Please let me know what you feel the most important lesson that you learned before going in the MTC was, and what you feel that you would have benefitted most from learning about before you went in.
Thing I'm most glad to have learned? Knowing that you can receive personal and applicable revelation through prayer. That is one of the hardest things to teach investigators, that they can pray for help and actually receive some form of an answer, even if the answer appears to not be present. The Mormon Message "Hope of the Light of Christ" (or something like that) shows that joy that I feel VERY well.
Thing that I wish I'd learned? Can't say I've encountered that yet. I guess I wish I knew more about how to repent and forgive yourself of bigger sins, like "go-to-the-bishop" status. I say that because I have met several Elders now that are all having troubles with that, including my own companion. I wish that I knew what I could tell them that they could feel comforted like I am that I have done my best to repent.
I'm glad that you thought to add in a list of questions, because this week has been relatively uneventful! There is so much time spent learning the language and focusing on investigators that the eventful parts are the mistakes we make while speaking the language! :)
What is your favorite thing about the MTC today?
My favorite thing about the MTC is Gym time! Yes, I know, it should be something like "seeing the expressions on the faces of investigators as we answer their important questions", but Volleyball is SO much fun! We've got the new Hungarians and Albanians hooked on it now, and I can't wait until we get even more Estonians on Wednesday! I've gotten really good at setting in volleyball, I'm still not able to really spike it though! I can deliver a pretty deadly tip though that goes straight against the net.
What is the goofiest thing your companion has done?
Hmm, let me think... Once, at the temple, he left the changing rooms without me, and went walking with the rest of my district. Well, I came out later, couldn't find him, and went around and around the changing rooms calling out my companion's name (reverently!). When I couldn't find him anywhere, and I investigated the place where we hang up suits and found his missing, I correctly concluded that he had gone on with the other Finnish Elders. So, I went with some Hungarians instead, knowing that I'd find him at the MTC. However, once my companion had actually left the temple, and discovered that I was not there, he waited a while and then doubled back to find me, and went a different way than I left. Whoops. For about a half hour, we were separated with no idea where the other was, because he had left me alone! Don't worry, I found him eventually.
What is the best thing your companion has done?
Umm, I think the best thing he's done was when we were first teaching an investigator named Silvana. She was enjoying the lesson we were giving about Family and how important it is to our church when Vanhin Wilson gave a pretty awesome testimony in pretty good Finnish, for it being our 1st week there. The Spirit was in that room, and we all felt pretty good about the lesson that day.
What is the goofiest thing YOU have done?
Do I have to share this? Okay, fine! There is a tie for the goofiest thing I have done , so I'll share the 2 things. The first is a language blunder, the second is an invention I made! So, in Finnish, whenever you add certain conjugations, like to say "I verb" or "you verb" or "My noun", you have special rules that can change the pronunciation of a word dramatically. (Or should I say, grammatically! ...I won't do that again, I promise...) Well, I was looking at a few of these rules to try to utilize them in the upcoming lesson. The best way to remember a grammar principle is to use it, right? Yeah, so this went great. You see, I chose a verb that was "to meet". Okay, "to meet" is tavata and "I meet" is tapaan. Yes, it's a weird rule. I, however, didn't know that the verb for "to kill" is tappaa and that "I kill" is tapan. Very similar, and dangerously so! So, when I said that "It is nice that I meet your family", since I cut short the a sound, it translated into "It is nice that I kill your family". Uh-oh. I got corrected very quickly on that, because the teacher started cracking up, knowing what I'd accidentally said.
Okay, the second goofiest thing actually is a goofy thing, and I can send pictures to prove that it is real! So, the chairs that we have in the classrooms are really nice. They have wheels and pretty nice armrests that have a nice slope to them. Well, one day the other companionship took 50 minutes to teach a lesson rather that the 20 allotted to them. Since my companion and I had already taught and discussed what it was we would teach next time, we each started to do our own thing. I happened to have been gifted a bag of rubber bands from one of the other Elders, and started absently stringing them on my chair, only to find that the slant was perfect to make a rubber band harp along my armrests. The chair-harp, deemed to be a charp by my district, now has an octave and a half of notes that go in order, including all of the associated flats and sharps. I can play quite a variety of songs on it, and yes, I show off a little bit of my ability to play by ear! Don't worry, I don't play it in class, just during the free time we are given to unwind between classes!
What is the best thing you have done?
Can I say the charp again? :)
Okay, the best thing that I think I have done is teach our investigators when my companion doesn't know what is being said. That sounds weird, but let me explain. If ever the investigator says something that my companion doesn't understand, and it happens a lot since Finnish is very hard, I steer the answer over to a topic that my companion does understand, all while of course answering his/her question. After I am done, my companion has heard the word "prayer" or "faith" or some other word enough to know that he should address his testimony on that, and to continue the lesson. It works really well, and it's only possible if the Spirit is with us!
What are you looking forward to in the next week?
More Estonians are coming in! I think there are only 3 or 4, but their classroom is right next to ours and their language is essentially abbreviated Finnish, so they can understand us and we can't understand them.
What are you looking forward to when you leave for Finland?
Snow. Everywhere. And, I NEED HUMIDITY. Utah is so dry that it is unbearable! Oh, and I can't wait for Christmas! :)
What is something fun/funny that your district has done/does?
My district has done a few funny things... the one that I remember right now is the "cold shower challenge". We played horseshoes and said that the one furthest away from the pole has to have cold showers for a day. The one who proposed this ended up losing all 3 rounds, with the last round being a whole WEEKS worth of cold showers being the penalty! So, he has a week and 2 days of cold showers. So glad I'm not him!
What do you like about the Elders in your district?
All of them have amazing testimonies of the gospel. The amount of spiritual discussion that takes place among us has been pretty inspiring!
What bugs you about the Elders in your district?
They don't retain instructions well... For example, if I know we are supposed to do something, like go to the residence instead of class since the Mission President said so, or bring Hymnbooks to a certain devotional because the Branch President said so, I am the ONLY one that remembers it in my district. They never believe me, all the way up until the point that it is too late to change! I've started to just follow instructions automatically and hope that they follow suit, so at least I'm being obedient about it!
What have you learned that surprised you?
Hmm. Tough. I learned that most of Finnish rules come from the fact that it is mostly a spoken language, not so much a written one, and all of the rules stem from wanting the language to sound really nice. And, it does!
What have you taught someone else?
I have taught many people of the importance of prayer. A lot of the Elders here are from Utah, and for some of them, their attitudes reflect it. They think that this is just something they have to do before they can go back to "real life". I love how Elder Holland phrased it in a post-devotional movie that we saw - "A mission is the closest thing to Real Life that you will ever face!" Because of the lack of testimony about this being something good and beneficial to your own life, I have been able to, as someone not from Utah, say how much that prayer to know if a mission is the right thing to do is important. It's been great!
What is your favorite food at the MTC? (The Elders here want to know!)
Umm. That's tough. There's not that much good here, when you take into account how well we've eaten at home! I guess French Toast Sticks are always yummy!
What is your favorite dessert at the MTC? (Same guys want to know!)
BYU Creamery Ice Cream. Any day. Especially anything with the word "cheesecake" in it! We get that kind of ice cream most Sunday nights.
Are you tired of the food at the MTC? (Guess who wants to know?!)
YES. Except the Ice Cream. The other Elders have taken my weight as a personal challenge to fatten me up. You'd be proud, mother - I have been stuffing my face here at the instructions of Vanhin Nelson especially.
What food would you like Sister Jones (Mother of Elder Caleb Jones) to smuggle in for you? (She wants to know!)
Ohh, that's a good question... I wouldn't mind some home-baked cookies! The ones they have here are pretty good, but obviously mass produced and not the best I've had before. Or brownies! Mmm...
What do you need us to send before you head off to Finland?
Can't really think of anything... But I'll try to think of something! Maybe just more instrumental music CDs, like Lindsey Stirling, or concert-esque CDs. The Mission President apparently is fine with it so long as it can be uplifting! Apparently, since it is dark so long in Finland, the missionaries are encouraged to have fun activities to make sure they don't get depressed. Oh, so a deck of Phase 10 cards would be nice too! Can't use it at the MTC, but I can in the field!
Done with the questions!
So happy to see my siblings school schedules start coming in! Make sure to keep me updated! I'm glad that the school supplies will go further... I guess... And, don't ever be afraid to try to mail me the extra cinnamon roll that you make! :)
I'm happy that you have decided to go to school, Mom. Thank you for the encouragement you have given me in getting an education, how else can I repay you but by encouraging you now?
Love you all,
Vanhin David Milligan
P.S. A few more thoughts:
Okay, first, did a quick listen to the Piano Guys CDs. Thanks for putting those together! Did you know, though, that both the Cello Song and their rendition of "We Could've Had it All" was on one CD 3 times each, and on the other CD once? I was cracking up!
Two things that our family MUST watch.
1) The new Mormon Message, the Hope in the Light of Christ, or something like that. LOVED it.
2) The 2014 Pioneer Day Mormon Tabernacle Choir production. It is on YouTube and Mormon.org, so you MUST see it. It's pretty awesome, if an hour in length.
That's all I've got now, send you all stuff next week!
David: Well, I bought a pointer at the Bookstore for $4.
It is really fun to wield in class when we need to point to a case on the chart behind me! :)
Mom: He always did like sticks! And swords. And wands... I think this fits right in!
Mom: I asked for at least one selfie, and I got it!
David: The temple grounds are so beautiful, that you can
accidentally take a picture and it turns out gorgeous!
David: Me with my Charp. It has since grown in rubber band amount!
Mom: I loved this story! I knew David would find a way to create a musical instrument
without his violin to keep his fingers busy!
David: This is a little more recent Charp update! Only one side, of course...
Mom: I am trying to figure out what is written on the bands... Any ideas?