This week has been the longest week ever. This whole change has been the longest one ever. All of the other e-mails where I've said that it's been long? This tops them all. Not in a bad way - just an exhausting one. Very busy week.
There's a lot I want to say, and a lot that will go in the questions, so let's get to it - personal thoughts!
Meeting old Friends - That's fun!
When I walked into the Mikkeli Branch on the first Sunday, there was one older couple that just really stuck out to me. I was certain that I'd met them before, but I couldn't pin down exactly where... They had the same thoughts, apparently, and invited us over to eat. When we got to talking, they asked where I've served. When I started the list with "Tampere", all of us remembered where we'd seen each other - last Boxing Day, they were at their children's place in Tampere, and I was there, too. Fun to meet them again, around Christmas time, too!
Also, I got to see a Lohja-lainen again (member of Lohja). That was great, too. They gave a talk last Sunday. It was nice, especially since he was a American return-missionary that had served in Mikkeli as a part of his Finnish Mission time. That was cool to hear him talk about all of the different people that he got to reconnect to.
Going on Splits
Haven't done this where I am the one conducting Splits, yet... We will be visiting Savonlinna today and tomorrow, takes so long to get there by bus that we have to stay for 2 nights and one day. Should be fun.
Snapshot of my Schedule...
Not a picture, just an inside look as to how busy we will be. This week, we have splits. Next week, we have the Mission Tour, where on the 11th we will be in Oulu, and on the 12th we will be in Helsinki. Crazy train-trips and even getting on a plane. Woo-hoo!
A Savior Is Born
There's a new Christmas video that we are sharing. I personally like "He is the Gift" a little more, but that's just 'cuz I liked the whole captions thing. This is good, too!
Okay, the questions await us. Here we go -
Do you have a picture of you with your new companion? Can you send one soon?
Sorry, this is the best one I've got right now! I'll make sure to get ones with us together later.
What did you learn this week?
This week, we had an MLC at the Mission Home in Helsinki. All of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders were there, and it was a great time for us all to coordinate on things that we think can help the people in our mission areas. We had a great talk over Agency, and that was pretty good. I think that it got summed up rather well from this - in order for their to be agency, there must be a distinct choice to make, there have to be opposing and alternate options, and you have to be in a position of freedom of one sort or another in order to make that choice. The more freedom you give up in your actions, the less of a choice you will have. That sounds a little weird, but it's not like we have a set amount of "spiritual freedom" that peeters out down to "0". It's just like saying if you choose to be stupid on a motorcycle and you lose your permit, there's less freedom. If you get in an accident and break your legs, you now have less freedom of movement. Freedom to make choices is affected by the results of the choices you make. Pretty interesting discussion, I liked it a lot!
What did you share this week?
Let me tell you what we did this last week for our Thanksgiving Party in Mikkeli. At MLC, on Thursday, we had a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner, and I took the chance to take some pointers and recipes from Sister Watson and the Office Staff (it was great to see them all again!). With that knowledge, I strode confidently to the first time that my companion and I have ever tried to make a Thanksgiving Feast for Finns. For anyone, actually. But still. We were roasting a turkey the branch provided us, making stuffing, and helping a member make American Sweet Potatoes. Despite all of the forces in the world of common sense working against us (specifically, the fact that we had never done any of this before), we pulled it off. 16 YSA people came, as well as a handful of non-members and potentials that we had invited. The American food went great! Afterwards, we started singing a bunch of Disney songs in Finnish. They told me they'd get lyrics for me. Very excited. If you all want to send e-mails with your favorite Disney song translated into Finnish, I would like that, too.
What did you teach this week?
We got to teach about the importance of planning a baptismal date to the Zone. There's been a low amount of baptismal dates being set, and when we asked missionaries, it was mostly because the missionaries felt that the investigator had to achieve certain milestones (i.e. reading scriptures, saying prayers, attending church, etc.) before being given a goal like that. Very odd. We got to talk with a lot of missionaries about the importance of getting that out there as soon as possible. Really encouraged me to make sure that I'm following my own advice!
What is your favorite thing to see covered in snow?
To be fair to the "All gone" bit of us not having snow, it just started to snow again. But I don't think any of it will stick - the ground got too warm. My favorite thing is either giant church buildings, trees, or lakes. If I have my camera, it is giant church buildings, if I don't, then trees, and if my companion is down for walking across frozen bodies of water, it's lakes.
How cold does it have to be before you think it is cold?
I'm in agreeance with my companion on this one - it isn't truly cold until around -30 Celcius. That's what I felt last year, the day that I had to move tons of luggage for around 6 companionships in the cold and snow and ice in Tampere. The cold that I'd felt before then was nothing. That's what I feel now, too. Praying that it wont get that cold soon, until I scout out a few good lakes, first.
What is your favorite meal in Finland, now?
I think as a whole meal, the favorite would be what we get in the Christmas season - ham, fish, berries, and all sorts of little casseroles. Especially the ham, though. Wild boar is surprisingly tasty.
What baking challenges have you set for yourself this week?
I want to experiment with a Finnish-Christmas Cheesecake! Gingerbread base, Glögi filling, caramel topping. Man, I hope I didn't talk about this last week, I was very bummed that I didn't have time to do it this week with all of the Thanksgiving baking.
Are you singing in any Christmas programs this year?
Not that I know of now - there is bound to be a Christmas Branch Party, but who knows if they'll need me there. My companion has started to really want to become a better singer for when he goes home, so we've been working together on making his vocal prowess progress.
What is something that made you smile this week?
In a talk about Heavenly Father answering prayers, I heard a funny little joke. The point was made that the answer might be "No", or that you might not get one, since you're not ready to hear the answer yet, but keep doing what you're doing right, and you'll become what you need to be in order to hear His answer for you. That's all good and nice. The funny thing was when the person compared it to his prayers of searching for a wife. After much time of prayer and repeatedly feeling frustrated, he kinda mentally pleaded, "Where am I supposed to find my wife - did she die in the war in heaven, or what?" There was a fair amount of trying to hold in laughter from me.
Well, that's all, really. Thanks for the work y'all do in the parts of your life. Be safe!
Vanhin David Milligan