Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week One: Days Feel Like Weeks & Weeks Feel Like Days!

I LOVE being a missionary! I had no idea I would be able to say that the first week of being in the MTC but I can! I love it! It is such hard work and you are busy and tired constantly but the Spirit is so strong here and you just feel amazing all day long!  The first day at the MTC kinda feels like a blur now so I am glad that I was able to write you all about it the night I got here. I don't think I am going to go day by day because days here feel like weeks and weeks feel like days.  So my clock is all messed up and I have no idea what happened when. 
First Temple Trip with my companions

MTC West Campus & Finnish Districts
West Campus is great! It is way more relaxed down here then up on the Main MTC and I have already visited the Main MTC like 5 times!  West Campus is probably at least 85 -90% Elders which is kinda cool that we sisters are so few down here. Plus you hear from so many Elders and Teachers that "sisters make the best missionaries".  No pressure there... :) 
My district consists of 3 sisters (me included) and 5 Elders and the other Finnish District consists of 6 Elders and 2 sisters.  So it has definitely been switched since the last group of Finnish Missionaries! My district is Vanhin Richards, Vanhin Hugie, Vanhin Stegeby, Vanhin Wilson, Vanhin Chapman, Sisar Farnworth, Sisar Ross, and Me! I have the best district ever! We can laugh a lot but be serious when we need to be!  One of my favorite things that we do is after our personal study time, we all give short testimonies and share scriptures on what we learned and felt.  It is such a cool experience!  As for my companions they are great! I love both of them!  
This is the best I can do with getting a pic with an MTC sign!

The Language & Teaching
Well, Finnish is hard.  But I love learning it!  It is such a beautiful language but a very difficult one.  Luckily I haven't let myself get discouraged yet so that is good.  We have already taught 4 lessons with our "investigator" Eero, who is actually the teacher for the other district. The first lessons were rough but the last one we did was amazing! And I did it with NO Finnish notes! I was so proud of myself,  you have no idea!  
I really want to share an amazing learning experience that I had before I taught this lesson.  After we had our third lesson we were trying to decide what to teach our investigator next, but since there are 3 of us we all had 3 different ideas and directions that we wanted to go (this is when we as companions start hitting heads).  So for like 30 minutes we were trying to decide, when our teacher came to help us.  He had been listening to our conversation and then decided to lovingly nudge us in the right direction.  He asked us to each individually pray about each of our ideas and see what the Spirit told us that we should teach.  We each did just that and then turned to the lesson that we felt we were guided to by the Spirit and guess what?!  We all opened to the same lesson!  It was such a cool experience and such a testimony builder! I know that when you pray for help and guidance and really search for and listen for an answer, that you will be guided to what you should teach or do. Because of that you could feel the spirit so strong in the lesson that we prepared for Eero, even through all of our broken Finnish! :) 
Sunday's are probably the best! It is a day that you really get to focus and help bring yourself closer to your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. For sisters, our schedule is like this:  We start by going to breakfast and then studying for 2 1/2 hours.  Then you go to the Spoken Word and listen to the Mormon Tab. and then have Relief Society.  Relief society was my favorite because she talked all about how the Lord will stand by you and about over coming trials and having faith.  The Spirit was so strong and I loved her talk!  It was really funny though because the people on the stand kept looking at our row with expressions like, "Are you ok?" because me and my two companions were all just crying our eyes out.  Haha,  it wasn't that we were sad, we were just really touched by the Spirit!  We then got to go to lunch, then Sacrament Meeting with our Zone.  That was cool and it is kinda scary because everyone has to prepare a 3-5 minute talk and then the branch president will just randomly call on 3 or 4 people to speak!  But we all get to prepare and learn more about the gospel by all doing it which is great!  We then have more study time and then a district meeting with our branch president.  That is followed by interviews and then a walk and then we go to choir!  Yes, I am doing the choir and I love it! It is a break from studying and speaking Finnish and you just don't have to think so it gives your brain a break.  We then have a devotional and then watch different kinds of church films.  So the whole day is just filled with a wonderful spirit... kinda like everyday! :)
Famous map picture!
Tuesday Devotional--Niel A. Anderson
I have to tell you about Tuesday Devotional!  We had to go at 4:45 to walk to the conference center to practice in the choir.  My companions and I got there fast so we were on the second row of girls which was cool because guess who spoke!  Elder Anderson!! It was so amazing to see an apostle of the Lord!! He spoke all about love and sacrifice and that through sacrifice you grow to love what you sacrifice for! I love that! Because it was such a sacrifice to leave but I absolutely love being a missionary!! But the coolest part was that it was raining and there was lightning so we had to stay indoors until the lightning stopped so Elder Andersen went to shake hands with the missionaries on the floor of the Marriott Center but then decided to come to the stands right where my companions and I were sitting!! So I got to shake Elder Neil L. Andersen's hand! And he told us how proud of us he was! It was amazing! We were so happy that when we had to walk home in the pouring rain we didn't even care!!! :) We got soaked though!
Our district all soaked from walking home from the devotional :)
Los Angeles VISA trip
Well I did get to go to L.A Wednesday and had to get up at 3:15 in the morning which was rough.  We were so tired and honestly it took us 15 minutes to get our visas and we spent at least 6 hours in the airport.  It was crazy!  I will have to write you about that experience because I am running our of time! I'm sorry! An hour goes by really fast and I am typing as fast as I can!
Answers to  Family Questions:
I am really doing great!  My health is good and I am sleeping just fine! I am so tired by the end of the day that I just crash by the time I get to bed! So that is good because then I don't have time to get home sick haha. And thank you for sending that blanket! It makes all the difference and I am not cold anymore! :)
My favorite part of the day is probably Teaching and Language study. I absolutely love teaching our investigators even though it is stressful and hard and I mess up a lot... I just love it! I absolutely love learning this amazing language too!
We try and speak Finnish as much as we can throughout the day but I only know religious words and a few others which makes it difficult but in class we speak mostly Finnish and practice mostly Finnish so it is about 6+ hours a day. 
Haha yes Cassie there are come "cute" boys haha and they are all alot of fun and we are all really good friends in our districts.  

You can eat as much as you want and drink as much chocolate milk as you want which is really cool!  Haha, the food wasn't very great at first but it is getting better! I don't go back for seconds though so I don't eat very much but I am never very hungry. And yes I am having a lot of fun! It is hard but you laugh a lot and make a lot of friends!
Well I wish I had more time!   Keep writing me and mom you are not sending too many packages! I love them! I love you all and miss you all!!

Sisar Knapp
 The tree on Main Campus that literally smells like Cream Soda... Yeah crazy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

First letter from the MTC

I am a missionary!  I absolutely love it!  It can be scary and really intimidating but I truly do love my name tag.  Saying goodbye was really hard but I was so excited!  After I walked away from the car they took me to a building where I got a packet with my wonderful missionary name tag, room key, companion names and release date:  March 10, 2015.

When they put my missionary name tag on it was the best feeling in the world and I never want to take it off.  Haha, good thing I'll be wearing it for 18 months!  After picking up my name tag I walked to a different building with my host and picked up my 12 pounds of books... literally 12 pounds!  So heavy!  Most of them are grammar books, dictionaries and scriptures in Finnish. :). After that they took me to wait for the buses where I met up with one of my companions.  Yes, that's right...I have two!  I also met one of the elders in my district, Elder Hugie.  He is 18 and right out of high school and really fun.  When we got to Wyview (West Campus) where we dumped out luggage and hurried to class.

Class...oh my goodness.  Talk about a firehose in your face and being a deer caught in the headlights! My teachers spoke absolutely no English so most of the time you just stare at them with wide eyes and look like "whaaat?"  But Finnish is a beautiful, wonderful language and I love it and can't wait to learn more!  But guess what?!  My teacher is Sisar Shaw!  (Sister Shaw is a cute returned missionary that we discovered through a missionary blog and invited out to our house to tell some of the recently called sister missionaries to Finland all about the Finland mission.).  How crazy is that?!  It was so comforting to see a familiar face!  I also have another teacher but I can't remember his name.  I really like him a lot too, even though I don't know a lot about him because of the language barrier.  

Well, there are 2 Finnish districts.  My district has 3 sisaret and 5 elders:  Sister Knapp, Sister Ross and Sister Farnworth and Elder Hugie, Elder Wilson, Elder Steberg who is from Sweden and speaks really good English too, Elder Chapman and Elder Richards.  They are all super nice and I spent the whole day with my companions, of course, and the first three elders I mentioned.  So after the confusing few hours of class I went to a welcome meeting where we listened to some talks and learned rules.  The coolest was when all of the missionaries sang "We Are As The Army of Helaman."  It gave me goosebumps it was so cool!  after that I went to dinner where you got two options: spaghetti or turkey and potatoes :p.  The serving sizes are tiny.  But they do have fruit and a salad bar which is good.  Over all, the cafeteria is really nice.  After dinner we went to a 'missionary experience' where we practiced and watched as missionaries taught investigators.  Fortunately, it was in English, haha.  That was fun but super intimidating!  After that I met my zone leaders and toured campus, then came to my apartment, unpacked, and read mom's letter.  Yes, Mom, it made me cry but thank you so much!   I love you and just know that I am happy and excited to be here and know I am doing the rig thing!  I still miss you all lots though!  Well, I have to practice so I thought I will write out my testimony in Finnish and then translate. :)

Mina tiedan etta Jesus Kristus elaa.  Mina tiedan etta Jumala Rakastaa sinua.  Mina tiedan etta sovitus on todellinen.  Mina tiedan etta Mormon kirja on totta.  Mina tiedan etta Joseph Smith oli tosi profeetta.  Jeesuksen Kristukseen nimessa.  Aamen.

I know that Jesus Christ lives.  I know that God loves you.  I know that the atonement is real.  I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I know Joseph Smith was a prophet.  In the names of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Well, I am doing really well.  No need to worry about me!  I definitely can use all your prayers to learn this language.  I love it but its going to be a tough.  I forgot to tell you some about my companions so I will really quick.  Sister Farnworth is 24 and super nice.  I really like her a lot.  She is so easy going, which I know is something I will love about her!  Sister Ross is super nice and very strong.  She is definitely the one that leads out.  I also have two other sisters in my apartment.  I don't know much about them yet since they are in the other district.  There are 8 in the other district, 2 sisters and 6 elders.  Sister Nyman is from Norway and is super cute and has the coolest accent.  She is 19.  Sisar Hansen is 24 and has been living in France.

I'm sorry I don't really have much time.  I got up early so I could finish writing you!  Mom, Dad, Kara, Cassie, Landon, Taylor and Emily, I love you so much.  You will be in my prayers!  I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.  It is going to be tough being away from home but it is going to be so rewarding.  I already know that.  I can't wait to hear from all of you!  Mina rakastan teita ja kirkko on totta!  (I love you and the Church is true!)

Sisar Knapp

Missionary addresses posted on Facebook helped us to know who Hayley's first companion might be (a friend of two of Hayley's cousins, incidentally)  When we ran into Sister Farnworth at the temple prior to dropping Hayley off, we grabbed this picture of the two of them.  Sure enough, Sister Farnworth is one of Sister Knapp's MTC companions.  :)

The MTC Drop Off--August, 21st 2013

What a sweet, exciting and difficult experience to drop Hayley off at the MTC.  Our emotions jumped all over the place, but not Hayley's.  She was calm and excited and only shed a few tears at the final curbside good-bye.  We are so excited for her!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Called to Serve

Hi everyone! My name is Hayley Knapp and I have been called as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to Helsinki Finland! I report tomorrow to the Provo MTC, where I will learn more about the gospel and how to speak Finnish. I couldn't be more excited! I know that God loves each and every one of us and that he hears and answers our prayers.  I know that through Christ we can be forgiven for our sins and one day return to our Heavenly Father's presence.  I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel to the earth in these latter-days and that there are living prophets on the earth to lead and guide us today. I know that families can be together for all eternity.  I know the church is true.

I couldn't think of a better way to start my mission blog then to share a story that is so close to my heart. It is in a large part, why I have made the decision to serve a mission.  This past January I had an experience that changed my life and gave me the answer that Heavenly Father has called me to serve him.

Really quick I would like to share a quote from an Apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell, he said,
  “The submission of one’s own will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar.  The many other things we ‘give’… are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.  However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him!  It is the only possession, which is truly ours to give!”  

This story is not only how I got my answer to serve the Lord but how I learned that God has a plan for each and everyone of us and that we can find so much peace and happiness when we are doing God's will. 

  On Monday January 14th I had what I think is going to be a life changing experience, at least for a year and a half anyway. Before I get to how I got my answer [to go on a mission] I need to give some background.  In October when Prophet Thomas S. Monson gave the announcement that young women could now serve a mission at age 19, I was so excited and jumped on the bandwagon saying "I want to go!  I am going to go on a Mission!"  But over time the more I thought about a Mission the more I realized how hard a Mission really is.  You have a set schedule everyday, you are away from home, a lot of the time learning a new language, in uncomfortable situations, can't talk to family or friends except through letters, its hard work constantly, and you are spending a year and a half away everything.  So it slowly began to make more sense for me to stay here.  I could get school done faster, I could work and earn money, I could go on a Study Abroad and travel instead, I could be with my Friends and Family.  It was that kind of thinking that made me believe that it would be best for me to stay here.  But it isn't.  Over several months, I had a feelings and promptings that I was supposed to go on a mission but I had gotten to the point where I didn't want to and was to scared to do it, so I stopped really searching for an answer which I know wasn't the right thing to do. 
 It wasn't until January that I finally humbled myself enough to truly ask.  I was in Mission Prep, which I had been planning to drop after going for about a week, when I felt the spirit really start to work on me.  I knew it was the spirit and to be honest it kind of made me uncomfortable because it made me feel guilty for pushing off all promptings about going on a mission but somehow it was able to work itself into me during this class. I really began to open up when I saw a title on a PowerPoint that the teacher was reading and it said, "No need to Fear".  That really just started to sink into me because I really did, and occasionally still do, fear going on a mission.  Following the title there was a quote by President Ezra Taft Benson and it read,
"Our work will be light and easy to bear if we will depend on the lord and work." "Don't worry about being successful. We are going to be successful-there is now doubt about it.  The lord has sent us to earth at the time of harvest.  He does not expect us to fail.  He called no one to this work to fail.  He expects us to succeed." 
 After reading that my teacher continued by saying, "Fear and Faith cannot coexist.  With Fear you cannot have Faith and with Faith you cannot have Fear." Really quick I want to explain something that I had learned in Book of Mormon earlier that day in Alma chapter 32 and it was all about planting a seed and the first step to planting a seed is to be taught.  And that is what I think was happening.  The teacher was teaching me what I needed to know.  Bro. Goodman than furthered his lesson by talking about Enoch and how he heard the Lords voice command him to go and preach the repentance unto the people and how after Enoch heard this he fell to his knees and ask why he was being called to go and do this work.  Enoch then gave 3 excuses to why he didn't see himself fit for the job.  1. He was but a Lad. 2. He was slow in speech 3.  He wasn't very popular.  This is when I realized that I wasn't much different than Enoch.  Whenever people asked if I was going on a mission I would simply say I was waiting for an answer, though I wasn't really trying, and then continue by giving reasons why it would be just fine for me to stay here. 
 It was at this time when I really felt the spirit push harder on me than ever before and I began to humble myself and for the first time really wanted an answer more than anything.  So after about 10 minutes of struggling with myself I said a silent prayer and asked with a sincere heart for an answer to whether or not I should go on a mission.  I then promised that I would do whatever he wanted whether it be to go on a mission or to stay here.  After that I sat quietly just hoping to get an answer. I wasn't expecting one to come quickly because I know for most answers you need to have patience and search, ponder, and pray for it over a period of time.  But to my surprise I got a simple thought to just pull my Book of Mormon out of my backpack and open it.  So I did.  I pulled it out and opened it. And it landed on Alma 30.  So I began to read from verse 42-46.  What really stuck out to me in these verses was in the first verse I read and it says, "Thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and yet have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you".  This was exactly what I had been doing even though I wished it hadn't been.  And the rest of the verses made me realize how much I did believe and love this gospel and that I have a testimony, but why was I pushing it off?  I then realized that I needed to truly humble myself to whatever the lord wanted for me.  I then decided to flip again.  I had tried this many times before because I had heard the stories about people who have prayed flipped the scriptures open and had the answer right there, this hadn't ever worked for me before so I though ill just flip a few more times.  But I then had a thought "No Hayley you need to read right here."  So I stopped right before I was about to flip the page and opened to the page I was on. I began reading from verses 29-31 of Alma 42.  The first Verse that I read says,

"And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance."

This was probably the most comforting verse.  Knowing whether or not to go on a mission had been troubling me for months, even though I tried to not let it, it was really starting to weigh down on me and It was like the lord knew exactly what I had been feeling all this time and was there to help me through it.  I then read,

"O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility."

 I felt like once again I was being told to stop putting off the promptings of the spirit and to humble myself and come unto the lord.  I then read in verse 31, which gave me my full answer,

"And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people.  And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them.  And my God grant unto you even according to my words.  Amen."

That is when the seed was planted and just like in Alma 32 I could feel it swell within me and I had a burning in my heart and I know that this was the Lord's answer to my Prayer.  Even though it wasn't easy to accept God’s will over my own right on the spot, I was soon filled with an over whelming peace, comfort, and joy as I followed my promise to do God’s will and serve him.  Everything after that fell into place.  I couldn't be more grateful for the blessings that I have received as I chose to do God's will.  I know he loves me and has a plan for me and that I am on the right path! I can't wait until tomorrow as this new adventure, that will change my life forever, begins!  I love all of you!  Thanks for all the love and support! :)