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