Tuesday, September 30, 2014


My goodness, this is the 1 month anniversary of getting on a plane to go to Finland! Tuesday will mark the month of arrival, and Wednesday will be the time of 1 month in Tampere! WOW. Doesn't feel like I've been here that long at ALL. Really crazy.

You know, sometimes, there is absolutely NOTHING to talk about? This is one of those weeks. We had a lot of appointments, they almost all fell through, and the contacting we did was mostly with people that were only interested in our American accents. Anyone that talked to us for long periods of time were often sharing their philosophies on religion, and although that's really fun to hear, they would reject us wanting to come talk with them more. Makes sense, 2 foreigners asking to come into your house and talk about one of the things you just don't talk about in Finland (religion) would freak out most Finns.

We've been getting a surprising amount of progress with our investigators that are more foreign. I think that the one I like most is from Zimbabwe, and has had some way awesome experiences. One that he just told us about was when we complimented him on all of the charity he shows to others. He then started to tell a story about when an act of charity from him started going south. So, to condense a really long story into a few sentences, his friend asked for him to temporarily house some friends of his from England and Africa. These 2 friends were supposed to be there for 2 days, but as 2 days turned into 2 weeks, he got very frustrated. Mostly because these 2 people kept on having TONS of people in his fairly small apartment, like 15 or so people crammed in, all speaking in a tongue he doesn't know or understand. He found out that the 2 people were dealing with drugs (taking advantage of the fact that another "friend" that showed up looked like a medicine man, so apparently the airlines didn't mess with him? Weird) and the whole operation was starting to go south for them, which ended causing a 15-person fight in our investigator's apartment. Well, apparently our investigator had some police training, so after futilely trying to get the 2 men's bags out the door (they kept bringing them right back in while fighting), he gave up, went to his kitchen, and got a wickedly sharp knife out, took one of the 15 in a headlock, and shouted that he didn't care what they did right now, but no matter what, this man (in the headlock) was going to die. Everyone started to get calm, they all filed out after he sternly said that the matter could be dealt with outside, and then he kicked out the bags and the men at the same time. I'm very happy that I've never had to deal with that!

I got to go on another split this week to Rauma and go contacting with another Elder. It's really fun to take part in the progression of another area, and then see how I can better help my own. So glad that my companion is the District Leader, but I don't want that role myself!

That's about all I can think of, so now I have a few questions to answer!

How do you say, "Nathan is my favorite brother"?

Well. Guess who asked that one. My ONLY brother. The Finnish for this is pretty easy to make and say, so I shouldn't complain. If ever someone wants to know how to say something in Finnish, probably don't break out Google Translate. It doesn't take into account that Finnish doesn't have a future tense and that a single verb normally means very different things then a strictly literal English equivalent.
"Nathan is my favorite brother" becomes "Nathan on minun lempiveljeni". Lempi- is how you make something a "favorite".

Has there been any snow yet in Finland?

It started to snow when it was raining one day, but it was really like a light fog-snow, and quickly was replaced by the continuing rain. :( We've been told, though, that since we had a hot summer (up in the 70¤ F, oh so hot) it'll be a very cold winter. I'm a little concerned about that, but I have the proper gear now! Except gloves/mittens. Kinda need those if I want my fingers too.

How was your week?

Relatively good, relatively uneventful. OH! Just remembered something! The Tampere Wards are putting together a bit of a Restoration musical event, like the Cantata back home, but a little less large-scale. It's being created by the Sisters in my ward. They're doing it because we are having a Ward Fasting month during October for the missionary work. How interesting is that? People pick a day they want to fast, and then do so for the missionary work here. I'm hoping that we can hear about some interesting experiences from this. The idea of the pageant-esque event came from the desire for each member to consider a friend to hear our message, and to be with us for the first teach and hopefully more thereafter. The musical event would be a good way to specifically invite people, the Sisters think. It sounds fun, I'm game, a few of the Brethren have asked me to join them in a musical number or two, so I'm hoping that I don't get transferred away from Tampere before November!

What did you learn this week? 

That's a very broad question! One thing that I liked in my studies this week was how closely linked the attributes of Patience and Humility are. Kinda weird sounding at first, but let me break it down a bit. Humility means accepting that all is made possible through God's efforts, not so much your own. It means not taking credit for the work of the Holy Ghost, either, when our investigators progress. The humility that we feel leads us to act upon the words of Christ to a greater degree, either because we accept that he will and wants to offer us aid, or because we know that he has commanded it, and if that is so, then it is for our own good. So, to sum up, Humility leads us to actions of faith, because we trust that the Lord can see the end from the beginning, and we need to just act upon it with a knowledge that it will help. That leads to 2 ways patience is involved. It means having the patience to endure whatever struggle you are going through during your actions made with humility, or it means being patient for the consequences (blessings) to make themselves either apparent or great enough that we can start to see His hand in all things. With that confirmation of the Lord's help and His answer to our concerns, we gain even greater humility and patience, because we have seen His works and we know that they will come, and that we can endure whatever we need to if we desire to have the blessings. That was interesting to me, because I never connected them like that before.

What did you share?

Hmm. We shared cookies in Rauma! :) Lesson-wise, we shared about the upcoming General Conference, and how it is we can better prepare for it. I brought up the fact that Mother has been sending me a spiritual thought in E-mails every day, and when I get to read them all, I feel edified by what it is that she thinks can help me in my mission, and help me in my life afterwards. The involvement of our families in our spiritual progression can act as a catalyst in bringing that conversion that we desire, not of our investigators, but of our own testimonies.

Well, it's time to wrap up from here. No more pictures again, drat... The amount of time it takes to upload anything is quite ridiculous... But, I love you all, and want you to eventually see what it is that I am seeing! Maybe next email, I'll just combine a bunch of pictures from this next week and tell the events based off of those? I'll try to get more specific pictures this week, then! 

Write y'all later,

Vanhin David Milligan

P.S: The mark of a true Oklahoman can be found in their writing of the word "y'all".

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 ~ Week 3 in Finland

I have decided that I should probably change the formatting of my letters: Talk about what I want to, and then answer questions. But, the number of questions you sent were less this time, so that's good too!

Idioms here are beautiful.

So, my companion has an Idiom dictionary. It has been the subject of much controversy as we attempt to translate why the idioms are what they are. The cool thing is, the idioms it gives aren't just a straight translation. It actually gives a Finnish-known parallel, which normally is similar to our English idioms. Like, it might just give a spoken equivalent of something, or it might just give a whole different idiom that makes sense to Finnish people, but not to us if you translate it back to English. For example! "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Good little turn of phrase for all the germaphobes in America. HOWEVER. Finnish. The English, literal translation is "Cleanliness is half food". Hmm. Not the same to me at all. I got pictures of some really good ones, like "In Death's Beard" instead of "At death's door"!

We jogged to Provo! Wait, what?

There is a Beauty Lounge in Tampere named Provo, so we jogged there with the Zone Leaders for exercise when we were on splits and got some pictures. Way cool, but I don't have any of them! I need to get them from the Zone Leaders...

Artificial Sun: The basic necessity for all Finnish apartments.

There is a little light in our apartment that actually is quite a VERY BRIGHT LIGHT. It hurts to look at. It provides many of the same things as our sun, gives the same vitamin-producing rays and stuff to help prevent things like deficiencies and depression. It's gonna come in handy, it is way dark here already...

Elder Bednar came to Finland!!!

So, this is something that I have kept meaning to write about, but Elder Bednar came to Helsinki and spoke at a Mission Conference for us. He came on Friday the 12th, and it was really insightful. The things I want to share to everyone are 2 things specifically. First, he gave us reading material ahead of time, and asked that we all come to the Mission Conference prepared, having read all of what he gave to us. As you can imagine, we ate it up and loved the talks. The important thing is that when he came, he made a point to say that he felt we were prepared, and thanked us for doing so, because then he could talk about everything that he wanted to. That is what I want to mention, that I feel that we should strive to be prepared for every meeting, every General Conference, as best as we can, so that we can be as fully enlightened as possible. The second thing that I want to share is that he had a specific teaching style that day that he told us to try to use in our teaching. It was 3 parts, specifically.

1) He asked for us to bear testimony on what we read, and then asked little questions, not trying to force a specific answer out of us, but out of an honest desire to hear what we learned. That's important, because sometimes we play the "guess what's in my head" game with people. We keep asking and asking until we wrangle a very specific answer out of them, when the testimony they have about something might actually be very good and insightful.

2) He then opened up a questioning time, asking for us to abandon pre-prepared questions and follow what the Spirit told us to ask. He then turned the time over to various others, like the Mission President or Stake President to answer, following up with his own comments and testimony on what was said.

3) He then linked all of the testimonies we bore and the questions we asked together, pointing out that the Spirit was always involved in our discussion. We were either allowing the Spirit to help us answer his small questions, or letting the Spirit guide us to questions to ask. That taught me to get out of the way of the Spirit! Don't stick to one specific thing you want to talk about if you have the impression to go another way on the new needs of the investigator.

In short, this was a great experience, and I learned a TON. My notes are in my journal, so I will hopefully never forget my thoughts and impressions.

Now, I have some time to compile questions!

How many missionaries serve in Finland?

I don't quite know, for sure... let me ask...

Are there any native Finnish missionaries?

Yes! I know one, and also a Swedish missionary here. The Finnish one I know has family all over Finland, and he is currently serving in Pori. I got to go on splits with him last week, and it was fun to contact in either really good Finnish or really good English, depending on what they answered us with!

Did you have any opportunities to teach this week?

So weird, we have come into contact with SO many Jehovah's Witnesses this week... There were some when we were on splits in Pori that knocked on the apartment complex and rang us up specifically, because the last names listed were American and they wanted to add to their English speaking congregation. And then, that same day with the Finnish Elder, we ran into who apparently was a pretty big leader while we were Tracting our 10 doors when a potential doesn't answer. She was really nice and fun to talk to, even if it was in Finnish... And then, we found some here in Tampere the other day, just while walking! So crazy.

Any interesting foods added to your diet?

There are quite a few good foods here in Finland. I have especially liked the Kebab here. The kind I have had is all kinds of meat over French Fries with a cool sauce. Today, to celebrate my companions Birthday on Saturday, we ate a Kebab BUFFET. There was Pizza, Chicken, and Kebob, and I am SO content right now.

There's nothing else that I can think of to say, so I guess I'm done!
Vanhin Milligan

 This is the British Airways airport in Chicago. That was Gate MI-6, I believe... :)

​Well, despite the British Airways flight being an overnight one, I didn't sleep more than an hour. I was super-awake. But, I think that it was good for eliminating practically all forms of jet lag as soon as I fell asleep the first time in Finland!

I wondered at first why a map was on the ticket. 
It's a small enough airport, right? 
Then I realized: It's so you don't vanish into... Finnair. .................

​I love the Finland Temple! Even though I haven't been inside yet, 'cuz we can't go if we're in Tampere... Missionary trips to the temple need to be able to happen in under 6 hours, travel time included. We take 7. Arghh... But, it's still beautiful!

 When I was on splits in Pori, due to my companion being the District Leader, I saw an Angry Birds themed-playground! Did you know that the Angry Birds app was created by a Finnish developer? I learned that my 2nd week at the MTC during the visa trip, but forgot all about it until now! I couldn't get a better pic, 'cuz we were contacting at the time, but this is pretty good.

​This is in memory of you, Mother... The Adventures of Piggley Winks! Correct the name for me, I know that the Vekarat! part is an exclamation, like Jenkies!, but I forget what the actual TV show was called! I have seen this here surprisingly quite a few times... I looked in the window of a bar and saw it on one of the TVs, and then saw this in a store we visited. Had to take a picture to remind you, Mother!
 Mom: Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks. I just find this show adorable and couldn't get enough of it when it was new!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 15, 2014

I Think I'm Gonna Change This Up A Bit!

Family, friends, fellow missionaries, I need to talk to y'all.

Now, I love you all. I really do. But there are a TON of you that have requested that I write or that I can't imagine not writing. And, after only READING everything I was sent and sending 2 very short emails to people, it has been ½ hour. That is not enough time. SO.

I have decided that I am going to be taking the email questions that you all send me and then compile it all into the SAME email, and then widely distribute it to the masses. Hope we're all cool with this.

Don't think I'm being personal enough? I agree. So, in addition to the widespread e-mail, you'll hopefully get a paragraph or to from me directly to you. Can't promise it, but if you ask (real family, you don't need to ask, I'm doing it anyways) I will do my best to individually address you.

Rules sound good? Acceptable? Any counter offers? Great. Love y'all, and so starts this weeks email.

Also (I lied about starting, sorry) this email will be going on my blog. Just so all of the missionaries know. If you want to know my blog page after the mission, just shoot me an email! A copy of every email I've sent about my time here will be there. It's like a journal. It's great.

Location: Tampere, Finland.
Attitude: Super enthused.
Stardate: NOW. (Thank you, Vanhin Hastings for that)

Finland has been AWESOME. Any of the Vanhimmat and Sisaret (well, one Sisar) can tell you that it is pretty sick here. I love it so much. Now, the Q's will take care of most of my new experiences, but I have created a list of things I want to share that WILL be on this email. Like, they HAVE to be.

What is your address?

That's a good question! I forgot to say last time what it was. Here it is:

Kyttälän Katu 4 A 4
33100 Tampere

What is your apartment like? What do you call it in Finnish?
Okay, this apartment is awesome too. We know that there is a word for it, but we don't call it that. It's just our apartment, or "home". Gets kinda confusing when you're referencing your actual home (e.g. Oklahoma) and then talk about "home" right after. The Finnish word is asunto. Well, the apartment is pretty nice: it has a main room, with the kitchen as part of it; the bedroom, which is small but plenty of room and a set of closet cabinets for us; and of course the bathroom. They have given us the horrible temptation of a Sauna in the bathroom. It's actually never been a temptation, but we joke about it all the time. That's where we put our luggage.

Where do you go to send us email?

We go to the Family History Center, which is part of the Ward Building. We never really have a set time, we just conference with the other 3 sets of missionaries to figure out about when everyone wants to go.

Were you able to teach anyone this week?

We were, we taught quite a few lessons. The members are really good at bearing their testimonies, so we try to get them out with us. We've had relative success with getting members to teach with us, mostly cuz we've invited the friends/fellowshippers of our investigators and the returned missionary in our area. The investigators we have are so much fun, I feel like we're already good friends.

Did you have any funny experiences with people?

Hey, one of our investigators lived in Oklahoma! She went there as a teen and graduated from college at OU. She's a Finn, but she loves to speak English to us. She knows a ton about things that I call *Mormon culture* (like, having tons of kids, debating over caffeine being in the Word of Wisdom guidelines or not, no wine in the sacrament, etc.) and has made some really funny jokes. She's really sarcastic in her humor, but is so funny all of the time. Surprisingly, when she read the wrong chapter before my first lesson with her, she got a TON out of reading about the chapter with the 3 Nephites. Kinda weird sounding, but it was like, everyone has their own calling and responsibility, and we can feel like we're called to different areas of responsibility. It was cool, I just wish she got the same amount out of what we bear testimony on!

Any funny language barrier moments?

Not so much... I didn't know the word for Calender when I was talking in the Priesthood Meeting part of Sunday before class, cuz I was trying to say that we have a calender about fasting out in the hall that we want people to sign up on, and while I was explaining what a calender is, saying stuff like, "It's like an aikataulu (schedule) but with weeks and days and it only shows one month," someone in the crowd spoke up and said, "Calenderi?" Yes, the word for calender is calenderi. I have discovered that most words that are really long, intelligent, and with a Latin base go into Finnish by adding an "-i" at the end. It's been fun to sound like I have an "akademiki" vocabulary.

What is something new you learned/experienced this week?

We gave 2 church tours to people that literally walked up to the church when we happened to be in meetings. They felt "guided" to come at those times, and it was probably because the best people possible to tell them about it were there at the time! It's been fun, one is likely becoming a new investigator of ours. We'll see today.

What was the hardest part of your week?

Getting out of bed every day. Elder Nemelka is sick right now, so we have been given instructions for him to sleep in instead of exercising for the next while, which means I need to try to wake up quietly and without the benefit of exercise to keep me awake. 

What was the easiest part of your week?

We did a language study in the library, and (this might not be with the rules, so I'm not doing it again) I cracked open a Charlie Brown Classic comic book (you know, the one that is literally the first few strips he made?) and was surprised to recognize a ton of what was being said. There were a few things that I didn't know, and when I asked about them later, it was cuz it's conversational Finnish, like *voi etta* and stuff. Don't worry, I went right back to my own work after!

What is something unexpected you have learned about missionary work?

Sometimes, the testimonies of a single righteously living member that cares about the investigator does more good than all of our talking at. (Our talking with is pretty exceptional, though!)

Have you eaten anything strange?

I have eaten KEBAB. It is the most delicious thing so far. Meat, French Fries, and a sauce on top. Beautiful.

What is the name of your ward?

Tampere 1.

Do you share your ward with sister missionaries, or the other elders?

We share it with a set of Sisaret, so both wards have a Sister and Elder companionship set.

How much daylight do you currently have?

It's dark around 7:30 PM, it gets light around 6:45 or so. So, 11 hours? Give it time, it'll shrink, my companion says.

What is your favorite thing about Finland so far?

All of the FOG. The fog in the morning (because of all the lakes and rivers and such) makes such an eerie, awesome-ly pretty sight as it rolls through. Also, NO ONE is on the streets out after around 6 or 6:30, and it is DEAD. Doesn't feel like a city, even though it looks like one.

Is there rootbeer in Finland? (I heard there isn't!)

There is not. It apparently tastes like the Finnish cough-syrup. Their sodas are also pretty low quality, in my opinion... I just have been having water everywhere, it's healthier.

You'll notice: all of the last entries are really short. I'm actually in overtime with this email! There's no time left! Sorry everyone, no pictures this time, but I love you all. Stay cool!

Vanhin David Milligan

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014 - First P-Day IN FINLAND!