Monday, January 27, 2014

Just another day in Paradise... errr.... I mean the North Pole

Oh dear Family and Friends of mine all over the world,

Well this week it hit the warm temperature of -23. Boy oh boy I just love Finland in the winter. The weird thing is that it's actually gorgeous here. The sun has been out almost every day this week and with all the snow on the ground, everything just sparkles! I love it. And one of my most favorite things ever is that when it snows, the snowflakes look like real snowflakes! They'll land on my jacket and I can see the outline of the snowflake perfectly! It's so beautiful! And sometimes I'm just standing at a bus stop staring at my jacket because it's so cool! And my companion probably thinks I'm weird but oh well, I love it!

Oh! And Finland is also full of lakes, and now, they're all frozen completely over! So instead of having to go across bridges and take detours around them, we can just walk straight across! So we walked across the huge Jyväsjärvi on our way to church yesterday so that's what a lot of the pictures are from. It's so fun and we get to walk under the bridges and just enjoy the beautiful sights of finland while everyone around us ice skates and cross country skis to work! So cool!

So this week we had a bunch of miracles!! Surprise! Actually not at all. We're missionaries... Hello... We see miracles everyday! all we have to do is open our eyes :

So this week we got in with 2 less actives!
First one: I personally have been knocking on her door every week since I've been in Jyväskylä (That's 5 months for those of you who are playing along at home) And she's never answered. I don't think she's ever even been home... And we got on different days and different times and no luck. So, this week we were going to catch a bus and we decided to just knock and ask to use her bathroom (We kinda do that a lot...) And she was home! And she answered! And she let us in! And then she asked us to stay! So we did! We missed our bus, but we were able to teach a great lesson and we're going back there again this week! I guess persistence pays off!

Second one: This one we had tried and she had answered and said we could come back, but then we could never find a time that worked for her or she has too busy and she just kept saying "oh yeah sometime. We'll see" and nothing really worked. Well this week we were in her area and we stopped by and we just asked when we could come back and she said "How about Tuesday at 9:30?" And we said "YES!" so that was a pretty cool experience too! 

Another miracle: We (Us and the spirit) had an awesome lesson this week! We met this man tracting who I think I talked about in my last letter who had received a book of mormon from a member a while ago and he said we could come back. So we went back! We went and taught about the book of mormon and moroni's promise and when we asked him if he'd pray about it he said "tottakai!" (oh course!) And he's coming to church next week (That's a big deal) and we have an appointment this week! I'm super excited about this one. The lesson was just so powerful and man, it was just awesome. I can't really explain it so you'll all just have to take my word on it.

Miracle #27842: We met this lady on the street about a month ago with her boyfriend and other friend and her 3 kids. She knew a lot about the church and really wanted to meet and gave us her number, but said she was going out of town to Mozambique for 3 weeks and couldn't meet until after that. bummer. So honestly, we kinda forgot about it because we had to wait 3 weeks. And then we were tracting this building next to where we live and we knocked on her door! And she opened it and said that she had just got back in town the day before! We had NO idea where she lived and we "happened" to knock on her door right when she got back? well that's cool! So we set up an appointment to come back and teach her and her boyfriend and we're super excited for that! 

One more miracle: We were tracting again (This sometimes happens a lot in the winter when no one is outside) and we knocked on this lady's door and she immediately said no. But we kept talking to her anyway about non-church related stuff, like her family and work and what not and she asked us a TON of questions about us and why we're here and how we speak Finnish so well and things like that. We talked to her all about the Book of Mormon and the Bible and she had a lot of questions about it and ended up having a 45 minute discussion right there at her door. Like literally, I had to consciously not lock my knees so I wouldn't pass out since we were standing there so long. But it was awesome! And the weird thing was, all throughout that time we were talking to her we invited her to come to things and she said no and we asked to meet again and she said she wasn't interested and we tried to give her a book of mormon and she wouldn't take it, but she kept talking to us anyway! And in the end she just said "So I have time Thursday night if you want to come back" She had literally said no to us 7 times and then just offered us a return appointment. uhh okay! We'll take it! the Lord works in mysterious ways, but I'm not going to complain! 

So we ended up getting 3 new investigators this week and meeting a bunch of less actives and it was just a great week!

We ended the week with a dinner with all the young women for mutual on Friday and a "American Cookie Making Night" With a lot of the girls and their non-member friends on Saturday! See, missionary work can be fun! 

So I guess my point of all of this is that hard work pays off and the Lord is aware of us and everyone around us and he's just waiting for the timing to line up. So as long as we trust in the Lord, we'll never go astray.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary and there's no where else I'd rather be! Take care at home and abroad and be safe! I love you all!

Sisar Crandall

Monday, January 20, 2014

Winter is Here :)

Hello everyone! Well it was a nice brisk -18 walk to the church this morning to email! Gotta love it! It's been that cold all week, but the sun shone for the first time in months so that was good! This week I've been experimenting on how to stay warm. And after many cold nights freezing at bus stops I think I figured it out! It consists of the following:

On the bottom: long garments, thermals, normal cotton socks, wool socks that go way past my knee, a pair of leggings, and then a big pair of socks again.
On the top: garments, shade shirt, normal shirt, cardigan, my huge jacket, a multi scarf that I can pull up over my face, a hat, my hood, and a huge scarf wrapped around it all. 
Pretty fun huh? well I literally weight like 10 pounds more when I'm dressed and it takes me a solid 5 minutes standing by the door putting in all on, but I love it! We're happy and healthy and surviving! 

Well, I bet you're all wanting to find out how this week went... It went great! Well every week goes great, but especially this one! 

So here are some great things that happened! (In no particular order of greatness)
1. WE GOT A REACTIVATION! So this less active lady that we picked up and started working with when I got into the country is fully active as of this week!! Man her story is a miracle one! The first couple times we went over she didn't want us there and she didn't want us to stay and it just wasn't really working. We committed her to reading one verse a day and we would send her a verse via text message and that was all the communication we had with her. But then, after not meeting with her for many weeks, we called her up and she said we could come over. So we went and it was a complete 180 transformation! We sat down and she said "So I've been trying to order a new triple combination in Finnish, can you help me" uhh yeah! So we order her one and she's been studying and reading ever since! We had the great idea of calling her up and asking if we could do Finnish language study with her. It worked! We've been going over their routinely for a couple weeks now to do language study and then teach her and help her progress! And on Sundays when she didn't jaksaa to come to church, we'd call her and ask her for a ride (She's the most generous person ever) So it got us both to church! But now she willingly comes ever week and anytime we talk to her she always says "See you in church!" Man I just love it! That right there is why I'm a missionary. She comes to all the ward activities and firesides and is just awesome. The ward welcomed her back so openly and multiple people commented to me about how great it is to see her here and happy again. Yep, it's true, the gospel really does make people happy. 

2. We found 3 new investigators! One came from tracting with a member, one came from calling up a former investigator who's now interested, and the other one came from tracting around a different former investigator. The last one is a funny story, we knocked on his door and started talking about the book of mormon and he's like "yeah I've read the whole thing" uhhh wut. part of me hates it when this happens, because it catches me so off guard, but the other part loves it because now he wants to meet! yay!

3. Well I'm not sure if this is a "great" thing, but it was a big one so I'll talk about it anyway. This week I got my heart broken. Sister Dayton and I always joked that being a missionary is worse than dating because you're whole heart and soul is in it and it's just at the whim of someone else. Well not sure if that makes sense, but this week it happened. We were tracting a building and we really felt that we should be there for some reason. So we knocked on this door and a mom and her 5 kids opened the door. We started talking about something (I can't remember) and she said she wasn't interested and we asked for a referral (of course) and she didn't know anyone so we thanked her and moved on. No big deal. We've had much more rude rejections than that. But then after we had walked downstairs, we felt like we didn't handle that door quite right. So we had the crazy idea to go back. And it's usually not a good idea to go back to a door that just told you no (in case they get mad or something) so we usually don't do that, but we decided that we didn't really help them feel the spirit so we needed to go back. So we decided to sing her a song. We sang a child's prayer and we even did the parts and everything (wayy harder in Finnish than I thought) and then we bore such powerful testimony (not gonna lie, the spirit was really strong) and I was almost crying while talking and the mom just looks at us and in the kindest way, with tears in her eyes, said "No thanks, I'm really not interested, but thank you for the beautiful song" Ahh. that one got to me. When I can look at someone and know that they feel the spirit and I can see how much God loves them and they just say no, it really hits me. So yeah, a random lady and her family broke my heart this week. It's okay though, the Lord will always give them another chance :) And next time she meets missionaries she'll remember than once, two cold American sisters came back to her door and sang her a song. 

4. This week we planned a bunch of activities at the church to invite our investigators to so that they could come meet members and see the church building and everything. We invited so many and they all said they wanted to come and guess what?? No one came. Yep, that's the life of a missionary for ya. So it was saturday night and we had planned to all make cookies and watch the testaments together (one of the few church movies in finnish). Well, since no one showed up (members did so it was still fun) we decided to help a lady in the ward who was at the church to clean it help clean the church. We simply offered to vacuum and to do the trashed and it took us like 20 minutes maybe, and literally was no big deal for us. But holy cow it meant a lot to her. She came to us in tears about how she tried to get her husband and kids to come help her clean but they had family in town and didn't want to and how she prayed that somehow she wouldn't have to spend hours at the church cleaning on a Saturday night and that she could go home and enjoy her mom who was in town and then we showed up to help her! (well I'm pretty sure she said something like that, Finnish is very difficult to understand by itself, but especially when someone is crying) So we made her day :) another reason right there why I'm a missionary.

5. I contacted someone in Spanish this week! We ran into this man that we see all the time on the bus but just never had the opportunity to talk to him so I started talking to him (assuming he spoke finnish) and he very brokenly told me he didn't speak finnish. So I asked if he spoke english and he said "ei, espanjaa" Okay! Now I get to practice my Spanish! One little problem... I don't speak spanish... So I very brokedly told him that we were missionarios de iglesia de Jesu Cristo de los Ultimos Dias (something like that) and talked like 2 sentences about that Libro de Mormon. And he listened and then nodded and said "Minä Muslim" and walked away. I kinda just stood there laughing but yeah! That was my funny experience for the week! 

6. I had the goal to have a significant discussion about the church on every single bus ride I was on this week. This is sometimes hard because our bus rides are only like 5 minutes or less and we speak slow... But I was determined to do it! So one day, we were on a bus ride home and it was a longer one (like 20 minutes) so I though great, I can totally talk to someone for a long time. So we get on the bus and there wasn't a single person on the bus. Great. I was so upset that I was gonna miss my goal because there wasn't anyone on there except for me, Sisar Lund, and the bus driver. Well, jokes on all of you, I contacted the bus driver! I just sat in the seat next to him and talked to him the whole ride! I thought it was cool! He asked a ton of questions about why i'm here and what we do all day and what we talk to people about and it was awesome! So yeah, even when you don't think so, the Lord will always put someone in you path for you to talk to. (p.s. we're bffs now. I'll randomly see this driver at the bus station and he always says Moi to us!)

Well, that was my exciting and great week! Thank you to everyone who joined in fasting and prayers with us here in Jyväskylä! We definitely saw miracles this week! I'm so grateful to be out here and serving the Lord! Some of you asked, Transfers are the week of Feb 17th and there's a pretty big chance I'll be moved since I will have been here 6 months by that time, but we'll see! Missionaries have stayed in places much longer than that! 

I love the Lord and I love this work! I hope you're all taking part in it and enjoying the missionary work you can do! Stay safe and stay warm and I'll try to do the same! I love you all!

Sisar Crandall

Picture at Youth Conference

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Adventures of the Kuokkala Sisters

Hello everybody!

Well, there are TWO sets of sisters here in Jyväsklyä and everyone gets us mixed up. We get phone calls from members going to lessons with the other sisters and we've had our investigators call them instead and it's just all confusing sometimes. So we now go by the name "The Kuokkala Sisters" (Kuokkala is the name of the little neighborhood where we live) And the other sisters are "The Keskusta sisters" (Keskusta means center since they live in the center of town) So hopefully that'll solve that problem. Anyway, that was just the point of the subject line today. Well It's been pretty cold this week. "Winter" hit. I broke out my HUGE gloves that I call my Santa Clause Gloves because they're huge black leather mittens. I also had to use hand warmers for the first time in my mission this week so I'm glad I've got warm clothes and that i'm all taken care of! It's really not that bad though, I expected a lot worse so I'm still happy and healthy!

Oh! It was also Sisar Lund's birthday! I almost forgot! We had so much fun opening a bunch of letters and little gifts from my family so thank you all who sent her something! You're so nice! We also made some AMAZING American sugar cookies and frosting this year and I used my new cookie cutters! And look! I even have a Finland shaped one! haha we had a blast :)

Well, this week, once again, has been crazy. Also highs and lows and no other way to descirbe it. Some weeks of my mission I look back and think "wow, that was a great week. There is no way I could possible learn more than I did this week" And then Heavenly Father just laughs and teaches me even more the next week! So yes, this week was one of those weeks. I'd even go as far to say that I learned more spiritually this week than I had the first 6 months of my mission. It's up there. It all started when we got a phone call from the zone leaders on Monday telling us that there was an emergency zone conference in Tampere on Wednesday. We just had a zone conference like a week before so we knew somethin big was up. So we all woke up super early on Wednesday and traveled to Tampere. (I got to travel with Sisar Howell, my companion from the MTC, so that was way fun to see her again) Anyway, when we got there, the Zone leaders presented this plan that President Rawlings has been working on. President Rawlings is an amazing mission president (as they all are) and he gets released in July and a new mission president comes in. He's already been called (I can't remember his name though...) So we're all excited for that! Anyway, this is kinda President's last big thing to change and implement 
in the mission so that he can smoothly hand it over to the next president. Here it is:

As a mission, we're doing a 12-week fast. There are 12 districts in Finland and each week a district will literally fast for a day and pray for missionary work in their area. All the other districts in the mission will focus their prayers and thoughts on that district as well. So basically all missionaries and leaders and even members will be praying for one district in the mission each week for 12 weeks. I think it's a great plan and a really good way to get us all united. They announced that Espoo would be going first and that we would all start praying for them on Monday. Also, everyone in the mission (members and leaders and missionaries alike) Kneel down and offer a prayer on behalf on this city everyday at 7:50 and 21:50. So we're even more united knowing that we're all praying together. Then, each district has set some specific goals for their week and we even broke that further down into companionship and personal goals. So basically, it's a re-dedication of ourselves to the Lord for the next 12 weeks and an even more specific consecration for one week where everyone in Finland will be praying for missionary work in one city. Pretty cool huh? 

Well, PLOT TWIST! Saturday morning, early during our studies, we recieved a call from our District Leader asking us how quickly we could get to the church for an emergency district meeting. We don't live in the center (that's where the church is) so we have to walk or take a bus but we said we could be there in about a half hour and we headed out! So, once we got to the church they told us that President just called them and now said that he had prayed about it and felt like Jyväskylä should be the first district to go. Welll Okay! So we immediately got super excited and talked about all our plans for the week. And then we decided that we wanted to have the members in our ward join us so it's even a bigger unifying thing. So we decided that we as missionaries would literally fast on Monday (today) and then a family in the ward would take each day the rest of the week so that someone was always fasting for missionary work here in Jyväskylä. 

So once we had this idea in place, we just had to get the ward on board. I got assigned the job of calling the bishop, ward mission leader, and stake president and asking their permission and presenting our idea. So we called and it went great! It's slightly intimidating because Finns aren't huge talkers so I just explained the idea the best I could (In Finnish) And they just say a word or two and I'm not sure how they really feel but they liked it! At the end of me talking, the Stake President just said (really loud and in ENGLISH) "I'M IN" haha so looks like they're in!
So then, Sunday at church, we passed our a sign-up sheet for families to sign up when they could fast. We were slightly worried that not enough families would sign up (It's not a huge ward) But boy oh boy were we wrong! We had less-actives who were in church who even signed up! Every day has at least 3 families fasting for us! Holy cow that's so amazing! These members sure know how to step up when you ask them!

Also, this means that this morning at 7:50am all the missionaries in Finland and whatever members wanted to join them knelt down and offered a prayer on Jyväskylä's behalf. What a cool feeling! To know that hundreds of people knelt down and prayed for me by name. It's almost too overwhelming to think about. They also sent out our district picture to everyone with our names to make it more personal. So yeah! I guess you could say I'm a little excited! This week will definitely be one for the books with probably more miracles than I can count and it's just beginning! 

Man the work here is just plowing forward. We, as missionaries, like to think that we have pretty big sights and goals for the ward. For example, the ward set a baptismal goal for the year and we ,before we knew that goal, set a goal for just the first 4 months ish of the year and it was the same goal! So I really hope the members get more and more excited about the work here just like we are! So I said we "like to think" we have big goals. haha We've got nothin. We were talking to the Stake President who lives right next to us the other day (there are only 2 stakes in Finland so it's way cool that he lives right by us and we can use him as a resource) We told him that we had the goal to split the ward and then Jyäskylä will have two wards! Great goal right? Well here's how our conversation with the Stake President went: Us-"Yeah We just had District Meeting and we set the goal to split the ward!" Him-"Wow, that's a great goal. But I have the goal to split the stake!"  Uhhh okay we're just gonna go back to work now then... haha I'm sure humbled by men like him who have a way bigger vision than I ever could! I can't wait for all the members to see the potential Finland has! 

Well anyway, I guess my point is that the work is always hastening. Sometimes the numbers or statistics might not reflect it, but I've run into multiple people in my short time here who let us in because some Elder years ago carried their groceries home or simply just say hi to them on the street! Hundreds of seeds are planted everywhere and we don't even know! Man I'm sure comforted by the idea that the work here in Finland will go forth long after I'm gone! 

So I guess my point of all of this is if this can happen in Finland, a country up in the Arctic circle,  a country with less than 5 thousand members, a country that people said I would never see a baptism in, Then just imagine all the can happen where you live! You have hundreds of missionaries right around you and thousands of "investigators" just waiting to be invited and I can't wait to see how it will all go! 

I hope you're all doing your part and helping out your dear missionaries in your home ward! They definitely need you! 

Well, I guess that's all of my rambling for today. Look out for next week's letter when I can't even begin to describe all the miracles that occur this week! I love the Lord and I love being a part of this work! It's the best feelings I've ever had and it's MORE than worth it every single day of my mission. I'm so excited to accomplish so amazing district, companionship, and personal goals this week and let the Lord mold and change me even more! The church is true everybody. Whether your ward just got split in Lehi or whether you're on an Air Force Base in CA. And yes, even here in the Arctic circle, it's still true. I love you all and I'm praying for you!

Have an amazing week because I know I will!
Sisar Crandall

Pictures taken on two different days but you can't tell because I wear the same thing!  I swear I wash them . . .

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hyvää Uutta Vuotta!! (Happy New Year)

Well, it is officially Tammikuu! (January!) This week, of course, had its ups and downs, but I'm in an amazing city where some amazing things are happening and I love being a part of it! 
This week started off with the a Youth Conference held right here in Jyväskylä! It started on Monday and went until Wednesday. Youth from all over Finland came and it really was amazing. And since Tuesday and Wednesday are "red days" here (we can't be outside/proselyte) we ended up helping out a lot at the conference and teaching one of the lessons there. The new theme for the 2014 year for the youth is "Tulkaa Kristuksen luokse" (Come unto Christ) Allyson told me about this a couple weeks ago so it was cool to see it implemented here in Finland too! In one of the classes at the youth conference we watched an amazing video. I'm sure some of you have seen it, but I encourage you all to go watch it right now! It's so good! I've seen it 7 or 8 times and I cry every single one! It's just a great reminder that no matter what is going on in our lives, Christ is there to help us. I love how it focuses on physical challenges, friend challenges, temptations, or even family problems. The Lord is always there to take away anything that we will give to him. Here's the link;
I absolutely love the music and the video and everything. Let me know what your thoughts are on it, even if you've seen it before. 

So anyway, that Youth Conference was amazing! The 6 Jyväskylä missionaries taught one of the classes and we had the youth write their testimonies in Books of Mormon and then we practiced giving them out to their friends. Man the youth here in Finland are amazing. I was doing a role play with a girl and I asked her to think of someone she could give the book of mormon to and she said "Well, I can't really think of anyway..." And I've heard that answer before so I was about to say something and then she said "I already gave away 9 copies to all my friends for Christmas" uhh... okay never mind then. Someone just needs to give you a name tag and you're good to go! So yeah, Finland's rockin the missionary work right now and the members, especially the youth, are super excited about it. 

Tuesday night was New Years Eve and Sisar Lund and I sure had fun celebrating! We watched the fireworks above the city from our window and we drank apple cider and hot chocolate and really just enjoyed out time locked inside out apartment. Sisar Lund's family also has a cool Christmas Eve tradition where they make ice cream balls covered in coconut and put a candle in it and then see who can eat all the ice cream, but not let their candle go out. So we did that fun tradition too so that's what those pictures are of. We also found some sparklers and took a couple pictures out on our balcony and welcomed in the new year (At 22:00 of course).
So, this week has been full of goal setting and thinking of where I want to be at the end of this year (which also happens to coincide with the end of my mission) I've got some big goals for this transfer and I'm really excited to see where it'll go. 

Well, on Saturday we had an awesome lesson with one of our investigators from Africa (Ivory coast I think ) And we gave him a church tour and he loved it. We were able to show him the baptismal font and the sacrament table and the spirit was so strong. There's something about just being in the church that instantly invites the spirit. I love it when that happens :) But then, we invited him to come to church and he said he'd think about it. So at the end of the lesson we invited him to pray if he should come to church tomorrow and we promised him that he'd receive an answer that it was the right thing to do. So he prayed and then said it was up to God whether he came or not. Well, we of course know that coming to church is what Heavenly Father wants for him, but... he didn't show up. So yeah, kinda a bummer. I've learned a lot about how it's the intent of someone's heart that really matters. 

Also, we had our first "Bible bash" discussion this week. I've successfully avoided them this far, but then we had a guy say he wanted to meet with us so we set up an appointment and got another woman to come with us and the lesson just went terribly... The entire time he was pointing out everything that was wrong with the Book of Mormon and our religion and it's just really hard to have the spirit in a situation like that. So although I was completely safe, it's definitely a place a never want to be in again. So, yep, as always, ups and downs, but at the end of the week I'm always so incredibly grateful to be a missionary and to be a part of this amazing work here in Finland.

Well, those are all my thoughts for today! Oh! I did get an awesome package from dad last Monday and some waayyy good caramels from grandma and an awesome necklace from Melissa! so yeah, i'm spoiled, but I swear you'll all get letters in return! So, I heard about the way fun time the family had skiing and I'm super jealous. You all have way more snow in Utah and Wyoming than we do here. I kinda like it that way though, not too cold :) oh and I've never heard of Roxberry. Sounds good though! Also, thanks to all those who sent my dear companion something for her birthday. We're excited to celebrate tomorrow! I think we'll try a Thai restaurant :) Yeah the life of a missionary in Europe is just so hard... Shout out to all my friends in third world countries!

Well anyway, I hope you all have a great week! Keep up those awesome missionary experiences and keep letting your light shine! I love you all and I miss you! 


Sisar Crandall


Coca Cola Add:  see the Good (in Finnish)
I Bike Jyvaskyla
Cocoa and Apple Cider

Ice Cream Coconut Balls w/Candle
New Necklace (called to serve)
Book of Mormon Tower