This week was largely dominated by the week long party in the center of Pietarsaari. We were forewarned by our branch mission leader that this week has historically been a low proselyting week, and despite our faith, prayers, and diligence, we found out why this week has typically been so bad. All of our investigators told us they were too busy to meet this week. We were disappointed, but I firmly believed it simply meant that Heavenly Father wanted to give us a chance to find someone new to teach and baptize. Unfortunately, we also met with some of the worst discouragement and opposition this week. Practically no one was even home - either joining in the festivities or on vacation to escape the festivities, and when they were home, they were apathetic, antagonistic, or just plain rude. I learned some really powerful and humbling lessons about the way we intereact with people as missionaries and the way we respond to objections. I wish I could say I learned by doing it the right way, but learning from mistakes is good, too, right? Ahem.
Amid all the turmoil this week, we did have a few wonderful, bright, shining moments. One of them was Monday, when we finally got the chance to teach a Romanian woman we've been working with as just a potential investigator for about a month now. We brought in a Romanian recent convert all the way from Kokkola (40 km) to translate. We're so grateful for him. Without him, we can barely communicate with this woman, so he came even though he was feeling sick. He did a great job teaching, except for one part. He stopped teaching for a moment, rubbed his throbbing head, and then turns to me and says, "man, I really gotta quit it with all the weed." Oh boy. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure it just went right over this woman's head, but I know for a fact that the joke he made later about me pounding the whiskey was spoken in simple enough English for her to comprehend. We're really going to have to talk to him about that, we know he's joking, but I'm not sure if she does! Overall, the teach went really well, though.
Tuesday, we had companion exchanges in Seinäjoki. I don't remember if I mentioned this, but Elder Hunt, my companion for six weeks in Turku, is now in Seinäjoki as our district leader. It's so much fun getting to spend time with and work with him again. We shared some awesome stories of our time in Turku together, especially about the lessons with E and her girls.
The best part of our week this week was Kevin. Our new African investigator from Somalia. That's not his actual name, but it's the name he goes by, because he wants to legally change his name from his African name to Kevin. Kinda makes me laugh, but he's great. We were walking on one side of the road, he was riding his bike on the other. I smiled and waved, and he waved back, then he rode over to talk to us. Turns out he remembered us as the guys who rode past him about a week before, but waved and said hi while they went past. He liked that a lot. So we talked with him about his faith for a little while. He was born Muslim, but converted to Chirstianity about a year ago and said he's been trying to follow Jesus Christ since then. So I said, "well, the way we follow Jesus Christ is by being baptized." He liked the way that sounded, so we walked him back to his apartment and taught him the first lesson. He committed to be baptized on August 18! He loves the Book of Mormon. When we came back to teach him the second time, we asked him how it had been going, and he told us, "Well, I just read one page. I think if I read one page every day, I'll be able to understand everything and learn better." I almost passed out on the floor. Maybe it's just a missionary thing, and you might not all appreciate it, because you have no idea how hard it is to try to teach people to read it every day, even if it's just a little bit! Most of them decide to go on Wikipedia or anywhere else on the internet to learn about it before they learn what's in it! Needless to say, we really like this guy. And he seems to really like us. We walked with him to church on Sunday, and as we were walking home, he said, "Wow, I feel all clean. Can we do this every Sunday?" Yes, my friend. Yes we can. Moral of the story? You never know what saying hi and smiling will do for someone.
I'll close with a though I found from 1 Nephi that strengthened my testimony of this work. In 1 Nephi 13, (I forgot the verse number, sorry!) Nephi sees in vision the Bible going forth from the Jews unto the Gentiles. The angel explains to him that this book contains the covenants which the Lord has made to the House of Israel, making them "of great worth unto the Gentiles." Why are they of great worth to the Gentiles if the promises were made to the House of Israel, unless the Gentiles are meant to be included in the house of Israel? We as missionaries are called to invite ALL to come unto Christ. All of us are children of God, and if children then heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ. That scripture helped me feel unified with all those who have taught and preached the gospel since the beginning of time.
I love you all. Thank you for your love, support, prayers, and letters. You're all wonderful.