Woo-hoo!!! SNOW!!! Sorry, I'm a little over-excited about this, but I feel that there is a legitimate cause behind my cheers. None of the snow has stuck, yet, but there have been now 3 days of intermittent snow. I'm very happy.
Wow. Being in a new area is different. This is the furthest away I've gone from Helsinki. That's crazy. I'm not even that far - I always think that I am further up than I really am. Phew.
Seriously, though, all of the questions address all of the crazy things going through my head, so I'll just give my creativity a little bit of question-related guidance. To the questions!
Are you enjoying your return to Tuesday P-days?
It is most definitely odd to return to. The weekends used to feel like weekends. Now, they do not. I felt good this morning, though, about it all, mostly because not only can I actually go to stores on P-Day now, but they are actually open late enough! On Saturdays, everything seems to close far too early... We went to try to go get some milk on Saturday, just as an emergency run, and the store was closed. At 4 PM. So we went to a convenience store. Far too expensive, but there you go. Today, I'm planning on visiting a lot of second-hand shops. The dekkari (second-hand bookstore) that is 3 doors away from our apartment (named Antikvari, made a lot more sense once I said the name out loud) is selling tons of books for a fantastic sale - 3 books, 1€. I might just go a little overboard in there. I'll have to figure out how to cheaply get them home... might just have to ditch some things to make room in my suitcases!
How goes life as the Zone leader?
Yoinks. I don't feel comfortable being a Zone Leader. Thankfully, there hasn't been too much different so far, other than having people do call-ins to us, which is what I got used to when my companion was the District Leader. We do have a Zone Training to conduct tomorrow, but I'm not freaking out at all. It is actually the only meeting I'll have to conduct this change, because next month, we will be having a Mission Tour. Don't know when, don't know who's coming, don't know if it will be the whole mission gathered at one time or not, but there you go. So I'm off the hook after tomorrow, and I won't see too much insanity. This is a good change to be a Zone Leader. Hopefully I'll grow enough that I don't need to stay another change.
What is your new area like?
It's very reminiscent of Porvoo and Lohja in size. I am in a branch, technically, but it really does feel like a ward. The members all came up and introduced themselves, arranging a food calendar to officially get to meet me, so that's cool! This area just had a baptism with a pretty awesome man last Saturday, he is really nice and loves to be in church! I have a feeling that this area is going to be among my fond memories of Finland. I'm hoping that the snow will stick, so that the pictures of this place look less wet and more winter-y!
What did you learn this week?
This week, I've been studying for the Zone Training that I will be conducting with my companion. The subject that we have been tasked to speak on is a combination of how to improve teaching skills and how to extend commitments more effectively. I've been reviewing all of these points of Teaching Skills in PmG, and been coming up with times on my mission that one of the teaching skills has really been a turn-around point in meeting with investigators - times when it's been best to listen, to share a scripture, to rely on a member's help and testimony, etc. It's been really interesting to think about where I've gone and who I've met with and how far along I am now in my understanding of why this work is so important. I hope that I can convey that to these missionaries in the East Zone!
What did you teach this week?
We've met with this veteran from the Winter War this last week. If you don't know what the Winter War is, I suggest looking it up - it's a very interesting time to be a part of. A very sane man, despite his age, and very interested in why we have come this far to try to learn Finnish and talk with people. He's met with the missionaries for about 2 months, now, and this last week, we reviewed with him the reasons that we have the scriptures and why prophets are so important. He listens, contributes, and is always very involved in the lesson. He also shares with us really interesting bits of the Finnish language, mostly because I'll throw in an idiom and he will start to laugh really hard, normally saying that he hasn't heard that since he was very little. At the end of this last one with him, he looked at us and said very simply (in Finnish, of course), "When some people try to speak with me, I always wonder what it is they are really trying to say, what it is that they are getting at. When you all speak with me, I know exactly why you're here, and that you care about me. Thank you." That was pretty cool! (P.S. It's really interesting to see how far along I am with the language - after sharing one of these archaic idioms, kadota kuin tuhka tuuleen - to vanish like ash into the wind - he started to talk a little about the difference in the fertilization of fields between using coal and using ash. And my companion and I understood 100%, especially since I had talked about the word for "coal" earlier that day. Woah, such a weird thing to get...)
What did you share this week?
I have been able to share a lot of stories about missionary experience with my new companion, Elder Smith. He and I don't have much at all in common, besides the fact that we are both Americans, but it's really interesting that the thing uniting us right now is simply and purely the love of missionary work that we have. There aren't many other things that connect our interests besides that, but right now, with him going home after this change (yeah - I am serving with another dying missionary!), that's really all he wants to talk about - which works fantastic for me! It's been cool to go on reflect on all of these things. I'm talking as though I don't have much time left - but 8 months is PLENTY of time! (Trying to pretend like I haven't finished 2/3 of my mission already...)
Is it nice to be back to normal missionary work? Or are you missing the office?
In a sense, it is, but I do miss the office... I like normal missionary work - I really do! I'm happy to be back out in the field, focused on finding and teaching. However, I've just gotten so used to being around all of the Office people that it really is kinda hard to not see them, and it's really hard to not just be able to go and help them. I've gotten quite a few calls from various people in the office, asking how something is supposed to be done or where things are or whatnot. I hope that, somehow, I will go back there before the end! But, I do love serving out here, too.
What is the strangest thing you have seen in Finland?
Hmm. Strangest thing... Wow, I'm drawing a blank. I'm so used to Finland, that I don't really see anything right now as overly-strange... Maybe it would be a good question for next week, after I've had some new experiences here in Mikkeli! But, in the meantime, here is one thing that was strange when I saw it. Although I've already talked about it extensively, it is just so ODD to see all of these very-much-senior people walking around and biking everyday, nonstop, and in very good shape! Seriously, people don't look out of place at ALL if they are on a bike, and it is so common that there are bike racks and paths everywhere. They even have signs for nature paths to say if it is bike-recommended or not, since Finns like to just travel around in the woods for contemplation. So cool, I hope that I can stay a little more active as I start gaining years!
Well, there we are - the end of another email. Here's hoping that the snow will stick around soon - I'm praying for it, myself! Love snow... Anyways. Be safe, and have a good week!
Vanhin David Milligan