Okay, this first week has been pretty fun/exciting/crazy all around. So, I'll answer the questions first, and if I think of anything else to add, it'll go on the bottom of the letter as I write.
How was your first week in Finland?
My first week in Finland has been super fun. The flight was way long, and I didn't manage to sleep much, despite the fact that it was a ton of flying. Interesting thing: I have all of my big luggage, since that all arrived on time to Finland with our flight, but I do not have my carry-on. Yup. So, the airport in Salt Lake City let us check our big luggage and keep our carry-on, like normal, right? But, once we got to the actual plane, they said that the overhead was full, and that they would put all of our carry-ons into checking for free. They took all but 2 (2 missionaries in our group had already got on without hearing the instructions) and said they would be at our final destination. Well, final destination comes, and no carry-on. Hmm. Kinda destroys the purpose of everything I put in there, including the pounds of food and candy that I took to avoid paying in the airport. It's all cool, though.
So, the APs (Assistants to the mission President) and President and Sister Watson all picked us up around 3:30 Finnish time and took us to the temple. It was really cool. I don't think that the pictures of it do it justice, even though I always thought the pictures made it look pretty.
Then, they brought us to the super-sweet new mission home. It's so big! They served us a dinner of 2 different kinds of soup: Broccoli-Chicken-Cauliflower, and Taco, rather like 3-bean soup with salsa added in. After the Pres interviewed us and made sure that we had a chance to send our folks a quick "We're alive" e-mail, we were sent to bed around 10 or so. Finnish beds are interesting- they have the normal pillow and bottom sheet combo that Americans do, but the blanket is the weird (but really cool) part. They put their comforters inside what is essentially the top sheet (if the top sheet felt really, really soft) to make the form of a bag-like mattress. It's SO comfy and nice.
The next day, I took a shower, and decided that I am never leaving Finland. Ever. They have 2 knobs, one for pressure and one for heat, that if you don't think the water's hard/hot enough (which it gets really hard/hot), you can click a button and keep turning the 2 knobs. It is heavenly. Plus, the water in Finland is, like, SUPER pure. Like, even if you filter the water we have in America a ton, this is still more pure. Apparently, not only is it some of the purest in the world, but they also don't bother to pipe different "less-clean" water to the other things that use it, like the shower, washing machine, or hose. It's a humbling experience to realize that even the toilet water is cleaner than most of what you've had in your life. After dedicating my heart to Finland for eternity () we had breakfast (just like cereal and bread) and then went to Immigration to submit for a Finnish SSN. You need that, like, everywhere here: Post office, Bank, even Grocery store. After that and after contacting a little bit, we headed to the Mission Office, where they talked to us a bit about finance stuff and gave us our cards for funds. Then we went to the Mission Home again for lunch and pairing up with new companions! We had this bread with rice porridge inside called riisipiiraka or something like that. Literally, Rice-Bread. We then had a little fireside and then paired up with new companions, followed by us traveling over to the trains and shipping out. The trains are REALLY quiet, like, when the AC turned off, it was completely silent. It was awesome.
The first thing that we did when we got to our mission area (I'll say where it is later, so you have to keep reading, hee-hee!) was put my luggage away, change into casual-er clothes, and go to play Sähly. Sähly is sort of like Floor Hockey, but when you play with Finns, it gets ridiculous. I actually put up a pretty good defense (we played Missionaries vs Finns) and got complimented quite a bit. Can't make a goal, though. They use, like, way tiny goals and have a rule where you have to pass it before you can shoot it.
The following days have been pretty much contacting and riding buses/driving the car (this mission area has a car!) to the areas of investigators and less active members. Church was good too, there are 2 wards here and our ward almost needs to open up the overflow! It's awesome.
What is your location?
Oh, that wasn't too long of a wait. I am currently serving in the Tampere 1 area. That's basically about 1/4 of Tampere, a city in the middle-ish of Finland.
(By the way, the Finnish keyboards are awesome, they have way different stuff then ours, which makes it hard to find/hit the apostrophe and quotation mark buttons, and the slash too.)
Should we send snail mail to you at this location, or through the mission home address?
It would probably be best to send it straight to me, unless it is near a change time. The thing is, it takes about 10 days for snail mail to get to me, so if I get a package or letter when I'm not in Tampere anymore, I won't get it for about 2 months, 'cuz the Zone leaders need to come get it and deliver it. So, it's fine to send snailmail to me directly, but if it's anytime close to a change, mail it to the Office/Home.
(Mom interrupts here...Can't send mail without an address...Oi Vanhin Milligan!)
What is your companion's name?
My companion is Elder Nemelka, District Leader of Tampere.
Where is he from?
He's from Springville, Utah! I don't recognize him, though. He's 2 years older than me.
How long has he been on his mission?
He only has about 16½ weeks remaining now out of 2 years. He claims he is getting "way trunky". "Trunky" is apparently the term for looking forward to home a LOT.
Is he the first missionary in his family, or does he have older siblings who have served?
His dad served a mission, but he is the eldest of his siblings.
Do you have any pics of the two of you, yet?
Totta kai! Of course! Actually, just the one that I just barely took, but hey. I have a few of him walking ahead of me!
What is something interesting you have seen since arriving in Finland?
Something interesting. Hmm. I guess that the sheer number of cyclists has really surprised me. Even though this is a walking/bus-ing/driving district, I think that if we got on bikes, no one would look twice at us.
Is there snow, yet?
No, but I've been told that the snow will come by the end of the month!
What does your bike look like? Picture might be easier!
I don't have a bike yet... I've been told to just get a bike when I go to a biking district. My companion says if I kill him (that's terminology for "if I'm his companion when he goes home") that he'll give me his bike to fix up out there.
Is your new coat warm?
We're going shopping for it later today! I haven't needed it yet, although I have pulled out the sweater a few times already.
Are you sore from biking?
Nope! I love contacting in the buses though. They're fascinated that I know this much Finnish after only being in Finland for a handful of days, and that's a great conversation starter with older people. The younger people all just listen to music and turn it up when you sit by them... Oh, and by the way, the language is pretty sayable, but rather hard to hear. Everyone speaks really quiet and fast, which makes it difficult to understand, unless they are yelling at you. Then, I understand perfectly, cuz they're normally saying "You aren't Christian! Go home! You're crazy!". Yes, we've ran into those people so far. Most of them were drunk. Fun, fun.
What is something interesting you have eaten since arriving in Finland?
We had a Russian-style pizza yesterday with some members. If you're wondering why I'm not sharing too many names in this, it's because the Finnish government has a lot of privacy rules. You can't really use names in e-mails unless you have their permission, so I'm only using the missionaries names that I know I can!
Have you met many members, yet?
A few, yes. It's mostly been less actives and investigators, but a few members, too.
Are you serving in a branch or a ward?
Ward! So big, for Finnish standards.
Have they been feeding you, or are you cooking for yourself?
Mostly feeding ourselves, with a few exceptions like yesterday and with a less active family. By the way, there is a family here that's pretty fun. Sister Partanen gave me permission to use her name, so I will. When she was on her mission, she had an AP from Oklahoma. When she showed me him, he had written his address, and he was from Edmond! It was about 14 years ago, but it is Keith Mehner. How cool is that for it being a small world? When they know each other, she was Sis. Peralta.
How is the language? Does it sound anything like MTC Finnish?!
Oh. I answered this. Whoops. It does, kinda, but they speak really fast and use lots of synonyms that I don't know yet!
How big is your area?
It's basically all of Tampere, but our assigned area is about 1/4 of it. We share with 2 Sister groups and 1 Elder group.
Did anything interesting happen during your many flights before arriving in Finland?
Ahh. Talked about this too. But, it was fun to call my family! Love y'all!
Well, that's about it. I'm out of time, too, so I think I'm gonna forward this to my MTC buddies too. Hope you don't mind, real-family/zone-family!
Not sure if I have time to send pics, I'll see in a bit! You're all awesome! Bye!