Dear Everybody Who Reads This:
I am getting into the routine of things around here. I'm starting to (kind of) know where things are- at least, landmarks look familiar to me as we ride past. Sisar Vath is great because she helps me memorize scriptures in Finnish as we ride. It takes my mind off the physical stress, invites the Spirit, and brings us closer as a companionship. We read the Book of Mormon together each day as part of language study, then I pick a verse to translate into English out loud, and she helps me as I go. It's such a blessing to have a companion who's practically a native speaker! So far it looks like I've had two very kind, loving, and especially patient companions. Hmm....What is the Lord trying to tell me, do you think???
It's still a bit slow finding new investigators, since all of the pre-existing ones live in the other areas. We found 3 more last week, which was great! Two of them don't actually seem so interested, but we'll just have to wow them with a fantastically spiritual lesson this next time, and then maybe they'll feel the Spirit telling them to give us some more time. We visited an elderly couple the other day. The wife has dementia, and can't remember much of anything for very long. She said, "Tervetuloa!" (Welcome!) enthusiastically countless times while we were there, and I wish I had a picture of how her face lit up when we asked if we could sing her a hymn. "Totta kai!" she excited shouted, loud enough to make me jump a little bit. When we asked her husband if he would say the prayer, he said that he didn't remember how. She said, "Of course you can!" and told him to repeat what we said. So when I said the closing prayer, I was surprised to hear HER voice echoing me as I started off, "Rakas Taivaallinen Isä..." What a sweetie! Her health doesn't really allow her to progress towards baptism, seeing as she can't even remember what the Book of Mormon is, let alone make it a part of her daily life, but I loved visiting with her. I hope we get to go back soon.
I've learned a lot this week about keeping the commandments and being a good girl, but also adapting to circumstances. The other day we spoke to a young man on the road who was quite decidedly against the very idea of religion, especially missionary work. He was one of those people that, no matter what we could have said, would have only responded with contention. The Spirit was not invited to that conversation. Our goal is to find and teach as many people as possible, and to invite everyone we talk to to come to church, let us know about any referrals, etc. But sometimes things are better left alone. It's better to leave people with a smile and no lesson or commitment, than to leave them angry and feeling invaded by our conversation. Another lesson came the next day, Sunday. As you may know, the first Sunday of the month is traditionally fast Sunday. It was also the first week for one of our investigators to come to church! We were really excited about "Rosie" (as I will refer to her, so as not to share her real name) coming with us, because she does really want to be baptized, and baptismal candidates first have to attend church at least 3 times. Now, you know from either knowing me already, or from reading my last post, that I am not athletic in any way. I'm getting better on my bike (We got my fancy-shmancy pain-free bike seat installed at zone conference, by the way! One of the elders makes fun of it routinely, everybody else thinks it's plain weird, but I love it, and it feels so comfortable!) but I still struggle a bit, like during the one-hour ride just to make it up to Rosie's house. Well, it turns out that even though it might be fast Sunday, if you and your companion promised to ride with a far-away investigator to church, it might be a good idea to just eat anyway. About 15 minutes into our ride, I started to regret my decision to fast this week. The rest of our ride to-and-from was horrendously difficult, and when we got to church, I barely had the energy to shake hands with members, let alone be an enthusiastic missionary. During sacrament meeting I started to lose the feeling in my legs, then in my arms! I've never outright passed out before, but I was about 35% convinced that I might add that to my list of life experiences before too long! After sacrament meeting, it became apparent that I really needed to go home, eat, and rest, so we handed off poor Rosie to the elders so they could show her and her daughter to Primary, and we got a ride from a member back to our apartment, where my wonderful companion made me a big batch of food and sent me to bed. Our appointment for that night had to cancel, so we stayed home, just to be safe, and make sure that I didn't exhaust myself again and get worse. Today I feel wonderful, energetic, and ready to take on the madness that is P-Day. So long story short (I know, too late!) obedience is so important, but sometimes, the Spirit will just lead you where it leads you, whether that be leaving a conversation early, or picking a different day to fast if you have to make a 2-hour bike journey of fast Sunday. :p
I'm going to be honest here- some days, some hours even, are extremely hard. Whether looking awkwardly at my companion to explain what somebody had just said to me, riding a bike uphill, calling a formerly enthusiastic potential investigator who just hangs up, or wondering when we'll find some more people to teach, this mission thing can be rough. I've also learned that sometimes when I'm not feeling 100%, I just have to remember that I have received such amazingly strong witnesses about my work here, and that's enough to keep me going until I re-discover the drive to go on. Sometimes it's hard to do the Lord's work, and it's okay to draw on better times for strength. I've told the Lord many times so far, "Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief." I know He's there, even when that door is shut in my face, or that appointment cancels. It makes the shouts of "Tervetuloa!" even sweeter.
I hope everybody has a great week! Find ways to share your love of the Savior by being a good friend to somebody else! It doesn't always have to be a big deal- just be a good example and let your light so shine! And please think of the missionaries if you know somebody who is in need- I know first-hand that missionaries are eager to give any kind of service, but opportunities aren't always apparent. Know somebody who's moving? Who needs something cleaned? Translated into another language? Someone who could use an uplifting song? Quoth Russel M. Nelson, "Ask the missionaries!"