An amazing thing about time, is that it allows us to see things previously unseen, or see the results of previously-unfolded miracles. Sometime during my service with Sisar Nabatnikova in Lappeenranta, we met a nice-looking woman on the street, with her two kids. We chatted for a bit, got her phone number, but there didn't seem to be a lot of obvious interest on her part, beyond us being gal pals. Nevertheless, Sisar N would occasionally give a reminder that maybe we should call "that one lady". We finally got in contact with her one day, and she told us that she was getting ready to move to Helsinki in about a week or so. We offered to help, and set up a time to go pack and clean at "Jamie's" house. While we helped her out, we chatted, and learned more about her, and it was soon obvious that things have not been easy for Jamie. We were able to teach the Restoration with her, and she quickly asked how a person could join our church. We discussed baptism, but since she was leaving so soon, and so we didn't take it so far beyond a nice little discussion. We did get her new address in Helsinki, and permission to forward her information to the elders in her area. Flash forward a couple months or so, and as Sisar Schellenberg and I sat on a bus on the way home from an appointment, we get a phone call from the one-and-only Elder Downs. She answers, and quickly hands the phone over to me. "Sisar Hansen! Jamie's getting baptized tomorrow at the Haaga chapel! Do you think you two could come?" Rejoicing in one of the many perks of serving in Helsinki and in close proximity to other wards, I quickly confirmed that we could indeed finagle some time to come to the baptism! Elder Downs told me all about how she's been a golden investigator, how she's changed dramatically, and how she even takes insanely good notes in her scriptures. Apparently, on their first meeting, she jumped straight into the question of baptism, and how it works!
I remember when Sisar Heggie and I met Joy on the bus. There was an instant feeling of, "This one is special." We never doubted that she would take right off, and be excited to get baptized. I never felt that way with Jamie. She was just another woman on the street, with whom we decided to strike up a conversation. Helping her pack to move was nice, but I wondered if things would go well once she had a change of pace in her life. Maybe she'd forget about the church. Maybe she'd meet with the elders once and lose interest. Who knew? Well, the Lord knew. And He put her in our path for a very important reason. Not every "golden" person feels like gold upon first meeting. That's a big lesson that I learned recently. Sometimes miracles seem absolutely normal at first, because that's how we best learn to work for them. I went to give her a hug before her baptism. She told me she was feeling emotional about it all, and she looked like a different person than the one I'd first met on the street. She looked happier, with more purpose in her life. She looked like somebody who was so grateful to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and to have the opportunity to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. It was a wonderful service, and there was a lot of love in the air. I have been humbled by this experience, especially when I consider my original lack of faith. This is the third baptism I've been blessed to attend in Finland, and the second person who I've been able to teach, who has been baptized. It was such a joyful experience, to see her decide to come unto Christ, that she may "be perfected in Him." I pray that I will keep this in my memory as a reminder to just go for it, no matter how big and obvious the promptings of the Spirit may or may not be. Every person is a beloved child of God, who needs to know about Him so that they can return to His presence. I challenge you to think about that as you ponder your role in missionary work, and as you prepare to be edified by this weekend's GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! (Shameless plug!)
It has been a blessed week. We've felt like things have been going a bit slow around here. No progressing investigators, not a lot of potentials in a fairly new area, etc. But as we've decided to just go out and do good, sometimes doing service, sometimes doorbell-ditching some cookies at a member's house, we've met people on our way who have renewed our hope for this area. It's become pretty clear that Sisar Schellenberg and I have been placed here in order to build our area up, since it's historically been one of the less-explored areas of the ward. I'm humbled by, and grateful for the trust the Lord has put in me, to serve in this area with such a stellar companion, and to be in a position to take something small and simple, and start making it into something great. Throughout all of this, I've noticed that rejection doesn't scare me so much anymore, and I haven't lost faith that we have a purpose here, no matter how many days go by without a new investigator. Miracles happen as we strive for obedience, treasure up the word, and then go out and do the work diligently and selflessly. This so far has been my favorite transfer on my mission- Not that it's my favorite place, and I've had other companions with whom I've loved serving, but because I'm finally starting to get it! I'm finally starting to really love missionary work on the level that you hear recently returned missionaries talk about over the pulpit at Sacrament meeting. I'm upbeat and positive, while still maintaining my more quiet personality, and I'm finding how Karlan Hansen fits into missionary work in Finland. I'm seeing results as I look for small miracles, and exercise patience that time will reveal things to me that I would not myself imagine.
This church has blessed me with so much! Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the source of every good thing in my life, and I want my life to be a reflection of my gratitude. I'm more and more positive every day on my mission that I'm becoming truly converted, so that the fear that missionaries often have of going back home and transitioning back into being the same person as before, is being washed away. I'm still me, but a much better version of me that I would have become in any other way, and for that, I will praise the Father forever. When the time comes and I do get my own trunky letters, I'll be sad, but I know that this full-time missionary service is just a short phase in the greater plan, one that time will help me to appreciate as I eventually go back to the States and resume a "normal civilian" life, developing talents and making plans that are impossible while wearing a nametag. It's a blessing and a treasure to be here in the meantime.
Kiitos hyvin paljon for the love and support. It's working.
|ANOTHER broken umbrella! Curse the Finnish winds! Good photo op, though.|