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