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

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