Rakkaat vanhemmat, sisarukset, ja ystävät,
[Good to see you! My dear parents, siblings, and friends]
My brain feels completely fried this morning, and I'm not really sure why. It might be because the sun has been really rude this week and has started to come through my window at 4:30 am instead of politely waiting behind the clouds til the time we're supposed to wake up. We've really worked hard this week, though. We had a wonderful District Meeting here in Pietarsaari on Wednesday in which we discussed truly caring for people. In particular, we talked about the way we speak to each person we try to share the gospel with each day. How do we think about them? How do we take into account their circumstances, their emotions? We cannot see everything Heavenly Father has potentially done to prepare this person to receive the gospel. So, if we were to think about every single one as THE ONE, how would we talk to them differently? It proved to be a good kick in the pants for yours truly. I've always wanted to err on the side of not worrying so much about what I say, and trust that Heavenly Father will make up the difference when I don't say everything perfectly, but really, it's so much more important that we really give our very best to each person, because every single one could literally be the one we've been praying for. Caring so much, loving so much, truly pouring yourself into everything you do, takes a lot more energy and focus. Makes me wonder how Heavenly Father feels about us. "I put you right there for that reason, why can't you see it?" "Wait, you just asked me for this and now you won't take it? What's wrong with you?!" Ok, perhaps a slightly irreverent tone for our Heavenly Father to use, but you get the point. Thinking about others strengthens my faith because I know this is how my Heavenly Father feels about me every day.
Everyone bailed on us. Three appointments in a row. It's disappointing, but as you all know I need to learn to be more patient, so I think this is just one of His ways to teach it to me. Gotta have back-up plans.
I taught my first full lesson all in Swedish, all by myself. I had a headache afterwards. It was one of the Bulgarians who came to church five or six weeks ago. We never got his address, so we haven't been able to find him, but we ended up just tracting into him. He's really cool, but my Swedish might even be better than his. He really wants to know why we drink water instead of wine in the ordinance of the Sacrament, which was a perfect way to lead into a discussion of the Restoration.
Above mentioned District Meeting, lunch afterwards, and then splits with Vaasa. Elder B and I, after having had a remarkably bad day in terms of finding people, finally found a man tracting. We really focused the whole day on finding people with the idea that this one could be prepared, so before this man opened his door, we were ready for him. He told us he really doubts if God is even there, and that's why he left the Lutheran church this week. He assumed that that meant we wouldn't want to talk to him anymore. But we ignored his apparent disinterest and testified that we had come to know that God exists through prayer. He said he wondered why we didn't see more miracles in this world. I told him that in my mind, any one of us having the right and the power to speak to the Everlasting Creator of the Universe at any moment, on any day, in any situation, was the among the greatest miracles I have ever seen. the smallest, shortest, simplest prayer, when offered sincerely, truly is a miracle. It has blessed my life so much. We continued and showed him Moroni 10:3-5, in which any one can know that this book is true, and that God still speaks to men. He was blown away. He told us what a great promise that was to him. He gladly took the Book of Mormon and agreed to read. Unfortunately, he bailed on our appointment and we haven't been able to make contact with him since, but that simple conversation at the door made me realize how much our attitude and expectations about each person can change the outcome dramatically.
We made it out to Munsala again. A's little three year old daughter was the cutest thing ever. When we came in, she got shy and ran to hide behind the couch. A said she'd been talking about me all day. Yes, my best friend in this branch is a three year old girl who I can barely communicate with. What's the big deal? After I came and "found" her behind the couch, everything went as normal. She disappeared into the back room for a second and came trotting back out with the family cat (which is about as big as she is!) in both arms, so she could show Elder D. Then, after that, she disappears again, and comes back out with a kitten! Apparently their cat just had kittens, or as this little girl calls them, "Kissy babies." Elder D and I still haven't stopped laughing about that. She's so funny.
Our message to A was that God is with her always. We read from 2 Kings where Elisha tells his servant, "Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" I love that story and the message it holds to anyone who feels lost in trying to simply do what's right. No matter what, if we do what's right, He will be on our side, and God plus anyone else is always a majority. It was a well needed message for her. T stayed upstairs, but he at least gave us a ride home, so we got to talk a little bit.
Awesome talks about families in sacrament meeting. I got to translate again, which was fun, but one of the microphones kept cutting out, so when I couldn't understand the Swedish and I couldn't hear the Finnish, I just either made something up or had to whisper into the translator, "Sorry, guys, just didn't get that part." I felt really bad. But, they were all very appreciative afterwards. We had a dinner appointment after church that's about a twenty minute bike ride away and takes us past the really awful smelling factory just outside the city. On the way back, we decided to go home by a different route, through the woods, so we wouldn't have to pass the factory again. Both the best and worst decision of my mission so far. The path through the woods was nothing but a swamp. There were parts we had to stop and just walk the bikes through because it was just too thick to bike in. We forded a few small streams, trying not to sink in because the banks we had to walk on were only about three inches thick and would crumble if we weren't fast enough, dragging our bikes through the water along with us. Then we got to a part where we literally had to ride our bikes through the water, and we had to ride fast, because if not we would get stuck with nowhere to stand, and fall right in the water. Not gonna lie, I felt a bit like Indiana Jones the whole time. I'm just glad Finland has no snakes. Eventually, we found the straight and narrow path that led to eternal joy and happiness in the form of a solid bike path and made our way home. I love being a missionary.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week everybody.