Hello family and friends!!
Thank you, thank you! I’m getting all of your DearElder.com letters, so please keep them coming! I love to hear about your lives! 🙂
I just Finnished up week one at the MTC and it’s great! My companion is Sisar Jones from Kayesville and we are both third generation Finnish missionaries. How cool is that?! I met her via Facebook a couple of months ago. When I walked into the MTC I was whisked away to get language books, unpack, and find my new classroom. The whole process is sooo streamlined! But a bit overwhelming too. I finally had a moment to catch my breath and looked down at the card that said who my companion would be. I almost started crying for joy when I saw her name!The Lord really is mindful of us. 🙂 It’s been fun to connect about Finland. Her grandmother (Riitta Anneli) is also from there and her name is so close to Mummo’s! (Raija-Leena Anneli).
Well, I’ll start off with spiritual experiences:
We started teachings in Finnish last Friday and it was crazy! I thought I knew Finnish before I got here, and in all reality it’s going pretty well, but boy! I didn’t know ANY gospel words! They’re all so long! But, we’ve already memorized our purpose and a missionary in Finnish. 🙂 Our second lesson together with our investigator, Anna, was a bit rocky. Afterwards Sisar Jones and I talked over it and even though I understood what was happening in Finnish the whole time, I didn’t really feel a good feeling about what we taught. We thought about it and realized we’d been basing our lesson too much off of our limited vocabulary, trying to follow our exact lesson plan, and had been too scared to improvise with what Anna needed to hear. But! We made a goal to always pray before our lessons that we would have the Holy Ghost with us and that we would be able to follow what He prompted us to do. The next lesson was millions of times better. We focused more on what Anna needed to hear and asked her about her feelings. I know the Holy Ghost will guide us.
Tuesday I was a “solo” sister because Sisar Jones and half of our district of Elders (Vanhimat in Finnish) flew to LA to appear before the Finnish Consulate to get their visas approved. The rest of the district went Wednesday. Vanhin Vennerholm (a native of Sweden who sounds awesome trying ti do an Australian accent) didn’t need to go. I stayed too because I have dual citizenship. Yay! to be honest, I was kind of bummed not to get to take a day trip to LA with the Finns, but it ended up being to my benefit because I’ve maintained my regular sleep schedule of 8 hours a night. They, on the other hand, woke off at 2:00 am to fly out! And, I bonded with the Hungarian sisters (our roommates) all day. So, since half of our district was gone, we didn’t have a teacher that day and started to memorize our missionary purpose in Finnish. It took us a good hour and fifteen minutes and boy our brains hurt after that! I kept saying, we should really prepare to teach Anna because she said she was coming back today (she’s our “investigator,” but was a Finnish teacher here previously and I spoke Finnish with here every week at BYU). The Elders seemed convinced that since half of us were gone, she would just come back on Thursday, so they said, we’ll be alright. After memorizing the purpose, we sang some Finnish hymns to relax our minds a bit and just then Vanhin Minson’s face fell in disbelief. “You’ll never guess who just walked in,” he said. “Anna?” we all asked shocked. Vanhin Minson sent three Elders in with 3 minutes of prep time and they stayed in there for 20 minutes!
I taught Anna with Vanhin Vennerholm and Vanhin Minson (our white blond district leader). They’re both awesome and have such strong testimonies! We taught the Plan of Salvation with our limited vocabulary. Since I can understand what is going on more than everyone else at this point, it’s usually my job to follow up with people and ask how they feel about what they’ve read int he Book of Mormon. Sometimes I feel bad that I talk so much in lessons, but I’m really trying to help everyone else learn too. On our way into the lesson Vanhin Reeder said, “You Elders are lucky. You’re walking in there with a strong prosthetic leg!” He said, “I know! We’re lucky.” Even though my comprehension is still higher (a year of Finnish really helps!), I literally see God blessing our district with the gift of tongues every day! At the end our our lesson, Tuesday, I was trying to think of a way to close. I just looked over at Vanhin Minson and whispered, “Testify.” All of a sudden, he started testifying in Finnish that he knew God loved Anna and her family and that he loved his family. It was amazing because earlier in the lesson when we was teaching the prepared material, he struggled through everything and said he didn’t really feel the Spirit, but the moment I asked him to testify, the Spirit brought “all things to his remembrance” and Anna was deeply touched. It was amazing! In addition to that, Vanhin Vennerholm said he didn’t understand a thing we said, but he STILL felt the Spirit in our lesson. That is a testimony to me that Heavenly Father speaks all languages and loves his children everywhere.
So, some fun things about the MTC, almost 600 missionaries entered the same day as me! Sister Graviet, my BYU roommate is here and it’s lovely to see her! I’ve also seen my friends, Sister Smith going to Georgia, Elder Wilson from Rexburg (he’s in my branch!), Elder Nuss going to Argentina, multiple other people from my high school and BYU! We wake up a t 6:30am every day, get ready, go to breakfast and then start class. Right now we only have one teacher so we do personal, companion, and language study for an hour each during one block and then repeat a similar cycle again. We’re still getting into the hang of things. The Hungarian sisters are SO much fun! They teach us everything we need to know. 🙂 It’s crazy to me that I’ve been here over a week and yet it feels like so long at the same time.
Two more quick reports!
I went to the temple with my district this morning and it was wonderful! I love being inside where I can feel God’s love for me and for all of you! I prayed for the people of Finland that their hearts would be softened and God would prepare them to meet us. I know he will. I’m so grateful we get to go!
I’m in the MTC choir and Lloyd Newell is coming on Sunday to do MTC and the Spoken Word with us. Wish it was being broadcast!
I love you all! Ask my mom for my address if you want it. I pray for you daily!