Monday, May 26, 2014

The Highs and Lows of Mission Life

Family and Friends,

Well first off, big shout out to Camille for GRADUATING! I'm so proud! Sorry I missed it, but you just looked so good and so happy in all the pictures! Way to go :)
So, on to our week.

Well, this week again had some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We started the week off GREAT with 3 lessons with a member present! Yay! And then on Wednesday we had our super solid investigator who was progressing towards baptism text us saying she didn't want to be baptized anymore or investigate the church and that she was satisfied with her relationship with God right now. HUGE bummer. Sisar Johnston and I were pretty upset and wondering what we did wrong, or what we could've done better and how in the world can we get our teaching pool back up. So, we decided to fast on Thursday. So we had some great companionship study and talked a lot about it and then started our fast. Then, first things Thursday morning, The Elders called telling us that President wanted to interview our whole district today. PERFECT timing. A talk with the mission president was what I needed right then. So I went into this interview thinking I was going to talk to him about finding and agency and all these other things we were struggling with and when he asked me if I had any questions, I realized that I didn't. Of course we have ups and downs and things don't always go how WE as missionaries have planned it, but it'll ALWAYS go how the LORD has planned it. So after a minute or two I realized I didn't really have any questions. I know PMG, I know the lessons, I know what I need to be doing and how to do it, so now I just need to get to work! This week I kinda had enough with the planning and talking and discussing about how to do missionary work and just went back to the basics. We could've sat inside and talked about different finding techniques and what not or we could've gone outside and just talked to everyone! So that's what we did! We hit a record number of lessons taught for this companionship and found 2 NEW INVESTIGATORS this week! That's more than a lot of previous weeks combined... The Lord really is willing to bless us when we consecrate our efforts. 

One of those investigators was a former that we've been trying to get in contact with for forever! So we went to stop by her apartment and she wasn't home ;( So we started there and hit the Less Active and potentials who lived near by and then ran into her and her son on their way home! So we went in and taught her a lesson and picked her up as an investigator and the whole family is coming to the ward activity! Yes! That was the perfect way to end our Thursday day of fasting.

The second investigator came yesterday just in the nick of time just by talking to everyone and we have an appointment on Tuesday! Can't wait!

We've also been working a lot of getting our investigators in church and are now brainstorming ideas for that. So yeah, just one problem at a time and the work will keep moving forward no matter what, I promise. I once had a District Leader tell me a quote from someone that went like that "If the gospel wasn't true, missionaries would've messed it up years ago" How true that is. So no matter how imperfect I am, the work will go on and I'll just be there to aid it the best I can. 

So yes, lots of stressful things this week and lots of intense studies. Sisar Johnston and I were able to unwind a little bit by going to the National Museum this week with the other sisters and two of the senior missionaries so that was a lot of fun. Not much else happened this week. Tonight is the ward dessert competition activity night and we have about 10 non members or less actives who have told us they're coming so we're super excited! And of course Sisar Johnston and I are competing so I'll letcha know how that goes! Our district leader is also going home sick ;( So there's a picture of our whole district attached. I'll letcha know about all the changes in our district next week, but for the time being our district leader in Elder Smith from Mesa Arizona! Gotta love those Mesa kids. Oh, also, next week (June 2-5) Is Interim training for all the trainees and trainers which means that I will be emailing on SUNDAY. So sorry if that throws off your schedule, but I'll email after church (around 1 here) So I won't see your email until the next week if it comes after that.
Well, overall this week went great! Nothing to complain about really. Thank you for all your love and support and I hope everyone enjoys their last few days of school! I love you!

Sisar Crandall

Neitsytpolku District
Cafe trips with a Recent Convert Gisel (okay to publish this one)
Giantest Cinnamon Roll ever - it was delicious btw.
Hanging out in Downtown Helsinki with Gisel :)

​Sisar Woods, Bunting, Johnston and I at the National Museum of Finland
Sisar Johnston and I at the museum
Beautiful sun at about 10 pm. Gotta love Finland.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Breakthroughs with the Members

Family and Friends!

Well, not a too eventful week so this letter may be shorter but here goes!

Well, so far, today has been a wonderful week! I know it's only Monday, but this is going to be a great week! Why? Well, first off, THE SUN IS SHINING! I didn't have to wear a jacket or even a cardigan or tights or anything! And we got ice cream from the ice cream carts that we see all over the town and hung out at the park and watched the waves and the boats on the water and just enjoyed ourselves for once. It's nice to just sit down and talk with your companion and have some fun before getting to work! So yes, today has been an AMAZING day so far and I can't wait for the rest of the week!

Well, this past week went pretty well! Nothing too exciting, but we did go on splits on Wednesday! I had Sister Egan come join me from Espoo and Sisar Johnston went to be with Sisar Cribbs. We had a wonderful faith building day full of talking with everyone and teaching 8 lessons! Yep, sometimes you just need a new outlook on things to get back into it and I'm grateful Sisar Egan was able to help me out with that this week.

On Thursday we went to Suomenlinna! That's the island that we get to take a ferry to visit our less actives so that was a blast! It was Sisar Johnston's first time so we took lots of pictures. Also on Thursday, we had a Relief Society activity this week and our investigator came! It was so awesome! It was all about family history work and writing down our own stories for our posterity. And we also had a guessing game where everyone guessed who's baby picture was who's. Thanks to my mom, I had my baby picture up there as well and our investigator V also brought hers! It was a blast. Funny how these things are now fun to me. I guess that's just missionary life!

One other thing that has happened recently is that our missionary-member relationship has really improved which is awesome! We were really struggling with having one church of the missionaries and one church of the members and we weren't super unified here in our ward. But the Bishop's been awesome at helping us our with that and also I think a big part of it was Sisar Johnston. She has such a way with clicking and getting along with people. some members I've been trying to get to know for months now are our best friends! Just because Sisar Johnston goes up and talks to them and really knows how to relate to them. And it's in Finnish! So yes, She's awesome and is a huge blessing to us here. We're actually getting members to invite their friends to activities now and have us meet their friends and things are looking up in that category! 

So yesterday we were at church and ended up attending the "YSA" Sunday School. So there were about 18 of us in there and then we realized that there wasn't a teacher... So guess who gets volunteered to teach? Us! So Sisar Johnston and I get up there and end up teaching the class and doing some missionary role plays with all of them. It worked out surprisingly well. We played the "word game" where they practice mentioning things about church or the gospel with their friends and have to relate it to a certain topic. They had lots of fun and were all laughing and coming up with the most creative ways to talk about sports and the church in the same sentence. So yes, missionary work is both fun and creative and I think all these YSA are finally getting that.

So lots of fun things going on here in Finland. We're still trying to get our investigators to have solid baptismal dates and do the simple things like come to church and normal missionary struggles like that, but life is good! Favorite quote of the week; "We can learn, grow, and become like Him one consistent step at a time" I'm super grateful for my companion and all the miracles we're seeing here and I just love it. Have a wonderful week everyone :) I love and miss you all!

Sisar Crandall

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tender Mercies and Miracles - A normal week in the life of a missionary

Well, I just skyped with everyone yesterday and it was amazing! So, not a lot of new things to tell you all, but just a cool story or two.

We found a new investigator this week! His name is R and he's from Peru! He's here working in the embassy as a chef. We were on the tram with him and then the driver came over the loud speaker and said the the route was changed today and if you were going a certain way, you should get off at this stop. So he turned around and asked "umm, what did they just say?" So I told him and he said thanks and we just started talking with him. It turns out that he lives on the same street as the church and since we were walking to the church, we ended up walking home with him. We mentioned  to us how he was trying to learn Finnish so we said we have a class every Tuesday night and he said he'd come! And he did! So on Tuesday he learned some Finnish and met the Elder and it went great! Then, on Wednesday we came to institute! He came to the dinner that the wonderful YSA couple makes before and then they were studying Ether 6 and 12. So we whipped out a Libro de Mormon and he joined right in! He was making comments and discussing faith and how it's an action word and everything. Man, I have never seen anyone just "get it" as much as he does. Then, we had an AWESOME lesson on Saturday. He had heard about the church a LOT in Peru, but had never read the Book of Mormon. He committed himself to read and pray about it and at one point even said "yeah, how can I say no to something I haven't tried? The least I can do is give this a chance" YES! That's seriously all we're ever asking people to do - just EXPERIMENT on the word. And everything just clicked with him. And then he started talking about how he wants the WHOLE "Mormon experience" He said he wants to come to fhe and the language class and institute and meet the members and come to church and everything! He said if he's going to give this a chance, then he wants to see the whole picture. It was awesome! It was the coolest thing to see someone actually have the DESIRE to know if this is true instead of just being dragged along by the missionaries. They're out there everybody. I promise.

On Tuesday we met with our investigator B and she now has a baptismal date! Yay! She's known everything about the gospel for a while and just finally made the decision! She's really excited to be baptized because her life is pretty crazy right now and she knows how much the Gift of the Holy Ghost will be able to bless her life. So yeah, she's doing awesome and progressing as well.
Okay, another cool story. So, on Wednesday we were just on a tram on the way to an appointment and a girl with crazy piercings and some dreds and this cool looking purple scarf sat across from me and I just smiled and said "moi" and so she said "Moi" back and that was about the end of our conversation. I didn't think much of it, because as missionaries we pass people on the street or on the bus or the trams and our entire conversation is "Moi." But then, later that night we were on our way to meet our investigator R for institute and she was on our tram again! We RARELY see the same person twice and it's NEVER happened in the same day so I thought, "This has GOT to be a sign" So I went to talk to her and I just said "Hei, you were on the tram this morning" And she said "Yeah, I remember you, you're the one who said Moi" That one sentence literally made my entire week. I've never really ran into someone that I've said hi to before so I've never been able to see the effect of it, but it's there! So she told me she thought about why I would say hi to her and if she knew me from somewhere because it was so "epätavallinen" "uncommon" And then she got off the tram! So sorry, no new investigator or baptismal date or something, but I think it was just a tender mercy that I really needed. I needed to remember that just by reaching out and making someone smile we're helping them feel and see the Light of Christ. And I've been praying to run into her again so hopefully the Lord will help our paths cross!

Then, on Thursday I had the chance to go to the temple. It was amazing as usual. It was Sisar Johnston's and Sisar Woods' first time in Finland so that was special. And there were some kids from BYU there as well that we got to talk to. The session was also in Russian so I had to wear a translator (into Finnish) the whole time, but that's okay, the gospel is true in any language :)
Also on Thursday we met with our investigator V. We had an awesome member come with us, one she hadn't met yet, and it went great! She was super nervous and unsure about her baptismal date and doesn't feel prepared because she hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon a lot or coming to church. She does pray about it though, and says it feels right. So we were struggling to figure out what we could teach to help her understand this concept. So we went over the Plan of Salvation and HOW we can take part in this plan eli, Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. And she got it! She said she wanted to push back her baptismal date, but she finally understands what this could all mean if it were true! So she committed herself to reading the Book of Mormon and she's progressing right along!

Saturday night was the adult session of stake conference and then Sunday was the normal session. Of course, it was awesome. We had Elder Hans Boom from Holland come to speak to us as well as a lot of youth and members of the Stake Presidency. My favorite thing that Elder Boom said was "Have we forgotten how joyful it is to reach out to others?" The gospel is joyful everybody! There are some awesome things happening here in Finland everyone.
Well, that's about it for my week! I do want to say I few things about my mom though. She is amazing. There's no way to even start describing her. I feel like one of the stripling warriors who received so much strength and support from their moms. And I've never had a doubt in my mind that my mom has a testimony. No, she never sat me down and said "I'd like to bear my testimony..." or anything like that, but I've seen her study her scriptures every day of my life and attend the temple weekly. I've seen her make a priority our of her family and family night and always keeping the Sabbath Day holy. So I KNOW she knows this church is true. She's taught me more than she can ever understand and I'm so grateful for her example and testimony in my life. I love you mom! Happy Mother's Day!

Sisar Crandall


Me in front of the TuomonKirkko (Thomas' Church is how that translates I think)
Sisar Johnston and I at the temple
Sisar Johnston, me, Sisar Woods, and Sisar Bunting
Running into a friend from BYU at the temple

Monday, May 5, 2014

Vappu Celebrations and Agency!

Family and Friends,

Well, last week I spoke a little too soon. So I want to take it back. Spring has NOT sprung. It SNOWED a bunch this week. I feel like that cook from Nanny McPhee who just stands outside in awe saying "snow? Snow in May?" Yep, this is Finland. So I have my winter boots and hat and jacket on again haha gotta love it :)

Well, this week was just about as crazy as the weather. But of course, there were lots of tender mercies and miracles and AMAZING experiences I'm excited to share with you all:
- SISAR JOHNSTON. Everybody, She's awesome. She is the most dedicated hard working missionary I have never met and she wants to improve and learn and get out there and it's just so easy being her companion. I've really been blessed by some amazing companions and Sisar Johnston fits right in among all of them. She's extremely thoughtful and I just can't ever thank her enough :)

- This week was Vappu! Well, I'm not 100% sure how to describe Vappu, but it's a holiday in Finland (and probably other Scandinavian countries) on the first of May and it celebrates summer and workers and some other stuff.. I'm not even sure... But what I do know about it is that Finns use it as a time to get drunk. And VERY drunk. 

So, Wednesday and Thursday we had RED days which means we have to be indoors unless we're in appointments. Well, we had some miraculous Red days! We had 5-6 appointments during the RED day and it was one of our most productive times this week! So I was kinda scared that the work would go down this week but I guess I learned that the Lord's work never takes a break! 

- Also, another Vappu miracle. Our investigator V came to the Young Adult Picnic at the institute center! It was awesome! And she loved it! She said it was the best Vappu ever! And the coolest part of it was that Sisar Johnston and I were talking to another investigator and then our investigator called the MEMBER and said she was here and the member went out and got her and introduced her to everyone and we didn't notice for a couple of minutes that she was even there because the members just fellowshipped her so well. So yes, members are key.

This week has had some rough patches as well. I've come to learn that the thing that frustrates me the most is also our biggest blessing: Agency. Can't I just make everyone accept the gospel and keep commitments and do missionary work? Well, we had 4 amazing people who were going to come to church with us - Two older ladies, a family (mom and 6 kids) and our investigator V. So we were SO excited and we had members set up to walk with them all and we were going with some of them and everything was going to work out perfect! Except for the fact that none of them came... So yeah, kinda a bummer day yesterday, but it's definitely strengthened my testimony of the Lord's timing. Trust me, I definitely wish everyone (including me) could progress a lot faster than we do, but I guess that's the point of life. We struggle and learn and stumble and fall and get up and keep going stronger than before. So I guess that's the main lesson I learned this week - Trust in the Lord AND His timing. And just like President Hinckley always said, "Things will work out."

I'm so grateful for the wonderful experience I had this week! I get to go to the temple AGAIN on Thursday and I'm so excited! I love that place :) So yes, more updates on that to come. I hope everyone has a wonderful month of May and an even better Mother's Day! I know I will! And family, See ya on Sunday :)

Sisar Crandall

Snowy day on the tram, Vappu Balloons and Picnics, Sisar Johnston and I

Saying Goodbye to Sisar Curtis, Cool building in Neitsytpolku, Downtown Helsinki