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 :)