Monday, June 16, 2014

Recognizing the Lord's Hand

Well family and friends, This week has been another crazy one. And one full of reflection and goals and changing and learning. Yep, I didn't think all of that was possible in the same week, but somehow it happened once again! This Thursday, I hit my one-year mark on my mission. Holy cow. That's crazy. So throughout my personal studies I've been studying and thinking about how the Lord's hand has been such a blessing in my life the past year. And then I I realized that I wouldn't have been able to receive a lot of these blessings if I wasn't out here in Finland on a mission. Every day I see more and more reasons as to why I personally need to be where I am. Yep, I really didn't have enough time to write down all the miracles I've seen, but I thought I'd share some of the bigger ones with you all. So, in honor of a full-year as a missionary, Here are some way the Lord has blessed my life in the past year:

-I've been able to improve my relationships with my siblings and parents

-My family has all become stronger and closer in the gospel

-I've learned a lot about teaching the gospel and how to establish a Christ-centered home in the future for my kids

-I've been able to gain a testimony of the gift of tongues and learn Finnish (This one's still in the process)

-I've been able to develop my relationship with my Heavenly Father through prayer

-I've had the opportunity to literally walk with people to the temple. This past week, the missionaries in Estonia put their recent convert in contact with the missionaries here in Helsinki. so the 6 of us (4 sister missionaries, one recent convert from Estonia and one recent convert from Helsinki) had the opportunity to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. It was my first time doing them in the Helsinki temple and the first time doing them in about a year and a half so I was pretty excited. We walked around the temple before it was time to go in and talked a lot about what happens. We were able to teach them about the blessings of the temple and how we might be baptized for 5 names, and each time we go, we'll do more and we probably won't remember them all, but THEY will always remember our names. We're making salvation possible to them and we'll be thanked for it one day. They absolutely loved that idea. And while we were walking to the temple from the train station, we rounded the corner and it was the first time this girl from Estonia had ever seen a temple in real life and she just teared up at how beautiful it was. I couldn't help smiling and just seeing her excitement brought tears to my eyes as well. It was one of those "THIS is why I'm on a mission" moments. Seriously, one of the most special experiences I've had so far.

-I've been able to develop MY testimony. It's true what they say, a testimony really is found in the bearing of it. It's not that I ever doubted any of these things were true, but when we're teaching about it and testifying about it, I can't help but feel the spirit testifying to me that everything I say is true.

-I've been able to meet a lot of amazing general authorities and church leaders including my mission president.

-I've become a lot more outgoing and confident in public speaking than I used to be (talking to strangers in a strange language will do that for ya)

-I've been able to meet 6 wonderful best friends who I like to call my companions. They've all taught me so much. Sisar Howell taught me what it means to lead by example. She's a great example of quiet dignity and just patiently doing everything she can. She really taught me that I person to be loved is ALWAYS more important than a problem to be solved. Sisar Ballif taught me all about service. She truly made ever companion feel like the best companion ever and never ceased showing me and everyone around her she loved them. I think most of us just think "Oh, she looks nice today" Or "Oh, I should probably help her with that" But Sisar Ballif taught me to just say it and go do it and spread some love around. Sisar Dayton taught me that missionary work is fun! She was so happy and positive all the time and always lifted my spirits. She really helped me understand that this is a gospel of good news and that we should enjoy sharing it!  I don't think I've ever laughed so much in a 4 month period than I did with her. Sisar Lund taught me how to listen. She was truly interested in everyone and everyone loved talking with her because they knew she cared. She would sit and listen to me talk for forever and honestly take interest in what I was saying. It meant a lot and it really just showed me how much care you can show to someone by simply being a listening friend. Sisar Curtis taught me to just forget yourself and go to work. She was very good at staying focused and not getting stressed out or worrying too much about things you can't control. She knew that if she put in her all to fulfill her purpose 24/7, that was all the Lord asked of her. And she always encouraged me to be better and do the same. And Sisar Johnston. She continues to teach me everyday, but I think the biggest thing I've learned so far is how to connect with people and apply the gospel to their lives. She's always able to just sit down next to someone and then walk away from them being best friend! And I just sit there smiling and confused. She truly is always happy and people are attracted to her light because of it. So I guess she's taught me to let my light shine.

-All of these lessons have a billion stories behind them that have helped me get to where I am today, but I guess the biggest thing I've learned so far is Hope. Hope that through the Atonement, everything will be made right in the end.

So with all of this in mind, let me tell you a little bit about my week.

Tuesday was Zone Conference and it was AMAZING. It was President and Sister Rawlings' last one before the head home and we focused a lot on praying always. So Wednesday and Thursday Sister Johnston and I went out and focused 100% on praying always and saw MIRACLES! Two main ones were super cool. 1. We had this potential family's name in our area book, but the problem was that they lived on this island in the middle of no where that we had to take a bus and then walk across this bridge and then we got to their house. So we finally had a chance to get out there and we prayed about what to say to them and really just asked the Lord to help us and it went amazingly well! We knocked on the door and she seemed busy, but we asked if she had 10 minutes (like we had planned) and she said sure! And let us right in! So then her and her husband sat down and said "Ok, you have 10 minutes, what's your message?" Finally! Someone who's willing to listen! So we introduced the Book of Mormon to them and explained it and Moroni's promise and about praying to know if it was true and it was one of the best lessons ever! They were really intent and asked a lot of questions and they have 3 sons who are also interested! It was a family! So yeah. the Lord really helped us testify to them and we're super excited to start working with them more. 

2. We have been trying to get into this Less-active's building for like 4 months, but it's always locked and we've never been able to catch someone walking in or out or something like that. So we weren't planning on stopping by at all, but I just had the thought as we passed her house "Hey, maybe someone will open the door for us now. It's summer, maybe more people are home during the day" So we went to the door and it was locked (as usual) but then I looked through the window and we saw that the back door was wide open! So we quickly ran around the building and walked right in! So now we're standing at her door and we say a thank you prayer and we go to knock on her door and we just hear all this yelling and shouting and a baby crying i think and we debated if we should come back or not. Well, we said another prayer and still felt like we should knock because we had finally been able to get in. So we knocked and this mom answered the door and it ended up being the Less-active lady's daughter. She was holding her little girl so we asked if we could just sing a song to them. She agreed and we sang "Oon lapsi Jumalan" (I'm a child of God) we were able to talk to them and really help bring the spirit into their home and it was a super cool experience. And she also gave us her mom's new address (the less-active) so we're going to stop by her house tonight! So yeah, there was definitely the Lord's hand in that one.

Last night Espoo ward put on a "Music and the Spoken Word" Where lots of different people sang different songs with some poems and stories and scriptures read in between and it was so good! Definitely something we'll have to try here in our ward. And also, Another less-active came with us and loved it! It was a great ending to a great week.

So this Friday are transfer calls. I'm pretty sure I'm staying here in Neitsytpolku with Sisar Johnston, but just to be sure, send all mail to the mission home. This week is also Juhannus (Mid Summer's) and everyone is so excited! Finns love their summer! So we have 2 red days where we have to be indoors or in appointments, but not out walking around so I'll let you know how that goes. It's super bright here now, but I love it! I'm soaking up all the sun I can get! But it's still cold sometimes. If it rains, I have to wear my red jacket because it's too cold with the wet and the wind. But usually I'm okay in just a cardigan or a sweater.

Well, this past year has flown by, but it literally has been the happiest and most rewarding of my life and I'm excited to see where these last 3 transfers will take me! I love you all so much and I hope you have a wonderful summer! I'm off to play frisbee with the district again and then to Tortilla House (my favorite Mexican Restaurant here in Finland) for dinner! Thank you so much for everything :)


Sisar Crandall

President and Sister Rawlings and the Helsinki Temple

View out my window at 6:00 a.m., and some cool clouds

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