Monday, December 29, 2014

Well, I didn't see THIS coming... December 29, 2014

Christmas has passed, and brought in its wake some startling news... I'm getting a transfer! Yup, the noin varma feeling I had about staying in Tampere to help an Elder get used to our area got turned on its heels last Friday. We were on a bus, and apparently President called, because all of a sudden my companion gets up in the back of the bus and walks all the way to the front to hand me the phone. After the initial greeting, President told me that I will be coming down to Helsinki, the Marjarniemi District, to serve in a special little town.

Provo!!!   ...Wait a second, stupid autocorrect...   Porvoo!!!

There we go.

Yup, I'm serving in a Swedish-speaking area. Just my luck. Yes, we still speak Finnish, of course, but apparently speaking Swedish is also expected there. Whoopie. As if I'm not having enough fun speaking to people in Finnish. I'm just joking, I'm VERY excited to pick up a few Swedish phrases, and to be serving so close to the ocean! We don't have our own ward there, so we go to the Marjarniemi chapel for church. It's a bit of a drive, but it's all fun.

Just so you all know what the weather is like right now...     
Current Temp: -9°F -23°C

Yowch. It was freezing my nosehairs and eyelashes together when we had to walk to the church. It starts to warm up a bit next week. Not that I'll be here for that. It's -18 C down there in Porvoo now, though, so... Looks like the winter gear will still be making an appearance for a while longer.

Well, there's not much that happened this week beyond just CHRISTMAS. Which is to say, I had a TON of fun. We were at members' houses all 3 days of Christmas. That's right, 3 days. Finnish tradition is that it starts on Christmas Eve, with the official declaration of Christmas at 12 (right alongside the announcement of double-penalties for crimes and fines assigned during this time) and ends on our Boxing Day, which is Tapani Päivä for them. So, we had a lot of fun. I got to Skype my family as well, which was a great reminder of all I have waiting for me at home after I have done what is important. I can't wait already to speak to them in April! (Mom: I think he means May? Unless Finland celebrates Mother's Day in April...)

Well, other than all that, there's not too much beyond just these questions, so, here we go!

What is your favorite memory from your first Finnish Christmas?

It was probably all of the time spent with members just playing games. Since the 3 day period is no proselyting, it is important to still be doing something so we aren't just cooped up in the apartment reading and studying for 12 hours. So, we build up our relationships with the members. It was a lot of fun to see how their families are just like normal families! We also got to go with one family to a graveyard. During Christmas, there is a tradition to place candles at your family graves, and a family invited us to go with them to that.

So cool.

What did you eat for your Finnish Christmas dinner?

Ham, Fish, and Potatoes. It was actually their leftovers from Finnish Christmas Lunch, but that's fine. The other dinners were VERY similar, Ham, Fish, and Potatoes. I guess that everyone follows tradition for 3 days straight.

Do you eat much fish?

Yup. I can't even remember all of the kinds I ended up eating, because they listed them all in Finnish. We almost were going to go ice fishing for some, too, apparently, but the family decided it was too risky a way to achieve dinner and instead just bought enough. My companion was a little disappointed by that, but I wasn't too much. Giant frozen lake, and purposefully breaking a part so that you can sit by it for an indeterminate amount of time? I will pass.

Have you tried reindeer, yet?

Nope. Too bad, really. I hear you get to try it more often up north, but I'm not certain about that.

What did you study this week?

I mostly studied the talks that my family sent me for the Christmas break. I really liked all of the Elder Holland talks that were sent, especially the one that talked about why we believe the nature of the Godhead to be as it is. The Trinity is something that most people are really confused by, and hearing what it is that we believe is the nature of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost makes sense to them. It's been interesting talking so much about religion, 24/7.

What did you teach someone this week?

Well, we didn't get to teach too much, but there was a rather good talk I had with someone, not an investigator or member, about just how Christmas is an important time. Since when we were going around on Saturday, we could go by bus again (the systems had all closed down for the week), so when I sat by someone, I started just to talk to her and ask about how Christmas went. She said it went fine, that it was good despite... something. I didn't understand what that "something" was at first, so after asking her again, she said despite Christ meaning nothing to her. So, I got into a pretty good conversation with her about why she has this ideal. She said she just didn't have a close relationship with God, and that she didn't feel any love from somewhere else, so therefore there is nothing for her. I then just bore simple testimony that to me, how we feel God's love is very much like how she feels love for her family. When she is far away and not thinking about them at all, it can be hard to remember that she loves them and that they love her. However, when she is making an effort to stay in contact with them, she feels happier because she is always striving to feel love from her family that is already there. In other words, of course she won't always perfectly feel a love of God and feel God's love unless she is looking for it, and I promised her that it is always there, able to be felt through our actions like prayer. Well, she got off soon after that, and she didn't want to volunteer any contact information, but I think she went away thinking about that comparison. I would like to believe that, at least.

Did you meet anyone new?

We didn't get any new investigators this week, no. But, I think that having new missionaries in this area will make them strive that much harder to find people that they can start to teach right from the very beginning, so that they can personally see and be a part of their learning.

Are you being transferred?


Do you know who your new companion will be?

Yes, it's an Elder Saunders, from somewhere in Georgia. He seems to be rather well respected by missionaries here, so I think I will enjoy being with him. But, I'll find out Tuesday night!

What is a fun mission memory you have so far?

I think that I really have liked just seeing people learn about the gospel. Even if it is rather like that bus ride, where I can't see anything that happens after that, the fact remains that I have been seeking outwards enough that I am making an effort to show people that striving to help them find a peace and comfort in their lives is something that I care about. I hope that I get to keep helping people understand how it is that they can feel peace and comfort always.

Well, that's it for questions! I will keep up the faith in Provo/Porvoo for the next part of my mission, but it doesn't change that I am here to do this responsibility from the Lord. I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New Year! (Speaking of which, pray for me again, because New Year's Eve and Day are both also Non-Proselyting days! Grr!)

Vanhin David Milligan

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CHRISTMAS IS HERE! ~ December 22, 2014

Christmas time is here! I'm so excited about all of the things happening this week!

Christmas in Finland isn't really appearing to be that different, despite it being the birthplace of Santa, but there are quite a few things that set it apart from just any other time of year in Finland.
One: The lights are everywhere. The streets have coordinated all of the lights hanging over them, so there's always a new set on each street. I like the snowflake-themed ones the best.
Two: The Joulutori is actually pretty cool. Imagine a bunch of little stalls that have Christmas-themed items for sale inside, and then decorate them to look like little houses and place it in the center of the city. That's the Joulutori. There's all sorts of stuff, mostly food related, that just looks so cool. There's even a live blacksmith-area, where you can get stuff fashioned for you to look rather rustic. I am considering getting a ring from one...
Three: Joulupukki is getting a little hard to adjust to... I keep seeing straw-goats instead of Santa Claus, and it is just a little confusing. Goats and rams.

This last week was very much NOT spent proselyting in our area. Monday was P-Day, and that afternoon we hopped on a 3 hour bus to Rauma to do splits (my companion is the District Leader). Tuesday was there, and Wednesday we headed back to Tampere for Zone Conference (more on that to come). Thursday was TONS of service, all digging related, as well as our Weekly Planning. Friday was spent on splits with Tampere 2 Elders (again, for my companion). Saturday was a good day for missionary work, and Sunday was mostly revolved around church and trying to get people there, and then checking up on people that couldn't come, and then Call-Ins for my companion (guess what he is?) as all the Tampere District missionaries call and report about their areas this week. And now we're looking at 3 Non-Proselyting days coming up: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (which is Tapani, or Steve, Day in Finland). There's not going to be much work done before my companion leaves home. I hope he gets a good set of memories from times with members this week, though!

Well, there was a big announcement of changes at the Zone Conference on Wednesday that will start to take place on January 4th. There's quite a few, so I'm subdividing them a bit.

1st Change: We're getting a new Zone in Finland! Before we've only had 3 Zones: Helsinki, Tampere, and North. Now they are creating the Savo Zone, with 3 districts inside. We're going from 12 districts to 15, so there's bound to be smaller districts now to compensate. It's the SE area of Finland.

2nd Change: District Meetings for our Zone are mandatory to be held on Wednesday. This means that all of the District Meetings will need to planned around, rather than being a time that best accommodates everyone.

3rd Change: Weekly Planning is to be held on Friday instead of Thursday, to attempt to increase effectiveness for the weekends.

4th and potentially BIGGEST Change: P-Days are now to be held on TUESDAY. This really is just to appease the Helsinki Districts, so that they can go to museums more often if they'd be closed on Monday. However, it is bound to change the flow of the week now, and that means that I'll be sending emails out on Tuesday instead of Monday. Get ready for that, it's going to start in 2015!

That's about it, so to the Questions!


Yes, but only ice has remained... It looks like there will not be a White Christmas... Sigh. I don't wanna talk about it.


Surprisingly, the day where I actually saw the sun this last week coincided with the darkest day of the year. Yup, the Winter Solstice was on Sunday, and I saw the sun. It was a bit of a shock.

Have you tasted any interesting foods lately?

Yes! The Partanens are a Filipino family that fed us about a week ago. They gave us a Black Grass Jelly made of seaweed and coconut. It was... interesting. It was served as the drink, so it had this creamy base and then floating... chunks... popping up. My companion, due to his going home at the start of 2015, has been going and dragging me to Kebab shops repeatedly so that he can get his fill before returning to America. I'm getting even more sick of it than I used to be...

Have you been healthy?

Yup! This week I remained quite chipper.

What did you learn this week?

I started to study based around Topical Guide categories. The best subject that I feel I have studied is Problem Solving, which I started as a bit of a joke, but then came to REALLY like. I'm not going to actually describe most of what I learned: suffice it to say, I found it quite insightful. All of the words that were italicized were the words that are connected to Problem Solving were very interesting, and all connected to action. It wasn't just think about your woes and concerns, but act to resolve them with the aid of the Lord! I liked it a lot.

What did you share this week?

The Gospel. Next question.

No, I'm kidding! This last week, we got news that they FINALLY released the Finnish version of "He Is The Gift" on Youtube and for us to share with non-English-speaking Finns. It was really fun to suggest others to watch it, and I even talked about it to the ward when I was asked to bear testimony during sacrament meeting this last Sunday, which was because the Area of the 70 General Authority came up and asked me to do so... right before us all watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in Finnish. A bit odd to be the prelude to the General Authorities.

How has your testimony grown this week?

It has been growing pikkuhilja, little-by-little, and I have just been so excited to see how much the gospel can change people's lives.

Did you meet anyone new this week?

We reconnected with our lost baptismal date! He was in Sweden for quite some time, and wants to resume coming to church and meeting with us.

Where will you be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas?

These 2 days and the day after Christmas will be spent with a number of members, and I can't wait!

When do you find out about your next transfer?!?

This Saturday, or, Dec. 27, I believe. I think I will be remaining here in Tampere.

Well, no time to write anything else, we have to go now! We're caroling to people. Bye-Bye!

Vanhin David Milligan

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Time Approaches - December 15, 2014

It is SO weird to keep noticing how close to Christmas it is getting! There is only 10 days left. 10. That's not even 2 weeks.

Not too many unique things happened this week, but we did get a few nice miracles! The Zone Leaders came out to go on splits with us on Tuesday, and we had a great time going to various areas with them and contacting with that short video "He Is The Gift", which I think is pretty good. It was a pretty successful day when it comes to lessons delivered, so I think that it was a good experience.

We had a Tampere wards Christmas party this week, and the 4 sets of missionaries in Tampere decided to put on a Finnish version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. News flash: No one here knows the story of the Grinch. Ergo, it's not in Finnish. So, 1 set of the Sisters took some time to make a funny Finnish rhyming version of it! I could understand quite a bit, and it was very funny to listen to. My companion was the Grinch and I was Max. When they all came up with this idea, immediately they thought of us 2 in those roles, so. Don't quite know if that's a good thing. Only sad part about it was that the person we asked to be a narrator was a bit harsh in his appraisal of the Sisters' ability to write Finnish poetry (which, BTW, we shouldn't be able to, really... it's pretty complex structuring and grammar skills) and decided to take it upon himself to criticize the whole piece and attempt to rewrite it... ½ hour before the performance. Hmm. It was still fun, and the members had a blast, but the Sisters get dagger-looks in their eyes whenever they see him now... Well!

They also hosted a small Christmas musical thing, in which I was invited to sing in a small part with the YSA due to my ability to keep time. You think I'm joking. All of the people that could keep time were instrumentalists in the piece, so all that was left to sing were the... not-so-musically minded people. And it was a pretty interesting arrangement of a Finnish song, so it was potentially difficult to sing unless someone could start everyone else singing in the right place. Guess who happened to be there during one of their rehearsals of this. It was a really fun experience, but it was kinda weird directing all of these Finns in singing a song that I don't even know but all of them do. It was a great song, though, I wish I could've gotten a recording of it!

Well, I now just have a few more things to talk about Language-wise that happened this week, and then it's on to the questions! Both humorous language blunders this week were made in the same lesson, the first by my companion and the second by me. In a lesson to our newly-baptized investigator / recent convert, my companion was attempting to say something along the lines of "We came from heaven", which is Me tulimme taivasta. What he said is Me tulimme taivalta, which is... a bit different. Technically, it still means "from heaven", it's just the from-the-outside case -LTA rather than the from-the-inside case -STA. However, in Finnish, Taivalta means the English equivalent of "from heaven", as in "aliens from the heavens" or "meteors from the heavens" or "Superman came down from the heavens". It was quite funny to the Finns present. The other mistake was mine, and it was from me mixing up the words Haava, or wound, and Haave, or dream. To be entirely honest, it was the Finns' fault, because when I said that the Atonement makes our wounds clean, they corrected me and said Haave was the right word, to which I then continued to talk about how everything that is a sin in life is another "dream" that we need to heal, and that the Atonement's role in purifying our "dreams" is important, after which they finally realized that I had meant what I had said. Whoops on everyone's part there!


Did your package arrive? (My parents sent me a Christmas package!)

Yes! It actually arrived Wednesday morning! Funny thing, I was leaving the apartment with a Zone Leader (they had stayed overnight because they needed to come to the District Meeting that day, and that's where we were heading out to go) and passed by a Posti worker carrying a package to the door of our Talo (building). I said Hello to her, she smiled, and we separated. I then stood at the corner as the Zone Leader quickly ran a bag to my companion and the other Zone Leader (they were going via car, so this Zone Leader wanted to have them take his bag and leave it in the car for later) and I watched the Posti worker wait at the door for whoever-it-was to open the door for her to deliver it. There's a buzz-in system attached to all doors here. Well, no one was answering, and as I looked at the package from afar, I realized that it was quite prominently colored Red, White, and Blue. Hmm... So, as soon as the Zone Leader came back to my side, I pulled him over to the Posti worker (walking away) and quickly inquired if the package was for a David Milligan. IT WAS!!! I opened it later, and I LOVE everything inside. My possibly favorite part of it was the stocking made for me.

I also decorated that tree y'all sent me, and put it right alongside the Gingerbread house that the Young Women made for me! Very nice thought of them. I love gingerbread.

How was your health this week? Did you do that test you mentioned?

I, sadly, suffered from the Flu this Thursday. It was a bit sad, because I was just dead for the whole day, and although it didn't hurt our schedule too much (due to Thursdays being our assigned Weekly Planning day) it still made things more tight schedule-wise later on. But, good news! As my companion and one of the other Tampere Elders went out later that day to teach one of the lessons we had, they ran into the investigator that had a baptismal date that had dropped off the face of the earth! Turns out he'd gotten a new phone and been in Sweden up to that day, and quickly he gave them his number and set up a meeting. Very cool, I really like this investigator, and it still looks like he'll be getting baptized.

Oh, and the results of the stress test were... funny. When they hooked me up, they were concerned with my base heart rate (105 beats per minute at my most calm and laying down). When I started pedaling (it changed from treadmill to bike-machine in the plans, somehow) they got a bit freaked out at the top rate and how I accelerated to it. When I stopped, they were worried at the fact that when I had reached "calm" again I was still very fast-paced. However, when the data was compiled, I ¤technically¤  accelerated and decelerated within acceptable ratios, so... I'm okay? It looks like I will be sticking around for quite some time!

What is your weather doing now?

Well, it did snow this week and stuck around a whole day, but then it all melted today. Sad face. It's rather warm, in my opinion, although it is very dark...

How many layers do you have to wear to keep warm?

Right now, I'm just wearing my suit coat with my Sunday shirt. On the coldest day I've experience (-7 Celsius or so) I wore my Sunday shirt, Sweater, Suit coat, and nice coat from Halonens that I got for about 15€ or so... Not too bad. I have layers prepared, but haven't needed to use them.

How do you say "Merry Christmas" in Finnish?

"Hyvää Joulua!" Pronounced "Hew-vää (ä is like the a in Cat) You-oh-loo-ah".

Do they decorate the town/their houses like Americans do?

Sort of. There are lots of Christmas lights around, and the insides of houses do have Christmas trees. However, they emphasize candles in their decorations and straw-dolls of Joulupukki, who is Santa Claus. Or, rather, Christmas Goat. Yes, they make straw goats. He is the original, though, so really it's us who messed up the tradition by making Joulupukki a man instead.

Have you seen any beautiful moments of Christmas?

The Christmas party this last Saturday had some really good Finnish traditions displayed. They have quite a different range of Christmas music than us, so I can't really sing along in English to anything. They performed this little song-march called Holy Lucia, this girl having candles on her head or something like that. Fun fact: I got to sing in Swedish for that. Pyhä Lucia was sung in both Finnish and Swedish by us missionaries at the very beginning of the party as we marched in robes and caps that were intended to make us look like priests of some denomination, I can only guess Lutheran, and they were entirely white with stars. I did not take any pictures of it, because the robes and hats did not really look that appropriate on us...

What have you studied this week?

I have mostly been studying about the things that increase one's testimony. I have been trying to show that miracles shouldn't be the base of what causes you to believe, and that a sincere faith in Christ in what we need to have before miracles can leave any lasting impression on our faith and testimony of Him. It's been rather insightful.

What is something you learned?

In my reading of the testimony of Alma the Younger in Alma 5, I noticed something very interesting. Despite the miraculous account which he gives of the angel he saw that essentially came and said, "hey, stop being evil and trying to destroy the church", his testimony is NOT anchored on that experience. He specifically says that the Holy Ghost has given him his testimony, through Alma the Younger's prayer and fasting on the matter of Christ. Isn't that interesting, that a man who had to have an angel come to correct his ways doesn't have that as a part of the reason why he has a testimony of Christ?

Who is someone you have met that you hope to get to know better?

Hmm... I think that it would probably be a Young Single Adult that we've been running into quite a bit lately. He is pretty cool, and we are going to be Skype-ing at his parent's house on Christmas Eve. He has taught me (without meaning to) a few quotes from Disney and Dreamworks movies. For example: "Väärä Vipu!" means "Wrong Lever!" from The Emperor's New Groove, and "Se on niin pehme, mä en kestä!" means (roughly translated from spoken Finnish) "It's so fluffy, I'm gonna die!!!" from Despicable Me. I can't wait to talk to him and his family more!

How are your investigators doing?

We're expecting there to be 2 baptisms this next change, both fairly sure, and the other investigators are quite happy learning more about ways they can feel closer to Christ. Overall, I am praying that I don't have to leave Tampere!!!

When is your next transfer possibility?

Speaking of "praying that I don't have to leave Tampere"... December 31st or so. My companion will be heading home January 1st. How weird is that... He only has about 17 days left!

What is something you wish you could tell all of us?

Have a very Merry Christmas! I wish I could be with every member of my family this Christmas. I know that we need to make sure to get our priorities straight during this time of year, and although I've had troubles in the past doing so, it has been very easy in the Lord's work to remember what this time of year is about. I guess if there is anything I could say to everyone and know that it would change how they think about something, it would be that Christmas should mean a lot more than just presents. It's said a LOT, and we tend to just go "yeah, yeah, I know, I know", but really and seriously, it's very interesting to see the difference in how I've been treating Christmas on my mission versus how I've gone about it in the past.

Well, I need to get going, we are having a lesson, but I think y'all all awesome! Thanks for all of your communications, and be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Approaches in the Land of Joulupukki

So, I have been thinking about December, and then in a shock realized that there are only 17 days until Christmas. That's, like, 2½ weeks. WHAT. How did it get so close without my knowledge. Outo. (Finnish for weird.)

There are a few things that I want to say, but not too much, due to this week being rather uneventful in the way of really awesome things.

The first I want to say is that due to very careful and strict rationing, I still have quite a bit of my American candy left after 3 months in the country. I'm very proud. Especially regarding the quality of most Finnish sweets here (excluding chocolate, but I'm not the biggest chocolate fan...). Just ask anyone in my family to share some Salmiakki with you. You'll love the experience. In short, American candy is sought for here, and I am making bank on my trading of Airheads and Sour Patch Kids. Swedish Fish are not sold near Sweden. That was a little bit of a surprise. (Mom laughing hysterically here!)

Another thing! Minna, our investigator who got baptized, gave me permission to write home about her and attach a picture for my family and the blog! I didn't ask about all the missionaries that also receive my mass letter, so y'all won't get this, but here she is with us.

 Just us with Minna. Totta kai.

The Tampere District along with us.

Okay, a few language things I want to share really quick. The alphabet in Finnish is said differently than our English alphabet, which makes sense when you consider that theirs is a strictly phonetic language. But, that also means that when you ask someone to spell something out, (a name, an address, a new word) you can both get and give some weird looks at the mistakes that come to pass from it. For example, my biggest bane: The Finnish pronunciation of the letter I is said like our letter E. It makes sense, because that's the sound it always makes: the Eee sound. However, in the context of writing down, it is quite easy to write E. Different words are said when you do that. It's not the best idea.

The last thing, really, is also a language thing. We were with a convert that knows Finnish and English, and occasionally uses English slang within her Finnish sentences. An example may be to say "Dang" in the middle of a sentence rather than the rough Finnish equivalent of "Voi ei". One thing she said was "Holy Smokes!" I considered that for a while, and then replied with, "Pyhät Savut!" Which, of course, means Holy Smokes. Kinda literally. We had a good laugh. Later in that same appointment, as we were walking out the door, she said "Kiitos Käynistä" to us, "Thanks for visiting". However, she pronounced it incorrectly, at least to my ears, and she said, "Kittos Kaunista". That does not mean "Thanks for visiting". It means "Thanks, beautiful". So, I naturally turned around with a little bit of shock, and then my companion (having heard the normal parting phrase) finally realized what it sounded like she said, and we all had another bout of laughter before going.

Aaand the questions!

What has your weather been like this week?

Not too cold, but pretty dark. We saw a little bit of snow this week, but it was just flurries, and nothing stuck. I really hope we get a white Christmas...

Have you met anyone famous in Finland?

Interesting question! There's a guy here in Finland that we've become pretty good friends with that is an actor in some Finnish TV shows. He thinks we're really cool, and we meet to talk occasionally, although religion normally doesn't get talked about as much as the different lifestyles that people choose to live and how it interacts with both our lines of "work" in Finland. But, he plays the Turkish potential marriage candidate in a soap opera called Uusi Päivä, and acts as a nurse in the first big ER drama in Finland, Syke. He is ALSO (as if that isn't enough) a co-author in a new play coming out in Finland, as well as an actor within it. It's a new take on Peter Pan, and he is Captain Hook! His costume looks pretty awesome. The English equivalent of the title is "Someone's got to be PAN". I think he's pretty awesome, and he is cool with meeting and talking about religious things, so hopefully that'll lead to more!

Who is your favorite person that you have met since leaving home?

Now THAT is a difficult question! It may very well be Veli/Brother Sloan, the American man married to a Finnish woman out here. He is really cool, and gave me standing-permission during the Thanksgiving celebrations to use their names in emails. He is very intelligent, and doesn't really know Finnish that well, although he sings it very well. He will often zone out during conversations he can't understand and contemplate the mysteries of mathematics and quaternians, and I'm always impressed by the amount of math that we can relate to one another in considering the ways things are linked to one another. He reminds me very much of Father when it comes to his expertise in memory of mathematical functions, although his definitions would be much harder to understand had I not discussed them beforehand with Father. I hope that he'll be around for quite some time, and that we can keep up talking about math!

What is your favorite thing about Finland?

The ward members. That sentence is likely a shock to some people here in Finland on missions, as normally the members are either "all done" with missionary work (talked to "all" of their friends) or don't really care to have missionaries invite them to do missionary work (instead inviting missionaries over to just "hang out", which is fun and all, but... not productive...). However, I feel that at least here in Tampere, likely due to the fact that we helped someone come to baptism, they have really started to like us and have even volunteered themselves during specific parts of the days! Plus, the converts here are just SO willing to help out. One comes with us to just about every lesson that we have in his area, and is just really nice about it all.

What is your favorite thing about your mission?

The study time and the Companionship inventory. If conducted correctly, both of these things complement each other pretty well in building up companionship unity. I like the dual aspect of after studies, bearing testimony, and during Companionship inventory, offering insight of character to strengthen one's own abilities and personality. Of course, this only matters if done correctly. Doing one and not fully the other is just hearing stuff and not applying it well enough.

What have you shared with someone else this week?

We got back in contact with an investigator that has been out of town recently and confirmed everything that we hoped: no, he does not want to stop seeing us, yes, he wants to get baptized still, and yes, he hopes that he can marry a Mormon girl. That last one actually surprised me, but he said that he hopes to move in with some Mormon guys that are students like him so they can study together and then live with his Mormon wife and continue to do the same. He's very cool, and I am so glad that he is back in contact with us. But, along with this lesson, we taught about the Love of God, and how it plays such a big role in all of our lives. I shared a part in 1st Nephi 11, when Nephi is learning for himself about the truthfulness of his father's message. He is asked in verse 16, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" Nephi replies a thing he knows and a thing he doesn't know: "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." I thought this was cool, and we shared it with him as a thing that can give comfort in hard times. As long as we know God loves us, it is fine that we are sometimes ignorant as to why things happen, or what specifically a situation means to us. We just need to remember that God does love His children. (For those of y'all that think this was a good scripture, I suggest listening to Jon Bytheway's talk "5 Scriptures that will help you get through almost anything", or something along those lines.)

What have you studied this week?

The thing I have been most drawn to study this week is the life of Christ, guided by the book Jesus the Christ that I talked about last week. Still love it. Reading all of the things that He did in His life and just what the meanings behind the actions were is quite insightful. It heavily relies on what the Bible says and prophets that were in it at the time of Christ had said that were fulfilled by the coming and ministry of Christ. It's great to read about His overwhelming love for all of us. 

What is a Christmas wish you have this year?

Ahh, don't know. I guess I really want a White Christmas, since having snow everywhere is the best way to feel Christmas-y, but I'm not certain that's my wish, per se. World Peace would be nice... I guess that what I would love the most is to be with my family, but I know that I will be able to be in contact with them anyways, and regardless of distance, we're still thinking of each other just as much (if not more). That's the important part: thinking about family and what Christmas is all about.

¤This corny message brought to you by Vanhin Milligan¤

Well, I'm about tapped out of things to write. Another week, another matka! Be safe, everyone.

Vanhin David Milligan

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 1, 2014 - Thanksgiving in Finland!

Well, this week I forgot my planner at the house, and I don't know how, but that means that I probably won't remember everything I wanted to say. Just warning you all right now.

We had quite a few good things happen this week! We were able to participate in the baptism of one of our investigators, with the other one having been out-of-city for the last week, so we are postponing his for 2 weeks. I got to talk about Baptism right before the actual baptizing, and then the member of the 70 here spoke about the Holy Ghost. Let's just say his was quite a bit better than mine, even taking into account my Finnish being quite a bit lower of a level than his. But, it was good, and we all felt the Spirit there!

After the baptism, we had the pleasure of joining several families for Thanksgiving at the Ward Missionaries' house, where quite a few American families all came together to remember that holiday. It was a lot of fun as well, and the food was great! I didn't see any rolls there, though. That was the only oversight. I miss my family's rolls...

Well, I can't really think of anything else! Yup, my emails are crippled without the aid of my handy-dandy planner... I guess I'll just share a language thing I used this week. A not-often implemented way of instrumentality-expressing (like, going by bicycle, or, eating with a spoon) is to put it into the Possessive case (Genitive), although it only works for a handful of words. So, this week's sentence is: Aika kului sivin - Time flew on wings (a more accurate translation is Time wore out on wings, but it's the same). There you go!

And now for the Questions.

Did you get snow?!

I've been seeing flecks, but not large accumulations. It has been more than cold enough lately for it, especially considering the amount of daylight we've had this month. So, I was wondering why it was getting so hard for me to remember what times I was seeing the sun, so I could say how much I saw and when. When I asked a member about it, he laughed, and told me that in all of the month of November, we have seen 12 hours of actual sunlight. TOTAL. It's been completely obscured by clouds for most of the time.

How is your health this week?

Fine, no complications on any front. My companion, though, has had to go to the doctor about his eye. Ever since I've been here, I've noticed that he has this part by his pupil on one eye that looks like it is bunched up, smeared from one part of the eye to accumulate there. He went to the doctor about it after Sister Watson took note of it, and has been told to return to find out if it's just a scar or if it is more than that.

Did you meet any new people?

I have met quite a few people on the bus systems here, but none with the intention of ever meeting again. It's rather interesting: my companion has started to brag about how I try to contact people on the bus all the time, but he does it in the context of admitting that he's "given up" on some of the aspects of missionary work (bus contacting and working with members being prevalent among those). It's just interesting to hear him say he has "trained me well" when he is doing... not what I'm doing. Well, my 12 week training is officially over, so, I can start calling him my companion instead of my trainer. Thank goodness. I started to think I was an animal kept like a pet!

What did you study this week?

I could be a lot more detailed if I had my planner present! I write what I study/studied/learned on each day, and it is very interesting to look back on it all. The thing I've most done this week is start to try reading Jesus the Christ, by James E. Thalmage, again. That man was brilliant, and it is hard for me to read his book. Not because of comprehension, because I understand what he says perfectly, even when he tells a joke described like a fact or statistic. But, if I read it too often, I start to get this overly-philosophical strain in me, and I start viewing the world as if I'm not a part of it, and then I start to just see everything very unbiased in all regards except religion, and then... it's just weird. I am trying to avoid out-of-body experiences like that, because I tend to come crashing hard down to earth once I start to try to shake it off.

What did you share this week?

I talked a lot about the missionary efforts of Ammon and Aaron this week with various investigators and members alike. I think that I mostly taught about King Lamoni's father saying that he would forsake all of his sins to know God. It is interesting to see that same reaction in some of our investigators, and I hope that I can help everyone come to receive that same desire.

What did you learn this week?

This is the harder part to summarize... Well, I have been studying a lot from Jesus the Christ, like I've said, and in the midst of all of this I feel I have come to understand the Fall of Adam and Eve a bit better. I've always tried to describe that the Fall was a necessary part of God's Plan, and that he wasn't surprised by it, but rather, he had already set apart a Redeemer for us, Jesus Christ, and that Adam's and Eve's sin does not affect our lives in the concept of "original sin" that some have. Rather, each person after they are physically and mentally accountable for their actions (age 8, according to latter-day revelation) is susceptible only to their own sins, and that we are not held accountable for Adam's transgression. That means that little children are still regarded as innocent, despite should something as tragic as death befall them. Jesus the Christ has helped me to understand how to convey that a bit better now.

Have you taken any fun pictures?

Yes, I have, so let me try to find a few!

This is at 8 AM on Sunday. Yes, it's DARK. Those Christmas lights are pretty, though! Also, NO ONE is walking outside until around 10 on Sunday. There are also no cars at this time, really. Just very empty.

​Look at that pretty sunset! That is the sun, for one of the only times I've seen it this week, setting at... 1:30 PM. Sigh. It is getting really dark.

Were your investigators able to be baptized?

Yup! I wish I could send a picture, but I need to ask for her permission before I do that. Hopefully next week then!

Are you teaching anyone new?

In a sense, yes. There are quite a few people that we are talking to, but it bounces between the gospel and the world, so I can't really say that these people are progressing gospel-wise from our meetings. We're trying to talk more about religion, but it gets very easy to instead talk about other things!

Have you learned any Finnish Christmas customs that are different from American?

I have not learned any yet! The thing I will quickly mention: This Christmas time (24-26) has been labelled a "non-proselyting" time due to the dangers associated with Finnish tendencies to be drinking during these times or with family and not wanting to lose time together. We are allowed to be with members, provided we have an appointment with them beforehand. This means that I will be studying the scriptures a LOT these 3 days. If you all have any talks that you could send as a recommendation, I would love it!

Well, that's all I can think of right now! Have fun, family and friends! Be safe, all of you, and enjoy the upcoming winter!

Vanhin David Milligan

P.S. It's supposed to get to -10 degrees C tomorrow in Tampere. The high is 0.

P.P.S. Everyone should watch the new video called He is the Gift. It's going to be exploding on YouTube soon, so make sure to see it! Or you can go to

The next day, after the baptism, we found out that the Young Women of our ward made us Gingerbread houses! They also made some for the sisters, but mine is definitely the best one. It has frosting icicles!

This is me filling up the water of the font for the baptism! My companion is close by, don't worry...

Driving in our car. We're so lucky to have one out here! I'm not allowed to drive, due to certain fainting spells a bit back...

So. I was trying to catch a Sähly ball flying towards my face. And my eye got in the way. Yup. This is 3 days after the fact. But it's okay. I still got it. Hope it doesn't scar.

This is a Sähly ball.