Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19th, 2012

Hei Hei!

So wonderful to hear from you all, as usual! (Does that ever sound redundant? Cause it's true. I always look forward to hearing from you all.) And I'll especially be looking forward to next week's email-- hopefully Tyler will have gotten his mission call by then! Goodness, that is so hard to believe. But I'm excited for you, Tyler! Really wish I could be there.

We had a really amazing week last week. It started with a wonderful district meeting on Tuesday. Of course, they're always good, and I always learn a lot, but here's something that was pretty special about this one: At the beginning of the meeting, President Rawlings had us write on a piece of paper 2 questions: "What 3 things will I change about who Iam as a result of this meeting?" and "What 3 things will I change about what I do as an emissary of the Lord Jesus Christ?" (or something along those lines) Then throughout the meeting, he gave us time to reflect and to pray-- alone and as a companionship--about changes that we needed to make. I ended up going home from that meeting with a lot of ideas for improvement--and plans on how to do it. Often I go to meetings like that and I learn a lot, but hardly ever do anything as a result of what I learn. I might make some notes, but then those get put to the side and never looked at again. So this time was different. We went home and immediately started making some changes.

One of the biggest differences I've noticed this week is the amount of people we talk to on the street. We've had a mission-wide goal of talking to 20 "in-betweeners" every day. It's a pretty lofty goal, and one that has always been difficult to reach. But we received some counsel at district meeting to plan during our nightly planning session exactly when we will talk to 20 people the next day. (For example: we'll talk to 4 people right as we walk out in the morning, we'll talk to 3 people while traveling from this appointment to this appointment, etc.) It has made the hugest difference, and it's amazing how much easier it is to reach that goal with a little planning. Now we're not left at the end of the day thinking "shoot, we've only talked to 10 people today, and we only have an hour left..." I don't know why I've never thought of this before, but I've been able to notice a big difference in our work this week. We've gotten a lot more potential investigators-- a lot of people who we probably would have missed otherwise. It was actually kind of funny, the day after our district meeting when we first tried doing this, we experienced what was probably one of the most successful days of my mission--nearly every person that we talked to was interested and gave us their phone number, or at the very least took a pass-a-long card. It's amazing what will happen when you follow counsel :)

Our mission-wide goal of total teaches during the week has now been upped from 15 to 20. We were really blessed this week in that regard as well. We had several teaches fall through, but by Sunday night, we ended up with exactly 20. We're very blessed here, and we're definitely keeping busy.

Helsinki is slowly becoming more and more familiar to me, which is also a huge blessing. I am coming to love the ward here, our investigators, the people we meet everyday. One thing that my mission has taught me so far is to love people from all walks of life. I really do feel an increased capacity to love as a missionary. We have so many wonderful investigators here, but I'll just tell you about a couple for now: One is a really nice man who came to church yesterday. He has been reading the Book of Mormon consistently, and I always love meeting with him. He's a really funny guy, and we always have good discussions when we teach him. His problem, though, is smoking. We pray for him every day that he will be able to quit, but he has a very strong addiction. It's very sad. But I have such hope for him. He's a great guy. Another great investigator we have is one that we picked up just this last week-- a sweet girl who is actually Madeline's age. Her dad is a recent convert, and they actually don't live in our area, but she really wanted to be taught by sister missionaries, so they always travel to our chapel so we can teach her there. It means a lot to me that they trust us that much :) So those are a couple of investigators that are on my mind right now that could use your prayers.

I've actually been reflecting a little bit lately over the past year with my birthday coming up-- it's hard to believe that it's been a full year already. So much has happened, and sometimes it feels like yesterday that mom flew up to Utah to spend my birthday with me. It really meant a lot to me, and it was a birthday present that I will always treasure :) Time is such a funny thing. It sounds like mom and dad have been able to fly back and forth quite frequently, which is good to hear. Hope you enjoy your next trip :)

Dad, I hope you have a great birthday this week! I sent you a little present in the mail last week-- hopefully it makes it to you safely! Erica, it was good to hear that you had a great experience on Trek. I can understand how exhausted you must have felt-- I feel like that a lot on my mission! But hard is good :) Thanks for sending me your list of things you're grateful for :)

Well, I love you all! Have a great week!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 12th, 2012

Terve Terve!

Is it spring break already? That's really interesting that the stake is doing Trek during spring break--but it's a good idea, especially in a place as hot as Texas. Hope you have fun, Erica! (And send me pictures :)) I remember Trek being a really good experience, but I don't think I ever wrote about it, so I don't remember much (learn from my mistakes, ers!) and just enjoy it!

TYLER'S MISSION PAPERS ARE IN!!! woo-hoo! I was way excited to hear that. Crazy to think that a little over a year ago I was opening my own mission call. The waiting period is a really exciting (and nerve-wracking) time, and I will always remember opening my own mission call. Words can't describe the feeling, but it's very very exciting. I was reading President Uchtdorf's talk right after he was sustained to the first presidency, and he described it well: "joyfully overwhelmed" (or something along those lines.) Wish I could be there to see it, but know that I'm there in spirit :) Make sure you record it! My guesses are state-side: New York, New York South and foreign: Phillipines

Anyways, my first week in Helsinki was great. I'm already becoming a real city slicker :) The area is very different from Tampere--everything's a lot closer together, and it just has the feel of a bigger city. I'm in an area of Helsinki called Haaga.My companion's name is Sisar Braegger. She is wonderful! She is from Cedar Hills, UT and has been in Finland for about 3 months. She already speaks really well, and we both share a love for singing and running! So it's been a great start to our companionship so far.

It's good to hear that you have been praying for me that my transition to Helsinki goes well-- it's been difficult! I've never changed cities before (after being in the country for 7 whole months!) and I didn't realize how exhausting it is--just getting used to new members, new places, new investigators, new faces and new names. I have really been looking forward to P-day today! But really really good things are happening here in Haaga, and I'm excited and humbled to be a part of it all!

One of the perks of serving in Helsinki is living so close to the mission office staff. A couple of the senior sisters live right by us, and we frequent their apartment for dinner appointments :) I found out that one of them used to cut hair for a living--and I've been needing a haircut badly for a while--so I asked her if she could give me one sometime. Her reply was "Do you want me to do it now?" So she did! My hair looks a lot different now, but she did a really good job! I'll have to send you a picture next week.

Another perk to serving in Helsinki is that our entire district is really close to eachother--which allows us to have district meetings every week. (And we have a really great district!) We had a great district meeting this last week, and I'm really looking forward to our next district meeting tomorrow-- President Rawlings will be there, and I'm sure we will be richly fed and deeply taught!

Well, that's all for now from the Helsinki front. I'll be excited to tell you more as I get to know the area better and get my head on straight :) Enjoy your spring break. Take lots of pictures (and send them to me! :))

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

March 5th, 2012

Terve!

That is so cute that Adam says "Rockadella." Before you know it, he'll be bilingual :) Good to hear that everything is going well back home--congrats to Maddy! Mom--I'm glad to hear that your trip to Utah was fun. That Men's Chorus concert sounds awesome. And the P.F. Chang's fortune cookies really are right on-- do you remember the one I got the night before I entered the MTC? It said "You will accomplish great things through hard work this next year."

This past week was absolutely beautiful. Which was perfect because it was my last week in Tampere. (pause for a collective gasp.) Yes, I am leaving my beloved city of Tampere. As sad as I am to leave it, it is being left in very good hands, and i am way excited for the adventure that lies before me in (drumroll please)... HELSINKI!!!! I am being transferred to an area called Haaga. I'll be headed on a train there in about 24 hours or so.

But like I said, this week was great. We found a way solid new investigator, and I'm sad to be leaving her. We also had a great district meeting in Hämeenlinna (the really cool city with the castle--we went there for my very first district meeting here.) So that was really cool-- it was kind of like coming full circle, and it was the perfect way to end my time here in Tampere. Church yesterday was wonderful. Way sad that it was my last time to go to church in that beautiful chapel. But it was great to see all these people that I've come to know and love-- to thank them for my time here and to hear them all wish me good luck :) This ward forever has a place in my heart! (That sounds waaaaayyy cheesy, but it's so true.)

I don't really know what to think about this. Me leaving Tampere is still a very surreal thing. I've been a mix of emotions the past few days. But I think I'm mainly excited. AND-- goodbye winter!!! The snow is melting, it's getting warmer, and the days are FINALLY a normal length again (and they'll keep getting longer and longer until the sun doesn't set! I'm so excited!) Haha, this winter was really difficult for me. The darkness was a lot harder for me than I expected it to be. But it also seemed to go by really fast-- looking back, I kind of think "Wait... that was it?"

Well, I love you all! I'm excited to tell you about my first week in Haaga!

Rockadella,

Sisar Shaw :)

February 27th, 2012

Moi! (thought I'd switch it up!)

So good to hear from you all! Dad, it sounds like you are having the time of your life living so close to BYU. That musical number in Kyle and Tess' ward sounds like it was awesome. We sang an arrangement of Jesus, Lover of My Soul when I was in women's chorus. It still gets stuck in my head from time to time. Sometimes I think that I should do women's chorus again when I get back from my mission... but there's also a million bajillion other things I want to do... we'll see.

So, a couple days ago officially marked 9 months for me as a missionary. I've officially reached the halfway point. CRAZY! I don't know what to think about it. It seems to have flown by, but when I think about all that's happened and all that I've learned in that amount of time, it seems to be an eternity.

But anyways, this past week was absolutely wonderful. One of the highlights was my 6-month kieli koulu (language school.) We have two kieli koulu's on our mission-- one 6 weeks after we get to Finland, and one 6 months after. It's a chance to learn from each other about the language and evaluate what we can do to better learn this language. But mainly, it's an excuse to see your MTC group again and have fun. It was so good to be with my MTC group again. They're the greatest. Kind of hard to believe that I spent 3 months in a classroom with them-- but I loved my MTC experience. So I got to take a train (woo-hoo!) and spend the day in Helsinki with some of my favorite people. So wonderful.

And then another highlight from this week was our teach we had with the older couple we are teaching. It's sometimes hard to gauge their level of interest, and I was a little nervous for our teach. We watched the Joseph Smith Restoration DVD with them, and it ended up probably being the best teach we've ever had with them. They expressed to us how good they feel when they meet with us, and how they really want to come to church. It was really good to hear, and afterwards, I couldn't stop smiling. It's amazing to me how as a missionary I am filled with so much love for these people who I barely know.

Life really is a beautiful thing. I'm coming to learn more and more about treasuring the every-day, little moments. The Lord did not send us here to be miserable. We are to find joy in the journey :)

I love you all!
Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

February 20th, 2012

Terve!

It was good to hear from you all (yes, even you maddy :)). I'm sorry to hear that life has been so stressful lately--and I'm sure will continue to be so for a while. I'm certainly not jealous of the move you are all making right now. It's hard when there's nothing else I can do for you all besides pray and write these letters once a week, but I do pray for each of you every day, and I hope that these letters can be of some support to you all. If nothing else, please know that I love you all more than you'll ever know.

Life here in Tampere continues to roll right along. Every once in a while I think about how long I've been here, and it amazes me. I'm creeping up on the 7-month mark now. It's so funny because I remember my MTC teacher, who spent a large chunk of her mission in Tampere, talk about how she knows the streets of Tampere like the back of her hand. That is exactly how I feel now! I know where every place is, and which buses will take you there. This city is more than familiar to me. But I love it so much.

Oh, and hyvää ystävänpäivää! (Happy Friend's Day-- that's the Finnish version of valentine's day.) To celebrate, we made heart-shaped no-bake cookies during our dinner hour. Lots of fun, and very tasty. We also had a teach with an older lady in the ward who was so happy, it was infectious. That's been my experience with a lot of the members here, actually. Being with them in their homes and seeing their great examples have taught me so much in my time here as a missionary. It makes me wonder how missionaries felt as they visited our home growing up. Hopefully they were able to feel the same way. (And speaking of our home, Maddy's room looks great! Definitely looks like a house worth buying. I'd love to see any other pictures you want to send :))

As I was sitting in sacrament meeting yesterday and reflecting over the past week, nothing too out of the ordinary seemed to have happened. We weren't able to meet with any investigators this past week, and I was feeling a little discouraged. And then out of the blue, our Albanian investigator walked into the chapel! It made me SO happy. We weren't even expecting her! Like you, mom, she has been experiencing a very stressful time lately. She has been working overtime at work while going to school on the weekends, and is often more than a little sleep-deprived. But she recognizes the peace that she feels at church, and that's why she decided to come amidst all of the stresses in her life. I am so grateful for the opportunity we have each sunday to partake of the sacrament and enjoy the spirit that comes from being at church. I know that if we approach it the right way, we can receive comfort, guidance and answers to prayers through our church attendance.

I love you all! Have a yellow week :)

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

February 13th, 2012

Terve!

Things are warming up here in Finland. It got up all the way to -4 yesterday. I was burning up! It was great to hear that you all studied out of Preach My Gospel last week. It is such a great book, and not just for full-time missionaries! Recently as we've met with active members, we've been teaching out of Preach My Gospel to help the members get into the book more, so it was great to hear that you are all doing the same thing! One of my favorite chapters in PMG is chapter 6, about christ-like attributes. It makes for a great personal study :)

Yesterday I actually gave my first talk in Finnish in sacrament meeting about the christ-like attribute of love. It is something I've been focusing on a lot lately, and it was nice to share a few of my thoughts with the ward members here in Tampere. I was filled with a lot of love as I sat on the stand and looked out at the congregation. I have come to love this ward so much as I've served among them for the past 6 months. As I spoke to them, I prayed that they would all be able to feel my love for them. But they'll probably never really know just how much they mean to me. They are awesome.

This past week we had a wonderful zone conference. Big meetings like that can always be exhausting, but I always look forward to them so much because I learn so much. The biggest thing I learned from this one was probably this: (I think you all will like it :)) President and Sister Rawlings shared with us their 3 family mottos that they would repeat to their children as they were growing up.
1. Life is an adventure
2. It will be good for your character
3. Rejoice in all things
President Rawlings then related the story of one of his daughters (who I actually worked with last year in the CTL!) who called him one day and told him that over the next 6 days she had X amount of tests to take and X amount of papers to write and a bunch of stuff to do at work, and she didn't know how she was going to complete it all. I think every college student can relate to that only too well. President Rawlings smiled and asked "Marja, have you forgotten?" His daughter replied with "You're right! I forgot!" And then recited back to him their 3 family mottos. And everything worked out!

Their 3 family mottos helped me out a ton this past week. One day, we were running out to the bus stop before a teach with one of our investigators, and we missed the bus by about a minute or so. The next one wouldn't come for another 20 minutes, so we were going to be a little late to our teach. I tried to remain calm and said "no big deal, we'll just call our investigator and our member who's coming along and let them know we'll be a little late." But then we all looked through our bags and realized that we left our phone at the apartment, and although we had to wait a while for our bus, it wasn't enough time to go back to our apartment to get the phone. I normally probably would have been pretty annoyed at the situation, but I laughed and said to my companions "Life is an adventure. It will be good for your character. Rejoice in all things." We were all able to laugh, and everything worked out. We were late to the teach, but our member and investigator waited for us, and the teach went well. I think the miracle of it all is that I was happy.

Well family, I love you. I look forward to your emails every week. They always brighten my day :) I hope everything continues to go well with the move. I am praying for you every day.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw