Monday, October 27, 2014

Missionary Work = Very Rewarding! 10-27-14

Well, this was a very weird week for me and my companion. The first thing I have to say is that my companion and I have been sick for the last half of this last week, with different symptoms that make it really fun to to be together... But, amazingly, the amount of mission work completed was quite astounding!

We have SO many cool investigators right now! They are all very eager to learn the gospel and have it better their lives. 4 have accepted baptismal invitations. 4. And 3 of them are definitely going to be baptized. I'm very excited! We are working hard with all of them, but they are making the choices all by themselves, and we are just kind of along for the ride, it seems! The 3 that have baptismal dates that I am certain are going to be baptized all searched out the church by themselves, and came to love everything that they are hearing. All of the baptisms will probably happen late November, early December.

Well, there are a few things I want to say, but I hope that you all understand if it's a bit scatter-brained. I'm still sick/recovering. I'm avoiding all greasy food, which means no kebab or pizza...

Charity and Love in Finnish

Interesting fact! (More for the people back home than those on a mission in Finland, 'cuz you should already know this...) The word (yes, singular, word) for both Charity and Love is Rakkaus. Isn't that interesting, that they mean exactly the same thing here? In the scriptures, it differentiates them sometimes by saying something like, "the Rakkaus which inspires action", or, "the Rakkaus which inspires feelings", but not always. You just have to read context, but they make very little difference.

My name isn't just hard to pronounce in the MTC...

So, in the MTC, it was very hard for some people (not going to name names, but all of the MTC missionaries know people I'm talking about) to say the word "Milligan". It is the same here in the field. Missionaries and investigators alike do not know how it is that my name is pronounced, or if they do, they can't EVER remember it.They say Mulligan, McMilligan, McGilligan, or just throw the name into the wind and see what happens. Among most of Tampere missionaries, I am known as McGiggles, and among our investigators, they all heard when I was telling my "real" name to someone, and now all refer to me as "David" when they can't see my nametag in front of them... Not too appropriate, but I figure they'll learn eventually!

One investigator's story

So, there is an investigator which I talked about in a letter to my parents. (Should come about 10 days or so from Thursday, when the people took it out of the mailbox.) Long story short, she referred herself after hearing about our church, met with us, and started having a dream repeatedly that was her in the baptismal font with us and a member that she met too. She had that dream 4 times and, after coming to church 2 Sundays ago, she sent us a text that I only knew how to read because it was saying stuff that I've always wanted to hear: "Uskon että Mormonin Kirja on totta."  She also sent a bunch of other stuff, saying that she wants to be baptized and that she wants to meet with us again! She has gone to church twice now, has a baptismal date which she is set on, and is very excited right along with us.

More of a funny story than an inspiring one

Another person that has a baptismal date, but isn't too sure if he wants to be baptized, has met with us a few times. He brought a Jehovah's Witness person the first lesson (just to see how we would react to them) and I extended the invitation to be baptized in front of all of them. It was kind of a fun reaction from all parties. Well, he's met with us since, and has even committed to coming to church, but it's very interesting to talk to him. He speaks Finnish, but tries to learn English from us, and uses little words and phrases in English in the midst of all of his Finnish, which throws me off sometimes. Especially because he has the Finnish accent which destroys most consonant sounds in the English language. For example, he was talking about how me need to try to be good in life, and not be Bad Men, Bad Women, or Bad People. He kept on referring to Bad Men/Women throughout the lesson, saying just those words in English amidst all of these Finnish sentences. I was trying to not burst out laughing during the whole lesson, because his accent turned Bad Men/Women into Batman and Batwoman. Very funny! 

Question time!

1. How goes the language? (#1 asked question from all my followers)

The language goes well! I can speak to people and be understood, and even have been complimented on my grasp of the language after only 2 months in the country. The really sticky part about the language is hearing the people speak when it's not about gospel things! If they say where they are going when I ask them, I cannot understand, which means almost every bus contacting situation either turns into asking about if I know this or that part of the language, and wow, you know that much after only this long, or it becomes stare-out-the-window time instead. ¤Sigh¤

2. How are you doing? (Second most asked question from my followers)

Other than being sick, I'm doing well! I'm not stressing out about anything in the field, and I've been eating healthily. I also am learning a lot from this culture and set-aside study time that I have!

3. How's the weather? (Mom: I am hoping for the SNOW answer!!)

Cold. Dark. No snow. Frowny Face.  :-(

4. How much daylight do you have now? (Mom: I'm going to keep asking this every week until I have to start asking the question, "Did you have ANY daylight today?!)

Interesting fact: They have daylight savings time in Finland. Kinda weird to see that elsewhere too. But, we have about 5-6 hours of sunshine right now, meaning 7-8 hours of actual light, and it's getting less every day. I'll make a note of these things from now on, I keep forgetting!

5. What is your main mode of transportation? (walking, bus, car... sled?!)

Bus. Sometimes car, if we're going out to Valkeakoski, which is a 40 minute trip and no buses go out there. I pray that we will bring out the dog sled soon. ;-)

6. What kind of sauce is on kebab?

Kebab sauce... It's a lot of tomato sauce, I really have no idea what else is in it! I'll ask a Finn that knows English.

7. What is something that challenged you this week?

Being really sick. But, we did a lot of work and still got some rest (under the direction of Sisar Watson), so I think I'll be justified in that challenge.

8. What is one way your testimony grew this week?

The Lord works without the direct influence of missionaries. That increased my testimony because although I've heard it before that the Spirit is the teacher, not us, I actually have seen it start working in our investigators, where they are learning on their own and making choices and improving their testimonies without our urging or committing.

9. Did you survive Transfers, or are you on your way to somewhere new?!!!!

I am still in Tampere 1! I still get to be with these wonderful people.

10. Did your companion survive Transfers?

Yes, he's still with me. Every other companionship besides Pori's in our district changed. Also, we are going to be getting a fresh MTC trainee in Rauma, so I'll get to see someone in our district that I saw for a week in the MTC! They'll have also seen all the Huns, Albanians, and Estonians leave, so I need to get that from him.
One more interesting thing about transfers. My companion's father has apparently been petitioning President Watson to let him go home early, not for school, but because his grandparents are ailing and this may be their last Christmas time. If that happens, I don't know what'll happen to me! Maybe I'll just be with Tampere 2 Elders for a bit.

Supposing that nothing goes weird, I will likely be staying in Tampere 1 for quite some time, a minimum of 18 weeks from today. (9 weeks in this transfer, 9 weeks in the next to get someone else used to the area.) I will be looking even harder for people that I can help, because I can stay in close contact with them! Not too much more that needs to be said here, I'm gonna send some pictures to everyone! 

You're all awesome, stay strong!

Vanhin David Milligan


Mom: Sorry, you don't get any creative captions today. He remembered to fill us in!
This is my district, before we get all broken up Tuesday...
 So, sometime this week was a Flag Day of some kind. So, all the flags were out and there were fireworks that night! It was a lot of fun to see, kind of made it hard to go contacting though...
 And this is apparently now the tallest building in Finland! It's in Tampere, recently (?) built, and looks... Not that tall... Maybe that's my American side coming out a bit, but still.

These are the texts we received from the investigator that referred herself! I think she's awesome.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Well, there's not much time this week, and there's nothing really that I can think of about this last week, so I'm going to hop straight to the few things I've jotted down!

Sloans, and Bro. Basset

There's a great family here, the Sloans, who are just AMAZING. The wife is a Finn whose mother and father converted, although they came from a long line of Lutheran priests and it was a scandal when they converted. They are both super intelligent, love books, and are super strong in the gospel. They even gave permission for me to talk about them!

While we were there, I mentioned that I know a person who went to Finland a while ago. Sister Sloan then proceeded to pull out a book that potentially had Brother Basset in it. IT DID! He had a page with his information and testimony on it. (Mom: Bro. Bassett, I will send you a picture of the page he sent me!)

General Conference, and Nefi=Nephi

So, I have all of my notes and questions ready for the Family Home Evening Jeopardy that my Family has put together, and when I send all of my notes and questions, I feel like I need to clarify a few things. General Conference was Awesome, and I needed to write everything really fast, which means that I needed to write the shortest words and abbreviations as I could. That lended to all of my scripture cross-referencing on the side being either in Finnish or English, so places in 1st or 2nd Nephi became 1 Nef. or 2 Nef. for the sake of writing. I'm not misspelling things, just rushing them. Okay, glad we all know that now. (Mom: I'm not posting his notes or questions...if you want to see them, let me know!)

1. What is the weather like? Snow finally?!

Yes and no, again. We had a lot of snow, even though it wouldn't show in pictures, but NOTHING stuck. It was basically rain.

2. When does the sun rise and set, now?

Sun rises around 11, although it is light a bit earlier. It's at its peak at about 1:30, which is at about a 25 or 30 degree angle to the horizon. Don't ever notice when it's down, but at 4 it's not there anymore, soo, I guess that's that.

3. Any new foods that were interesting?

Nothing as of yet. Mostly just been surviving on the cooking given, which is normally pasta, fish, or chicken, and salad.

3A. Are the members feeding you?

Yes, about 1 appointment a week, and they are always very friendly.

4. Did you find anyone new to teach this week?

We found 2 new people! I am writing about them in a letter home, so I think that a small synopsis will do here. People notice us here, and we got asked to teach some people from them seeing a TV show about interesting mothers, one of which was a Mormon.

5. How are your current investigators doing?

They are doing well, we finally got to meet with the person that is closest to baptism, and we all agreed that we need to move it back a bit more. In his words, he doesn't want to feel like he's "cheating God" and not going to church. His life has been stressful lately, so this is so the rest of his life can be more in order before trying to take on a huge commitment.

6. What is something you learned this week?

I learned about the need to be spiritually open to the Spirit when you are giving a blessing. I have given 2 blessings in Finnish this week, which as you can imagine, is difficult. But, while talking as I could, I felt prompted to say things a certain way that I've never heard before (that I know of). After doing so, I found out that I specifically promised something that they had been concerned about health-wise. Really interesting!

7. When is the next transfer? How long are transfers? When do you find out if you are being transferred? Have you heard how long people usually stay in an area before being transferred? Basically, tell us anything you know about transfers!

Next transfer is not tomorrow, but next Tuesday. We find out if we get moved on Saturday, so fingers crossed that I get to stay in Tampere with all of our awesome investigators!

8. How are you doing? Mentally, Spiritually, Physically?

Pretty good on all accounts, except maybe physically... Not like, exhaustion, but elevated heart stuff and seizure like shaking occasionally, which I have informed my mission president about and has told me to send a more detailed list. So, that'll be taken care of soon! Especially since he's informed on health matters. (Mom: Ok, that freaks me out a bit. Everyone please remember him in your prayers!!)

I wish I could write more, but I feel this will satisfy what it is I need to say for now. Love y'all, be safe, enjoy your life!

Vanhin David Milligan


By The Way...No captions were sent...again...So, you get the creative musings of Mom...again!

The Weekly Selfie!

The Pizza From Last Week

In Greater Detail...

 I cannot believe they ate all that! 

This reminds me of Oklahoma...Wonder if it did for him as well?

 It is a curious thing that all Milligans, at some point in their life, will take a picture of someone else taking a picture...

The Daily Planner!

The Grocery List...

He got the Candy! Hope he got the healthy stuff as well!

 Does anyone know what this is? I'm getting a science fiction vibe, myself...

A side view of their chapel/ward building. MUCH bigger than ours!

 Introducing we Americans to the Kinder Surprise (I think!)
It is a chocolate egg, with a toy inside.

 This is what is inside the Chocolate Egg...Looks like a Minion! (You know you were thinking that, too!)

This was inside the Minion!

Photos of Fall in Finland

Soaking up the last bit of sun!

Looks happy, and content! And WARM! Makes Mom feel better!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week #whoknows...NO, That's NOT a Hashtag!! It's a number sign! - October 13, 2014

Well, another week, another e-mail for everyone! It is weird being able to have so many people emailing me now, I like it a lot! It also means I have more questions, so bear with me a bit here...

Paper is a different size here. Not much more to say about that. It's longer and skinnier, probably because they use some kind of metric system measurement and we Americans have to be "different"...

We had Interim last week! More on that in the questions, because a lot were oriented around that.

I found the Finnish Dollar Tree. It's not really, because it's not even remotely the same in any way except prices. It's Tiger, and they have lots of cool little arts-and-crafts things as well as just little fun trinkets. They are really cheap and almost all recycled. I have a few ideas for things I'm going to get as light, enjoyable presents for my family. Light, because it costs an arm and a leg to send packages from here...

I got to eat an 80 cm pizza with another companionship. It was HUGE. I plan to actually attach pictures to these emails, so hopefully that happens...

By the way, family and missionaries, did you know that Finnish apartments come with portable DVD players inside? They play all the music we have, they let us watch the District videos required for training on them, and they're just very efficient.

So, the companionship in Rauma had to stay with us Friday night. Why is that? Because an Elder that is in Pori decided that it would be a funny trick to play if he took Rauma's cellphone and put it in another companionship's pockets. AND NO ONE FOUND OUT. So, when leaving, Rauma discovered the lack of communication, and we had to coordinate the receiving of the phone with Elders that were coming back down south, for some reason... It was a lot of hectic craziness that ended with me being with one of the Rauma Elders studying my Kieli stuff (language stuff) as my companion and the other Rauma Elder rushed off to the train station at untold speeds... I say untold, because the trip was supposed to take about 30 minutes, but the train was stopping only for a brief bit 15 minutes from then, and they still made it "with time to spare", in their own words... I'm not questioning it! Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil... Wait, write no evil isn't there. Guess I'm in the clear, then.

To the questions!

Did you enjoy being in Helsinki for a few days with your MTC district?

No, I despise them. Next Q. Just kidding, I had a TON of fun exchanging fun stories and experiences with them, and reminiscing about the days when we thought that the Finnish language could actually be understood if a Finn said it!!! 

Did you have a zone conference/meeting type with them? What was something you talked about?

So, for Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a very meeting-type structure. We learned about different things that we should prioritize, we did some role-plays, and we even had a part when we focused on the language and difficulties that were included with it. I was lucky, and got in a group with a native Finn that was at Interim because he was waiting for his visa to Ukraine. I wish him the best of luck...

Do you have investigators that you are teaching regularly? I liked hearing that you had one almost ready for baptism, but were making sure they were truly ready before going ahead with the baptism. What an important lesson you taught them!

Yes, we have a number that we are meeting every week. I believe right now we have the 1 with the baptismal date, 2 that we are confident will accept a baptismal date once we extend it to them, and 3 more that we have tried to extend baptismal dates, but want to be certain before making a commitment like that. I want you to know, though, that when I thought of these people I didn't divide them into the categories that I just did. I just couldn't think of another way to describe them! We meet with them all about the same amount, 1-2 a week, and they are almost all having progression. I'm so happy to learn from these peoples' testimonies!

Have you tried any new Finnish foods?

I cannot say yes to that, really, because most of the food that I've had lately has been the Finnish twist on other foods. Finnish pizza is interesting, it's a really thin crust all the way around the pizza, so you have to eat it with fork and knife!

Some of the pictures you included were beautiful churches. Are those in Tampere?

Yes, they are all in Tampere. I think the architecture of churches is fascinating, and sometimes you get a Finnish twist in the original style of building!

How cold is it usually, now?

The lows hover above and below the 0`mark, and the highs around 7, but soon to be around 4. It's pretty cold, but no snow has stuck. More on that later.

How much daylight do you have most days?

That's tricky. Technically speaking, there is light in the sky finally around 7:30 am, and there is no more light around 6:30. However, the sun has still not made an appearance today, and it is 11 am. I haven't looked for its disappearance lately, so I'll make a note of that to remember!

Is there snow?

That's the question that's easy to answer and hard to hear, for me included. Yes, there has been a bit of snow. No, it's not thick, it comes with the misty rain and you have to look hard for the snowflakes. What's making me frustrated is that this week, places further south than us have Snow forecasts, but we are "sunny" (if you can still call a lack of sun sunny) all week. GRR. Places up north have had snow, people in Interim were talking about it, but it also hasn't stuck there.

Are you staying warm?!!?

Yup! No frostbite here.

Have you had a snowball fight, yet?

...No... But it's high on my to-do list once the snow comes!

Wow, that was really quick to answer! I still have a lot of time left, so I think I'll be trying to write some personal emails out. I've already written a handful today, but this is good enough for now, I believe. Hope everyone is safe and doing alright, talk to you all next week!

Vanhin Milligan

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014

Not too much to report on this week either! Our investigators are progressing well, and we have moved the baptismal date of one to accommodate both his and our needs in continuing to prepare. It was quite interesting how the Spirit confirmed the same thing to all of us, and I think it was powerful to that investigator to see that before we take upon us the covenant of Baptism, we must truly know and desire to follow all that it entails. The importance of conversion rather than just knowledge is essential.

Elder Nemelka and I have been getting along alright, in my opinion. There are times when we get frustrated with each other (specifically when our opinions on the importance of things disagrees, or when we are in something, like a game, that has the potential to be competitive) but it does not interfere with the work that the Lord has assigned us to. It is rather interesting to hear his experiences out in the field, and although those experiences do not aid the learning of language principles or strengthen  my testimony in any way, it is good for building what companionship unity we can, and strive to always know the needs of our companion that we may address with them the needs of others.

I feel prompted to add in a little bit of what we learned in this last General Conference. The Saturday Morning session was quite inspiring to me, and it may have been my favorite. I especially appreciated the talk given by Chi Chong (Sam) Wong in his native tongue of Cantonese. The fact that it was in another language for the first time in Conference history is rather amazing, but the content spoke to me and my questions personally. I have been wondering how there might be a good way to get the members involved in this great work, and inspire them to take upon themselves the role of member missionaries. This talk addressed the importance of the Ward finding and preparing those that may be inaccessible to the missionaries, for if the missionary is on the thatch roof trying to receive the man of palsy, he may not be able to reach out alone. He needs the aid of members, Bishops, Relief Society Presidents, and Youth leaders to bring those unto them. This, though, does not lessen the need for us to try to find others. We must always seek for the ones that we can prepare, and perhaps even ready them to be received by the members. General Conference was quite good, and I'm happy for the opportunity to have had it add to my testimony in new ways.

There's not too much more that I can think of about this week, but all of that was sent to President that is above, so let me open up my planner and see if any really funny things happened this week! 

All of the pics that have the date and time on them have been off by 9 hours, all the way up until the 30th of September. Whoops! So, since a couple of the pictures show things as how dark it is at each time, please understand that the time needs to be corrected.

I got a really nice vest that should have cost 50€, but instead was 5€, since the store manager was really nice to me. It was really small, an XS size, that no one was buying. It fits me only because of the strap that tightens it even further in the back, but I finally have a vest now! And it looks good! You can only wear vests with suits out here, so I've broken out the black suit again to complement the dark grey vest.

I also now have a few snow coats, all given FREE to me by the Elders that are about to die off. That's, of course, to say, about to go home. One of the snow coats is a bit big on me, but when I saw the same coat at a generic store (so not even as expensive as the brand name stores) it was in the 190€ range, so I'm really excited to wear it! From the few times I've put it on to brave the oncoming cold (it's been 0 degrees quite a few mornings, but that is Celsius) it is REALLY warm and comfy! So happy for the generosity of missionaries, and hope that I can be like them when I'm about to go away!

By the way, President required all of us to find out our Release Dates, saying that much like your call date, it is prayed over and determined from the promptings of the Spirit. My release date is June 21st, 2016, although the email back technically said June 21 2106. I don't think he really means that, though... right? 90 years out here is a bit long...

A little bit of road sign humor for you! My camera was not on hand when I saw this on a bus, so I missed the opportunity there, but there was a sign in English outside of a restaurant. I can only assume it was something like a Steakhouse from the sign outside:
"Vegetarian" is an old Finnish word for "Bad Hunter".
I cracked up when I saw that, hope that the little bit of humor there brightened your day!

That's all. My brain cannot think of more to say than I am SO glad that we got to listen to Conference. We watched the Live Satellite broadcasts of the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions, but had to watch the Priesthood and Sat. Afternoon sessions the following Sunday, and we had to also come to the church early this morning to go and listen to the Sunday Afternoon on our own P-Day time. It was worth it, though, and I'm so happy that it was in English! (They had the chapel in Finnish and the Young Adult room in English.)

Moro Poro, all,
Vanhin Milligan

 The Selfie

 Dates & Times for General Conference
The Church building they meet in

Kebab = French Fries, Meat, Cheese