I am so blessed to be here right now. Finland is wonderful. This week was really great. I love my companion so much-- words don't do it justice so the bottom line is that I love her. We have a really awesome Ward Mission Leader here who has given us lists of all the less actives in our ward with addresses. He has asked us to try and find each one and see if they still live there and then potentially choose a few to go and teach each week. We have at least 100 less actives in our ward. It is extremely sad. We haven't figured out what it is exactly that pulls them away from the church pretty soon after they are baptized. Finland is just "all its own". It's true that the few members who are actually active, are SUPER faithful and devoted to the gospel, but the rest... well they were baptized and then just fell away. My hope is that while on my mission, I can truly have a "converted" convert. That they won't just receive the lessons and think that it's a really good thing, but that they will have a sure solid testimony of it, so much that they won't fall away. Yes it definitely is still possible, and we can't predict what will happen but if we really try our best to make sure they are completely and fully converted, regardless of the time that it takes, I think it will be a success. It's almost harder to get the ones who have fallen away from the church to come back than it is for the ones who have never experienced it before to come. Siis... if we can stop that in the first place it would solve the "at least 100 less actives" problem.
We got a new investigator yesterday!! YAY!!! I am SUPER excited about this one. She is a single mom with one little girl. She is from somewhere in Africa and has lived here in Finland for about 15 years. She has talked about wanting to find the "right" church but just never knows which is really right. Well of course we were able to share about Joseph Smith's experience and talked to her about praying for this answer. I am just super happy to have someone knew.
This week I tried silli... AKA Herring. (raw pickled fish)... yes against the rules. Guess where at? haha Piispa (bishop)'s house. It was disgusting. Sister Forrest made us try it together, and I just had to hum There is Sunshine in My Soul Today because otherwise I was going to throw up. I have no idea how they eat that stuff. DISGUSTING... Oh the places you'll go, the things you'll eat...
It was Juhannus Päivää this last weekend. So that is the longest day of the year and especially for them here, the longest day with pretty much sunlight all day long. It's crazy. So now the days will start getting shorter which I am not exactly excited about... really winter itself i'm not thrilled about, but it will be good to experience it all.
Well to close this off... Just want to share some of my testimony:
"And I think to myself... Oh what a wonderful world!".... Literally almost everyday I think that to myself and I am just overwhelmed with God's love for me, for you, for all of us. Finland is SO beautiful. It is a fairytale land here. The pictures that I send home occasionally don't do it justice. The colors are more vibrant, the sky more real, and everything is just so clean and fresh and new. It's as if it is completely untouched by rain, wind, dirt, human hands, anything. I've thought quite a bit about the following scripture this last week as I have been walking down the streets or along the ocean-- "Believe in God, believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth, believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth, believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" (Msh 4:9). I don't understand how trees were originally made, or flowers, or the sky, or dirt, or any of it. I don't understand exactly how man was created or how everything on this earth exactly came to be, but I do believe and know there is a God who created it all and he knows perfectly. I can't comprehend all of his ways, but "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Neph. 11:17). Trials are placed in our life for specific reasons we may never understand, BUT don't stop believing in the God who made everything else possible in our lives-- who "has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another" (Msh 2:21). God is supporting me from each moment to the next. He is lending me breath to wake up each day and find happiness and joy here. He is giving me strength to do hard things-- to talk to people and learn this crazy language, to talk to people about the true restored gospel on the earth today. I love my Heavenly Father and it is because of Him that I am able to experience all of this-- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I hope that you too will find this happiness in each day. That you can look up through those moments of pain and disappointment or moments of greatness and victory and just say Thank you-- I know you made all of this possible. "Rejoice in the Greatness of God"!!! Sanon taman Jeesuksen Kristuksen nimessä. Aamen.
Make yourself a great week! Love you all!