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