Well, there wasn't much work done this week. Mostly because we were traveling to Helsinki a lot. We had to go at the beginning of the week to get the mission office people some stuff and pick up a new phone (exactly like the old one), in the middle of the week for a Zone Training meeting, and in the end of the week for the Helsinki Stake Conference. Lots of time not in area. The time spent here was spent trying to fix up an unkept Area Book and find actual potentials within it (5 years of not being touched, grr...), as well as trying to physically locate where those potentials are now. Not too much teaching to anyone but members.
The Conference was great, though! We got to attend the Saturday Session as well, this time around, in addition to the Sunday Session. I think I got more out of the Saturday, so I'm glad we were invited. A few funny things happened there. I got to meet all of the people I just left from Porvoo - including our recent convert! - and had a lot of fun with that. When we came in to sit down, my companion and I noticed that the back of the room was all filled up, and that the first 3 rows were entirely unused. So, I said we should sit in the 3rd row, and that way we will be close when other people continue to come in and fill up those spots. But no one ever came. Which meant that despite 2 rows of chairs in front of us, we were in the front row of people. We WERE the front row of people. A bit crazy, since Pres. Watson was sitting in the front with his wife, and the member of the Area 70 was there. President actually started to make funny faces at me and my companion when we were sitting down, and when I pointed at him to let him know I saw that, he started to laugh! I think Pres. Watson has a great sense of humor, and despite his rules being really strict, it's fun to interact with him.
Another cool thing: The member of the Area 70 that was there was a member in my ward in Tampere. He is the only one in Finland, so he is invited to many of the Stake Conferences. He was also on several lessons with me and Elder Nemelka when we were teaching our investigator-now-recent-convert in Tampere, and I learned a lot from his lessons. He is that recent convert's home teacher, so she is in good hands! After the meeting, I told my companion that I wanted to go try to talk to him at some point before we left, to see if he happened to remember me. To my great surprise, once he stepped off of the podium, he made a beeline to where I was sitting and shook my hand, saying, "Hello, my dear friend, Elder Milligan!" He didn't even need to look at my badge! He then proceeded to tell me everything happening with our recent convert, and saying how much she missed me being able to talk with her and read scriptures to her. He gave me a lot of comfort on how she is doing. I was the first one he talked to after the meeting, and one of the only ones, as he very quickly escaped off to another meeting. That was really cool to see that I could have made an impression on someone!
Well, that's it for amazingly-interesting things that I can think of... To the questions!
How is your health?
I am still at the same weight, but it may go up soon as we continue to have members inviting us over to feed us! I have been a bit tired lately, but that's to be expected when you are a missionary. You don't really have free time to relax.
Are you enjoying your new area?
Oh. My. Goodness. The area? Is HUGE. I finally counted up the kilometers our area stretches. If you happen to have a Google Maps thing handy, go look for Nummela, Finland. That's almost at the top of our area, further up than that requires letters that aren't on your keyboard. Now, look for Hanko, Finland. Not the one in main Helsinki - the one that is to the southwest of Nummela, Lohja, and Ekenäs/Tammisaari. Yeah, it's on the coast. And it is also my area. The whole connecting line of Nummela/Vihti, Lohja, another town, Tammisaari, and Hanko is my area. It ranges about 150 kilometers. I have no idea how we are supposed to get anyone to church!
From Lohja alone, it takes between 45-50 minutes to arrive at the church building, and our area stretches +90 kilometers past even that. We can't really invite them to only 1 hour of church - anyone that takes them there will want to stay for the whole 3. We have to ask investigators for a minimum 5-hour-commitment to coming to church, and even more if they live further away than Lohja. Most of our potentials live in Tammisaari, or Ekenäs. That basically doubles the travel time. We haven't even been able to visit there, yet, due to the time it takes and the travel involved, not to mention the fact that the place is primarily Swedish-speaking!
Oh, well. I bet everything will work out in the end.
Are your shoes surviving all the walking?
Those shoes I got? Super sturdy. I haven't even needed to break out the second pair, and these are doing great. They might even last my whole mission, warranty aside!
Do you go back to your apartment for lunch, carry snack food to munch on, or eat out?
We go out at 11 and come back at 12 for food, generally, with going out again at 1. It is pretty nice to contact at 11 - there are actually occasionally people outside! We don't really ever eat out, although both me and Elder Greciano Raiskila want to at least try some of the places around us. Even the ones that are rumored to be absolutely horrible from other missionaries, like Hesburger. Pray for our health...
Are people feeding you well?
Yes. To make it short. We have had quite a few dinner appointments, and will likely continue to have more as the weeks go on!
What is something you learned this week?
Well, I have learned that in really hard situations that can lead you to question, "what is the most effective thing that I can do right now?", one of the best things that can guide your actions is a small prayer. Whether or not you are religious, you have to admit that taking a moment away to calm yourself and seeking for a way to be open to inspiration can be quite beneficial in getting action to be more precisely oriented. I have constantly been wondering, "How can I best help an area that I am not even aware of what is going on?" The most helpful thing has been to just seek for that which can help, and then prayerfully bring it before the Lord and ask if it is right. More often than not, the action that I want to do feels right, but it still gives me more confidence to know that it is a good action, rather than just half-heartedly doing it, wondering if I'm in the wrong place at the right time.
What is something you studied this week?
I have been going through all of the Missionary Purpose that is on page 1 of the Preach My Gospel manual. I am going through it right now on the basis of "how can I give investigators that which is my purpose", and plan to later go through it with the emphasis of members. I think it has gone well! It is almost like studying the Gospel of Christ, but there are a few different things emphasized in this.
Have you had any funny language mishaps lately?
Hmm. I can't think of anything, actually... With Elder Greciano Raiskila, we have been talking about mistakes that we hear a lot, but there's not too much that we ourselves mess up on. So how about 2 funny idioms that I've learned?
If something falls through, like a plan, then you can say that it "palaa poroksi". This roughly translates into English as, "burns into a deer". I don't understand it, but Finns do, and they laugh when an American knows the phrase.
If something begins to nose-dive (that's the rough English-equivalent of this idiom) and fail, it will "loppua kuin kanan lento", or, "end like a chicken's flight". This one makes me laugh more than the Finns that hear it!
Did you learn any Swedish in Porvoo?
No, no no no no. I only learned how to say "Do you speak Swedish?" and "I speak a little Swedish", because when you say those things, people tend to switch back to Finnish. They will speak Swedish to avoid speaking to you, and then they will try to speak Finnish to throw you off a second time, so it is great! I actually got a Swedish missionary nametag from being in Porvoo - Åldster Milligan! Woo-hoo! Now I have a similar situation with Ekenäs in my area - everyone there speaks Swedish primarily. Snap...
Which is your favorite tie?
That skinnier blue-with-silver-stripes ties, with the two lines always really close together. I normally wear it with my vest, 'cuz I think it looks nice together! But, any black- or blue-themed ties are my favorites in general.
Well, that's it! I'm done! I don't have anything left to say! The rest of this email if I tried to continue would "loppuu kuin kanan lento", so I'll just sign off. Be safe, everyone, and thanks for emailing me about everything going on in your lives!
Vanhin David Milligan