Monday, March 26, 2012

Throwback to January

I woke up one day this week to see it snowing everywhere. All the beautiful thoughts of spring coming soon got trampled by Finland's giant boot heel. SPLAT! Actually, it wasn't all that bad because when we went out to run everything was perfectly still. The most peaceful silence I think I've ever heard. I actually had to stop for a second mid-stride just to listen to it. So cool.


So great to hear from you all this morning!

Went to a second-hand store just to look around and see if we could find anything random and fun. I didn't find anything except for a couple of cool old-school motorcycle helmets I tried on. They were way too small, so I'm pretty sure I about lost an ear trying to get my head out of one of them. Later we had dinner with a German member in the ward. He showed us all these pictures of motorcycles he's built while we were waiting for food. He's a super cool guy.

We taught our new investigator, J, a woman from Vietnam. She's pretty cool, but the language barrier is pretty large unless we have our Vietnamese member there as a translator. They're way stoked to get to know each other. The Vietnamese member loves making us food, so we basically just have to buy milk for this week and we can live off all the food she loaded us up with. We're planning on buying a ton of Kinder eggs with the leftover food money.

I had a monumental event in my mission. Member Splits. What? Yeah, there's a part in the missionary handbook that says it's okay to take a Melchizedek Priesthood holder with each of the companions and split up if you have more appointments than you can handle at a time. Every time I've read that, I've laughed a little bit. But Heavenly Father saw fit to open my eyes a little bit. We actually pulled it off. We taught one investigator, a less-active family, an active member, and had a meeting with our branch president all in about two hours. It was awesome. I went on the teach with M, our part-member family investigator, and it was one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. He has just recently come to recognize what the Spirit feels like and it's a very exciting feeling for him. He's said he's been trying an experiment at work: he now prays before he starts each morning for guidance and direction from the Spirit. He's felt so much more alert and says he's been able to notice and discern so much more easily while he works. When trying to describe what the Spirit felt like, he kinda got lost for words. Our branch president, who was my companion for the night, helped him out by just patting his hand over his heart. That became our sign the rest of the night. When the Spirit became so strong that none of us really knew what to say, we would just all start touching our hand to our chest. Probably sounds really weird, but it was so cool to be there. We're sure he'll have a baptismal date soon.

Splits in Kokkola. Really fun. I got to speak some Swedish too, which I didn't expect. One woman we tried to talk to on the street just waved us off saying she didn't understand any Finnish because her native tongue was Swedish, so I just said, "Well, I speak Swedish." She got really excited and let me explain the Book of Mormon a bit and she took a pass along card. She was s super sweet old lady, I hope she actually comes to church one day.

Had a dinner appointment with a family who decided to celebrate Elder L's birthday early. They used to live in Bolivia, so all of them speak Spanish, English, Finnish and Swedish, and they sang him Happy Birthday in all four languages. Really cool. I definitely want to learn more languages during/after my mission. Played floor ball as a ward activity again, and made the mistake of stepping in front of one of Elder L's shots. Yeah, took it right in the face. Not fun.

Elder L's birthday. We did missionary work. Lots of walking on muddy streets. Got lost a few times.

The pianist showed up late, so we got to sing the opening and sacrament hymns a cappella. The joys of a small branch. Actually a pretty neat experience for me.

Testimony meeting. I got to translate! It was really hard. Our Vietnamese member and her Chinese boyfriend always come, so I got translate from Finnish to English for them. Elder L translated most of the Swedish, except for when he spoke, then it was my turn to translate his Swedish! I didn't do too bad though. I'm basically a pro now. A got up and bore her testimony. So sad. T doesn't come anymore, and usually it's just too much work in the morning to get her two small children ready, so she comes alone. She stood up and said that even though life has been hard, she's so glad she's found the truth she's been looking for all her life. I admire this woman's faith so much. I stand in awe of the true converting power of the gospel.

So, had a bit of a panic attack this week. I realized that last Tuesday marked six months since the day I entered the country. Six months ago, I was walking down a long, deserted street with Elder Christiansen. We stopped and talked to a woman and her daughter. We gave them a Book of Mormon and set up an appointment. Over the next two months, we watched her grow in the gospel, come to know of its truthfulness, quit smoking and coffee, and finally be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was E. Such a special day to remember.

I love you all so much. Have an awesome week.


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