Merry Christmas or Hyvää Joulua and Happy New Year or Onnellista Uutta Vuotta from Finland! Hello everyone!
This was the best week of my mission yet!
I now have two companions, Sister Saarinen and Sister Jordan. This week was Christmas and my birthday–Thank you to EVERYONE for all of the Christmas and birthday wishes! You are all very appreciated! 🙂 Thank you to everyone for the thoughtful gifts as well. We definitely did not go without this year. 🙂
Christ is the center of this wonderful time of year! Although Christmas was much different this year as I was away from family and festivities, I loved Christmas because I was able to really focus on Christ. With a Christmas “initiative” to show the video “A Savior is Born” or “Vapahtaja on Syntynyt” to as many people as possible, we contacted more people than ever this week! It really helps to have three sisters in our companionship because we don’t miss a beat when we are talking to people! I realized that Christmas means that Christ is our Savior and that his birth is what we base all of our time upon. Today is the 29th of December and it is 2015 years after the birth of our Savior.
I think one of my biggest realizations this week is that I really am here for the sole purpose to bring people unto Christ. Sister Jordan put it excellently this week when she said, “We really have one purpose under the sun: to invite people to come unto Christ.”
I’m here in Finland serving a mission because I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I know that he has restored his perfect and true gospel upon the earth today. As I celebrated his birth this week, I realized that Christ has blessed my life by giving me strength through trials. He has given me the opportunity to be cleansed of my sins, and also to overcome my weaknesses by relying on him (Alma 7:11-13 in English or Alma 7:11-13 Suomeeksi and Ether 12:27 in English or Ether 12:27 Suomeeksi in the Book of Mormon).
I am here because a prophet of God called me to be here at this time. I know this call was inspired and that I am here with these companions at this time to learn and grow from them.
Here are a few experiences:
Christmas in Finland is a time of great celebration. I would say it’s not quite as commercialized as it is in America, but there are definitely busy shoppers everywhere.
This week we visited a less active member in her home and shared a Christmas message with her. We hope to continue to visit her every so often, but she lives almost an hour away from us (still in our proselyting area) so we are trying to coordinate efforts with members of the ward (her visiting teachers) to get her to start reading the Book of Mormon again. Please pray for her to find the desire to read again from the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible. Our wonderful Relief Society president drove us out there.
To put a taste of holiday joy into people’s lives, and a bit of home for me, our Relief Society President (the woman who leads the women’s group within the church) took us out caroling. We visited the home of a few of her relatives and although they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints they welcomed us in and one said we could come back to visit sometime. Working with the members, especially around the Christmas season, really softens peoples’ hearts. 🙂
One of the highlights of my week was being able to see my family on Skype for a short 40 minutes! I know they are so blessed while I am away and it does my heart good to see all of you. Andrew, David, Matthew, Mom, and Dad! It’s like in the scripture. I would rejoice to see you anyway, but I especially rejoice because you are all still my brethren (brothers and parents) in the Lord. 🙂
We taught a lesson this week! Please pray that more people will let us in! I know I am here to help people find everlasting joy in their lives.
Christmas felt strangely familiar here as I ate ham, carrot casserole, rutabaga casserole, pickled herring (that was a new one for me), Karjalan piirakka (rice pies), smoked salmon, and beets. It was a comfort to see my heritage again coming to bless me.
I have the best parents ever!
The members of the ward here take such good care of us. We are overflowing with food and gifts!
I love each one of you and I want to leave you all with a challenge. Will each of you tonight take 3-5 minutes and list what Christ has blessed you with in life? If you’ve never thought about it before, you can start by thinking of your family. I know he has blessed each one of us and that as we search for the hand of the Lord leading our lives, we will see it becoming more and more evident. When you’ve done this share it with a family member or friend.
I’ll do the same with my companions. 🙂
Enjoy the picture!