Well, this week has been pretty interesting. I'll explain. So, I have been really tired and exhausted, probably due to the fact that it is SO dark and relatively cold as well. Interesting fact: My parents have said that the weather in Oklahoma has been about 10 degrees F cooler than my area of Finland this whole past week. Very weird.
I was hooked up to that Holter Monitor for just 24 hours, against what they informed me in the office when I first went. So, that was a relatively short trial, but it went fine.
We had a Zone Conference this last Wednesday, where we talked a lot about the importance of Finding and teaching simply with the Europe Area President, Elder Teixeira, or something like that. I got to see a lot of the missionaries that were with me in the MTC, since the Helsinki and Tampere Zones met at the same time down in Haaga's chapel, where David A. Bednar came near the beginning of my time here. I'm thinking that Haaga is just meant to be a place where all things spiritually uplifting happen in the ways of meeting leadership.
We also had a Restoration Concert here in Tampere, organized by the Tampere 1 Sisaret of the last 2 changes (current and previous). It went over really well! We had a surprising amount of nonmembers show up, and I got to sing in 4 different songs. The missionaries here are trying to get me to sing stuff for the Christmas concerts and ward activities as well, but I'm not too sure that I want to dive that deep into singing in Finnish, because then my grammar gets all messed up... Finnish Sung is quite a bit different than Finnish Spoken, which is also quite a bit different than Finnish Written, which is what I strive to speak (since it's the most correct).
Well, I managed to come up with a surprising number of things that happened this week, so, on to the questions!
How is your health this week? How has it been wearing the monitor?
Well, like I said, I only had it on for a surprising 24 hours. I was a bit concerned that the time of monitoring would be very unlike my normal state of health, as we were participating in P-Day activities and studying for that duration, but I feel that I managed to go through enough symptoms to give them a pretty good general picture of my heart concerns. I also kept a log religiously (get it? Ha-ha...ha...) to show them what I was doing at what time that I displayed concerning things, like an elevated heartrate just from riding a bus, a heartrate that is 200 beats per minute at only a jogging rate of 2 minutes of exercise, and a few other things. Other than that, though, I've just been tired. I've been eating fine, though. I've been avoiding greasy foods for the last month and ½, so I don't think that these symptoms are heartburn related, although I have considered the option.
Is there anything specific about your health that you would like us to pray for?
Just that the doctors can know any and all things that are concerning... I'm getting an Ultrasound and finding out the results of the monitor on this Wednesday.
Oh, I wanted to explain the monitor! I had 7 different electrodes on me (3 near my collarbone, 4 near the bases of my ribcage) and they felt SO itchy. Think of a bandaid holding a needle in place, and you CANNOT touch it. That's what it was like. It was kinda funny though, to see this weird bulge on my left hip where the box was. (It was held in place by a belt that they put around me, they were a bit shocked that the smallest belt they had made the tightening strap go all the way around me, TWICE. And ½.) But, no problems resulted from wearing it, other than a giant rash for a day after they took it off. Ouch.
What is your weather like? Do you have damp cold or dry cold? We are guessing damp since you are between lakes and oceans...
I think it's a mixture of both. It's definitely drier than normal, because I keep having bloody noses and skin issues, but it's not to the same level of Utah dry yet. Apparently, it will actually turn into a VERY dry cold despite the water bodies. And all of the fog. That'll go away too, the Finns say. Too bad.
Is your apartment staying warm?
Surprisingly, yes! We have a pretty nice apartment, and it retains heat pretty well. Unless my companion opens the window. Which he does a lot. Sigh. There's nothing even to see out the window except the backside of the Lutheran Church next door.
How is your suitcase enjoying the sauna?! ;)
What are your investigators up to?
Well, the one that we have been postponing the baptism of? The one that agreed with us and has really felt the Spirit each time we teach? He's gone. We don't know where. Every time that we call or text, there's no answer (although he did tell us he was going to switch phones soon, so maybe that's it). Also, though, every time we pop by his house when he's normally home, he's not. All the lights are out and he's just not there. He'd been having some financial difficulties, so he might have moved in with his fiancee (they live in separate talos) to ease that burden, but he hasn't come to church in quite some time and we don't know exactly where his fiancee lives. Just the general area. So, I'm a little concerned about that.
On a happier note, the 2 baptismal dates that are happening on the 29th are definitely happening! We had a concern with one perhaps getting a surgery a bit early, but she rearranged things to make it work. She's really excited to be baptized, and the other one is also quite excited. I believe I have said this, but he's already calling himself a Mormon to his friends. I'm very happy to be a part of this!
Are you going to be able to participate in the musical numbers you mentioned a while ago?
Already did! They were quite good, we did the 2014 Youth Theme Song, Come Unto Christ, as a missionary group, and then I was in a 5-person men's chorus for 3 other ones, including one of them being a Latin Choral hymn translated into Finnish! Quite fun.
Have you done anything new and different this week?
Nope. Well, whenever we've been at the church early, I've been teaching myself how to play piano with the 2 hands playing very different rhythms and parts. It's gone pretty well, I taught myself... now, don't laugh, these were the ones I know both parts the best... Song of Storms and Gerudo Desert. Okay, yes, both Legend of Zelda songs, but they were pretty simple to do, since the left hand uses repetitious beats on both! I promise, it was just for the separating in my mind of left-right hand playing.
Have you found any strange Finnish signs or statues?
I have found quite a few strange monuments here in Tampere. The first thing that I should say is that all statues here, with VERY few exceptions, are nude. That's just the art style. That's why I haven't taken any pictures of those. Okay. The other things I have found are little plaques that talk about war times and planes they used and stuff. They all have the Nazi symbol on them, since Finland was against Russia and utilized the Nazis to clear out their countryside. Didn't work as well as they wanted, but they got some pretty good stories from that!
Are there any lighthouses in Finland? (Those who know my mom, know she asked this!)
Well, we don't quite know... Neither my companion nor I have served on the oceanside, but I do have a friend serving in Espoo, and their apartment is right on the beach, so I'll ask him!
How has your testimony grown this week? What is something you have learned or studied?
So glad you asked! A Vanhin that just came into the mission field and is in Rauma, my district, asked me a question about praying for others. He has been uncertain as to why we do so, since obviously, people that are one of the only Christians in the whole area, not to mention country, would not be prayed specifically for nearly as much as a Utah-born-and-raised youth. He felt that the unbalanced amount of prayers would mean that God would be prone to only answer those that are directed most in common towards this Utah youth, but since that's not how God works, that it is therefore weird to pray for someone, so why do we do it?
After assuring him that he knew enough about the nature of God and that he does answer our prayers, I then proceed to bear testimony about things I had never consciously thought before. This has made me a believer in the idea that "a testimony is found in the bearing of it". I told him that prayer can be intercessory, or directly petitioning for the aid of someone that we are able to do no more for, whether due to far distances (physically or relationship-wise) or due to already having done all we can.
However, there is a much more powerful way, I feel, to pray. While certainly, we can pray for the aid of others in ways we cannot aid them, it is important and CRUCIAL that our prayers be directed towards aiding them personally. Much like Faith being an action yet leading us to others (namely repentance and baptism), Prayer, although an action, should also lead us to other actions, in this case, Charity. The desire to personally aid another's situation should be one of the most important reasons that we pray for others, or at least aid someone else by directing another their way.
During my scriptural studies of this later, I came across quite a few good scriptures. The most helpful one, I felt, that explained my testimony on this was 2 Nephi 33:3-4. Nephi talks about how he prays for his people, knowing that they need the gospel of Christ in their lives. He then says that he knows that God will consecrate his prayers for the gain of his people, "And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them". In other words, the actions that Nephi takes, writing about his testimony and experiences, will be the answer to his prayers of aiding his people. From this, I drew this answer:
When we pray for others, it is both a Commitment and a Consecration. We commit to do all we can to help them, and ask the Lord to consecrate our efforts that we may be inspired to act correctly.
I love this time I have out here to experience not just the world, but my own testimony which I have had and can make stronger. Thank you, everyone, for the influences you have had on me! I bring this email to a close now, but my experiences continue. Keep on keeping on, all!
Vanhin David Milligan