Monday, November 28, 2011

Hyvää päivää [good day]

Hope you all had a wonderful Kiitospäivä (Thanksgiving). We had a pretty normal, tiny meal, but I at least made mashed potatoes and gravy. And we had turkey sandwiches so it was almost all there. I felt pretty good about it until our Ward Mission Leader pulled out his phone on Sunday and showed me pictures about the 11 pound turkey they ate and kept ranting about how good their pumpkin pie was. Just can't win sometimes.

We had a really crazy week this week. We actually spent the entire week in Turku though, which was nice. We had a lot of cancellations this week, including two really promising new investigators who bailed a couple days after the first teach. I felt so bad for one of our members. He's retired, so we know he's free every day and we can always call him to come to teaches. We called and invited him to one teach on Tuesday, but that fell through so we called him back and cancelled. We knew we had a teach set up for Wednesday though, so when we called him to cancel the Tuesday one, we got him to come to the Wednesday one. Then the next day that one cancelled too! So we called him, cancelled, and got him to come to a teach on Thursday....which also cancelled. Somehow not frustrated beyond all belief, he agreed to come to a teach Friday, but that one cancelled too!!! The only problem was that...uh...we kinda forgot to call and tell this member the final time that that teach cancelled. So he actually did get to show up to a teach this week, the problem was neither the missionaries nor the investigator showed up....oops. He wasn't upset at all, thankfully, but he came up to us on Sunday and let us know, kindly, that he's serving in the temple this week, so we probably couldn't call him to come to teaches.
I don't know that we'll have quite as many teaches this week, though. All our investigators just keep getting baptized, dang it! Our district had another baptism this week, up in Rauma, giving us three in as many weeks. So wonderful.

Speaking of which, we completed a baptism this week by confirming M a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was my great opportunity to perform that sacred ordinance. It felt great. I know she's prepared and ready to be a member the rest of her life. She loves the scriptures and this gospel. She received a triple combination from the ward as a baptismal gift a little over a week ago and she's already read the whole thing! I don't think I've ever even read the whole thing! She was like, "If you ask me what else I did, I'll say I didn't do anything, but it felt great to read" Not only that, she also just likes the church, the organization itself, and the people. We have a lot of wonderful saints here.

Dad, you asked about the ward here. It's actually a pretty decent size, but there are a lot of inactives. If everyone was active it would probably be a little bit bigger than our ward at home. For right now, we fill most of the chapel. There are a lot of families with kids, but our young men's program is lacking (gotta find some Aaronic Priesthood age investigators). The young women are excited because, even though M's daughters can't be baptized yet, they all plan on just being active members of the ward anyway until they can get baptized.

I gave a talk in church yesterday! It wasn't anything too inspiring, I just talked about the importance of always staying positive and choosing to be happy. I shared (or at least I'm pretty sure I shared) the idea that when we put our trust in the Savior and choose to be happy, then we have him in front, leading us along the path, as well as behind, supporting us. He is all around us when we will trust in him.

I love you family, have a great week.

Vanhin Hansen

Monday, November 21, 2011

A baptism in Turku

Hyvää päivää kaikille [Good day to all],

That's right, we finally got snow here. Well, sort of. It snowed a little last night, but it had all melted by the time we got outside. Still, it means winter is finally coming. It gets dark here around 4:30 now so most of our best work happens in the dark. Yeah, how's that for irony? It's definitely getting cold, we had -2 last night while we were getting home. [Celsius, not Fahrenheit]

Thanks for all your emails about taking time off and not having anything to do for five days this weekend. It's nice to remember what the real world is like sometimes. Ha! No, just kidding. But Thanksgiving doesn't exist here in any form, so there's nothing to get excited about this time of year except that Christmas is coming soon-ish...sorta. Wheeee.....

There's plenty for missionaries to be excited about though!! There's one baptismal date left in our district and if it works out, that'll mean three baptisms in three weeks in this district. As Elder C put it last night, "Yeah, the devil's kinda upset with Finland right now" Here's how the week went:


Had some fun shopping with Elder C. We found this awesome gelato shop and we're going to go there every week so we can try all the flavors before he goes home. Also had two really awesome, spiritual teaches and set a new baptismal date!


Went on Splits up in Rauma. Elder C served there for quite a while, so I know it was fun for him to be back up there and see all the places he used to go to. I worked with the junior companion of, which meant I was senior companion for a day. This Elder was in the district right behind me in the MTC, so it was fun to see him again and work with him. We, unfortunately, didn't have much success. We even got the police called on us when one woman was really upset that we had gotten into her locked building. But hey, someone held the door open for us, so technically we didn't do anything wrong. We hightailed it out of there before the cops showed up. Who knows if she even called?


We stayed the night in Rauma Tuesday night, so we didn't get back to Turku until about 2 in the afternoon. We had four teaches planned for that night, but two of them cancelled, which was a bummer. Still ended up being a great night and M's baptismal interview went great. Everything was all set up for Friday.


District Meeting with President and Sister R. SOO GOOOOOD!!! It was all day (9-6), but it was really inspiring. We talked a lot about some technical, practical things (like keeping better records in our area books) that can help our mission work way more effectively as a unit. That's one thing I love about President R. He has a great vision of getting this mission to all work together as a single unit to move forward. It's so great. He talks a lot about "Rending the veil of unbelief"
[Ether 4:15] meaning that it's time to tear down the idea that the church just isn't going anywhere in Finland, or in Europe in general. He was pretty blunt about it. He said, essentially, when people believe that the church just can't go anywhere, that people aren't prepared or interested or they won't change, they deny the power of the Atonement. The time for being "realistic" is over. What is actually realistic is far beyond anything we can imagine. I know that sounds like one of those grand, optimistic, cheesy missionary slogans, but hey I'm a missionary so it works.

M's baptism. Best day of my life. I think it was the best day of hers too. All her family came (I think they may have even outnumbered the ward members in attendance) which was great. There's so much love in that family. Our new baptismal date also came, even though she felt sick earlier that day. I felt so much peace while I got to watch Elder C baptize M. This is someone whose life has actually changed as a result of the gospel, and we've gotten to see it from the beginning, all the way to now. (I won't say till the end, because the end will never really come). This is someone who was really to receive, and ready to give. She's going to be a future leader in this ward. Her faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ exceeds anything I've ever seen. She just looked so happy the whole night. So great to see.


Nothing really big happened. We had some miracle members pull through and come to teaches, but other than that, we just worked hard. Good day.

Stake Conference in Tampere. President and Sister R spoke, gave some really great talks. All our teaches in the evening fell through though, including the one with our new baptismal date. Her sister apparently told her "It's me or the church" and she couldn't choose the church over her family. It really hurts to see people you have taught and come to love make wrong choices, but hopefully, in the Lord's time, she will have another opportunity to accept all the blessings of this gospel. Hard to end the week on such a sour note, but we'll keep moving forward.

Love you all so much, keep doing what's right. And don't worry about what other people around you are doing. Comparing yourselves to others doesn't get you anywhere. If someone does something that you like, try to emulate them. Try to take what they do and apply it to you, but don't get caught in the trap of trying to keep up or one-up. That's a lesson I had to learn really fast out here.

Have a great week.

Elder Hansen

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another trip to the temple

No moi,

Had a great week this week. Our district had 26 member teaches!!! President set a mission goal to get 100 member teaches this week, so I think we did our share. Still a ton more we can do though, we can always do better.


Had our first "normal" P-Day, but we spent a lot of time just at home, writing letters and such. We've got some fun plans left for the last few weeks before my companion goes home. Dad, I promise I'll send pictures. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with our investigator and her family tonight. That's such a powerful movie. If you haven't watched it a while, now is the time to repent and watch it. It's such a great testimony of the Savior.


We went to a teach with one of our new investigators that went really, really well. We had a little miracle getting a member there, which was great. Talked about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. She's been taught by the missionaries like 15 years ago, so she knows a lot about the church, and she believes in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, she just needs the faith to be baptized, even though her family probably won't approve.


Had a great DA with an older couple in our ward. Very sweet. When we were leaving, the sister went and grabbed what she called our "pikkujoulua" (little Christmas). They had bought us advent calendars and Christmas chocolate. Score! These members are so great. Love this ward.


We went down to Helsinki again for another Kieli Koulu
[language school], which meant I got to go to the temple!! I love that temple so much, it's so beautiful. I'm so lucky to have gone twice now. Some missionaries have gone once after having been out for a year or so, and some have never been! I feel so blessed. I also got three letters while we were at the office, which, you know, was pretty fun. :)


We taught one of our new investigators today. We finally have a man to teach! All the priesthood is wondering when we're going to find someone for them to fellowship. In the middle of the discussion, I had a wonderful experience. We found out he was really interested in what happens after this life. So, I asked him, "Brother Smith, what would you be willing to do to receive a knowledge of what happens to you after this life?" He thought for a second, then looked back at me and asked, "Well, what should I do?" Best answer ever! We got him thinking and he trusts that we can help him find his answers, so our next teach should be great. He lives really far away, so teaching him regularly will be tough, but if he's ready, it will be worth the sacrifice.


We got to attend the baptism of one of the Sisters' investigators. Wow. What a wonderful experience. Our investigator came which was awesome! I think that really helped her feel ready for all the practical things that will happen on Friday. Oh yeah, did I mention we did actually set a new date. Yeah it's Friday. Super excited for her. One of our other new investigators came too, and I think he really enjoyed it because he came to church the next day! There is something extra spiritual about watching a baptism. When that man came up out of the water and smiled to his family (all of whom are already members) the joy in his face illuminated the whole room. I literally felt the Spirit go all the way down to my feet! I can't wait for Friday!


We didn't have any appointments set up today, which was a bummer, but it did leave us some time to go out to try to visit a referral who lives out on one of the islands. We tracted for almost three hours, in two different areas, with no luck. But, the time honored tradition of finding someone on the last door of the night has been renewed here in Turku. When the referral wasn't home, we decided to go to an area I had had a prompting about earlier. It was a small neighborhood, with not very many houses and a lot of construction going on. To be honest, when we arrived there, I doubted the prompting a little bit. I wondered if the prompting hadn't been about the other, bigger, better lit area down the street. But I felt something nudge me in only the way the Spirit can to keep going, so we started tracting. Finally, at the last door we had time to knock before heading to the bus, we found her. This wonderful mom and her young daughter who are so ready to receive the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for them. I'm convinced Heavenly Father holds the best ones for the last door so we can end our day on a good note.

Love you family, thank you for your emails and your prayers.

Elder Hansen

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Start of Transfer #2

Hei family,

So, sorry to start off with bad news, but our baptism didn't happen this week. It is, however, turning into a very powerful lesson of faith and patience and trusting in the Lord.
We were setting up our baptismal service - all that was left was the interview. We knew how powerful her testimony was and that she had not had any problems with any of the commandments, so we weren't worried about the interview at all. However, to our shock, after the interview it was suggested that the baptism be postponed for a couple of weeks. We had no idea why and the elder who had conducted the interview couldn't explain why he had suggested we wait, except that that was the impression he had received. I was more than a little disappointed, and so was our investigator, but we had no other choice, so we prayerfully began to plan new topics to teach her that would help her prepare to be faithful to the baptismal commitment the rest of her life. The next morning, she called us and said "Well, I know why it got moved." Her family would have been unable to attend the service had the baptism taken place on the original date, and although they have not been supportive of her at all in this decision, they still had a desire to be there for this important event. Now that it has been moved, it seems they will be able to attend. Our investigator's mother actually came to church with her yesterday and will hopefully be at our lesson with her tonight. I admire this woman's faith so much. She saw the answer before we did. She sees the answer in everything. This may have been the only reason it got moved, or there may in fact still be more work to be done to prepare her, or maybe my companion and I just needed a lesson in patience and humility, (or perhaps some combination of all of the above) but whatever the case I know that the Lord's hand is at work and it is miraculous to see.

Also, our Finnish companion got transferred already, so it's back to just the two of us here. It's too bad, I had a lot of fun being his companion, and it really did feel like we were going to be successful together.

So there's this one member that has us over for a ruoka sopimus
[dinner appointment] every single week. It's great, and he usually takes us out for pizza, which is fun. He's one of the most eccentric people I've ever met so it's always so much fun to be with him. Anyways, while we were talking he was coaching me on pronunciation, he would pick all these really strange words and make me say them over and over until I got it right (thankfully I didn't take too long on every word). Found out something funny. In the sentence "May we come tomorrow and meet your family?" there are two very critical a's. If those two letters are left out (one in the word for "may we" and the other in the word for "to meet") the sentence becomes: a frog will come tomorrow and kill your family. I love this language. While we were leaving, I thanked him for helping me with my pronunciation because I really want to be clear when I speak. He chuckled a little at that, and then explained that the word for "clear" also often means "sober." Yes, it would also help if I stayed sober as a missionary.

One another night, we had an appointment fall through, so we decided to try to contact a few potentials in the area. While tracting their buildings, we found very little success, and decided we needed to pray before continuing in this area. We went outside and prayed, and both received the answer to continue in the next building. While in there we found three potentials, one of which gave us an appointment for the next day and she is now one of our new investigators!

I love you all, thank you for all your support and prayers.


Vanhin Hansen

Ed note: From Google translate, here is the translation for "May we come tomorrow and meet your family" - Sammakko tulee huomenna ja tappaa perheesi

And here is the translation for "A frog will come tomorrow and kill your family" - Saammeko tulla huomenna tapaamaan perhettäsi

Glad it's him.