Saturday, October 10, 2015

October 10, 2015 - Gone Crazy!

In a good way! I promise! It's just that I have finally gotten so used to everything that happens in mere seconds in the office that I have determined that if I am still standing, I must be as crazy as everything happening. Which means I'm pretty crazy.

I found out that I have been secretly nominated the "Technology Master" behind my back. Anyone in the office that has any question at all concerning computers, phones, anything, come to me. Regardless of where we are, people in the Office find a way to contact me. I was washing the dishes last night, for example, and the phone rang. My companion picked up, and it was Elder Smith from the Office. He asked if Elder Frey could put me on, it was important. After turning it over to speaker-phone and hearing him out, I realized that he was calling because his screen-orientation-lock was on. He couldn't turn his phone to expand things. So I gave him directions. And then he followed them, said thanks, and hung up. Just soooo many times that I have been tasked with tech support questions. Not that I'm complaining. Just puts me in a good position of support once iPads come.  (Speaking of which - no news. I'll be lucky if they come while I'm still on a mission.)

Due to the week that we have faced, I shall turn to the questions!

What did you learn this week?

So. General Conference was this week! I really liked the talks that I was able to hear. Still haven't been able to sit down and listen to Sunday Afternoon, and I was told by the head of Finnish Translating that it was the best session. So I'm looking forward to that. I think that I learned quite a bit from this one, there were so many good things said! Since there is a question about my favorite talk, though, I'll leave this partly for that.

What did you share this week?

This week, I was able to share my presence. I hope that doesn't sound weird. Let me explain. This week was Interim for the new missionaries, that thing that happened at my 6-week mark and I got to go to the Mission Home for 3 days or so? That one. So, due to the fact that we were getting a lot of missionaries within range, I suggested to President that we gather up orders of materials to send off with these missionaries. Lots of copies of the Book of Mormon, pamphlets, and what-not. It was in the midst of calling all of these people that I realized that with all but one person (Elder Frey's trainer, training someone even now), I had met and talked with extensively, even served with for some! It was really cool to reconnect with all of these people. It is very fun to reminisce over those things which you have done and those places where you have been.

As a side note, too: while I was there, I was given dinner! There was a very Thanksgiving-oriented meal. It was, like, a Thanksgiving casserole of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and turkey, all in the same square of food. It was AMAZING, and there was also SWEET POTATOES!!! I really wish I knew how to prepare them like my father, it tastes fantastic and is some of my favorite food. We are trying to figure out how we can arrange for us to be at the meeting that will happen during Thanksgiving, apparently Sister Watson has already been preparing for the giant meal!

What did you teach this week?

There was an interesting development in Elder Frey's knees this week. And by that I mean that he was in more pain than he's yet encountered on his mission, at least for the last few months. We think it was due to the prolonged amount of sitting during General Conference, so his knees locked up. Or something. We are just dealing with the aftermath of what's gone on. So. Pray for him, please! He is a fantastic Elder, and I've learned so much from him!

So, to answer the question, the only thing I've really gotten to teach this week is how to operate a new laptop. And that was to the Office people. That was a lot of fun, trying to explain that it doesn't have 100% of our system already on it, even though it is "our" laptop. Sigh.

Did you get the bread recipe? Did you get a bread machine?

I did! I haven't gotten to utilize it yet, due to the fact that all bread machines were being utilized for cooking Interim food this week, but I think we have things in order to get it all together this week. We are excited!

What was your favorite talk from General Conference?

Although I'm certain that I will re-evaluate my favorites once we get to listen to the Sunday Afternoon session, my current favorite is Elder Holland's talk on mothers. I just felt so good listening to it and thinking about my mother back at home, and how she has striven in doing her best to raise us all to know the truth and think for ourselves, not just take her word for it. (Insert "Reading Rainbow" reference here...) (Mom melts in puddle of mushy happiness!)

What is something new you tried this week?

I got to make, for the first time by myself, a meal that certain missionaries call "Taco-roni laatikko". Normally, I make a Finnish dish called "Macaroni-Laatikko", which is basically a macaroni, egg, cheese, and beef dish that tastes surprisingly good. With "Taco-roni laatikko", you add in baked beans, corn, and lots of different seasonings and spices to make it taste VERY much like a sort of taco-macaroni salad. It turned out GREAT, even having to make it all gluten-free. I feel that I am slowly learning how to adjust my cooking to make even Gluten-free taste good! Elder Frey really liked it, so we are going to make it again soon.

What time of year does it have to be before you can walk on water?

Hee-hee, I forgot that I'd made this joke via e-mail before... So! The car has had the windows frozen over a handful of times, now, but it keeps getting warmer as the day goes. This last bit of the week, we will be having low 40's, high 50's (F, not C!). But, today, it hits a low of 28 F. So, theoretically, I will start my water-trekking probably next change. Which, wow, that's coming up surprisingly fast! The time in the Office just speeds by, with the crazy cracking the whip forward.

That's all for this week! Thanks, everyone, for keeping up with the things I'm doing and the antics (or lack thereof) that I'm attempting! I hope everyone is safe in the coming seasons!

A Finnish joke to close us out this week.

A young man asked God what the difference was between time on heaven and on earth.
God answered, "What is to you a million years, is to me as a single second."
The young man asked God what a million Euros was to Him?
God answered, "What is to you a million Euros, is to me as a single cent."
The young man then asked of God if He could grant unto him a million Euros.
God smiled, and answered,
"Of course. Just wait a second."

There y'all go! Have a good week!

Vanhin David Milligan

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 3, 2015 - General Conference Approaches!

I love General Conference time. It tends to really direct the Personal Studies I get to have as a missionary, because I am thinking about things I want to become better at and things that I can study to be more ready to actually understand what is being said. It's really fun to listen while being in the role of a missionary, because there seems to be so many more things directed towards yourself and your investigators than there ever has been in previous sessions. And it's because you are serving in that role!

To the Questions!

What did you learn this week?

Like I said, I've been studying a lot for the General Conference. What that boils down to is that I am studying on how to get more out of what a prophet is saying in the scriptures. So, if John starts talking about how loving Jesus is, I start thinking more about how I can try to be like Jesus in that regard. In other words, I am trying to be spiritually open and sensitive enough to realize at what points of my character and attitude I need to improve, and what things I can learn in order to better teach others about the importance of long-lasting change, as well!

What did you share this week?

This week, I am trying desperately hard to think about what I shared. I guess I'll talk about how we, as a companionship, talk to each other to overcome personal difficulties and strengthen unity between us.

We go through something called "Companionship Inventory" at the end of our 3-hour Weekly Planning. In this "Comp Inventory" (as we so call it), we bring up the goals that we personally have, and ask if there are appropriate ways for the companion to help us. For example, I had 2 specific goals for this week, one related to Language Study, and one related to my personal conduct. I have kind of leveled off in my studying of Finnish, mostly due to almost never needing to speak in it while in the Office, and I wanted to inspire my studies again. I talked about methods I was going to go through, and then asked my companion to hold me accountable at the end of the week - see if I'm actually doing the written exercises I planned or not. That's an appropriate way. I also asked for him to understand that I'm trying to cut back on sarcastic humor. It has been increasing, as of late, and I keep on noticing (although he doesn't mind, because we know that it is in terms of a joke) that they border on, if not stray straight over into, just really harsh insults. I don't want to ever find myself thinking that I'm joking and yet be actually really rude to someone to the point that I am actively putting them down. So, the way that he could help me (because he doesn't feel he can call it out, because he sees it like a joke, just like I do) is to realize that when he shares something, I might not respond for a bit, because I am trying to not say something spiteful and mean, which generally is the first thing into my head. Even if it's always in a 'humor format', it's just disrespectful, in the end. So. Trying to fix myself.

We then go on to talk about how we feel we are doing on a personal relationship level. Does he hate me, do I hate him, so on and so forth. We always come out with just a *thumbs up* on this part.

We start to go through things that could be stopping us from working in unity, or from being obedient. If I bulldoze over my companion's comments in lessons, we aren't in unity. If I don't treasure and evaluate his thoughts, we aren't in unity. If I'm emailing from a personal laptop, I'm not obedient. This section also tends to go rather fast, as I tend to be with companions who, like myself, are willing to fix selves before others.

We name a few strengths that we have noticed in our companion that week. I like this part - it shows the progress on both the things I've been working on and the things that I have been doing without realizing, which shows a change in attitude or character that has inspired that recent change into a strength.

At this point, we go and share (so long as we are both comfortable with it) things that we could work on to improve our companionship and personal selves. This does NOT equal a list of weaknesses, like some people think. This really is just like, "hey, I have noticed that you have been saying a few more sarcastic things lately. Once or twice, they've kinda stepped over the line. Is there a problem here? How are you feeling? Am I doing something that you don't appreciate? Now that we know the situation, how can I help in this being resolved besides your own efforts?" If done right, this whole thing is very constructive! I appreciate it when I get to receive working-on points, only because that'll help me in the long run.

So, yeah. The things I shared this week are what I've been sharing every week, but it helps us both so much to keep doing!

What did you teach this week?

Once again, we haven't been able to go and teach this week. All of our potentials are saying, "sure, we can meet, just call us when you're planning on coming", but sadly Elder Frey's legs have been acting up this week. The good thing is, they have been strengthening, but that means that he is down for the count due to the fact that he absolutely exhausts them in order for them to recover the most optimally fast without injury. Which throws out lesson times, sometimes. But we agree that it is a necessary thing - he is here in the office for him to have time to recover, not to prolong it by doing too much.

What is something that impressed you this week?

I always bring this up with Elder Frey, but he does have a HUGE desire to be out and working. It always impresses me that despite how things look, he finds ways to do little acts of missionary work. His "little acts", though, tend to be quite huge. He went through and called every single potential-investigator (someone who met with missionaries and gave a phone number for later contact) in our area and the neighboring Elders', just to be able to refresh information and set up teaching appointments where possible. It has made a positive difference, and it's just really cool to see how hard he is always working.

Do we need to start asking the "how much daylight" and "did it snow" questions, yet? 

Daylight is virtually gone, by this point. It is dark 'til around 9-10, and goes dark from 5-6. I don't know the exact times, it is just that I tend to look out the windows during the hour marks. So. No snow yet, looks like none for a while. Sad face.

Have you had any other chances to sing?

I sung at a baptism a while back, but that was it. We've talked with the bishop about the possibility of singing in Sacrament Meeting, since Elder Frey is a piano prodigy, but that's kinda been only ½ possible, due to little time to practice at an actual piano.

Are there any holiday choirs forming?

None that I know of, although I will start to put bugs in ears to figure this out... I'd like to participate! I love singing in Finnish, it's just such a beautiful language to hear.

You didn't explain the "Dear John" letters. Can you explain that today?

I realized this as soon as I pressed "send" last time. Whoops!

The Finnish for "to be Dear John-ed" by someone is "saada rukkaset", or, "to receive the gloves". I only brought it up to illustrate the fact that I am actively searching out more idioms, now that I have 3 Finnish people in the office around me. Even if they normally converse in English, I can still get a couple of good Finnish phrases out of 'em!

Sometimes, though, I get conflicting definitions... I have had told to me that "pata kattila soimaa" means either roughly "they are a good match for each other" OR "the pot calling the kettle black". Those are very different...

What is something new you did/learned in the office this week?

Elder Frey and I did a GIANT Office Inventory re-count. We are still in the middle of it. We are moving everything around to more appropriate places, which is really funny to bring up when you realize that it is the combination of one person forbidden from lifting heavy objects (Elder Frey) and one person who doesn't get along well with heavy objects (yours truly) trying to shift over literally tens of thousands of materials. Phew!

I have also been restructuring different people's Excel files to be a little more fool-proof. The original setup was quite touchy, which worked fine for if you were familiar with how to fix things on Excel, but worked quite poorly if someone who was experimenting with it clicked the wrong button. So, I dumbed-down some systems, much to everyone's happiness. I even attacked the Inventory System program, and made it so that we could leave tomorrow and the Office people could probably get the gist of everything. That's an accomplishment, believe me!

Well, that's all for this week. Glad that I've been able to be out here! I'm looking forward to the rest of my time here in the office, and wish for missionary efforts in the future to go well! Be safe, everyone!

Vanhin David Milligan