Wednesday, January 28, 2015

EteenpƤin, Keeping on, Pikkuhiljaa, Little By Little - January 28, 2015

So. This was sent out late, because we were on the library computers, trying it out for the first time, and it turns out that you get ½hour PER DAY, not more than that. Whoops. So, we got to send stuff today too. Here is the email I started to compose, and I'll finish it off, too!

Hello, everyone! Well, today is running a little bit differently than the P-days in the past. Specifically, I am right now at the Porvoo Library typing up this email, and the email composer does NOT like that I am writing in English... It keeps auto-correcting the words I put down into Finnish, but it stopped a bit ago, probably in frustration that I was correcting all of its corrections... Also, my screen is FILLED with red lines on just about every word. Sigh. It's fun to write with color effects, but not like this. Ah, well.

So, there wasn't actually any really new events for this week. We found another investigator and are doing our best to keep up our teaching with everyone. Surprisingly, most of the people we are meeting with each day speak English with us, and they only want to speak English (I'm sure to practice the language that they've never really heard a native speak before) which makes lessons and concerns easy for us to understand, so I'm not gonna complain!

It has been fun, though, because we have been teaching more lessons in Porvoo than have been taught for quite some time. We are working hard!

I have recently been tasked with helping a member (one of the only ones in Porvoo) with his English correction of a project involving global warming and the IPCC botching of the job, according to his papers... It's difficult mental work, but he is the  only member that can come with us on lessons when we try to have one with a member (which is always), so we are trying to repay him as best we can. It has been very interesting seeing what English concepts are natural and unnatural for a Finn. Commas will confuse them to death.

Well, that's just about it. One more thing: The investigator's family that we've been spending Mondays with has asked us to make them Macaroni and Cheese, since they'll buy the ingredients we ask for and then we'll come and cook it there with the boys. It'll be a ton of fun, and we have a recipe of Elder Saunders' that tastes quite good. One question for family: Could y'all send me the family recipe of Mac and Cheese, the REAL one, so that I can enjoy it here when I feel like having it? Thanks!

To the questions!

Have you learned any Swedish phrases or words?

No, but that's just because I can't remember the little Swedish that I pulled out of the book I got from Tampere's apartment. It's a Swedish-Finnish dictionary, so I might have a little trouble...

Have you eaten any Swedish dishes?

I have not. We have gotten no dinner appointments here, due to the fact that there are next to no members in Porvoo. Apparently, this area is one of the absolute slowest and hardest in the field, except for a few more areas up north. Mostly due to the fact that church is about an hour away, and Finns don't own cars, really...

Are you keeping warm?

I am, although I had some holes in my good coat. But, I am pretty handy with needle and thread, so I think I'm going to survive this winter entirely intact! Yay!

Is ice-skating a big thing in Finland? Hockey?

Yes, we've seen quite a few interesting things here related to hockey and ice-skating. The biggest thing is that they pour water over all of their soccer fields (sorry, football fields) and turn them into ice rinks. It's SO weird to see! It freezes really solidly, so that's good.

Even cooler (no pun intended) relating to ice: the lakes and rivers in Porvoo are quite solid. We watched people walk across the giant river, and quite a few of them ice-fishing in the middle of it. I was thinking, "WHY are you putting holes in the ice when it's super-deep and liable to break?!?" But Finns apparently know best, because I haven't seen any human-sized holes in the ice yet. We walked across a lake last night, but only when we knew it was absolutely safe. We didn't want to become the next human icicle.

Do you need any new shoes or clothes, yet?

I'm actually fine on all clothing, thanks! I'm keeping up good maintenance on what I've got, thanks to the sowing kits, and the only things I've had to fix are the aforementioned coat holes and a  hole in one of the pairs of slacks I've got. It's right over the right pocket, I think that my camera had put it there, but it's all good. So, nope, I'm fine. Ties are always appreciated, but never needed.

How is your health?

It's all good, really. Ei haitta.

How is your companion?

Super awesome. Since he's from Georgia, we're both enjoying the Southern pride. Yee-haa! Y'all is a popular word between us.

What is something you taught this week?

We taught a bunch about the Restoration, and we have another new investigator because of it!

 Sorry, we are really out of time now, so I have to just skip the rest of the questions... I think y'all are awesome, I hope that I can contact each of you more often!

Vanhin David Milligan

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Miracle Territory - January 20, 2014

Okay, the phrase "Miracle Territory" is my companion's, Elder Saunder's, favorite phrase to invoke whenever something really awesome spiritually related happens! And, we had quite a few of these random moments of awesome-ness, as well as, sadly, a few moments of not-awesome-ness. But water under the bridge.

Well, last Tuesday in the evening, we were walking around and met a Finn (surprise, surprise) that actually talked with us for ONE HOUR. Outside. We actually were walking around with him the whole time, going around in a loop through Porvoo over and over. He progressively got more and more interested in talking with us again, and once we parted, he insisted that we meet him again the next day and walk with him again! We went through a forest with him, and all of the time on both walks we were talking about the very basics of religion, and why it means so much to our lives that we would come all the way to Finland to share it. But, he was mostly interested in us talking about religion, rather than us asking about him/talking about ourselves. He wants to meet with us again this week, too, so hopefully we will sit and talk with him tomorrow!

We also have just started teaching a new investigator whose family loves us! They have decided that every Monday, we are going to come over and play a game with them (like, Monopoly, or UNO, or etc.) and share a small spiritual thought. And we hadn't even talked that much about Family Home Evening! He has 2 kids that are Finnish speaking, but learning English rather rapidly. They are in the 1st and 4th grades in Finland. I'm looking forward to talking with all of this family for some time to come!

That was about all of the "Miracle Territory" I faced, other than that, it was an okay week. We had Zone Training, but that wasn't too life-changing this time... But! To the questions!

1. What was your favorite thing about this last week?

Hmm. I think it was getting to know the one family's children! They were pretty fun to be with, one of them is adopted, and both of them are just so caring and nice. They gave each of us a 50 cent piece, and told us to get some juice with it! How cute!

2. What is a new skill you have gained since becoming a missionary?

I think that I have learned to be more aware of the needs of others. Whether it comes to the needs of investigators or the understanding of my companion's needs, I think I'm more aware of the fact that everyone, at one time or another, can be helped in some small way by me, perhaps even without knowing who I am! I think just realizing how much of an instrument I can be in God's hands has been the new skill I've most enjoyed.

3. What is something different about Porvoo?

Hmm. Perhaps it is the fact that so many people here are Swedish speaking? That is a bit of a new one on me. I'm still having to learn Finnish, so I think I'll try to sidestep learning Swedish until I'm a little more solid on what I need to learn in that...

4. What is something you love about Porvoo? (Can be the same answer as #3!)

Actually, to an extent, it IS the same answer! In Porvoo, I think I have found a lot more genuinely nice people. It is likely because every single person that I've really liked for their attitude is a foreigner of one sort or another. No, not like, from a different land, foreign, but perhaps just even being a Swedish-Finn born in Finland but with a different mother tongue. Even that means that your home is a little different than your average Finnish home. Really, just the idea of being slightly different in a country and finding others that are different as well tends to make you bond with them better, and both parties are almost always immediately comfortable in talking with a stranger if they're both strangers. Kinda weird, but it makes sense to me... I think, in general, that I have come into contact with more off-the-bat nice people here. Lots of people in Tampere were nice once you got to know them, but this is a bit different.

5. Have you met an Elder Hansen? A missionary serving in OKC is good friends with him. He thinks that Vanhin Hansen (Hanson?) served in Porvoo just before you?
Yes, I do know of him! He was also at the last Zone Training that we had, he's somewhere in Haaga District now, I think... Hammenlinna? I don't know for certain... Who's asking?

6. Have you seen the Northern Lights?

I haven't yet... You apparently need to be more up North to see it, but I'll try to look a little bit closer!

7. What is something you studied this week?

I've been studying a lot directly from Preach My Gospel, and I'm SO glad that we were challenged to read it as a ward! I have a lot more comfortable of a knowledge of it than I would otherwise. But, I've been going to the chapter endings and reading the Personal Study sections, and then studying off of those. It's been good! I liked the Chapter 4 most, I think.

8. What is something you taught this week?

I think I taught most about the Plan of Salvation this week to various people. I am grateful that it is such a comforting message for others!

Well, that's about it! I need to go now, no time left for emailing, sorry all! I'm out. Rauha. Peace.

Vanhin David Milligan

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Porvoo's SNOW DAYS - January 13, 2015

This week, I have little-to-nothing to write about, but little-to-no time to do it, so it all works out! Yup, we have been surviving in Porvoo lately, and as you can guess from the Subject line, we had a LOT of SNOW and WIND and REALLY COLD WEATHER.

But, there's not anything I really want to say, beyond what I'm going to talk about when I'm answering questions, so, here we go!

Who did you meet this week?

Let me think... I got to meet 2 really cool people, one that is a Finn that speaks English to us and absolutely loves what we have to say about family, and another that is a Swedish-Finn that was going to speak in English to us until our member present hijacked the lesson into deep doctrine in Finnish. But, he still wants to meet with us, mostly to talk about the Plan of Salvation and what it is that we believe happens after death, and why it is that God allows things to happen in our lives that we don't think are good for us. Good conversations and lessons are bound to start up soon, between us and... everyone!

Are your legs getting tired from all the walking?

YES. We walked a lot this week too, as well as went through a forest to get to a set of potentials. There was an awesome sunset at 2:53pm, and we happened to go right on top of a hill during it, and I got pictures!!!

I have a lot more like this, but I think that I want to have time to upload a picture of something else too, so just one pretty sunset picture. Yes, that is the ocean on the other side. Or an inlet. Either way.

Do you have real snow?

YES! And a LOT of it. We have had a lot of fun tromping through the blizzards... And wind...

Oh, and, all of the rivers flooded over and then froze solid, so a ton of the pedestrian roads we take were frozen into part of the river! We had a lot of fun sliding around, I'll see if maybe I can send a video via email about it later? But, here's a picture about it!

Yup, walking trail on the left, frozen river further over, and giant flooded area straight ahead!

What did you study this week?

Quite a bit from General Conference, actually. I have been reading a lot about Justice and Mercy and the roles of Heavenly Father and Jesus in administering both to us. Also, I keep revisiting the talk by Pres. Utchdorf, about "spiritual instruments" (like, prayer and scripture reading) and how they help us with spiritual discernment. The whole light-of-stars analogy and the explain-technology metaphor makes it really understandable!

What did you teach someone this week?

We taught a lot about the Plan of Salvation, and why it is that our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. Specifically, because he is our Heavenly Father. I have found Matthew 7:7-11 quite good at responding to almost all concerns about this. If someone wonders how to receive aid or comfort, the first few verses. If someone doubts that God loves them or that he'll involve his aid so personally in individual lives, the last few verses!

What did you learn this week?

Mostly, I think I learned that it is good to always be acting in the role of an example of the believers. So many times as missionaries, the only contact that we get with some people is as we're walking by and they bike past in a rush. If we're goofing off, or just being loud and obnoxious, what is going to be the split-second assessment from these people? Will we seem like men who are believing that they have a responsibility to share God's message to others, or will we seem like boys on vacation in Finland? It's important to remember that people are always watching and aware of our example, seeing if our words meet our actions.

I actually have run out of time this week, we only had 50 minutes today because we are going to play VOLLEYBALL! Woo-hoo! Write y'all next week!

Vanhin David Milligan

P.S. Elder Saunders, my companion, is from Georgia, so I keep hearing familiar Southern phrases, like "y'all" and "fixin' to do" and all of these really fun ways to speak! So reminiscent of home! Ooooooklahoma!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Porvoo! Hey, I spelled that right!! - January 6, 2015

So, Porvoo has been VERY different than Tampere. For one example, it is quite brighter! I have seen the SUN this week! That was a little shocking to know it still existed and didn't burn out a while ago.

11:30 AM!!!

Well, not too much has happened this week, mostly due to the fact that what few investigators we have here in Porvoo couldn't meet with us, and that we had another Non-Proselyting Day on the 1st of the new year. Speaking of which, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I'm so excited to be able to say that I was in Finland for all of 2015, and I can't wait to help even more people here!

It was a bit strange coming here, because Tampere is about as "big city" as it gets (without living in Helsinki) and now I'm down in the small town of Porvoo. We do not have many investigators right now, so that's also different, because now I'm finding that I have to do just that even more: FIND. I like the teaching side of it all, though, and my companion is quite impressed with my Finnish. In fact, all the ward is quite impressed with my Finnish. Possibly because the last person in Porvoo with Elder Saunders was my MTC companion, Elder Wilson, and when they hear that we were companions in the MTC, they realize just how young in-country I am, and become even more shocked that I speak and comprehend like I do. They speak a lot more simply in church here than in Tampere, so it's been fun to understand almost everything!

Due to the fact that I am having a brain moment right now, I am going to start answering questions! Oh, one last thing: For some unknown reason, we are no longer allowed to "chat" with missionaries in our mission area, regardless of gender, and have banned ALL emails between missionaries in Finland (before Elders could email Elders, and Sisters could email Sisters, but now no one can). Very weird, so that means that this email onwards, no one in Finland is reading about what I am doing... But, questions!

1. What day did you arrive in your new transfer?

I arrived the Tuesday night, just in time to put up luggage and then go walking around in the dark! We decided to go contacting to see if we could find any new investigators. As a result of the VERY far distance we went, I got 3 blisters on the back of my heel that all immediately popped when I pulled off my shoe. It hurts.

2. What is Porvoo like?

Very small. Almost everyone I've tried to contact here ends up switching into Swedish to avoid talking to us, and my companion doesn't know Swedish... So, it's been a bit rough. But, it's a quaint little area, and I do like the look of it!

3. What is your new companion like?

Oh my GOODNESS, Elder Saunders knows almost EVERY reference I make, and has the same sort of likes! He has seen a lot of Whose Line, just like I have, and we are constantly coming up with obscure quotes from it to try to trip the other up! He is pretty cool, and is a really diligent worker. He likes to talk about interesting things, and also doesn't really care to discuss "deep doctrine", which I am very grateful for. In short, he's a pretty good guy that will hit his Year In Country mark at the same time I hit my ½ Year In Country (which is to say, the end of this change).

4. What is your new apartment like? Does it still have a sun lamp? And a sauna/suitcase storage?

No Happy Light, and NO Sauna! I'm a little disappointed, 'cuz now one of my suitcases is just next to my bed since there's no room... I like the apartment quite a bit, it has a separate kitchen and living room, and separate bedroom as well, so it is MUCH more spacey than Tampere's apartments. The only down side is the bathroom, which is small and cramped and hard to shower in. Plus, all of the pipes in there are either searing hot or freezing cold, so you've got to be careful what you touch!

5. Did you inherit Elder Nemelka's bike?

No. Someone threw it away, lock and all. It got totaled. Never mind that.

6. Are you riding a bike now that you are in a smaller town?

No, actually! We walk to make sure that we can contact what few people are out in the street!

7. Are you eating less Kebab now that you have left the city?

Yes, there are NO Kebab places near us, at least that I have seen yet, except for down here in Marjaniemi. We have to drive about an hour 4 times a week: Church, P-Day, District Meeting, and Ward Correlation with the Ward Mission Leader.

8. How long did it take to get to church this week?

It takes roughly an hour to get to church via car. There's no other way to get to church. Yup. Pray that we don't have car troubles!

9. Do you have a car in Porvoo?


10. What is your favorite thing about your new area?

Probably the area of town labeled Old Porvoo. It's this cobble-stoned area with some quaint little shops, and it just looks really old and pretty. There are also a lot of bridges here, so I'm happy!

11. Who have you met this week?

Not too many people. We've met a recent convert in the area who's pretty cool, but we only have 2 investigators, only 1 of which I met and our member with us potentially dropped... gotta check out that weird Finnish case he used on him...

12. What is something you learned this week?
I honestly am forgetting exactly how it is that I really progressed in specific testimony this week. I remember that a lot of my studies were focused on remaining focused on the work, and avoiding both temptations and complacent feelings. I think that helped me to remember why exactly I made this decision to come to Finland, and helped me to focus more on finding, despite me really not being the best at it.

13. What is something you shared this week?

I have prepared 3 separate lessons on the Restoration this week, only 1 of which we taught! And that 1 was with a member that didn't want to really talk about the Restoration, and instead decided he was going to talk about doctrine that doesn't really matter. Like, Christmas isn't actually the birth of Christ, it's an old pagan festival, and tons of stuff along those lines. I asked a few really good questions that really brought the Spirit into the room, and the investigator was seriously considering answers, and then the member would bust in and break up the great feeling by continuing to talk about random junk. Needless to say, I'm a little peeved about that lesson, because I felt the Spirit and we know he did too, but each time it was driven out by our member. It was an obvious difference in the lesson when we didn't have the Spirit there.

14. What type of candy do you want sent in your birthday package? Since they speak Swedish there, do you want Swedish Fish?!

This is good to talk about after venting a bit! I don't want chocolate, there's tons of that left over in the apartment from Christmas! Swedish Fish would be AWESOME. As well as Lifesaver Mints, the Wintergreen kind! Beyond that, I can't think of anything... But, thanks for the thought!

Okay, that's all I have time for today. I think y'all are awesome, and I hope that each and every one of your lives are going well and progressing your understanding of what you are doing in life. Please, all, be safe in this upcoming year!

The 9 is an apostrophe! My family gave me these message blocks for Christmas. They are only 5/8" square. Tiny.

Vanhin David Milligan