Monday, September 8, 2014

Greetings, from Berry Point

"Berry Point" is the rough translation of Marjaniemi. We're located in the eastern portion of Helsinki, which is beautiful and fairly peaceful. It's a big departure from Lappeenranta- There it might take well over an hour to cross from one end of our area to the other by car, and our entire area here spans 3 metro stops! Sisar S and I are getting used to things, and despite some stress on the first couple days, a completely new perspective on things is refreshing and invigorating. We're almost constantly lost, and we have to make a lot of, "So, we thought we knew where we were going, but now we're lost and we'll be a bit late" phone calls. Our goals for this week include learning how to get around more efficiently, and arrive places on time. Good goals, I would say.

We had a supplementary stake conference yesterday in lieu of normal church. It was a bit surreal to get up and just get on the public transport to the Helsinki center, rather than arrange a ride with a member from 3 hours away. Although it's only been a week, I was thrilled to see familiar faces from Lappeenranta. The Relief Society president and her family were there, and they had my favorite chocolate in-hand, ready to give me. I got to see missionary friends from around the zone. I lost track of the amount of hugs Joy and I exchanged before and after the conference. I love her more than I can possibly say, and I'm thankful every day that she's been part of my experiences here in Finland. She said that she misses me already, and my favorite part, when she thinks of me, it makes her want to be a missionary. I got a bit emotional at that one, must admit. One lovely surprise is that my favorite member from Lahti just so happened to be there, although Lahti is in the Tampere stake. When I saw her post-conference and she saw me, I started jumping up and down, and gave her an enormous hug. She is so wonderful! Sisar S was trained in Lahti, so we both enjoyed chatting and catching up with our former area. I didn't want to make a big deal of leaving Lappeenranta, and I didn't want to take the focus of church last week away from Christ in order to proclaim my imminent departure, so when I informed one of the Lappeenranta ward members that we actually don't need a ride home because I live in Helsinki now, he was a bit surprised, and then I pointed him in the direction of Sisar N and her new toveri. President and Sisar Watson were in attendance, and I got to spend a brief moment chatting with each of them. He's glad that I'm excited about my new assignment, and as we were standing close to Joy, he pointed at her and whispered to me, "That is what this is all about. For all of eternity. Treasure it." He's right, and I do. And not just Joy, but the other wonderful people I've been blessed to serve with in Finland.

I've had renewed energy this past week. I still struggle to feel rested, even though I sleep through the night. But I've been dealing with fatigue much better lately. I can be 100% completely open with Sisar S, and so when I say that I'm getting really sleepy and a bit cranky, and we probably need to wrap up planning in a timely manner, she understands, and we get the night's tasks done in a quick and orderly manner so I can collapse into bed. I feel like things like praying always, being exactly obedient, following counsel from leaders, etc, has been so easy the past few days. My new toveri has been a huge influence for good in my life, and it doesn't even feel like work much of the time. She's a talented teacher, and has a good head on her shoulders. She's good at identifying peoples' needs and thinking of how we can serve them. When I got my change call to come here, Sisar N, who served in the other Marjaniemi area for a full YEAR, got really excited and told me that in my new area is an investigator from....wait for it.....LA FRANCE!!! We've met with "Camille" a couple times now, and she is absolutely lovely. We've exchanged some texts in French, and she parler-ed with me when we got lost trying to find her place and we called for directions. Her children speak a mixture of French and Finnish, which J'ADORE. 

I've heard say that it's difficult to talk to people in Helsinki. I thought that I didn't really want to ever serve here, because I've never lived in a big city before, and I don't know how I'd like it. Well, Helsinki isn't actually so very big itself, metro contacting is less intimidating to me than street contacting, and we've been stopped by FINNS more than a couple times now, offering to give us directions places as we look through our map books on the sidewalk. This is a fun place. It's also fun to serve with other fantastic missionaries. Sisar Knapp from my MTC group is Fresh from Oulu this week, and her toveri is bright and hilarious. It was wonderful to chat with them for a bit as we got everyone situated in their new apartments. Sisar Knapp and I could gush for hours about how much we love Oulu, if we had the time. She's so honest and sincere, and a wonderful missionary, and it's a pleasure to serve near her. It's also good to have people to ask questions to about the area when we need some extra help. On a funny note, Siasr S and I decided that we want to make a big batch of borscht this week so that we can have a quick and easy lunch option. We gathered all of the ingredients at the grocery store this morning. As we arrived at the chapel to send our emails, we get a call from the other sisaret, walking through the grocery store, asking us what ingredients they need for borscht!

Things are looking up here in Berry Point. I love my new ward, my new companion, my new apartment, and my new area. My toveri speaks fantastic Finnish, and is a wonderful example of someone who simply wants to be the best follower of Christ that she can be. I'll have the opportunity to visit the temple once this transfer, since it's so close. I'm unable to fully absorb the love that Heavenly Father lets me feel for the people of Finland. As a missionary, that's probably the best part- a keen awareness of just how much Heavenly Father loves His children. The other best part is seeing them make a connection with Him and act in ways that will bring them closer to His presence. I look forward to another week here, hopefully a week where we arrive places on time, especially to our long-anticipated mission conference with David A. Bednar this Friday.

I had an impression a week or two ago to photocopy my mission call and place a mini version on one of the front pages of my copy of Preach My Gospel. Opening my mission call letter was one of the most profound experiences of my life, and there have been times of darkness on my mission where I felt like I couldn't go on, only to re-read my letter, and re-visit that sacred moment of opening my call to serve in the Finland Helsinki mission. It's a reminder to me of my purpose, which is to "invite others to come unto Christ". I still have moments where I look at that piece of paper and think, "Is this real? Is this MY life?" and I'm overjoyed to realize that yes, this is. Somehow, this is where the Lord has decided that this is where I need to be, at this time, with these people, and I thank Him every day for His wise purposes that I try to fulfill. 

The church is true! Riemuitsekaa! Happy to be calling out the invitation here in Berry Point.


Sisar Hansen

Joy and me at conference

Sister Schellenberg and I being girly and deep-cleaning our pores
(the only photo we have together so far) 

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