Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29, 2015 - Aaaaand, the Changes are In!

You know what? I think we should just go straight to the questions. This'll be a lot more straightforward.

Are you being transferred? Where to? Who with?

Just got the call yesterday officially -  I'm serving in the Mission Office with Elder Frey! The Mission Office is in Espoo, but our area is in a place called Myyrmäki. Our ward is in Haaga. Elder Frey is actually from the group right below me - another one of my "baby Finns"! I'm just hopping around to be companions with all of them!

I actually got emergency transferred last week, on Saturday. Right after the baptism we had (spoilers!), we got a call from President informing us that my companion, Elder Greciano Raiskila, would be serving in a tripe "triple companionship) with the Espoo District Leader, and I would be being transferred to the Office. Both of these emergency transfers were only officially extended for 1 week. But mine was kinda obvious that I'd be sticking around. Why train me in everything for the space of one week if I were to leave it the next?

It was really sad, actually, because I'd been planning a bunch of stuff with Elder Greciano to do during the last week of us together. We had gotten it all mapped out, and were very excited. Oh, well. I also had to leave all of my luggage in Lohja. That was kinda heavy-handed, in my opinion. I've spent this whole week bemoaning over the things that I don't have, and now it got resolved by President telling us when we were on a train, "Hey, I'll give you your change calls now, you're staying together, have a good day" as an afterthought to a different conversation we needed to have with him. Sigh...

Well, the Office is a lot of fun, though! It is interesting - the whole place has been being run by the various Senior Missionaries that enter the field, which leads to a lot of different people kinda trying to figure out how to implement these newly-put-in Office Elders. Kinda weird, kinda cool, altogether. I've already accidentally made them think I'm a "master" with the language, because 3 of them are Finnish and I started to joke around with them about the language. After making a few puns and relating a few really good idioms, they determined that the only way I could know those ways to joke would be if I was very, VERY fluent. So, they started to speak in different dialects to me. It got to the point where even they didn't understand how to translate what they were saying. So we're back to them speaking Finnish to me all the time, and them thinking I'm great with the language. Which I don't want to burst their bubble on... Oh, well!

And your companion, is he being transferred? Where to? Who with?

Elder Greciano Raiskila is still serving in Lohja. He will be serving as the Senior Companion with an Elder Kingsolver. I'm excited for him - there's so much good in Lohja! The members are fantastic, and really do deserve a ward of their own. I hope they get it!

What is your favorite memory of your time in Lohja?

This is a hard question! See, I'm going to cheat and give two, and one of them is really cheating to say. That one is, "every moment with Elder Greciano". Yes, it's vague, but seriously, every moment with him was a blast! We talked a lot about literary things and writing strategies, and just about all sorts of things. We loved stories, and it made it great to just experiment as we walked.

The other alternate favorite memory took place this last Saturday, right before the emergency change call. Our investigator got baptized!!! She has changed so much from when we first met her, and she's just so happy all the time, now! The members did a great job fellow-shipping her. She is the first convert-baptism in Lohja for over 6 years, now. And there are a few coming up right on the heels of the new change! Elders Greciano Raiskila and Kingsolver are bound to be busy.

She said I could send a picture to my family and the blog, so, here!

So happy that we could be here to help her!

What is a favorite memory from anytime in your mission?

Wow, that's a difficult question to answer... I think that my favorite memory has been from when I got a text message from our investigator in Tampere. This was my second change or so in Finland, and we had just met with her earlier that week and invited her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. She was eager to know if it was true, so she accepted the challenge. When she sent the text, I had just walked out of a lesson where we'd been dropped pretty rough by another potential investigator. I just had thought, "Am I really supposed to be here, just to keep being dropped by people and told by them that one of the fundamental things in my life is a fraud?" Then the phone buzzed, and as I started to read and translate the text word-by-word, I realized that our investigator had just texted about the truth of the Book of Mormon and her strong desire to go to baptism. I was so happy that the rest of the day was immediately brightened. The Lord was looking out for my attitude, there!

What have you learned this week?

I learned quite a bit about how the Office breaks down into areas where I can help. I was thinking when I got the change call, "How is this going to be missionary work that furthers things beyond logistics?" It didn't help that I found out that both Elder Frey and I are pretty sickly people, and that with our combined symptoms, President was limiting us (understandably) to pretty much 0 finding time. In an area that has 7 people, total, in the Area Book. It's been closed for a while, and then consolidated into another area, and then distributed back to us with barely anyone. So this seems pretty empty. However, I started thinking - if the work that I do for 15 minutes allows all of the missionaries in the field even 1 additional minute per companionship, I've added about an hour to the mission work in general. And that's on such a low return! If I'm specifically helping in the most effective ways, I can do so much more to aid the work than I originally thought. I'm taking comfort in that right now, and hoping that we can find some people regardless of time allowed on the streets.

What have you taught this week?

I have taught one lesson this week. It was to a member family that we got ahold of, and managed to catch them at a good time to meet. They are great, and they right now are the only people that I know in the Haaga ward! I taught them the lesson that I always kinda hold in reserve because it means so much to me - the one about the attitudes that we can have as members of the church. There were enough light moments in it all that I think it really made them enjoy it, yet think about it at the same time. So, even if that's been the extent of teaching so far, it looks like it's at least effective when we find it!

What have you shared this week?

I have been able to share quite a few learning strategies with my current companion, Elder Frey. He's a lot of fun to be around. We seem to have a similar sense of carrying out our jokes, specifically by pretending like the event we are joking about is happening and voicing our reactions to the crazy events. It's been great so far! He is very interested in learning how I've learned the language, and since the Senior Missionaries at the Office keep telling him that he should ask me language questions (Finns seem to be pretty blunt about getting people to correct even small errors in speech...), he's very eager to do his best. I found out that compared to him, my teaching of investigators has been VERY different. He, for example, has only really taught foreigners, and he had 36 investigators at one time! I, however, have only really ever taught Finnish people, and have seen a maximum of about 6 investigators at the same time. So, there are things for both of us to learn!

What do you want to share with us this week?
If I could share one thing real quick, it would be to encourage people to stay in some form of contact with the missionaries in the field that they personally know. I've gotten lucky to have so many people emailing me and sending small little thoughts through the internet, but some people out here have had little to no contact with people from home outside of immediate family. They always kinda grin and say it doesn't matter too much, but it's kinda sad to see their expressions when someone around them has  60-something emails each week. You don't need to send us packages and letters - although those mean a lot - just a small thought is enough to pick them up! Especially if it is so small of a thought. Then they can read it quickly, realize that someone took time to even care about them to send an uplifting thing, and continue on just a little happier. It's great!

Well, that's all! I've got nothing else to say. If you want to send me anything now, the Mission Office is definitely the best place to send it!

Upseerinkatu 3 C
02600 ESPOO

Thanks for all of the thoughts that you all send me. It really means a lot to get so many things that are personalized messages intended to strengthen. Be safe, everyone!

Vanhin David Milligan

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