Monday, December 29, 2014

Remember This

Well those of you who have been following my emails for the past year and a half have now read about 80 letters from me. Over that time I've written lots of stories, lessons, insights, experiences, and other things I've learned that have helped me and hopefully have helped you too. During that time I've also been studying Preach My Gospel a lot and I've noticed that there is so much to learn and remember that sometimes it is hard to know where to start. Luckily PMG was set up in such a way that on the back cover is a list called "Remember This" as if to say "If you read this entire guide to missionary service and don't get anything else out of it, at least remember this." So, over the past 18 months, if you can't remember anything else I've ever said or done, at least remember this:

1. I love being a missionary

2. I love the people of Finland

3. "Gratitude is a catalyst for all Christlike attributes" (Pres. Uchtdorf) and if can literally make or break your mission. So I'm so grateful for ALL and EVERY experience I've had out here and all the support I've had from home during it all.

4. Have faith that the Lord can work miracles because "If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease" _-PMG pg 10

5. This is the Lord's work and you must "rely on the spirit rather than on your own talents and abilities" -PMG pg 97

6. "When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you won't be disappointed in yourself" -PMG pg 11

7. "When you put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives" -Pres Ezra Taft Benson

8. "Just as vital as what you do, however, is who you are" PMG pg 115. Learning to be like Christ is a lifelong pursuit" "You follow Christ's example - develop His attributes - one action and decision at a time" PMG pg 123 so just be a little better today than you were yesterday

9. "The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can find eternal happiness" PMG pg 11

10 "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ" PMG pg 52

This week was a great one and I have so much to tell you all, but not enough time to type all that I'm thinking so just ask me about it later :)

I love you all! I love my Savior and I'm so grateful for him and his sacrifice for me. Have a wonderful week! 

Sisar Crandall

Caroling in the center with the sisters
Last District Meeting! The whole Tampere District
The sun came out :)

I got a pic on Santa's lap

Monday, December 22, 2014

Endure to the End

Dearest Family and Friends,

 Well. I hit my 18 month mark this week. It came and went and I didn't even notice until my companion mentioned that she hit her 14 month mark. It reminded me of a quote I've heard and actually have posted on my fridge here in Tamper "When you come on a mission, you will either be there to serve time or you will be there to serve the Lord." So then I got thinking, what if I stopped serving before I was released? And what if other people did that as well? What if a bishop, stake president, apostle, or even the prophet stopped serving before they were released? And what if Christ did it as well? What if Christ gave up and didn't finish strong his mission? I mean, it's only a week or 2 right? So does it really matter? Well as this week went on, I spent my personal studies really focused on Christ and what he did the last week of his earthly ministry. I studied what happened starting the Sunday of his last week on earth. I'm sure I missed some, but here's the list of what I came up with:

-Parable of the fig tree
-Cleansing of the temple
-Parable of the two sons
-Parable of the royal marriage feast
-Parable of the wicked husbandmen
-Declaring what is the Greatest Commandment
-The encounter with the widow's mite
-Mount of Olives
-Predictions and signs of the 2nd coming
-Parable of the 10 virgins
-Parable of the talents
-Washing of the Disciples' feet
-Establishing the sacrament
-The Last Supper
-Teaching how to pray tot he Father in Christ's name
-Promising the Holy Ghost
-Parable of the true vine and branches 
-"If ye love me, keep my commandments"
-The Lord's high priestly prayer
-Suffering in Gethsemane for the sins of the world
-Submitting to the Father's will and performing the atonement
-Betrayed by Judas and healed the guard's ear
-Endured unfair trial and mockery, whipping, and torture.
-Carried his cross to Calgary
-Died, was buried, and preached to the spirit in prison
-Rose from the dead

I am filled with gratitude that Christ is a finnisher. Without him enduring all the way to the end and finnishing his mission, we wouldn't have all these glorious scriptures and teachings and doctrines, but more importantly, we would be dead both spiritually and physically. So I have all my life to serve the Lord. I've come to realize that it's not limited by a specific call in a specific area. I can serve the Lord and those in my sphere of influence the rest of my life. Whether that sphere be in Finland, Arizona, Utah, or anywhere else the Lord needs me. Either way, my mission and my purpose are the same to "Invite other to come unto Christ".

So, with all of that being said, here are some of the miraculous things that happened AFTER my "time" was up. 

P IS GETTING BAPTIZED!! We ended up having 3 lessons with her this week and she came to church yesterday again for 3 weeks in a row!! And I rarely ask for specific prayers, but they're really needed for this one. Her baptismal date is this saturday the 27th and that means she can't drink ANY coffee or alcohol this week. PLEASE pray for her this she'll be able to do it. She got a blessing yesterday that should help and her member daughter is coming to stay with her on Wednesday for Christmas so that should help and we call and text and visit and are doing everything in our power and preparing with faith that it will all work out in the end. But she is AMAZING! We come to our lessons and she's already read all the pamphlets and chapters in the book of mormon and the bible that have to do with the topic. She also got the new Relief Society manual for next year (President Benson) and she's already read a majority of it and studied it as well! She's amazing and totally 100% prepared and Sisar Dixon and I haven't really done anything but we're sure enjoying finally seeing some blessings of our work and obedience. They come every body, I promise :)

We had Zone Conference!! It was my last one and I got to see all the sisters one last time so there's some pictures of that. I also made a comment that apparently was SUPER funny (I just meant to whisper it to my companion) and everyone died laughing including President Watson. I'll tell you the whole story about it on skype if you remind me, So I have successfully made President Rawlings, President Watson (both very serious and serene men) , and a random Finn on the street laugh. Goal completed :) 

We caroled on a street corner near the center near the joulutori (christmas market) and someone came up to us and said "Hey, we have a stage for you!" And they put us up on the stage for everyone to hear! It went really well! And all of our black name tags just shined under the stage lights. So there are pictures of that as well.

We worked a TON with less actives and one of them finally likes us! She offered us a ride home and said we could come over next week and made some major breakthroughs!!

We had a GREAT sacrament meeting yesterday!! ALL of our less actives showed up! And ALL the members welcomed and greeted P and she loved it! Last second (literally as the meeting is starting) they ask Sisar Dixon and I to do a musical number. Luckily Sisar Dixon sings AMAZINGLY so we did an accapella (no idea how to spell that) version of "Joulu yö juhla yö" "Silent Night" and everyone loved it. 

We also were able to meet with B and V and A (three other investigators) and had major breakthrough lessons with those as well! I'm super grateful for all the members stepping up and helping us out this week so much even while they're preparing for the holidays. 

So basically, this week was great and I'm so grateful that I'm here and still get to serve. Also, I'm grateful that I have such great examples of finnishers in my life. So I guess the point of this email is that no matter where you are in life right now, in school, on a mission, in work, in our church callings, at home, and just in life in general, remember to endure to the end. And especially this week, remember to be grateful that Christ did as well.

I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week celebrating and testifying about Christ's birth! Merry Christmas! Hyvää Joulua!

Sisar Crandall

Singing in the Joulutori (I'm on the far right in the huge puffy jacket. It was freezing)
Sisar Curtis and all her former companions (including me and Sisar Dayton :))
"Hämeenlinna missionaries" (quotes because we're only there one day a week)

Sisar Ross and I (we matched)
Sisar Owen and I
Sisar Rochette and I eating our cake balls (don't ask...)
Sisar Pack and I

Sisar Forrest and I
Eating Kebab for the last time!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Faith, Obedience, and Role Plays

Hello family! 

Well this week has been a very faith trying one. But you know what they say, "you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith". So that means that this week was also full of lots of witnesses!! Holy cow my testimony has almost been strengthen more in the past week than it has in the past 18 months. It's kinda like when Satan tries to discourage you, you know you must be on the right path. 

So I'll just run through two of my favorite people of all time and then some other experiences that have happened. 

First. P. She's our investigator who's daughter is a member and she's about 65. She's awesome!! I just love her so much! She wants to meet with us at least every other day and immediately acts on our message and is receiving answers like crazy! She's come to church 2 weeks in a row and has a very solid baptismal date for Dec 27th! What a white Christmas that will be? She's given up drinking coffee and studies the scriptures and prays about it all the time all by herself! She's just awesome. It's just really cool to see how willing she is to change once the spirit has started working on her. We had 3 AWESOME lessons this week with her with members and the members were just shocked with how perfectly every lesson has gone. Well when we found P, Sisar Dixon and I committed to not mess it up! So we've planned SO well and role played EVERYTHING! Even phone conversations! Just to make sure we're following the spirit and saying what she needs to hear. Holy cow everything has gone exactly as planned and I'm just amazed by it every time! But I've started to expect it now! If we plan and role play by the spirit, our lessons and contacts and others things will go a lot more as planned and as we want it to! So I've picked my jaw off the ground a couple times and strengthened my faith that YES there and these people and we find them all the time and people are 100% ready to act on this gospel because it's true! and Yes, our lessons will go as we role played because the spirit was with us in our planning! Makes sense if you ask me :)

So then we have H. She's way cool as well. She's the 17 year old in Hämeenlinna. A lot of our investigators are super different from each other, but it's interesting to see how the spirit can still work on all of them. So H has been struggling recently with a couple questions about prophets and commandments and not really understanding the importance of some things. Some we've been addressing her concerns and nothing's really been getting sorted out... until this week that is! Saturday night, H texted us telling us she's been reading and praying and not really getting an answer and still wanting to be baptized and just not sure what to do about it all. So Sisar Dixon and I really prayed and fasted to know what to teach her when we saw her on Sunday. Well this time we changed the way we thought about H and her testimony. She's grown up around the church her whole life (her mom is a member) and knows what the church believes, but has a hard time applying it to her personal life. So instead of asking her what her questions and concerns are, we focus on what she knows to be true.  We both read and studied Elder Holland's talk "Lord, I believe" (We completely owe this idea and the success of this lesson to him) and realized that we've been too focused on figuring out her concerns that she (and us) are loosing sight of what she already knows to be true. So as we started the lesson and read through some of the talk in Finnish, we had her make a list of all the things she KNOWS to be true. We had her first state and hold fast to what she knows and then we'll work on the faith that the rest of the knowledge will come. Well it worked! She wrote a HUGE list of gospel principles she has a testimony of. Like the book of mormon, the power of prayer, love, and God's goodness. She just started tearing up while realizing that maybe she has already received her answer. She yeah, she's still working on some things, but she's progressing right along and will get baptized soon, but she currently doesn't have a date (she needs her dad's permission first) But the important thing is that she's recognizing this progression and even expressed her desire to be baptized again and it just went great! just like we role played :)

So those are the cool experiences with our 2 progressing investigators this week. Other events that happened:

The Joulutori (Christmas market) opened up this week so we enjoyed exploring that on monday (see the pictures)

Ward Christmas Party: Both Tampere wards had a Christmas party together and last minute all the missionaries got roped into playing Lucia and her attendants (It's a swedish christmas thing I think) So there are some pictures of that. The missionaries also acted out the poem "The grinch" and it went great! It's about a missionary who didn't get any presents for christmas last year so he goes around stealing all the other missionaries presents. But the missionaries don't really care because they have each other and the gospel and the grinch learns all about giving presents all out of love :)  The other skits were HILARIOUS and it was so fun to see the Finns loosen up a little bit. We even had a cool potential and our less active come so that night was a success!

On Sunday was the Ward Christmas Song Night. The missionaries also got roped into singing a song last minute and it went great! I'll show it to you all sometime but it's called "Tulkoon Joulu" And we had a potential that came to that as well! His name is J and we met him caroling in the town center last week and invited him to the concert and he showed up! Honestly, Siasr Dixon and I talk to and invite 100s of people a week to different things so when he showed up and waved to us, we didn't ever remember who he was! But after talking to him for a sec we figured it all out. But out of the TONS of people we invited to that night, he was probably (in my mind) the least likely to come because when we gave him an invitation, he crumpled it up and threw it in his pocket. Well the Lord works in mysterious ways and we taught him at the church and got his phone number and we'll go tell him all about the book of mormon! Cool stuff!

Other than that this week was great! Sisar Dixon and I are still just trying to be 100% obedient and are enjoying it whether we immediately see the blessings or not. FInland is awesome and I just LOVE Tampere! I hope you all have a wonderful week preparing for Christmas and enjoy the real spirit of the season! I love you all!

Sisar Crandall

Sisar Dixon and I at the Joulutori
Still at the Joulutori with the nutcrackers :)
Driving through Finland :) I LOVE our 45 minute drive to Hämeenlinna each week!

Us singing in Finnish and Swedish around Lucia
The sisters with Tanya
Tanya and the Elders

WE thought we looked like the thing on the door... maybe not...
I love the snow :)
We both tried moose sausage. Pretty good actually!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Gospel Glow and the Grinch

Hello family and friends!!

Hope you're all having a beautiful sunny December day where ever you are around the world! A member told us that the news came out with the statistics that the entire month of November , we had only 16 HOURS OF SUNLIGHT. Yep. That's less sun then we get in ONE DAY in the summer here in Finland. So yes, I really miss the sun :) and the warmth it brings :) but good thing we have the light of the gospel! First off I want to start off with a cool story:

Yesterday we were on the bus coming to church with our investigator P! (I'll tell you about her in a sec). As Sisar Dixon and I got on the bus we both noticed a girl sitting there who just looked so different and stood out for some reason we couldn't really tell. Then both of us had the thought, "She looks like she could be a member" But since we were with our investigator, we all sat down together and rode to church. I also know all the members here in Tampere, so I just dismissed the thought. Well, when we got off the bus, she got off too! She was going to church! And she WAS a member! She is from Rovaniemi, living in Helsinki, and came to church in Tampere. It was probably one of the first times where this "light of the gospel'" things was SO obvious to me, It's a very different culture here in Finland. The people really aren't spiritual at all and somehow it shows in their countenances. This bus was PACKED full of Finnish people, all dressed the same, and all just sitting their on the bus, but she specifically stood out. And now I realize just how obvious it all is. If a hundred Finnish people were standing in a line and one of them was a member with the light of the gospel, I could easily pick out which one it was. So I really hope that's what the Finns see when we get on a bus happy and smiling and talking to everyone. You can't help but be attracted to it! 
So other things that happened this week,

-We went on exchanges with the Turku Sisaret. Sister Pack and Sister Forrest. They are both awesome. I was with Sisar Pack who isn't too much younger than me in the mission and we had a blast. I got to meet a couple who had just gotten married and baptized and they're way cool! I love meeting recent converts and seeing their zeal for the gospel :) 
-We've been working with H who lives in Hämeenlinna. We're trying to help her still receive a testimony of the prophet and how this knowledge that there is a living prophet helps us. She still has a date for Dec 20th, but it's not as solid as before. So just pray for her.
-P came to church! Her daughter is a member in Turku and we met her at the bus stop and she became our investigator! We had a great lesson last week and have another one planned for today! She really understands that she needs to study and pray and figure this out for herself which is awesome because she's really willing to. She also has a husband who is kinda sick and not that interested, but we'll work on him as well.
-So our ward Christmas party is coming up on Saturday the 13th and the missionaries (8 of us) were asked to do a little skit in it.  So after some brainstorming, we came up with THE GRINCH!! Slight problem though... The grinch doesn't exist in Finnish.... Well no problem for Sisar Crandall and Sisar Dixon! We wrote our own! So this week for part of our language study, we've been working on writing The Grinch (Missionary Style) in Finnish. AND IT RHYMES! So just coll me Dr. Seuss everyone. Dad, I TOLD you all those days of memorizing the grinch movie would come in handy! It sounds AWESOME! And we went over it at district meeting last week and everyone loved it! I'll send home a copy (It'll be in Finnish though...) next week with pictures letting you all know how it went. Just know that I'm SUPER excited for it! 

-The Joulutori (Christmas market) opened up here last week so all the missionaries went and caroled there! 6 missionaries sang while 2 contacted and handed out "He is the Gift" cards and taught people and just spread some Christmas spirit. I was one of the 2 contacting (I kinda got sick this week and lost my voice a bit... not the point.) and had some interesting contacts. One man was very interested and we ended up teaching the whole restoration with "joy to the World" being sung in the background. Another woman came up to me and said, (in English) "Are you Christians?" It kinda startled me because it was in English, but I turned around and smiled and said "Yes!" She looked at me for about 3 seconds kinda confused, got a little scared, and then yelled (still in English) "No, you're not! You're going to Heck!" (Except for the fact that she didn't say heck...) She walked away and I honestly started laughing to myself. I had gotten that earlier on my mission, but it was always in Finnish and mixed in with a lot of other words I don't understand... but for some reason, hearing it in english just made me smile and feel reassured that I must be doing something right if there are people against it!

-We had an AWESOME lesson with L this week. She's out investigator who knows some members and has a husband and 2 little girls who are ADORABLE! Her girls were sick so we couldn't meet again last week, but she's been reading and praying and shows lots of potential so we're really excited about her!

Well we had LOTS of members out with us and literally did EVERYTHING exactly by the book and by PMG and are really working hard to do everything in our power to help these miracles come to pass and then to give everything else over to the Lord. It's been a little rough number wise, but Sisar Dixon and I really feel like we're doing what we need to be so I guess that's what matters in the end.

Well I'm off to do some Christmas shopping at the market! Have a wonderful week remembering the true meaning of Christmas and that "He is the Gift" I love you all!!

Sisar Crandall

Peppermint Chocolate with the Turku sisters. Sisar  Pack and Sisar Forrest

Monday, December 1, 2014

HE is the GIFT!

Well everyone, What a week! So much to tell you! Thanksgiving and my birthday were wonderful! I had a very American Macaroni and Cheese on Thursday with my companion, chocolate chip pancakes and a thanksgiving dinner on Friday (made by Sisar Watson) and then a full blown thanksgiving dinner on Saturday at a member's house! Other things that happened this week:
-Was asked to give a talk in church right before it started. Used to freak me out, but now I'm used to it.
-Found 4 NEW INVESTIGATORS (I'll tell you how below)
-Got to see both Sisar Howell and Sisar Johnston when I was down in Helsinki
-Did language study with 2 less active members!
-Had a relief society christmas party. It was a Filipino and Finnish party and the food was great!
-Got to go to the temple on my birthday and see the 2nd new film! So cool! 

Okay now I'll just skip to the most important things.

On Friday we had MLC at President's house in Helsinki and it basically changed the way I do missionary work. Kinda wish I would've had some of these realizations about 17 months ago... but now that I get it, Sisar Dixon and I will be focusing on working with the sisters and applying all that we can over the next month! Basically I just haven't had enough faith that EVERY SINGLE PERSON I talk to will accept this message and be baptized. But not anymore!! After MLC on Friday, Sisar Dixon and I went out and talked, literally, to EVERYONE. As we were waiting at a bus stop with about 8 people, we talked to every one! And then once we got on the bus, I think we each moved 3-4 times to talk to every person on the bus! It probably looked comical to some people, but it's working!! I've always been passionate about missionary work, but this week just lit that on fire!! Why you may ask? Well it all comes back to this "He is the gift" video. 
If you haven't seen it yet, it's the new initiative put on by the church. SO GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW! 

So Sisar Dixon and I are trying to get every single person in Tampere to see this video. We decided to completely change our mindset and just go out and talk with everyone and expect that everyone was going to accept the message. It changed the way we did missionary work. In just 3 hours we taught 8 lessons, found 2 new investigators (and a really sweet potential investigator who IS going to call me), went and taught our investigator, and gave out 25 pass along cards with the "He is the gift" video on it and every single person said they would watch it. It was a pretty miraculous day.
And one of the bigger problems here in Finland is that every single person we go and try to talk to has head phones in and is listening to music and scrolling through facebook. It does not matter if the person is 85 or 5. EVERYONE has a smart phone and EVERYONE has headphones in. It's really annoyed me in the past, but this week we turned it to our advantage :)

We go up to someone and ask them "Hey, is that a smart phone?" Duh it always is. "So does it have youtube on it?" Yes. it always does. "Hey well I came all the way from American to tell you about this video. It's about 3 minutes long and the bus comes in about 7 minutes so you should watch it." And they kinda look at us confused... but then they pull it up! And watch it right then and there! I mean, it'd be easier if we were in a mission with an Ipad, but we make do! We've had some interesting contacts, but the video is so uplifting and about Christ that no one has ever regretted watching it. And then they agree to let us come back and tell them more!! We've only done this for ONE day and it's been amazing! So, point of this story is: Go watch the video. Share it with everyone on facebook. Post it through twitter. Email the link to everyone. and then INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO LEARN MORE. 

It really is such a special time to be testifying of the Savior and the true gift of Christmas. 
So just remember everyone. HE IS THE GIFT. 

I love you all so much! I'm grateful this season for the opportunity to be a missionary and I hope you all have a great December!

Sisar Crandall


Our own thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Mac and Cheese and a salad :)
Thanksgiving Dinner in Helsinki with President and Sisar Watson
Back with Sisar Hubner and Nielsen

I got a package from Justin and Ally . . . and we made turkeys!
Finland temple at night
Gingerbread house from the Young Women

Best birthday cake ever made by Sisar Howell!