Okay, we're running on speed mode here - Elder Smith has been overly-diligent and avoided packing for all of the way up until today. While I do appreciate the concentration, and while it made this last week really feel like a great week of work, it is a little hectic today because of that! There is next-to-no time to email, especially since one of the computers is out-of-order today... worst...day...possible...
But, still! There is a lot that happened, and I feel that we can talk about it all in the questions, so... Questions!
Who is your new companion? Tell us about him!
My new companion will be - Elder Hyer! He is a great Elder, I've heard. He actually was my replacement in Porvoo - he served with Elder Saunders after I left. He is coming up to Mikkeli to be a Zone Leader alongside me. It should be fun, and it probably means that I will be in a new area my last 2 changes... That's a little scary, we won't think about that.
I haven't got to extensively talk to him, yet. I can't include a picture, either - I meet him tomorrow to pick him up. Should be hard work happening here in Mikkeli!
How many Zones are in your mission? How many missionaries are in your Zone? How many missionaries are in your mission?
We still have 4 Zones, with this East Zone having 8 companionships in it. There are still 98 or so missionaries here - just as many missionaries are leaving as are coming in. This next group has no Sisters in it. Weird. 8 Elders leave, and the 1 Sister from my group leaves too. But I've still got time left before I "die" and go home... right?
What did you learn this week?
So, I did a lot of studying for the Zone Training that I will have to conduct this next change, on the 20th. Wow, I didn't consider that last change - that since we only had one Zone Training during November and no other ones, I am technically not as prepared as I should be for this next Training, especially since we didn't get the topics of discussion until last Wednesday or so. That was a bit of a run-on sentence, but I was getting a little stressed about it! I'm pretty okay with it, now - although I don't feel like an experienced Senior Zone Leader like I am called to be, I've put in a lot of prep for this and think it'll all turn out alright. Pray for me!
What did you teach this week?
It was great - we finally got to meet someone who referred themselves some time ago. He was just too busy too often, and we didn't have a car to get to him. Plus his building is always locked. But we managed to call him at the perfect time, and we set up an appointment! He already has learned a lot about the church from having online discussions with some Sister missionaries (apparently, searching "Christian Chat" on Google, yes, in English on a Finnish browser, yields the Church's "Talk to Missionaries" as the number one not-paid-advertisement option) and that's why he got interested in meeting people here. He is a Finn, but he understands English pretty well - his Bible was in English (KJV), although we didn't know that, and we asked him to read a section out loud for us, and he just translated it on the spot - that was a little confusing for me to sit there with my English KJV and the Finnish Bible and realize that he's making a more familiar translation... It was good! Glad I could recognize it! He became a new investigator, and he's already down to meet multiple times a week. Awesome!
What did you share this week?
This week, we got to share Elder Smith's final testimony with the ward. He gave a talk in church, and a lot of people were surprised that he was going home - he didn't act like it, or talk about it, except mentioning it to the return-missionaries in the bishopric. So, there were some last-minute dinner appointments scheduled by the ward - we had Moose-Burgers yesterday. As in, home-made, self-hunted Moose burgers. Awesome... We are having an American Hot-Chocolate good-bye party using the remainders of Elder Smith's Christmas Package. Lots of CAPS, because 'Murica.
What do Finns do for New Year's?
They also light off fireworks, and spend time with family. Not too different at all.
What is your apartment like in Mikkeli?
It's a good size - not too big, not too small. Okay, maybe the bathroom is too small - I would be shocked if it was larger than a 4x4 foot bathroom. The shower will hit the toilet and washing machine if the curtain isn't pulled. So small...
Has your suitcase claimed another sauna?
Nope. No sauna here, either.
What advice do you have for the youth who are preparing for their missions right now?
Woah, this is a huge question... I guess the number one thing would be - don't go out on a mission without gaining a testimony. I know that some missionaries come back and say, "I gained my testimony on my mission" or "my first convert was myself". I get a little bit of a twinge when I here that, because this work is SO important. There is no time to wait for the mission field to start applying the faith that you have into your thoughts and your actions. Gain a testimony and start your conversion before you have other people's interest in the gospel on the line. Of course you won't become perfect - you won't even become perfect out here. Shock. I don't think ANYONE becomes perfectly-converted in 100% of their thoughts, actions, and desires. But you don't have to come out on square 1 and start there. Do everything you can to learn about and be changed by what you believe in! That's my little soap-box speech... I'll step down now...
Well, this time has come to a close. I think you all are awesome - thanks for everything! (For those of you wondering, by the way, why this came in on Monday, the P-Day date was changes temporarily due to changes. The Tuesday-P-Days will resume next week. Love you all!
Vanhin David Milligan
P.S. A portion of a message we (Mom and Dad) received from the mission president today, January 12, 2016.
It is a pretty morning in Finland. It has snowed about 12 inches today and still snowing. It is around -9 degrees C (16 degrees F.), a warm day for this time of year. In Rovaniemi it is -21 (-6 F) (temperatures stay about the same night and day…the sun does not make too much of a difference in heating us up this time of year).
Many of your missionaries have been sending you pictures and comments about the cold weather that we have been having throughout Finland over the past few weeks. The temperatures have been around -30 C (around -16 F.) for some. In those pictures you have seen them with frost on their eyelashes, eyebrows and other places. It is a new experience for many of them to have this type of thing happen. They send you these pictures because of the novelty of their experience. I would like you to know that we monitor the weather closely each day and send updates to the missionaries as needed. We regularly check to assure they are fine, warm and safe. May I assure you that they are safe. They are warm. One of the reasons that they have that frost on their faces is because of the humidity in the air here, which collects as frost on their hair, etc. We regularly caution them about frostbite and follow up with anyone that has concerns about this. I understand that this all may be foreign to some of you, but I assure you all is well.