Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in the North Pole

Family and friends!

Hei! How was everybody’s Christmas?Wonderful and full of Christ I’m sure. Mine was just fantastic. I had an amazing time skyping my family on Wednesday with no technical difficulties or anything. That was a miracle in and of itself. It’s funny though, at the end of almost every week I look back and think ”wow, that was one of the hardest weeks of my mission” And yet I also think ”Man! That was one of the best weeks of my mission!” This week was no exception. A mission is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but I love it! This Christmas was probably one of my favorite ones of all time. Which may sound weird since I’m in Finland and we had zero snow and it’s freezing and I was away from my family, but I also got to wear the name of Christ on my chest as we remembered his birth. What could be better than that? And it was my only Christmas in Finland so I sure made the most of it! I loved just going around and reminding people why we’re even celebrating. However, I thought more people would be open to hearing the message of Christ around this time of year, but surprisingly, we had less lessons than usual and way more slammed doors than usual. Weird huh? I guess the opposite thing kinda happens around Christmas time. People get too caught up in the presents and in the food (that’s a big one here in Finland) that the no longer have time for Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I heard ”Nyt on huono hetki. Tulkaa takaisin Joulun jalkeen” (Now’s a bad time, come back after Christmas) So the up side is that we'll have a lot of work to do this week! But I really wish that people here would remember the reason for the season a little more. Oh well, I guess that's what we're here for.

Well anyway, my Christmas was AMAZING! Man the ward here sure knows how to take care of you! Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were "Red days" So we couldn't go outside or anything so we actually did a lot of cleaning and planning and things like that whenever we weren't at member's houses. Tuesday (Christmas Eve) Is actually bigger than Christmas here. We started off at 12 going to the Primary President's home and eating a wonderful Christmas lunch with her. Finland does this cool thing at noon on Christmas Eve where everyone is just silent and all the TVs and radios broadcast the reading of something I'm not sure of but still! It's pretty cool! Then we went out to another family in the ward. They have 5 boys and a HUGE farm with tons of animals so it was really fun for them to have the sisters over. We had our Christmas eve meal over there and went to the cemetary (Finnish tradition) and put candles out for all our lost loved ones. 

Then Santa came! Santa comes on Christmas eve and he personally hands out the presents to the kids so he came and gave everyone (including us) lots of chocolate and it was really fun. Then, on Christmas day we opened all our presents and I very much enjoyed my many packages! So thank you to Grandma and Grandpa Crandall, Mom and the fam, Dad, Ally and Justin, the Atwoods in my home ward, Melissa and Joseph, and a ton of other fun things I got in the mail! I am way too spoiled... Then, that evening we went to our stake president's to skype and have Christmas dinner with them! So fun! And then on Thursday we went to our dear neighbors and had another huge Christmas meal! Man, all these Christmas meals are each bigger than an american thanksgiving... I was dying! But the food is super delicious so I'll have to make it all for you sometime.

On Friday we traveled to Tampere for our zone conference! President and Sisar Rawlings were there as well as a member of the 70 and his wife and I have no idea how to pronounce his name but he's a Finn so it was cool talking to them all in Finnish. It was an amazing meeting that ended with a testimony meeting and I took a lot out of it. I came home and just started setting goals for the new year and for this transfer and everything I wanted to do and change and it was awesome :) I love meetings that you just come out of thinking "wow, that was perfect. and exactly what I needed right now" Another one of those meetings came on Sunday when we had a combined Priesthood and Relief Society. We talked about the mission plan for the ward and everything that's going to happen in carrying forth the work this year in the Jyväskylä ward! I'm so excited to be a part of it! I really hope all of you participate in your home ward's mission goals this year! Make it a part of your new year's resolution or something. Have fun with it! Missionary work is fun! And it's always worth it :)

Well, this week was great :) Thank you for all the wonderful Christmas wishes and presents and cards and everything! I love and miss you all so much! Have a wonderful new year!

Sisar Crandall

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hyvää Joulua!! (Merry Christmas!)

Well I've been getting emails from people telling me how it's finally looking like Christmas and I just laugh and think "what? It was Christmas here in Finland about 2 months ago!" These people here are more than ready and there's no where I'd rather be than up here in the North Pole! It's actually been fairly warm recently. I can just wear my big coat and I don't even need a scarf or anything! Mittens are a must though! It actually rained this week as well (instead of snow) so it's been in the positives and all the Finns are upset that it's going to be a "black Christmas". I don't mind there not being snow. It's not as cold, but it's also WAY darker when there's not snow so it's kind of a trade off. But hey! It's now past the winter solstice and things can start getting brighter! The Finns are so excited about that. Now the sun will set at 3pm instead of 2pm! yay! It's weird how on days we do weekly planning we don't end up leaving the apartment until 3 and it's already dark... So yep, lots of Vitamin d! But don't worry, we always have the light of the gospel :) Oh man I'm cheesy but hey! It's true! People can definitely see the light of Christ more when it's pitch black outside! Well enough about the weather.

This week was one full of change. I said good-bye to my dear companion Sisar Dayton as she left to go to Lahti and I said hello to my new companion Sisar Lund! She's been in the country 6 months (2 more than me) And is from Lindon, Utah. We're getting along well and I'm excited to see where this transfer will go.

Well, this week I learned a lot. I probably learn a TON every week, but this week I really noticed it. I gave a talk in church yesterday. (I know what you're thinking "you've been on a mission for 6 months and this is your first talk in church?") Well give me a break... this is Finnish! and there are 6 missionaries in our ward so we don't get asked to speak that much actually. And of course I've prayed and sung and bore my testimony and things like that, but this was my first talk in Finnish so it was kinda intimidating. Anyway, I spoke about how we are like the sheperds that the angel appeared to. We have our own witness of Christ and now we must "go with haste" to find Christ and share the gospel with everyone! Anyway, the talk went really well actually. And I had a bunch of members come up to me and tell me how good my language was. (Well Finns think you speak well if you can even say "How are you?" in Finnish is this isn't saying much) But really the breakthrough of the day came when people who almost always talk to me in English (because they're fluent in English and assume I can't understand Finnish) spoke to me in Finnish! People are finally realizing that hey, these missionaries have the gift of tongues and can understand our language. And I did understand! It was totally one of those Best Two Years moments when I talk to someone and then walk away and then stop for a sec and think "wait, was that conversation in English or Finnish?" And then I realize it was in Finnish! Man, I love it when that happens. So the language hasn't been as big of a trial as I thought it would have been. Obviously I've definitely struggled with it as any missionary has, but I'm fairly confident in being able to talk and comprehend things now and just use body language and context clues to figure out what people are saying. My comprehension is almost a 0 though when people talk about non-churchy subjects because those are the only words I know! haha but at church or in lessons I do just fine :) so to answer the question I get very often, the language is coming just fine. I've learned it's not the most important (or even second most important) thing to learn on a mission but If I focus on the work and having the spirit, it'll come much faster than it ever would've if I would've studied it for hours. 

Also, after my talk a man in our ward came up to me and told me what he learned from my talk! And I definitely know he didn't get all that through my broken Finnish so it's nice to know that the spirit can still teach! That was so cool! I wish everyone would do that! So, just an idea. Next time you hear a talk in church, go up to the speaker and tell them what you learned. It'll make their day I promise.

Well shoot! I forgot to mention one of the coolest things! I attended my first baptism in Finland! The Elders in our ward had a baptism on Saturday and we got to go to it! It was a beautiful service with lots of music and tons of food and I love it! It just gives me the chills when I see things like that. Finland IS a place where baptisms happen and people DO want the gospel here. Maybe I'm just saying that sentence to remind myself, but I hope you all know it too! 
I also got to watch the Christmas devotional this week (In Finnish) And what I got out of it, I really liked! I also loved hearing the music in English. Yep, definitely the little things like that you come to miss...

Well, I have lots of packages sitting under my paper tree on my wall decorated with all the pictures of my family! You guys spoil me way too much... Well I hope you got everything I sent home for Christmas! I can't wait to skype you on Wednesday! I love you! And I miss you all!  But just know there's no place I'd rather be around Christmas time than up here in the North Pole with Christ's name pinned on my chest. It's weird to think that next year I won't have this opportunity any more so I'm definitely making the most out of it! I have a testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and I hope we can all remember him this week.

Til next week, 
Sisar Crandall

Pics:  Sisar Lund and the Star, Presents from the Ward

Monday, December 16, 2013

STAYING IN JYVÄSKYLÄ - Good-bye Sisar Dayton :(

Well, we got our transfers this week! I'm staying in Jyväskylä! I'm actually really grateful because I really didn't want to pack up and move a week before Christmas, but I'm sad because Sisar Dayton is leaving me. We've been together 4 months now and she's off to Lahti to serve with another sister! My new companion is Sisar Lund. I've never met her and I don't know a lot about her but I do know she's been serving up in Kuopio with Sisar Dayton's former companion and before that she was in Espoo so she's been out longer than me so I'm excited to meet her tomorrow! 

Well, our transfers are 9 weeks long (most missions are 6) So I'm pretty much guaranteed to be in Jyväskylä for the next 2 months (mid February ish are our next transfers) So it looks like I won't have to be too for north for the winter! (Apparently "the winter" comes in January and February so this is nothing...) Anyway, so my address and everything stayed the same so I should still get any mail sent to me fine.

Our District leader is going home and another sister here in Jyväskylä is going to Helsinki so there are lots of changes! I'll let you all know about it next week when I actually meet them all!
So Sisar Dayton and I knew this week was probably going to be our last week together so we, of course, had to try some of the cool places we've been wanting to try. Namely The Classic American Diner. haha what a fun experience! We got a nice good ol' American Hamburger and fries (I won't tell you how much it cost...) but it was so worth it and totally the most American thing I've had since being here (pictures included).

This week was also our ward Christmas party! The missionaries always have to do a recital of some sort so this year we did "the cup song" (Go Youtube it if you don't know what I'm talking about) but we did it to the song "Niin Suuri Oot" which is "How Great Thou Art" in Finnish. It went great! We were slightly nervous about it because we didn't practice that much but it onnistui! It was a success! I'm trying to get a video of it to send home from a girl in our ward so look out for that. So after we performed and another couple musical numbers, Joulupukki tuli! (Santa came!) Santa always comes on Christmas Eve here and that's when they have their huge celebration. Then, Christmas day is a lot more relaxed and peaceful and a lot more family oriented. It's really nice actually. Anyway, so santa came and brought little goodie bags for everyone, but the tradition is that you have to sing for Santa (a specific song) and then he sings back and then gives everyone their presents. So I got to participate in that and see how it's done! I had no idea what I was singing, but I sang it because hey, missionaries need presents too :) So then we ate the traditional riisipuuro (rice porridge) and a fruit and syrupy mixture that goes on top that's delicious! (don't worry, I'll make it for us all next Christmas) and they have a huge pot of the rice stuff and they put an almond (or two or three) in it and if you get the almond, then your christmas wish comes true! Guess who got an almond! Yep! Me! So now all my Christmas wishes come true :) 

Well, this week we've been struggling again to have more lessons with a member present. As missionaries, we always try to involve the member every step of the work, but recently it's been more difficult than it should be. Either our lesson/investigator falls through or our member backs out. And then (since for some reason a lot of our investigators are men) we have to cancel the lesson because we can't go without another woman and we've already called everyone. So I guess the point of me telling this is that I hope all you awesome member missionaries are helping out the missionaries in your home ward any way you can. You're never too busy for the gospel and I think that sometimes (especially around the holiday season which is super ironic) we forget that. So call them up and let them know when you're available and I promise they'll have a lesson for you to go to! Example: We have an awesome woman in our ward who really is extremely busy (as many of you are). She just opened up her own business with her husband and has 3 kids and multiple church callings and really just has a lot going on. Well, we called her this week to come to a lesson with us and she couldn't :( even though she really wanted to. So we said "Oh, that's okay. hopefully next time" and hung up. But then she called us back 5 minutes later and said, "Hey, I'm available Wednesday night at 8. Do you have a lesson then?" and We said "Nope! but we'll get one!" So we scheduled an appointment with an investigator Wed night and she came with us! So just goes to show that you shouldn't focus on what you can't give, focus on what you can! Every little bit helps! Just do your part and the missionaries will be tremendously grateful, trust me.

Well, I'm out of time again! Just wanted to say thanks for all the great emails! I loved them! It was so fun to see pictures of the Christmas train and the program and everything! Have a wonderful week and I can't wait to skype you all next Wednesday! (p.s. I'll call around 6 or 7 Finland time) Okay, I love you all! Have a great week!

Sisar Crandall

Sun setting at 2:19 p.m.

Monday, December 9, 2013


It's finally December! Well, I guess last P-Day was kinda December as well, but now it really feels and looks like it! 

This email might be a little shorter, but there's just a couple things I wanted to tell you all!

Transfer calls are this Friday! and then we move on Monday/Tuesday! So send anything and everything to the mission office (the Neitsytpolku address) and i'll get it for sure that way. 

Mission Home Address:
Sisar Kathryn Crandall
Neitsytpolku 3 A 4
00140 Helsinki
Or just wait til next week when I tell you my new/current address! We have no idea what's going to happen, but we've all been in Jyväskylä for a while so we're pretty sure that both of us won't stay, we just don't know who's going where yet! We'll see!

Well this week was sure a fun one! We had lots of awesome lessons with some amazing members who are always willing to sacrifice for us and it helps so much! (The little rides and things make a huge difference when it's -8 outside...)

And then on Friday was Finland's independence day! Which means for us missionaries that we've gotta be inside unless we're in an appointment. Things get pretty crazy on that day apparently... So we ended up doing out weekly planning that day and taking an hour bus ride out to Tikkakoski (google it) to have dinner with our bishop and his family. It ended up being like a 4 hour round trip so independence day was the perfect day to do it since we couldn't do anything else! Out there, we were just outside the city and it was absolutely beautiful! It feels like Narnia out here! Everything is so white and peaceful and I just love it :)

This week we also had a long wait at a bus stop so instead of standing there and freezing to death we walked down to the lake and took a bunch of pictures on it! (No one was outside to talk to...) So those were all the pictures of Sisar Dayton and I on the lake! It's about 1:30 outside. You can tell since the sun is setting... yep, definitely getting used to that! I'm also finally sending home all the birthday and thanksgiving pictures so maybe that'll make up for this short email.

I was very sad to hear about Aunt Marilyn. She is a wonderful lady who always had the spirit with her. She definitely knew who she was and where she was going and I've always looked up to her. I'm praying for her and her family. Sometimes things like this just happen and we all take a step back to re-order our priorities and realize what is really important. And Aunt Marilyn sure had hers straight. I hope we can all remember the reason for the season this month and keep our family close and our testimonies closer. I have great faith in the atonement though and I know that if we can all just try a little harder to be a little better and continue to progress throughout our lives that we will be prepared when our day comes.

Well, I'm doing well. The work is chugging right along and so is the language. I'm excited to see what changes the Lord has in store for me this week and for the rest of my mission. I love and miss you all!

Sisar Crandall

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving and Birthday!

Whoa, whoa, whoa where to even start this week??

Well, first off, sorry this email is a lot later than the other ones. We had a mishap with the internet at the church this morning and ended up having to go to a library and apply for a library card and figure out the Finnish internet and now I'm finally on! 

So, first off, This week was great! Lots of celebrating and lots of love coming from all my friend and family! You guys are awesome :) 

Well, I got mom/the family's birthday package on Wednesday and yes, I opened it up a day early, it was too fun! I took lots of pics so hopefully they can show my excitement! The tree was such a great idea! Now it feels like Christmas in our apartment and I love it! I put up a couple ornaments everyday and I get to read cool messages from all my family and I just love it :) (p.s. I just realized I can't send pics from this computer so I may have to wait til next week to send them. Just imagine me smiling holding a box.) I absolutely loved the tape and basically have Rhett and Savanna's piano pieces memorized from listening to it so many times! My companion is probably sick of it, but too bad!Wednesday night we also got locked out of our apartment... yep, we both forgot our keys... So, after calling some people in the ward and a locksmith we went over to our neighbors house to wait somewhere where it was warm. Little did I know that the neighbors had a birthday present for me! A hand-knitted scarf and hat and socks and mittens! Man I'm spoiled! There's a pic of me wearing them all. They're super thick and super warm and I sweat if I put them on indoors so it's perfect for Finland! 

Then... THURSDAY! What a great day :) It started out by listening to some awesome new Hilary Weeks while we worked out and then... Chocolate chip pancakes! And lots of presents! My companions (Sisar Ballif included even though she was already home) gave me a skirt, two shirts, a Marimekko bag that I've been dying to have, and an adorable snowflake reflector that I've been looking for everywhere and some peanut butter (I have a weird obsession with it and it's kinda hard to find), and some popcorn (my other obsession) and Sisar Dayton decorated the apartment with a Happy Birthday banner and some cute notes everywhere and it was just a great morning :) And then.... Posti came!! I got like 7 letters ON my birthday! No idea how anyone could have planned that, but it was so fun! Needless to say, not much language study got done that day... oops... But I got a fun package from the Beechers with some socks that I definitely needed and some VERY american candy that was awesome! And then, I got Dad's package too! So cool! I loved the shirt and the video and everything! Thanks so much! 

So then, we went to visit some investigators and taught a lesson and stopped by some members house and they gave me some pumpkin pie (they're American) and wished me a Happy Birthday! And thennn... THANKSGIVING!! So this awesome family (they aren't members) invited us over for Thanksgiving with them and all their work buddies (also Americans) We all brought our favorite American Thanksgiving dish and they provided the turkey and it was awesome! Sisar Dayton and I made an awesome Blueberry pie with a recipe we got from a Finn so they all thought it was delicious of course :) The Macy's Thanksgiving day parade was also streaming on their computer so while that was playing in the background I glanced over and saw Mountain View! So that was a cool little piece of home! Catherine (the mom) also made me an awesome cake with 20! candles and they all sang happy birthday to me (even though none of them even knew me) and it was just awesome :) So yeah, that was my packed full of fun birthday! 

Oh, we also got directions from our mission president that backpacks were no longer allowed :( So I retired my backpack that I loved so much and bought a new side pick at a Kirppi (Thrift store. It's where everyone shops here in Finland) for 3 euro! So yeah that was a cool find!

Then, on Friday, we played basketball! Sisar Dayton had organized a bunch of people to come play since she knew I loved it so we made some awesome German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan frosting and celebrated again after a fun game of basketball!

But wait, there's more! Yesterday (Sunday) The family of the boy I'm tutoring in math found out it was my birthday and invited us over! It was also their other son's birthday earlier this week so we had even more cake and ice cream! Yeah... having your birthday fall on Thanksgiving is probably too much food but oh well! I loved it! 

So sorry I didn't write a lot about our investigators or lessons this week... Just wanted to let you guys know all I did to celebrate! And that it was an awesome week! I swear we actually do missionary work out here in Finland though... So now, it's Monday and we're actually going to a bakery after this to try this cake I've been wanting to try for a while now. Yeah, I'm extremely spoiled I know... 

Well, since this week was Thanksgiving I wanted to let you all know that I'm grateful to you all. I really reflected this week (since I'm now 20 and do that kind of thing...) on how much my life has been impacted by positive role models and examples. I have countless friends and family members who have helped get me to where I am today and I owe them a lot. I hope you know how much I love you all! I'm so very grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how much I'm able to rely on it everyday. Things don't get easier, but with the Lord's help we can always get through :)

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful week because I sure did! And shout out to Courtney for her mission call to Oregon! So cool! I'm so proud of you!  I love you all! 

Til next week,

Sisar Crandall

(From Kathryn's Mom)  P.S.  I wanted to share a paragraph from Kathryn's personal letter to me.  "I've been incredibly blessed with the language recently.  Like I can pull words I've seen/heard once out of my brain and it's so cool!  And I'll say something really fast in Finnish and then stop and think about it and realize it was right and I didn't even have to think about it before I said it!  It just came out!  Very cool, wow experiences.  Can't wait 'til Christmas so I can speak some of it to you over Skype!"