This week started off great with yet another five hour train ride to Helsinki for mission conference. I'm getting to know all the stops and sights along the way very well. I felt like Elder Oberhansley's tour guide. "On the right, you'll see the lovely Hämeenlinna castle across the water. As we continue, you'll see the apartment where the Kerava elders used to live, and, oh wait don't look that way..." (yeah there are some pretty bad ad campaigns up in Helsinki right now).
The conference was wonderful. Elder Kopischke and his wife really love missionary work and all the missionaries. When he started, he held up his scriptures and his iPad, loaded with Preach My Gospel and said, "Elders and Sisters, as you can see, I have no agenda today. This is all I brought with me." Then he had each of us take a few minutes and write down a question we thought the Lord really wanted us to ask ourselves. That, he said, was our agenda. He promised us that if we listened by the Spirit, our question would be answered. He was right. I got my answer. He also then challenged each of us to follow the same procedure every time we went to sacrament meeting, or any other time we found ourselves attending any type of church meeting, and promised us that the result would be the same every time, so long as we are prepared. Took my understanding of personal preparation to another level. Really great meeting. After lunch, before the afternoon session of the conference, we took a mission picture. As you can imagine, even with very obedient missionaries, it was a bit of a logistical nightmare. But that was part of what made it so hilarious. Great to see all those old friends from around the mission.
Most of the week was pretty slow as far as teaching goes. We're really working hard to try to build up the teaching pool again (It was actually zero at one point this week). A lot of our success has come from simply following counsel. President Rawlings taught me in the trainer meeting, that the "governor" we can place on the impressions we receive from the Holy Ghost is the teachings of prophets and apostles and the scriptures. The Holy Ghost will never tell us to do something that is out of line with the teachings communicated to us from Heaven in other ways. That knowledge led us to our two new investigators this week, S & E. We were heading out to tract last evening, when the thought came to go try them instead. The last time we had visited, they had been less than excited to see us, and hadn't made much effort to set a return appointment. I honestly felt like going to them might just waste our time. But the prompting came again. I thought about it for a moment, and thought about what President Rawlings had taught me. As I pondered, I thought about the instruction that has come to us from the Brethren to try to teach a total of twenty lessons every week to either members or non-members. Tracting did not seem to yield a high likelihood of helping us teach someone. So, Elder Oberhansley and I decided to go to S & E. We had a wonderful discussion! We talked about the plan of salvation and they expressed themselves, their doubts, fears, concerns, hopes, and dreams in a way these two never had in any previous discussion. We talked seriously about our purpose as missionaries, and their need to be baptized. They will need to think about baptism, but they are very excited for us to come over and share more of our message with them.
Had a great chance to serve again this week, doing some work for older members in our branch. We stained a big awning in their backyard. Elder Oberhansley worked as a painter for a few summers prior to his mission, so he was stoked. He thought it was the best day of his mission so far.
Church yesterday was great. We both spoke. Elder Oberhansley spoke great Finnish and had some really great thoughts about following counsel and obeying immediately. Talked about how Nephi's first words after receiving the instruction to build a boat were, "Where can I find ore to make tools?" No doubts, just action. It's something I really struggle with. I just wish he could've spoken a bit more about it, because after about three minutes he sat down, leaving me the remaining 40! I felt like a high council speaker! It ended up going really well, though. I had planned for about a 20 minute talk, knowing that I could shorten it to 10 or hold it out for 30 if I needed to (thanks, Dad). I even cracked three jokes and all of them were successful. Yep, I finally got a good joke in Finnish, very proud of myself. I talked about how the Book of Mormon answers the "questions of the soul." If any of you have not read and studied that page in Preach My Gospel, I would highly recommend it. Gives really concrete examples of how the gospel blesses all aspects of our lives, not just the parts we see on Sunday.
Gotta write to President. Love you all very much. Keep being wonderful. Glad school is almost over. Livin' the dream.