Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Last Transfer


With Mac and Sister Raphael
Christmas Means Dessert & Flowers
This week was such a great week!! Naturally, since it was Christmas week. I swear I got so much chocolate it is ridiculous. Good thing I decided beforehand to save it until I go home. So all of you will get to enjoy it too!  So much happened this week and it was so much fun. Monday we went to a member's house in the evening to share a Christmas message with them and talk with them. They are really so sweet and they gave us flowers for Christmas....which, "shhhh", but we may have re-gifted them. :)  It was really sweet of them, though, and we did enjoy them for a few days. Tuesday we spent the evening visiting another member family who invited us over for dinner. It was a good thing for Sister Raphael since she had known these members in Neitsytpolku ward and they had just moved here a few months ago. It was fun to get to know them and for the first time we realized that it really was Christmas. You know that it is Christmas when you have someone bring out 3 desserts before they even bring out the main one.  We had a chocolate and licorice, then caramel popcorn, then a small pie and then there was a main dessert too but we had to leave before it was done.  After we visited them we decided to stop by a member's flower shop to see how they were doing since they are always too busy for us to meet with them.  They were SO excited to have us there and yep... we left with 2 more arrangements of flowers, only a lot bigger this time. (We still have these ones though. :) The rest of the night we just got to snowflake members' doors, which was fun and cold. :) 
Christmas Caroling on the Metro
Cold Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve Celebrations
With Gisel on Christmas Eve
In the "Big White Church"
Wednesday: CHRISTMAS EVE!!  I never ever thought I would be more excited for Christmas Eve than for Christmas day until I came to Finland. I still don't understand why they decided to make Christmas Eve the bigger celebration of the two days.  I guess they get their presents earlier.  We first got to go to a Lutheran Church, "The Big White Church," in Helsinki, and listen to a session there.  It was really cool and good cultural experience.  They did the nativity and  even though it was a different church it was once again a good reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. Mac came with us which was a lot of fun... I didn't think it was weird to bring my recent convert to a different church until afterwards, haha, oh well. :)  We liked having him there with us.  We then got to visit a former investigator who had called and asked for a "Joy to the World" DVD. That went well, though she didn't let us inside.  We did get a return appointment set up with her and we are now starting to teach her!  After that we got to go to Fai's house. That was so fun. Even though it is crazy to be in their home with like 8 other people plus us and their grandma and uncle, I love it!!  Sometimes I miss just being around big families. It was super fun and its also really nice when 3 of the people you are teaching and Mac all live in the same house.  We could practically live there. haha.  We basically had dinner, which was a traditional Finnish dinner (Lots of casseroles--which last year I absolutely hated and could barely get down--but this year I loved them! ) Amazing how much can change in a year. ;)  We then opened presents, and Sister Raphael and I got a lot more than I expected!  SO much chocolate and lotions and things. It was a really great last Christmas Eve in Finland! 
With Sister Raphael & member on Christmas
Christmas Visits
Thursday:  CHRISTMAS!!!!! Was also a really great day!  Mac once again came with us all day. We first visited. Sister Saaranen, who is a older member in our ward and didn't have anyone visiting her for Christmas day so we got to.  She is so sweet and so funny. Oh my goodness. Some of the things she says.  Lets just say that she is always trying to match up missionaries with people in Finland.  Sometimes I think she forgets that we are missionaries!  She gave us the traditional Christmas Porridge, which was really good, and a ton of other food. We then got to talk to her for a little while and share a Christmas message before we left. We then when to another member's house, the Maata's and that is when I got to Skype home!  Best thing ever!! I love my family so much!! It was so good to see you and talk to you!!!  I have to admit that its crazy to think that the next time I will be talking with you is in person in just two months. It is crazy how fast time goes! The rest of the night we ate and played a pinball board game. It was a really good night and a great Christmas. :)
Staying In Marjaniemi!
Sister Raphel & I and our sister
missionary ornaments that look like us!
Friday:  We got to go and visit Fai and her family again. We are teaching her little sister Anu and little brother Aleksi. They are so cute and so fun to teach. We are also teaching her step-dad Tero, so really we just wish that we could go there everyday.  Practically everyone we are teaching is in that home!  We were supposed to go to a member's later that evening but they decided last minute to go to Tampere. So, we spent most the day at Fai's house since we are not allowed to do any proselyting on the 24th, 25th,or 26th. We are only allowed outside if we have appointments. We also got change calls on Friday!  I am staying in MARJANIEMI!!!!!! I am so happy about it! My new companion will be Sister Segmiller! 
So much chocolate & so many gifts!
Saturday was a really busy day.  We got to go and visit the members that we were supposed to on Friday and Mac came with us. It was a lot of fun and I got to play Mac in chess.... I won.  He was pretty embarrassed, haha. Then I got killed by one of the kids.... embarrassing.  We then got to teach our new investigator K.H who was the former we visited earlier in the week. We then had a dinner appointment with another member family. That was really good and Mac got to meet new members that he didn't know before. :) 
A Family At Church
Sunday:  It was a really good Sunday!  Fai's two younger siblings and step-dad came to church!  It made me so happy! I have never had a little family in church before. That was super exciting for us and a really great last Sunday for Sister Raphael. She got to go to primary with Fai and her siblings and I was with Tero. Apparently, Anu loved church and wants to come again next week!  Yes!! We are so excited about her and her family!! It was a really good week! 
Last Change Reflections
Since I am now going into my last change I have been thinking a lot about my mission. The time has gone by so fast and I really never thought that my last change would ever come nor that I would ever want it not to come. I love my mission. I love it so so much.  It has tried me more than anything else in my life.  It really have never had so many hard times but I really have never been so happy nor so grateful in my entire life. It has changed me and helped me to grow so much.  I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who has such a better plan for us than we could ever make for ourselves. I really wouldn't give up my mission for anything. It has changed my life. I am so grateful for this Gospel, that I have it in my life and that I have had this opportunity to come to Finland and to share it with others. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Elder Ezra Taft Benson,

"Men and Women who turn their lives over to God will discover that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace."

It really is so true.   I love my Savior.  I know that He lives. I know that he is always with us and that he is always there to lift us and walk with us.  I know that the Church is true. Thank you all so much for all your love and support as I have served my mission. I am so grateful for it. This really has been the best experience of my whole life and 100% worth it!

I love you all so much!!! 

Sister Knapp

Thursday, December 25, 2014

He Is The Gift


With Sister Raphael
  Referral Week
This week was a pretty great week.  At first I was thinking that not much had really happened this week but actually quite a bit has happened this week! We have been really focusing and doing our best to try and as many people to watch the "He is the Gift" video as much as possible. We have been handing out so many cards to people and watching it with all of our members and investigators. It is such a good video and a nice quick reminder that he really is the true meaning of Christmas.  It has also made talking to people a lot easier which has never been my forte. The amazing thing is that as we have been doing this we have been seeing so many miracles.   I have never received many referrals on my mission from members or investigators or from other missionaries.  Probably partially because I always forget to ask...whoops. This week we just had so many referrals come in.  I know that doesn't sound like a lot but it really is.  We got two from members. One of those we contacted and she is a sweet old lady that we are now teaching (I actually don't know much about her because we were on splits that day when we contacted her). We also got a referral from Fai, a member in our ward, and we got to contact her this week too.  Her friend was so cute and so nice.  We got to share the video with her and Mac was with us. Mac is SO good with kids!  It is super nice. We got to talk to her and Mac got to distract her super cute little boy. We later found out that her friend was really happy that we came and reminded her of the true meaning of Christmas and that she wants us to come back sometimes soon! :) We also had another referral from a member and we got to get to know her friend which went really well.  Then we got a referral from other missionaries that we are still trying to contact.  It has been really cool to see the miracles from us working hard even if they aren't directly related to what we were doing.  
This week we also got an investigator transferred over to us from the sisters in the center of Helsinki.  He had just moved to our area.  He is from Canada but his native language is french and he is great.  He has already read the entire Book of Mormon and has a burning testimony that it is true. We are just trying to help him understand what that means for him.  Also, he came to church for the first time this week and is really wanting to learn more.  He wants to know "everything" and so that he can tell other about what he believes in because he does believe in and want to follow the Mormon Church. Apparently, he currently has a baptismal date for the 10th of January that the other sisters set but we haven't talked to him about it yet.  We are hoping to do that this week. :) He is really progressing though which is really fun to see.  
My Finland Family
With Sister Nyman (former companion) and Sister Hansen, who
were both in my MTC group
We had splits this week and I was with Sister Neilsen. She is great and it was a really good day. We got to do a lot of service and then we got to teach Mac, and she was pretty bold with him.  At least I thought so anyway.  It was a good lesson though and Mac is doing good.  He is helped us go and do missionary work this week which was a lot of fun. :)  We are SUPER excited to get to celebrate his first Christmas with him this week and we are taking him to all of the members houses with us.  It is going to be so much fun. Sister Raphael and I are so excited that we get to go and spend Christmas Eve with Fai's family.  We are currently teaching her little sister and her step-dad.  Yesterday we got to randomly stop by after we were done caroling at an old folks' home and ended up being able to teach both of them.  Her little sister is so cute and actually started asking a lot of questions about what happens after this life and where Jesus lives. It was a really good lesson and we are starting to find things that she is interested in so hopefully this will help her want to meet with us more.  Fai also made us dinner and then we read the Book of Mormon with Mac and occasionally Fai's little sister and brother would participate. It felt so good and I felt like I was part of a family again and that we were having family scripture study.  I just loved it.  We both just left feeling so good and happy and excited about them and really think that her family can progress and the craziest part is that it actually might come from the children. :)  They really are becoming more and more like my family here and I love it when we get to visit them.  Its a lot of fun and we get to teach a lot of people and all we have to do is stay in the same house!  Fai always jokes that we could just live there and we would never have to go anywhere.  It is so true! 
Serving With the Most Amazing Companions
Helsinki Zone Sisters
We also had Zone Conference this week which was good. I realized that it was probably my last time seeing my former companion Sister Nyman.  I love her so much and I am so so grateful for her.  It was an amazing and unforgettable 10 weeks that I got to serve with her in the blessed place of Oulu. I really am so grateful for her example and for her amazing friendship. I really have been so blessed to have served with some of the most amazing companions and hope that I get to visit this one in Norway sometime soon! :) 
I just want to add a short testimony about how grateful I am for the Savior and that he came into the world and lived and died and lived again for us.  I am so grateful that because of him we can all be forgiven and find peace and happiness. I am so grateful for eternal families and that I will get to be with my family for all eternity.  I love them so much.  They really do mean the world to me and I don't know what I would ever do without them. I love this gospel and I am so grateful for it.  It really has changed my life and given my so much hope and peace that I will forever be grateful for. This church is true.  Jesus Christ really is our Savior and Redeemer and he really does know each one of us perfectly. "He is the Gift" and we could receive a better one.  All things are possible in and through him and we can all experience and partake of that as we do our best to learn of Him and trust in Him. I love you all so much! 

Sister Kanpp

Monday, December 15, 2014

Missionary Work Is Friendship Work

Small Simple Acts of Kindness
P-day Christmas shopping
This week was a good week though not that much actually happened.  Everyone has gotten busy with the normal craziness of Christmas so it makes it really hard to be able to talk to people on the street because they are rushing from one place to another and it has gotten hard to meet with members too. So we decided that we just needed to do our best to show people that we love and care about them. We decided that one way that we wanted to do that was to send Christmas cards to members we have served with in the past and people we have taught. It is so nice that both Sister Raphael and I served in Oulu at the same time!  We are able to send them a picture of the both of us and write them a short Christmas letter. It has been super fun and feels so good to be able to express at least in a small way what these people have meant to me and how much they have influenced my mission and my life. I have really come to love so many people in this country and feel so blessed by it.  
"Snowflaking" doors!
The Biggest Part of Missionary Work
We are also snow-flaking members and less-actives doors and leaving them a small Christmas card as well to thank them for all they have been doing for us. It has been super fun and really rewarding to do small simple acts of kindness for people.  It has helped me to realize that the biggest part of missionary work is really just showing people how much you love and care about them.  It is amazing the change people can experience when they really do feel loved and cared about and that there is someone there that appreciates them and wants what is best for them.  When it really all comes down to it... missionary work is friendship work. Its about loving and caring and reaching out to people.  Its about making new friends and new life-long relationships  It really doesn't get better than that!  I have noticed that so many people think that missionary work means knocking on doors and talking to strangers in the street and inviting people to church--which inviting is a huge part of missionary work and is a super important part--but also it really come down to making friends then loving and serving them.  I have been able to see so many people's lives changed and blessed by becoming friends with people.  I get to talk and laugh and have fun with them and also get to share something that is so important and means so much to me. Of course they are never surprised when I do that... I do wear a nametag around telling the world that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. The difference is that people are so much more willing to listen and receive it from you when they first know that you really care about them.  Missionary work is also just strengthening and caring for those around us and it is the best thing that I could be doing this Christmas! 
Can you tell that I love the snow?
He Is The Gift
I am sure that you have already heard or seen the video "He is the Gift"  on christmas.mormon.org.  It is something that is really big in missionary work right now.  We are trying to share it with everyone because Christ really is the true meaning of Christmas and sometimes it is so easy to forget that.  So Sister Raphael and I have made a lot of cute pass along cards with the address and chocolate attached to it.  It makes it so much easier for us to hand them out.  It is a really great video and if you haven't seen it, then I definitely suggest watching it!  There really is no better gift in the world then that of God's son, Jesus Christ.  
Investigator Updates
This week was a little rough with investigators.  We were able to meet with our sweet Chinese investigator, Wu Keer, but sadly she doesn't want to meet with is right now. She is preparing to take a Finnish test so that she can possibly get a full-time or at least longer visa to stay here in Finland. So, she wants and needs to study. :( She does want to meet with us after her test though so hopefully we will be able to do that and that I will still be here in Marjaniemi!  We also were able to meet with another one of our investigators. She is expected to have her baby any day now so we aren't able to teach her but we are super excited for her and her family. Then we got to teach Fai's step-dad.  It was a good lesson.  We are just really trying to help him see why this is important for his life and for his family, but we think that he is starting to think about it more and more so that is a really good thing. Other than that we don't have many we are teaching. Christmas time is always hard but hopefully we can find more people that we can teach that are prepared!  Mac is doing incredible and is SO happy!  It makes us both so happy just to be able to see Mac as happy as he has been. So that has been really good.
Getting ready to sing at ward
Christmas party
Ward Christmas Party Finland Style
Friday night we had the Christmas party.  It was good.  They gave us the traditional Christmas porridge and then they had a bunch of little performances by the Primary kids and Young Women and things.  We missionaries did this cup thing to the song "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  It kinda... well.... didn't go as well as we planned.  Fortunately, no one will probably ever remember anyway. They also did their traditional Finnish skit about King Herod and not sure what else.... I didn't completely understand what was going on and neither did Mac, who was trying to help explain whatever I didn't get.  I think it is something to do with King Herod and the 3 kings along with the order to kill all the babies.  Kinda weird, I know.  Apparently there was also a desert contest that I didn't know was happening.  Not many members brought things and I just brought good ole' American Peanut Butter Bars out of obligation of being a missionary. Guess what?  I won!  You gotta love America. :)  I think that is all to report!  Thanks for all your love and support!  I love you! 

Ward Christmas party
Ward Christmas 
Elders McKnight and Wilson

Our attempted "cup song"

Sister Knapp
Christmas markets!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cookies For Everyone!

Wow. I am thinking about this week and I really do not know what to say about it.... It was a rough week but on the bright-side of things I have had way worse weeks then this one. :) 

Monday we got to go and help a family in the ward move.  They are moving to Dubai and so needed a lot of help to get things ready to leave. We planned on helping for 2 hours but the 2 hours turned into 4 hours and we had all 6 of us missionaries there helping, but they definitely couldn't have done it without our help and it felt really good to help them. They were super grateful for it. 
Chinese dinner with Sister Raphael, Fai and Mac
Tuesday we got to meet with Timo. That was a really sad lesson. He just doesn't feel ready to change and has too many questions and things that need taken care of so he has decided that he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. He did make some really good member friends so hopefully that will be a good thing for him and those members will stay in touch with him. Then we got to meet with Mac who took us and Fai out to dinner.  um!  Mac is the best. We then got to go and teach him a small lesson which turned into watching a lot of Mormon Messages but I think it was good for him. We also got to make cookies and Christmas cards with the Relief Society that morning which was a lot of fun. They just signed us up to be there and we made a TON of cookies. We had 25 plates worth and cards to take to less-actives in the ward and they expected us to take all of them to the people!  What?! Fortunately, after explaining that it would take us close to an hour to deliver each plate of cookies they were willing to help us and drive us around to deliver them. 
So,Wednesday, we got to deliver cookies!  I got to go on splits with Fai and Sister Raphael went with another member in the ward. After about 2-3 hours we had only delivered half of the plates of cookies. Most people Fai and I visited had moved or weren't home but Sister Raphael had a lot of success in getting in contact with some of these less-actives so that was a really good thing. Later that night we then had a lesson with Eila Ryyty who we have been working with for awhile now. She is doing so good. It is still really hard for her to come back to church since she has been away for so long but she has started to pray almost every day and to read the Book of Mormon almost everyday as well.  We are really excited for her and just hope we can get her coming back to church soon! :) 
Thursday was a normal planning day and then later that evening we got to teach Mac. That went really well. 
Friday we got to go and do service at a members house that really needed the help and her friend was there.  We were able to talk to her a little bit about what we believed and she seemed genuinely interested so hopefully we will possibly be able to start teaching her soon.  We then went and delivered even more cookies. 
Saturday we taught our Chinese investigator Wu Keer. She is so sweet and so cute but we have to teach super slow and super simply so that she can understand. This week we talked to her about being baptized and committed her to being baptized when she knows that this church is true. She agreed to it but doesn't have a date yet!  She also is now willing to meet with us more than once a week so that is a good thing and hopefully we can really help her start to progress towards being baptized!  We then taught Mac again at a new member's house that he hasn't met before. We still really want him to be able to meet the members but it is hard to find members that he doesn't know that we know. We might need to start working outside of the box! But It was a really good lesson and something that we felt the family really needed, maybe even more than Mac. They are the sweetest family and one of my favorites in the ward. They have just been having a lot of struggles so we are trying to find ways that we can really help and strengthen them. 
Practicing for the ward Christmas party
Sunday was a good day except for being sick. So all in all it was a pretty good week. Thanks for all of your love and support! 

Sister Knapp

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Where Does The Time Go?

This was an alright week.  Finland is getting darker and colder and as a result of it, I am ALWAYS tired.  It is now getting light around 9:00 and dark around 3:30 and it is just going to get darker.  I just really hope that it snows again soon.  I love the snow!  It makes everything brighter and happier. Plus, it feels more like Christmas which is just around the corner!  Where does the time go? 
Finnish Thanksgiving
Fixing Thanksgiving dinner
To be honest, I don't really know what to say about this week..... Not all that much happened. Thanksgiving was really good. Since no one celebrates Thanksgiving in Finland (I know.... Weird ;) ) we created a celebration ourselves. We invited Mac and Fai and one of Sister Raphael's former companions who is practically Finnish and is home for medical things. She came and brought 2 friends and Fai brought her 9 year-old little sister who is just SO cute!  I think she is finally warming up to us too. The dinner turned out pretty good and we shared a thought on things we were grateful for and then wrote "thank you " letters to those that we could send to people. Fai's little sister, Anu, ended up giving us a thank you letter and it was so cute. 
With Sister Raphael
Teaching Without Moving
On Sunday, we got to go and visit Fai and her family to teach her step-dad. It went pretty well, though he was a little hard, but he is willing to meet with us and to try again. He has met with a lot of missionaries. We then got to teach her little sister how to pray and gave her a Book of Mormon. It was so cute and she was way more willing to talk with us. We are now starting to teach her and we have another lesson with her this coming Tuesday. We are super excited! Then, since Mac lives there too, he came out and we got to teach him as well. Mac is still doing good and is always willing to meet with us and come do missionary work with us. We may have dragged him around for a few hours just dropping off invites to less-actives for the children's program at church....  It was really fun for us to have someone along (not sure how much fun he had though..).  I have to admit that it was really probably the highlight of my week going to Fai's and just having to sit on the couch while everyone just rotated through so we could teach them.  I was SO tired so it just made things a lot easier and was actually kind of fun. It doesn't happen very often where you get to teach three people and stay seated in the same spot for 2 hours. :)  
Internet photo of a Racoon Dog
Racoon Dog & White Elephant
Sister Raphael's highlight of the week was seeing a Raccoon Dog. haha. We saw this guy that was taking a ton of pictures of it in the dark so she asked what he was doing and we found out he was taking pictures of a Raccoon Dog which apparently is super, super rare. So I guess that was a pretty cool thing that happened. Oh yeah!  This week we also had a Relief Society Christmas party where we played White Elephant.  hat is apparently is not a familiar thing in Finland. When the Relief Society President explained it everyone was so excited and it was clear that most of them had never heard about it before.  It was really fun though.  Let's just say that I must be good at unwrapping gifts because 4 of the things that I picked got stolen from me and no one else really got anything stolen from them, haha, but really I didn't care much. It was fun anyway. :)  Well, I am sorry that this is a pretty lame email. Not much happened this week. Our investigators, for the most part, are doing good.  T. was unable to meet with us all week but we are meeting with him tomorrow and other than that the rest dropped us. Kinda sad but we are just trying to find new people that the Lord has prepared and to start sharing the true meaning of Christmas!  

I love you all. Thanks for your love and support! 

Sister Knapp