Well, this has been a crazy week of working on projects, and there's really not much to talk about besides those things. So here are some of the highlights of my week!
I finished formatting and putting together a set of scripture-flashcards for the purpose of memorization in Finnish and English. There are 50, I believe, and it's divided up into 51 weeks of the year (there was a REALLY long scripture, it's, like, a page and a half long). I'm expected, right now, print out enough for the whole mission and cut them myself... That would mean roughly 50 flashcards for 100 people, plus the fact that they also want me to print out enough for all missionaries that will be coming in during the next year, which is another 70 people or so... 50 times 170 is... far too much for me to individually cut and line up and laminate. So I'm trying to convince them to let us take it to a print shop. That would be really nice.
As a side version of that project, I just finished fine-tuning a list of Finnish-to-English hymn numbers in our hymnals. Elder Karttunen made a list, but he made it exactly like the list they have tucked away in the hymnals of the MTC. That list is quite incorrect on at least 7 different points. So. I remade it all, and formatted the list to work as two different 2-sided bookmarks that can fit inside of the small quad of scriptures that I have. It looks nice - but again, I am expected to now take that and print 170 copies of 2 pages that I will then cut and laminate. I really need this job to be picked up by a printing company...
We had Zone Conference, which was well done. Except for the beginning. That was a little chaotic, because the projector that we were given didn't have an HDMI port (it was very old - the person in charge of allotting technology there is very scrupulous when it comes to helping out missionaries, don't know why...), and President's computer only had HDMI output. After a lot of scrambling on the parts of our Zone Leaders, they pulled us aside and asked for a solution. I quickly called people that might have a key to the projector room (closest person lived 40 minutes away, yikes) and Elder Frey bounced options at the Zone Leaders. After I confirmed that we had 20 minutes until the meeting and the closest person lived a round-trip 80 minutes out, Elder Frey and I resorted to pulling out of the basement a big TV that had HDMI ports. It worked like a charm, but even though the knowledge of its existence was only known by Elder Frey, I was given all of the credit, since I was the one that quickly whipped all of the cords out and got them into the right places in front of the Zone and President. I felt bad, but Elder Frey is a champ and just said that he was happy it all worked out. I am serving with one of the most Christ-like people ever - I think he's awesome!
What else? Oh, yes - I spent a little over 2,700€ these last 3 days. No biggy. More money than I've ever handled in my life. Why and how? The Office Elders, now that I'm back, have been tasked with travel tasks. Meaning that we order train tickets as needed across the mission. Might I say? Missionaries up North are quite poor planners. I say that because they had a Zone Conference that they've known about for several weeks, and all of them called the day before to order tickets. Normally, missionaries can go and order it themselves at a VR office (the train ticket office, essentially), but those have started to all close down and go online, which we can't access on a whim, or into convenience store booths, which don't support our forward-the-cost-to-the-office deal that we have as missionaries. So. The end result of frantic calls from the Vaasa District as a whole to me resulted in about 1,400€ spent on travel when, had they ordered any earlier, could have been reduced to 600€. I'm a little frustrated on that one. Also, the Assistants planned a bunch of teaching appointments and dumped the job of arranging travel to this next week's MLC on our laps after creating a schedule. (By the way - the schedule was incorrect on several points, resulting in whole new parts of a plan on Elder Frey's and my part.) The end result of this was 1,300€ spent. That's all of the leadership of the whole mission, basically, moving around all of Finland, and it was still cheaper in price than 10 emergency tickets to Oulu. Hmm. Wish people would think ahead. Because of this, I have arranged it for Elder Frey and I to take care of travel plans for the next Zone Training. Should make it so that the church pays less than 50% of what they're paying right now for travel. That'll be nice.
Oh, another one - All 3 Tampere companionships ran out of copies of the Book of Mormon to pass out. That's the Zone Leaders, the Sister-Training-Leaders, and a set of normal missionaries. We have a system (which they blatantly ignored) that I set up when I first came to the office. We initially send out 3 boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon. Missionaries have these 3 boxes (which is 60 copies), and start passing out copies. Once they hit 2 boxes left (40 copies), they call us, and we send up a box or two, maybe even 3, depending on how far away they are and how fast they are passing out copies. They get the new box(es), continue onward, and always make sure to call. This is a good system. It works. So long as missionaries call us. And they don't. Tampere is about an hour or so away. Very short distance for a package. Makes it in a day. And 3 sets of missionaries, 2 of which are top leadership out here, don't bother to call in until they have absolutely 0 copies left. Aggravating. As you can tell by my short sentences. Grr. It all worked out, though - President was going there for a conference of some kind, and we loaded up his car with many, many boxes. I wish that I could've reprimanded them a bit. It's really a weakness in our mission right now - many companionships are bad at planning, altogether. All kinds. I feel that I am quite good at planning and following through with the plans I make. But anyways. It's something that the missionaries as a whole are working on right now. So we'll leave it at that. I am glad that I'm in the office to fix this when it happens, but in a perfect environment, you don't need Elders serving in the office. It's supposed to just be a single set of Senior Missionaries manning things down here. Oh, well. I love being here, though!
Yeah, that's about it. I didn't get any questions this week, and beyond dealing with Chaos Control as normal, there wasn't too much else that I could do. This next week is expected to be calmer, since there will be less up-in-the-air chaos. We will also have MLC at the Mission Home in Helsinki/Espoo this week, so I'll get to see Elders Hyer and Greciano-Raiskila and ask them how Mikkeli is doing! Woo-hoo!
I love being a missionary. This is the absolute best thing that I could be doing right now. I just feel like a better, more solid person than I have in my life. I have a lot of time to reflect on what I'm doing, how I can be a better person so that I can help other people better, and I have a companion that can encourage me and enable me to follow through with goals I make in the effort of becoming better. I hope that the changes I am making and seeing don't stop after the mission. My biggest goal right now is to look very objectively at who I am and what I do and make myself better. I don't think that means that I'm losing who I am - rather, it's refining myself, and helping myself to be happy with who and what I am. Love this all!
Well, that's it. I'm done. Nothing more to report. You all are awesome - I'll try to be more clever next week and come up with something worthy of writing to you all! Be safe, be happy - pray about something this week that you can work on to become better. Maybe read the talk "What Lack I Yet", by Larry R. Lawrence, from the October 2015 General Conference. I love this talk! https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/what-lack-i-yet?lang=eng
Vanhin David Milligan
(P.S. From a sheepish mother! I did not get my email out to David in time this week. That's why there were no questions. And the poor boy did not get a letter from his mother! ~Mom)