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 Mormonit.fi 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