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!