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 . . .

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