Monday, April 28, 2014

OULU! It's Like I Am Really Living In Finland!

With my new bike!
Wow!  Did I Get What I Asked For!
This week has been absolutely crazy but I have loved it!  I am finally up in Oulu!!! I have to say that saying goodbye to everyone in Espoo was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. I love the people there and Espoo really did become my home.  I was super excited to have a chance to serve somewhere else though so that I could see more of Finland and be in a location where I could learn Finnish more.  In Espoo it was so hard to learn Finnish since all our investigators were always foreign students and spoke English.   But wow.... did I get what I asked for!  I am practically only speaking Finnish!  Talk about finally getting some immersion into the language!  It is like I am really living in Finland.   I am finally getting the big shock of not really being able to say much but at least now I will have to chance to really, really learn the language which I am really excited for. :) 
The Long, LONELY Train Ride
my sleeping compartment on the train to Oulu
The trip to Oulu had quite the dramatic experience that Sister Egan and I had desperately been trying to avoid.  We had been so worried that I would end up leaving with the phone that we made sure it was in Sister Egan's bag, but while we were on our way to the train station the phone started ringing and her bag was in the trunk and I was the only one that could reach it.  So I got the phone and answered it and then slipped it into my bag without thinking about it.... yeah.  I didn't notice until the zone leaders called 2 minutes after the train pulled away from Helsinki!  Oh no!!!  I had stolen the phone and I was headed up to Oulu!!!! We ended up calling everyone under the sun to find elders that could run out to the next train stop in Haaga.  But it was too late.  I had the phone and I was going to Oulu.  It was way bad.  So I just had to mail it back to Espoo.. Looks like I am taking after my Mama Sister Fronk (my trainer) after all!!! I am just praying that the phone actually got there! The train ride up to Oulu was interesting.  I was completely alone and had my own little compartment to sleep in.  It was the longest I had been by myself since before my mission and it was really so lonely.  I think I am going to die when I get home.  I can't be alone anymore!  But it was nice and I was just attempted to sleep the whole time.  It didn't work too well and I have been exhausted all week but I am finally unpacked and settling in and sorta catching up on sleep? 
The Further North You Go The Nicer People Are
Oulu is really wonderful though.  I absolutely love it up here.  I had heard that the further north you go in Finland the nicer the people are.  I don't know if that is because there are just fewer people, but it is SO true!!!  The people up here are SO nice and just about anyone will talk with us. So that is a big change from down south where most people don't really want to talk to you. The first day here we needed to go and get groceries and this lady came up and started talking to us and telling us what milk we should buy because it is cheapest and best, haha.  She then insisted on carrying our baskets all throughout the store and talking to us.  It was so funny.  She was such a nice lady but it was hard to get everything we needed with her carrying around our stuff!  
The Lord Really Blesses You So You Can Get Through Any Obstacle
with my new companion, Sister Nyman, who I lived with in the MTC
Oulu is having so many miracles happen though.  It really is amazing to see the people here and how open they are. I love it.  Plus, we had a miracle happen this past week!  We had this guy that was from China on our ward list but absolutely no one knew who he was! So we went to find out who he was. The only problem was that this building he lives in is like a fortress and has 2 locked doors that you have to go through before you can get to his front door.  So we knew we would have to be praying a lot to get through. But right when we came to the first door someone came out the the building!  Then we got in the elevator, went to the 4th floor and you will never believe it!  The door was completely open!  I love being a missionary.  The Lord really blesses you so that you can get through any obstacle.  This person actually ended up not being a member and so we still have no idea how he got on the list.  He had only met the missionaries once or twice.  So we got to talk to him and teach him, get his number and now we have a return appointment with him and his roommate!  It really was a miracle!  

Well, I love all of you!!! Thanks for your love and support!! 

Sister Knapp

Here's all the answers to your other questions about my new area:
How was your train ride?  Did you have your own room?  Was it scary? Were you able to sleep?  
I already wrote about this in my letter but I was in a cabin with a locked door and everything :) I am fine mom really hahaha  Finland is SO safe!!! 
Tell us about your zone and your district and zone.  I feel like I don't know as much about the northern zone.
I have a good size district.  There are 4 sisters. 9 elders and 4 senior missionaries.  It includes Rovanemi, Kaijani, Kemi and Oulu.  Distric meeting is every week.  People just take like 2-4 hour train rides to get here. Crazy. The zone is everything north of Jvuskayla, which is huge!  I am with the Zone leaders and the Sister Training Leaders. They are all really nice and I like them all!  I definitely miss the missionaries down south, though.  I feel like I have just been sent to military school! hahaha. 
The reason that you haven't heard a ton about the north zone is there really isn't a ton of sisters up here.  Two of the zone leaders are new.  There are senior couples in Oulu and Kemi (but I just had the temple missionaries but no senior missionaries in Helsinki really.)  The Senior couple is really nice and are actually Sister Nyman's aunt and uncle.  Elder Hugie, Elder Stegeby, and Elder McMaster from my MTC group are in our zone :)
How are things with Sister Nyman?
It has been really good and we are doing so well!  I absolutely love her so much and I am so happy to be companions with her!!!  She is amazing and such a great missionary and is teaching me so much!!!!  We were both so happy to see each other!!!
Last picture at the Helsinki Temple before transfer
How is Oulu different than Espoo?  What are your favorite differences?  What do you miss most about Espoo? 
Oulu is smaller that Espoo and it smells funny, haha  It has a paper factory that just makes the whole city smell weird but I really love Oulu already.  The people up here are sooo nice and so much more willing to talk to us.  We are absolutely SO busy it is crazy.  Oulu really is beautiful!!!  I think the things that I miss about Espoo the most are the members, missionaries, being so close to all the missionaries, and the temple.  Really, I miss it a lot.  Funny thing is I can see myself loving Oulu but Espoo will always be my home :) 
What has the weather been like?  Is there still snow on the ground?  It looks like its 5-10 degrees colder on average than Helsinki (at least right now).
It is definitely a lot colder here than it was back in Espoo but there is no snow and it is still pretty nice. 
What is the ward like? 
It is good. They were pretty welcoming but  I was super homesick for my Espoo ward at church.  It is actually a branch.  I liked it though! 
Do you have investigators? 
Yeah we have a lot of investigators!  Three with baptismal dates though we have to change 2 to help them get more prepared.
Are you speaking more Finnish there?
I speak SO SO SO much more Finnish it is insane!!!! But it will be good for me. I didn't realize just how bad my Finnish is until I got here!
Did you buy a bike?  What is that like?  How else do you get around?  Do you ever go outside the city?
Yeah I did get a bike.  It is so fun to bike EVERYWHERE but it is so hard to be modest.........  we just give up on that fact usually. But we are wearing tights soooo, its ok. Summer will be interesting though!  We always stay in OULU but it is pretty spread out.   And we occasionally take buses.  We never ride trains.  So weird
Has the transition to a new area been hard?  Or fun?  Or a little of both?
It has been fun and exciting.  We are so busy I don't get to think about it much but I am definitely homesick for Espoo too.
What is your apartment like? Is it as nice as your apartment in Espoo?
 Its the oldest apartment in the mission but I really like it :)  I'll send pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Well, I'm Leavin' On a Night Train!


 All the Helsinki Missionaries that I will be missing like crazy!
(Sister Egan, Pugmire & West; Elders Crofts & Golling)
Dreams Do Come True
Well, "I'm leavin' on a night train, don't know if i'll be back again..."  Yep!  I am leaving my 'birth place' of Espoo and going up to Oulu (map below)!  I have to say that it was the biggest shock of my entire life! Heavenly Father must really love me SO much. It was my dream call to be able to go to Oulu and serve with Sister Nyman and I get both!! I don't have any idea how this happened but I am absolutely the most excited person in the world!  Sister Nyman is an absolute angel!  We were in the MTC together and now we get to be companions!  It is going to be so much fun!  Plus, Oulu is supposed to be beautiful in the summer.  It is the Furthest North City in the World for Sisters (at least it was at for a short time anyway)!  How cool is that!?  I am absolutely so excited and so grateful that I get a chance to go and serve there. :) 

 Awkward photo with the Elders (Golling & Crofts).
Look at that perfect spacing :)  
Hard Goodbyes
It has also been really sad saying goodbye to all of the people that I have really grown to love here in Espoo.  The members are absolutely amazing and I adore them.  It has been such a blessing to have served here in this ward.  I have learned and grown so much and it really has shaped me and changed my life.  It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life that I will never forget.   I have to say that the hardest people to say good-bye to have definitely been to Hai, Yan and Lin, Jiao and Tem and Gisel.   I love these people with all of my heart!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met all of them.  They are amazing.

I Am Slowly Becoming More and More Finnish.
 Farewell to this great Elder (Waite)!  Its been a good long 6 months! :) 
This week we were so busy with Sister Egan still recovering from being sick.  I got to go on so many crazy splits with the Haaga sisters that were so much fun. Fortunately this did not mean that Sister Fronk broke anything.  We just got to teach our investigtors. Our Chinese investigators are amazing and love meeting with us and really are progressing.  It is the most fun thing to see how investigators progress and change their lives.  We also got to go to SO many dinner appointments this weekend for Easter and I finally got to try the traditional Mämmi.  It is a dessert that Finns eat at Easter that is apparently really healthy.  It is like this rye pudding stuff that you have cream and sugar over.  I was a little nervous right at first to eat it but it was SO good!  Maybe I just have really grown to love Rye anything :)  Oh and I don't know which of my friends and family remember tried salmiakki (the black licorice stuff?)  Well, I am actually starting to like that too!!  Yeah, I know miracles do happen.  (Its this really salty black licorice stuff... I am not quite sure how to explain it other than the fact that I had to gag it down the first time.)  So I am slowly becoming more and more Finnish!  I have to say that I really do just love this country.  It is beautiful and amazing. :)

Well, I am sorry this is such a short email.  Not too much happened this week besides the amazing change calls!  I love you all! :)

Look where I'm headed!!!

Hopefully I will stay long enough to see the Northern Lights!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reaping the Rewards

This week has been quite the adventure.  My companion, Sister Egan, has been sick all week long with bronchitis.  It started last Sunday and is still continuing.  At first we tried to keep going because it  was Elder Kääriä's last P-day and we wanted to say our good-byes. So we ended up going to a thing at a taco restaurant.  It is like the Cafe Rio of Finland and it was so good.  We also had a lesson that night with a member and we were in charge of teaching a family home evening lesson.  I was way nervous about it because my Finnish is not that great and I was going to have to do most of the talking we thought.  Fortunately Sister Egan was feeling well enough to really help out.  We also tried to continue and go to zone meeting and say good-bye to those who were leaving, but after that Sister Egan had a fever so that meant that the next two days we were going to be stuck inside.  She actually needed to go to the doctor, though, which meant that Elder Kääria would once again be sweeping in on his last day in the mission to save us!  This has happened so many times that I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that he would be the one saving us once again and driving us to the doctor.  
With Elder Crofts and Sister Pugmire
Good Bye to a Great Elder
I have to say that Elder Kääriä is one of the best people that I have ever met.  I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve with him.  He is an awesome missionary and did so much good here in Finland (Besides just saving me and Sister Fronk or Sister Egan!)  He really was a stellar missionary.  He cares so much about those around him and is constantly lifting people up.  I also haven't met someone as funny as him in my life.  He definitely knew how to make everyone laugh.  It was a sad day when he died (went home) but we all will never forget this Swede. :) 
Mormon Helping Hands
Helping Hands Service with the elders and Sister West
Anyway,  since Sister Egan was sick the Haaga Sisters (Sister Fronk, Sister Pugmire, and Sister West)  jumped in to save us so that we could continue to do missionary work.  I got to go on so many splits this week and it was so much fun! These sisters are absolutely amazing!  We also got to participate in a Mormon Helping Hands service project!  It was so much fun!  I love it when we get to do service for people (which doesn't happen very often.)  Our project was mostly just spreading gravel and things like that, but they fed us way good food for doing it! 

"Reaping" the Rewards
Later that day we had the most amazing lesson with our Chinese investigators! They are amazing!  We went into the lesson planning on teaching just about the Restoration and answering questions they had, but then baptism came up by the end and we felt like we should invite them to be baptized!  So we did and they have agreed to be baptized on June 14th!  We are so excited for them!  Change calls are this week so I may not get the chance to be there but I am still really excited for them and hope that everything works out for them. They are the cutest people in the world.     
Funny Story with Sister Fronk
I also must share a super funny story. Sister Fronk came to stay the night this past week and we were in the bedroom going to bed and talking... or more like she was teasing me SO much.  So I jumped out of my bed to run and jump on her bed but then she ended up falling out of the bed and breaking our mirror!!  Oh no!  It was really bad but one of the funniest things ever!  Oh my goodness.  You can always count on the funniest of things to happen!
A Mission is a Strange Experience
I wish I had more time to tell all of the amazing things really happened this week but I don't have a ton of time today.  It really has been amazing to see the Lord's hand in this area.  It really is starting to grow and we are being blessed so much.  I am so grateful to be serving a mission.  It has been so hard but so worth it!  It just reminds me of one of my favorite poems: 
The Highs and Lows of a Mission

A mission is a strange experience. 
A trial and a test. 
A mission throws at you the worst.  
Yet, teaches you the best. 
I've never been so happy.
I've never been so depressed. 
I've never been so forsaken. 
I've never been so blessed. 
I've never been so confused
Things have never been so clear. 
I've never felt Father so distant. 
He has never been so near. 

I've never been so discouraged. 
I've never been so full of hope. 
I could go on forever. 
I've reached the end of my rope. 
I've never had it quite so easy. 
I've never had it so rough. 
I've never been through such a deep valley. 
I've never been to such a high peak. 
I've never felt so strong. 
I've never been so weak. 

I've never had so many ups. 
I've never had so many downs. 
I've never had so many smiles. 
I've never had so many frowns. 
I've never been so lonely. 
I've never had so many friends. 
Boy, I hope its over soon. 
Gosh, I hope it never ends. 

I love my mission!  Though it really is much like this poem.  It really is the BEST experience of my life. I love all the people I have met here and the amazing missionaries I have served with.  I love Finland.  I love the Gospel.  I love this Work.

Sister Knapp

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Aprils Fools Foolishness

That is What We Get for Trying to Fool the Elders!
This week was one of the best weeks EVER!! I have to say it has been so much fun.  We got to teach so many people and, of course, General Conference was this week!  But before I get to all of the spiritual and uplifting messages from Conference I have to tell all about our super funny and cool experiences of the week. First of I would like to tell the story of our attempt and failure to play a April Fool's Joke on the elders.  We had the best plan ever.  We were dying to play a joke on the elders for April Fool's Day that we knew would really just make their day.  So we decided that we wanted to break into their apartment and decorate their apartment with streamers and balloons and leave some Easter cookies.  Such a good idea, right?  Well, this would end up requiring some work on our part because first, they could not be home; second, we needed permission; and third, we had to be quick. From past experiences I had with the elders when I needed to borrow their car and get the car keys out of their apartment, I knew the door code to their building and where their spare key was hidden.  So to put our plan in place, we set up an appointment for the elders, had an excuse planned for needing permission to get into their apartment and planned exactly when to call them to get that permission. We planned to call them and ask them if hey had an English Book of Mormon with them and if they were by their apartment so we could get it (which we knew they wouldn't be because of their appointment) and then they would simply give us permission to go in and get it.  So we got on the Train way excited about the whole thing.  I called the elders just 5 minutes before their scheduled appointment and asked if they were by their apartment.  Elder Crofts was like "Yes, we are right here! We just got out of an appointment right next door.".... NOOOOOOO!  So they ended up going and getting us an English Book of Mormon and meeting us at the station.  Plan B:  As soon as they got to the Station we asked if they had a Chinese Book of Mormon... Because, I mean, if you are serving in Finland you almost always need a Chinese Book of Mormon, right?   Unfortunately, they were gentlemanly elders and said, "Yes of course!  We can walk you to our apartment to get it."  NOOOOO!  We then asked why they weren't going to their appointment with their recent convert and they just simply said, "we moved it back an hour."  NOOOOO!  Plan C:  After finally getting the Chinese Book of Mormon we decided to just be really slow leaving the building and that we were just going to forget the permission thing and just go right ahead and do it anyway.  But they kept urging us to follow so I just thought, "no problem.  I know the code and we can just get back inside and do it anyway." So we followed them out, and as they started running for the train, we walked back to the door and start trying to get it.  I was positive I had the code right... but after 10 minutes of wasted time that I will never get back the door did not open!  So we decided to call the elders and tell them all about how they had ruined our plans!  They DIED laughing...."Our Door Code Changed TODAY!  APRIL FOOLS ON YOU!!!"  hahaha. So Yep, that is what we get for trying to Fool the Elders.... Lesson learned. :) 

You Can't Drop Us Through A Text!
This week we also had such a huge amount of success with our sports activity.  We had recently had an investigator who we were trying to show the temple, but our appointment fell through. After trying to get a hold of him multiple times throughout the week he simply texted and said that he was no longer interested in seeing our temple. There was no way we were were going to accept him dropping us over a text message. So we texted him back telling him that we just wanted to invite him and his friends to a sports activity that we were having on Saturday and see if they could come.  He immediately texted back, "That's so awesome! I will need to speak to them... and confirm this tomorrow?"  haha YES!  The Sports activity ended up being a huge success! We had our recent convert bring 4 of his friends and then this investigator brought 3 of his friends with him, and we had 3 other non-members come to the activity too!  That was not including those who were there from the ward.  It was so much fun and they are all really starting to open up more to the missionaries and are coming every week. We also get to share spiritual thoughts with them and it is just so good. So much Fun! 
Because Learning Finnish Isn't Enough... :)
We are also having really good success with our Chinese investigator. Even though we do have to take it really slow and use a lot of Google translator, she has really started to progress. It is also a lot of fun because, while we teach her the Gospel and English, she is teaching us some Chinese. This week I have decided that I really want to learn little sayings in different languages.  I have now learned how to say 'hello,' 'goodbye,' 'you're beautiful,' and 'thank you' in Chinese; how to Say 'hello,' 'see you later' and 'how are you?' in Vietnamese; how to say 'thank you' and 'good bye' in Portuguese; and how to count to 19 in Cambodian; how to say 'how are you?' in Tagalog. I continue to remember some Spanish and then... of course, Finnish.  I love languages.  They are so fun to learn.
We All Need Someone
Conference was absolutely amazing though.  I loved all of it and can't really say that I have a favorite talk. One thing that really stood out to me is how important it is to show those around us how much we love them.  It is so easy for each of us to get so caught up in the busyness of life that we fail to realize the needs of those around us. When we really stop and take a step back and look at those around us, there are so many people whose lives that we can touch and lives we can bless.  We are all God's Children.  We are all brothers and sisters trying to return to our Heavenly Father. We all need eachother.  So don't be afraid to take some time each and every day to find the One person that you can uplift that day.  Find the One a day who needs you. :)  I loved the poem that President Monson shared:

I Have Wept in the Night
For the Shortness of Sight
That to Somebody's Need Made Me Blind 
But I Have Never Yet 
Felt a Tinge of Regret 
For Being a Little Too Kind 

Thank you for all of your love and support!  I love all of you!!! :) 

Sister Knapp

P.S  Sorry No new pics this week. :)