnish, nonetheless--but it was a huge blessing to see that it actually felt natural and the language was the least of my worries. But the funny part is that afterwards all the members were asking if i was getting transferred, and if this was my "farewell address" to them all-- to which I had to reply that we won't know until next week-- but I think everyone is expecting me to leave. So I think it would be really funny (and not unlike my mission president) to throw everyone for a loop if I end up staying in Haaga. But time will tell, and I'm sure I'll have some exciting news for you all next week!


Oh, and before I forget: I HAVE THE COOLEST FAMILY EVER!!! I got your package this week, and I can't even tell you how happy it made me. Thanks for the contacts. Thanks for the letters (I actually wrote letters to mom, maddy and erica last monday before I got the package, so keep that in mind while you read them :)) and I LOVE THE CD!!! so cool. My companions might be getting annoyed with me because I listen to it every night as we're getting ready for bed-- but I think that they like it too :)

It's been kind of funny to hear you all tell me about my perspective and attitude as a missionary. I think perspective has been one of the biggest blessings that I've received as a missionary and on a mission. Looking back at this week, I honestly can't remember any experiences in particular that really stood out to me, but I do remember just feeling happy--even though I know that there were hard moments this week--somehow I just remember the good stuff.

Here's one super cool thing from this week: we recently started teaching a really cool guy who is an atheist. He's been very open to everything that we've been teaching, he's had a lot of really good questions, and HE CAME TO CHURCH YESTERDAY! So cool. And I think he had a really good experience. He had a really interesting question though, which I want to ask all of you guys as well and leave with you as my "spiritual thought" for the week. After sunday school, he expressed to us how even though he's never been to church before, all of the stuff that the teacher was teaching just seemed like common sense to him--it was stuff he "already knew." So then he asked something along the lines of "so why is it really necessary to go to church every week?" I tried to answer as best I could in the few minutes that I had, but then his question remained with me the rest of the day. Why does the Lord command us to visit church every week? And why do I personally choose to visit church every week? I think it's sometimes hard to put into words the blessings that we receive from church attendance, but it is something that we experience. Church attendance is a hard principle to teach to investigators and less actives. But as soon as we can get them to experience the blessings for themselves, it ceases to be a burden.

We've been doing a lot of work with less-actives, a lot of whom I feel may not come to church because they feel like they don't fit in there. I've thought about if perhaps I might stop going to church if I were ever in such a situation--but as I thought about it I really felt like I wouldn't because of the commitment that I feel to the Lord. But we certainly try our best to help these people feel like they do have a place in the ward and that their presence is missed. After church yesterday we stopped by the home of a less active who didn't show up at church, and he told us that it felt good to know that somebody cared. So I know what you said is true mom. Visiting teaching and home teaching are SO IMPORTANT!

I love you all. School is starting up again this next week for the Finns--when does is start for you all?

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 6, 2012

My dearest family,
Terve.
I can't even begin tell you how happy I am every week to read your emails. It sounds like you all are experiencing some great blessings from the move-- albeit a very hard thing to do. And I am so thrilled to hear about Tyler's experiences every week as well. It sounds like he's doing amazing things there in etelä-amerika! (south america)
We had such an amazing week last week, I hardly even know where to begin. Seriously. Well, for starters, we picked up our mini-missionary on Tuesday, and the fun began :) It has been the BIGGEST blessing having Sisar Lammintaus here this past week. With there being 4 of us, we were able to do splits all week long-- we switched off companions every other day--which allowed us to do our work a lot more effectively. We were able to teach, help and uplift a lot of people last week. Here's a few of the many miracles that we saw:
First of all, we were all at a lunch appointment when we got a phone call from a recent convert who was telling us that he was being kicked out of his apartment. We hardly knew what to do or who we could ask for help, but as we all sat at the lunch table discussing it, the member we were with finally said "hey, I don't know this guy at all, but I have a car, so we can go help him out after lunch." And so that's what we did. Sisar Shreeve and Sisar Lammintaus went to a teach that we had with an investigator at the church while Sisar Ballif and I went with the member to go help this guy out. We went to his apartment and quickly realized that we had no idea how bad the situation actually was. There was a big group of guys there who were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. But we were able to get the recent convert out of there and his 3 big garbage bags with all of his stuff in it, which was the best thing we could have done. But at that point we didn't really know what to do. We packed all of his stuff into the member's car, and she kept assuring him that everything was going to be ok. We sat around at the church building with all of his stuff while the member who was with us started making phone calls to all sorts of places to see where this guy could go, but we didn't have much luck. Eventually we drove the recent convert to his work (he works during the evening and all through the night), and we still had no place for him to go. To make a long story short, we called the bishop and were able to arrange for a hostel that this recent convert could stay in until he had a permanent place to live in a couple of weeks. There were countless prayers that were said that day, and it was amazing that in the end, everything fell perfectly into place. The following morning, we went back with the member to pick up the recent convert from work to take him to his hostel. After all was said and done, the recent convert spoke of how his testimony had been growing weak, but through this experience has found renewed faith. He said he's "proud to be a mormon." He came to church on Sunday and bore his testimony in sacrament meeting.
On another day, Sisar Lammintaus and I decided to stop in at a member's house while we were in her area. We visited with her for a little bit, shared a spiritual thought, and at the end of it all, the member told us that after she had come home from work, she was feeling lonely and prayed that the Lord would send someone to visit with her that evening. I love the feeling of knowing that we were somehow an answer to someone's prayer, and that we were exactly where the Lord needed us to be at that time.
And we had several great experiences this week of helping a few investigators pray for the first time. In one instance, we assured the investigator, who was a little nervous, that she could look at the pamphlet, which explained how to pray, while she offered it. She closed the pamphlet and said "no, I want to try it without!" and then proceeded to offer a sincere, heartfelt prayer. Just last night we had a teach with a young woman who is from China who is here in Finland for school, and she said her first prayer with us--the first time she's ever prayed in her life! It was such a beautiful experience, and afterwards she told us about how peaceful she felt.
We just had so many experiences like these this past week that were really humbling and reminded me that we really are just tools in the Lord's hands. I am so grateful to be a part of His work. “I know that I am nothing; as to my own strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” – Alma 26:12
Well, you're right, this week marks exactly one year of being in Finland. I believe it was on August 8th of last year that I hopped on a plane Finland-bound. I cannot believe how fast time flies. After this transfer is over, I will only have 2 left. Of course, that's a very surreal thought, and one that I try not to think about to much :)
I love you all! I am so happy to hear that you are all doing so well.
Hyvää keltaista viikoa teille! (That's a rough Finnish translation for "have a great and yellow week!")
Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012

Terve Terve,


Still so wierd for me to think that Tyler is on his mission, but I'm loving reading his emails every week. It's reminding me of how excited I was at the beginning of my mission as well. It sounds like you're already having some awesome experiences. I'm so excited for you. And I think I'm getting a taste of how you all must feel reading about my experiences here in Finland-- it's really fun to experience things vicariously through someone else :)


I was actually thinking earlier today about how Tyler hadn't even received his mission call when I had first arrived here in Haaga, but I've been here long enough that you're already on your mission! I'm not sure why I keep sticking in places for so long. I can feel a little stir-crazy at times, but it's been really nice to really get to know an area well--the places, the ward members, the investigators.


That being said, I still love it here in Haaga. I couldn't ask for a better area to be serving in at this time. Also couldn't ask for better companions :) It's been really neat to see my mission unfold up to this point and see how the places I've been in and the people I've been with really have been tailor-fitted to me. I know that the Lord knows what experiences we need that will be the best for us. Thank goodness that his plans are better than our own :)


This past week was a slower one. I am constantly reminded that dissapontments are a reccurring part of missionary work and of life. But for every disappontment we encounter, we receive even more blessings--which sometimes don't come till later. So it can be hard to still remain optimistic in the face of disappointments, but sometimes it's not so hard at all! In spite of a slower week last week, I have complete confidence that this next week is going to be a great one. Among other reasons, we are going to be getting a mini-missionary tomorrow! Every year at the beginning of august, Finland does a "mini-mission" where church members (around YSA age) from around the country spend a week as a missionary with the full-time missionaries :). I arrived in the country just after the mini-mission last year, so this will be my first time to experience it, and I'm excited! Our mini-missionary is actually going to be someone that I knew while I was serving in Tampere! So that should be fun.


And last week certainly came with its highlights as well. On Wednesday we did splits with the Tampere sisters--which meant Sisar Shreeve went up to Tampere for the day and Sisar Nelson came down to Haaga for the day to be with me and Sisar Ballif. It was a lot of fun, and for me it was really cool to spend the day with my two "babies." (Sisar Nelson was the new missionary that Sisar Brailsford and I trained together in Tampere.) Crazy how fast time flies by. For me it was also really humbling to think that somehow i was trusted to be Sisar Nelson and Sisar Ballif's trainer--they are both amazing missionaries, in spite of me :) haha. And even when teaches seemed to fall through left and right last week, we sincerely tried to figure out what it was that the Lord wanted us to do instead. On one instance, we decided to just stop by the house of one of our investigators--a family that we just started teaching a couple weeks ago. We had a GREAT teach with them, and they both committed to come to church (which they didn't actually end up coming, but said they would next week. Keep them in your prayers :))


In other news, Sini and Kai continue to do really well. It has been such a blessing to see them to continue growing in the gospel every week at church. Last sunday, Kai came to church decked out in a white shirt and tie, dress slacks and shoes (and a new haircut). It was the first time he had come dressed that way, and he looked great! He was really embarrased about it as people would make comments to him. He's a good kid though. He was very excited and eager to give his tithing slip to the bishop on sunday. It is still humbling to me that I was blessed with the opportunity to teach them. They are forever a part of my life :)


I love you all, and I love hearing from you all.

And just remember that missionaries love getting mail :)


Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

July 23, 2012

Terve!


Wow, I can't believe how many changes have happened in our family in the past year... none of them were I expecting when I left on my mission over a year ago. New babies, new workplace, new house, new state, and to top all of this craziness off, you're all now getting adjusted to having 2 missionaries out in the field. (How is that adjustment going, by the way?) I can just feel how hectic your lives are right now everytime I read your emails. But it's still something I always look forward to, and i continue to pray that everything goes well. And it sounds like things are working out just fine :)


And things continue to go well here on the Haaga front as well. Sisar Shreeve and Ballif and I are all having a blast here together. It's so funny how it all worked out-- in all honesty, I wasn't looking forward to training in a threesome again, but it has turned out to be the biggest blessing. I honestly forget that Sisar Ballif is still a new missionary sometimes, cause she's already a pro! I hardly view myself as her trainer at all. She's teaching me a lot. And somehow we all balance eachother out really well--I think we all work better together than any two of us put together would. Funny. But the sad thing is we already know that we're only going to be a threesome for 6 weeks because at the end of this transfer, the number of sisters in Finland will even out again. But that's still several weeks away, so we'll just see what happens. In the mean time, we're all just enjoying our time together.


We're seeing a lot of really cool things happen. We're teaching more, and we're finding more, and we're becoming more and more involved with the ward members here. We're continuing the pattern of going on splits with the ward members here a few times a week, and it is proving to be the biggest blessing in so many aspects. We cover more ground, we are able to get a lot more teaching appointments, we get a little more variety in the work that we do, and then the members get to participate in the work that we do as well, which in turn I think is making the ward members more excited about missionary work.


This last week we also had district meeting with President Rawlings and his wife at their house-- always a good experience, I always learn so much from them. We had interviews with president afterwards--which I always wish were longer. He definitely has the gift of discernment. As he and I were talking, he asked me seemingly out of the blue "have you been feeling tired lately?" to which I replied: "I'm exhausted!" And it's true, the past several months I've been feeling really tired a lot of the time, but President Rawlings and I were able to discuss a few things that could help, and it's been making a big difference. I'm now taking iron pills, and I'm doubling up on the amount of vitamin-d that I normally take and then I always try to be in bed by 10:00 every night. I had a LOT more energy this past week, which has also been a really huge blessing. (Anyways, not sure why I just told you that, but I thought it might be something that maybe mom might want to know.)


Anyways, thank you for your continued prayers and support. I love you all so so much!


Till next week!


Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

July 16, 2012

Terve Terve!


So wonderful to hear from you all. It is SO SURREAL to hear from Tyler in the MTC. I am so happy that you're there and just enjoying it and soaking it all in-- it is such a special place and it sounds like you're doing wonderfully and learning a lot. I just can't believe that you're there! Wierd!


Now that we have a new missionary here with us (her name is Sisar Ballif, and she's from San Diego) it's reminded me a lot of the MTC. She's been talking a lot about her experiences there, and I've been reminiscing a little bit about my experience as well-- but that was SO LONG ago! I cannot BELIEVE how fast time flies by. Seriously, a whole stinking year ago.


So this last week was an exciting one. We went to downtown Helsinki on Wednesday for a trainer's meeting, we all met the new missionaries that we would be training, and then it was back out into the field that night! Having Sisar Ballif here has been so awesome! She is seriously so wonderful. It's just funny the differences i notice in her from when I was a new missionary, or the differences in this companionship from the last time that I trained in a threesome-- not good or bad, just different! But Sisar Ballif's enthusiasm is so infectious! As hard as it is to believe, Sisar Shreeve and I are both becoming "old missionaries" and I think sometimes it's easy to lose sight of why exactly it is we're here or lose our fire and zeal for the work that we do. But I think that's why having Sisar Ballif here is the hugest blessing. It has definitely renewed my enthusiasm for the work that we do. This past week has been a blast. We're having a lot of fun, and seeing a lot of miracles!


One really cool thing that we get to do now as a threesome--and President Rawlings has asked us to do--is to go on splits with the members. It's really cool cause we can use our time more effectively and get twice as much work done! It takes a lot of coordination on our part, but I think it's really great. It helps get the ward members excited about missionary work, it provides us with a little variety in teaching situations (adventures, I might say :)), and it also helps that we know that we're only going to be in a threesome for 6 weeks--the number of sisters in the field will even out again next change. So we know that we're only going to have this opportunity for this short time, and we're trying to make the most of it!


So on Saturday I went on splits with a really neat ward member who served her mission in Greece while Sisar Shreeve and Sisar Ballif went to go contact a referral. We taught one of our investigators together about the sacrament and the importance of church attendance. Honestly, the teach didn't go super well, but at the same time, it was such an amazing experience for me. I learned a ton from the member, she taught really well, and after the teach we were walking home and she was telling me about how good it was for her to be involved in missionary work. That made it all worth it. And then she started spouting off all these ideas of things she could do to help this investigator come to church! It was amazing! I think a lot of good is going to come from it.


Well, I love you all! I hope you all have a great and yellow week!


Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9th


Terve!
 
Thanks for the email. I started crying when I read about Tyler leaving on his mission. I really don't know why, but maybe the reality is just setting in that we really won't see each other for (over) 3 years. I completely understand how he feels-- I can still remember entering the mtc and just feeling so uncertain of everything that lay ahead--and one things for sure, Tyler, you have NO idea what you've gotten yourself into, haha! But I do know that this is the best thing you can be doing right now :) I love you bro! Welcome to the mission!
 
Well this last week was an exciting one (just like yours!) I'll start out with the news that we received at the end of the week though: I will be staying in Haaga for at least 6 more weeks. And so will Sisar Shreeve. And so will the new missionary that we get on Wednesday. That's right, round 2 for me training in a threesome. I kind of laughed and wondered what I must have missed the first time around that the Lord still wants me to learn. But it's a different situation, different area, different companions. We've got an exciting transfer ahead of us. I'm going on my 9th transfer in Finland. And still in my second area :) Haha. I wouldn't have it any other way, though.
 
Anyways, Maanantai was a really fun day. Kai came and played sähly (floor hockey) with us and the elders in our district, and he had a blast. Didn't even bother him that he was up against people twice his age :) Then that night we had a really really great teach with Päivi (remember the recent convert's daughter?) She really wants to get baptized, so now it's just a matter of getting permission from her mother, which she's really nervous about. Keep her in your prayers :)
 
Then Tiistai and Keskiviiko were really fun days too. Sisar Shreeve and I were invited to attend a leadership training meeting with President and several other missionaries. You'd think that it might have given me a hint that we would be training, but honestly I did NOT expect it at all, haha! Wednesday was the 4th of July, which we celebrated by singing patriotic hymns at our training meeting. And attempted to assemble an American flag--the sisters all wore blue T-shirts and the elders all wore white shirts with red ties. I'll send a picture :)
 
Torstai was a full day with a lot of teaches. I love days like that :) I really do just love teaching, it was one reason that I wanted to serve a mission. It's always nice to teach people and really feel like you are helping them and strengthening them and making a difference in their life for the better.
 
Perjantai we had a great district meeting-- last one of the change. I realized this morning that next change, I will be the only person that was here in the Helsinki district when I first arrived here back in March. Kind of wierd! Then that night Sisar Shreeve and I were on a train TAMPERE-BOUND! We did splits with the sisters in Tampere on Saturday. Change calls were supposed to come Friday night, and I sat anxiously by the phone for about 2 hours or so. Finally 10:30 came around (our bed-time) and I called President and said "President, I'm dying!!!" He started laughing really hard and said that he had stopped calling missionaries that night because it was getting too late and he was going to call the rest in the morning. But since he had me on the phone anyways, he went ahead and told us the change call.
 
So then Lauantai we were in Tampere, like I said. It was so nice to be back there because I just love that city. But at the same time, it felt really wierd. It was such a great day-- I was able to see the two people that I really was hoping to. We met with a less-active for lunch who I had met with pretty regularly while I was there. She started freaking out when she saw me. it was a lot of fun :) And then I was also able to see my Albanian investigator :) I think it was really good for her, and it felt good that maybe I was able to strengthen her in a way. She didn't get baptized on her planned date because she has an issue with tithing. But as we talked about it a little bit, she said that although she doesn't feel ready yet, she feels that God will help her to understand tithing and clear things up for her.
 
Suununtai was a great day as well. We helped a less-active mom with 3 small kids come to church. It was an adventure, to say the least, but it turned out really well. her 5-year-old son is now our best friend :)
 
Well, life keeps rolling right along. Time is such a wierd thing. I only have 3 transfers left. It is going to fly by, I know it. But it's still enough time to enjoy this beautiful country and the wonderful work that I get to do here!
 
I love you all so much :)
 
Any pictures you want to send this way would be greatly appreciated!
 
Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

July 2nd

No Terve!

Is it really the beginning of another week again? I seriously cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Change calls come again this week, and really anything can happen. (Holy cow, this change flew by.) I have a feeling that Sisar Shreeve and I might not be together next change, even though we've only been companions for one change together. But three new sisters will be coming into the country next week, which is the first time we've gotten new sisters in about 6 months...crazy! Pretty exciting.

I can't believe that you're in Utah. All of the elders in my district are giving me a super hard time about it--they tell me that I need to start telling everyone that I'm from Utah now. But although Utah is a great place, Texas will always be home to me. How is everyone adjusting? What's been going on with the move?

And by the time I write next week, Tyler will be in the MTC! I think that's the craziest news I've ever heard. All I have to say is to just enjoy the mtc. It is such a cool place, and you will never have that experience again. I loved loved loved my mtc experience (and I do miss it sometimes!) Such a great place. And Tyler, you are going to make a great missionary. I know that the Lord has great things in store for you in Bolivia. I think it's a great blessing that we will both be out at the same time for a few months. I'm excited for you to come join me in the mission field :)

Well, like I said, this past week flew by. It was kind of a discouraging week in some senses-- lots of teaches fell through. Wasn't our best week numbers-wise. But I've come to learn that the numbers really don't matter all that much :) And they're usually a lot better than we make them out to be anyways. And we had a lot of experiences this week that weren't reflected in our numbers but still led me to believe that we were exactly where the Lord needed us to be, and when he needed us to be there. On one particular night, we were trying to set up some more teaches for the week, and I felt like we should call a particular member, although I didn't really know why. So we called to find out that they were actually in the middle of moving! So we offered to go help, and it was a great service opportunity for us. As we were thinking about a spiritual thought that we might share with them, Sisar Shreeve really felt like we should share a thought about the power of scriptures, and then give them a copy of the Book of Mormon that they could give to one of their friends. As we were there helping them clean their apartment out, the mom asked us something along the lines of "hey, do you know where I could get my hands on a Book of Mormon that I could give to one of my friends?" Well, as a matter of fact we do! It was such a neat experience where we were able to look back and see that the spirit really was leading us every step of the way. I've come to see that that's usually how it works. We just go about our lives, trying to do what's best, and as we look taakse-päin (sorry, sometimes Finnish phrases just make so much more sense... it basically just means that as we look behind us) we notice that our steps were guided.

Well, that's all I've got for you this week. I'll try sending a few pictures.

I love you all :)

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

June 25th

Terve!

Last week in Texas? That is sad news indeed. Also sad to hear that the Hobrooks are moving--before you know it, I'll have no reasons to go back and visit! (I think that's the saddest part of it all.)

Well, we had a GREAT week last week here in Haaga. One of our best teaching experiences was when we had a lunch appointment with a member. We've probably had lunch appointments with her about twice a month or so since I've been here in Haaga. She is one of my favorite people. She is the only member in her family, and after several years of inactivity, she is now one of the strongest members that I know. (And you'll be interested to know that although she is a Finn, she spent most of her childhood in South America--she was born in Argentina, and I believe that she spent some time in Colombia as well.) She has an adopted daughter from Colombia who is my age who she has been trying to get to come to lunch with us for a long time--but it's never worked out. It looked like it wasn't going to work out again this week, but she actually showed up after a while! We all had a great time getting to know her and just talking. We read some in the Book of Mormon together and before we left, we asked if she would say the prayer--to which she replied that she didn't know how. So my companion said the prayer. Once she finished, the daughter asked "is it my turn now?" and she proceeded to say a genuine, simple and beautiful prayer where she thanked Heavenly Father for the courage to come and for her mother. By this point, the mother was in tears and you could just tell that her prayers on her daughters behalf were being answered. She then told the daughter that I had studied singing, to which the daughter replied "well, sing for us then!" So I sang my favorite hymn-- "Sua Kohti Herrani" (Nearer My God to Thee). The mother was in tears again, and she asked her daughter if she would come to church with her and if she would let us teach her. She didn't seem opposed to the idea. We're hoping that we will be able to teach her again soon. It was such a neat experience for everyone involved.

Then later in the week we had a mission-wide SISTERS CONFERENCE!!! It was so much fun. I had asked President a couple months ago how he felt about doing a sisters conference--I was half joking, and i don't think he even said a word in response to me--but I've come to learn that that actually means that he's thinking. I was in disbelief when i heard that we were actually going to do it, but also very excited. We had half of the sisters over at our place Wednesday night and we did companion exchanges the next day--lots of fun. Then thursday night we went over to President and Sister Rawling's house for dinner and spent the night there. Friday morning we all went to the temple together (I think that's the fifth time I've been to the temple here in Finland? I'm super lucky.) and we spent most of the conference in a more laid-back setting with President in his living room--discussing a lot of the issues that we face as sisters. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to sit at the feet of our mission president and learn from him-- He and his wife have influenced my life is so many ways for the better. And then President surprised us all by taking us MINI-GOLFING! It was actually a bit surreal, but lots of fun. (And I tied for first place with Sisar Braegger.)

We spent the night again on Friday night and all left to go home Saturday morning. I woke up at about 1:00 in the morning with an extremely sharp pain in my arms and chest (don't ask me why, I have absolutely no idea). I took some painkillers, tried icing it, but nothing seemed to be working. I couldn't fall back asleep because laying down just made it hurt even worse. Finally by about 4:00 in the morning, one of the other sisters heard me and sat beside me for a little while before going upstairs to get sister Rawlings. She was a great nurse, gave me some Tiger balm and a hot pad which was able to calm me down and then she asked if I wanted a priesthood blessing. I told her yes, and a little while later president Rawlings came down to give me a blessing (by this point it was almost 5:00 in the morning.) Afterwards I was able to fall asleep and woke up with virtually no pain in the morning. I thought about that experience a little bit-- why the Lord didn't just take my pain away as I sat there crying and praying about it for hours, or why I needed to wait that long before I finally got the relief that I needed. I'm not entirely sure why, but I know that if it hadn't been the case, then I wouldn't have been able to have that sweet experience with Sisar Mäki and President and Sisar Rawlings, and it's one that I'm very grateful for. I'm also grateful that on a night that I was in so much pain, I was in the home of a priesthood holder--a rare opportunity for these 18 months, at least. Our trials in this life are no fun at all--and they are really hard to keep in perspective while we are going through them. But they can turn out to be some of the biggest blessings in retrospect.

I love you all. It was so great to hear about everyone from back home. I honestly hardly even think about it at all anymore--except for this hour on mondays. But I still keep you all in my prayers :)

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012

asdfghjkl!!!

No, that's not Finnish, I just can't seem to think of a good expression that properly conveys how excited and joyful and just stinkin' happy I am right now. Happy because of the work that I have the privilege of doing here in beautiful Finland, and so happy to hear all of the wonderful news from my family. Tyler, I'm relieved that my package got to you safely. I was so happy to hear about the amazing missionary experiences you are all having--there is nothing else like it!!! Some of my favorite experiences of my mission have been as we've done FHE (perheilta) at member's houses with investigators. So fun! And so happy because I HAVE THE CUTEST LITTLE NIECE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!! Congratulations to Kyle and Tess (and aunt ariana :)) You two are going to make wonderful parents.

Well, glad to hear all is well on the homefront. Things are going really well here in Finland. I was looking through some of my journal entries from this past week, and on two different days I described the same week as both "trying" and "SUCH a good week." But that's how life goes, I guess. In spite of the hard stuff (and sometimes because of the hard stuff) we really can find joy in the journey. We actually talked about this topic in district meeting this past week--we had such a good discussion and I talked about how things were really hard for me when I first came in the country, but I just did my best and figured that I would just get used to it, and things would get easier. And now that I've been doing this for over a year now, I realize that it really hasn't gotten any easier! That has maybe been one of the biggest surprises on my mission. Other members of my district agreed with me. Some even expressed how some things are even harder now than when they first came in the country. But then on the other hand, i talked about how looking back at all of the different phases of my mission so far, I received just enough tender mercies from the Lord to keep me going. And here I am now :)

Well, the tender mercies of the Lord were certainly upon us in abundance this week. Kai's baptism was a really special day. It was actually really stressful for me and Sisar Shreeve-- we were doing ALL of the behind the scenes work-- but everything came together perfectly (except that the water was too hot... whoops!) and the important part was that Kai and Sini and her husband were able to enjoy that special day. Sini's mom even came to it! We were also able to get an investigator there-- he really enjoyed the service, and the ward was really amazing in fellowshipping him--and as a result, he expressed a desire to come to church! There were just so many little things like that this week that were so cool. I wish I could write them all.

On sunday, Kai was confirmed in sacrament meeting. We invited his father to come, but he replied that he probably wouldn't be there. It was about the response we were expecting. But we were praying anyways that he would come. And wouldn't you know it. HE CAME TO CHURCH!!! For the first time ever! We were so shocked, and so happy. He seemed really happy to be there too. Sini said that "he surprised them." Wow. So this weekend was a really good one :)

Well, that was probably the highlight of the week. My mind is all over the place right now, I can't concentrate hard enough to write anymore. Haha. But I'll send a few pictures, each of which should be worth 1000 words or so.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw