Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27, 2016

Hyvää Joulua! Unfortunately I did not have my first ''White Christmas'' but it was still pretty amazing! I got to skype my amazing family! It was great talking to them and I think that is when I got the biggest Christmas present of all.....seeing my brother and sister eat salmiakki. Salmiakki is a Finnish candy that Finns actually love. So in my package home to them of course I had to send some. I made them eat it on skype and seeing them almost throw up and then run for water was very satisfying. Finns really love Salmiakki, I don't know how but they do. I love my family so much so I was so grateful for the time I got to spend with them on Christmas day.  

We got to spend Christmas Eve with a really great member from our ward. Finns celebrate on the 24th so it was so sweet of her to invite us. We had some Finnish Christmas food which means casseroles! We had potato casserole and carrot casserole and some seafood as well. And then for dessert, a ton of chocolate. So overall a very good day. I think that by the time this transfer is over I will have gained 40 pounds but I have no regrets. 

This Christmas was a very special one as I had a lot of time to truly appreciate and think about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for this time that I have to be a missionary and I love feeling that I am making a difference. I actually just found out that my convert Monday is in Amsterdam and is active in the church! It made me so happy to hear about him and I love being able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. I hope everyone had a great Christmas as well! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas! I love Christmas time here in Finland! This past week we were able to do an amazing service project, we caroled with some ward members at an old folks home. It was so much fun and the people there loved it! The only hiccup was that we didn't know any of the Finnish Christmas songs. We had the words so it was just a lot of guessing on our part. It was cool to sing some traditional songs that meant a lot to the people there. There was also a little three year old boy in the group that ran around the room the whole time dancing, it was just about the cutest thing ever. 

We also got the chance to carol for the Watsons! We were called in for interviews last week and got to spend a lovely evening with them and some other missionaries including dinner! This past week we have just felt so loved by our amazing ward here in Marjaniemi and we even got a homemade fruitcake and some delicious Finnish chocolate from them. I am so glad I ended up staying here for the holiday season. 

We have a mission conference tomorrow and we've been asked to read Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapters 1 and 2. It has been so cool to read about the birth and life of Christ and really remember the reason for the season. I am so excited for Christmas day because I get to skype my amazing family!!! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

Ward Christmas party!

I saw the Joulupukki!!! We had a ward Christmas party and it was amazing! I feel like I got to really experience a ''Finnish Christmas''. The children sang this song that apparently summons Joulupukki aka Santa Claus. They were singing the song and Santa Claus climbed through the window! We went early to help set up and so we got to be Santa's helpers and make all of the gift bags for the children. They served these huge things of Christmas Porridge and Christmas tarts. We all sang a lot of Finnish Christmas songs and they even had the narration of the story of Christ's birth. All in all it was great night and my companions and I dressed in red and green to celebrate. 

Also, this week my companions and I started reading the Teaching of the President's book for President Howard W. Hunter and we are kind of obsessed. How have I never read these books before? They probably just looked really boring pre-mission to be honest but now I want to read them all! 

Something President Hunter said that really caught my attention this morning was,'' This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and in deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and the wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.''  I loved that and I really want to do my best this Christmas to be more Christ-like. 

We had a lunch appointment the other day and the sweet old Finnish member explained to us what she had cooked and what the ingredients were. I just whispered to my companions that it was onion casserole but I didn't tell them what else we were eating till afterwards. The onion casserole had a lot of mysterious white paste and I could tell my companions were a bit confused as to what we were eating. Outside they asked about it and I calmly explained that we had eaten a lot of fish fat. They flipped out and it was an interesting rest of the day. I don't think I'm a fan of fish fat! We also sang Christmas Hymns with her and it was super fun! I am so excited for Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

The three little pigs!

Hei Hei! I can't believe that I have been in a trio for a week now! My companions are just amazing and it's fun having three people because there is always something to talk about. We've had a couple ''adventures'' this past week trying to find places. Our phone doesn't have internet so we write down the instructions from google maps and then do the best we can! It's been interesting to say the least but we've also come to realize that Finns are so incredibly helpful when you ask them for directions! It's probably a good thing we are learning to find places with written instructions anyways because it gets so cold here in the winter that touch screen phones stop working. 

We have been getting to know a couple of really amazing members here lately, our goal is to try and visit everyone we can and show them the church's new Christmas video. There are a couple of really cute old ladies in the ward and we really want to Christmas carol to them so we'll have to start practicing! 

Fun fact: Today, December 6th is Finland's national independence day! It's basically a big party and ALL of the stores are shut down, so we have to wait until tomorrow to go grocery shopping!

Missions are so weird. There are so many amazing moments but there are also a lot of hard moments every day. That's why I am so grateful for the one hour of scripture study we do every morning. I came across a chapter that has really helped me on my mission and it really helped me this past week as well. It's Alma chapter 8 and it talks about how Alma was discouraged because none of the people in the city of Ammonihah would listen to him and then he was told,''...Lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great reason to rejoice, for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God..'' I love that he was told to rejoice and remember that although times and circumstance can be challenging, when we remember all of our blessing we truly have great cause to rejoice. I love that God loves us so much that he allows us to make our own choices even if we have to learn from our own mistakes sometimes. I know that the Book of Mormon is the cure for sadness! I know that god answer prayers.