Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 23, 2016 - Umm...What Did I Do This Week?

I'm flipping through my planner right now, trying to figure out exactly what I've done this week, and I can only remember isolated events... It's a lot easier as a proselyting missionary, because we would always plan every hour of every day, and it would be there in my planner as needed, but in the Office, I block everything as "Office" time and I have a traveling sticky-note that I update each day. The former sticky-note goes into the trash. I should probably keep that, so I can see what I've accomplished, rather than what I have yet to do. Oh, well.

I do remember a few crazy events. Here's a summary, hopefully not a play-by-play, as to the insanity that I faced this week.

Well, first off, 2 phones in the North Zone broke down this week. The first was Kemi's phone. The reception on their phone has just dropped, and only comes back in very small intervals. I'm pretty sure that it's not in airplane mode or something. They called me from their chapel's phone and explained the situation. When I tried to call back with our game plan, I found out that calling a chapel sends the call straight to the bishop. Found that out in a nice surprise-conversation with their bishop. Whoops. Thankfully, they called back, and we arranged for them to receive a phone via priority mail, which Elder Frey insisted would arrive on time. I don't think it did, though, 'cuz I still can't get ahold of them, and their District Leader had to call me yesterday with a set of things that the Kemi Elders needed to know for the next week. Sigh... Ever since I didn't get my Christmas package on time, I've sort of not trusted the Finnish Postal system at all. But, oh well.

The next situation was a real fun one. As in not fun at all. Elder Frey got a call at 7 AM from the Oulu Sister Training Leaders. Well, it wasn't technically from their phone, just from them. They were using a 'nice Finnish man's phone' in order to call us. They had been getting on a train from Vaasa back to Oulu (they had exchanges with the Sisters there), and they dropped their phone. When they picked it back up, the screen was dead. They made it sound as though it had no picture whatsoever, and they had no way of calling us beyond another person's phone. They asked for us to figure out a way to get it fixed within the day. Because it was a Friday, there was no way to send it through the postal service, since it wouldn't arrive until Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. We promised to do our best. He hung up, and entrusted the job to me. Mostly because he had really important stuff to do that day, and I was working on transcribing a bunch of stuff. More on that later. Either way - this was my job, now.

On a whim, I called their broken phone's number from my phone. (The Office Elders here now have two phones to better do the tasks given. It has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions.) They picked up, unsure of who it was - dead display and all that. I told them that this showed that at the very least, the phone worked, and I could get ahold of them to organize things. From there, my morning left. I had to call a lot of people, see what we could do, get stuff set up, and called two or three times with alternative options to the Sisters. In the end, we settled on this - the Sisters would arrive into Oulu at 12:30 or so, and get to their apartment at 12:50. From there, the Zone Leaders in Oulu would pick up their broken phone, bring it to a phone store about 8 km away, switch it for them with an approved model that I explained to them, ask if they could switch the contacts through some sort of machine process (since again - dead display), and then regardless of 'yes' or 'no', drive back to the Sisters and deliver the two phones. If they couldn't switch over the contacts, Elder Frey and I were going to have them put in the necessary contacts into their phone by hand (member numbers, missionary numbers, etc.), and then get the phones to us during MLC so that we could work our magic to move the contacts over blind. We would have grabbed a similar phone and just go button-press by button-press in an identical manner.

It all ended up working out well, except that the phone's contacts couldn't be moved over. They moved the SIM card over to the new phone for us, and sent the Zone Leaders on their way. The Zone Leaders called me, as I requested, and gave me an update. I asked for them to describe the broken phone's condition - specifically, could they hear beeps from button presses, 'cuz that would help a lot. They told me that they couldn't, but that the phone's display was very faintly visible in sunlight. At that moment, I realized the problem in its entirety - the backlight had gone out. This had happened to a phone that I located in Lohja's apartment, and my previous Gameboy Advance knowledge gave me enough of an idea how to fix this for the sisters to take care of the contact-moving process themselves. I called them once they had their phone, told them to shine a flashlight directly against the surface of the phone, and lo and behold, the rest of the visible phone display light up bright. They took care of moving everything after I gave them instructions on the Phone-to-SIM and SIM-to-Phone method (since these phones can't sync and transmit contacts wirelessly - grr). Today, just now, I called them and gave them instructions as to how to make their phone see both SIM and Phone memory contacts. It all worked out - yay!

Okay, that's all the insanity that I have time to share. To the Q's!

What did you teach this week?

We haven't gotten the chance to teach anyone yet, with the exceptions of a less-active-now-re-activated member on Sunday and a member family that fed us last Monday. I did, though, have some fun calling a lot of people that have met missionaries in the past from the Area Book. There were quite a few people actually still interested in meeting missionaries that now live in different areas of Helsinki. That's the only 'proselyting' work that Elder Frey has really been able to do for some time, now, but it's been effective, regardless. One Finnish man that we called actually lives in our very-small area, and was very nice and pleasant. Unfortunately, he had long term plans, including visiting California for a six-week time period. He asked for us to call back next month, as he would try hard to schedule us in then. He called back the next day, though, and said he had made space in his plans to meet with us! We will meet with him not this Monday, but next. Hope that all works out - he sounds very nice.

What did you learn this week?

I have been doing a lot of studying of the Book of Mormon in Finnish now. I'd hit the point where it really could be more of a personal and spiritual study rather than a language study a while back, but I never started to do it during personal study, just language study. I'd been hesitant to start, but I got the go-ahead to try. It's been great - I'm hoping to finish reading through it entirely, cover-to-cover, by the end of my time here in Finland!

What did you share this week?

So, the answer is not Todistus Pallo this time - although I had a great opportunity of sharing it with the member on Sunday, and he was really impressed with it. So it was still done. But.

I'm also cheating, again - this is something shared with me. A lot of somethings share with me.

I referenced doing some transcripts in the Office. I think I might have mentioned this before, but I don't remember doing so, so... Here we go (potentially again)! I have been doing transcripts of a bunch of calls that Elder Frey made out to the mission. There were about 60 or so of these calls, at least of these calls that fit into the job I am now doing. There were probably a few additional ones, too, but 60 or so for the purpose of my current task. The calls were about recent-convert stories. Elder Frey called the missionaries throughout Finland (under President's direction) and got recordings of little interviews with them as to investigators that joined the church while they were serving in various areas. We had been asking missionaries to send in convert stories once I first came into the office, but no one had really done it, since it required them sacrificing e-mailing time to do it. And apparently people are pretty reluctant to lose 5 or so minutes of emailing. I had just done in the change in Lohja before (as a private request from President) and just set aside 5 minutes of e-mailing to write a little more into the convert stories I had to do (4 of them). It only took a few P-Days, and then it was done entirely. But. Oh, well. Elder Frey called for 60 different convert stories from different people, recorded the interview, and now someone needs to type it all up. Enter Elder Milligan back into the Office... It's really funny, because I mocked him having to do it when he informed me in Mikkeli about his latest project, since 6 or so stories were from my companion, Elder Smith. I told him that I didn't envy his new job of typing these all out. I think karma bit hard on that statement...

In all honesty, though, it is a fantastic experience to have. I'm writing up 60 or so stories of people that ended up converting to the gospel, and all of them are amazing stories. It's just an amazing thing, even if it does give me a headache to go that long just listening, typing, listening, typing, and so forth...

Where do you think Zandi will go on her mission?

Ah - my sister, Zandi, has sent in her mission papers! Woo-Hoo! I really do hope that she gets to come out here to Finland. If that happened, it's possible that I would find out before she did - I do get to see the incoming people that Sister Wade bring up. Then again, maybe not - she was surprised by the opening of her grand-daughter's mission call to Helsinki, Finland, this last month. Hmm!

If she doesn't get called out to Finland, I could see here going to Japan or somewhere like that. I think she would do well with a foreign language! I hope she goes to Finland, though. It would be awesome for her to have President Watson as a Mission President.

What is the first advice you think of to share with her about packing for her mission?

The first thing I would say to NOT pack is an abundance of casual clothes. In the MTC, you need quite a few due to gym times being so frequent. Out here, though, they practically never get used. Just for service projects. Anyone that says differently needs to re-read the Missionary Handbook on Dress and Attire. I'm not sure why some missionaries call casual clothes "P-Day" clothes...

Other than that? Stick closely to the call packet items, even though once you get to the mission field, a lot of people will joke that they don't have nearly any of the materials listed. They've always helped me out in having them at one juncture or another!

What tie do you wear the most?

I try to have a semi-solid tie rotation, so that I don't just always wear the same ties. I do have favorite ties, though - they are almost all blue. The one I wear the most is this nice, thinner (NOT SKINNY) navy-blue and silver striped tie. Very skinny stripes, I just love to wear it. I always wear it with my vest at Zone meetings.

How long does a tie last? Do they ever wear out?

I haven't had one wear out yet - generally, if it gets a stain, I can conquer the stain in some way. I did that a lot in the MTC. All of my ties are still intact, and I'm trying to take them all home!

If you could have any tie in the world, what would it be?
Wow, this is not a fair question. I decide what I would really like by seeing it! I will say this - if all of my ties were variations of the navy-blue and silver thin tie that I described, I would be a very happy missionary. I think a dark maroon and silver would be the next addition that I would want. Memorial Bulldog blood runs deep, especially when it uses my favorite colors.

Well, that's all I've got - I'm out of time and out of ideas. Love you all - I can't believe that I've been out here this long! I found out this morning that I have around 12 weeks left (not my intention to discover that at all...). I still intend to love it and work hard through the end! I hope that I am able to help a few more people even just start on a journey of finding the truth for themselves. Be safe, all, and love life!

Vanhin David Milligan

April 16, 2016 - Sorry - My Insanity Is Confidential

Wow, so much has happened this week that I actually can't talk about. Whoa. It's been fun, though. I've been in meetings for the last 3 days, and we weren't going to have a P-Day today due to continued meetings, but we got excused from them.

To say what I can, there was a set of people coming from Utah and a few from the Europe Area offices, and we had a set of meetings with them where Elder Frey and I were President's representatives, due to him having other responsibilities. (To pop one rumor bubble about this - no, it wasn't about iPads. Goodness.) Fun to here all of these people that speak very American-English. Elder Frey and I did a lot of Finnish-translation and explanation for these people, so that they could understand different papers and things that were given to them. Woo-hoo, my Finnish is sufficient!

In addition, we did a lot of running around Helsinki this week, too. This "woo-hoo" is a little sarcastic. One of the errands that we ran was dropping off lots of 3-step ladders at different apartments in Helsinki. Why? Because it's an item that is required on the apartment-inspection paper. And no one here has it. Hmm. So, we were tasked with dispersing purchased ladders throughout Finland. We are still trying to figure out how to get them out beyond Helsinki.

Also, just got a message from my father - Marimekko is in America? Marimekko is a Finnish designer brand - very expensive, very well-liked out here, very much not my taste. I guess that America is carrying it through Target, now. Hmm. Weird that it is spreading outside of Finland.

There's not much to say more... I'll hop over to questions and figure out if there's anything else in my head!

What did you teach this week?
We actually did get to meet with an investigator this week! An awesome member couple here in our area invited our investigator over for dinner and invited us along, too. (Fun fact - the husband is the son of a fantastic family in Mikkeli! I met him and his wife there 3 or 4 times before moving here to where they now live.) Well, sure enough, in order to go through how a knowledge of the gospel comes in many small and simple points of faith and belief... I brought out the Testimony Ball. Yay! Seriously, I don't think you all realize how fun this is for people that see it the first time. I'll try to send a picture of it and the pieces next week. It went well - we hope to see the investigator come to church this Sunday!

What did you share this week?

This week, I shared... yikes. This question gets harder every week. I will actually send over a little video in the next e-mail that I wanted to share - it's a nice one! It's in Finnish, of course, but it's just a little "veme" of sorts. So, what did I share this week? This video. With you all! It's called, "Savior, Friend."

What did you learn this week?

You know, I didn't really get a Personal Study this last half of the week, due to all of the meetings starting at 8 AM. However, in the beginning, I was studying quite a bit from True to the Faith, and then in Language study going over to the Finnish translation and following along. It was a fun thing to do, and I got to see how to effectively teach a point in English, and then re-express it in Finnish!

Are you enjoying the office?

Yup. I enjoy it, probably the same way that people enjoy roller coasters - it's an insane, crazy ride in which you're not quite sure whether or not you'll survive. It's great to have Elder Frey here - he knows the right ways to address different bumps in the track we're on. We know how to work together really well!

What is the craziest thing you have seen in the office?

Hoo, boy - you're in for some nightmare material right now... I'll keep it a little more tame so that the kiddies can get to sleep tonight.

I think that the craziest thing that I have seen is an Excel sheet that Elder Frey and I put together. Think that's not crazy or nightmarish? Just wait - the Excel sheet was filled with the prices of tickets for people to get to various Zone Trainings, Conferences, District Meetings, Interims, MLC's, Extended MLC's, Exchanges, you name it. Let me say this, and this alone - if the amount of money spent on my tickets just as a Zone Leader in the smallest-companionship-size Zone were to be totaled up (and I could very well do that - I kept all of my travel receipts), I would be holding the purchased-total of the cost of me being out here on a mission. And that's just for 1 change - not even the 2 changes that I was a Zone Leader. In other words, my travel in 2 months is price-wise equal to the amount that I am paying over the 2 years I am here. Now, did I travel a lot as a Zone Leader? Yes. But does it cost a lot to get people shifted all around the country? Even more so. So I say I am blessed for serving here as a volunteer and church representative, rather than a tourist. Phew. But, that's the craziest thing that I've recently seen - a totaled up sheet of all of these prices for the mission for the space of 2 months.

Are you still a zone leader? (not sure how that all works)

No, I'm not - I am 'just' an Office Elder. The way it works is that each of the 4 Zones in Finland, decided upon by President Watson, has 2 Elders in it that are tasked with putting together meetings, answering questions from District Leaders (a single Elder that is in charge of teaching a small group in the Zone on a weekly basis and receiving and answering questions they pose about all sorts of stuff), and attending meetings where President talks about what he wants to make sure that missionaries are being instructed on - whether it be rules, procedures, things to emphasize teaching, whatever. That means that there are 4 sets of Zone Leaders, each living in the biggest and/or most central cities in their Zones. It isn't just one Zone Leader per Zone, here, which I have heard of in other areas. But, while I grew to like my time as a Zone Leader, I'm quite alright, thank you! I like the Office chaos more.

What was your favorite General Conference talk?

Hmm, my favorite General Conference talk might have been Elder Holland's, of course - I also really liked that Saturday Morning talk about our identity as a child of God. That was a good talk! The Sunday morning session had a lot of good ones, too - Bonnie Oscarson's talk was perfect for the investigator we had there. Very simple way of teaching that which we believe. Very good!

That's all I've got. Sorry I'm so boring, but I'm honestly just a bit brain-dead from meetings. Can't wait until I can get back to the normal Office insanity. Phew. You know it's been crazy when the Office work is a break from whatever you're doing.

You all are awesome - thanks SO MUCH for helping those around you! I love to hear the stories of people finding a way to help someone smile. Be safe, keep on keeping on!

Vanhin David Milligan

April 9, 2016 - Calm After the Storm

...I think we made it. It's peaceful now. Wow.

This week had almost none of the crazy that last week did. We focused mostly on doctor appointments and identifying just what is going on with my companion's leg situation. Everyone is kind of baffled. We are going to another set of doctors soon to test out one more set of possibilities.

Well, with that in mind, understand, this has also been an uneventful, and ergo boring, week. Oh, well. I'll think of something to say. I pulled out the normal questions, plus added in that one that I skipped over last week. I remembered! Yay!

To the Q's!

What did you teach this week?

Well, this week, we didn't get to teach too much. Even in the Office, there weren't very many of us. Just 4, altogether - Elder Frey and I, as well as Senior Sisters Wade and Airto. President gave us permission to be alone in the office with them, thank goodness. 😜

I did get to have our ½-day set of exchanges with our District Leader, Elder Baker. That was fun. President has said that our exchanges will just occur for the evening block after the office, and there won't be a switch of companions as there normally is halfway through the day. So, I got to have about 3 hours with Elder Baker by my side - he's a really cool Elder! He's the one that broke his hand when I was here in the office the first time around. He's pretty fun, and we'll likely hang out together after the mission. He goes home this next month or so. He's great at Finnish - it's really fun to just banter back and forth with little oddities of the Finnish language!

Anyways, we did get to teach together. The first part of the day was following up with people here that have given us their addresses, but not phone numbers. Elder Frey is generally not capable of up-and-visiting on a whim, so this was a concentrated effort on meeting with people. Sadly, no one was home, except for one person that we did have the number of, and we just dropped by the door to try to set up a lesson in the future. After that, we had a lesson with a less-active member here who is REALLY funny! He has an interesting sense of humor - maybe a little dark, but in a surprisingly funny way. We have been going through the lessons with him, and we taught the Plan of Salvation up until Our Life on Earth. It was cool to talk about his insights on what he's experienced in life to grow, and how it is that all of us have developed and grown in some way from trying our best throughout life.

What did you share this week?

Well, the Todistus Pallo has been working wonders over here, too. I think I just keep listing that as either the "teach" moment or the "share" moment... Oh, well. I got to share it with a newly-wed couple here in Haaga area. Last time I was here, this guy wasn't married. Now he is. Odd. It was a nice little lesson - we phrased it a little bit differently, to talk about how their testimonies are going to fit together and complement each other as time goes on. I think it went well!

What did you learn this week?

I started really looking at D&C Section 4 this week. It is the scripture-of-the-transfer that we have right now, and we have one person read it aloud every District Meeting. This last week, it was my turn. It's a little lengthy, but I already have it memorized, since I had quoted it every Sunday from ages 14-18 or so, at the beginning of every young men's class I had. So, I thought rather than spending the time to memorize it that I would normally take, I used that time to look at and learn from it, following as many scripture-reference-paths as I could (where you read a verse, follow the reference points, follow those verses' reference points, etc. until you want to go to the next verse in the original section). It was insightful, all of the different things that it led me to about missionary work, and why it is important, or how we are enabled to do it. That was a good lesson for me!

What did you study this week?

I ended up studying out a lot of the 50 scriptures already submitted for memorization, as well as the next 70 or so pitched ones (we will be narrowing those down to an additional 50 soon, so that we have a 2-year supply of one-scripture-a-week sections). I did the scripture-reference-path approach on about ½ of the original 50, and maybe one-fourth of the 70 pitched ones. It's cool to find a path that leads to another verse I wanted to study!

Also, not so much a study-topic, but a cool thing nonetheless, is that in the office, I have been tasked with transcribing lots of phone calls that Elder Frey made to the mission when I was in Mikkeli. These phone calls have Elder Frey asking a set of questions to missionaries about the different conversion stories they have of people that they've helped find the church and get baptized. It's been pretty fun to listen to - I'm just hearing cool experience after cool experience! I have to do it for 100 different converts, most of the converts having 2 missionary phone calls attached. (There are also a few with just 1, a few with 3 or more, so it averages out to about 2 sets of similar stories for 1 convert.) This Recent Convert Stories compilation will hopefully be included in the Mission Histories that we are still working on. It should be fun to do this to the end! I'm glad that I get to contribute my part in this!

What is something weird that happened recently?

Okay, let me think... Well, here's the end to the story of the train-and-bike-mishap. Here we go...

{When we last left our heroes, the Office Elders, they had been trying to figure out how to get a bike to Hämeenlinna, since it got left behind in the necessary run-and-rush of Friday.}

I'm making this dramatic, but it wasn't too bad. We bought a ticket for the bike to be brought (which also meant we had to buy a ticket for a person, since you can't just send a bike on a train alone); Elder Hastings paid for it, altogether about 20€ for a free, good bike; and we sent it up from the Helsinki Central Station. The endeavor of getting and transporting the bike was a bit difficult, but no worries. We had to figure out how to get the bike to fit into the small car we have. We got that. The back tire was locked solid (just to itself, not to a post or anything), and Elder Hastings had the key. A bit cumbersome, but in the end, we just hoisted it along instead of rolling it. We had to leave the bike unattended in a sketchy metal train car as it journeyed up to Hämeenlinna, unguarded by anything or anyone. But this is Finland, so no one stole it. Elder Hastings received his bike, and the Office Elders high-five-d in victory. Yay!

{Fade to black as a victorious rendition of the theme song plays.}

Now I'm just wondering what sort of theme song the Office Elders have... Hmm. "There is Chaos All Around - the Office is Our Home"? Sung to the tune of "Love at Home", of course. Someone please make this real. I want a theme song!

That's all I've got! Oh, I meant to say this last week - I gave my mandolin away. I wasn't planning on getting it home at all, and Elder Baker really wants to try to get it home as part of his carry-on, so I've given it to him and said 'bon voyage' and 'hyvästi' to my little Soviet Russian mandolin. I might get to see it again, though, so that makes it worth it! He's planning on restoring it a bit, maybe getting new strings on it. It won't have my special-tuning anymore, but that's okay - it's got a better future ahead of it.

I'm so happy to be out here, and back in the office, too! It's great to be in a place where so many people want me to help them. Be safe, do the best you all can this week.

Vanhin David Milligan

April 2, 2016 - AHHHH!!! CRAZY WEEK!!!

Wow, I'm pretty sure that this week tops all others with the amount of crazy in it. I don't want to spend 3 pages talking about it, so I'll just give you snapshot moments. Get ready for insanity.

Wednesday Afternoon. We are going to have Extended MLC the next day with the whole mission's District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders, so we are picking up a few missionaries and their things to ferry them over. Lots of driving back and forth between train station and mission home. Last trip, I have Elders Hyer and Greciano-Raiskila in the car with me and Elder Frey, and we take a BUNCH of materials to the mission home to restock companionships with small supplies, and some that are there with their cars with lots of stuff. All in all, about 220 Finnish copies of the Book of Mormon are in the car, along with lots of day planners and different languages of books and pamphlets. We manage to squeeze in and survive the trip. Yay! Elders help us unload when we arrive, Elder Frey and I leave to go spend the night in our own apartment instead of the mission home, so that Elder Frey doesn't have to face really steep steps all night long (Elders sleep in the attic).

Thursday Morning. Get up early, prepare to go to MLC. Get to the mission home, begin a great meeting. Lunch. Continue the meeting. Meeting over, let's get dinner into our systems, and then get everyone in trains going home that evening.

Thursday, 4:15 or so. People are starting to enjoy dinner. Trains will leave in about an hour and a half, for most people. Or so we thought. One of the assistants and both of us Office Elders get calls, about simultaneously, from different companionships of missionaries in Finland, and all hang up at about the same time with the same startling update - the train conductors are all on strike. Well, that's bad. So, the assistants get everyone mobilized as though trains will be leaving - just in case. No fear, no panic, just business as usual. Meanwhile, us Office Elders will be dropping people off to go on exchanges throughout Helsinki, as planned for those people returning to northern Finland via plane the next morning. Us Office Elders then get Elder Frey and his exchanged-companion, Elder Nissen, to the church for a lesson and church tour with a new investigator of ours. I get a call from the Assistants, having just started the process of getting people from the train stations back to the mission home. All of the Long-Distance trains are shut down. I am then mobilized with my exchanged-companion, Elder Smith (from my group) to go back to the office and get to a computer to organize travel for the next day. For all of the Tampere and East Zone. Yikes. And I'm with someone who can't really help, since I'd have to train him in order for him to help me. Double Yikes. I then spend the evening plotting out a detailed emergency-travel schedule for Friday, since the strike will end at 3 AM then, that fits to pick up missionaries from Helsinki and get them back to their various locations, including getting their original companions from various locations throughout all of Finland in time for them to make a companion switch to their original companion. Headache for Elder Milligan. And the fun doesn't stop there. After getting the schedule done, picking up Elder Frey and Elder Nissen, and getting them back to the Office to meet with the Assistants and get everything mobilized, I am then tasked with gathering all of the Oulu/North Zone missionaries from their places that they were at throughout Helsinki. Meaning I'm going to Pasila and Neitsytpolku, very central-city locations, with Elders Nissen and Smith (who don't know Helsinki at all) in a VERY big van (which I haven't driven in a while) with a junk GPS (that only tells you to go down blocked construction roads and dead ends). Long, crazy story short, I make it back to the mission home about 2 hours later with 6 Elders in tow, and grab my companion and return for the night of sleeping.

Friday Morning. We show up to the Mission Home at 7 AM again, to help with travel back. We grab a set of missionaries going back to areas of Tampere Zone together (Pori and Hämeenlinna District Leaders, who will get their original companions back in the switch at the Hämeenlinna station) to help us load up a giant van that is delivering apartment needs all throughout Finland as nearly half of the Office (2 people out of us 5) is planning to go on a ski vacation up North and volunteered their travel to be more missionary-effective. Yay for them! We have them help us package things. Elder Hastings (my group, Hämeenlinna District Leader) finds a bike for free. Secures it to take with him back to his area. We call the assistants and get them to order a bike ticket to Hämeenlinna for him. After they help us load boxes into the van, we take them to the station. They do not have the bike ticket. We go to the office to get the bike ticket. We drive quickly back, get the ticket to them, and - they miss their train by about 6 seconds. We drive them to Pasila, the now-very-busy-central-city-locations in an attempt to get them to the train on time. They make it by about 30 seconds or so, without the bike. We will worry about the bike next week.

That is all that I have energy to tell about my week so far. It was crazy. I'm gonna quickly go through the questions, though, and try to give a few sentences of an answer. To the Q's!

What did you teach this week? It can be something in the office!

Well, the lesson that my companion had with his exchanged-companion went fantastically well! They went through the church tour with a member and this not-yet-investigator, had a great How To Begin Teaching discussion, and set the expectations for our meetings to be oriented towards helping her be prepared for baptism. It went fantastically well - she got to eat dinner with the Relief Society, which wasn't initially planned, but worked well! They had a dinner going on, and she got pulled into eating after the lesson. She stayed for 3 hours and helped clean afterwards - wow!

What did you share this week?

I shared the Todistus Pallo lesson with a family out here that has less-active children. It went well - they loved being able to see me again and have me come! They think I'm really funny, but really caring, too. So cool to see these people again!

What did you learn this week?

I learned that sometimes, despite all of the planning in the world, things go crazy. It's been a recurring lesson these last couple months. I hope that doesn't seem like a cheap out to this answer - it really is enlightening to be able to learn how to last-minute adapt to even the best of plans falling through, due to situations beyond your control. It's also good to see how you react under pressure. I kind of have this "inevitable fate" attitude - I just get very solemn sounding, clear thinking (thank goodness), and narrate all of the insanity as it unfolds. Makes it very funny afterwards for those around me that are listening. The Elders in the van up from Pasila and Neitsytpolku really appreciated my dismal, sarcastic commenting on the situations of the GPS's malfunctioning. No anger, just... treating it as the "inevitable fate". Kinda cool.

What did you study this week?

I studied a lot about the different scriptures that were in the original list of 130 or so that we took and parred down to 50 key ones for memorization. Good thing I stole an extra copy of the list from the Assistants - turns out they had written over the original file in order to display the final 50. The 130 list is no longer in digital existence. That's another thing that popped up in the beginning of the week - they were searching like mad for it on the computer, even though they knew exactly what they'd done to it. They needed the list for another set of 50 scriptures - President wants a 2-year-memorizing pattern. Cool. But they messed up, then. Thankfully, I'd taken an extra paper from them (because not only was the digital file gone - they had thrown out all of the selection papers from us missionary leaders, as we circled the 50 we wanted. Bad move, apparently), so there was 1 more existing copy of the file, albeit not digital. They thanked me a lot for making them a copy. Although later they told people that they had "pulled out the old copy", not "had the old copy restored to them", at MLC. But I don't care - the information is where it needs to be.

Have you had trouble with asthma in the cold?

No, not really. That's been a blessing.

Is it warming up? Have you had your last cold season in Finland?

It is now almost always in the positives, yes. This morning, it was 1 degree, but still. Positive. So, yes, probably my last cold season, though I don't want to think about it...

Any sightings of the Northern Lights? We heard a rumor they were further south this year? Truth or Fiction?

I heard that they appeared further south, but I've still never seen them, and now never will... 😢

What is exciting in the office this week?

Mostly the strike. And all of the apartment-matters travel. The van became stuffed very, VERY full. Phew. Glad we survived it all.

What is something weird that happened recently?
I'm gonna reserve this question for next week - I'll have more brain power then, and more time, too, to write, than now.

Does April Fools Day exist in Finland?

Yes - but I didn't get pranked, nor did I prank. Phew.

Well, that's all! I'm still recovering from the crazy. I didn't get stressed, really, but it was a very stressful situation, nonetheless. All of the things that happen in the Office... But, I love it here! Be safe, y'all - write you next week!

Vanhin David Milligan