Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 2015 - This Week: Teeth Go Crazy - But Not Mine!

So, my companion Elder Saunders had one of his wisdom teeth taken out, along with the adjacent molar from infection. To skip past the gory details and revisits of the dentist in the days following, we have been stuck inside since Friday. Sigh. We are lucky, we were given permission to drive to church to email, but we will be returning to Porvoo to stay for at least another 2 days as we go again to try to fix stuff that is going wrong. Pray for my companion: I don't want him to die if I'm leaving!

Speaking of that - we don't find out our transfers (if there are any) until THIS Saturday. I think I must have said something wrong... Yeah. (Or Mom remembered the wrong week and asked him 20 questions about if/where/who/when he was getting transferred...)  So I'm in Porvoo another week, at least. I'm personally thinking that, as weird as it is, I will be staying in Porvoo with Elder Saunders another change, due to all of his current and upcoming surgeries for teeth. Yes, we'll have been 6 months together if that is the case. I can deal with it, he's fun enough!

Yeah, with about 5 days of being inside and at least 1 more on the horizon, there's not much more to talk about. So, to the questions!

What is something you taught this week?

We taught a bit about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how it is that our message and commitments are all centered around following the example of Christ and being baptized. We have a few more potentials now that we are getting ready to visit and share the message with, just as soon as Elder Saunders recovers.

What is something you learned this week?

I have been studying a bit from the different scriptures where it talks about Brotherly Kindliness. The passages almost always can apply to missionary companions, so I figure it might be a good way to always try to seek to treat my companion as I best should. Especially if I have a difficult companion!

What is something you want to study?

I think I should be studying a little more about Love. Yes, that's a weird and general statement, and in the end it all funnels back to Charity and the Pure Love of Christ, but hear me out! In almost all of the parables that I have struggled with applying in the past - The Prodigal Son, the Workers and the Same Wage, and others - the way to best overcome that pride is through a sense of Love of your fellow brother, for receiving that which is able to help him in life. I am comfortable, I think, with the concept, now, and try my best to always think like that, but sometimes, when even in their "forgiveness" people seem to squander that which is re-given to them, it is hard. My pride of the "always doing what is right, I deserve these blessings and you don't" attitude shines through a little here... So, I think I need to study Love a little more, and maybe even just the steps to return to our Heavenly Father - because everyone seeking forgiveness and betterment is also focusing on those same steps, and I might see myself more like them if I understand that our struggles and accomplishments are the same!

What is something you are working on?

Probably getting rid of excessive pride... Pride in your work in fine, in healthy doses! It keeps you encouraged that your actions will keep you on the right path to be in the place to help others. But, if it gets carried away into boasting, then we have a problem. I don't think I boast too much, per se, but I do have a silent "you deserve the bad consequence coming to you" thought when someone tries to do something I've warned them is futile/wrong. It gets a little annoying when you are trying to love someone else and they just keep bashing you down.

Don't worry, none of this is happening from Elder Saunders!!! We are doing well together, but I'm just remembering past problems and seeing them in current former-investigators, and in some other missionaries in the field... I do my best not to judge, but that's what I need to work on most, right now!

Is it getting warmer? When does Spring arrive in Finland?

It is getting up to high 40s, low 50s in the temperatures. So, yes, much warmer! I'm practically roasting!   I'm not certain exactly when it is supposed to come... I think that it is technically already here! There are some tulip buds coming, even if the tree leaves haven't returned yet.

Well, that's all, folks! We need to get back to the safety of Porvoo before more crazy stuff happens with Elder Saunders! Love you all, (at least I'm trying to,) and be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan

P.S. Something for Dad's Birthday today!
I hope you enjoy his creativity and the fact that he put the harmony part for the last line of the song! Such a talented musician!

Entertainment in Finland?


The Ukelele that got left behind by another missionary and now belongs to David!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 2015 - Things Looking Up! (Right Before Leaving?)

This week was kind of busy! We managed to get quite a few potential investigators found when the Zone Leaders came over for splits. It was kind of funny; we've been trying for weeks to meet some former investigators, and all of a sudden some of them answered, and they all lined up appointments for the day that the Zone Leaders come, so we could actually visit them all! Prayers are answered!

We have another investigator now, and he has accepted a baptismal date. He's kind of younger, so it's cool that he is interested. We should meet with him again today. I hope we can be open enough to understand what it is that he is looking for, and show that the gospel can individually help us with our lives.

We will continue to be visiting people that said we could come back, so there are even plans for us to be busy this week! All just in time for changes... When it's possible that I could leave Porvoo... Hmm.

On a positive note, we had a pretty good Zone Conference just last Saturday. We had to get up at 2:30 AM to get over to there, but it was worth it. Why? The Zone Conference was a Double-Zone Conference, being held in THE TAMPERE CHAPEL!!! I got to go back to Tampere for a day! That was quite a lot of fun. My old bishopric was there, and all said "Hi" when they saw me! They mostly all remembered that I had been transferred down to Porvoo, so they asked how that was. We got to hear from Elder Nielsen, the one who spoke last General Conference about the Prodigal Son in the analogy of his sister's experiences. He was a good speaker, even if for a while during the last part he made it seem like we were going to be receiving iPads any day now, just to then tell us we aren't in the European testing group that he and Elder Bednar are here to give iPads to. GRR.

Side shout-out to the Nissen family if they are out there: I got to finally meet Elder Nissen during the Zone Conference! He seemed a little shocked that I existed beyond the electronic blog. It was fun, I got a picture with him to prove that we've finally met. (Of course, he did not SEND the picture... Mom)  (April 22nd - However, Elder Nissen sent one to HIS mom and she forwarded it to me!)

Elder Nissen: I found Elder Milligan at zone conference!!!!! He is a lot smaller than I imagined…
(I am laughing so hard right now! Mom)

Well, I think that's about it! Questions!

What is something you learned this week?

This week I've been going over a lot of my General Conference notes, as well as the Plan of Salvation. I have been studying it with a large emphasis on having faith during trials. The stories of how burdens have been lifted in different ways has made me desire to be the kind that gets through trials because I am stronger through them, rather than trying to "pray them away". That was a big thing that Elder Nielsen talked about at the end - how Christ's Atonement is not only a redeeming power, but an enabling one. That was really good! There is a new Mormon Message out today about exactly that, quoting the talk I was reading for a lot of the study of it. Mom, if you want to grace the blog with a link, that'd be much obliged! (He was studying Elder Bednar's talk from 2014 April Conference as well as Elder Nielson's. Elder Nielson gave them those talks to study from before the conference, as well as another one that he did not tell me the title of. The Mormon Message is from Elder Bednar's talk. Just in case any of you got as confused as I did! Mom) https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/bearing-our-burdens-with-hope 

What is something you taught this week?

I taught a pretty good lesson about the Restoration and Being an Example to our recent convert. I was with Elder Hugie, one of the Zone Leaders, and although we had planned to talk about strictly the Restoration, I felt impressed to share some of my recent thoughts regarding how important it is to be a righteous example of what you believe in, and how much that can show what you really have faith in. After that, I talked a bit about S. Michael Wilcox's talk "The Fourth Watch", which I actually haven't read. I've just received some excerpts of it from Father's coworker from BYU, Sister Stoddard, I think. She shared a great section about how important it is to realize that some concerns in our prayers don't seem to be being answered or addressed at all, even when we are asking the right questions and seeking for the right things, because we need to have had the situations to best understand it. It was a great section, and perfect for bringing the Spirit into the lesson. Elder Hugie then brilliantly gave a different commitment than we'd planned: he invited us ALL to pray about a way that we can change our attitude or perspective or actions so that we can be a better example, and be more open to the answers that we are searching for. It was great! (Thank you, Sister Stoddard for sending inspiring messages to our boy! Mom)

What is something you think we should know?

Hmm. I guess if you all could try to find and read the S. Michael Wilcox talk, and then get me a copy right after that, then I think that we could all learn from that. It really, from what I've read so far, seems to address the questions we all have at one point or another: why am I having to endure this trial, in this way, at this time? If you all could think about that and make it so that I can as well, then that's what I'd like us all to know. (This is a talk from BYU Education Week as far as I have been able to find. It is available on Audio CD, but I haven't found a transcript of it, yet. If anyone else has info, let me know! Mom)

What is something your companion has taught you? (serious, not goofy! ok, after you say something serious, you can say something goofy!)

Oh, serious, THEN goofy? Okay...

He has taught me a lot about drive to find people to talk to, even when all has seemed futile up to that point. Despite whatever we have gone through that day, no matter how rough the lessons or day itself, he seeks to be in a place to be able to find His children. That's really inspiring, because it can be hard to keep going when there's nothing left. And now we have stuff to do!

And now the goofy-ish one. He knows a LOT of musical references, and together we have made our own little 4-Chord Jam using songs that aren't in the clip I always used to watch. It is great! I know my family is probably groaning over that one, but, hey! (Definitely groaning! Mom)

What stood out to you in General Conference?

There was a lot about marriage and family in that... 'Nuff said... It still helped me think about stuff that's important, though!

Does Finland have a lot of bugs? Snakes? Scary critters?

Lots of mosquitoes are appearing now, although they seem to hate me here as much as they do in Oklahoma! I haven't gotten bit yet, but my companion seemed to be getting attacked for a while.

Have you been able to go to the Helsinki Temple more than once?

No, just the once that I got to go during Interim, after 6 weeks in Finland. We'll find a way to get there sometime...

I'm guessing you find out sometime this week if you are being transferred?

I find out next Saturday, at the beginning of May. It should be fun, but I'm a little worried for the time leading up to it, because this Friday, Elder Saunders has to get a wisdom teeth extraction, which will be putting him out of commission for a while... basically, until change calls. Oh, well. I'll find a way for us to still get work done somehow! Pray for him, though, will y'all? It's hard enough being on a mission, even harder to be on one and not get to do mission work.

Did your package ever arrive?

I got it last Wednesday! It was AWESOME!!! Tons of American candy, all of the letters from my Birthday present, and 2 new ties! It was great, I wore one of the new ties to Zone Conference, the one with the matching pocket square.

I feel I need to say this again, though... I love the fact that I have a package, and it REALLY did make me happy... Just the occasional letter with a flash drive of "hello" videos from people would be a great present - I don't need that much candy! That being said, Thanks again! I am going to space this out again - I still have quite a bit of candy left over from the MTC packages...

Well, that's about it. I hope that everything goes well for y'all! Be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan
If you click on this to make it bigger, you can see that his eyebrows are FROZEN. Mom's question: Where is that toasty warm hat we bought that would cover those frozen eyebrows???!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 14, 2015 - Just About Nothing New

 February Sunset
Well, it is coming as close to being dead as it could possibly be in our area... There are no really progressing investigators. We have dropped now all but one of our investigators, period. It is getting a little discouraging for me and my companion, but thankfully, we are still getting along with each other, despite being together for the last 3½ months with no one else really to talk to or go on splits with...

This last week was filled, though, with the craziest amount of "trunky" discussions yet, at least on my part. I dreamed about walking around Porvoo, contacting, and then having President Watson call and tell me that we were now authorized to catch Pokemon while we walked and train them up with potential contacts. All of a sudden, the world was filled with Pokemon everywhere and I spent the night catching and training a team... That was super-nerdy, and super-disappointing to wake up from. The next night I dreamed about building a D&D castle, like, life-size, in-between the apartments located near us, so that we could go a'venturing inside on quests. Yeah. I'm going off the deep end a little. My companion has been all of a sudden remembering tons of really good music that he likes, and has been explaining how he likes different artists and songs and what-not. Then we both talked about video games a lot. I'm a little afraid for our next change if we find out we are STILL serving together...

Yeah, that's about it for my week that I can think of... To the Questions!

How big is the ward you are serving in?

Hmm. Numbers... There are about 150 or so that are actively showing up every Sunday, at least that's what my companion thinks.

How big is the youth program in your ward?

There are a few youth in this ward, but it's not as big as Tampere's. They have about 6 Young Men, none of which are Priest age, and 5 or so Young Women, also not being in the Laurel age group.

How many families in the ward are in Porvoo?

There are around 50 families, from a quick glance at the ward roster!

Did your package arrive?

No, not yet. I really hope you all didn't pay to have it shipped quickly, because it is far beyond the day that you all predicted when you sent it out... If you did, might want to see about getting a refund. No letter, either, if you've sent one yet.

Is the weather getting better?

In a sense, yes! The sun has completely reversed schedules this last month. When the month started, it was still kind of following that winter schedule, dark pretty early. However, just last night we were actively contacting until 9 without realizing it was even getting close to time to head in, because the sun set at 8:40 PM. The sun is also up at around 3 AM or so, so we've had to block the window with mattresses. It's all fun. There is still quite a bit of cloudy rain, though, so my suits are still facing a little danger if I try to go out without a jacket.

What is the strangest thing you have eaten on your mission?

Mämi. Probably. It is just pure rye. You need to eat it with cream and sugar, but it's all good. I actually liked it a fair bit. I think I emailed about it last week, though.

If not that, then it would be something that wasn't actually a Finnish food. I had black-seaweed jelly made by a Polynesian family in Tampere. That was weird.

How long has your companion been on his mission?

He's been on a mission for about 1 year and 3 months. He has hit his 1-year-in-Finland mark already. He feels old. And yet young. We've talked about this.

Weirdest part? Sister Seegmiller, from my group, is training right now, and she will go home at the same time he does, while her trainee goes home at the same time I do. So weird.

When is your next transfer?

May 1st, basically. Great thing - It is right after another set of 2 Hard-Red days, as graduation/Labor Day to the extremes. With lots of alcohol. That's not the great part. The great part is that if this is the separation point for me and Elder Saunders, our change will have started and ended with Hard-Red Day celebrations (New Years Eve/Day for the beginning, Vappu for the end).

Well, that's it over here. I hope you all are doing well, I am hoping to hear from a lot of you!

Vanhin David Milligan

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 7, 2015 - General Conference Was Pretty Awesome

Yup, I'm really happy that I was able to watch General Conference out here. I still haven't seen the last part of Sunday Morning or the whole of Sunday Afternoon due to not enough time / satellite problems. But it's cool. I think there was a lot of Family/Marriage related talks... Not sure how that applies too much to me as a missionary beyond teaching and goal-setting... :)

Did you get your package?

Afraid not. Finns really like their holidays, so the Friday-to-Monday time this last week, Posti was closed. It is normally closed and not delivered on weekends, but Friday and Monday got thrown in due to the normal Friday holiday and to the Finns' 2nd Easter on Monday. Yes, they have more than one day for most holidays, like the 3 days of Christmas. Everything shuts down. I'm not sure I like it. I'm looking forward to receiving it sometime this week, then!

Did you meet anyone new this week?

Although we have managed to better our street contacting to hand out with commitments more copies of the Book of Mormon and more pass-along cards, we have not had any success in being able to visit any of these people. It's too bad, but we walk on. We are walking for SOO LONG all of the time. Yesterday was a strictly contacting day. We couldn't even tract if we wanted to, because it was 2nd Easter and door-knocking is not allowed. Porvoo is going a bit slowly, but we are working our best to see it pick up. Elder Saunders and I had a long talk yesterday while walking (with no one in sight, since, you know, holiday) about the importance of not losing faith in an area. Our recent convert is what's keeping me faithful right now that there is still something to do and people to teach.

How are the members treating you?

It has been alright. There's still involvement from the members in Porvoo, and we even have had some members from the Marjaniemi Ward that we attend to reach out to us. We got to have a dinner appointment this last week with an American family! The Humphries (that is soo not a Finnish last name, it's great) invited us over, and we had traditional Passover-style food. But a little more yummy than it would have been for them. And, I got to try out a Finnish Easter delicacy there. It is called Mämi, or something like that. It is essentially pure rye. It looks like a chocolate cake/fudge mix, but tastes very different. I actually really liked it, so I think that threw off the family and my companion. Apparently missionaries react badly to it, normally, especially if you think you are eating chocolate goop.

Our recent convert has been getting people at work interested, has even given out an Estonian Book of Mormon that he got from us to an interested coworker. He is so excited to share the Gospel, it really encourages me.

What did you learn this week?

I spent a lot of time preparing for General Conference by studying the various ways that prophets make known the word of God. It was really insightful to listen again to a BYU Devotional that Elder Saunders had by Hugh B. Brown, called, Profile of a Prophet. I like it a lot, and it inspired some scripture searching along the lines of "how can people righteously receive the word of God as told to them?" I thought it was a good prep for General Conference.

Small note: In General Conference, Elder Nielsen spoke about the Prodigal Son, and the lessons from that parable. He is coming to the Zone Conference in Tampere on April 18th. I'm trying my best to prepare for that, as well.

What did you share this week?

Not too much teaching was done this week to anyone besides members, but they were still good lessons regardless. To the Humphries, we talked a bit about Agency using their favorite superhero, Spiderman. They are really young kids, so that was important to keep them entertained enough to listen. We talked about how Spiderman had to repeatedly make one good choice after another to become a superhero. It was really good, because at first they said how Spiderman tried to make money off of his powers, and his uncle got hurt. (I didn't have the heart to tell them that he died...) Once he learned from that, he did one good thing after another, and eventually, at the end of the day, realized that he was a "good guy". We said that it is important to in each small action, make a right choice. Enough right choices will eventually make people trust you, and you will find out that you are being called a "good guy" by those that see you. It went well, all together.

What was your favorite talk from General Conference?

There are a few that I really liked , so pardon me while I get all my favorites out in a list of appearance! Appearance by Finnish broadcasting, that is.

L. Whitney Clayton's talk about Light and Belief was good, with the story of Sailor.

Elder Ballard's talk on Missionaries felt rather direct, even if most of the time was talking about prep leading up to and then continuing lessons learned afterwards.

Pres. Utchdorf's was awesome, since I knew about the Potempkin Village myth from AP Euro, and seeing how it can be a metaphor for avoiding Facades in our life was great.

Wilford W. Anderson's over the differences between going through the motions and knowing the reasons for our actions through the comparison of Dancing the Steps vs Hearing the Music was quite fun!

The little that I saw of Elder Holland's talk was really good. I liked the story of the rock climbing and where the metaphor was going with respect to the Fall and Christ's role within the Plan of Salvation.

I think of those, though, Pres. Utchdorf's was the one I most needed to hear, not so much for my own actions right now, but for trying to make sure that I never decide to just fake things and not have the right attitude. In that sense, Wilford Anderson's was probably my favorite when it came to a metaphor that I see me using in the future, and I think that it can give us all a good way to see if we are teaching things correctly to those under our stead.

What is your favorite Finnish hymn?

Okay, this is new! Let me grab a hymnal really quick so I spell this right... "Maa on niin kaunis". In Finland, this is a Christmas song and has a little different of a message, but the tune is very familiar to me from the days I sung in the Christmas Cantata back home. The English song with the same tune is "Fair Is the Sunlight", or at least it starts that way... Mother, feel free to put in the right title now... (Beautiful Savior)

Well, that's it! I'm glad to have been around to see General Conference, and that we can still access it out here, even under very different time windows.

I hope that all of you will continue to be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan