Monday, September 26, 2011

First Area - Turku

Heard from McKay this morning. He let us know that the mission president had advised them that because of privacy laws in Finland, we need to be really careful about what gets posted online. No references to individuals, etc. So, rather than posting his emails, we'll just provide highlights and excerpts.

His first area is Turvu, which is apparently the oldest city in Finland, and the former capital. From Wikipedia:

Located at the mouth of the Aura river in the southwestern corner of Finland, Turku covers an area of 245 square kilometres (95 sq mi) of land, spread over both banks of the river. The eastern side, where the Cathedral of Turku is located, is popularly referred to as täl pual jokke ("this side of the river"), while the western side is referred to as tois pual jokke ("the other side of the river"). The city centre is located close to the river mouth, on both sides of the river, though development has recently been expanding westward. It has a population of about 300,000, and is the third largest city in Finland. To the west is the Turku Archipelago, consisting of over 20,000 islands.

His companion is from Utah, and was most recently one of the assistants to the president. There have only been Sisters in Turku for several months. The Sisters cover the Turku II ward (north side of the river), and the Elders cover the Turku I ward (south of the river).

 Chapel in Turku

McKay said the flight was great - Lufthansa treated them very well, apparently. They kept making references to President Uchtdorf on the flight. They got registered in Helsinki, had "an awesome dinner" at the mission president's home, and he said he "slept really well."

After three days of mostly ineffective proselyting, including a Saturday that he described as "one of the hardest days of my life," he had this to say about Sunday:

Such a great sacrament meeting. I was invited to bear my testimony. They didn't hold a normal fast and testimony meeting, they actually had two speakers after my companion and I bore our testimonies, not sure why, but it was a great meeting. I had a lot of people come up to me afterwards to tell me how good my Finnish sounded. In fact, several of them were convinced that I was from Sweden or Denmark, and definitely not America. Probably the best compliment I've ever received. Better than that though, the members love us. They're all so wonderful and so willing to help. Set up a lot of appointments with members to try to get referrals and help them with their callings. The wonderful thing is, they all want to have us over for dinner too.

Sunday after church, we went tracting to find a family. We had had a good feeling about this one area, but after about an hour of knocking doors, we had nothing. We placed on Book of Mormon and had a nice Lutheran lady say she appreciated what we were doing and gave us an apple from her tree, but no one was interested. So we decided we were in the wrong place. We wanted to find some apartment buildings or townhomes so we could hit more doors in less time, but there weren't any nearby, so we just started walking. Eventually we saw some off in the distance, like waaay in the distance, so we just started walking towards them. On a back road, where no one else was walking, riding, or driving by, and where it didn't really look like anyone with any sort of life would be, a woman and her young daughter started walking the other direction towards us. I stopped them and the words just started flowing. I talked about our message about families and the Plan of Salvation. She mentioned that she had been looking for a church and tried a few before, but never really stuck with it. She said she had heard of the Book of Mormon before, but had never actually seen one, and was grateful to take it. When I ran out of ideas, my companion took over and set up an appointment for tonight. Such a neat experience, and now we finally have a family to teach. We were so grateful to Heavenly Father for helping us to find them. Not exactly your typical 'Last door knocked' story, especially because the apartment buildings we were walking towards ended up being locked, but it was great. Afterwards, I read a quote from Elder Neal Maxwell that says talks about how God blesses us. He said it's never an explanatory joy that comes, only a compensatory one. Meaning, that the joy we feel won't always come as a direct result of good that we do, but it will come. And when it comes, the joy we feel will be greater than the pain or struggle we had to go through. The Lord will bless us when we do what is right.

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