Monday, June 30, 2014

Chatty Cathy

Last week I didn't have enough time to write a blog email, and I left everyone hanging in change call suspense. I shall continue to write these emails from good ol' Lappeenranta for at least the next 2 months, along with my Russian toveri, Sisar N. In the least climactic change call ever, my now-former toveri transferred to Espoo to be sister training leader (as predicted by more than just myself) and Sisar N came to preach to the Russians with me in Lappenranta (a surprise to literally nobody.) We're phasing out of fist-week-adjusting-to-a-new-companion awkwardness, and getting more into the flow of things. My new companion is sharp and gets to the point of things. My last companion is a firecracker, and my current toveri is bold in a quieter way. The Lord calls all types of people to do His work, for which I am thankful. As full-time missionary service is a time of constant changes (we even get a new mission president tomorrow!), I've noticed that many of them, though sometimes difficult, take us from something good to, well, something good. Miss your old area/toveri/leaders? Your new ones will be just as valuable, if maybe in different ways. 

One thing that's great about change is new perspective. An area takes on a new life when there's a new set of eyes observing all the goings-on. One thing Sisar N noticed is how chatty a lot of our friends in Lappeenranta are. We have at least 3 investigators who can talk up a storm- sometimes 15 or 20 can go by with no comments from the missionaries! Our good friend Dave trusts us enough to voice a lot of his thoughts an concerns. We're working on helping him to see how simple the gospel is, even when his mind is determined to complicate everything. We had a really powerful teach with him last week, where we really got to the core of his concerns, and gave him an inspired commitment that should help him to build up the foundation of his faith. A lot of the things he worries about, and the way he thinks, remind me of myself. It's almost like therapy, meeting with him. He's a very, very special person, one of my favorite people I've met on my mission. Another person who likes a good conversation is our older ex-member friend. (Maybe his nickname will be Veli McGee.) We've seen so much change from him! I wish Sisar N could have seen how he was when we first met with him- a bit rough around the edges, and not at all focused. Our lesson with him yesterday was powerful and if not to-the-point, at least more so than usual! :) He's had issues with the Word of Wisdom for years and years, and we simply told him, "How do you get a testimony of the Book of Mormon?" "Well, you read Moroni's thing at the end, and then you read and pray, and get an answer that way." "Exactly. You try it out. You can get a testimony of the Word of Wisdom the exact same way. Try it out. Will you pray to know that it's from a prophet of God?" And he said he would!! This is a major breakthrough from a man who used to sit and argue with us for 40 minutes until we had to go catch our bus. "I can't say bad things about the Mormons anymore. I just can't." One of my greatest success stories of my mission so far.

Joy continues to live up to her (nick)name. She asks good questions and makes connections in her mind better than almost anyone I've ever met, especially for someone to whom religion is still fairly new. We asked her about a baptismal date in July, and she said that she likes the idea of being baptized in the winter, because she loves the snow. In the end, she said she would pray about the date we proposed. In district meetings we write down the names of people who need prayers. We listed all of our friends in Lappeenranta who are praying about baptism, and we got a phone call this morning from our fantasic new district leader, telling us that he had an idea that maybe we could decorate a room in the church with cut-out snowflakes for Joy's July baptism. She would LOVE that! Hopefully we can see all of this come together so Joy can receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father is so eager to give to her when she's baptized.

I had a really great experience in personal study the other day. Sometimes when I get to a more well-known chapter in the Book of Mormon, I think, "Okay, here we go again. I've read all of this a kajillion times. Will I get anything new out of it this time?" Alma 32, for whatever reason, came to life for me in a way that it hasn't in a long time. I was able to get a clearer view of the process of gaining a testimony. We have too many people decide to stop investigating because they try once (often times it's a less than sincere try at that) and don't get anything amazing in return and figure that it's all pointless. Or they find one thing they don't like, and throw the whole thing away. Alma talks a lot about how, when your faith starts to grow, it will "begin to be delicious", and that you will see that the seed is "a good seed". Sometimes there are things that don't make perfect sense right away, or that even seem distasteful at first. I've had plenty of these experiences. But as I remember the faith I have and try to grow it, these things begin to be delicious to me, until my faith has grown to the point that I understand a cherish something that was once foreign and even undesired. Also, you don't have to get everything at first- this is a process. And if all you can see at first is that a seed is good, that's a great place to be. It's a wonderful start. You don't HAVE to see every leaf of the tree- just know at first that the seed is at least a good seed, and have fun watching it grow. If the people we taught could really understand this chapter, we would see more people be baptized and receive the blessings of the gospel. I'm growing a testimony more and more of Preach My Gospel's reminder that we need to help people read, and also UNDERSTAND the Book of Mormon, in order to grow their testimonies and progress.

The church is true. I'm so blessed to be called to do the Lord's work in Finland! 


Sisar Hansen

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