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. 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"|
: 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!!!!! 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!
: 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 ! I am staying in MARJANIEMI!!!!!! I am so happy about it! My new companion will be Sister Segmiller!
|So much chocolate & so many gifts!|
was a really busy day. We got to go and visit the members that we were supposed to 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
: It was a really good ! 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!!!
I love you all so much!!!