Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Week

The end of December at the lightest part of the day.  The days are finally getting longer!
Skyping Home & Finnish Pets
This week was such an amazing week! I love Christmas season! And I loved talking to MY FAMILY!!! That was the best Christmas present that I have ever gotten in my life.  Besides the inital shock of Landon's incredibly deeper and more grown up voice it was the best couple hours in the world! I think that is one good thing about a mission.  You really learn how much you love your family because I absolutely love them to death.  It was also quite the adventure because of the random distracting bunny that would come hopping into the room (closet) that I was skyping in every few minutes.  Have I ever told you how much Finns LOVE pets?  Well they really love them! Dogs are the normal pets of course and it feels like almost everyone has one which is often the best conversation starter by telling them how wonderful their dog is :)  Finns also often have cats and then the next most common pet that I have seen is bunnies.  And the bunny just gets to hop anywhere it wants in the house. That is just a small side comment about Finns.:)  Anyway, I loved being able to Skype home to you all and I will tell more about Christmas day in a minute.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is when Finns really celebrate Christmas and "Santa" comes to each and everyone of their houses. Whether it be a friend dressed up as Santa or a Santa that was hired out of a newspaper, he comes on Christmas Eve. Thus, the mystery of how Santa visits every nation in the world is slowly becoming more clear. Finns like to say that he just likes them more and that is why they get to actually see Santa and why he comes to the U.S while we are all just sleeping. haha. Christmas Eve was so much fun. We got to spend most of the day with a family in our ward.  They are wonderful and I honestly love them!  They also invited our recent convert, Hai, to come over as well, which I have to admit was really nice because that meant that we would all be speaking English.  It was so much fun too because the elders were there with us since it was a bishopric member's home.  So that was fun and we got to see the elders get all dressed up as Santa and an elf to go to one of the family's relatives and play Joulupukki (Santa). They really go all out with make up and costumes and everything!  Unfortunately, because we were with an family with older kids Santa didn't come and visit us. But we got to have an amazing dinner with grills on the table and meat, cheese, veggies, and bread. It was so good!  It is not their traditional Christmas dinner but I actually liked it better!  Then we had a Christmas message and opened presents.  We were not expecting anything, of course, but they got each of us 4 or 5 presents and even found out our first names and put them on the presents!  That was a suprise!  They are the sweetest family in the world!  They also spoiled us with tons of desserts too!  I was ready to pop after eating so much food!  It was such a fun Christmas!
Christmas Dinner

Elders dressed up as Santa & his elf
Christmas Morning
Christmas Day is when my Companion Sister Fronk and I decided to actually celebrate Christmas!  So we woke up and did our studies, made a big breakfast and then opened presents! After that we got to plan for the next week.  So we had our weekly planning and then headed to the Members house to go and Skype home.  The only problem was that all of the public transportation was closed for Christmas so we had to walk there.  We were way to stubborn to call the Elders and ask for a ride. haha So thats what we did.  We walked the entire way to the members house! Which was only 3.3 miles so it wasnt even that bad!  One thing that I noticed was that I had probably the warmest Christmas ever this year and I am in Finland!  It was so warm in fact, we walked in short sleeves all the way there! But everyone says even though this isnt normal, the cold will be coming soon and we will be freezing!  But when we finally got to the members house, the Elders were still there finishing up Skype and then we both got invited to eat dinner with the family.  Which we had no idea what to do because Elders and Sisters are not allowed to be at the same house together unless it is a Bishopbrick member... But we were STUCK!  So we ended up all eating together and it was fine.  We had a traditional Christmas Dinner this time with Ham and Turkey and mashed potatoes and some kind of sweet mashed something that I really dont like and rolls and all that good stuff.  It was really good and I had absolutely no idea what anyone was saying the entire time but that was ok because I just got to eat in my own little world!  After that we got to skype and that was the best part of the whole day!  
Our stalker prevention shirts from mom.  "Sorry Mister, I'm a Sister!"

The Rest of the Week
The rest of the week was pretty slow.  I got sick a couple days later and so it was really hard to do things.  It was all probably thanks to the loads of really good European chocolate that I received from everyone.  But we did manage to find two new Investigators!  One is from Ghana and has met with the missionaries before and the other is from Ethiopia!  We are still teaching people from all over the world and it is so cool! I love it!  So even though I was sick and the week was kinda crazy we were still able to find more people to teach which we were really excited about since we lost a lot of our investigators to the new elders in Lohja!  Anyway, I love you all and I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas!  Thank you for all of your love, support, and prayers! :)
The Finnish sunshine

Sister Knapp

Monday, December 23, 2013

HYVÄÄ JOULUA From The 'Christmas Goat'!

And I Thought People Were Nice Before Christmas!
Well, it has been a pretty good week here in Finland!  I have to admit that it is a little sad that the snow has now gone away and I will not be having a white Christmas here in Finland after all!  Who would have thought that would be the case?!  There is snow basically everywhere in Finland right now except down south! But I am sure a ton of it is coming and then I will be walking in it all day so it can take its own sweet time!  But I hope that everyone has a MERRY CHRISTMAS or HYVÄÄ JOULUA!!! I have to say that I love the Christmas season!  I mean, I thought people were nice before but now that it is Christmas season and you can talk to people about Christmas they just lighten up and are the nicest people ever to talk to!  So that has been way fun!  Plus, we got to throw a Christmas party this week for some of our investigators!  We were planning on making it really big and having both wards invited and decorating cookies and having them bring friends and then watch Joy to the World.  So that was the plan and we talked to the elders about it and they were all in on it. We talked to the other elders and they were in on it too until randomly they decided to cancel it and not do it after all without telling us!  Oh, elders!  So they cancelled it and told the Zone Leaders it was cancelled and it all went up in flames and we didn't find out until the week before that it was cancelled.  So we decided to just do a small Christmas party ourselves. :) So we kinda threw it together last minute and told the elders that we were going to do it and then once again they were all for it.  I think it was because they were worried they would have to do the work to put it together. I have no idea though.  But we ended up doing it and basically no one could come!  So that was rough. To be honest, we were scared to invite people because we thought it might flop, but it turned out really good and Hai, our recent member, brought his "hard core atheist" roommate to the activity and we got to learn a ton about him and introduce him to the gospel and it was so cool!  He now is wanting to learn more and is one of our investigators and is reading the Book of Mormon and everything!  So that was exciting for us!  We have since been able to meet with him again and teach him the Restoration and we taught him how to pray which he did for his first time.  I have to admit, it is amazing to see people exercise their faith and pray for the first time with us!  It really is amazing!
Learning To Pray
Speaking of having people pray for the first time, we had another new investigator do the same thing.  He has just recently come to Finland, and was actually living in Spain for a few months, but is really from Ghana! His name is Samuel. So yeah, we teach people from all over.  We are currently teaching someone who is Vietnamese, a few Africans (Ama,Bernard, and Victoria), and someone who is Finnish and we are working with some less active members from China!  I had no idea that Finland would be this diverse!  It is amazing!  I have met so many people from all over!  Anyway, so this investigator is actually someone that the elders met and sent to us as a referral because he lives in our area.  And it was so cool because he had actually met with missionaries in Ghana and would go to church with them and loved it!  But he hadn't prayed before (which is kinda weird) so we got to meet with him and get to know him and teach him about the book of Mormon and prayer!  It was so funny because he was really nervous to pray and so I asked him if he would feel better if I said a prayer first and then he said a prayer after me. And he said yes to that.  But I guess I should have been more clear because I started and noticed that he was just copying my words and saying what I was saying right after I said it, but he would get stuck and so I had to stop and tell him that he could say his very own prayer after I said mine.  And so he said that was good.  So when I finished and he said one and he did such a good job and was so nervous!  But he did awesome and it was so cool to see!  We also invited him to church this week and he came and had read the chapter we had given him and he was so excited when we got him a new book of Mormon in his language, Twi!  He is great and really, really wants to learn and says he wants to be a member haha!  So we are getting a date set up for him and we are so excited about him! He is awesome!
Celebrating The Finnish Way
Anyway, This week we also finally got to decorate for Christmas!  I love Christmas and I know that I am saying that a lot, but really who couldn't love Christmas?!  It was so fun!  Sister Fronk finally received her packages from home and her mom had sent her the cutest little Christmas tree so that is what we used to decorate and now all of our presents are all around this little tree on our dinning room table!  Haha, so much fun!  We are now debating if we are going to celebrate Christmas the Finnish way or not, because they open all of their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve when Joulupukki ('Christmas Goat' is the direct translation but means Santa Claus... I am still trying to figure out how that works...) so we don't know if we are going to open presents on Christmas Eve or on Christmas!  I still don't know what they do on Christmas day.  I think it is very similar to England where they have Boxing Day (like Black Friday shopping the day after Christmas.)  But they do all of the fun celebrating the day before Christmas. So that is kinda cool! 
Funny Missionary Lingo
This week we finally have our new district all put together and it is so much fun because I still have two missionaries from my MTC group, Elder Call and Elder Ahlquist, so it is fun to be able to see them!  But we also got a new Baby Finn, Elder Hunter, and he is doing so awesome!  He is in my ward and Elder Waite is training him and he is just trying so hard to speak Finnish and talk to people.  It is such a good example to me!  He is so funny because yesterday he wanted to introduce me to one of their Investigators that they have had for awhile.  So he went to introduce me and ended up telling the guy (in Finnish, of course)  that I am Sister Crofts instead of Sister Knapp.  So Elder Crofts and I, and basically everyone, died over that one but I just helped correct him and say hi to his investigator.  It was so funny.  He is going to be an awesome missionary!  Oh, but I want to explain.  So a Baby Finn is the group that you over lap with in the MTC that comes after you and the missionaries in the group just ahead of me are my Mama and Papa Finns (even though we didn't actually over lap.)  But it is kinda fun!  There are still so many missionary terms that I am getting used to.  The worst when I first got here was when Sister Fronk was talking about a missionary and I asked where they were serving in Finland and she said, " Oh no, they died" and then carried on like nothing happened! I was so confused! But it turns out that when you go home it means that you apparently "die!"  I am glad that I got that one cleared up!
Missionary Work is Friendship Work
Well I have to say that I really am grateful for this opportunity to be here in Finland this Christmas season!  It is so fun to be able to just focus on serving others and going out and just making people happy!  For awhile I thought that missionary work is all about finding people to teach the gospel, which yes, it is partially that and bringing people to Christ.  But a lot of it is just really showing people how the Gospel has affected our lives, by lifting up others and making their day just a little bit better, by serving and loving those around you. Missionary work is friendship work.:) And really that is what Christmas is all about!  It's about remembering Christ and trying to be more like Him and helping someone else feel His love for them!  Well, I love you all and I hope that you have a Merry Christmas! 



Sister Knapp

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Transfer: I Am So Happy to Be Staying in Espoo!

Hey Family & Friends!

So this email might be a little shorter than usual.  Partly because I forgot my journal and I cant remember what really happened this week and partly because this week was a little bit slower than usual.
Ward Christmas party with Sisar Fronk, our new convert and Joulupukki 
Finnish Christmas Market
Well, last Monday I got to go to a Finnish Christmas Market which was SO cool!  But the worst part is that because we were of course in such a big hurry I forgot to take pictures of it!  Sorry!  It is nothing like the Christmas Markets that we went to in Vienna.  Vienna's markets are SO Christmasy everywhere and Finland's are more like a normal market with a ton of homemade socks and scarfs and mittens and hats and everything everywhere.  Finns love to knit!  There was a few Christmas booths but not too many.  It was still a ton of fun to see more what Finland is like and I will still admit that it is the most Americanized European country that I have been to but I do love it!  
Coming home from a service project.  Pants are the best invention EVER!

Playing Sahly with the Most Amazing Family
I also got to play Sahly for the first time!  It is one of the favorite sports here in Finland and basically everyone plays it.  It is basically floor hockey, so hockey in a gym and there aren't any rules really.  At least that was how we played anyway.  The no rules thing was a good thing for me because I had no idea what I was doing the entire time!  It is also really hard when someone explains what to do in Finnish... So basically I just watched other people do it and went for it!  I have to say that the first time I played it I was really, really bad at it!  I messed up a lot and kinda felt awkward and silly the entire time!  We went because one of the families in our ward really wanted us to meet their friends and so we did.  It had been a month in the planning since it was out in Lohja and really hard to get out there without a car so we had to work around the elders.  But it finally happened and it was so much fun!  The family that we met is amazing!  They are so nice!  And we actually found out that they were really impressed with us for trying so hard and called the family in our ward about us!  So that was so cool!  We then got to set up a time with them later that week to go and share a Christmas story.  They are an amazing family and so much fun.  They have 3 of the cutest kids!  And the parents are so nice and speak way good English so that really helped when I didn't understand what they were saying!  We also got to show them the Book of Mormon which they were really interested in and we are going to get to meet with them again to talk about it hopefully!  There are now elders in Lohja so it might be them that gets to go. We are kinda sad that we don't because they are such an awesome family!  The elders are so lucky!  But it was so funny because after meeting with them they said that they had something for me and pulled out a Sahly stick and taught me how to hold it right and everything. Haha, that was funny.  Apparently I was really doing it wrong before.  They then told me that when I play with them the next day that I got to use that stick.  So I did!  And whatever they taught me helped a ton!  I am still not very good but I scored like 5 goals so that felt good!  It is a way fun game that all of us missionaries want to bring to the states! :) 
Emailing home with Sister Fronk. So glad I get to stay with her!
Transfer Week
This week was also transfer week! So I have officially made it through one transfer and I am staying here in Espoo with Sister Fronk!  Not a huge surprise since I am not actually done with my training yet. I have decided that I don't really love transfers because things change and people leave.  But I guess that is the life of a missionary.  You never know where you are going to be or anything.  You just go and do what you are asked.  So,  my district changed a bit.  We have 2 new Elders out in Lohja!  So that is really fun! Kinda sad that we won't be going out to the "promised land" anymore.  I love Lohja.  Elder Waite is heading out there to train one of my Baby Finns (a missionary that comes out after you but overlaps with you in the MTC) that is just now coming out of the MTC!  I am really excited to see who that is!  Elder Crofts is still my zone leader, now with Elder Kääriä. So that is the change just within my ward.  There were quite a few other changes in our district though.  Now we have 4 elders in our ward and 2 sisters!  So that is way exciting!   I am super happy to be staying in Espoo though!  I would be fine not moving anywhere my whole mission! :) 
Jouloupukki (aka Santa)
Well, I also learned all about Christmas here in Finland!  Apparently Joulupukki (Santa) comes to everyone's house on Christmas Eve and passes out all of the presents and everyone opens their presents on Christmas Eve!  So they actually get to see Santa!  It is really funny because you can actually hire a santa to come to your house from the newspaper and stuff. But I think most often friends just do it for each other.  It is kinda a fun tradition!  So unlike the U.S.,  they actually get to see Santa while we are all sleeping when he comes! They also eat this rye porridge thing for a Christmas tradition.  It has an almond in it and if you are the one that gets the almond then that means you will get married within a year!  I still haven't learned all of the traditions about Christmas here in Finland but I am so excited to see what it is like!  Oh, but one fun thing is that since Santa actually lives in Finland kids everywhere will write to Santa and he will actually write you back!  It takes a couple of months to get a response but we might send him a letter just for fun haha!   I mean, how many times will we have a chance to write a letter to THE Santa!  

Other than that things are going really well here in Finland!  We are hoping for a White Christmas since all of the snow is now gone but we aren't sure if we will actually get that!  Hopefully!  I hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas Season!  I love all of you! 

Sister Knapp

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Message of Joy


First off, thanks once again for all the emails and letters that I get from everyone!  I absolutely love to hear what is happening back home and am so thankful for all your thoughts, prayers, love, and support. Te olette ihania! (You're all wonderful!) :)  
6 Week Interim Training in Helsinki with my MTC group.  I LOVE these missionaries!
With Elders Chapman and Hugie

With Elders Call and 
My Family in the Field!  
Well, this week has been a long one but it has been also a really good one because this week I had my interm-training!!  It is the 6 week training that we get to go to and get back together with our MTC group! I absolutely love each and every single one of them!  So I was SO excited to see them all!  The training was from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 5:00 everyday.  So it is pretty long and by the end of it I was definitely ready to be done but not to say good-bye to my MTC group.  It was the last time that we would all be together.  So kinda sad.  But what the training is, is the first hour or so everyday we get trained on how to polish shoes, clean apartments, and wash our faces by President Rawlings. Then we would have this spiritual lesson and then we would do role plays and learn how to be better missionaries, etc. The best part of the whole training was really seeing my MTC group again. It was like being reunited with family again because really your MTC group is like your family in the field.  They are great!  

Count Down From Five
I also made a huge step for myself this week!  So to begin... I am absolutely terrified of talking to people.  The most that I ususlly say is "Moi. Miten Menne?" on the street and then I let my companion do the rest of the talking.   But because it was Interim-training, we had Sister Hansen from my MTC group staying with me and Sister Vath.  So on Tuesday I ended up on splits with sister Vath and when we got on the tram to head back to the train station to get to Kilo, there was a ton of us missionaries and I just went and sat down but she couldn't get through to me so she sat in front of me.  So then when new people got on this guy sat right next to her and she started talking to him and then this lady came and sat next to me.  All I thought was "Oh No!  Now I have to talk to her!"  haha so I took Elder Ahlquist's advice that he got from the tv show Lost when Jack is in surgery and everything is going wrong so he steps back and counts down from 5 and then is able to do it.  Well, not even kidding, that is exactly what i did!  I took a quiet deep breath and then counted down from 5 and started talking!  It felt so good!  I just asked her how her day was and then told her that I was new to Finland and really wanted to practice my Finnish and I asked if I could practice with her!  So I did!  I didn't ever talk about the gospel. I just got to know her and mentioned the church and it was really, really cool.  She was so nice too!  After that one time it wasn't so hard to talk to people.  I ended up on splits with Sister Hansen for the next two days and we have both only been here for 6 weeks and were all on our own and it was in MY area so I was the one incharge!  It was pretty nerve racking at first, but once I started doing it, it just got easier and easier and that was just so cool to see!  Plus I think my Finnish finally has started to improve since the MTC! :)  

Be Lifted by the Primary Children
We also had some really cool things that we got to do this week!  Last Sunday, for example, we got to work with the Primary kids and it was so much fun!   We did the invitation role play with them in their primary class and they are the cutest kids ever!  We encouraged them to invite their friends to church or to the Christmas party this week and guess what?!  Some of them have already told us that they have tried inviting people!  These kids are amazing!  Plus we are now famous with the primary kids!  They all come up to us and say like "Hey! I know you!  You came to primary and did this and this and this...."  It is awesome! They are the cutest!  One of the little boys is just so darn cute and speaks Finnish and English because his dad is American and his mom is Finnish  and he absolutely loves the "boy" missionaries, haha.  So in primary his dad told him to go sit by us because he was kinda being a problem causer and he had to explain that we are just like the boy missionaries except we are girls, haha.  He came and talked to me in half Finnish half English.  He said that what he wanted for Christmas in Finnish, which was a "granadi" and then would translate it into English which means 'granade', haha.   He is so cute!  We absolutely love him! 

Fun With Our New Convert
We also had a funny experience with our recent convert, Hai. haha.  He is so funny!  So we noticed that he didn't show up to church this week and he is always trying to come up with excuses why he shouldn't have to go to church all of the time. But really he is just trying to bug us. So we marched ourselves right on over to his house right after church to give him a hard time for not coming.  We decided before had that we were going to glare at him and tease him by giving him a hard time so we rang the door bell and waited in our disappointed stance.  Then all of a sudden we see someone peak out the window and the next thing we hear through the door is "I'm not at home,"  hahaha.  We just died laughing after that so when he opened the door we couldn't talk because we were laughing so hard!  Haha. We then found out why he wasn't there and talked to him and it was all great!
With Sister Fronk

Christmas is Christ
Anyway, thank you for all you do!  I am so exited about this Christmas season and to share the true meaning and center of Christmas!  Christ.  I am so grateful that through Him we can return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven again.  I know that He is our Savior and that He knows us perfectly.  He knows what each and every one of us is going through and that through Him and His atonement we can receive strength and help to overcome all our trails.  I know that He love us and that through Him we can become clean and become better people.  He is the perfect example and is the message of joy and hope for the entire world and I am so grateful for that. 


Sister Knapp

p.s. Today I am going to a Christmas Market in Helsinki for P-day and I am so excited!
St. Thomas Market, Senate Square, Helsinki Finland

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Lord is Really Preparing People to Hear the Gospel


I am emailing a day early because we don't get p-day this week because of interim training Monday-Thursday but I get to see my MTC district and I am SO excited about that!  I have missed all of them A LOT!  
Emailing from the temple grounds on my P-day
Our Thanksgiving Feast! 
Well this week has definitely had its ups and downs.  It was Thanksgiving though which was definitely a highlight, even if it did make me a little homesick.  We got to make this delicious huge dinner since it was planning day so we could watch things that were cooking.  It was so good!  Plus we gave some leftovers to the Elder Waite and Crofts and they are now indebted to us, haha.  We have to admit it is nice to be on top. ;) So even though there were a lot of ups and downs we had one of our best weeks!

It's Starting to Pick Up!
So our area has been kinda slow since it is new but it is finally starting to pick up!  We found 5 new investigators this week!  Three of them we found on Tuesday and the other 2 we found on Saturday!  It was AMAZING!  And we really needed it!  Tuesday we were back in Lohja where we got to go and meet with the ward member's friends again and set up times for this week when we could go and share another message and teach them more about the gospel. One is a mother and her 10 year old daughter and the other is an older lady but they are all in Lohja. So whoever gets put in Lohja is so lucky to get 3 amazing investigators! 

All I Did Was Say "Moi!"
But really Saturday was the was the best!  We spent some time making some calls to people we had met this past week that were really promising potentials that we were excited about.  One that I was personally excited about was this guy we had met on the street.  All I said was "moi!" as he was walking by and he got so excited and turned and walked right up to us and started talking to us for about 15 minutes!  He was so nice and  told us how wonderful he thinks we are and that he had actually met with missionaries before but that he would like to again.  So that was really cool.  We ended up calling him and setting up an appointment this week!  So he became a new investigator!  We then called the girl from Africa, Victoria, and was a referral from the Elders.  I talked about her a couple of weeks ago.  She is great and I really do think that she believes that God is trying to tell her something (like she said when we ran into her before),because when we called she knew exactly why we were calling and gave us a day and exact time that we could come and meet with her.  We didn't even have to ask!  So we are really excited about both of these investigators!  
We Kind of Felt Like It Was Too Easy
Next we have our highlight of our week!  So last week I talked about that referral we received from a member, the Silvinoinen's,  who lived in Kilo that  happened to be the African couple, Ama and Bernard, that we had met before who is friends with our new investigator, Victoria, that I just talked about. Anyway, here is more background on them and this referral story!  So we had been praying for an English speaking couple that we could take our new convert to lessons with us.  And we also hoped they would live close by.  So we went to this dinner appointment in Lohja and afterwards asked for a referral. We told them to say a prayer in their heads then give us the name of who comes to them.  They told us that they have this small African family that they are friends with that they think would be interested that live in Kilo!  We couldn't believe it!  It was even more amazing because when we found the house and knocked on the door it happened to be the lady from Africa that we had met before who has a lot of Mormon friends and wanted a Book of Mormon. So we set up a new appointment to come back.  Sadly it fell through, so we decided to go visit yesterday and just set up a new appointment.  She immediately invited us in and grabbed her copy of the Book of Mormon and so we decided to teach her a lesson about Christ and Christmas. We asked her what she thought about members of our church and the missionaries she had met with before and she said that she knows that what they say is true, that they are true honest people, and that what they say is always true and they are always wiling to answer your questions. She said, "I just know its true."  WOW!  We honestly couldn't believe it! We asked her what she thought about the Book of Mormon and she said that she knows it is true.  Double WOW!  We then asked her that if she knows it is true, and if she knew it is what Christ wanted, would she prepare to be baptized on December 28th.  And she said yes!  She said that she would really have to prepare because she knows it is a covenant with God and that it is forever.  Oh my goodness!  It was so amazing to see and afterwards we just couldn't beleive it!  We kind of felt like it was too easy.  But it just goes to show that the Lord answers prayers and that he is really preparing people to hear the gospel!

Well, Thank you for all of your Love and Support!  I love all of you! 

Sister Knapp