Monday, August 25, 2014

Niin Suuri Oot

Hello Family and Friends!

Wow I just feel so much love from everybody every time I get on here! Okay this week was AWESOME! No idea where to start...

This week we hit up the Sea Life aquarium here in Helsinki with the other sisters. It was super fun and cool so look for some pictures of that. It's also been raining non stop for a couple of days, so the pictures of us soaking wet are from that :) We also went to a tour of the parliament building (Helsinki is a tourist place if you can't tell) so that was fun! Pictures coming of that as well!

We were able to go do baptisms with our recent convert, H!! and then do an endowment session with G!!! She went to the temple! It was such an amazing experience! So I walked into the temple with Sisar Johnston and Sisar Andersen (An american member who so graciously gave us a ride there when we missed the train... Don't worry, she was going to the temple anyway) and then we go change and so we're all in there and we're all wearing white and I see G and she just looks SO happy! We hug and cry and she was so glowing! She had been waiting for this moment for a year now and it was kind of a surreal moment for all of us. But she made it! She's from the Philippines so everything was in Tagalog (with headphones for everyone in Finnish) and the spirit was so strong! I just loved it! Another one of those huge "THIS is why I'm on a mission" moments. I think I have one of those at least every day but being with H to do baptisms again and then in the temple with G were 2 HUGE ones this week. I think sometimes I'm too blind or too prideful to see them but then the Lord opens my eyes to the obvious ones and I'm able to put everything into perspective again. 

We were able to work with our AWESOME less actives again. S came to church again! 3 weeks in a row, but who's counting! And we finally got some appointments with ones we've been trying to get in to and another one set up for tonight and we're so excited! I've been praying and fasting a lot to be able to find new investigators, but I've now shifted my focus to knowing what the Lord needs us to do here in Neitsytpolku right now. And it's ended up being to strengthen the members and less actives. So that's become our focus and it's turned out super well! 

The main thing was through the ward activity this week! It was a Music and the Spoken Word fireside entitled "Niin Suuri Oot" "How great Thou Art" It went awesome!! We had 11 musical performances from various members and missionaries and non members! Including some guitar and violin! and then 4 poems mingled throughout from some members and it went so well! A lot of non members and potentials came to support us singing and then we ended the night with brownies and berries and whipped cream! It was a huge success!! I even had a member of the bishopric come up to me and say "Wow Sisar Crandall, there are like 70 people here..." He was pleasantly surprised! It's just kind of been the deal the past couple of years that ward activities are really lame and no one wants to come or invite their friends to them, but the past couple of ones (planned by the missionaries) have been awesome!! I attribute this ALL to the Lord. Seriously, things were pretty hectic, but a bunch of tender mercies and miracles made it all possible. So I think the ward is finally catching on and is excited to get their friends involved as well! So yeah, that had kinda been mine and Sisar Johnston's project the past couple of weeks so we're glad it all pulled through! I think we'll let the other sisters plan the next one though...

Well this week we have a packed day today and tomorrow and Wednesday already with hopefully some more plans coming later this week! Oh, we also had an awesome lesson with a member with our investigator I. We watched the Restoration DVD and he had some questions about the priesthood and the difference between a reformation and a restoration, but it went really well! He's going through a death in the family right now so we've really been praying that he'll be able to find comfort through the gospel and the Book of Mormon. He's been reading and praying everyday though so we're excited for that!

And in case anyone has forgotten, Elder Bednar is coming September 12th!! So cool! We're having a MISSION CONFERENCE! Which means ALL the missionaries are getting together here in Helsinki! So fun! Transfers are also THIS WEEK. So next week I'll have some big news for you all! It's likely that I stay, but I've been here 6 months already so it's also just as likely that I leave so I'll be just as surprised as all of you are! I LOVE Neitsytpolku and the ward here and serving in a big city, but I think I'd fall in love with anywhere I serve. So I'll go where the Lord wants me to go! And I'm excited to find that out on Friday. I'm 95% sure though that I won't be with Sisar Johnston anymore :( We're super bummed, but we're going to go all out this week and end our 19 week companionship on a high note! Finnishing strong!

Well I love you all! Keep on praying and spreading the gospel and I'll do the same! :)
Sisar Crandall
Us with Sisar Locke (A senior Sister missionary who we LOVE who went home this week)
Me soaking wet
Sisar Johnston and I loving the rain!
After Baptisms with H

The parliament building!! LOTS of steps...
Us 4 sisters again.
Me and Sisar Johnston :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vksi vuosi Suomessa....

Rakkaat family and friends,
For those of you who don't have Google translate, the subject line says "One year in Finland" Yep. One year ago this week I arrived in this BEAUTIFUL land. And man, what a crazy year it's been! I could spend DAYS telling you all about Finland, but maybe I'll just tell you about my week :)

It started on Monday with a dinner with the senior missionaries (They love to feed us) and then an FHE with the American family, The Andersens, and our recent convert H. It was way fun! We had a "fish" themed FHE and then ate rice krispy treats. They were DELICIOUS! One of the best things I've had in Finland because they tasted to American!! I miss marshmallows... But that's not the point! We talked a lot about enduring to the end and how we need to keep progressing our whole life and not fall back into old habits or routines. We read about Jesus' disciples and after Jesus left them and it was their job to run the church, they went back to fishing because that was their old job and that's what they knew how to do! So even though they had been with the Savior for three years, they still fell back into their old routine when there wasn't any more guidance. (And then they all went on missions, but that's beside the point) I guess what I'm trying to say is that one never gets too high up in the church or "too converted" to the gospel that they need to stop actively trying to be better and learn more. Pretty good lesson for us as well as H.

We've been focusing a LOT of service again this week. It's basically what we do if there are no investigators to teach. And the more I've been praying and looking for opportunities to serve, the more they pop up! Who would've thought! We were able to heart attack some members in the ward who really deserved our thanks and deliver cookies and sing to lots of people and clean lots of houses and windows and just go around doing good. And even though we weren't "teaching" as you might say, it's been some of the best missionary experiences.

But our teaching did go up this week as well! We found 2 NEW INVESTIGATORS! Yay! One is a woman Sisar Johnston talked to on the tram and we set up a time to give her a Book of Mormon and a church tour and we're super excited for her! and the other one was a MIRACLE! One of the biggest ones I've had on my mission. I think I used to be pretty dumb and blind sometimes to all the blessings of the Lord because they've been pretty obvious recently! Here's his story:

So we're walking through the train station to get some new bus and tram schedules (It's fall now so all the schedules changed) They we run into this man who kinda looks at our name tags like 4 times (pretty normal thing for us actually) and then stops us and says "Hey! I've talked to some of your brothers before! I met with them a lot but then I lost my phone and we lost contact! I want to meet with you two!" So it turns out he met with an Elder Ingersoll over a year ago here in Neitsytpolku (Elders lived in our apartment before last summer). So we were able to meet with him TWICE this week! We gave him a church tour and another Book of Mormon on Friday with H and it went great! He agreed to be baptized when we received his answer, but didn't want to set a date so we're working on that. He's SO willing to learn and read and already asked us to suggest good chapters and we're meeting with him lots this week as well so I'll keep you updated on that! His name is I.

We've also been focusing a TON on the Less-actives. And guess what?!! It's working! Hehe not that I ever doubted it would, but it's nice to see some results. S CAME TO CHURCH AGAIN! That's TWO weeks in a row! She's solid! She's an older lady and when we told a man in the ward who has been her home teacher for YEARS that she was at church (apparently they didn't see each other yesterday and he was out of town last week) he FREAKED out! He didn't believe us! He said they've talked about coming back to church 500 times and she's never came! And he was so happy that he hugged us! haha so that was super cool to see his excitement!

We just started meeting a lot with Sisar F. She's from Russia and speaks ok English and not a lot of Finnish even though she's married to a Finn so there's a little of a language barrier. But we went over and got to know her and she warmed up to us instantly! A lot of the other missionaries who have met with her told us she's sometimes "cold" just because she's an older Russian lady, but she LOVED Sisar Johnston. Sisar Johnston really does have a way of connecting with people. It makes them like her instantly and it helps so much in missionary work! So we get to go back to her again this week and we're super excited!

We also get to start teaching a less-active 7-year-old boy because his mom wants him to be able to get baptized in a couple months when he's 8. We have a lesson with them today and we sure had fun brainstorming fun games for that one!
Other than that we're just focusing on our ward activity "Music and the Spoken Word" Sisar Johnston and I are involved in 3 songs with some other people singing with us and one of them just being us two. It's cool to see the ward come together and have something to invite their friends too.

Well this week went pretty well! Nothing at all like we planned, but everything we needed! Love it how it always works out. This week we do have some awesome plans as well! We're going to the zoo! SOO EXCITED! We're also going to the temple this week! G's temple date from last Friday got switched to this Thursday so you'll have to wait til next week for that update!

But I love you all so much! I seriously feel so many prayers and so much love every week and I'm so grateful for it! Thank you all! I'm super excited to finnish this transfer strong! and in case anyone is every wondering, I LOVE being a missionary :) Hope you all have a great week!

Sisar Crandall

Hanging out at Munkkiniemi beach!
Me eating Sushi!
Birthday with G.
Us and H in the rain
Sisar johnston and I coming home SOAKED (Ok it rained a lot this week and it's raining right now too...)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miracles Happen!

Hello family and friends! Well this week was a great one! Let me tell you all about it!

It started when Sisar Johnston and I started a little competition. I got the idea from Camille and Melissa and Joseph. So we each have 6 goals that we want to do and each day we try to do all 6 goals and we get points for each one with a prize after 3 weeks! So we've been working on that a lot and it's gone really well! We each have as one of our 6 goals the goal to talk to someone on every tram no matter how short amount of time we're on there. So we've been talking with everyone! And it's been really fun! I was able to have some awesome conversations with lots of Finns, but also people from Morocco, Philippines, Hungary, America, Norway, Germany and lots of other places I can't even remember. Finland is surprisingly diverse, especially here in Helsinki. I even got to speak some Swedish! Ok, not really. I just turned to a lady and asked how her day was going in Finnish and she responded in Swedish which would've been no big deal for any Finn (they're almost all fluent in Finnish, Swedish, and English). So I just said "Oh, Sorry, I don't speak Swedish" In Swedish and the conversation died... I'll keep working on that... Anyway! The goals have been going really well!

We've also been struggling to find new investigators. Our teaching pool has gone pretty low so we've just been focusing on what we CAN do here to strengthen this area and this ward. So we really prayed and started focusing on the Less Actives and on serving the members and it's gone GREAT! So even though we've not really teaching a lot of investigators right now, we've seen some miracles!

And a lot of you are probably wondering how our "August 9th" baptism went. Well, we didn't have a baptism on Saturday, but we still saw MIRACLES! The less-active lady S who we've been working with a lot CAME TO CHURCH! And she stayed for ALL 3 HOURS and she loved it! SO COOL! We went to pick her up for church just like we had the past 4 weeks and I was pretty sure she wasn't going to come because we hadn't been able to reach her a lot that week. Like she hadn't responded to any calls or texts. But we went to pick her up anyway and before we even rang the doorbell she flung open the door all dressed and ready with her shoes on and bag in hand! My jaw literally dropped as I stared at her and just mumbles out "Oletko valmis?!" "Are you ready?!" "Olen!" "I am!" So cool! So we sat down to say prayer before we headed out and I just started crying because I was so happy! The mission really has turned me into a baby... But I didn't even care because I was so happy!! So we rode the tram all the way to church and it was amazing! DEFINITELY one of the best days of my mission. Seriously, all the hard work with less actives not wanting to meet or come to church or read their scriptures is TOTALLY WORTH IT just for this one lady who came to church. I really have come to love her so much as I've seen the light of the gospel come back into her eyes. 

But wait. There's more. Our other Less Active E that we've been working with (the girl from China that I talked about last week) CAME TO CHURCH TOO!! She's not quite as re-activated as S is yet, but she's getting there! And we already have plans to meet later this week and I'm so excited! 

The Lord truly does answer prayers in his own way and in his own time and all though we were praying and fasting to bring someone into the church by means of baptism, the Lord still helped us do what we needed to do this weekend and S is here to stay! We'll probably walk with her again the next couple of weeks, but she's solid and I'm so happy!!

Well, that was the highlight, but here are some other random things we did this week:
Monday and Tuesday: helped the Thelins (an older missionary couple here) pack and clean up their apartment to go back to America :( I'm really going to miss them! There's a picture I'll send with them.

Wednesday: ZONE CONFERENCE IN HAAGA! We all met and talked a lot about our name tags and our calls as missionaries and our personal title of liberties. Way cool stuff that I'll write you all about.

Thursday: Natural History Museum! We took our P-day time from helping the Thelins move on Mondayand headed to a museum with the district! Pretty fun stuff! 

Friday: We just had a family from Sri Lanka move into our ward from another city in Finland and they invited us over for their 1 year old daughter's birthday! Fun stuff with some delicious food!

Saturday: We stumbled upon a International Foods Market in the center while meeting with our recent convert from Estonia A so we grabbed a snack and had fun there! Then we played volleyball with some less actives and recent converts and other missionaries and then by a weird set of circumstances ended up going to the Helsinki World Dog Show. Sounds weird I know, but it was some way cool stuff! So there are some pictures from that as well.

I'm also sad to report that I was SO excited to have my old companion Sisar Curtis come stay with us this week because her and her companion had training, but now they're not coming :( So yeah, no crazy Crandall and Curtis adventures to report on.
We're looking forward to a great week though! We get to go to the temple with G (A recent convert) to get her endowments on Friday! So excited! Also, a HUGE shout out to Hermana Evans who gets home this week. I'm so extremely proud of her and all the awesome work she's done in Chile! I love you Hanna!
Okay okay, Sorry this letter is all over the place, but that's basically the life of a missionary. I just hope you all know that no matter how many ups and downs we have here in the mission field or just in life in general that the gospel is always constant. The promises and blessings never change and it's that firmness that's keeping me going. I love you all and I love this gospel. I'm praying for you all to have a safe week. Thanks for everything
Sisar Crandall

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Am Ammon!

Hello there!

Well this week was surprisingly busy, but for some reason I can't remember a thing we did so we'll see... I think I'll just talk about all the people we've been working with a lot recently

First, H is doing really well! We had a fhe with her at the church! We had spaghetti and some other delicious food and learned all about prophets and Joseph Smith History and General Conference and Thomas S. Monson and it went great! The ward is really reaching out to her now and she even helped us and the other sisters prepare our Relief Society lesson for Sunday.

Second, G is going to the temple! She got baptized one year ago on August 15th, right before I came into the country. So now we get to go through the temple with her! We've been teaching her all about temples and going through that "preparing to enter the holy house of the Lord" book and it's been going awesome! so next Friday I get to experience that and I'm so excited!

Third, We've been working with an older less-active lady named S and Man I love that woman so much. She is so sweet and so dear and has such a testimony and apparently just feels like she's been gone too long to ever come back. We went to pick her up for church last Sunday (she didn't end up coming) And she said "I thought after me not coming last week you two would have just given up on me" I was slightly taken back by her comment because I don't think she realized how precious she is in God's eyes and thus in our eyes. She is a daughter of God and HE will never give up on her which means that WE will never give up on her. So trust me, she will be coming to church sometime very soon and when that day happens, I'm just going to cry because it's been a year long journey, but she's ready! It reminded me of that quote by Elder Holland that goes something like "It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines."How true that is. 

Fourth, We've been working with T a lot. She's the one who really struggles leaving her house, but we now have her reading and praying everyday and this week we walked all the way to the bank together so she could get some financial things in order so she can pay her tithing! She's making HUGE steps and it seriously is something that even 4 months ago when I was with Sisar Curtis I never thought was possible. But she is progressing so fast and the Lord really can change and soften and heal people's hearts! She's getting there!

Our last LA we've been working a lot with is E. She's a young girl from China who joined the church here in Finland. She ended up getting baptized because her other friend got baptized too and the Elder were nice and she felt like it was the right thing to do so she just did it and then fell away immediately. Kinda sad actually. So we've started over with her almost as an investigator. We've spent about 3 lessons on prayer and the last one was on How to read the Book of Mormon. But she's willing to put all of these things to the test and see if it'll make a difference and she's WAY open to learning more and she always asks "okay what are you guys teaching me today?" It's really cute actually. And last time she bought us shakes from Burger King too so yeah, I think she likes us :)

So yeah, LOTS of awesome things going on. We also had a BREAKTHROUGH yesterday! Well, backstory. Our teaching pool (investigator wise) is pretty small. Lots of people are out of town and we talk to lots of people and have great potentials who just cant seem to commit to finding out if this is really true. So I was reading a Liahona article about Ammon. And how he was such a great missionary and I was just thinking "Holy cow If I could just testify as Ammon did, this entire country would get baptized" But then it goes on to point out that Ammon's first responsibility was to serve the King and take care of the sheep. So I thought "Well, since we don't really have people to teach, I'll just focus on the Less-actives and strengthening the ward here and going about doing service." So Sisar Johnston and I talked about this and prayed about it and it's about 9 in the morning and as soon as we finnished our prayer, the phone rang! It was a brother in the ward asking if we could fill in to teach the Finnish Adult Sunday School class on Sunday (today was Friday) So I said sure! Sisar Johnston kinda looked at me like "What.." But we both knew we had just prayed for it so we better accept our answer! And it turned out to be such a blessing! So Sisar Johnston and I got to teach the Finnish Sunday School all about Proverbs (LOTS of new vocab...) and then the 4 sisters in the ward taught Relief Society too! My brain and mouth hurt from all the Finnish, but it went great! For some reason, something just clicked with all the members. They're finally realizing that we're here to HELP them do missionary work, not just drag them along to lessons. I think they're finally catching the spirt of it and Im so excited!

So I've learned a lot about what the Lord really wants me and my companionship to do here in Neitsytpolku and I'm determined to spend the rest of the transfer doing it! We're trying to trust in the Lord 100% because I definitely would've messed up this work months ago if I was just out here on my own.

We're still preparing hard for our baptismal date on the 9th of August and just praying that we'll know what to do for that. 

Thank you for all your love and support! I'm sending some cool pictures too! We got to go to the COOLEST art museum this week so some of the pics are from that. I love you all so much! I love this work and even though it's frustrating at times and i'm always tired it's by far the happiest I've ever been and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else :)

Sisar Crandall

Me walking out of this giant thing of ribbons
Sisar Johnston and I in the ribbons
Me inside of a Russian Orthodox church