Monday, March 24, 2014

Outside-The-Box Miracles

After we got back from emailing and grocery shopping last Monday, I felt like a total zombie. I had a nasty cold, which completely drained me. Sisar Dayton said I should take a nap when we got home, and I slept for about 8 hours, which shows that I must've really needed it! I'm now back in tip-top shape, and once again ready to take on Lahti.

Our week had a bit of a disastrous start, for sure. I was sick, and then it was hard to muster up enough jaksaminen (no good English equivalent- It means something like the gusto to do something, like a very strong version of "to feel like it") some days. People didn't want to talk to us, and then (and this is a very complicated story, so I'll try to keep it simple) We ran to get bouillon so we could make a meal for a sick family in our ward, and since it was just a quick distance to the store, we didn't bring any pass-along cards, or planners. We met some guys on the street, and didn't have a way to get their contact info, so we raced back inside and grabbed some things, and unfortuntately, never found them again (lesson learned, #1.) When we went back, I had no key, and no phone! They all got left inside! So we rang pretty much all the people in our apartment building, and finally got somebody to come and offer us use of his phone, but I hadn't updated the phone numbers in my planner, so no use! We ended up going to the mall in the center, asking the guys at the lotion kiosk (who know us and the elders fairly well) if we could call the elders, and then we went over to their apartment to use THEIR phone to call our ward mission leader, who has a spare key. Lots of waiting and calling later, and we were back home! (And yes, this was the short version of that story!) We were a little bit cranky about it, since it took THREE hours to sort out, and next time something stinky happens, I need to repent and do a better job of using the time as a finding opportunity (lesson learned #2.)

We've had some struggles with investigators. Some of them are hard to even meet with, others want to always meet at inconvenient places, and some don't want to keep their commitments. We've been praying for help to know what we can do to meet with them and help them receive the blessings of keeping their commitments, and we found some slightly different ways of extending invitations that really worked. We teach two Vietnames students (a lot of people come from Vietnam to study in Finland!), a young man (Casey) and a young woman (Uma). Casey is not often available, and so instead of asking him to come chat with us, we invited him out to lunch, which of course he had time for! We ended up teaching him a very spiritual Restoration lesson, and extended a baptismal invitation! I guess it's true, that the way to a man is through his stomach! Uma (the one who prayed about books!) is so wonderful and sweet! She lights up the room. Instead of meeting at the mall, like usual, we wanted to give her a tour of our church, so we said we'd catch the bus with her from the center, and show her where the church is. (Unfortunately, there was a mix-up and we didn't make it to the center on time, then she missed the bus, plus language barrier issues, but it all got sorted out, and we made it to the chapel eventually.) We had a tour, explained how our church works, and then had another fantastic Restoration lesson, and another baptismal invite. She prayed again in the chapel, and said she prayed for help with a summer job. We taught her how to listen for answers, and commited her to pray about the Book of Mormon. She's making plans to come to church with us, as well! She said she really liked the chapel, because it was so peaceful. I'm glad it worked out, and that she was able to have such a good experience.

And then there's Hank. We love Hank to death. He is so soft-spoken and sincere. He has deep questions and really seeks for answers. He knows that baptism is a good step, but is afraid of making the commitment. We've invited him to church for weeks, and he can never muster up the jaksaminen to come. So this time, we told him how much we love him, and how much we learn from our meetings together. We said he would be a great help in our sunday school class which we teach, and could he come and give us a hand on Sunday? He said he'd think about it. Maybe. When we walked out of the chapel after Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, it was a wonderful surprise to see HANK sitting in the foyer, waiting for us to come start our class! He had wonderful comments, of course, and really seemed to enjoy the class. Afterwards the elders invited him to Priesthood meeting, and he said, "Miksei?" "Why not?" and went with them with no sign of a fuss! It was probably my favorite miracle of the week, and hopefully he can come for all 3 meetings next week!

Other miracles this week: We had a school presentation at a high school where we spoke fluently, understood everything, and even ended up doing most of a Restoration lesson! Our member also did a great job of responding to questions simply and clearly, and we left feeling like we did a great job. Heavenly Father really answered our prayers about that one.

An African woman at the bus stop asked us if we were Jehova's Witnesses, and we said no, we're from the LDS church. She revealed that she's from a Francophone country, so I got to speak French with her, which made her day! She took our phone number, and made sure we had hers. My French has unfortunately completely rusted over, but I understood everything, and was able to make some good conversation. (Every time I want to speak French, Finnish words creep their way in, which is a blessing and a curse, if you think about it.)

We reached our weekly lesson goal, even though I was sick for an entire day, and we got an otherwise slow start.

We FINALLY were able to visit the Fazer bakery in one of our areas, which is a plan that has always fell through until now. (Fazer is a famous Finnish candy company whose chocolate is unreasonably delicious. Turns out, their donuts are just as good!) Maybe not such a great miracle, but it was a nice stamina boost.

A member came up to us at church and asked us what we'd like for our dinner appointment with his family this week. I think a lot on my mission about the type of member missionary I want to be, and I think I'll be very mindful of these things post-mission. Sometimes I feel like we're fed an uncomfortable amount, and I've had to eat fish stew more than I'd like (eating it at all is more than I'd like, due to my strong dislike of fish). I felt like he really cared about giving us a good experience, which is great.

I'm running faster and faster in the mornings, and for longer distances. My improvement is miraculous to me, since I'm getting better so quickly, and building up lots of stamina, which is helping in all other aspects of my missionary life. I feel healthier, have more energy, and I reluctantly admitted to my toveri this morning while we were out, that I kind of enjoyed it. (But only a little bit. Don't get any ideas about me suddenly being a big-time runner. I have a reputation for disliking this kind of thing, and I have to uphold it.) I even suggested that today's run be mid-length, and that we run around the park. It was lovely, despite being a bit dead from winter. :)

There's a less active lady who doesn't let us in, and she lives in a locked building. We wanted to do a "heart attack" for her, but didn't know how we'd get inside. Fortunately, we convinced her to let us use her bathroom when we talked to her through the speaker phone-thing outside her building- no idea what it's called in English! When we left her apartment, we were able to tape all the hearts on her door before making our escape! (this is the one time I've ever considered the lack of public restrooms in Europe as being a perk) 

WHEW! I feel like I can never write everything that I want to about my mission experiences, but I'm trying my best with the limited time and resources at my disposal. I'm learning the importance of prayer, and relying on answers, as we do our best to meet peoples' needs.

 We see results as we are inspired to think outside of the box, and to show people that we love them, and are considerate of their individual needs and situations. This is what missionary work is really all about, and the joy I feel in serving the Lord and others in this way is something that I'm not sure I could adequately describe in English, French, or (perhaps especially) Finnish. True joy comes from doing things the Lord would do, if He were here right now, doing what we're doing. As I align myself more and more with His will, I feel more joy, and a stronger assurance that I'm doing what I need to be doing, at the right time, and in the right place.


Sisar Hansen

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