Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Land of the Midnight Sun: Johannus!

The Longest Day of the Year...LITERALLY!!!
Looking at my backyard at 11:00 pm
I officially have survived the longest day of the year!  Johannus (midsummer day and eve), where the sun never actually goes down!  It was super fun.  Lets just say that it is nearly impossible to sleep.  The sun is up all of the time and every time I wake up I think it is midday.  It is the most confusing thing ever!  But it only gets darker from here on out! :)  Well, our Johannus week was a good week but a rather slow week.  Johannus is one of the biggest holidays in Finland.  It still amazes me how Finns celebrate Holidays.  Every holiday literally everything closes.  Its like the whole city just shuts down and everyone just gets drunk and stays at home.  At least this is what it seems like anyway.  However, we are not allowed to go outside on Johannus unless we have an appointment and no one wanted to meet with us.  So basically that meant that was our planning day.  But the rest of the week was so good! 
The Finnish Sauna Turning Point
The Oulu district
This week was huge for our Finnish investigator Jari.  He is awesome.  The gospel is literally changing him and it is amazing to be apart of and to see him change.  When we first met him he was struggling with really bad depression, but really in the month that we have been teaching him he has come to life.  He is so happy and jokes with us so much.  He is finding answers through the Book of Mormon, praying for us to jaksaa (feel like it) in our important work, and he told us that we are always welcome! No one tells us that!!  He also came to our ward Johannus party and he went to the sauna with the members (which is usually a turning point I am told for investigators according to stories I have heard) and he ended up staying there with the members until 2:00 am!  What!?  Yup, he was too tired to come to church but he felt really bad about not coming so we are pretty happy about that!  The members were doing too good of a job and kept him up all night!  We are so excited for him though. His baptism is scheduled for July 5th and today we are talking to him more about how he feels about his baptism.  So we will see what happens tonight!  We both feel strongly that he will be baptized though and we are so excited for him.  The gospel really is going to change his life forever.  :)
Oulu missionaries
Half of My Companions Die This Week
This week I also got to go on splits with Sister Gasser for the last time. She is amazing and is going home this week with Sister Fronk!  It is crazy to see people that I have served with going home. I just realized that half of my companions die this week!  The only companions I will have left are the ones that I came into the country with.  So weird.  Sister Nyman and I will be staying together in Oulu for another 9 weeks so we will be together for 4 months!  Wow.
Sister Gasser and me on splits
Though It May Be Awkward, The Spirit Can Work Miracles
 Anyway, we had one of the craziest most full days ever and it was way fun because we got to go and meet a former investigator that we had called a week or so before and wanted to meet.  So we had never actually met him and didn't have any idea what he looked like. We just got his address and went to go and meet with him.  Before Sister Gasser and I had left ,Sister Nyman had been telling me how excited she was that I got to go to the "sketchy" area of the city.... haha.   I just laughed at that thinking that its not possible for there to be a "sketchy" area in Finland.  When we got there it didn't look sketchy at all.  So I just thought she was being ridiculous.  Then while we were locking up our bikes this guy comes out with hair down past his shoulders and a beard that goes half way down his chest.  I just thought "Oh, now I get it.  Sister Nyman was right!"  Then he asked us if we were coming to visit him.  I was like "huh?"  One, because I totally though I understood him wrong, but turns out that I was completely right and this was actually the investigator.  What proceeded was the most awkward lesson I have ever taught in my entire life but he said that he will start reading the Book of Mormon and wants to meet again and start coming to church!  So though it may have been awkward.... The Spirit can work miracles! :)
Another 11:00 pm picture of my backyard
All He Asks
I love my mission.  It really is amazing.  I love the chance that I have to be and instrument in the Lord's hands and to see people changing.  It really is amazing!  I may not be perfect, and I have so much still to learn and change about myself, but I think that is the best thing about the atonement and our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  They know we aren't perfect and that we are going to make so many mistakes but all they ask is for us to do our best, to trust in them, and to try to change and become better.  I love my mission and the person it is helping me to become. This work is amazing.  It really is the best work that you can do. :)
I love you all! Thank you for all of your love and support!

Sister Knapp
Looking out my front window

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Being Called An Angel


Praying While Biking
This week I think I am more going to just write about one cool experience we had and then tell about the culture of Finland or what the summer here is like anyway, because I can't actually remember what has happened this week! :) But this week I learned again how important it is to pray always.  This has been something that our mission president has really been focusing on with us to really take our mission to where it needs to be so that we can find those that the Lord has prepared.  So after we got out of an appointment this week and were on our way home, we decided that we were going to talk to two people and that one of these two people would be a new investigator.  The first person that we talked to didn't lead to much of anything and really had a hard time transitioning from a music concert to anything religious.  It was kinda awkward.  So we kept biking and I just started praying my heart out that we would find someone and that the Lord would lead us to the person that we really needed to talk to.  As soon as I started doing that, Sister Nyman stopped and started talking to this girl sitting on a bench waiting for her husband.  She was from Thailand and so cute.  We got to talk to her all about God and how much it means to us and can mean to her and then invited her to a church tour and she said yes!  We are meeting with her this week :) 
The Land of the Midnight Sun
Finland is just beautiful!  It really is so green and there are trees are everywhere.  Sometimes I honestly feel like I am camping.  It is beautiful here and I love it because we bike everywhere and get to bike on trails through forests and I love it. There is also a huge difference in the people here this time of year.  In the winter no one is ever outside, everyone keeps really to themselves, and it is dark all the time, so that is probably not surprising.  The summer is a complete 180.  It is sunny all of the time! The sun is seriously still up at midnight!  (I only know this because a member took a picture for me) :).  Everyone is outside and the streets are so crowded and the people are so much happier.  I am still debating if it is because they are drunk or not.  With the summer I feel like more and more people are out drinking with their friends so naturally we talk to a lot of drunks, haha.  They usually really like us though so that is good!  I have never been called an angel so many times as we have by drunk people. :)  It is way hard because everyone goes on vacation and Finns go on the longest vacations.  It is usually a month long visiting families and staying in their cabins.  Crazy.  So we are hoping that we can keep everything going.  Sadly, Sofia with a baptismal date this month is going to Norway for a couple of weeks.  But hopefully when she gets back she will still be baptized July 12th!  Keep her in your prayers!
Good Finnish Food
I guess, I can also tell about what Finns like to eat, which is mostly bread, cheese, and potatoes.  Almost every time I go to a dinner appointment we have potatoes and we for sure always have rye bread and cheese.  Then a lot of pastries and desserts.  They always have really good bakery goods everywhere.  I love it.  Finland has some way good food! :)

Anyway, thank you for all of your love and support! 
Sister Knapp

Monday, June 9, 2014

Where It All Started In Finland


With my zone at Larsmo--Dedication spot for missionary work in Finland by Ezra Taft Benson in July of 1846 (see plaque below)
Traveling Finland
This week was a rather crazy week but I am realizing that I am seriously being so blessed!!  This week we had a Zone Conference in Pietarsaari! So the day before we got to take a 7 hour train ride down to Vaasa to help with a service project that all of the Youth of the Church in Finland came together to do.  It was so much fun and I got to see Vaasa!  But I have to admit the best part was that I got to see and stay with SISTER FRONK!!! I absolutely love her to death. It was so much fun to be able to see her again and talk to her.  Really we are sisters.  There is no other way to put it.  She is wonderful and such an amazing missionary.  It was so good to be with her again before she goes home.  It is crazy to see the time fly and have half of your companions all dying at the same time. Vaasa was beautiful and I got to go on splits with Sister Bitner (Sister Fronk's current companion).  She is an amazing missionary and it was way fun to spend time with her because we have both had Sister Egan and Sister Fronk as companions.  We also decided that we are practically the same person. :)
The chapel in Pietarsaari, the oldest branch in Finland :)
The Beginning of Missionary Work in Finland
Then the next day we got to travel on a bus with all of the missionaries in our zone to Pietarsaari and go see Larsmo!  I never thought that I would ever get the chance to do that.  Larsmo is the location where Pres. Ezra Taft Benson dedicated Finland for missionary work and is also where the first branch of the church was organized and is still there today.  It was amazing!  I can't believe I actually got the chance to be there and to stand where the history of the church was started in Finland, and to now be apart of it.  It really is such a blessing.  I love Finland.  
The school where the first meetings of the Church were held in
Finland.  With my first companion/trainer, Sister Fronk
Zone Conference & Goodbyes
The Zone conference was really good.  It was all about following the Spirit.  It really is the only way that the work really can more forward.  We really are instruments in the Lord's hands and the more that we recognize that and follow Him and the let the Spirit guide us, the faster this work will go forth. :)  The hardest was the end of the conference when Sister Fronk and Sister Gausser got up to give their farewell testimonies.  I really just bawled.  You can't find friends like you do on a mission.  There really is something special about being with the missionaries that you serve with.  They are amazing. I absolutely love each and every one of them.
Goodbye to Sister Fronk who finishes her mission this momth
A Day in Oulu
Well, to answer your request Mom, I will write about a normal day in the here. Wake up at 6:30in the morning, exercise and get ready for the day.  8:00 is Personal Study.  9:00 is Companion Study and Preparing Lessons. 10:00 is Language Study. 11:00 is Lunch.  Then we go to appointments for the rest of the day.  We bike absolutely everywhere and usually it is around 6 to 9 miles a day. We get to see a lot of Oulu which is absolutely beautiful!  Right now Sister Nyman and I have a ton of appointments everyday but we try and eat dinner before 6:00 and then we get home around 9:30 every night.  It is getting harder and harder to be home on time because the sun never goes down and it is always light outside!  We really just completely lose track of the time!  But we are repenting and trying to be better about that.  But that is usually how the day goes every day.  Not much changes.  Just the lessons and who we are meeting with. :)   

With my companion, Sister Nyman, at Larsmo
Thank you for all of you love and support :) 
Sister Knapp

Editor's note: I found a picture of the memorial online The sign is written in Finnish, Swedish, and English, and reads:

"On this sacred spot Finland was dedicated for the preaching of the restored gospel. Dedicated by Apostle Ezra Taft Benson 16 July 1946. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Miracles Keep Coming


Santa Claus Is Real!
This week was such a great week!  I mean what started to make it wonderful was that we got to go to Rovanemi! I was so happy!!  This has been one of my dreams since coming to Finland to be able to go to Rovanemi and to go to Santa Clause Village and see the REAL Santa Clause!  Then it happened!   The hardest part was having to catch a train at 5:00 in the morning which meant that we needed to wake up at 3:50 in the morning. Yuck.  I was a little exhausted from that. The weirdest part was that it was already light outside at 3:50 in the morning.... that is not normal.  The light made sleeping on the 3 hour train ride a little bit harder. Oh well. So in Rovanemi we first  had district meeting and then we went to Santa Clause Village!!  It was so much fun!  We got to go and see the REAL Santa Clause.  I have to say that he knows how to teleport (is this a word? I can't remember) really fast because one minute he was right outside then before we knew it he was inside where we were.... It was really impressive, haha.  ;)   After Santa Clause Village we had a 3 hour car ride home.  Fortunately, the elders took the train home so it was us 4 sisters in the car.  It was way fun and we even got to see some reindeer!   I never thought that would happen either.  The first time we had to drive past really quick so we basically had no time and didn't get to take any pictures.  We were all super sad about it... and then I started asking whether or not it was appropriate or not to pray to see reindeer.  Not even 30 minutes later we ran into a group of reindeer on the road!  Therefore, we got a lot of pictures! :)  Prayers are answered!
Miracle Investigators
We also had a miracle happen when we were going to visit our Chinese investigator, Sofia, and ran into her friend, Sarah, just outside the door.  We got to talk to her for a little bit and she had heard all about us and said that she would be right back.  She ended up coming back and staying for the entire lesson of the Plan of Salvation.  They both loved the whole thing and Sarah said that she would come to the next lesson too.  Later we were helping Sofia move into her new apartment and while we were getting off the bus we found Sarah struggling with her suitcases.  So we told her that we had 2 cars coming and that she we could help her move too. That made her so happy.  After helping them both move we were able to have a little lesson with them about faith, repentance, and baptism.  We had prayed about it earlier that day and felt that we should invite Sarah to be baptized on the 28th of June.  There was such a good spirit in the lesson and when we invited her to be baptized she didn't even hesitate.  She was just like, "Yes, Yes!"  It was like she was waiting for us to invite her.  It was amazing to be apart of.  They are both the cutest, most fun girls to teach.
Meeting our Goals and More
We continued to see miracles even when lessons started falling through.  We had about 4 lessons with investigators fall through this week and we had set a goal to have 8 member present investigator lessons for the week.  We weren't sure how we were going to do it exactly but then it just happened!  We were able to meet with some of our other investigators a few times, find new investigators early on in the week and have return appointments for that week and then before we knew it we had 10 member present lessons for the week!  It was amazing to see the Lord really help us to reach our goal even if it wasn't in the way that we originally planned.  We were also blessed with 3 investigators in church.  It was amazing.  Really, as Sister Nyman and I have been working on the basics in missionary work, meeting multiple times a week, having members present, giving church tours, etc, we have been able to just see the work really go forward in our area and to see the Lord really blessing us.  I love being able to be apart of it :)
No Better Work
Thank you everyone for all of your prayers and support. I know that your prayers are being answered.  We have been so blessed to see the work really go forward and to see people changing and growing and I know that a HUGE part of that is because of prayer.  I am so grateful for my mission.  I love my mission so much and the people that I am meeting here and the friends I have made.  It really is a special thing to see someone change and come unto Christ.  There is no better work than missionary work! :) 

Sister Knapp