Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hey Everyone!!‏

Hey everyone!!!
So it turns out the email that I thought I wrote last week didnt get sent and got deleted! But all of last week was basically 3 days at the mission home for training, and then we went to Tampere for stake conference which was way cool! They rented out a big stadium type thing because the Stake Center in Tampere cant fit everyone! Last Wednesday I also got to go through the Helsinki Temple for the first time. It was SOO beautiful I loved it!!!  Such an amazing temple!
But this week has been good! We have been doing a lot of teaching. Right now were teaching this girl from China who has come to church three weeks in a row!!  She is progressing well. Another really cool experience is we were coming home yesterday when we walked by this lady and just said hi. But as she was walking away we felt impressed to go and talk to her!! So we turned around and went and talked to her!! Turns out her daughter died a few years ago and she has been really anxious about that, so we told her about the PelastusSunnitellma, or the plan of salvation!! It has been great!!  But change calls are this week! Its crazy!! Time has moved here so fast. Other then that its all good up here!
Love ya everyone! Were going to a carnival for Pday so I dont have as much time to write! Thanks for all the love and support!!!

Vanhin Ford

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Vanhin Ford Letter

Hey everybody!
So Im writing this week a little earlier because I have interum tomorrow which is basically a thing where all the new missionaries go back to the mission home in Helsinki and have a 3 day training session which will be super fun! Ill get to see all the people in my MTC group again which is going to be super fun! 
This week has been good, Wednesday I went on splits with two other Elders from Jyväskyla, Elder Smith and Elder Kontinen. Elder Kontinen is a native fin, so his finnish is super good.  He has an experience just like in President Monsons talk "Standing alone" that he told me about.  So in Finland its required that when your 18 you have to serve a year or two in the finnish army.  On sunday everyone was lined up and they were calling to see what religion everybody was.  They would shout, if your catholic stand up!  Then they would do that with the listed religions, and then they said all other religions stand up. 3 people stood up including him, but the two others were Jehovah Witness so he was the last one standing. They then called on him in front of the whole army crowd and asked what religion he was. Im part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was his response.  I just thought that was the coolest story, and President Monson just had an exact talk like that, except he had like two other mormons behind him.  Anyway just remember where you stand. 
So one of our investigators from China came to church today which was super great! She had a great time even though it was hard for her to understand the translation into English.  We have translators at our church because we have a few people here that only speak english so they have a translator in the back and they all have headsets which is cool.
This week I was reading in Elder Bednars talk "Our burdens made light". A passage stuck out to me, and is said "As we come to know the Enabling Power of Jesus Christ more, instead of asking God to change our circumstances according to our will, we will pray for the strength to learn from, grow, and overcome our current situation". My goal has been not to only just pray for answers to my questions, but to go out and try my best to have those questions answered.  For works without faith is dead.  If parents did everything for there kids, the kids would learn nothing. Sometimes we dont like to see the kids mess up and get hurt because they try on there own, but thats how they learn and grow.  However, the parents are always there lovingly giving support and occasionally stepping in to help them when the kids cant help themselves. Its the same thing with ourselves and Jesus Christs Atonement. We sometimes mess up, and without his atonement we our helpless.  Sometimes we ask for guidance or answers and feel like we get none, but sometimes God wants us to act first, and then he will help us. Its only through that, that we learn and grow.  One of my favorite quotes is "He who never makes a mistake, misses a great many opportunities to learn and grow", or another is "The only people who dont stumble on roadblocks, are the ones sitting down".  I just remember President Uchtdorfs talk about how church is a spirit hospital. We are either growing our testimony, or were not. Theres never a point where we just sitdown and it stays idle. We always have to be acting to grow it. If not then we are moving backwards instead of forwards.  That is why Jesus Christ atonement is so essential, because he allows us to overcome those mistakes and to keep growing.
Anyway hope everyone has a solid week!

Vanhin Ford

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TerveTuloa everybody!!

Hey everybody!! 
Been a super good week with lots of miracles!!  So last week around this time Vanhin Findley and I saw a dwindling investigator pool so we set some goals and went to work. Well now we have 6 new investigators, hopefully a 7th, 8th, and 9th by tommorrow!! The Lord really does bless us when we have faith in him and put to action our faith.  Last Wednesday I got to do splits with Vanhin Stimpson who is a Zone Leader in Oulu. It was super good and he is saw a great missionary and I learned a lot from him. He is such a good teacher with a lot of patience. He knows Hebrew because he studied it from High School and can still speak it super well. He is just a genius with Languages.  We found an investigator that day who is super cool, that we have been meeting with.  The man who walked into our church last week because the Catholic church was closed has been progressing super well. He came to general conference and loved it!  He is such a kind old man who lives out in the Finnish countryside right on the edge of a beautiful lake with an island right in the middle of it. He lives on a farm so Vanhin Findley and I have a ton of serving oppotunities! I really have a lot of faith in him, he is such an amazing guy. I cant understand everything he is saying but I can feel his love.   Another cool thing that happened this week is Vanhin Findlay and I were walking home one night when we ran into a boy who was 14 years old. We started talking to him but found out he was deaf. So we whipped out our notebook and introduced ourselves. He still was a bit confused but we showed him the Book of Mormon and invited him to read it.  He said he started to understand what we wanted him to do.  He was really initially confused and sort of scared at first because he couldnt understand what we were saying.  But by the end of our 20 minute conversation he had a huge smile on his face and he gave us the address of his house. When we were walking away he had a huge smile on his face and he called out to us again to say goodbye. It was just a really heartwarming experience.  A few days ago we went and visited his family and they warmly welcomed us. We had a great lesson with them, and got a return appointment which was great.  So are prayers were definately answered with the investigators.  If you have faith, anything is possible according to the Lords will.  Faith is the bases off which miracles happen. Not the other way around, miracles dont happen and then we get faith. We need faith first and then miracles are wrought.  In Mosiah Chapter 27 Verse 14, and angel visited Alma the Younger to stop him according to the FAITH of his Dad, and other church members prayers.  It is according to our faith.  
So as a missionary I found out that General Conference is bigger then Christmas. There was a Ton of SUPER good talks, with a lot of good notes taken. You know the worlds getting into a sad condition when an Apostle of the Lord has to tell people not to text a each other to go on dates, but to man up and call them or go and talk to them haha. When I first got to Finland I heard a statistic that Finland was the Number 1 phone consumer per person in the world which basically means they have the most people that use phones. I didnt believe this at first, but now I really do. Everybody is on phones here, and sometimes it can be sad because people miss so much in the world around them and talking and meeting to people.  Now that I dont have a phone to use I see how much of an attachment I got to my phone, and how it can become such a habit to check for texts or status updates.  Theres nothing wrong with any of that, but when people spend so much time, so much effort on relationships with people through phones, or people compare other people and how great those peoples lives are compared to theres, then problems arise.  There was a talk by President Uchtdorf that talked about how people make things look much better then they are. He used the analogy of the Queen floating down the river and the people on the bank set up fake towns to make it look like they were productive. Unfortunately that same concept can happen a lot on social media and people make there lives look really good, which makes others jealous and people judge. What we should instead do is focus our efforts into serving the Lord and helping people around us, that is how we have a most successful life.  Not by comparing to other people.  
I was a little concerned I would have to watch Conference in Finnish, but luckily in another room they set up in English so that was good.  One thing Ive learned is Finnish people do not understand american and english sarcasm, because a lot of there vocabulary doesnt use those sarcastic words.  When I was watching President Monsons talk about when he was interviewed by his Stake President I realized how much sarcasm and humor he had and wondered if the Finns were getting any of it haha.  
But im noticing I am able to follow what people are saying a lot more easily now and what they say which is good. Its kind of nice since most Finns know English, if you dont know a word you can ask them what it is, and they understand.  Some people even prefer to talk in english, but we want to speak in finnish, so it ends up with Two American missionaries talking in Finnish, while the person on the street is talking in English haha.  Another cool experience we had is we were tracting at the end of the day and we came to a home with Russians.  They Didnt speak any English or Finnish, so we showed them the Easter video in Russian.  That didnt work, so we ended up on Google Translate going back and forth with them haha.  It was funny.  They were a nice older couple. I just dont know how you would get around in Finland though without knowing English or Finnish, because not that many people here speak Russian, unless they are russian.  
Anyway this week I have been really focusing on the small and simple things in life, and the many blessings which god has given me. I want to share a poem Dave Griffiths back at home shared with me in a Dear Elder he sent me.
The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read, beneath the long, staggly branches of an old willow tree.   Disillusioned by life, with a reason to frown, for the world was intent on getting me down. 
And if that werent enough to ruin my day, a young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.  He stood right before me with his head tilted down, and said with great excitement, Look what I have found!
In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, with its petals all worn, not enough rain, or too little light.  Wanting him to take his dead flower, and go off to play, I faked a small smile, and then shifted away
But instead of retreating, he sat next to my side, and placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted suprise, It sure smells pretty and its beautiful too, thats why I picked it, Here its for you!
Instead of him placing, the flower in my hand, he held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed, for the first time, that weed-toting boy could not see. He was blind.
I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun, as I thanked him for picking, the very best one. Your welcoime he smiled, and then ran off to play, unaware of the impact he had on my day.  I sat there and wondered, how he managed to see,  a self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight? Perhaps from his heart, he had been blessed with true sight.
Through the eys of a blind child, at last I could see, the problem was not with the world, the problem was with me.  For all of those times, I myself have been blind, cynical and self centered, I will change my outlook, and keep a clear mind. 
Then I held that wilted flower up to my nose, and breated in the fragrance of a beautiful rose.  And I smiled as I watched that young boy, weed in hand!

Such an amazing poem that sometimes we need to remember when we get down in life, we just need to stop for a second, and look around and see what God has truly given us.  God has given us our families so that we can be happy forever.  Sometimes we get frustrated with other people, because of there imperfections or there actions which can lead to us being hurt. But isnt that the exact same with our Heavenly Father when we sin? He gives us an infinite love and when we sin we turn our backs on him. However, he still loves us and has perfect patience with us. He has given us Jesus Christ Atonement so that all of us can be spiritually healed and feel joy in this life. I know this gospel is true and I promise if you apply the Teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ to your life you will be blessed.  When you stop and think what truly matters in this life, and put an eternal perspective on things, life becomes an adventure and so much fun. You meet so many amazing people, and you get to bless there lives by serving them
Anyway this letter is getting super long. But everybody have a stellar week! Thanks for all the love!
Vanhin Ford.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Springs coming in Lapland.‏

Finnish sunset over a frozen lake in jyväskylä

Hey everybody!
Been a great week!! I got to do splits wednesday through friday with Vanhin Smith and Vanhin Kontinen because Vanhin Findley has to go down to Helsinki for leadership meeting. It was super fun, and on thursday I had three dinner appointments! One of them the member took us to Ali Baba which is like a greek pizza buffet which was super good.  The pizza in Finland is a lot more flat and less greasy. American pizza definately wins though.  Had a good time with them and finally got to bike around town. I just used Vanhin Findleys bike because I dont have one because I am in a bus mission and we dont use bikes, which is kind of nice because lately its been really cold and wet.  Also this week, we met this guy on the street, and then a few days later we met him again as we were leaving an appoitment. He was moving apartments so we offered to help and he accepted. We spent about 2 hours helping him move which was good and then we got to teach him about the restoration after. Hes from Cameroon, which is in Africa. He doesnt really like it here because he says the cultures compared to here and home are like black and white.  Its super cold in finland and the people are super quiet. In cameroon its tropical and he says everyone is loud and outgoing haha. But he offered us dinner and we had some. I forgot what its called, it has smoked fish and some vegetable from cameroon. The taste was ok, but the texture was pretty bad. It had the texture of drool. We would dip this bread like potato thing in it, and my hand smelled like fish for the rest of the day haha.  
But right now we got to teach a girl from Khadekstan. The cool thing about Jyväskylä is that its a college town so theres a lot of foreign college students here. She says that she enjoys the winters here because where she leaves it gets 40 below. Thats insane.  Ouch. 
But the new #becausehelives or in suomi its #koskahänelää, is super good. Share it on social media so that everyone can see it! The church did an amazing job putting it together so share it so people can know the true meaning of Easter. Because he lives we are able to live with our father in heaven forever. We are able to enjoy blessings, and we are able to live with our families forever. 
One thing that is amazing about this life, is that we have the ability to choose. We have the ability to be agents to act, rather then to be acted upon. Yes its can be hard sometimes, but the hard times in our life are given to us to humble us and to grow stronger. The Lord told the Nephites in Helaman that he gave them tribulations because he loves them and knows that they need it to be humbled or they would forget the Lord there God.
The church is true and Joseph smith really was a prophet!
Vanhin Ford
Happiness is not a destination, but it is the Journey.