Yep, it came and went. There's no use avoiding the obvious. This past Wednesday was the 9 month mark of my mission. Holy cow. While I was reflecting about what has happened the past 9 months and where I was last June, a lot of different thoughts came into my mind and I started writing them all down. I ended up with 10 things that I've learned on my mission thus far. I call them "The 10 Things I've Learned on my Mission thus far" A lot of them may seem super obvious and you're probably thinking "really Sisar Crandall? You had to go to Finland to learn that?" But I guess I was too prideful to learn all these lessons back in America, but I've hopefully got them figured out here in Finland. Here they are:
1. My call comes from the prophet. I realize more and more everyday that these experiences-companions, members, the language, everything else-were made just for me and I'm grateful to have a prophet who is inspired to know where missionaries should serve.
2. You can't convert people beyond your own conversion. People are prepared here for me so I need to be prepared for them too! I can't ask my investigators to do anything that I'm not doing so that sure helped me whip my priorities into place real quick.
3. What I do in my free-time matters. I'm a 24/7 missionary even when it's P-day and after 9:30 when it's "free-time" Ha. There's no such thing as "free-time" on a mission. Everything I do should be fulfilling my purpose - "invite others to come unto Christ". Sisar Curtis and I now use our "toodle-time" (as we call it) to read conference talks, go through potentials and it's made all the difference. It really has helped us be effective missionaries and I'm just bummed it took me this long to figure that out.
4. The Holy Ghost converts, not me. We've focused a lot on praying always so that we can have the spirits with us when we teach. A quote from President Hinckley came into my brain "Start your day on your knees as if it depended on the Lord, then get on your feet as if it depended on you!" So basically we just try to be praying always and be led by the spirit in all we do. So then we don't have to worry whether a thought was my own or from the spirit or whether it was inspiration or me just day dreaming. If we always have the spirit with us and our focused on our purpose, they're one in the same.
5. Faith is an action word. We pray and ask for help and then we go to work! We can't pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us find people to teach on this tram and then not open our mouth! We "prepare for rain" with the faith that it will come and then AFTER we're done out part, we're able to reap the blessings.
6. "Hold tight, knuckles white" -President Craig Olson. I've learned that whatever we're going through (mission/life/trial/anything) won't be easy, but it sure is a LOT easier when we hold fast to the gospel. When we bring our all to the Lord, whether that be a lot or a little, the Lord magnifies it so that it's enough. We learn that although times may be difficult, anything is possible with the Lord. We hold fast to the truth we do know and "first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" (President Uchtdorf). The knowledge of the truth of this gospel and its message is enough to get us through anything :)
7. The atonement is for saints as well as for sinners. I always knew that we could use the Atonement to repent, but this life is all about progression. And we can use the Atonement for that too! The purpose of life is for us to become better and I'm just grateful for this opportunity for my progression to be accelerated on my mission. Because I'd sure be light years behind, without it.
8. Specific commandments come with specific blessings. So I need to learn to teach and promise them to others! I've learned to ask myself "If my investigator kept EVERY commitment and EVERY commandment except this one, what blessing would they be missing out on? And then once I've figured it out, I canter my lesson around that! They my investigators better understand the "Why" behind the gospel and actually WANT to keep the commandments instead of me dragging them through it. This desire leads to conversion instead of just a testimony. D&C 130:20-21
9. The only message I really have to teach is the restoration. So when I'm on a tram or bus and debating what I should talk to someone about or why an investigator isn't progressing the answer is ALWAYS the restoration! Once this is understood, everything else falls into place. And this is our UNIQUE message. So if I don't teach about the restoration in a contact with someone, I'm really not giving them the chance to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
10. I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I have the privilege to do what he would do if he were on the earth. As Sister Wixom once said, "The man on your chest is my best friend" And he's my best friend too. President Dyches said "Missions aren't sacrifices" and he's right! I GET to be out here telling people about my best friend and his love for them. AND I don't have to worry about money/school/rent/job/boys/
myself/anything! How much luckier can a person get? Man I just sometimes stare our the window of my apartment and think "Is this real life?" "Do I live in Finland" "Did I just have a conversation with a real Finn in Finnish?" "Am I really a missionary?" Maybe one day it'll hit me, but I'm still in awe of it all. Never before in my life did I think I'd have an opportunity like this.
So those are the lessons I've learned thus far. And I'm sure the Lord had a billion more to teach me so I'm excited to see where the next 9 months will take me!
Also, remember how about 2 months ago there was this 12 week fast thing and each district gets to be prayed for by all the other missionaries/leaders in Finland? Well I got to participate in this when it was Jyväskylä's turn and now next week is Neitsytpolku's turn! So once again it's our consecration week! So we have lots of district and companionship and personal goals and we're really focusing on talking with everyone wherever we are and helping our less-active members. Sisar Curtis and I are also only speaking Finnish this week so that'll help us focus as well! I'm super excited to get to participate in this again and see all the miracles that come from it. So once again, we're praying at 7:50 am and 9:50 pmand it's just really cool to see the whole mission and members in Finland come together on the behalf of the work here!
One SUPER cool experience this week. I was on a tram this week and couldn't find a place to sit/someone to easily talk to so I ended up just sitting down next to this guy who was intensely reading a book and looked like he did NOT want to be interrupted. But I just HAD to say something. I noticed that the book was in English and that it was a grammar book of some sort. so I just dumbly asked "Uhh whatcha reading?" And he went off in Finnish about something something something I don't understand something something... But what I did get out of the conversation is that he couldn't find the book in Finnish and that he's learning Arabic/Farsi or something like that (Who speaks those languages anyway?). So then I was just like "Oh cool" And couldn't think of anything else to say! In english or finnish! So the conversation just dies there... And then HE turns to ME and says "Are you Mormon?" "YEP!" "Are you on a mission here?" "YEP!" "Well I'm getting off on the next stop, but I've met with church representatives before from other churches and I'd love to meet with mormon ones sometime. Can we exchange numbers?" "YEP!" (Yeah I'm reeeeal fluent in Finnish... All I said this entire conversation was "Kyllä!" (YEP!)) So then we switched numbers and he got off and I just sat there staring at Sisar Curtis like "What just happened?" So yeah, just another reassuring experience that people IN FINLAND are looking for the truth and want to meet with us! Very cool!
So this week was great and I learned a lot! And next week is consecration week so I can't even imagine where the Lord will take us! I love and miss you all and thanks for all your letters and love and support!
Us and Brother Thelin who came over for lunch today at our super ritzy apartment
Sisar and Brother Thelin with our cutely decorated table
Elder Stegeby got transferred out of our district this week. so sad :(
Sisar Curtis and I got lost on some islands in the middle of nowhere so here's some pics of the sunset we took in the meantime!