Monday, December 29, 2014


I've been pondering a lot on the topic of preparedness lately. With so many "red" days in our schedule (non-proselyting days) we've had to be very much prepared with things to do, and people to see. Change calls came the day after Christmas, which brought to our attention the need for my dear toveri to prepare for her final days in the mission field before she heads back home on New Years day. Phone calls to be made, letters to be written, things to be sorted, and bags to be packed. In my Doctrine and Covenants reading, I've noticed that many, many times it is said that idleness and laziness are not acceptable before God. When I go back home from my full-time service in just over 2 months, I won't be going straight back to school, or to a job. Until I can get on my own two feet, I'll be living with my parents, in a small town where I have few friends left. How can dedicating myself to my current calling as a missionary help prepare me to be a profitable servant at that future period of my life? How will I go back to the world, and continue to live in a way that will prepare me to enter into God's presence, when my time will be divided amongst so many other things? 

President Watson had tovereni and I over for personal interviews a few weeks ago. In my interview with him, we talked a great deal about preparing for my final transfer in the mission. He gave me a lot to think upon and to study, and I have tried diligently to follow his counsel daily. He mentioned in a zone conference once, the story of a man who was NOT called to be the ward's next bishop. "But President," he humbly appealed to his stake leader, "I received a personal witness that I was to be called as bishop. How do I make sense of all of this?" As it turns out, he was eventually called as bishop, just later on than he had imagined. His initial impressions were not the whisperings of an immediate future, but a basis of preparation for the day when he would be called to preside over a ward. I remember feeling this way when, after such strong feelings about serving a mission, I received a very strong NO answer at the age of 20. I was in no way surprised when the thoughts and impressions (dreams, even) I've long had about one aspect of my missionary service came true, and my change call included the assignment to be a trainer for a new sisar entering the country this week. I've spent a lot of time studying, praying, fasting, and conversing with tovereni (who trained twice) about how I can be the best possible senior companion to whoever it is I'll be spending my last 2 months in Finland with. Although I know that there is no way to fully anticipate everything that will arise from most of life's transitions (moving to college, serving a mission, starting a family, all fall into this category), I do feel prepared (in addition to feeling very humbled). We've put together to the best of our ability a well-structured schedule for the next week. I've listed out the kind of trainer I'd like to be, and how I can become that missionary. When Wednesday comes around and I am paired up with the person the Lord wants for my companion, I will feel ready to keep the work going forward in the Haaga ward.

Sisar Schellenberg has done an admirable job of preparing to go home. Despite packing bags (in record speed, I might add), writing down addresses not to be forgotten, making goals for post-mission life, her mind has been in the present. She's been an indispensable aid as we've plotted out schedules, found members for lessons, prepared the apartment, and even made little flashcards to help New Sisar get to know the area and its inhabitants. She does not want to spend her last days in the field coasting, or wiling away the time in idleness. She is finishing strong, and I am inspired by her great example. If my last transfer is as dedicated and consecrated as hers has been, my departure from Finland will be bittersweet, but with an emphasis on the sweet.

As for the Christmas portion of Christmas week, we had fun getting to know members, eating traditional Finnish Christmas food (ham, vegetable purees, chocolate, etc) and of course, skyping. It always goes by so fast, those 40 minutes, although knowing that I will see my family in person in just 10 more weeks made it a bit easier than past sype sessions. We were blessed to be invited by a less-active member who had prepared skype on her previously skype-less computer, just for the occasion. She was prepared with an offering of fruit for us to take home, to counter the piles of sweets she knew we'd surely already scarfed down. How thoughtful! How well-prepared!

The weekend saw the end of our "red" days, and some opportunities for meaningful missionary service. Margaret came with us to a baptismal service in nearby Kerava, and had a good time at her first kastetilaisuus, and an ejoyable time in sacrament meeting the next day. Our newest Friend, Lance, came to church as well, and despite having a dump truck load's worth of new information put upon his head, he seemed to have a good time, and we are really excited to spend more time teaching him about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and their plan for us. The work her had slowed down a bit for a small period, and now it seems to be picking back up. We have a lot of potential here, in this most wonderful of areas. I'm blessed to spend my last transfer in Haaga. My poor new toveri will be spoiled from the get-go.

A big part of preparation, I have learned, is accountability. Accountability gives us a push forward, and keeps us on the right path towards our goals. I would invite you all to consider your personal or family missionary vision for 2015. Write it down. Put it in a place where it will be easily seen and remembered. Turn to the person on your left, and tell them your goals for inviting to church/giving away copies of the Book of Mormon/introducing people to the missionaries/whatever you choose to do. Now somebody else knows, and you are officially held accountable. Reading Preach My Gospel is a great place to start. Chapter 3, all about the missionary lessons, and chapter 6 on Christ-like attributes, are personal favorites of mine for member-missionaries. Tell me how it goes! I sincerely want to know! This life is a time to prepare to meet God. It is a time to help others prepare, who simply do not know how. The gospel of Christ gives us the tools. All we need to do is apply them. Make like a boy scout, and be prepared!


Sisar Hansen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Joulu is once again here, as surreal as it sometimes seems. Helsinki streets are blanketed with snow, and it was a miracle that we were able to make it through the crowded mall in once piece, on our way to the library to write emails.

I´ve thought a lot about love as Christmas approaches. God´s love is, after all, the source of all our greatest gifts. He gave his Only Begotten Son why? Because He so loved us. We have been amazed again and again by the love shown to us by members, investigators, and others. When the world is at its darkest (a word that has many meanings, some of them particularly apparent in Finland), the light and warmth of the Spirit are vibrantly visible. While we had a solid appointment for each of our 3 red days (non-proselyting days), until about a week ago, we found ourselves with not much else to do during that time, and no place to skype! Yikes! We proclaimed the news of our predicament far and wide across the ward last Sunday, and the response has been huge. Many members of our ward are from other parts of Finland, and will be out of town for the next couple of weeks. They can´t give us a place to stay or to skype, but even those who will be half-way across the country for Joulu approached us at church yesterday, and asked us if we were set to go, concern in their voices. As it turns out, there is a less active member of the ward whose door we knocked a few evenings ago. She let us in, chatted with us for a while, and then invited us over to skype with her. She´ll even give us a ride, since she lives a bit far out. As it turns out, she didn´t even have Skype installed on her computer at all, but texts from her over the past few days have confirmed that all is set and ready to go for us to call home on Thursday evening. We´ve filled out the rest of our red days, and we even had to turn a couple offers down, due to too many appointments! Lynne invited us over for a bit on Christmas Day. She´s taught us how to knit, and we´re excited to show her our progress when we go over there. At our last meeting with her, she gave us each a present that, when carefully squeezed, feels suspiciously like yarn and needles. What love!

Joulu traditions in Finland are a bit different than in the States. For example, Joulupukki (Santa Claus) comes straight to the door to deliver his presents on Christmas Eve, which is the big day Suomessa. Finns often enjoy a trip to the sauna on Christmas. One of the biggest parts of a Finnish Christmas is the food. Let me tell you, Christmas food in Finland is fantastic. Rice pudding with plum soup, vegetable casserole, ham, pulla and other pastries, hot glögi to drink with a piece of gingerbread in hand, the list goes on. At this time around Christmas, we are almost never without an offering of food on any given day. Members have filled our dinner appointment calendar almost past its capacity. We have a hot meal provided by a member 9 days out of 10 at this time of year, which gives us an excellent opportunity to get to know ward members better, and encourage them to #ShareTheGift. Life is a literal feast right now. Those members whose houses we miss often give us bread, gingerbread, or Finnish chocolate as a gift in passing. We gave our former investigator Keith a Christmas card, and even he responded with some candied almonds. It´s almost more than my stomach, or the waistline of my favorite skirts, can handle. The point of this is not to boast about the perks of serving in Finland at Christmastime, although I would be lying if I said that it isn´t a wonderful time. More than anything, as members are so willing, even eager to provide us with something delicious, I feel their love and concern for the missionaries serving in their ward. They notice us. They look out for us. They know we´re far from home at a time that centers around the family, and they want us to feel like we are at home here in Helsinki. Their love and care for us missionaries reflects love for the Savior, because we are His representatives, and our purpose is to bring others to Him. Our cut-out paper Christmas tree we hung on the wall hangs over a pile of gifts, the sight of which warms my heart with love. How have I been so blessed in my life, to have 3 consecutive Christmases where, although my family and familiar traditions are halfway around the world, I feel so loved and cared for, so at home?

This mission has been like a giant spiritual feast for me. Like Nephi of the Book of Mormon, I have been blessed to, on many occasions, feel the arms of our Savior´s love encircling me as I do such an imperfect job of serving Him. I feel great love for our investigators, former and present. We had an excellent lesson with a young adult named Margaret yesterday (she who came to our Thanksgiving dinner) that left me pondering how great the gospel is, and how miraculous it is that Heavenly Father loves His children so much, that He has given us the commandments and ordinances we need to be worthy to return to Him. 

I am thankful for the ability to spend two Christmases in Finland as a full-time missionary. I am thankful that the missionary lifestyle requires me to look past material things that weigh down my suitcase, and to focus on learning to love others more as Christ loves them. I am thankful for the love and service we have received at this time, and throughout all the year. May you enjoy a Joulu that is centered around the Savior and His incomparable gift to the world.


Sisar Hansen

Monday, December 15, 2014

Don't Leave This Behind

After a bit of an absence, the sometimes-weekly blog post returns with a vengeance! 

Time flies. It really does. In 3 more weeks I will be entering into my LAST transfer, and my dear Sisaret Schellenberg, Heggie, and Dayton will be back home, nametag-less. The work in Haaga is seeing ups and downs. While investigators are thinning out, we are finding more time for work with less-active members, and building relationships with people within the ward. Christmas is a wonderful time to naturally bring up the Savior, but it is also a time of busy schedules and out-of-town visits. Organizing our schedule has been a bit of a challenge, but we're hanging in there, and we have yet to experience a "my goodness, what is there even to do around here today?" kind of day.

Before I go into things spiritual, here are some funny moments from the past couple weeks that can serve as some Christmas cheer, for those of you not in Finland during the season of delicious Christmas porridge and hot glögi:

- We've brought a member along to a couple of teaches with an investigator who has two cats. These cats are normally quite friendly, but they are infatuated with our member! As soon as he sits down, there's one on his lap, scratching at his jeans, tail in his face, and another one on the back of his chair, nuzzling him from behind. With nobody else are these cats so eager to love and be loved. Our member handles it like a champion.

- A few weeks ago at our visit to the temple where Sisar Schellenberg's friends from Turku were performing proxy baptisms, one of them pulled me aside and told me that a secret plot was unfolding, and that my cooperation was key. I gave her my email, and Operation Surprise-Sisar-Schellenberg-With-Unexpected-Guests-at-the-Ward-Christmas-Party was underway. She did a literal double-take as 3 familiar faces from afar showed up to help us with decorations. I was glad that I'd somehow convinced her to put off sending them her Christmas package in the mail, and to have it ready with us at the church, just in case somebody from Turku might show up, who could deliver it for free.

- One personal study, I was really impressed by tovereni. On her white handbook was a sticky note with the words, "Don't Leave This Behind" written in large letters. What a consecrated missionary! Only 3 or so weeks remaining of her full-time service, and she is set on keeping alive those principles learned on her mission, during her post-mission life. The next day, as we started our companionship study, tovereni turns to me and says, "So, I have this sticky note on my white handbook. I've received some money from home on my mission in American dollars, and I folded it up and put it in the cover of my white handbook. I put a reminder on the front not to leave it behind when I go home." HA!!!! I told her my thoughts about what her note might have meant, and we laughed for a good long while. This in no way effects my confidence that she will be a consecrated member missionary post-mission. :p

Over the past couple weeks or so there have been a lot of Joulu festivities. Although the ground is wet with slushy melt rather than drifted snow, Christmas is in the air, and people are coming from near and sometimes far (see fun anectdote #2) to join in parties and concerts. We had one of our investigators, a lovely woman named "Britney", come to the stake Christmas concert, and then gladly stay for the worldwide Christmas devotional. She was touched by the music and every time she turned to me to tell me how much she loves a particular song, she glowed with the Spirit. She's a former member who was not in the church for long, and who told us as she sat down in the chapel before the start of the concert, "It feels so good to be here again!" She will be busy this Christmas season, but if she can find ways to re-ignite those feelings in her everyday life that she felt last night, she will do very well in her progression in the gospel.

I have of course, been thinking a lot about gifts. The advent calendar my former Geneva ward sent me offers a small gift every day. Whoever put it together knows missionaries very well- there are pens, paper, stickers, nylons, you name it! Sisar Schellenberg and I are excited every morning to see what new useful thing awaits in a little bag (hidden away in the closet so I don't give in to the naught impulse to peek). Such a thoughtful gift. I had a dream recently that for Christmas, my family decided to do something silly, like draw each other pictures for a gift. In my dream I was really upset. I woke up, wondering what was so upsetting about the situation. I'm learning more and more to not rely on "stuff" to make me happy. Shouldn't the best gift be about love, not about material possessions? I guess the thing that got to me in my dream was not the lack of expensive objects, but rather the sloppy, last-minute nature of many of our drawings. They were completely without thought or effort. What makes gifts truly special, like the ones in my calendar, is the thoughtfulness behind them. Do we give a gift our of obligation with little thought, or do we give a gift with purpose and intent, based on the needs or wants of the recipient? Therein lies the real difference. That's why Christ was and is the perfect "joulu lahja". His life was always filled with purpose. It was given for us with intent and sincerity. His life was never given for reasons of vanity or trendy appeal. It wasn't superfluous or lacking in thought. He gave us everything, EVERYTHING, and for purposes so grand, that we can only imagine them in part. How much we can learn as gift givers and receivers from the example of our Savior! 

As we faced an afternoon with a cancelled appointment and a lack of surety as to our next move, we got a phone call from a less-active sisar in our ward. "I made some herbal tea and some joulu torttuja (a kind of Christmas pastry). Would you like to come have a taste if you're not busy?" We eagerly agreed, and when we arrived at her apartment, the table was already set, the herbal tea was hot, the pastries warm, and it didn't escape our notice that the other assorted snacks she'd prepared were perfectly counted out in multiples of 3. What care she took for our little gathering! What love she showed to us! We spent a short moment eating, enjoying the warmth of a hot beverage on a cold evening, and chatting about the Savior and His role in our lives. We had the chance to invite her to church and to learn more about her concerns and life situation. We were excited to see her sitting not too far behind us at the Christmas concert, enjoying the music. She was a wonderful example to me and to my companion of Christ-like gift-giving. 

May we consider the true meaning of gifts this Christmas season. I mean it. I don't mean to perpetuate sentimental cliches here. Can we all take a good moment to honestly and sincerely ponder the meaning of gifts in our lives? May we invite others to come unto Christ and receive the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal life, which He has promised to those who follow Him. I'd love to hear comments and feedback about gifts during email time next week. And when Christmas, missions, and other life phases are over, may we not leave these experiences, these people, these feelings behind.


Sisar Hansen 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Gift

note from Karlan's mom:

No blog from Karlan this week.  She did want me to encourage everyone to visit There you will find a beautiful message about the Savior and Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Message

No blog from Karlan today.  She was very limited on time, and had to catch a train for a meeting with her mission president..  

Here are some notes from her letters to us:

She and her companion are going to have a mini-Thanksgiving meal with some investigators this week.  Karlan also scored a leather jacket at her local thrift store.  

Karlan and sister Schellenberg have been busy with Christmas preparation for a stake party, and there have been concerts and ward parties, so the holiday season is in full swing for her.  No word about how much snow there is in Helsinki.

Kar asked us to post a link for you to, where there is a wonderful message about the Savior and Christmas, called "He is the Gift"

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

So, It Has Come to This...

I saw a silly web comic one time that said that you can use the phrase "So, it has come to this...." in any situation to spice things up a bit. I've shared this thought with tovereni in passing before, and so when the snow finally hit Helsinki and I was less-than-enthused, I heard her utter those words as we trekked slowly and carefully out to the bus stop, and burst out laughing. I'd hate to have to try to make it through a full-time mission without a sense of humor.

Several of our investigators let us know this week (on the same day, actually) that right now isn't the best time, and our teaching pool was suddenly reduced to about half its size. These things are a part of missionary life, and although it's sad, we decided to just go forward and focus on the things left for us to do. The next day we received TWO referrals and set up appointments with both of them! One of the women actually lives just across the Espoo 2nd ward border, so we had to re-refer her to other missionaries, but the other one is a very prepared woman who is looking for the right church, and who seems to have been prepared for this time. Some elders found her teaching records from way back in 2008 and decided to give her a call. She was surprised, but agreed to meet with us (she'd moved into our area) and we had one of the most spiritual first lessons I've had my entire mission. Lessons like this do not happen every transfer, even. While I hate to count chickens before they hatch, especially as a missionary, we know that we need to take special care of Lynne as she seeks for answers.

A while back, the Marjaniemi sisaret called us to let us know that they met a French man on the street, and gave him our number. Street contacts rarely go anywhere without a set return appointment or an exchange of phone numbers on both sides. I've never received a call from a pass-along card, although it happens sometimes for other missionaries. Last night I was excited to get a phone call en francais from said man, hoping that we can meet at our church and help him with his English a bit. We're planning to meet later this week. Sometimes I dread the thought of Sisar Schellenberg leaving so soon, because (among other reasons) we seem to have so many magical contacting moments together, and I want it to last!!!

Saturday was our once-per-change chance to go to the temple. Aside from being quite possibly the most uplifting and revelatory experience I've had in the temple, Sisar S. was able to see some of her friends from a former area, one of whom was there for the first time. We saw a recent convert from Marjaniemi sitting next to them in the baptistry. As we went to change our clothes, I saw a familiar face from my finnish hometown- In fact, there were FOUR members of the Lappeenranta ward at the temple that day, and I had a wonderful time hearing how excited they were to tell me about the missionary work in that neck of the woods.

I called President Watson about the fatigue issues I mentioned in my last post. I wasn't sure what he could do or say, since we've discussed this topic many times over. I'd had the thought that beyond diet and exercise, it might just be an issue with the quality of my sleep. President suggested reading a couple verses from the Book of Mormon between my nightly prayer and getting into bed. Since tweaking my routine, I've taken a half-hour lunchtime nap one day, and that is it. I feel more rested and relaxed all day long. It's amazing how the Book of Mormon helps with so many practical things in addition to the spiritual, and often in ways I'd never think of.

This blog post reads a bit like an overview of the area book, but time is particularly short this week, and I just want to testify of the miracles I've seen and the Love I've felt from the Lord this week. As winter rolls in, I'm grateful to know that I am here for a great purpose, and that the Lord is with me in every phase of the work, including the runny-nosed, red-cheeked, abundantly-bundled phases. I've got just over a dozen weeks left. I look forward to working hard and seeing many more miracles in that time.


Sisar Hansen

Monday, November 17, 2014


It was the best of times, it wasn't the worst of times, but there were a few downers along the way. I don't know how much I've mentioned in my blogs the ever-present fatigue issues I've been having on my mission, but even though they sometimes seem to go away, they always seem to resurface. This week, they came back with a vengeance. It wears me out to be so worn out. Sisar Schellenberg and I have agreed that my physical and emotional needs brought about by my exhaustion may be one good reason why we're still together this transfer. She's a blessing-and-a-half, that one. I've tried everything that I, my mission president, and doctors can think of, and I still drop off more than anyone would like me to. I don't know why this challenge has been handed to me as part of my mission, but I'm learning from it, or at least, I hope I am. I realized that even though I try to get through it alright, I really do need to be more patient a lot of the time, especially with myself, and to recognize God's hand more. He let this be a part of my experiences in Finland, and so I need to realize that it will only be for my good if I handle it well. It's only because He loves me that I've been given not only my gifts, but my challenges, and I can still be grateful to Him even when my eyelids weigh 30 lbs each.

We did have some great opportunities this week. Our amazing-tastic ward mission leader recruited us for a school presentation last week with 17-year old students from a nearby school. They were all close enough that they came to the church, where we did a short building tour, and ended up in the chapel. Our technological difficulties prevented us from showing the prepared presentation we all have on our flashdrives around Finland, so we tried to think of interesting things to say/do when the students didn't have enough questions. This was not an issue, as there were too many questions to even answer, all of them honest and sincere. We had a lot of fun with them. I love school presentations. I just hope that we were able to leave something of a good impression on them, and that they understand a bit better that religion is a relevant lifestyle, not just a bland Sunday behavior.

We had a combined Helsinki/Tampere zone conference with Europe area president Elder Texeira and his wife. They talked a lot about ways for us to be better at contacting and being productive with limited time and means. It was the answer to many a Haaga sister's prayers, as we've been trying to focus on this for quite some time. Our contacting has been more bold, direct, and positive as a result. I got to see some familiar faces from the Tampere zone, including Sisar Ross (If I had to pick a sisar to serve with, who I hadn't already served with, it just might be her), Sisar Dayton, and the Lahti sisaret, who gave me an update on how things are moving in their neck of the woods. Even though everybody knows that Lahti was not my favorite of all areas, I'm so grateful to the sisaret who are taking such good care of the people there, and who saw Lahti's first convert baptism in years, the daughter of a lovely woman who we taught a few times back in the day. Funny how even when we get time at lunch to chit-chat with our mission friends, it always comes back to how the work is doing, and how people are progressing.

Tony continues to do well. He looks brighter and happier every time we see him. We taught him the Plan of Salvation this week, using pictures that we'd drawn and covered in contact paper. He wore his shirt and tie to stake conference, and got to chat with President Watson for a few minutes. We were all invited to our ward mission leader's house post-conference, where he met some new people, and excitedly told everyone what he'd learned about the Plan, as well as tell everyone about his tentative baptismal date, "It's my choice, of course, but this is our goal!" He took the initiative to set up our next appointment with us. As always, we look forward to seeing him on Tuesday.

On Sunday I finished reading the LAST PAGE of the Bible! After about a year, I've read the ENTIRE thing, cover to cover! I started on the Doctrine and Covenants today, so that I can finish my goal of reading the standard works on my mission. A certain word popped out at me as I read in section 1. "Willing". It was a revelation to the Lord about His being "willing" to make His gospel known throughout all the world. As a native English speaker, I've often used that word a bit casually. "Yes, I'm willing to take out the trash, but if somebody else could do it, that would be great." But I don't think that God feels that way about us. If we think about it, a person's will is the thing that they want, the thing that drives them, the think they shall be accomplished, if they have anything to do with it. I think I'm going to read that word a lot differently from now on in the scriptures. It relates not only to God's purposed for me, but also to the promised I made to Him at baptism, the promises we urge our investigators to make and keep. Will I keep the commandments and bear others' burdens if I feel like it, or am I truly WILLING to do so? There's a big difference there.

I've realized that I have grown more and more willing to be a missionary throughout my time in Suomi. Last night after we returned home from our afternoon's activities, my exhaustion kicked in worse than it had been in a long time. I couldn't even sit and plan with tovereni. We tried to think of something we could do, so that I didn't feel like I was wasting time being tired, although Sisar S pointed out that I'd be justified in going to bed extra early. I agreed to go to bed early, but only after we'd done something else productive, and I'd written in my journal a bit. We decided to take President Watson's recent challenge to us to action, and recognize our gifts in ourselves, and in each other. We are both artistic, and love to leave notes for our loved ones. We like the idea of making Christmas cards, but we don't want to go through the trouble and expense of printing photos of ourselves. We got out a piece of printer paper and drew up 4 Christmas card templates, each with an artistic interpretation of our likenesses and a border, so we can copy, cut, paste, and easily/economically send cards to those who need to know that we care. We had fun, I had just enough energy for the task, and we'll hopefully be able to bless a few lives as a result. I'm thankful for a companion who inspires me to good outside the box. Missionary work is so much fun with Sisar Schellenberg.

Dearest readers, please go out and do good this week. Find a way to serve a friend or a neighbor. Develop a Christlike attribute from Preach My Gospel chapter 6. Look for the specific good qualities that God has given to you, and to those around you. Do these things, and find joy basking in the glow of the Spirit, which testifies of truth and righteousness. Your willingness to come unto Him will increase, and He will be able to demonstrate His willingness to bless you.


Sisar Hansen

Getting dressed:


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Postman Cometh

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure how, but it appears that I am nearing the home stretch of my mission. During this, the penultimate transfer of my missionary service, I have never felt more upbeat or capable as a missionary. I have never felt a stronger love for those I serve, as well as a desire to do all that I can to put them and the Lord first above myself. When I received my first "trunky letter" in the mail the other day, I calmly filled out the information needed to get me a plan ticket back to Washington in March, and sent it on its merry way without thinking too much about it. Although I love being a missionary and I'm serving in a fantastic area, I've known from the start that this has been a temporary calling, and that the Lord has great plans for me beyond my short time wearing the name tag. I've been blessed to serve at a time in my life when I've already experienced many changes, comings, and goings. I've learned to rejoice in the present, while still honoring the lessons of the past, and looking towards the future with hope. As strange as it may sometimes seem, I've received very comforting reassurance from the Spirit concerning the many vast unknowns of my post-mission future while absorbing myself the most in the work I've been assigned to do for the present time. I'm thankful that I can always trust in the Lord to make sure that everything is okay.

We've had a great week of teaching, planning, and of course, occasionally getting lost. We've done a lot of service for those we love, which has been an especially rewarding aspect of my missionary service. We have a friend, Keith, who is rather fond of Pepsi. We noticed that he had quite a collection of empty bottles piled up at his house, and asked if we could take them in to be recycled for him. He gave us 3 large bags full of empty bottles for us to do with what we would. During our conversation with him that evening, he, as always, waxed philosophical about an array of topics, including helping the poor. "I life a life of relative luxury" he said, "Many people do not have what I have. I sometimes go to the store and feel bad for spending 2 euros on chips, when 200 euros can save a person's life in another country. But I really want the chips!" We walked out of that lesson, bulging bags in arms, wondering how we would spend the spoils of our bottle return. The next day, our prayers on this topic were answered, as another friend of ours humbly stated that although he enjoys church, he read in the Restoration pamphlet that men wear button-up shirts and ties, and that he feels a little out of place in his tshirt and jeans. I wrote a quick note down in my planner about the first thought that came to my head, and I was glad to hear that Sisar Schellenberg was on the same wavelength. After hauling all the empty Pepsi bottles to the mall and turning in the receipt for cash, we headed off to a nearby Kirpis and within a few minutes, found a light-blue button-up shirt that looked to be just his size. We commandeered a couple of ties from the elders, added a warm cap and some herbal tea (his throat had been sore last week) and wrapped it up in some makeshift wrapping paper, with a "Onnellista Isänpäivää" note, just in time for Finnish father's day. The look on (Tony's) face when we gave him our package at the door made everything worth it. We're excited to tell Keith about how we spent the bottle money (and give him a bag of chips we bought with the left-overs) and to continue to work with Tony along his journey towards baptism (hopefully on the 20th of December!)

We have another investigator who is on vacation for a week or so. Wanting to let her know how much we care, even though we haven't met with her much, we wrote her a note and set out one night to drop it into her door's mail slot. Our bus wasn't coming for a while, but another bus soon arrived, which would take us fairly close to our desired destination. Sometimes, fairly close isn't close enough at all, and we were lost for 3 hours or so, wandering around the wintery darkness of Vantaa, trying to find any recognizable sign of her area. Long story short, we were blessed to find people to chat with along the way, and we delivered the mail just in time to arrive home at curfew. This was the second time this week that we were hopelessly lost, but we are now very good at finding our way back, should we venture too far out in the Elielinaukio direction.

This week was a blast from the past in a couple different ways. We had splits with the sister training leaders, and I was able to chat with Sisar Nielsen about her recent exchange in Lappeenranta. I'd heard from Joy that there had been three baptisms a couple weeks past, and at first I wondered whose children had possibly turned 8. I couldn't think of anyone, but how could there have been so many convert baptism in such a short amount of time? Sisar Nielsen confirmed one of my guesses, a young girl Sisar N and I had begun teaching together. I got emotional when she told me about the other two. The husband of one of the sisaret from the ward had long investigated the church, even posted church links on his facebook page and invited others to learn more, but never been baptized. While we visited them, we boldly asked him how we could help him prepare for baptism, and eventually, the temple. He finally decided to take the leap of faith and was baptized! I teared up, knowing how much this means to his wife and to their lives together. Now they can prepare to go to the temple as a family to perform more ordinances there. I was again thrilled to hear that the woman's daughter has a boyfriend who accepted everything the sisaret taught, and was eagerly baptized. How wonderful to hear about the work going forward in a beloved area, with beloved people! Even though I'm sad to not have been able to attend, I am overjoyed to have been a part of these peoples' lives for a small moment.

I was also pleasantly surprised to receive a large envelope in the mail the other day. When I looked at the return address and the stamp labeled, "La Suisse" I excitedly opened the package to see a bundle of letters written to me by Geneva stake young women. A few weeks ago there seemed to have been a mini-MTC activity, and some of my favorite youth from my old ward wrote me letters. Some of them expressed doubt as to whether or not I would remember them. OF COURSE I remember! How could I forget? The best experiences I had in France were often related to my church service there. I'm excited to write replies (in my somewhat rusty French) expressing my love and appreciation, and encouraging these young people to be strong disciples of the Lord and to prepare for a lifetime of missionary service, with or without a name tag. (My toveri, who has visited family members in Switzerland, also enjoyed sharing some of her favorite Swiss chocolate.)

Each day I've been given opportunities to see how far I've come on my mission. It's an enormous blessing, and testifies to me of my Savior's love for me, and the effects of His Atonement. I've long felt that giving service has been a weak spot in my gospel activities, and looking back at this week, we've spent much of our time between appointments serving those around us. When did the Lord help me turn this weakness into a strength? I never perceived it happening, and yet now it's a cherished activity to bring a treat to someone in need, or deliver a surprise Father's Day bundle. I recently read over a page in Preach My Gospel (what have you learned from this inspired manual lately, by the way?) which had absolutely no markings, and covered it with insights and highlights. I've just finished the dreaded Isaiah chapters in my Book of Mormon reading, feeling that I've understood them much better than I ever have. My journey into the Book of Revelations has similarly been extra insightful. I want to testify that these things are possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who gives us abilities beyond what we can manage on our own. He magnifies what we cannot see, lifts what we cannot lift, and inspires our minds to do the will of the Father. It comes with faith and diligence, but to those who seek, the unparalleled power of the Lord is offered all because Heavenly Father loves us that much. What a joy it is to learn and grow in the service of others, and ultimately, the Lord!

This church is true. I feel the power of the gospel every day in my life as I try to serve the Lord to my best ability. May you feel similarly as you take time to examine yourselves and see how the Lord has "(made) weak things strong" (Ether 12:27).


Sisar Hansen 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cabbage Tilanne [Cabbage Situation]

Once again, another first-email-from-a-new-area! I probably wrote 6 months ago about my feelings entering Lappeenranta. It instantly felt like home. I KNEW that it was MY kind of place. I'm glad to report that Haaga feels the same. We were shuttled in by the assistants (nice to not transfer by train this time- it's much more convenient and less stressful!) to our new apartment in our new area. The other sisaret were still there, waiting for their departures. (One of them is going to Marjaniemi, and the other, who we also replaced in Marjaniemi, is headed to Lahti, where Sisar S and I have both served! Craziness!) They did a masterful job of preparing the area for us. Charts, records, maps, helpful hints, you name it! The first thing I heard as I walked through the door, "Are you ready for the craziest day ever? No, seriously. Are you ready?" We were booked SOLID with appointments for the day, with barely time to breathe or eat. Investigators from all corners of our area were included, and members to come along with us. We scrambled to study the teaching records and ask as many questions as possible before we were left to our own. It turned out to be one of the busiest days I've ever had on my mission, and miraculously, we arrived at all of our appointments on time (or maybe just a couple of minutes late, but still- new area) and taught great lessons by the Spirit. I'm the kind of person who usually needs to warm up to new people. I don't often click right away with somebody, which is always a concern for me with new investigators. I felt right at home with each and every one of them. They come from different countries and have different backgrounds. Single, divorced, married with children, Christian background, atheist, Finnish, Asian, Dutch, Estonian, men, women, you name it. They each have something very particular to offer, and it's fun planning for each of them as individuals.

This area is much more urban than Herttoniemi, and very vibrant. I've met a fair amount of French students, to my excitement. The area book is crammed full of potential, and there should be no excuse for boredom in this place. We inherited NINE invesitgators, which is the most I've ever had at one single time. They each have a lot of promise and potential. One of them in particular is one of the most humble and prepared people I've ever taught. The ward has been welcoming and we've never lacked a member on a lesson. This is a blessed place. How have I been so lucky to serve in such great places with wonderful people? 

The title of this entry refers to the aforementioned previous Haaga sisaret. They had a food theme each week, it turns out. One week was food only the pioneers would have eaten. One week they went vegan, another week was gluten-free. The week before our arrival was cabbage soup week. Cabbage soup got a bit dull pretty quickly, and aside from investigators, we inherited 2 1/2 GINORMOUS heads of cabbage of different varieties. We eat, and eat, and eat the stuff, and it never seems to lessen! We need to find some good recipes, because borscht just isn't cutting it! Whenever I feel down, I can think about the preposterous quantity of leafiness just lounging around, minding its own business in the fridge, and get a good chuckle.

We're having fun getting to know our new area. We've gotten lost and tramped around forests and hills. We've gotten off the train at the wrong stop, as well as gotten stuck on the train at our correct stop. We've also literally jumped onto the train at the last possible second before the doors closed! We've put our map skills to the test, started conversations by asking for directions, studied the ward list, and best of all, just plain gone out and preached the gospel. That busy first day was the best first day I've ever ahd in an area, and we learned a lot just by going out and doing our job. We've relied on the Lord every day for guidance and help in accomplishing our goals and overcoming our weaknesses. It's been an intense and rewarding week. Since we're now so busy, we're trying to use Preach My Gospel chapter 8 more on using time wisely. As we plan efficiently and schedule according to needs, we'll find success in Haaga.

I'll introduce our friend more throughout future emails. For now, just know that this area looks bright despite the limited sunshine, and that I am getting regular doses of whatever vitamins are contained in cabbage.

The gospel is true! It really is the best thing ever!


Sisar Hansen

Sunday, November 2, 2014


How did missionaries do work before cell phones? We're living in a time of, "Text me later to make sure I'm free at that time" and "Which phone calls do we need to make on the go, so that we don't have to resort to knocking doors?" and it's nearly impossible to plan without a phone handy. You may be wondering why I address the topic of phones/the lack thereof at this time. I'll just say it- Sisar Schellenberg and I lost our phone this week. We had some business at the chapel, and then we headed off to do some service for a member in our ward. She lives in a locked building, and we usually just call, and she'll come out to get us. As we searched our pockets, we realized that this would be impossible, as the phone was not with us at all! Luckily, we were able to knock on her living room window, but that relieved only a small portion of our distress. After our appointments, we made time to dash over to the church and search ever nook, cranny, and pew for the lost puhelin. Nowhere. It was absolutely nowhere to be found. Voi, että, we had a problem on our hands! The other sisters just happened to show up to prepare for a lesson, and we were confident that, after calling our phone with theirs, we'd hear the ring and know where to go. To our dismay, Sisar Knapp had grim news for us. "Your phone is off. It went straight to voicemail." OFF??!! We NEVER turn our phone off!! 

Sometimes in life, we must come face-to-face with dreaded realities. Some are major, some are relatively minor, as was our situation. Nonetheless, it is not a pleasant experience. We were thankful that the next day's plans were all ready and set in stone, and that we'd made a few necessary calls that morning during our planning. We gave it a few minutes of careful thought, and then decided on the best course of action for the time being, not knowing when we'd be once again in the communication loop. The I had an appointment in central Helsinki for later that week, and it was the perfect opportunity to stop by the lost-and-found office on the way. That was at least convenient. We'd have to keep our lessons fairly short to make it out before the office closed, but Sisar Schellenberg's excellent organizational skills would serve us well there. (The office didn't have our phone, by the way, but we did talk to a really nice American student while there, so bonus!) One of our appointments for the next day required us to once again enter a locked building, and we weren't sure how that one would work, other than just arriving at the door, and praying really hard. Well what do you know, it worked! Our friend figured that maybe we weren't coming after a few minutes of silence from our end, and came outside to run an errand. We went with her, and taught her a fine lesson about the Book of Mormon! In the midst of triumphal feelings over our good door fortune, it hit us that my appointment in the Helsinki center would prevent us from meeting with a member, who we had actually run into earlier in the day! We forgot to bring it up! Good thing we had no absolutely set plans for the evening- We ended up hiking out to her house, as the buses were taking their sweet time. We arrived just as she got home with her boys from the store, and we were able to inform her that we'd need to change the time of our next appointment. She was a bit amazed that we would take the trouble to come all the way out just to tell her in person, but a sisar's gotta do what a sisar's gotta do. Even with no phone we were able to make things work out a lot better than we would have anticipated. It was an experience that stretched us, and made us rely more on the Lord. A blessing, but also an experience I'll try not to repeat.

Another concern was that, as you know if you've followed my posts, change calls were imminent. We spent the day on Friday wondering how the next day would unfold. How would we get our call from President Watson? Would we have to go to a member's house? Would we have to receive ours as a tag-on to another companionship's call? Luckily, the office elders were able to set up a time for us to go get a new phone with a temporary phone number, so that we could receive our change news as scheduled. We'd also be able to take the oral portion of the language test, which we'd missed in our phone's absence. HUGE relief, I must say.

The next day was change calls day, as well as a baptism for the friend of the Porvoo area elders. We were relieved to have a phone in our pocket as we walked into the church. As we did last-minute work cutting vegetables for the post-service refreshments, our bishop poked his head through the door. "Excuse me, did you sisters lose this?" he asked, waving OUR OLD PHONE in his hand. "Somebody found it in the chapel and put in it my desk in my office." We were stunned. WE JUST BOUGHT A NEW PHONE!! Rejoicing over the relief of less office debt, and perplexed as to how we could have possibly missed it through our thorough search of the building a few days earlier, we called the office and walked into the baptism with lighter hearts and gratitude for our blessings.

The baptism was wonderful, of course. The newest member of the ward was emotional over his new life milestone, and it was a joy to be there with him, even though he was a bit surprised that there would actually be other people WATCHING his immersion under the water in the baptismal font. Afterwards we went into the gym to eat some snacks, congratulate the man of the hour, and chat with members and friends. Distracted by a glass of delicious juice, and unfamiliar with dulcet tones of our still-in-use temporary phone in my own pocket, I was the last person to realize that we were receiving a call. "Uh, Sisar! The phone!" "Ahhh!! You're right!" With no numbers saved, we could only guess at the identity of the voice on the other end, but ours was a very educated guess, considering the date and time. "Hello Sisters, this is President Watson speaking." The change call had come. (Dun-dun-duuuuun!) Sisar Schellenberg and I had discussed briefly our predictions for how this one would go. She had a strong feeling that we might stay together for another transfer. I thought it was fairly likely, but ever since my arrival in Helsinki, I'd felt that my stay in this ward would be very short. President Watson's next words confirmed one of our predictions, "We're going to keep you two together." 10 points for Sisar Schellenberg, and a gazillion bonus points for me, for getting to stay with her another transfer. "But" he continued, "We're going to move you both to Haaga." 10 points for me, too! That makes a gazillion-and-ten, which is fairly impressive. In a bit of a rare move (literally), we are both transferring together! We'll still be in Helsinki, but in a different ward and a different district. Our area is being commandeered by an elder and his trainee, and I am once again involved in a everyone-is-new-here transfer situation, which I love. I was wondering if I'd have another chance to do this on my mission, since I'm down to just 2 more transfers, and onneksi olkoon to me, because this is where I feel that I thrive. Keeping us together to do exactly what we just did either means that we've done well over the past two months, or that we have a lot to learn and need to try again!

We've been frantically making calls (because we can do that now), making visits, informing the masses, and preparing detailed notes and lists for the two new missionaries who will soon inhabit our living space. Planning for elders can actually be quite a departure from planning for sisters. No more women members on our planned visits with women. Also, more possibilities for members when meeting with men. We tried contacting some less-active men in our area to fill out the elders' schedule for the next few days. Neither my companion nor I are overly fond of calling people, and after many experiences with irritated or even angry less-actives and former investigators, I sometimes need to prep myself a bit for making those calls. Like I said earlier, we sometimes must face uncomfortable tasks, and as it was my phone day, I punched in the first man's number. We had a nice chat, and arranged for the elders to call back when they've arrived. Piece of cake. Our next phone call was not so pleasant. Have you ever talked to somebody so angry, that you couldn't so much as eke out a complete sentence? I recently have. I couldn't help myself, and I ended up crying. I've made a lot of such calls on my mission, and I've never responded so strongly before, but I was filled with so much sorrow for this man's anger, and hopelessness that I could not say anything to make it better. I wondered why this keeps happening, and why there is so much bitterness in the world. It gave tovereni and I a good opportunity to talk about duty, and how sometimes those tough phone calls simply need to be made. It's not our job to do only those things that are pleasant, but also those things that bring temporary sorrow or discomfort. As long as we're making the calls, we're doing our part, no matter the response on the other end. A valuable experience, after all.

Yesterday was our last Sunday in the ward. This is my second time leaving an area after just 2 months, and Sisar Schellenberg's first. She was in her last area for 8 months, so it's a bit of a shift, but I know we'll be just fine, because we've been in the exact same boat before and done just swimmingly. (Not sorry about such an awful pun, otherwise I wouldn't have included it.) All this transfer we've tried hard and put ourselves out there, but have had limited success in terms of finding people in our area to teach, and helping them come to church meetings. We were thrilled when our friend Ben showed up on time at our meeting place (or rather, he waited for us quite a while, forgetting that the clocks had just turned back an hour!) We walked to church together, and got to know him and his concerns more. He's just moved to a new apartment that can accommodate his fresh-from-Morocco family. He's stressed about finding enough furnishings and taking care of his children and wife who don't speak Finnish. His face lit up when we told him that the boys that would soon arrive could help him around the house if he'd like. "I have so much to do at my house! Can they get in contact with me?" Of course! He met the bishop, got a peek at the baptismal font, and although he could only stay through the sacrament, as we escorted him to the door, he said that church was really fantastic, and that he should bring his family sometime. He also asked us to give his phone number to a member in our ward who speaks Arabic, Ben's native language, as well as his family's language. An excellent closing to our service here in Herttoniemi. A sign that we've really tried, and have done well. Luckily, Heavenly Father doesn't rely on phones to communicate His love and appreciation for us.

Next week will of course bring a host of new adventures. New place, new faces, new ward, although same city. I have no idea what to expect, which is part of what will make it fun. I'm thankful for revelation from Heavenly Father, which guides us to those places where we most need to be, and at which points in our life. I know that every time we get that long-anticipated phone call from our mission president, that he acts as the channel through which we receive God's will for us.

Until next week.


Sisar Hansen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Theme Nights

I've written before about Saturday nights in Finland- Sauna night, aka the hardest time to get an appointment, and the worst time to just go knocking doors. Sisar Schellenberg and I have attempted a series of theme nights for these times when we're left without a solid appointment on Saturday night. Our first attempt was "multicultural night", aka we look for people who've expressed interest who aren't from Finland, and therefore may not have the same sauna night traditions in place. I don't recall finding any of these people, but it got us out and moving, so that's pretty successful in its own way. Last Saturday was "mischief night", aka the night where we went around, doing secret acts of service. We dropped thank-you notes attached to bags of cookies in mail slots and made cards for people we've missed lately, to let them know that we care. We even did a follow-up on one of our member families via a silly note in their mailbox asking them how they're doing on our latest assignment and encouraging them to keep doing a great job. All the fun of being sneaky with all the joy of doing service. The darker night skies over Helsinki help quite a bit, too.

Last night after planning, we saw that there was some extra time, and so I gave Sisar Schellenberg a "So.....shall we do it?" kind of look. "Are you sure you want to?" she asked, "Well, it's ultimately your choice, but I'm ready if you are." After a slight pause she answered, "I wasn't so sure earlier, but what the hey- let's do it!" All transfer, she's been bemoaning the coming winter weather because last year her long hair was always getting caught in her coat and scarves. Yes, that's right. With absolutely no prior experience, I sat her down and chopped several inches off her locks. It took a bit longer than anticipated- we barely made it to bed on time- but I must say, it looks rather nice. No need to visit the salon for a remedial haircut on P-Day. We saved some money, and it was a fun bonding/learning experience. Sometimes you just need to go for it, and do something totally gutsy and risky. Sometimes you need to just go ahead and do something, even if you're not sure that you can, or if you've never done it before. Sometimes your decisions are influenced by it being the end of a long day and having some spare time. Whatever lesson is meant to be learned here, let's learn it.

We finally have a solid investigator, our Moroccan friend Ben. We visited his house the other night and met his wife and sister. They're welcoming, hospitable people, and it was a pleasure to spend some time with them. Ben prefers French, but also speaks Finnish. His wife speaks only Arabic, so that presents a bit of a challenge, but we've ordered some helpful materials from the office, and we have an Arabic-speaking acquaintance who we can call for help, so there should be a good way to teach the entire family. I've had a lot of fun using my French to help people in this area. I hope that I can continue to find how my other talents relate to missionary work, so I can make it more enjoyable and more natural. We talked about that a bit at our zone meeting last week, and it's true- Heavenly Father gives us talents, which are meant to be used for the good of ourselves, but also for other people. How can YOU use your talents this week as a way to bless another person's life?

Change calls loom over us once again this weekend, and next week will initiate my second-to-last transfer of my mission! The time flies by so fast! I'm glad I have the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and fellow missionaries to help me make the most of my brief time in Finland as a missionary.

I love you all! Kiitos for the constant love and support! I try to live up to it.


Sisar Hansen

Spending a quiet P-Day moment at home, far from
the cold weather, in our thrift store winter gear

I found faith!

Locked out of the chapel!
What to do??

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hullut Päivät [Crazy Days]

It was one of those weeks where you look back, and think, "How did I manage to get through that one??" Not that it was by any means bad- far from it, but "crazy" seems to sum it up fairly well.

It all started on Monday. P-Day! Ours was shortened a bit, since it was the best time for us to meet with a potential investigator. We did manage to do emails, clean, and go to a kirppis (thrift store) with the other sisaret. We had a good lesson with our new investigator (although we'll have to transition her to being taught by the other sisters, since she's in their area. Will we EVER meet anyone who actually lives in our area???) After the short lesson, we jetted off to accompany another potential investigator to the young single adult home evening in central Helsinki. It was a bit awkward, since he had to leave soon and we still had some time before meeting up with the Espoo sisaret to start our exchange day. We got a snack, walked around, talked to people, and then headed out to Espoo. As it turns out, our travel passes don't cover Espoo, and we were shorter on cash than we realized, so when the ticket man came around, I bought a ticket, but dear Sisar S was left without, so we got off the train at the wrong stop, and waited outside in the freezing cold until Sisaret Heggie and Nielsen could arrive to bail us out and take us to their apartment. Turns out, we were stuck in what is a pretty sketchy area of town, but nothing eventful happened, other than realizing that our train was coming to the other side of the tracks, and sprinting in pencil skirts to the other side before it pulled out again. I stayed in Espoo with Sisar Heggie, and the other sisaret headed back to Herttoniemi to do work in our area. This week happened to be interim training, when new missionaries and their trainers get some intensive training all together with the mission president. Sisar Heggie got a phone call, and I could hear her say, "Does Sisar Dayton need to come get our running shoes from us for the week?" and my heart skipped a beat. Sisar WHO??? Coming HERE??? TONIGHT??? The big van pulled up, driven by the assistants, and I could hardly hold in my excitement as I ran out to surprise her. "Splits day!!" we gave each other several HUGE hugs, and took a couple photos. She has been one of the highlights of my mission, and with the exception of our one transfer together as companions, I've always been in a different zone from her, so this was a major treat. :)

Splits on Tuesday with Sisar Heggie was really fun. Like transferring, splits can sometimes give new wind to old sails, and I felt refreshed and renewed by a new area, and a different companion, albeit one I used to live with. We talked to a lot of people on the street and on the commuter trains, and got to do some service. We cleaned windows for a couple in the ward, and they have this really nifty cleaning kit with a window dryer that we had fun playing around with. One of the exterior kitchen windows had to be opened, and it only opened upwards, so I got a good arm workout, holding it up while Sisar Heggie cleaned. The two of us were able to talk a lot about the work, hoe we're each doing, old times, inside jokes, etc. It was a long, busy, lovely day. We finished with a lesson with two outstanding investigators from Taiwan who blew me away with their faith and understanding. It's one of the greatest feelings as a missionary, and one that doesn't come every single day. I returned to Herttoniemi tired, but ready to keep going in my own area with renewed enthusiasm.

Wednesday was the whopper of all crazy days. We did our normal morning routine (we accomplished my goal of reading the entire Book of Mormon in Finnish as we read Moroni 10 during language study! HUZZAH!!) and went out the door, ready to take our leftover P-Day time to do some grocery shopping. As Sisar S closed the door, a panicked look suddenly sprang to her face. "Keys!" I am the key-carrier of the companionship, since we only have one set for our apartment. I'd given them to Sisar S for exchange day, and we'd both forgotten to put them back in my bag, and now the keys to our apartment, as well as the church, were locked safely behind the other side of a door! We knocked on the door of a neighbor who's become a friend of ours, and she let us use her phone. Sisar S remembered the phone number for the Turku sisaret (her previous phone number) and we called them, got the number for the assistants who have our spare key (whose number we of course did not write down in our planners) and called THEM. As previously mentioned, it was interim week, which only happens once every two months. And of course, it is during this time that we lock ourselves out. The elders were participating in the training in Espoo, leaving us without a good backup. Well, we might as well go out and get some protein bars from the sports store. We heard they only cost 50 cents! We go, I break my THIRD umbrella on my mission in the windy rain, and finally get to XXL to grab 5 euros worth of protein-y goodness, all the while trying to figure out some possible way to avoid paying the fee for the man to come unlock our apartment for us. We figured that it was probably just best for us to go home and be accountable (Elder Christofferson would be so proud!). We made our way through Stockmann department store to "save time", but it just so happened that it was the first day of their "Hullut Päivät" sale, and we got lost in a swarm of retail-hungry Finns before we could finally emerge and make our way to the metro. We got home, called the man, payed only 10 euros each for his services, which was a relief (and I had cash this time!) and then went and bought food. Relief, right? Well, this day is not over yet! We were all ready to head out and go knock on the door of a member family to get to know them better, and we realized that we didn't have a treat to give them! Sisar S and Sisar Nielsen made a point of eating all the eggs when I was in Espoo because they know I don't like them, which was a nice thought, although now we were limited as to our treat options. Also, no peanut butter meant no no-bakes. We scanned our missionary cook book for ideas, and we finally found one that just listed cake mix, powdered sugar, milk, and butter. We had ALL of those things!! We started to put it together, and then I read the instructions more closely. "It says we have to MAKE the cake! We have no eggs! What do we do??" We'd already put sugar in the blender to make powdered sugar (neat little trick, huh?), and mixed the other ingredients together. As a desperate I-no-longer-care-just-get-this-done move, we simply added cake mix, put it in the freezer for a couple minutes, and ended up with "fudge". (This has proven to be one of the funniest adventures of my mission!) We head out again, with keys in hand, and end up taking a bus driven by a potential investigator. We chat for a while, and then we get off to try to find our members. They live in an area we haven't explored as much, and it is apparently a wealthy area, since we soon found ourselves surrounded by mansions! I later found out that former presidents of Finland have lived in these places! We nervously approach the right door of the right house, rind the bell, and the family's not home. Their teenage son takes our offering with a slightly questioned look on his face, and that is that. Time to go home for good, unwind by taking some silly photos, and call it a day. FINALLY.

We spent Thursday and Friday with members, doing service and missionary role plays. We made a card with an elderly sister, which we mailed off to a family in the ward. It was a pretty weird card- a dinosaur and some clouds in the front, and random hearts on the inside. But it was fun to do together, and good way to help our friend participate in service. She wrote the note so it would be untraceable, and it was overall a fun time. When we mailed it off, I tried to copy her handwriting, because we realized too late that she should've been the one to address the envelope. Friday night we got to meet with our favorite member family from the ward. They're a couple with grown children, one of whom is serving a mission right now. We've been doing some role play games with them, and we always have fun getting to know them better. It's rewarding to see members open up not just to us more, but to the idea of missionary work, and accept challenges to apply it more in their everyday lives. We're excited to go back in another week or so to see how they did with our challenge of mentioning the gospel in everyday ways.

Saturday was the day that made up for all of the previous craziness. We woke up early to get ready for a lesson with an investigator. As we arrived at the church, we realized that, for the second time in a week, were locked out of our apartment, meaning that we also didn't have our church key. The investigator didn't show up, after all. Well, the other sisters had a baptism that afternoon, and they probably had a lot to do. So we called them, they came over to the church and let us in, and we got to work cleaning, organizing, setting up chairs and tables for refreshments, cutting up vegetables, the works. It was, like such things often are, a bigger task than we'd imagined, and it was a blessing to have been locked out, since it gave us the chance to help our friends in need. The elders came with a spare key for us, so further crisis was averted. We headed off to the metro to meet and walk with a friend who was interested in coming. He's from Morocco, which means his native language is FRENCH! I had so much fun talking with him as we walked along the street to the chapel! His Finnish is top-notch, so Sisar S got to teach as well, which is good because she's so wonderful at it. He couldn't actually stay, but we did a mini church tour and gave him a copy of Le Livre de Mormon and arranged another meeting. Best part, HE LIVES IN OUR AREA!! At last!! We were beaming when he told us. The baptism was incredible. Amazing talks. Strong testimonies from everyone, including the man of honor. I've been blessed to attend 4 baptisms during my mission, and they've all been fantastic. It all reminded me of that time, TWO MONTHS ago, when Sisar N and I were preparing for Joy's big day. I love reliving those moments in my mind. I was all smiles for the service, and the other sisaret couldn't have been more pleased with their friend. After the service, a member asked if we had time to do some service for her at their house. We went shortly after the baptism, and helped around the kitchen. We had the opportunity to talk with their 14-year old daughter, who is smart, insightful, giving, sincere, and every good thing. She's pretty amazing. It was a lot of fun, and she helped us with some language tips. Her dad's sisters live in Oulu, and they were some of my favorite people up there, so that was a fun connection for me. The mother of the family offered to give us a ride home, and we accepted, since it was getting late. She spaced a bit and took us to the other sister's apartment, but we nevertheless felt good about just getting out there and going home on the metro. On our way to the metro, we saw two girls on the street. We walked past, and we both got the strong feeling to go back and talk to them. I almost couldn't keep moving my feet forward, the feeling was so strong. We went back and said hi, but our conversation didn't really go anywhere. Strange. At the metro stop, a man called out, "Hey, Hansen!" It was our bus driver friend from the other night! We was standing and talking to a friend of his from the States, who gave us his business card and told us to call. If we hadn't been dropped off at the wrong place, or took a moment to talk to those girls, or made friends with that bus driver, that wouldn't have happened. A miracle day for us, and a great end to the week.

Sunday we went to church, and watched the last session of conference. I loved conference. I came in with one big question on my mind and in my study journal, and came out with answers from just about every single talk. The emphasis on covenants and obedience really struck me, as well as the emphasis on families. There were a lot of talks I loved, but Elder Christofferson's stuck out quite a bit for me. It was a special moment, watching Elder Bednar give his talk, remembering that so recently, he'd been with us missionaries in a full room, answering our personal questions. I love conference time as a missionary, because it's a natural and easy way to bring up the gospel in conversations, and to encourage members to do just a little bit better tomorrow than they did today (another great theme from conference!). 

This week's entry has been huikea (enormous) and I wasn't able to express a lot of what went on this week, but it was a good one, and I'm excited for this next one. Be good. Review your conference notes. Read Preach My Gospel. Eat your vegetables (and plenty of protein). I love you all.


Sisar Hansen