Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Terve!

Well, I was excited to tell you that we got our first snow last week-- but then you all beat me to the punch by saying that you did as well. The temperature took a nose-dive last week, and we're now in the negatives. But it sounds like the weather in Utah will be about the same when I go home... So just think, you're all getting a taste of the weather here in Finland :)

It sounds like you all had an exciting week! I was so excited to hear that you went to Sisar Christoffersen's homecoming! She is one of my favorite people, and really has influenced my life so much for the better. I'm so glad you got to meet her.

Well, this past week was one of those "up and down" weeks. I suppose every week is. Every week, every day has it's own ups and downs--but of course it's our job to just focus on the "ups." So, I'll share with you some of the "ups" from this week:

Our recent convert, James, is doing SO WELL! We taught the YSA FHE last week, and we had him come along with us. It was so good for him to meet others his same age who share the same values that he does. He had a great experience. He received the priesthood last week, and is so excited to "serve in the house of God," (to use his own words :)) It's just so funny because I never would have guessed that he would be doing this well when we first started teaching him-- but that just goes to show that our perceptions and impressions of people are so limited. We never see the big picture. I'm so grateful that my mission has given me the opportunity to really get to know people-- and the better I get to know people, they more often than not surprise me with what incredible people they are. I have a lot more friends now than I did 18 months ago--which I am so grateful for.

We struggled to find a member to come with us to a teach at the last minute one night this week--but we eventually did, and after the teach, she turned to us and said "that was exactly what I needed." It felt so good to hear. Our missionary efforts serve so many purposes-- and I'm grateful that our efforts have a far greater impact than we even realize. Of course it's frustrating that we can't see the big picture, but every once in a while, we're blessed with experiences like that that just reassure us that we're doing good. We're doing the right thing. We're blessing the lives of others--even when we may not realize it!

We went to the temple for district meeting last week. Always a good experience. I counted--and that was my ninth time to visit the temple here in Finland. It's possible that I've been through the temple in Finnish as many times as I have in english. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I like Finnish so much better. That is one thing that I know I will miss when i go home.

It's funny how it all works out. I really have come to love this cold land and this difficult language. I'm so grateful that God sees the big picture and knows what we need better than we do.

We have another exciting week ahead of us. I'm excited to continue to work hard till the end.

I love you all!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 
 

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012

Terve!

So good to hear from you all. Sounds like good things are happening there on the home front. Good things are happening here on the Finland front as well :) Somehow I seem to be at a loss for words right now, though. I don't know why. Maybe my creativity has finally left me after writing you every week for 18 months. (well, 17 months. Not quite 18 yet.)

Anyways, good things are happening. I already said that. SEE, I told you my creativity is leaving me. We are continuing to teach Mary's husband, and he's doing really well. We met with their friend's family from Greece again this week--the mom ended up coming to church! And when we met with them, they were just RAVING about these cookies that I had made for them last week. They said they wanted me to teach them how to make it. Too funny. I just followed a basic chocolate-chip-cookie recipe from a cookbook.

For district meeting this week, we watched the last session of conference (it's not broadcast live here since it's too late at night Finland time.) So we all crammed inside the tiny family-history room at the Kerava chapel to watch it on-line--it was so good! Such good talks. I really felt like the theme for conference was discipleship. The opportunity I have to be a full time missionary and disciple of Christ has been so meaningful to me. But it's exciting to know that this isn't going to end once I take off the name-tag. In a lot of ways, this is only the beginning.

We did splits this week with the sisters from Oulu--here in Haaga. Although that would have been exciting to go to Oulu. I'm kind of bummed that I never did get to see northern Finland on my mission-- but I'm pretty fond of the south. It's funny what a difference it is, even in this small country. We were about to go outside, and the sister I was with was just putting on all these layers--and I was like: "I don't think you're going to want all those..." She ended up taking a lot of it off by the end of the day. Apparently they've already seen snow up in Oulu. All we've gotten down here is rain... and LOTS of it! It seriously feels like I come home every night just drenched from head to foot.

But probably the most exciting news from this week is that "Eric"--another friend of Mary and her husband--set a baptismal date for the same day as Mary's husband! Absolutely miraculous. It was funny the way it happened too. Every time we've ever talked about baptism with him, he's always just been like: "well, can't I just visit your church without getting baptized?" And he's come to church almost every week. But then the elders from a neighboring area knocked on his door a couple nights ago--not even intending to visit him-- but they ended up talking with him and said they felt the spirit strongly--so they set a baptismal date for the 10th of November! They didn't even know that was Mary's husband's baptismal date as well. So if everything goes well, we will be having another double baptism in just a few weeks!

Another cool thing from this week: we met with one of our investigators who we haven't met with in a long time, and as we were talking, he was like: "yeah, i went to your conference." We were like: "What!? We didn't see you there!" And he said: "yeah, it was the one on sunday at 12:00"-- which was the priesthood session, which explains why we didn't see him. I almost had to laugh-- I was so sad the other week that none of our investigators came to general conference-- but it turns out that at least one of them did! And he really liked it.

Well, I love you all :) Thanks for being so supportive of me. I got your letters in the mail last week! They really uplifted me. You guys are the best!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Hei! Moi! Terve!
(couldn't decide which one I wanted to use... :))

So good to hear from you all :) I know that P-days are inspired. We really do need that one day a week after a hard week's work to recharge for another week ahead of us!

We're definitely keeping busy--and constantly trying to find ways to be even better and more effective. At the end of the day though, I'm grateful for how simple it really is. It's not complicated. There's really not a secret "trick" to doing missionary work. The Lord simply asks for our heart, might, mind and strength. So whenever I get stressed about details, I always have to remind myself of that. Keep things simple by simply loving. We try different things out, we make mistakes along the way, but if I can say that I loved at the end of the day, then I know that I'm a successful missionary. So, I'm just trying my best to love all those around me.

Highlights from this week:

Something that our mission president has counseled us to do is to "not forget about the less-active." Helping these people to return to church is JUST as important as new convert baptisms. We realized that we had been perhaps neglecting this area recently, so we decided to focus back on it again. We went to go visit this lady who hasn't come to church in at least the amount of time that I've been here (over 7 months now...) and then she came to church on Sunday! It was as simple as that! All she needed to know is that her presence was missed, and to be reminded that her Heavenly Father loves her. Ihme.

We had zone conference this week. SO GOOD! Haha, I guess I realize that reading about our meetings and conferences has got to be boring for you--but they are just so exciting to me. I love them so much. And it never ceases to amaze me that our questions really are answered when we come prepared! The conference ended on a really cool note-- President played a slide show set to beautiful music with pictures of all the baptisms from the last year-- which I had no idea he was planning, so I'm not sure how he got all the pictures with me in it. It was really humbling to see. Humbling because I know that I have very little, if anything, to do with these people's conversions. The Lord has simply let me enjoy the ride. Afterwards I had an interview with president, and we talked about all of the really cool things that I've witnessed in this area, to which I said "I don't know why we're so blessed!" He kind of laughed and replied "sometimes there's not a reason." Haha, and it's true. A lot of times, we're not "worthy of the least of all the mercies" (Gen. 32:10). We simply need to be humble and grateful for them.
 
We FINALLY got to meet the mom of that young woman ("Päivi") that we're teaching. We went and had a teach at her place right in the heart of downtown Helsinki, and it went really well. She was incredibly nice. So now I'm just hoping and praying that her heart has softened, and that she will allow her children to be baptized. I think if I can still see one more thing happen before I go home, I want to see Päivi get baptized. Of course I know that everything happens according to the Lord's timetable, but it would just be really cool to see.

Mary and her husband continue to do well. They're both facing their fair share of hardships and trials at the moment, which is hard to see, but I can't do anything more than encourage them to turn to the Lord when things get tough. We all know that no one is exempt from adversity in this life-- but these trials can either draw us closer to the Lord or further away from him--but the choice is ours. I LOVED what was spoken about the trials of our faith in general conference. I can't wait to go back and read the talks again.

So anyways-- Mary and her husband and James could all use your prayers. It looks like we're going to have to push Mary's husband's baptismal date back a couple of weeks, but it will happen. Their faith is still strong though. It's been such a blessing to see them all face hard things and arise victorious--with strengthened faith in Christ. Some REALLY exciting news about them though, is they have this other friend, "Jim", who has been along for a lot of their teaches and his family from Greece just arrived here in Finland last week! We were able to meet them and share a message with them. I think they will be very receptive. They live in a neighboring ward's area, so the elders there will be teaching them. I'm excited for them!

Anyways, that's our life here in Haaga at the moment. Good things are happening. The weather is getting colder, which always reminds me "oh yeah, I'm in Finland." haha. So for those of you who are worried about your cold weather there in Utah--just remember that the trick is how you dress! Something to keep your hands, ears and feet warm is key :) Haha, my mission has taught me several things.

I LOVE YOU ALL!

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

October 8, 2012

Terve!

WOW, wasn't conference amazing!?!? I was shocked, but also really excited to hear about the new age requirements for missions. I'm sure there will be a MASS influx of missionaries leaving in the near future, which is really exciting. I think the age drop to 18 for the young men is great-- that first year after high school just seems to be a really hard "waiting period" anyways--and I'm sure that Kyle and Steven really wish that 18 was the minimum age requirement when they left on their missions. So that's really cool. I'm not sure how I feel about the 19-year-old sister missionaries yet--but I know that this is inspired from the Lord, so this is what it needs to be now. But I'll just say that I needed to leave on my mission when I was 21--so for me, it worked out perfectly.

Aside from that, though, the talks at conference this year were amazing. To me, they all seemed a lot bolder. Which I LOVED. Oh, it was so good. Conference weekend here in Finland is quite different from back there at home--but I've grown accustomed to how it is here, so I'm sad that this was my last one in Finland. We watch the morning broadcasts live--which is 7 p.m. in Finland. Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, I'm more of a night owl, I don't know, but I LOVED ending my days on Saturday and Sunday with conference. The Saturday afternoon session is rebroadcast on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. So in between the two sessions on Sunday, our district made and ate dinner together-- probably the same time you were all having breakfast. It was a lot of fun. Our new district this change is really great--and as I sat there and realized that it was my last one (wierd)--I couldn't think of a better district to end my mission in.

Now in addition to all of the JOY that comes from conference weekend that I was feeling, I was also feeling a little bit of sadness. I felt sad as I thought about the investigators, less actives and recent converts that we are working with right now who weren't there. Every once in a while I would hear something in a talk and then think about one of the little "lambs" from our "flock"--something that was said that seemed so perfect for them-- and I was just so sad that they weren't there to hear it. But I guess it's like the parable of the ten virgins in a way-- I can exhort these people to fill their lamps with oil all I want, but I can't just give it to them. They need to want that and do it for themselves. And that's a hard realization. I'm sure it's how parents feel. And so while we did just that--encouraged them to come to conference and even arranged fellowshippers to help them get there (and many, many of these people seemed very excited and eager to come to conference, and said that they would come)-- none of them showed up. So while it was a very happy weekend, there was also that tinge of sadness :(

That's all I'll say about that though. Now on to happier things. Mom, I loved that you said that you thought about missionaries across the world (and specifically me and Tyler :)) as we all sang "Called to Serve" together. I can assure you that as I sang, there was a big smile on my face, and my thoughts were turned to my little brother who is serving in Bolivia, as well as my family back at home-- all of whom were singing that song together right at that moment. I love things like that that connect us to eachother--even from half a world away.

One other happy moment from this past week: We cooked Greek food together with Mary and her fellowshipper (who served her mission in Greece)-- it was SO much fun and the food was SO GOOD. Let me tell you, the Greeks are eating well. That's for sure. So that was fun. We started teaching Mary's husband this last week--it's really important to him that he and his wife are unified, and so he really wants to be baptized as well. We set a date for October 20th, so hopefully everything works out for that! Exciting things are happening.

I love you all :) I hope you enjoyed your "conference birthday," mom! I was thinking about how both of our birthdays fell on conference this year--but you really can't ask for a better birthday present :) I hope it was a great day.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw


 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Terve!

Well, change calls came this week. But I'll let you know what those were at the end of my email.

We were blessed with 2 baptisms on Saturday. It was such a happy day :) It was so incredible and humbling to witness the changes that our investigators were making in their lives--and how HAPPY they were as a result. They had to overcome their fair share of opposition to get to that point--but they knew that it was worth it. For the sake of this email, I will call them James and Mary. In one of our teaches with them this week, their friend asked "wait, WHY are you getting baptized again?" Mary paused for a moment and then replied "because this is the church where the authority has been restored." Then James, who hardly ever speaks up in teaches, said something along the lines of "Look, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't know it was the right thing to do."-- AMAZING! And it's so humbling too, because I know that I've just been a bystander watching this miracle unfold. The Lord is the one who's been doing all the real work here. I'm just grateful to be a part of it.

So a lot of our week last week went to preparing them and getting everything ready for the baptismal service. Which went really really well :) When Mary came out of the water, we asked her how she felt. She replied "beautiful." And she was, she was just glowing. Watching James get baptized was such a joy. He was beaming from ear to ear. You could tell how excited he was. This is something that he's wanted for a long time.

Then Sunday was a really neat day. They were both confirmed in sacrament meeting, and the lesson afterwards in sunday school was very appropriate-- it was about the gift of the holy ghost. Mary shared a little bit about her experience when she got baptized. She said that Saturday was a really bad day. Everything was going wrong, she got in an argument with her husband, and said that at one point, she just threw her bag on the ground and said that she wasn't going anywhere. So she stopped and started to think for a moment. She decided that if she wasn't going to do this for herself, she was going to do it for everyone that loves her. She said that she really feels like it was the devil that was trying to keep her from getting baptized--that he tries to keep us from doing what is right and good. And then she said that when she and James got baptized and confirmed, she felt like there was a celebration going on in heaven. We assured her that there was, as well as here on earth :)

Such a good week. Such a good end to the change.

So, change calls. I now know where I will be serving for the rest of my mission, as well as with whom-- and that is in Haaga with Sisar Ballif :) It's so crazy to see how my mission has unfolded-- I've only served in 2 areas, with 3 different companions in each of those areas. But I know that our missions are tailor-fitted by the Lord specifically for us. My mission has been, is, and will continue to be exactly what I need. I love my mission.

I love you all :) I'm so grateful for my family, and above all grateful for a loving Father in Heaven.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw


September 24, 2012

Terve!
 
Greetings from the WAY far north. It's getting colder :( But our spirits are warm :) So many good things are happening. Here comes that question that seems to come every week: where do I possibly begin?

Well, just before coming here to the library to email you guys, I received my "don't get trunky" letter in the mail from my mission president. So wierd. I guess that means that the end is coming up. Which I am very much in denial about. I never thought I would be this way, but I seriously will NOT think about it. But whether I think about it or not, the fate for where I will be for the remaining 6 weeks of my mission comes this Friday. Yup, change calls are once again upon us and I have NO idea what is going to happen. I hope more than anything that I will be able to spend my last transfer here in Haaga, but of course I am willing to serve wherever I am needed at this time. I just hope I'm needed here :)

So many good things are happening in this area right now. The baptisms are scheduled for this Saturday. We are praying and fasting that everything will work out. They are both doing so well, and really seem ready in so many regards. But one of them still needs to quit smoking. That is the one thing that is worrying me at this time. Even if she does not get baptized this weekend, I have no doubt in my mind that she will get baptized. It's only a matter of when.

We had a few teaches with them this past week, and they were all really good. My favorite was probably when we watched the Restoration DVD together and taught and testified about the prophet Joseph Smith. It was so good. The spirit was present. They even had a friend along who asked a lot of good questions, accepted a Book of Mormon and is now a new investigator :)

Oh, another cool thing with them: We taught them the law of tithing with the Bishop this week, and before the lesson started, one of them was like "hey, last night I was really tired when I came home from work, but I decided to read a little in the Book of Mormon. I found a passage about the Plan of Salvation that you taught us about. It was really nice." Mom and Dad, I'm not sure what it feels like to be a proud parent, but I can only imagine that it feels somewhat like how I felt in that moment.

So, good things are happening. But I still feel stressed sometimes. Like that feeling that there's always more to be done, there's always something more that I can do. Which is true. There is always more to be done. Our duties and responsibilities as missionaries (and in other capacities in life) are never ending. I definitely feel like we really can only do so much-- we do all that we can and leave the rest up to the Lord. But where is that "point" that is "all that we can do"? At what point do I hand it over to the Lord? Well, I've come to realize (and am still coming to realize) that this perspective is very different from the way the Lord sees it. He isn't waiting at the finish line marked "all that you can do." He doesn't look at us and say "well, you didn't quite make it, so I'm going to withhold my grace." He's with us every step of the way. He rejoices in our righteous endeavors and desires. And He sees the potential in each of us. So He is right there by our side--helping us when we are tired, discouraged, stressed, uncertain, etc. We just need to remember to look to Him. I'm praying right now that I can more fully trust in Him.

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw

September 17, 2012


Terve!
 
I think I say this every week, but I really have no idea where to begin.

This past week was miraculous.

And I really don't feel like we're doing that much differently. But things are happening. We were so incredibly busy this past week--with good things. We were constantly teaching. If a teach ever fell through, it just meant more time to do other necessary things (like more teaching.) Man, it was a crazy week. But so good. Very rewarding. Our issue is no longer how we fill our time, but how we manage our time with all of the things we need ot do! We saw a dramatic increase in teaches with a member present. We had 3 investigators at church, as well as 3 potential investigators. Our investigators with baptismal dates are doing well. We're finding new investigators. SO much is happening!

So that's a very broad, general overview of all that's going on in this area right now. I hope you can get a sense of how difficult it is for me to pick and choose what I write in my emails to you. There is so much that happens every single day and week in the life of a missionary, it's impossible to capture it all. But with that being said, here's a few things from this week:

I called one of our investigators on the phone this past week (remember the atheist who came to church?) He's been hard to get a hold of recently, and as we talked he apologized for that and thanked us for calling, telling us how much it meant to him. Said he's going through a really hard time right now, and says that he's searching for something, he just doesn't know what. It was a really good conversation! So we have another appointment with his this week :)

Just yesterday I sat next to a 4-year-old girl at the bus stop who reminded me a LOT of Ariana. I smiled and asked what her name was, to which she just shook her head. I asked if she had a name. She nodded. I asked how old she was. We then proceeded to have a great conversation about our favorite colors and our bus cards until the bus came. We then got on the bus and sat in different places. After a few minutes, this little girl got up with her grandma and came to sit next to us. Said she wanted to keep talking with us. So we proceeded to talk about our favorite foods, and what we wanted for Christmas and our families until we had to get off the bus. It was the cutest thing ever.

We had a teach with one of our investigators this week about the Plan of Salvation. He's a very sincere guy, and while he said that he can't promise that he would get baptized in our church, he's committed to read the Book of Mormon, and in the last teach he mentioned to us how good this has been for him to be reminded of spiritual things--of the things that are really important. It felt really good to hear.

We saved up some P-day time from last monday to have a sleep-over on friday night with the senior sisters that work in the office. It was too much fun. One of them is going home this week, so this was our little farewell party for her :( (She's the one whose daughter works at the same place as Dad.)

We taught our investigators with baptismal dates this week about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. While they will need to make some changes before they can get baptized, they are so eager and willing to do so and so excited to continue learning more. I love teaching investigators like that--who really hunger and thirst after righteousness and just want to learn more and come closer to God. It in turn makes me want to do just that as well, and it strengthens my faith.

It was so cool to hear from Tyler this week. I don't think our missions could be more different-- here I am in a large, european city while he's out in the jungles of south america. But we're involved in the same, great work, and I am so excited that we both get to be a part of it. It's humbling. At times it's difficult. It's life-changing. It's so rewarding. I can't think of a better thing to be doing at this point in my life.

I love you all. I loved hearing from you. Hearing from my family I'm sure does just as much for me as hearing from me does for you all (did that make any sense?)

Rakkaudella,
Sisar Shaw