Friday, June 24, 2016

June 21, 2016 - So Quickly Back Again...

This e-mail will likely be short. Due to the fact that I feel like I just e-mailed 3 days ago. Oh, wait. That happened. Yeah.

I'm really happy that we will be having more proselyting days - we had a great day yesterday, and it was really only possible because of this schedule. Yay!

Yup, Elder Milligan is now grasping for straws in his conversation. He is also referring to himself in the third person. Sigh. Insanity lingers on the horizon.


What did you teach in the last three days?

Yesterday, we got to teach to a really cool person. First off, a bit of a story. The first time that I was here, Elder Frey and I were really excited to be going through the Area Book full of names and numbers of people that have said that we can meet with them. These people had met missionaries up to 3 or so years before, so there wasn't a guarantee that they still lived in the area or not. Regardless, we wanted to contact these people and ask them if they were still interested in learning more, or having missionaries come back and teach. One of the people we talked to over the phone was a Brazilian woman getting married soon. She said that she didn't have time to meet then (which, yeah, makes sense), and asked for us to try calling at some later date. The next time around with Elder Frey was the "some later date", since that was when she next answered. She answered the phone at that time quite frantically, since her husband had just been hospitalized. She asked again for us to call back later. This last week, I thought to call her again, even though we had tried since unsuccessfully to get into contact with her. I called. No answer. I thought to send a quick text to her, telling her that we called because the last thing that we had heard from her was that her husband was hospitalized and that she had asked for us to call back later. I said that I hoped all was well now (it had been about a month earlier that we had heard from her), and sent the text. The next morning, I got a phone call from this person, expressing great interest in meeting with us. She said that she hadn't had any sort of free time until now, and she really wanted to get closer to God. We said that we'd be happy to meet, and arranged a meeting at the church with our Ward Mission Leader. That lesson went very well - she speaks fantastic English, and has so many good, honest questions. We covered a good amount, and at the end, she explained why exactly she had reached out again (because before, she had just said that it was to get a closer relationship with God, not anything about why she wanted to meet with us, specifically). She said that she didn't know much about our church (besides what a South Park episode had shown), and she wanted to ask from 'the source'. It was a fun moment to tell her that we weren't the source - her Loving Heavenly Father was that source. We could teach a bit, and bear testimony about what we've learned, and even recommend ways for her to learn these things, but in the end, the way she would gain experience and learn for herself whether these things are true would be through praying to and receiving answers from her Father in Heaven. That was fun. In addition, she also said that the text that I had sent meant a lot to her. During that time when her husband was in the hospital, she felt panicked, sad, and alone. None of her friends really came to help her. Then, that much later, here comes an honest and sincere text from a near-stranger that she talked with once, hoping that all was well, and remembering that she had experienced such a thing. She was blown away by that, which was why she called back the next day. She referred to that as a 'Jesus moment', that she could interact with the missionaries in such a way that she knew God had put them in her path. Wow! It will be fun to talk to her and teach about the gospel!

What did you share in the last three days?

Hmm. We've gotten to meet with quite a few people - last Sunday, for instance, we had to literally run out of church to start attending lessons and visiting potentials at the times that we promised to come by. We were busy the whole day, and the whole day yesterday, too. We had District Meeting yesterday, though, due to Interim being this week and our District having a trainee. I brought gluten-full peanut-butter-brownies that I made the night before and the morning breakfast-time of. (I made the dough quickly the night before, and put it all into the oven the next morning. Thankfully, we don't normally use the oven in the morning, so there was no need to reserve it ahead of time. :)) I got to share those with the District and the Office staff - I will say, they were quite good!

What did you learn in the last three days?
Well, I wanted to share the metaphor-thing that I mentioned last letter. It wasn't in the last three days, though. Oh, well. I'm giving it anyway. :) So, here we go!

The last appointments that we've had, the question "do you believe in Hell" has kept popping up. I don't really know why - it's just kept on coming up at random points of lessons where we are trying to get to know the needs of our new investigators. Super odd. Anyways. Generally, the thing that I've done with my companions is use that to further the lesson appropriately - for example, show them a teaching record, explain that we talk about all of these things, and that we'd like to keep one for our meetings with them (which asking is required by Finnish law), and then say that when we get to the Plan of Salvation lesson, we can talk a bit more about it, since they will understand the foundations of our message - but in the meantime, here is a short answer - and then we take a sentence or two to address that.

I've started to think about how it is that we are going to explain it more in depth with these people. I mean, it is a question and concern of theirs, and it is part of what we teach, so I need to figure out a way to present it to specifically answer their questions. Most of these people are well-acquainted with the Bible, so a concept of it already exists in their head.

The thing that I started to think about was this - yes, we do believe in Hell. Might I say, though, that it isn't in quite the same way that other religions address it. The "hell" that everyone refers to, generally, is 'the place where bad people go', to give the simplest definition. We generally refer to that as 'Spirit Prison' in this church. Before, when I've started to explain about the main purpose of Spirit Prison to be a place for people that never got the chance to hear the gospel before to learn about it in its entirety, and that even the people that rejected the gospel in their lives would be learning about it (although maybe not accepting it still), that understandably raised red flags for some people. They would start to pull out various scriptures in the Bible, talking about how this place is "everlasting torment", with "bitter depths" and "firey pits". They would claim that this means that the only concept of Hell that can be drawn from this is a place of just that - torment, pain, and suffering. I've tried to explain how our concepts really are in harmony, and I finally got a half-usable metaphor figured out. Keep in mind, there are, of course, imperfections in the way that I'm delivering this metaphor, but I'm trying, alright? ;)

Okay. You've gone through life, sinning. Every time that you've sinned, you've put a dollop of toothpaste into your mouth. Yes, toothpaste is a cleansing agent, I get it - but let's look at it for what it does besides clean your teeth, alright? The toothpaste in your mouth numbs and dulls your tongue's ability to taste sugary, sweet things. It leaves really only the sour and bitter taste-buds intact. Now. You are given a tall, cool glass of orange juice, and told to drink it. You wouldn't want to - you just had toothpaste in your mouth. But, it's nutritious, good for you, while still being sugary and sweet, I say. No, not after I've had all of this toothpaste in my mouth, you say. To me, that nice orange juice is nothing more than a bitter, unpleasant memory that I've had toothpaste in my mouth. I would suffer through partaking of that, regardless of how good it is supposed to be.

Sounds kinda familiar, eh?

The gospel is the orange juice. We are meant to drink it and partake of it for a very long time. It's going to be a great experience for eternity. Unless we have a lot of toothpaste in our mouth that we don't want to get rid of. If we want the toothpaste of sin out, it's easy - get it out of the mouth, wash the mouth clean with the cleansing effect of the Atonement, which I might compare to clean, pure water here, and keep the process of cleansing up until the mouth is no longer numbed by the stings of the toothpaste of sin. All it takes is an honest desire to partake of something better than toothpaste. If we insist that the toothpaste was the main thing we wanted in life, and that even though we know about the orange juice now, we'd much rather stick with the imitation pleasure of toothpaste, we will remain in that state forever - not able to handle orange juice without torment, pain, and suffering on our parts.

I know that this metaphor isn't perfect, but it makes a good point. If something is spiritually numbing you, you generally won't want to experience spiritual things. If you do want to experience spiritual things, the answer isn't "power through the spiritual numbing to partake of the spiritual things anyway" - the answer is, get the sins out of your life, and become clean through the cleansing power of the Atonement. Yes, it's a process - but the gospel and the orange juice will taste so much sweeter in the end.

Have you gotten any taller in the last three days? Or since leaving on your mission?

Nope. And I don't think that I've gotten taller. That's just my opinion, though. Sticking me next to a wall is the only real way to tell.

Is geocaching a big thing in Finland?

I've heard that it is! The young men's group in a previous city went out geocaching, if I remember correctly. Sounds like it's big out here, at least. No promises, I don't really have the availability or equipment to try it out myself...

I hope that my little metaphor embedded in the e-mail was something that helped you all understand what I'm trying to teach people out here. I love this gospel, and I love the role that I have in it right now, to try to spread it to the people here in Finland. It's great to bring a message of such happiness!

I'm glad, also, that so many people have sent me little thoughts, lately. I try to answer them with at least a smiley-face - sorry if there isn't much more than that, but I really do care about the things that you all say!

Thanks, everyone, everywhere, for the good that you are doing. I know that it will help and bless you, either further down the road or right now, with increased happiness. Be safe, all!

Here are some pictures from the crazy up-to-Seinäjoki drive that I took with Elder Hoggard. He just got his camera back, which means that these pictures are long over-due!

Vanhin David Milligan

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 18, 2016 - I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!!

I think that is a fitting sentence for the subject line. I really enjoy being a missionary, and being able to proselyte like a missionary. These last few weeks, we have gotten a couple of investigators, have had some miracles happen, and are well on our way to helping people progress in their knowledge of the gospel. SO MUCH FUN!!! :)

In an effort to get us proselyting more, I have motioned to President that we make a cut-day from the Office starting this next week. It had started to look like I might just have evening proselyting for the rest of my mission, and Preparation Day on Saturdays, but thankfully, with the amount of work that was made up this week on the Mission Histories, I think that we can change it so that we have Preparation Day on Tuesdays with the rest of the mission now, and Saturdays will be a full day of proselyting - one of the best days to get available on our schedule! Woo-hoo!

It also helped that the timing of this change was actually necessary to account for the fact that Juhannus is this next Saturday (the Finnish celebration of the Summer Solstice, which takes place the Saturday after the actual day itself, Tuesday this year). With Juhannus happening, the stores will be closed. So if I want to eat the following week, I will need to stock up on food some other time. We will also have limited missionary-work options ahead of us, due to the amount of drinking that occurs on this holiday of eternal sun. Thankfully, we are planning on being able to stock up the whole day with lessons to investigators, since a lot of the people we are teaching are not actually Finnish... first area where I've ever had that occur. Most of them speak Finnish, but they aren't Finnish. Definitely not a normal occurrence for me.

Oh, because of the change of Preparation Day to Tuesday, I will, of course, start e-mailing on Tuesday starting this next coming week! I accidentally milked another Preparation Day out of the system, it appears... ;)

I slightly mentioned this earlier, but this week, I managed to work back all of the changes on Mission Histories that were lost, plus some. They are now printed out and ready for President's final review on them. I pray that he doesn't need to make too many more changes - if I have to insert a page, that is a lot of paper for a re-print... Also, we need to print out 2013 and 2014 Mission Histories (which are 141 and 204 pages respectively) to have 5 copies of each for the Mission Office, German Office, President Rowlings (the former Mission President which served during the course of parts of those two years), the Mission Home, and President Watson himself. Mission History 2015 with its 419 pages will only need 4 copies, as President Rowlings will not need a copy. I asked the German Office, though, what their expectations were regarding the amount of pages, and the only thing that they said to me was that they would prefer for it to be single-sided, not double-sided, since we have a number of pictures included in there. Phew, that's a lot of paper... I'm destroying a Finnish forest and creating a set of tomes. That's fun.

I've got nothing else clever or creative to say. TO THE Q'S!

What did you teach this week?

We were able to teach a bit during the course of a "How To Begin Teaching" lesson with a new investigator (well, he became a new investigator after the lesson, at least). Elder Frey had shown me this neat little thing that I've often done to some extent, but never quite put together as a solid concept in my head. He role-played with me once how to go through several points of the "How to Begin Teaching" section in Preach My Gospel while teaching various points from the lesson of the Restoration. It's not technically teaching those points, because of how briefly it is covered, but it gave appropriately-sized tidbits of the gospel and also was used to ask for the person's religious background, so that the lessons could make sense, or at least be taught in a way that is conducive to their understanding. I tried it again with Elder Hoggard, and it worked well - we know a lot about our new investigator, we have a set of things that we have already have said that we will talk more about next time, and the material that we gave them to read is pertinent for their understanding of what comes next. I'm happy!

What did you share this week?

This is such a repetitive category for me, I'm sorry...

I shared another little paper activity with two sets of members in our area. This one I also believe that I've talked about before, but we took it a little bit different of a route. I guided the families step-by-step through making a little origami missionary-shirt. When we first started, I told them that the little rectangle of paper in front of them was their life. They all look a little different - I dropped one into a bit of water, the edges on one weren't cut, but slightly frayed from being torn along the line, things like that - but essentially, the gift of "life" that I gave them was the same, and could still fulfill the same final purpose, regardless of the supposed differences in paper. We made a single fold down the middle of it all, and I asked them what had happened, followed by my own answering of the question (too vague to expect an immediate answer) - change. The paper still represented each of us, but all of us had gone through a marked change. We were a little skinnier, a little thicker, and if you undid the fold, you could noticeably see the change that we had made. From there we had two options - say we didn't like the change, and any other changes we made would ruin our "life", so stop there entirely trying to take out a fold - or keep going, trusting that whoever told us to make the change has some greater design in mind. In fact, if they were willing to trust me, I was going to use their changes to define other changes to be made. So, we all kept going forward. As the paper started to go through changes, I brought up that we can occasionally be frustrated if we don't really know the purpose of the changes. I held up the step that we had just reached to - a rectangle, with all of the inside folds hidden. I told them that with a few more changes, we were going to look kinda like this, still, and that it would be our final look. They stared at it, trying to figure out why I would have them keep going to make something that would seem so plain. I told them that they can't really understand the fullness of my intentions right now, but that this is the closest thing that they will understand for their final goal right now. They kept going forward in faith. All of the changes seemed abstract, not really leading towards a final design, since they still didn't have a good idea of what exactly they were meant to become, but they trusted regardless that I wanted the best for their "life". After ending up with this odd shape, I told them one final change to make - and the missionary-shirt became clear. It seemed obvious, after that, how all of the steps had helped to make this - but they didn't get it at the time why each of those small changes was needed. To be fair, it really did still look like a rectangle - it just had a couple of papers sticking out around the edges. That was a fun lesson to relate to the gospel, mostly along the lines of "God has a purpose for us" and "The commandments of God are not abstract things meant strictly for obedience or personal torment - they are meant to shape and define us". I generally open up the metaphor to the family and ask them what they learned about the gospel through this metaphor, so I also learn something new every time!

A lot of members are saying that they like what I do for lessons. To quote one member, "Uchtdorf has airplanes - you have this. I like it." :)

What did you learn this week?

Wow, I had this analogy I made that I wanted to share, but I'm over the time-budget that I give myself to answer these questions... I'll share it next week. I'll have to remember that.

For the time being, I'll say that I've been going through a lot of the questions of the soul that I hear from Finns and others. I've been trying to think how I would meaningfully answer concerns and questions of the people that I meet, so that they can know that the gospel provides answers to the important questions in life. It's been a fun activity!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Are there weird flavors in Finland?

I still am torn between anything with Orange in the flavor and anything with Caramel in the flavor. I love caramel more often, but sometimes I just want ice cream that is orange-y and creamy...

They do have Salmiakki ice cream in Finland. It's not bad at all - it is actually one of the best ways to learn to like Salmiakki! I made a salmiakki cheesecake once as a prank - ended up being quite good!

"Why should I serve a mission?" How would you have answered that question when you first left on your mission?

I think when I first left, my thoughts on serving a mission revolved mostly around "help people find Christ in their lives". I didn't have a thought or care, honestly, for whether or not they got baptized, since I knew that a) I probably wouldn't see any, if at all, baptisms, so I didn't want to get disappointed if nothing happened, and b) Christ would work out everything in the end. If people got baptized during this time as a result of meeting with me and feeling the Spirit, great - if not, their intentions are the things that matter. That was the way I thought about serving a mission.

How would you answer that question now?

Having now served the majority of my mission, I know that my reasoning behind being here has developed a LOT. The root of why I go out every day is still "I want to help people find Christ in their lives", but there is so much more weight and meaning behind that statement. Now, I want everyone to be able to partake of the fullness of happiness available through not just believing that Christ exists, but doing something about it; taking peace in the knowledge of guilt and sins washed away through honest repentance; making sacred covenants and promises with God, like baptism, in order to more fully feel His influence in their lives; receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that they can always receive comfort and answers in every situation; and enduring, enjoying, and rejoicing to the end. Why did I serve a mission? To help people understand their relationship with God and act on that knowledge - He is a Loving Heavenly Father, who wants you to come back to His presence to be eternally happy with the gifts that you have received in life, like a body, and family, a faith and hope made sure through Christ. Wow, how much more meaningful life would be if I could impart that simple understanding to everyone around me!

Anything new in the Office?

Well, we will have to move stuff up to Joensuu sometime in the beginning of next month, and we will also be moving a new Office Sister into her apartment at the beginning of this month. Yay, more Office Staff! That means that, hopefully, after she has been trained in a few of the tasks that we are doing, we can take even more time out of the Office! I also now have been tasked with starting Mission History 2016. Just when I thought that I was done with it all... President wants it to have virtually the same format, which is easiest to have done if the same person does it. Sigh. It makes too much sense...

Anything interesting about your latest companion?

Hmm, what could I share... He has a girlfriend back home. A really serious one. He got quite a few letters this last week from her, due to the fact that she was traveling and had to save all of her letters to be posted and mailed at the same time. So that's fun to hear stories from him. Other than that, there's not much else that I can think of to say... We are getting along well, and he is quite good at Finnish, so I am having fun teaching idioms to someone else! My vocabulary legacy will be passed down... ;)

As a semi-funny side-note - Elder Hoggard was trained by the same person that trained Elder Frey. This Elder trained (or at least started to train) 4 different Elders. 3 of them (including Elder Frey) have had to leave their missions early, generally for fairly good reasons. We are having fun thinking up a fate for Elder Hoggard, where he is in some tragic way removed from the mission. It's kinda dark, yeah, but we do it in a light-hearted way. That makes it alright, right? :S

Anything you are just dying to share with us?

Aaaand the only thing that I saw in that sentence was the word "dying". That doesn't help with the paragraph that I just wrote about ways we could "remove" Elder Hoggard from the mission before his time. Now I just seem to have a really dark humor. Whoops.

I'm just so excited that we get to go out and talk to people so much! We will have another set of exchanges with our District Leader, actually, so that he can go on exchanges with the other member of the companionship (Elder Hoggard). Not normally done here in Finland, but when you only had 3 hours of exchanges, I guess you get special exceptions. As makes sense.

Well, I've really liked writing this e-mail - Thanks to anyone that has managed to get through my ramblings this far! I love and appreciate everyone for the influences that they have had on my life. I am glad that the trials and struggles that I've gone through have been times allowed by my Loving Heavenly Father for me to find greater growth and gratitude in. I hope that everyone can be happy and safe this week! Enjoy life a little! Here's a small picture for the Finnish-comprehend-ers.

This is a fire extinguisher outside of our Office. I like the brand. "Euro-Sisu". Google Translate probably can't do the definition justice. It would only be better if it said "Suomi-Sisu".

Vanhin David Milligan

Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11, 2016 - Aaaaand this week went all down the drain...

Well. What do I mean by that unfortunate subject line? I mean that all of the work that I did on the Mission Histories this week is gone. Completely. Without recovery. Sigh.

I had a problem earlier in the week with the document being too large, too corrupted, or something. Every time that I tried to make multiple changes, then save, the server that it was on wouldn't accept it. If you tried to "save as" to any other place, it would save it all corrupted, if at all. Sometimes it just blocked the "save as" feature. So, in order to prevent me from loosing lots of hours of work like earlier this week, I made a copy saved to the desktop.

Yeah, that didn't fix anything.

I'd gotten really paranoid about keeping my progress saved, and was saving after nearly every edit that I made, at least saving after formatting each individual conversion story to be in line with all of the others.

It didn't help.

After finally finishing the whole editing and formatting of the last of the conversion stories in 2015, I triumphantly pressed "save" one final time. At which point the document froze, and then renamed itself to something like ~WF77019. I stared at it in shock. I tried to save again, press "save as" - nothing. No response from this imposter document. I scrolled throughout it, and it was entirely glitching up. Pictures were jumping all over the place. Formats that I fixed were blending together again. It was a nightmare. I closed it - the only thing that it actually responded to. The files were on my desktop. I could only watch as this weird document and its temp-file next to it blinked out of existence. Thinking that perhaps, it was just a weird, isolated little problem, I attempted to open up the actual Mission History 2015 document, cleverly labeled "DON'T CRASH" after the initial title. To my horror, the same problem happened as I had seen before - it said something about a corrupted file, and gave no way to recover my work. I couldn't restore a previous version or anything. It committed suicide on me. I had no choice but to haul it all to the trash bin, and look back at the original document, still mocking me from the initial deletion that it had done earlier. I'm back to the same exact document, with no changes, that I had at the beginning of this week. And I did a LOT this week. Sigh.

Well, it's not so bad. I'm sure that I will never forget any of these conversion stories that happened in 2015. I'm afraid to break up the file to more manageable sizes, 'cuz we had problems before trying to do that, since it reformatted everything on us when I tried to do it before. Also, if there are any page additions (since the thing needs to have page numbers), I would have to change every little piece of every document, and might not catch it in time. Too many moving parts and all that. I can't pull out the conversion stories, edit it, format it, and drop it back in - I've already tried that too, and the very specific formatting changes (specifically space differences in between paragraphs within and between different topics) all go kaput when you try to merge it back into the original document from another source. Sigh. I'll just have to get really good at pressing "save as" instead of "save", so that I can have a step-by-step better-and-better document on hand at all times. No more resets!

Hey, at least the whole document didn't delete itself.

Nothing else really interesting happened this week, besides what will be in the answers below.


What did you learn this week?

This week, I was going through how in the Book of Mormon, Aaron taught King Lamoni's father. Essentially, King Lamoni's father was contacted, became a potential investigator (Ammon was quite disarming ;) ), sent as a referral to Aaron, and then became an investigator in Aaron's stewardship, if you will. Just as a missionary equivalent of how he started meeting with the missionaries. So.

I have always found it interesting how applicable the questions were to King Lamoni's father's understanding. They were good questions that took what he knew and expounded upon how what he knew was a bit bigger and more important than he thought. He had an idea of religion, yes, but it held so much more in store for him than he initially thought. The Plan of Salvation and the gospel of Christ was put simply before him, and he reacted very well to it, desiring to learn more and act upon it to become fully converted. It was a really cool experience for everyone involved, I'm sure.

I started to think about how I can specifically answer questions in a way that the people I meet have the same opportunity as King Lamoni's father. Maybe they won't react the same way, maybe they and their family won't all convert in a single day to the church, but I want to give the gospel to others in such a way that they have the ability to understand it and act upon it, so long as it really is their decision to do so. It's been fun - we've done a couple role-plays of it as a companionship, since when I was explaining it, Elder Hoggard brought up that sometimes, the questions they ask or want answered don't really fall in line with anything we teach as missionaries, or at least want to teach at that time. With some questions asked, it's like the people are asking questions over why can't we add infinities together when they don't yet understand what addition even is. Regardless of how much good it could be to talk about how you can't really add infinity to itself, if they don't understand addition, it's no good to talk about that in any more than very vague definitions and concepts. Likewise, if people don't understand how to do things like pray and read the scriptures to find answers for themselves, it does us almost no good to answer things like, "did Moses hear a physical voice or a spiritual one?" If they don't understand that God can answer questions and concerns, it doesn't help much to try to figure out how one specific person in a specific instance received an answer. Can it help? Maybe. Not much. Just gives precedence for it happening before. Just like explaining that infinities not being able to be added together opens the door to actually talking about addition. So that's the way to teach, really - show people that in order for them to understand what the answer to their question is, they have to understand why another thing works. Generally, then, they end up answering their question themselves, and that often is best for someone trying to find out if the Gospel is true.

Anyways. I ranted a bit, but I really enjoyed studying how to ask good questions.

What did you teach this week?

This week, we have taught three lessons so far - we are actually really happy! It resulted in two new investigators, and we also have a few potential people to follow up with. We had exchanges with our District Leader this week, which really helped.

What did you share this week?

Today, we will get to share the Todistus Pallo lesson with a really cool guy! He is a student from Vietnam that just moved into the ward, and lives in the apartment across the street from us. Very close. His story is so cool - he was traveling on a train in this area 10 or so months ago, ran into missionaries (I know which missionaries were there, too), and sat behind them in a train. The missionaries talked with a woman who was not very interested. He was, though. The missionaries left the train after giving a card to the woman, and she soon left the train with the card still on the seat. He took the card and put it on his desk, not sure if he should call or not, because he wouldn't know what to say. He ended up not calling, and went over to Britain for an exchange-student program. There, he ran into the missionaries at a crossroads - but they walked right by him. So he followed them. Eventually, the missionaries realized that they were being followed and talked with him. 6 months ago, he was baptized. Now he's back in Finland! He is such a great guy - he joined us on a lesson in English yesterday. First time I've had a lesson in English in a LONG time. Like, over a year ago. Wow. It was great, though - he bore fantastic testimony! I gave him pieces of a Todistus Pallo last Sunday, after he saw one of them and thought it was the coolest thing ever. He will meet with us again today, and we will talk about all of the different parts of his testimony! It's bound to be good as he shares with us, and we share with him, things that have given us hope and happiness.

Did you see the picture of us and Vanhin Jensen's parents the Jensen family sent to him? (they came to our ward and Sister Skinner took a picture!)

Yeah, I saw that - Wow, that was weird to see a picture of my parents again! I haven't seen a full-body picture in a while. Then again, I haven't sent a picture of me also in a while. Hmm... you get what you give, I guess... I should try to attach more photos, but I rarely take photos anymore! Sigh.

Do you have to write a history of your missionary service for the Mission History? (Dad had to write a letter to his Mission President about his mission service at the end of his mission, so he is wondering if your Mission President does that, too.)

No, I don't - but that could be a good thing to do, regardless. It'd be fun for the contemplation, as well. I'll think about setting apart Preparation Day time to do that!

If you could pick a scripture for your missionary plaque today, would it still be the one you chose at the beginning?

I still think so, yeah. I chose 1st Timothy 4:12, which is still probably one of the best scriptures that I could pick for encouraging myself to keep putting myself out as an example in the capacity as a missionary serving others. If not that one, though, I think I'd pick 1st Nephi 11:17. It's cool to think that as long as I remember that I have a loving Heavenly Father, it's okay if I don't know the meaning of all things. That knowledge, if I really let it change me, can aid me to being able to endure all things until I can understand them, even if that understanding doesn't occur until after I've gone a long ways past the problem. I like that!

As an interesting side note - in order to confirm that I was indeed thinking about 1st Nephi 11:17, I quickly picked up the nearest Book of Mormon and flipped open to the verse. After opening it to the right area, I discovered that I had an Estonian Book of Mormon in my hands. No worries - the words were recognizable enough to confirm that it was the verse that I was thinking about. Just had an 'o' that I've never seen before and quite a few more 'b's than I think I'll ever see in a Finnish sentence. :)

Well, that's all, family. I love you all - I hope that everything is going well for everyone! This next week, I will work on that dreaded Mission History 2015 editing and formatting again, and we may need to take a trip up to Joensuu for apartment needs... That'd be long, again. We'll find out soon, though! Be safe, all, and have a good week!

Vanhin David Milligan
The two of us in our now-natural habitat... ;)   I'll try to take better pictures!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4, 2016 - And Everything Blew Up. The End.

That was my week. Lots of crazy, and then everything went *ka-BOOM!*. Insert the noise from the squid game in Wind Waker here. (Sploooooosh...)

Okay, nothing really exploded, nor are there any negative results. Everything just got really complicated overall.

Well, to start off this e-mail, I have to report that Elder Frey is no longer my companion. I knew this the last time that I e-mailed, but nothing had been finalized when it came to who will come or what my fate is in all of this. Elder Frey has been told to go home and focus on recovery - which I believe was a very good idea, considering the pain he's had to go through but powered through anyways. He really helped the mission out in his capacity here. Now it's my job to try to make his positive influence last a little longer. Ever got the feeling of being like Atlas trying to hold up the world? Yeah, that's the responsibility. Hopefully, things will go well...

The rest of the crazy, I shall put as answers to questions below. Orderly chaos. How quaint.


What did you teach this week?

Unfortunately, we have been unable to teach anyone thus far this week, mostly due to the busy schedule that we had. On Monday and Tuesday, we worked on specifics in projects that Elder Frey has the format of in his head. Made it great that we can have similar looks to things all across projects. He also made certain that I knew what I was doing once he left. That one is still up for debate, but I'm surviving. Wednesday, we had final prep and a dinner for him at the Mission Home, at which point I received my new companion. I'll talk about who he is later, he deserves a paragraph. After that, on Thursday, we put together a TON of Apartment Needs for a route to Seinäjoki. The Elders there needed beds. They didn't have any. So we went up through Hyvinkää, Hämeenlinna, Tampere, then to Seinäjoki, then a bit further to Vaasa to drop off supplies for the Elders and Sisters there, as well as Kokkola and Pietarsaari, since there was quite a bit, then down to Pori, and straight home, since it was getting to be late. Because we got a late start. Because I lost my wallet for the first time in my life. I searched everywhere for it. Turned out that it was in my Sunday-Shirt pocket. I put it in there instead of the little notebooks that I normally do. Sigh. But, a lot of the mission has stuff that it needs now, since we did all of that on Friday. And now it is Saturday. And here I am.

What did you share this week?

I'm taking the easy out on this one - I shared a WHOLE lot of Apartment needs for the mission. I also shared my meager food supplies with my new companion, since we didn't really ever have time to go shopping for food until today.

Oh, now I can say this, too - we are making great plans on sharing. That is to say, we will finally be able to share the gospel more, and proselyte in the evenings fully from 6-9! Woo-hoo! Wow, there are so many people that Elder Frey has been in contact with, but that have had odd schedules or apartments with stairs, and we haven't been able to spend as much time as we want trying to meet with them. We get to start having the full west side of Vantaa. That also means that the Rogers are in my area again. Let's see if I can get some Oklahoma cooking shared with me this week. :)

What did you learn this week?

I continued going through my Preach My Gospel scripture underlining and study-activity-completing. This week, I have gotten through all of Chapter 2 and started on Chapter 3, lesson 1. Wow, there are a lot of scriptures, and WOW, are there a lot of recommendations for Personal and Companionship study! I won't be able to finish it all in my mini-scriptures and mini-study journal, but you can bet that I'm gonna try my hardest! It can only help me teach more effectively!

Are you teaching any refugees? Are there refugees arriving in Finland?

Not at the moment, no. I have talked with a few before, but I haven't met any here in the Myyrmäki area. I'm not sure that there is a refugee camp in our area at all. Yes, though, there are quite a number of refugees that come to Finland, or get moved here. Must be hard, with the giant language barrier.

Are you training Elders to be Office Elders?

I am now training Elder Hoggard to be an Office Elder. Elder Hoggard was in my Zone when I first became a Zone Leader in Mikkeli, so I already slightly know him, but not fantastically well. This will be a good opportunity - I had been thinking last transfer that I never really got to know the Kuopio members of the Zone during that first transfer in Mikkeli. It's been fun already - not too many common interests so far, but that's actually a pro in this - there's a lot for me to learn again about stuff that I don't know! It's really interesting, I think that I have learned a lot on a mission about getting acquainted with strangers. I think that I'm a lot more accepting of 'he is different than I am' than I was at the beginning of my mission. I hope that means that I've matured a little bit.

Oh, and, he won't really get to experience most of the Office work until Monday. Due to the fact that we were running around all of Thursday, and then driving around all of Friday. It'll be fine - I hope. Still need to even introduce the concept behind a lot of our projects.

Here's a picture of us together! It's on my lower-quality camera, since his got left behind by accident in Pori, after we spent time taking a lot of stuff out of their storage to take back home with us. Mostly broken junk that they had no way to dispose of.

What is the generic brand that you see most often? (like Walmart has Great Value) (Nathan's Q)

Rainbow. That's the S-Market / Prisma brand. Lots of the baking ingredients that I have come from that, as well as almost all of the cleaning supplies that I buy. Other than that, though, I can't really think of brands that I see a lot. Except for the Santa Maria brand of spices. I love their grill powder, it goes perfectly in everything! It might be 125% salt, but I don't mind. :)

Well, that's all. Just been dealing with a lot of chaos. I've gotten to know my new companion pretty well, though. I'd hope so, after about 13 hours of travel together. Saw so much of the country. Finland is just as beautiful as ever! :) Oh, and it looks like I will continue to have fun story-telling - Elder Hoggard has already experienced a bit of my ramblings, and he at least pretends to like hearing me story-tell. I'll keep it up until I hear otherwise.

Thank you all, for all that you do! Be safe, learn something new about where you live, and do your best to help one more person this week! Don't stop there if you can help it, either! :)

Vanhin David Milligan