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

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