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

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