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!


Sisar Shaw

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 20, 2012


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.


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?

Sisar Shaw

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 6, 2012

My dearest family,
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!")
Sisar Shaw