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

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