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