Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28, 2015 - Splits Week

This last week, we had our District Leader and his companion in Lohja to help us out with missionary work. It was a lot of fun to be with Elder Johnson and Elder Nissen! Elder Nissen and I talked quite a bit about just how weird it was to finally meet each other, and we tried to get some good pictures for home. All of which are on his camera. (I will be contacting Elder Nissen's mom to see if he sent any! ~Mom)

We have been meeting a lot with our investigator planning to go to baptism on the 8th of this next month. We're really excited, and she is doing great! Hoping that the members keep on doing an awesome job of befriending her.

There's actually not much else to talk about, sooo... Questions!

What did you learn this week?

This week I spent a lot of time studying different parts of the Bible where the Apostles are urging their members in various areas to keep the Gospel plain and simple and not throw in their own "fables" into it, especially if it takes away from the truth and obscures things needlessly. I think it was a good study, because it has been a few things that we have been asked about this week. On that wonderful leading note...

What did you teach this week?

We got to teach quite a few people about why it is that the Gospel is what it is. Most people that stop to speak with us here in Lohja aren't religious at all, mostly 'cuz they look at the crazy things people have done in the name of religion and say, "no thanks, don't want that in my life". And I can't blame them. If the gospel was merely defined by what men did with it once they had stripped away the teachings of love and charity, patience and mercy, brotherly kindliness and humility, I wouldn't want it as a part of my life either. But that's the great thing about the message we share. We know that the whole, complete truth is here. Religion isn't a way to control the masses - it is a way for man to individually feel the love of our Heavenly Father and let it change him to treat others with a type of that same love. When it starts to be seen like that, and you act on it in a way that lets you see that as true, the whole concept changes. It can be a huge eye-opener for some people.

What do you want to teach in the next week?

We are hoping to talk a lot about Family History with the investigator shortly going to baptism. I love Family History, so that's partly why, but she is also very family-focused. When members were saying that families are ordained of God, that our families can be eternal, she was dumbfounded, and immediately asked tons of questions. She knows it's true - I think that doing Family History would be a cool way for her to show others just how important it is to her, and it would be really cool to help a Finn with Family History! I haven't had the opportunity yet, but I have seen quite a few people on library computers doing that, even gone up to a few and given them a family history card.

Is all the snow gone?

Yup. It's been raining a ton, though. It's also started to get darker again. So. We'll be back in the midst of pitch soon.

Were there any bikes frozen in water in your new area?

No, I checked. 😜 But, there is a giant chasm! It's pretty cool, it's a super-deep canyon that we can't see down all the way into due to several protective fences. I really wanna see... We've thrown a couple of rocks in, it always takes SOOO long to hit the ground! (I hope he took a picture of this! ~Mom)

Nathan wants to know: Who's your favorite brother? Biological and in the church.

Ja-haa... Well, by default, my favorite-and-least-so-biologically is Nathan, of course... that's what you get for being my only brother...

You can't ask me to pick a favorite church member! That's just not fair! If I had to choose anyone, though, it might be a certain recent-convert in Porvoo. Who I just remembered gets sent these emails. Probably gonna get an email back from him about this... But, yeah. Not fair!

Nathan also wants to know: What's the tallest building you've been in or on top of in Finland?

Hmm, wow... Well, Tampere had the tallest skyscraper in Finland, it's the shiny black building by the train station that I'd taken a few pictures of. But I haven't gone up that. Man, I think that the highest Kerrostalo I've been in only had, like, 9 stories, and that was in Porvoo, of all places. Yeah, tall buildings aren't a Finnish thing. I have been on top of 2 different giant hills overlooking all of Porvoo, though! The views were fantastic! Lohja is relatively flat, in that respect. Just one giant hill, and not a good look-out point from it. Just a gym.

Well, I guess that's it! I'm loving it out here! I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks in Lohja, hoping to meet some great people to leave for the next missionaries here - which might still be me again!

Thanks for all of the things that y'all do to let me know you care about this wandering missionary of the north. Pray that no yeti's come after me!

Vanhin David Milligan

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 21, 2015 - Slow Week, But Cool Things

Yeah, this was a super-slow week for us. We haven't been able to meet with many of our investigators this week, due to almost all of them deciding to go on vacations. But that's cool. We're still in good contact with them.

We have had one of our investigators at church for the last 4 Sundays now, which has been really cool! She's excited for her baptism, and we are excited for her, too!

We got to have the Zone Conference this last week, as well as see a baptism this last Saturday for a new member of our ward! The sisters had been teaching her, and the service had many languages in the program. When the Bishop got up, he said that we had heard 5 different languages that day. I did a quick count-off on my fingers - Finnish, English, French, and Swahili - and then the Bishop made sure that we remembered that the language of the Spirit was something that was speaking to all of us. Pretty cool thing to say, and I think it helped us to answer an investigator's concern later that day - the fact that we aren't giving well-prepared speeches that we have taken classes in Convincing Strategies for -  we rely on the Spirit to bring the word of God unto the hearts of men. The only thing that then matters is if you then let the Spirit into your heart, and learn from it. I liked that lesson.


Megan's question: What was the color of your tie 23 days ago? Or yesterday. Your choice.

Okay, you got me - I don't catalogue my ties by day, or anything like that. 😜 (By the way, there are new emoticons! What's with that?!)  Yesterday, I was wearing that blue tie with all of the overlapping blue-and-Silver squares. I like that one, but my favorite is that not-quite-a-skinny-tie with dark-blue-and-Silver tight diagonal lines. It goes well with the vest I got out here.

Did you do anything new and different recently?

Hmm. No, not really... I got to help clean the church, but that's not really cool, I guess. I don't know, like I said, this week was really slow. I'll be on the lookout for new and different things this week!

Have you met anyone new and different lately?

Well, we did meet someone new, but I think I wrote about them last week. We got to start teaching another person, so that was good. I can't really say too much, though. Weird Finnish privacy laws. But, I'm doing well, don't worry! Plenty of people to talk to now.

What have you studied this week?

I studied quite a bit more of Preach My Gospel (using the Finnish and English technique that I talked about last time), and I have also started going through the References part of the Bible Dictionary - the one where it shows the New Testament quoting the Old. It's been pretty interesting to read up on!

What have you taught this week?

We have started talking in depth about Commandments with one of our investigators. The most important thing that I think that we've shared is that the commandments are not supposed to be a list of rules that we just blindly follow. I got to share some points from the Music of the Gospel General Conference talks, one of my favorite from this last time around. (Mother, if you could share that here, that would be awesome!) It means a lot more when we know what it means, you know what I mean? 😁 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-music-of-the-gospel?lang=eng
(This link will take you to the talk he referenced. It was one of my favorites! ~Mom)

What have you shared this week?

We also got to teach the English class in church this last Sunday. It was going through the first 5 chapters of the book Acts of the Apostles in the Bible. We were to talk about the Holy Ghost having helped us as missionaries, and we then started talking a lot about why the Holy Ghost is important in all of our lives, and how it can help us both teach and learn, through speaking and listening. It was a great lesson, and the new member was there too!

Is it hot enough to want ice cream and popsicles? Or is it mild?

I'd say it's pretty mild - it only gets up to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit - but when you're walking outside for 5+ hours a day in white Sunday shirts, it gets hot enough! I just yesterday found out a great way to combine the concentrated Finnish juice (Mehu) and Finnish Ice Cream to make an awesome berry-tasting-float. Looking forward to cooling off with that. (I had no idea how much David liked to create his own floats! First the chocolate milk ones in the MTC, now these! ~Mom)

Do you know any good Finnish jokes?

I've heard a number, but most of them rely on mishearing or mispronouncing a Finnish word, or knowing about Finnish sweets. There was a really funny one about Chocolate Kisses in Finland, but they aren't Hershey's Kisses, so it doesn't make sense to Americans. They are very different.

Probably the best translated-to-English-from-Finnish joke that I can tell goes short-ways like this. A stuttering young man walked into a door-to-door Bible salesman's office and asks to be hired. The head guy, knowing that it's really hard to market regardless of stuttering or not, gave him a big box of Bibles and said that once they were all sold, he'd consider the man as if he weren't a stutterer. A week later, the man was back with wads of cash, saying he'd sold them all. The head guy was shocked. He said that if the man could do it one more time, he'd have a top position in the Company, and could share his marketing pitches with the whole industry. With an even bigger box in tow, the stutterer went out. After only 1 more week, he was back. The head guy was so impressed, he set up a committee meeting right then, called in all of the marketers, and placed them in a conference room with the man at the front. It stuttering Finnish, he explained his strategy - go up to the giant buildings with 40+ apartments, buzz each room individually from the intercom, and say that he would read (as best as he could) the Bible from beginning to end, repeatedly buzzing their rooms, until they bought a Bible from him.

It's really a funny joke when you look at the fact that practically EVERY apartment complex in Finland has this set-up where that is actually a viable option!

Well, that's it for this week. I'm hoping you all are doing well - be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 14, 2015 - My Stay Just Got Longer

Yup. I was counting up my remaining weeks at the beginning of this change and noticed that the numbers weren't divisible by 9. So, I sent an email out to President asking about it. I just got back from a Zone Conference where he answered that question.

Turns out that my release date has been moved. Due to what I can only guess was unfortunate planning on behalf of people not aware of a 9 week transfer schedule, my release date has been shifted from June 21 to July 21. That's the full 30-day shift that they can do without an official extension grant. So. Plan for me back a month later? I'm kinda confused, but. Don't know quite how to respond. I guess I'll just hop over to questions! (I wonder if this affects all 10 of the missionaries who arrived when he did? You would think it would have to... ~Mom)

What is a unique way you have been able to serve others in Finland?

Hmm. I think that the most unique (or weirdest) way has been when we have been asked to play sports (on P-days) as a way to contact people and/or meet with less-active members. I am, of course, not very sports-oriented, but it's fun to see my companion having as much fun as he does. He played hockey and tennis back in Spain, and we have been asked to participate in Sähly and Tennis out here, so he feels right in place. I am generally the pallopoika (ballboy), so that's a good chance to speak with people on the sidelines.

What is something you hope to do before the end of your mission?

I would like to be able to find a way to secure stuff that will keep me inspired to have the Finnish language still a part of my life. The easiest way that I have thought about so far has been to buy cool books and movies in Finnish, but I'm trying to hold off on that, 'cuz if they're too cool I will want to break them out while I'm still out here! So, I'm trying to find a way to gather up things that will keep me utilizing my Finnish in a way that is fun to me. If there's any advice, I'll take it!

What advice would you give someone who is waiting for their mission call?

Don't fret over where you're gonna be called. Even if you're concerned about the language that you might have to encounter, don't worry - the Lord isn't gonna ask you to go somewhere that you cannot function. He will enable you to do miracles out here - so just make sure that you are actually trying to learn about the gospel in a way that you can relate to others why it is important. That aspect of teaching and learning is rather universal in the mission field. No matter what the language or culture, your testimony is still your testimony. Make sure it's actually in existence before you worry about needing to translate it!

What was your favorite thing that happened this week?

There was a FHE activity in Lohja yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and one of our investigators went out of her way to come! That was cool to see tons of members saying hello and being friendly to a complete stranger. Finns are so nice once you are a part of their lives, and them being members kind of helps them to make everyone feel like they are genuinely important to them.

What did you learn this week?

I have spent a good time studying the whole knowledge-vs-wisdom side of missionary teaching. There is, in all things, a point where we can just lay out knowledge, information, data, whatever you wanna call it. The question is, how can the 'knowledge' that we share be communicated in such a way that it becomes firm, strong, applied 'wisdom' in the lives of others? It's a fantastic thing to see when the gospel just clicks into place in peoples' minds - the moment when it is no longer a nice lifestyle, no longer a cool philosophy, but rather a deep, meaningful thing that can influence our lives thoroughly. I guess I've just been trying to be open on how to help people in that capacity. Hoping that I can learn more!

What did you teach this week?

We taught quite a bit on the aspect of families being together forever. That concept really strikes a lot of people out here, and hearing how much families are important to us strongly resonates with more than a few of them. It really was amazing to see our investigator who has been coming to church keep coming back to this concept as the thing that she is seeing why another part of the gospel makes sense. She always comes back to the fact that because we have our families, we know that when we say we have a loving Heavenly Father that loves us, we actually know how that feels because we have seen some small aspect of it in our own lives. It's great to see family be so important to people - makes me all the more excited to have that eventually be a part of my life, too!

What are you most excited for in the coming weeks?

Wow, I don't know... I'm excited for the baptism that we may be having at the beginning of August, I'm excited for the baptism that's happening this Saturday in our ward, and I'm excited for the chances that we will have to find new investigators as we go a-walkin'! There's nothing that seems too concrete in the coming weeks right now, so I take comforts where I can.

That's all! Thanks to everyone that has reached out in some way to another person. We can all use a bit of a helping hand once in a while. Be safe, and keep on keeping on!

Vanhin David Milligan

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July 7, 2015 - Aaaand the Change Calls are in!

I think that I need to first say that nothing super crazy happened last week, beyond the fact that once again, our investigator came to church! She's very excited about the gospel and is more than willing to make the trek to the church with her new member-friends to find out if it is true or not. We're excited to see her keep progressing!

The questions will basically answer all other things that happened, sooo... To the Q's!

Are you being transferred? (And all the questions that go with that! Old area, same companion? Old area, new companion? New area, old companion? New area, new companion?)

I am staying in Lohja! That's great! And, I'm still staying with Elder Greciano!! I told him so, I said that so far, I've kept serving 2 changes with the same companion in the same area, so we prepped for us both sticking around. It payed off! We are planning for a lot of continuing fun this change. So. Old area, old companion, new-found fun upcoming.

What is your address?

The Lohja address is still the same -

Sepänkatu 3-5 A 5
08100 LOHJA

The mission office has officially changed locations now, so that new address is in effect.

Upseerinkatu 3 C
02600 Espoo 

What is something you learned this week?

So, I went and started going through the Preach My Gospel manual, from the very beginning, in an attempt to fully go through everything that the manual says. To make sure that I'm actually thinking about everything, I go through it during my language study, too, but comparing the Finnish and the English translations, learning stuff in the language and seeing the importance of certain principles highlighted through the nice 'emphasis' cases in Finnish. Kinda cool that they do that - they have about 6 endings for words (enclentic particles, or something like that) that give a different emphasis for each one - one to make it a question-based sentence, a few more positive emphasis of different degrees and perspectives, and likewise for the negative emphasis. Super fun to mess around with.

What is something you taught this week?

Well, the thing we repeatedly brought up with people was the concept of Agency and the ability to choose. It's still a little shocking to see some people have the definition of 'agency' be roughly, "I can do what I want", and they get shocked when you mention that with the ability to choose comes natural consequences for our choices. Hopefully, our choices bring positive consequences - we help someone, we feel happy. It's weird, though, to hear some people say that the choices they make shouldn't have bad consequences - they have "freedom" to choose. Yes, there's freedom - but that's like saying that just because we have the freedom to mix two dangerous chemicals together, when we do so, it won't blow up in our face. It's interesting to talk about it with people, but everyone does think about it, so that's good.

What is something you shared this week?

I actually got the chance to talk with the church youth about, in a round-about way, enduring to the end. I was put in charge of talking to them for about 5 minutes or so, and I just started talking about how sometimes, no matter how you look at it, what we are doing can feel hard. I know that sometimes I roll out of bed and want to roll right back in, but I have this responsibility to try to help people while I'm in Finland. We can do our best, be keeping all of the standards we have, visit church weekly, absolutely love the church, and still find it just hard, sometimes. So, I read with them that bit in Jacob 3:1-2, where these pure-in-heart people that I think most of the youth are are directly spoken to. It seemed pretty nice, we felt the Spirit, and it really just got summed up to be, hey, if you know what you're doing is right, then take heart - you're not alone, and He's gonna be helping you every day.

What is something you would like us to know?

Finnish is a crazy language. You can say all sorts of complex, grammatically-correct things, and it'll still get shot down by the inflected (or infected) bits of the language. A good example - did you know that in order to most appropriately say that the time is, say, 1:30, you say that it is ½ of 2? No matter what prep you do, the correct casings of things you throw on to very specifically say that "the time we are referring to is 30 minutes past 1" with all sorts of language principles applied correctly, Finns will nod and then say, "so, ½ of 2?". Sigh. I try too hard, sometimes.

Other than that, I think the most important thing to know right now is that I am having a BLAST out here in Finland! I'm definitely supposed to be out here at this time, and I am looking forward to all of the experiences I'm gonna have this time around with Elder Greciano!

Do you need any new clothing items? Are your suits holding up? Your shoes? Your white shirts? Anything?

Hmm. No, I think I'm good! Shoes are fine, haven't even needed to switch over to the second set yet. I've been sewing the pants of my slacks, so they can survive a bit longer. (sewing the pants of my slacks? I think he is losing his English! ~Mom) If anything, I might need short-sleeve white shirts, but that doesn't bother me so much as it kinda could hurt my companion if I don't have them - although he is from Spain and used to the heat, he really feels more comfortable if he is wearing a short-sleeve white shirt. He has some, but he can't wear them unless I'm wearing some at the same time. New mission policy on companionship unity, I don't know. We got this rule instead of the wearing-suits-24/7 rule being continued into the summer, so I'll take it without complaint, knowing the alternatives.

Has anything funny happened lately?

Other than the situation where I tried to explain it would take 1½ hours to do something, thinking that the time-rule still applied, and got a lot of Finns to laugh because of it, not too much has been hilarious...

Come to think of it, there was one time recently when we started talking about "taking risks" and "raising the stakes", and the idioms associated with them. When a non-member asked if I knew a different way to phrase "raising the stakes" beyond the Finnish equivalents in a way that only "someone like me" (English-speaking?) would understand, I mentioned that if the stakes we were talking about were Mormon Stakes (as in, the buildings where many individual wards all gather), then we would be talking about something else entirely. It got some chuckles out of the members present, at which point one of the non-member Finns looked at me confused and said, "Man, that must be a really good one, 'cuz I don't get it", to which the Finns that were members bust up laughing. Didn't realize that the misunderstanding of Stakes could spread so far into other languages... Side point: part of the reason why it was funny was because he thought I had started talking about formal clothing - the words for Stake and Belt are the same basic word in Finnish. But that's another conversation.

Yup, that's all! I'm staying put, looking forward to the good times to come. Hope you all stay safe. Write y'all next week!

Vanhin David Milligan

A Finnish CTR Ring

Flashback Picture From One Year Ago In The MTC!

 And The Most Recent Photo I Have Of Him...:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 30, 2015 - Woah, wait, the change is over?

Wow, quickest change I've ever had! This Friday, we get our change calls to see where we are headed next. How crazy is that? Elder Greciano and I are hoping to stay together, we've got pretty good odds of that happening. But who knows. We might not have the car in Lohja next change, so that might shift me somewhere else to where that's a resource.

Nothing fantastically odd happened this week, but we did manage to get back in contact with some investigators and now have the chance to follow up with some potentials that have wanted to meet us, so the area will hopefully be in good shape for whoever is here next change. Hope that it's still us!

Crazy thing got told to us, and I never told it forward - There are no new Elders coming in this transfer. We've got 6 Sisters coming in from America, but no Elders. That means there is an absolutely 0% chance of me starting someone's training this change! Yay! I don't have to worry about accidentally messing someone up! Just kidding, but if the day that I train ever comes, I hope that it is in an area that I am already used to, it was very hard to shotgun into Lohja! Much more so if I were to shotgun-train someone!

Well, we did see some amazing progression with one of our investigators. She has a baptismal date and is starting to attend church with some members that she got introduced to this week, she loves them! She actually attended a baptismal service that was happening in the other Espoo ward, and she really liked that too. Church attendance from Lohja - our District Leader was shocked when we told him! First time it's happened in a long time, apparently.

To the Q's! (Du-du-du Dunh, du-duh! Puppy - Power!) ;)

Does your town have a lake? It seems every town you are in has a lake.

Yes. It is really close to our apartment, too. The lake actually is treated like a beach, so there is a lot of stuff that goes on over there. Really, there is more than just 1 lake, our immediate area is very lake-side looking. I could try to attach a picture, hold up...

Yes, it really does look that beautiful. Fantastic views in Finland! The duck photo-bombed my photo, though... Quack, quack!

What was your favorite thing that happened this week?

It was probably seeing that investigator of ours come to the baptismal service, and then to church. I was honestly surprised that she was so eager to come once the members she liked directly offered her a ride, but I think that goes to show - when it comes to getting investigators to church, the direct help of the members is essential!

How is your companion? Has he taught you any Spanish?
My companion is doing great! He is looking forward to what we hope is another change together, he has officially labeled me his favorite-companion-so-far! Let's hope I keep that title for a few more goes.

My last companion, Elder Saunders, actually gifted me a Spanish Verb book that he got at the MTC, so I have that on my desk and try to use some interesting sentences from it once in a while. I like to say "Basta!" a lot now, it makes him snicker. It's like pasta, right? (It means Enough!, the Finnish for that is Nyt se riittää!, it is in the Finnish dubbing of Legacy, so I use it like that. The scene at the beginning, when the father says, Now enough of that!, or the like.)

I think that this has been a really insightful change for me, it was interesting to talk so much with a Spaniard. They still have a Monarchy system there, do you realize that? That was slightly shocking to me! He talked about their king once and I thought he was talking about an Elvis counterpart...

What have you taught this week?

We got to teach the Plan of Salvation yesterday to a person that hadn't heard anything like it before. That was a pretty cool experience, to go and talk about those 3 questions that everyone seems to have at one point or another: where am I from, why am I here, and where am I going? It was a nice talk overall, I think that we gave him a lot of hope for remaining close with his family. Family seems to mean a lot more to Finns than it does for the average American, and some Finns have said it means even more to Hungarians. Man, people can be so loving, it teaches you a lot!
What have you learned this week?

I was doing a lot of reading in Jesus the Christ again (I always seem to revisit that again and again) and started looking over the Biblical parable of the different soils that the gospel can take root (or not) in. It was cool to compare to that recent General Conference talk about the same subject (my mother sent me it some time ago, back in Porvoo when I could print emails... stupid library computers...), and I think I learned a lot about things even in myself that could affect how I take the gospel into my life. That was a pretty insightful subject for me this week.

And, the most asked question, Have you mastered the language, yet?

Aahaha, you all flatter me... No. Well, I should qualify that - I speak remarkably well for someone who has been here as long as I have. I have even been highly complimented by members and missionaries. And yet, I still find myself lacking when it comes to little vocabulary gaps. Like, today, someone was talking with me about the size of my wallet as I payed for my groceries, and I did not know what in the world they were talking to me about. The reason why is 'cuz my wallet can't really fit Euros - I have to fold them - and no Finns do that. I just don't know the word for wallet, though! I get by fine, and can talk about a lot of random things, but not everything quite yet. Thanks for the thought!

Well, I'd say that's about all! Thanks for everyone sending me their regards, it's a lot of fun to read what people think about what I'm doing out here! Love y'all! Be safe!

Vanhin David Milligan