Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 21, 2016 - Same Song, Second Verse

Seems that I have the same things to report every week. That is to say, virtually nothing. I've heard that this happens, that as time goes, your e-mails just get shorter and shorter, but I never thought that it could happen due to actual lack of content. Seems that's happening, though. Wow.

Well, phooey. I'm just about tapped out of topics. We helped with a TON of travel on Tuesday and Wednesday to get missionaries throughout the mission. I drove down to Central Helsinki Train Station more times that day than I'd care to do so in my lifetime. Driving through Helsinki is kinda weird and a bit scary, seeing as you've got magically disappearing lanes and trolley cars that also take the same lane as you and buses that I'm pretty sure are hired to thin the population of drivers. I survive each time, of course, but it's almost never a pleasurable experience. Except for one trip. There was no one on the roads and I hit around 15 green lights in a row. Shortened the travel time significantly. That was fun. But. That was my Tuesday and Wednesday.

We also have nearly finished off with the Mission Histories. There have been a lot of things requested to be added in, and a number of problems that we've had to fix with the formatting (I'm a Microsoft Office Master at this point), and so there has been a bit of a delay. Plus those dozens of recent-convert stories that we've been typing up and putting into the Mission Histories. That's slowed down our progress by a bit. BUT THEY ARE ALMOST DONE. Yay! Just need a few more items from President, and then we can send them off with our signatures on them. Phew. I'm glad I get to see the completion of this project.

Yeah, that's all I've got. TO THE Q'S!
What did you learn this week?

I studied chapters 2 and 10 of Preach My Gospel quite thoroughly this week. Unfortunately, I only have had 2 days so far this week to have studies. So I only have gotten to study those. Every day, there has been some early-morning demand that shifts studies away. I generally try to make it up in the evenings, but it's still a battle to get to have time to study. I love studying - I just can't get to it with the Office schedule of insanity! Oh, well. Semi-ironically, chapters 2 and 10 are about studying and teaching more effectively. I'm just glad that I didn't include chapter 8, planning time more wisely. I feel that we are fantastic planners here - everything that we are aware of gets considered, planned, and scheduled in a place that we can access and constantly turn to and reference. Then the crazy, unforeseeable stuff comes in and destroys all of that. But never mind.

What did you share this week?

I mentioned going to share a musical number with the other Elders in Haaga on Saturday after we planned all of the travel (which took FOREVER to do). Yeah, there were quite a few complications that arose with that one. First off, we had to do a "rehearsal" of sorts on Friday as per request by the audio manager for the Saturday Conference in Haaga. He made it sound as though it would take about 5 minutes with us and the other Haaga Elders. Turns out that he planned to have us help with all of the video and audio management for 3 microphones and 4 cameras, including a sound system's setting up. That took a long time. Then, the travel planning took so long. We finished around 5:30 PM with the Stake Conference at 7 PM, the time of which had been told to us by several people and an email, too. We left to get Elder Frey some food before the Conference and texted a member asking him to come early so that we could practice page-turns with him, since I had been the only one doing it up until then. He then texted back and said that he was already there - the Conference starts at 6 PM. Yikes. Thankfully, we were rather close to the church. We hopped in the car and arrived at 5:55. During the drive, Elder Frey called the Haaga Elders. The Haaga Elders did not know the correct time either. They arrived at 6:20 or so. The musical number took place at about 6:15. It became a solo on my side. Everyone loved it, though, and kept coming up during the two-day conference to compliment me. There were people from the whole Helsinki Stake there, meaning that I got to see people from Lohja, Espoo, Porvoo, Marjaniemi, Haaga, and Mikkeli there! That was fun to get to see so many recognizable faces.

What did you teach this week?

We didn't get a chance to teach to anyone this week. We did receive a new District, though, for this transfer, and the District Meeting was very well done! Elder Jensen is our District Leader this transfer, and we have a new Sister missionary from America being trained here. Yay!

What time of year are the prettiest sunsets/sunrises in Finland?

Wow, that is such a hard question - the answer really depends on what sort of frame you want around your sunset/sunrise. The sun coming up and going down is always beautiful, but it depends on if you want lush, green forests and a lake around it (summer) or the snowy, icy forest and a frozen lake around it (winter). The fall generally is only beautiful for about a week, but is gorgeous during that time, and the springtime has beautiful clouds with pretty good scenery. So. I prefer the winter, I think.

What was your latest Office adventure?

Well, this one's a fun little puzzle. Elder Frey and I have almost entirely eliminated a particular brand of phone from the Mission. It has been referred to as the "Red Phone" by us and the "Red Devil" by the majority of people that own it. I personally had been using a "Red Phone" for over 8 months of my mission before my plea to kill this phone was addressed. It is really an ineffective phone model - it only holds about 30 received texts and 6 sent ones. The sent ones will delete automatically, and the received ones will sometimes delete themselves, although normally, you need to delete a few manually in order to receive more text messages. The text function is all broken on it, it won't keep texts in a "Conversation" view, but rather an "Inbox" and "Sent" view, you miss incoming calls if you are on the phone with someone else (it doesn't record that anyone tried to call you, nor gives any indication during the call itself), and the problems go on and on.

Finally, about 2 months ago, we got permission to eliminate this phone and replace it with old phones here in the Office. Let me explain where these old phones came from. Missionaries hear that there is a "new phone" in the Mission Office. Missionaries get excited. They call the Office and report their phone as "broken". They receive a new phone, put in the time to switch over contacts - and realize the horror of what they've done. Worst of all, generally they've already sent back the "broken" phone to the Office before they realize just how bad of a decision it was to try to get this "new" "Red Phone". Sad what missionaries will do when they think that they can get 'technology' they don't have.

So, here's the puzzle bit - we finally got almost all of the "Red Phones" replaced with the phones that were sent to us in fine condition by those attempting to receive new technology they thought was better. Those phones work well, especially since they haven't been being used for the last year or so. So, the magical question - what do we do with the phones that now start breaking? Because we don't have any more of those old phones left - they're all gone. What happens when a missionary companion drops their phone and it breaks, either with the screen or the electronics inside? What happens when the phone stops receiving satellite signals altogether and quits doing anything? I'd like to know the answer, because that's what I've been trying to deal with for, like, seven different companionships these last few weeks. You all heard about a few from me, but it just keeps happening, and the stock of phones is most definitely depleted now. Get more phones, you say? There is only one model "dumb" enough for missionaries to use (since we can't use smart phones that can connect to Wi-Fi) - the upgrade to the "Red Phone". It looks very similar to it, and admittedly fixes a lot of the problems that the "Red Phone" posed - but I can tell you what will happen, despite missionaries really needing to have learned better from the last time. We buy the upgrade to the "Red Phone". Missionaries hear that there is a "new phone" in the Mission Office. Missionaries get excited. Repeat scenario of the above, with no old phones to go back to after the tragedy has begun, due to the fact that they will finally go kaput one of these days. I really hope that some phone company decides to go against their better judgement and make a really good "dumb phone" that is actually usable by the missionary force, because right now, we are hitting an inevitable wall...

So. That has been my latest Office adventure. Journeying all over Helsinki in an attempt to resurrect dead phones and finding the phone just outright broken to the point of no repair. Sigh.

What is your favorite activity in the Office?

Hmm, I think that my favorite activity is lunch. We still get lunch given to us every Monday when President visits. Yum. :)

Okay, okay, my favorite WORK activity is Zone Meeting travel. I like to organize how all of the missionaries will go to a Zone Training or Conference, and how they can all get back effectively. We had to plan for some big stuff in the future (like, after I'm gone, in the future), and that was pretty fun to plan how I could get missionaries arriving into locations in time for meetings and away in time to get back to proselyting. It was a mission-wide scheduling nightmare - and I LOVED it! So much fun to do!

I'm done. There are no questions left, nor anything that I have left to say. I hope that everything is going well with everyone everywhere! How's that for a vague statement?

Be safe, be happy, I'll try to do something report-worthy this next week, so that there's something to actually report on! :)

Vanhin David Milligan

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