Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Christmas in Finland

We had a wonderful call on Christmas morning with McKay. After Church they were invited to a member's home, and then went back to their apartment for the rest of the day. The three days from Dec 24-26 are "Red Days" meaning that they cannot do any contacting - so if they don't have any appointments with members or investigators, they are supposed to be home. He received two packages at their Zone Conference last week, so they had things to open on Christmas morning.
A happy mom talking to her missionary son on Christmas morning

Since Monday was a legal holiday, the libraries were closed so they couldn't email until Tuesday. Here's the message we received:

Hey again everyone,

So great to hear your voices on Christmas. Sure do love you all.

So....I'm gonna be honest, I don't have much to talk about today...I just talked to you, and this week wasn't really all that interesting.

It's great to be back out doing work. Red Days are awful. It was so hard to just watch people walk by and not talk to them. We really want to pack our next couple of Red Days with appointments so we're not stuck inside.

Happy New Year, can't wait for Mother's Day. President has approved Skype, so that'll be fun to look forward to, sorry I didn't get it set up for Christmas.


Elder Hansen

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's 6 days till Christmas and still no snow....

What kind of Finnish winter is this? I get all worked up and prepared to endure the most painful, coldest winter of my life, and it's barely a couple degrees colder than home! Turku's weather is actually remarkably close to Portland's. It's just overcast and rainy right now, nothing I'm not used to. I hope President sends me to Oulu or Rovaniemi for next Christmas.

But anyway, hello again all.

We've had a fantastic week this week. Elder H is a stud. We're very, very different, but we get along great and we're having unbelievable success so far in our first week. He's from Burley, Idaho, the second of four kids. He's been in the country for ten changes now (13 months) and this is his seventh city! He's changed almost every single change. I'm actually really grateful to have stayed in Turku for a while. I get to develop friendships with members, watch investigators progress, and best of all I don't have to pack! Elder H came through and basically cleaned house when he got here, changed all the furniture and threw away a lot of stuff that I didn't really care about, but wasn't really willing to throw away because it didn't bother me. The one thing I absolutely refuse to let him toss is the rubber rat Elder C put in the fridge. Just too much sentimental value there. Don't ask about the rat. Elder H has already brought a lot of really fun, new ideas to our teaching and I can't wait for what the next 6 weeks will bring.


My last day with Elder C, so of course we spent the evening at M's. We had a birthday party for me and a going home party for Elder C. it made my life. They got me a little stuffed monkey and I love it. I would send some pictures, but the cord I have is only an A/V cord, so I'm going to have to buy another one or just have you guys send me the right kind of cord. Had a great lesson after the festivities, and it was really hard to leave.


Train to Helsinki, my last lunch with Elder C, then a train back. Elder H didn't even have time to unpack, we had two appointments that night. One of them was with that woman, S., who decided to drop us because of her family pressure, then came to church on her own and said we could teach her. In this teach we set a new baptismal date with her! She's totally ready and committed to be baptized. Barring any disasters it will go through. She has decided to not even bother telling her family this time, though. The natural man inside of me is fist-pumping over that, in a completely irreverent, stick-it-to-the-church-of-the-devil kind of way, but the better part of me is very sad about that. This gospel is meant to unite families. S expressed great faith and excitement of the potential for progression after this life. O, how great the plan of our God.


We had (or thought we had) a DA in the morning, but I took us to the wrong address!! So, we started to make our way over to the right address, and I decided to take us on a shortcut through some woods. Yeah, well, apparently those orienteering skills still need a bit of work. We went completely the wrong way and ended up farther away than when we started. So, feeling horribly embarrassed, I called the member to let him know we were just going to have to cancel and come another time, but it turns he wasn't even aware we had an appointment that day! I had set up the appointment with his wife, I distinctly remember that, but apparently something fell through the cracks. This poor, old member. I think we've thoroughly confused him too many times now. (We have lots of stories with him).

After this we went home and tried to salvage the day. All we had was one appointment later that evening, so we decided to tract. I had an impression to try an area Elder C and I had considered, but never actually made it to. So we did. One super awesome man let us in. I've decided to always make it a goal to leave something with a contact or potential investigator, especially if it's going to be a while before we get a chance to meet them, and it really paid off in this instance. Our teaching got interrupted by this man's wife coming home. His wife immediately began telling us about her religious background (she is a very strong Christian), and how she wouldn't need to change, but was happy we were teaching her atheist mies
[husband]. The Spirit wasn't exactly present, so we settled for just a return appointment, gave them the Book of Mormon, and planned to come back in a few days. In those few days in between our appointments, the wife, who had originally been so opposed to the book had begun to read. She read everything before the pictures and was loaded with questions for us when we came back. She admitted that she didn't belong to a church right now and was looking for one. Ironically, she was now more interested than her mies. The presence of the Book of Mormon in her life completely changed her outlook.


I don't remember. It was a long day. Lots of tracting. Not much success, but a lot of time to talk with Elder H and get to know him more.

My birthday!!! We went out contacting and found one really awesome potential, whom we are supposed to call today. Other than that, we had our weekly planning session, and went to Ward Council. yaaaayyyy.....


Great teach with S. Found out she already lives a lot of the standards of our church, like keeping the sabbath day holy and stuff. Other than that, see Thursday. Lähetystyötä [missionary work]

We had a little Christmas party during the third hour of church and it was really great, except for the plum sauce on one of the Joulutorttus (not sure what the english word is)
[mincemeat pie] was super hot! I took a bite and it got stuck on the roof of my mouth and it burned so bad that I now have blisters up there! not fun. especially when they pop.

We got to our return appointment with the Wednesday family early and decided to tract the area. I assumed we would simply begin again where we had left off in this area a few days earlier, but while we prayed I felt a distinct impression to try the other side of the street instead. On that other side, we tracted into a door, right next door to a member, and the woman was completely prepared! We talked at the door about the Book of Mormon, the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, and the importance of families in our church. We asked if we could come back and she set an appointment for the next day. After we left, she went and knocked on the door of her nieghbor, our member, and expressed her excitement about our visit. We learned later from that member that this woman had witnessed a few of her friends join the church while she lived in Sweden. She has a husband and two small children at home, and she actually expressed concern to our member about how she can be sure that her children want to participate in our lesson as well! Such a miracle to witness the work of the Lord's hand in preparing his children to accept this gospel.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon this morning, and twice in the 27th chapter of 2nd Nephi, the Lord says: "I am able to do mine own work"

This is not our work, but his. We are but his agents. We represent Him. He accomplishes His work and allows us this short time to participate in it. I'm so grateful for that.

Can't wait to talk to you on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Hansen

Monday, December 12, 2011

Welcome Home Erik

Hyvää Päivää! [Happy Day!?!?]

Miten menee? [How's it going?]

First of all, Erik. Welcome home. Congratulations on completing one of the greatest achievements anyone, in any part of the world or in any period of history, has ever completed. Such is the magnitude of an honorable, full time mission. You've been a phenomenal example of magnifying your call and giving your whole heart and soul to the Lord. I will continue to draw on the power of that example the rest of my mission. Thank you, brother. I love you.

Mom, still no luck with that family you mentioned in your email. We have three potential families we've been trying to meet with for a while now, though, so we'll see. Also, turns out that family was the referral, we just didn't realize it at the time, so hopefully it was a sign and it all works out.

Well, the biggest news for this week is that I got my very first "change call" from President. I'm staying in Turku, at least for one more transfer and Elder H will be joining me. He's been out close to a year and I'm really excited to work with him. I actually met him once when we were in Helsinki together for a day, and I know we'll get along really well. The flip-side of this is that means Elder C is going home. I can't believe it. I'm going to have to learn how to do missionary work without him. It's going to be hard. He's one of the best there ever was. We've worked hard together and seen miracles as a result. I've loved every second of working with him and I'm going to miss him a lot. We go to Helsinki tomorrow morning, where he'll stay for a couple of days before flying home on Thursday. Tuesday night I'll be back in Turku with Elder H and we'll get right back to business.

Not as much to report on this week as there has been in weeks past, but it was a decent week.

Tried to go to the art museum, but found out it's closed on Mondays. Bummer. So P-Day wasn't quite as good as we'd hoped. We did find some awesome muffins at a little bakery in the mall though. We had a DA, which turned into a little bit of a hassle because the father wasn't home so we had to go back out, but it was a holiday in Finland so we couldn't tract. We had to just go contact and there was no one out at all....It's ok, though, had a good chance to just talk with Elder C.


Not much happened. We had a really spiritual teach with one investigator, but she just can't decide that this is something she wants to do, so we can't keep teaching her anymore.

Practiced some orienteering with Elder C. We were heading to an appointment, and the bus dropped us off right in front of...nothing. Just a big empty field with some light snow and one strange, unofficial path running zig-zag through it. We didn't really have another option, so we just started walking though the field, up the hill, and over to where some kerrostalos
[apartment buildings] were. We were all ready with the map book to figure out where to go next, when instead we just looked to the right and discovered that this was the building we were looking for! Things just kinda seem to work out for us like that. The really fun part was running back down that hill in the rain to catch the bus to our next appointment. We were slipping everywhere. So much fun. By the way, those Cole Haan shoes I've had for a couple years now, yeah they don't have any grip on the bottom at all. They're gonna have to be mostly summer shoes.

Got to meet with M and her family tonight, too. Her youngest daughter's new favorite word is my last name. She says it all the time, just randomly, whenever she wants. She has way too much energy and loves to dominate our teaches by shouting out random things (esp. my name), but we love her to death anyway.


Kieli Koulu
[language school] in Helsinki again. The last time I'll be making that trip with Elder C. It was fun though. I got to see my "baby Finns" (the district right behind me), whom I hadn't seen since the MTC. They're all doing great, they make my language skills look pretty pathetic, the punks. Road tripped back to Turku with the Rauma elders. I really like those guys. It was a fun car ride.


We had our ward Christmas party and one of our investigators came! She had told us the day before that she was sick, and didn't think she could come, but then called us back and said that if we could find her a ride, she'd come. Our members pulled through and got her a ride. It was great for her to be there. She said we can start teaching her again too, which is awesome. Her family really doesn't like the church and even though she's 65, her 90-something year old father still has the power to tell her what to do with her life. So we have to hope that she'll have enough courage to do what's right, and hopefully we can find her some really supportive friends at church. We (the Sisar lähetysaarnaajat ja meitä)
[the Sister missionaries and us] sang a song as part of the program and I actually managed to sing a part. Pretty crazy right?


Splits in Rauma. Good work.

We had a teach booked pretty tight after a DA, and we were in such a hurry that I didn't check the phone to find out the teach had cancelled until we were already in his building. Yeah, nice work greenie. We decided to stick around and tract his building anyway, and while doing so, he came home! He was really confused about why were there, but he let us in and we got to teach him and set another appointment. He has a lot of trouble believing in God when he can't see him, and really wants some kind of sign, but he at least seems sincere so hopefully we can help him find what he's looking for.

Well....yepp that's about it. Talk to you all next week I guess. Take care of yourselves and enjoy your break. Maybe do some missionary work. People here are getting way too busy around Christmas time when the whole point is to do the opposite. Funny how the world works.

Love you all,

Elder Hansen

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sugar Puffs

Hello again everyone,

Hope you all had a great week and that life is just fantastic. Erik, I can't believe your service is coming to an end. Congratulations on everything you have done. You've been a powerful example for me and I'm so grateful.

We had a bit of a slow week this week. Not as many people to teach as we have had in the past. That did mean a lot of time for finding though. Which leads to some great stories.

Had a great P-Day. I've gotten a ton of letters from a bunch of my friends from my freshmen ward, so I had a lot of writing to do. After answering all those though, Elder C and I decided we should probably find a different activity to do on P-Day. We needed to explore this city a bit more. (We're going to an art museum today.) We had an appointment with a family in the ward Monday night. They're awesome. Their dog is huge though! It was the friendliest, nicest, quietest dog ever, but it weighed close to a hundred pounds and it's head was bigger than mine! I'll have to send you the picture. We had a great lesson and found out about some people in their lives we can pray for. Very spiritual lesson.
Also, while doing our grocery shopping, we found a cereal called "Sugar Puffs" with the cheesiest, cheapest looking, knock-off "honey monster" character on the box. We laughed so hard and promised each other never to buy it. Until we looked on the back and found out there was a cut-out mask of this "honey monster" character on the back of the box. So we bought it. It was terrible cereal, with no nutritional value at all, but that mask made it so worth it. Elder C now wears it to quiz me on Finnish and I can hardly talk because I laugh so hard every time I look at it.


Had a chance to give a blessing to a sick woman we went to visit. She's not a member, but afterwards she talked about how good she felt during the blessing and she seemed brighter and happier after it. I love the power of the priesthood.


Had a great district meeting, Elder C's final one. We had an awesome testimony meeting to end it. If you ever want to invite the Spirit, wherever you are, bear pure testimony. It always works.
Splits with the Zone Leaders the rest of the day. They're great guys, learned a ton from working with them.

Two of our three appointments fell through, so we had some time to tract and go try to contact formers. On the bus out to one of these formers, a woman tried to sit down next to me. She didn't notice my stuff was on that seat until she sat on my backpack though! She got up, and I quickly moved my backpack, but before i could move my hat and gloves she sat down right on top of them! I had no idea what to do except to pray that she would get off the bus before me so I didn't have to awkwardly ask her to hand me my stuff from underneath her. So awkward. While we were out walking around, Elder C gave me the sentence: "This building is made of rocks" to translate into Finnish. I didn't know how to translate it, so I just looked straight back at him and, with a perfectly straight face replied, "yes, it is" He started busting up. I love the great relationship we've developed over the past two transfers. It will be very sad to see him go.


Had a blood drive at the Church. Unfortunately, missionaries aren't allowed to donate otherwise I totally would have. I think we really made a good impression on the Red Cross volunteers, both with how many people showed up and in the way we worked with them. When we went tracting later that night, we found a building that unfortunately was full of rather hard hearted people. One of them, a very old woman, looked at the Book of Mormon and frantically tried to cover her eyes with one hand while attempting to close the door with the other and murmuring something completely incoherent. We were so confused we just kinda sat there. It took her an awkwardly long time to close the door. We had a good laugh about that door. Also learned a great saying in Finland. If you want to say something works really effectively or intensely, you can say, "Toimi niin kuin junan vessa" Yep, it works like a train bathroom. Finns.


Weekly Planning Session, then missionary work.

Great fast and testimony meeting. Tried to go contact a few referrals, but no luck. One of the buildings we were in, though, produced a little miracle. We had come to the building to find a referral, only to realize that the address was incomplete. So we sat down and prayed. While praying, I felt like we ought to just stay in that building anyway and tract it. The very first door we knocked, we found a family. It wasn't a good time for them, but they said we could some back. We gave them an invitation to our Joulu Juhlat and made a plan to come back and visit them later.

So grateful for the time I have here. Not all of it will be perfect, and some of it will be very, very hard. But I know it is possible, and that's good enough for me.


Elder Hansen