Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

Terve Terve!

We are indeed enjoying warmer weather and lighter days... at least today and yesterday. I was wearing my winter coat the day before. But now I'm not even wearing a coat! Hopefully the warm weather is here to stay this time.

Wow, there's so much that happens in a week, I'm really not sure how I choose to include everything that goes in these emails. I think this week's email will be a day-by-day travelogue; that might be the easiest.

Monday night we taught FHE to the YSA in Helsinki. I think it went pretty well; I had a lot of fun at least. You want to know something I think is really cool? When I'm speaking in Finnish, and I hear someone translating what I say back into english to someone else. Maybe cause that means that what I'm saying makes sense :)

Then tuesday was a really rainy day. We had a teach in the morning, and I wore my raincoat out the door. It wasn't quite warm enough for the raincoat, so when we came back home for lunch I changed into a thicker coat before we left again... forgetting that our keys were still in the raincoat. Oops! So that mistake spurred on quite the adventure. We still went about the rest of everything we had planned that day since there wasn't much we could do. Just before ward council, we borrowed a wire hanger from one of our neighbors and tried to open the window to our balcony...no luck. When we finally returned home at night, we called the talomies (something like a building manager, I guess) to open the door. We waited for a while, and when he finally came said that he didn't have the right key and we would have to wait even longer. By this point it was pretty late, so we ended up spending the night with the senior sister missionaries. It was a lot of fun, albeit not the ideal situation. We called the talomies again in the morning, and were let in quite easily. Plus, the fee was 20 euros cheaper in the morning. We only had to pay 10 euros to get in!

So Wednesday we were very grateful to be back in our own apartment. We had a teach that night with a family we have been teaching for a while--it was our last teach with them, but things couldn't have ended on a better note. The funny thing is that even thought they aren't ready for the gospel, I really feel like we've made some true friends with them. As we stuck our hands out to shake the father's hand before we left, he gave us both hugs! It was totally unexpected. They said that we were always welcome to come back and visit. I'm sure we'll be seeing them again soon.

Then thursday we had a teach with Sini! It was so good, but it's really hard to go wrong with her. Her teaches make me so happy. Her baptism is coming up in 2 weeks!!! She is so ready. I could not be happier for her. At the end of the teach, she asked what her reading assignment was. We smiled and realized that we hadn't picked one. So she said "hey, how about I find some scriptures that go along with our next lesson?" I almost rolled my eyes. She could not be any more golden.

Friday we had our first district meeting of the new change. Lots of changes in our district-- all of the other companionships were affected by the change except for us. But it's fun to be able to meet new people. We had to leave district meeting early because we had a teach with a new investigator from Angola! She speaks Finnish fairly well, but portugese is her native tongue. So we brought a Brazilian member from the ward along with us who served her mission in Brazil. After we would teach a principle, our member would reteach it in portugese. It was a really fun teach. Portugese is a really beautiful language, even though it sounds like jibberish to me :) But then again, Finnish sounded like jibberish to me not too long ago :)

Saturday was a really fun day. It was filled with parties. We helped a member set up for her daughter's birthday party in the morning. I thought it was just going to be a small get together at their house, but I couldn't have been further from the truth. It was possibly the most extravagant party I've ever seen-- for her daughter who is turning 3! But that's Latin culture, i guess (The member is also Brazilian.) It was kind of funny-- I was remembering some service we did for some members back when I was a new missionary in Tampere. We helped them clean their windows and there were spider webs everywhere--and my trainer was afraid of spiders, so I laughed as she talked about what a big sacrifice that was for her. Well, blowing up hundreds of balloons for this member was a comparable sacrifice for me. Can't explain that fear :) Haha. Afterwards we had a small get together at a member's house with a couple of our investigators. Lots of fun. And then in the evening we threw a birthday party for a recent convert who just turned 12! She's been wearing jeans to church every week, so I bought her a really cute dress for her birthday-- which she wore to church on sunday :)

Then church on sunday was really great. Sini came to our ward (she usually goes to Hyvinkää) so it was really great to have her there. She's already made some really good friends with a few of the sisters in our ward. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful! It was hard to not be happy :)

Isaiah 60:19

So it was a really great week. I'm excited for another one!

For all those who have been inspired by the recent conference talks about writing missionaries, here is Sisar Shaw's address: :)

Sisar Katie Lynn Shaw
Neitsytpolku 3 A 4
00140 Helsinki
Finland

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Well, Howdy! (...I mean "Terve!")

Change calls came this week, and I am SO grateful to have at least 6 more weeks here in Haaga with Sisar Braegger. We've got another exciting change ahead of us! This past change has flown by way faster than any of the ones before-- but I've heard that the last half of your mission goes by alot faster than the first.

Hard to believe that it's already the end of another semester. (Actually, it's hard to believe that life still goes on back home... haha.) But good luck with finals! And good choice of a place to live for spring semester, Ty-guy! The Elms is a way fun place. I'm sure you'll love it. (And by the way, I keep meeting people here with random connections to Bolivia!) How was your birthday, Maddy? Did you do anything fun or get any cool presents! (did you get my present? :))

Well, this past week was really good. As I was thinking about what I might write to you all this morning, I couldn't think of anything. It seemed like another "same-old same-old" week in the life of a missionary. But as I looked back through my journal, I realized that a lot of really good things happened.
Sini continues to be her amazing self. She recently made the decision that she actually wants to get baptized in the Hyvinkää ward-- it was the ward that she attended when she left the church, and she really felt like it would be a good thing if she were re-baptized there as well. Of course it's a little sad that it won't happen here in Haaga, but we still get the wonderful opportunity of teaching her before she gets baptized, and we'll still be there for her baptism :)

And we are still teaching the recent convert's daughter. They've been a little busy lately, but we finally got to teach her again this week. We taught the plan of salvation, and it was WAY fun. We drew little pictures of ourselves and had little transparency-papers that represented our "spirits" and we walked through the entire plan with her with our little people :) Lots of fun. One of my favorite parts of being a missionary is finding creative ways to teach the lessons.

We were able to do splits this week as well-- so much fun! It's something that's pretty ordinary in the life of an elder, but something that sisters get to participate in a lot less often. So on Thursday, Sisar Braegger spent the day in Tampere while Sisar Rawle, who is serving there now, spent the day with me in Haaga. It was a blast, and I learned a lot from her. The best part, though, was being able to hear how everyone was doing back in beloved Tampere :) I found out that my Albanian investigator is GETTING BAPTIZED!!! I was SO excited to hear that.

Basically, we had a bunch of really little, but really cool experiences this week. Like the family that we've been teaching for a while who has refused to take a Book of Mormon FINALLY took it this week (and it was their idea!) Or we went to go visit this old lady in the ward--cutest thing--I asked her what her favorite hymn was that we could sing to her, and she said that she couldn't remember the name. So, I just picked one and we started singing and she got SO excited as we started singing and said "That's exactly the one I was thinking about!" and she started singing along in her sweet, 80-something year old voice :)

So it was a good week. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way--sometimes this feels like the hardest thing in the world--but it also feels like the best and the happiest thing in the world. I was listening to a conference talk recently (some old conference CD's that were left in our apartment... all the way back from 2002.) But anyways, there was this quote that I really liked from one of the talks where she said "A woman of faith realizes that any sacrifice she makes is worth something in an eternal sense." That is how I feel about my mission. It's hard, but I know that these sacrifices I am making are worth something in an eternal sense.

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." -2 Corinthians 4:17

Love you all :)

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

Easter

Hyvää Pääsiästä!

The days go by slowly, but the weeks go by quickly. Change calls come this Saturday! This change has flown by. Hard to believe that it's already been almost 6 weeks here in Haaga. I really am loving it here. Everyday's another new adventure :) (Oh and I wasn't able to email yesterday because the library was closed... Finns like to take long holiday weekends)

This last week was really good--most weeks are, I suppose. Sini continues to progress really well. Teaching her is such a joy! When I asked her if she had read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we assigned her, she laughed and said "kolme kertaa!" (3 times!) She really is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. As we walked into her house for one of our teaches last week, the Mormon Music Channel was playing in the background. When I asked how her week went, she spoke of how all she does in her spare time is read-- the Book of Mormon, the Liahona, the pamphlets that we've given her and other church books. We gave her a triple combination this week, and she was so excited! She said she had never held the Doctrine and Covenants in her hands before! Her enthusiasm for the gospel is so infectious.

We had a really special experience on Saturday-- special for a lot of reasons. To start, right before I left the MTC, I asked one of my teachers what the happiest moment on his mission was. He started tearing up as he spoke of a man who he taught and baptized while serving as AP in Helsinki. Well, on Saturday I was able to witness that man's rebaptism. He removed his records from the church a little over a year ago, but like Sini, is ready this time around. Sini came along with us to the baptismal service, and it was a really cool thing for her to see someone else making the same changes in their life. At the service, he was given the gift of the holy ghost and the priesthood at the same time. During one of the talks, the speaker said that they did it that way because now all of the blessings of being a member of the church were restored to him as if he had never left. While talking to Sini afterwards, she said that she really liked that-- she is so excited that these blessings will be restored to her as if she had never left.

We also had the opportunity to attend the temple this week-- another perk of serving here in Helsinki! I love the temple, especially in Finnish :) Sad we can't attend more often!

Mom, it was really cool to hear of all the people you ran into. I still think about Diana Donadare's talk from time to time. She is such an incredible lady! And I haven't met Hannah Marriot yet-- and the name doesn't sound very familiar. She might be a member in one of the Espoo wards. It's also fun to hear about Tyler getting excited for Bolivia! I remember when that was me getting ready for Finland... a whole year ago :) It's such an exciting time! Oh, by the way, one of the members here-- I think I told you about him before, he served his mission in Dallas, spanish speaking-- anyways, he and his family lived for a while in Bolivia. I was excited to tell him about Tyler's mission call.

Anyways, we had a great easter here. Filled with way too much chocolate given to us from members-- but we solved that problem by pouring all of our chocolate through the Elder's mail slot. Finnish culture fact for the week: there's a traditional Finnish easter dish here called Mämmi. It's pretty gross, but Finns love it. It basically rye bread, but in liquid form. We ate it with some members last week, and the wife spoke of how much she loved mämmi-- and now I know why. She drenched it in cream and sugar. So the dish should really be called cream--with a hint of mämmi :) And you know, it's not too bad with a little (or a lot) of cream and sugar.

Well, have a great week teamshaw! And HAPPY TO MADDY! (haha.) Hope you have a great birthday, Madeline!

Rakkaudella,

 Sisar Shaw

April 2, 2012

Terve!

Okay, first of all: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PACKAGE!!! It made my whole week :) I got the package on Tuesday, and couldn't wait till Saturday to open it, so my wonderful companion took out all the insides and wrapped them up individually. That way, I was able to open one present each night leading up to the big day :)

So Tuesday night I opened the altoids and burts bees chapstick (you all know me too well :)) as well as the notebook of letters from Kyle's mission. I have really enjoyed reading from that. I have been poring through it like a good novel :) Kyle's passion and enthusiasm for missionary work was (and is) so inspiring! Another cool thing that happened on Tuesday: we were walking along the street, and I was talking on the phone with one of the members. After I hung up, this lady who was walking in front of us turned around and said "by the way, you speak Finnish really well!" She seemed surprised that an American could speak Finnish. It really threw me off guard, but I managed to say "Kiitos!"

Then Wednesday night I opened the package of scarfs. It was good timing because it started getting colder again this week and dipped back down into the negatives. The first half of the week was actually pretty warm-- it got all the way up to +9, and the snow had pretty much melted everywhere. But, in true April Fool's fashion, we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground this morning.

Thursday night I opened my package of Take 5 candy bars. I forgot how good those things are! Thursday was a very fun day. To close our month of gratitude, our district held a "manksgiving" (march+thanksgiving) feast. Later on in the day, we had our first teach with a new investigator who I will call Sini (which is my favorite Finnish girl's name.) Anyways, Sini was actually baptized about 8 years ago, but shortly thereafter removed her records from the church. One day, her husband told her "Minä rakastan sinua ikuisesti" (I love you forever), and Sini remembered that they could be together forever! So she decided to come back to church and contacted the missionaries. She is so ready this time around. It is such a blessing to see the light of the gospel in her eyes. Teaching her has reminded me that the gospel really is a joyful thing. She is so excited to be baptized! After the teach, the sun came out after what was otherwise a very gray day. It was such a beautiful moment :) One of the happiest of my mission.

Friday night I opened the package of toothbrush heads (thank you dental student and family :)) It was also a day that every single one of our teaches fell through. Disappointing days like that happen, and more often than I would like. But the blessings that come from serving a mission more than compensate for all the hard stuff. And the weekend that followed this day more than compensated for it :)

Saturday morning we spent our morning exercise time opening the rest of my presents :) I want to take this time now to say that I HAVE THE BEST COMPANION EVER! Haha, she really is the coolest. I woke up that morning to a decorated apartment, and she gave me a couple presents (and somehow managed to get them without me noticing!) She got me a Marimekko bag (this really cute Finnish brand that I love) and a Muumi journal (this really cool Finnish cartoon character that I love :)) This birthday weekend really increased my gratitude for a wonderful companion! And now i want to take the time to say that I HAVE THE COOLEST FAMILY EVER! I was SO happy to see that you had gotten me that CD that I really wanted (which i have been listening to as often as i can), and not only that but SIGNED by the group! You guys are the coolest. And thanks for all your letters :) There really is nothing better than to hear from my family. Saturday day we had a pizza party with the senior missionaries, all of whom I love so much. It was so great to spend my birthday with them. They said that they felt like they were jipping me by just serving frozen pizzas, but I assured them that it was my favorite food. And then Saturday night I received another great birthday present: a session of general conference! We watch the saturday and sunday morning sessions live--which is 7 p.m. Finnish time. So, I had a really really good birthday. I'm convinced that they get better every year. And now I'm 22! Holy COW! When did this happen?

On sunday we watched the saturday afternoon session (rebroadcast on sunday afternoon). Before that session started, we had another teach with Sini where she committed to be baptized on the 5th of May. She is so excited! Her enthusiasm is so infectious. Of course our committing her to be baptized was more of a formality, but it still felt really good to hear her say "kyllä." It was such a beautiful moment, and she couldn't stop smiling afterwards! So this weekend was really wonderful, possibly the best of my mission so far! But it's hard to go wrong with general conference weekend (and your birthday :). Haha, I've been looking forward to this for so long, and now I'm sad that it's over. It was also really fun because all of the missionaries in the Helsinki area come to our chapel to watch the broadcast-- so there were about 14 of us there or so. Love being a missionary, and love the missionaries I get to serve here with :)

And, wasn't conference AWESOME!? I loved it so much. It seems to have a different meaning as a missionary--I don't think I've ever loved conference as much as I do now, but I also hope that I never lose that. I love this gospel. And... I love you ALL!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw

March 26th, 2012

Terve!

CONGRATULATIONS TO TYLER!!! I could not be happier for you. Did anybody get close with their guesses of where he was going? If your experience was anything like mine, the mission where you are now called to go never crossed your mind while you were thinking of where you could go. But as soon as you got your call, it just felt right, and almost like "Of course that's where I'm going. Why wouldn't I be going there?" One things for sure: I never would have imagined that Finland would come to mean as much to me as it has, but now this country and language and culture is forever a part of me. I know that Bolivia will be the same for you, Tyler. I now understand what it means to come to love a place because that is the place that the Lord has chosen for you to serve Him in. I. AM. SO. EXCITED. FOR. YOU.

 So great to hear from the rest of all y'all as well. (Haha, there's a member here in Haaga who lived in Oklahoma for a while. She likes to speak to me in a southern drawl... which is really funny to hear coming from a Finn.) Anyways, glad to hear that you had a good birthday, Dad, and that my present made it to you :) I am soooooooo excited for my birthday this weekend for a number of reasons. One of them being that it's GENERAL CONFERENCE! (woo-hoo!) I am so excited for the opportunity to hear from our prophet and the apostles and to be spiritually uplifted by their words. I will be going into conference with the same questions President Rawlings asked us to go into our last district meeting with: "What will I change about what I do and who I am as a result of what I hear and feel?" We have a very exciting weekend ahead of us!

This past week for us was in a word: miraculous. Of course it wasn't perfect, but the Lord's tender mercies were upon us in abundance. We are continually striving to talk to 20 people a day, and it's definitely hard work, but the Lord is blessing us for our efforts. We were walking home from a church activity with a member last week, and we still needed to talk to some more people in order to reach our 20. She was a returned missionary, so she was happy to do some contacting with us. One of the last people we talked to was an African man who gave us his number and said he might come to church. We had tried to contact him this past week, but he didn't answer our phone calls (which is always a bummer...) But then, miraculously, we get a phone call from him one morning! He apologized for not answering our calls because he had been sick all week. He then said that he had been discussing the bible with his friend recently, and his friend wants to meet with us! So, he gave our number to his friend, who ended up calling us later that day!!! It was absolutely incredible.

We have also been striving to reach our goal of 20 teaches a week-- and this past week it didn't look like it was going to happen. Sunday came around, we were short by 4 teaches, and we didn't really have any set up except for a dinner appointment with some members after church (p.s. the husband of that family served his mission in Dallas, spanish speaking. Small world!) Anyways, by the end of the day, we got 4 teaches which put us at exactly 20 teaches for the week. Ihmellinen!

I am really loving it here in Helsinki. I don't know if I've told you this before or not, but there were really only 2 areas that I wanted to serve in before I left Finland-- they were Tampere and Helsinki. I have been very blessed in that regard :) Helsinki is a really cool city. I love serving here.

Thanks for the pictures. Glad to hear that Tyler is carrying on the BYU choir tradition. Sounds like it was a great concert (Those Men's Choir concerts always are!) And it looks like you had a blast at Festival of Colors. I know I did when I went. It's a really fun experience. (And, as much as I like that picture of Tyler with Kyle and Tess, I can't see Tess' tummy :))

Oh, here's a random tidbit of Finnish culture for you: So here, they celebrate name days. Every Finnish name has a specific day of the year that they celebrate, and it's actually a bigger deal than their birthdays. So, one of the senior sisters here in the office is Finnish and her name day is on the same day as my birthday. So we will be celebrating together :) The snow is slowly melting, although we did get a random snowfall the other day... so fingers crossed that it won't be a white birthday :) But the days are now longer and brighter, and it's lifting my spirits :) Can't wait for summer!

Thanks for sharing about the sacrament meeting talks. It really is inspiring to look at the examples of the pioneers and ask why they did it. Several especially difficult days on my mission have led me to my knees and caused me to ask "why am I doing this?" But I am always reminded of my love for the Savior, and of his infinite love and mercy towards me.

And... I LOVE YOU ALL!

Rakkaudella,

Sisar Shaw