Monday, January 20, 2014

Who Needs Sleep?

This week was long, and tiring, and difficult. I've had some sleep issues lately that have made everything else more difficult. It's hard to keep a good perspective, or to even do the work at all, when you wake up every morning feeling like you never slept. Thankfully, I got my mission president's clearance to see a doctor, and the pills he gave me seem to work (maybe a little too well- I didn't hear the alarm go off this morning, and I was more than a little confused when Sisar Vath turned the light on). The goal is to take the pills for a few days, and hopefully my body will self-regulate, so I can sleep normally without medication. Finland seems to do that to people, I'm told. It's a very physically demanding thing to serve here in Oulu, where the cold weather (we're down to -22c this past week!) can make muscles and bike parts slow, and sometimes walking is faster than biking. The sun comes out earlier (It's not even 1pm, and it's out in full view! MIracle!) but it's still dark more often than is sometimes healthy. How's THAT for a first area?

One of the things I'm learning from this, is that I don't understand or use the Atonment nearly as much as I should. We read in Alma chapter 11 that Christ suffered not just for our sins, but for our pains and weaknesses and sorrows. My mission president told me in addition to my doctor visit, to write down a list of all the sources of stress in my life right now. What thoughts bring me fear or disappointment? Then, in my nightly prayer, to hand all of the items on that list to the Lord, so He can take my burden, and so I can have the strength to make it through this incredibly trying time of service. It's amazing how, despite the effectiveness of my new prescription sleep aid, I'm pretty sure this exercise did me much more good. I made sure to make my list as long as I could, to add every little worry that I've been carrying with me, so that I could do better at "leav(ing) behind all other personal affairs", like it says in my mission call letter. I've been more positive, worked harder, and been more focused as a result over the past few days. Sometimes this mission has taken me to my own Gethsemane, during times when I feel like I can't even make it out the door again, but as a result, as I get through a tough day or week, I learn to come closer to the Savior, and my relationship with him becomes deeper and more intimate. This mission is without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm also growing more than I would've imagined already, and the blessings in the end outweigh the struggles.

I want to keep this email short this week. We've had some great success visiting less-active sisters, and helping members commit to better missionary service, but the thing that really sticks out to me isn't about the events of the week, or the quirks of Oulu and it's inhabitants, or the language barrier, but rather the things I mentioned above. That's what the gospel is about. It's about changing to become more like the Savior. It's about finding a way to put aside our pains, our sorrows, our sins, our weaknesses, so that through Jesus Christ, we can have them all taken away, and we can eventually come to know Him and Heavenly Father more personally, as we eventually return back to their presence. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I get to concentrate all of my time and efforts of learning these lessons, and it's a good thing, because I need it! And so do the people here in Suomi, whom I have the privilege to serve. My companion and I work together to memorize hymns. This week's hymn has been "I Know that My Redeemer Lives", which I find incredibly appropriate. Go get a hymn book and look up the words, and see what a living Redeemer can do for you.

Rakastan teitä

Sisar Hansen

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