I'm trying to find a better way to start my emails than "We had another awesome week this week." Any and all suggestions/comments are welcome. But we did have a really wonderful week this week.
Monday, we got on the train again for a five hour trip to Helsinki. I'm really starting to get familiar with that trip - we've been making it a ton recently. The funny thing is, I still haven't memorized all the stops along the way, but I remember the most random things: a barn in a field right before Lapua, the apartement building just past Tampere, the water park, Hämeenlinna castle (which I found out was converted into a prison, random). It's weird, I know, but it's fun. We stayed with the Assistants all three nights, which means sähly [floorball] every morning for exercise! So great. Plus I came out of that week with only a couple blisters, a floorburned knee, and a partially swollen ankle from taking a nice whack from a sähly stick. Could've been a lot worse.
Tuesday and Wednesday were Leadership Training Meeting with President and Sister Rawlings. The purpose of the meetings is to train the new missionaries, trainers, and the other missionaries they invite using Preach My Gospel and practicing teaching, but we found ways to make it more interesting than that. Tuesday morning President was late, so while we waited Elder Hunt asked me questions about Star Wars and I blew his mind with the mysteries I unfolded. I was far and away the biggest geek in the room and I loved it! Later, during a little down time, President Rawlings showed off some of the sweet moves they used to pull at stake dances in his generation. I was surprised he didn't get a hernia! But, Dad, they really weren't too far off from your moves, so I guess I have to start giving you a little credit. Wednesday was July 4, so of course we all had our red ties on, the sisters all wore blue and white, and we busted out patriotic songs all day long. I felt a little sorry for the Swede and the Dutchman who had to sit through that. Plus, President had given a speech the day before about "living like the Finns" and loving their culture. But hey it's Independence Day! It's only once a year! We all went out for dinner Wednesday night to this "American" style restaraunt in Helsinki. I was actually pretty impressed. The actually managed spicy food, which is something Finns hate. They made it so spicy that two of the Elders with us started sweating, one started crying, and only one of them actually finished his burger. Dinner and a show.
LTM did actually have a spiritual aspect to it, though, if you can believe that. One of the things President really emphasized was the importance of being filled with love for people while we talk to them. I've often wondered what other people think and feel when I'm looking them in the eye and speaking with them. I've always hoped, even before I was a missionary, that these people would understand that I loved them, but I had never really thought about praying right there, in the moment, for them to feel that way. It was great. It makes me feel so much better. It changes the things I say or the way I say it, according to the Spirit, and I feel as though I'm actually, "standing in the place and stead of the Lord Jesus Christ" as Elder McConkie put it, because that's how someone would feel talking to Him - loved.
Thursday was Kielikoulu [language school], so I had yet another opportunity to visit the temple. I love the Helsinki temple. Probably my favorite in the world at this point, but that might just be because it's the one I've been in the most. That's probably weird to be able to say as a missionary. I feel pretty spoiled by how many times I've been able to be in the temple while in the mission field.
We rounded off the week with setting a baptismal date with our wonderful Chinese investigator, B. He's ready, he just wants to wait for the marriage papers to come so it will be official. Please pray that those come quickly. It could take up to three months! Had a great time translating for him in church on Sunday, too.
In the next installment of my adventures in Munsala with A's kids, her little 1.5 year old now knows my name. Made me so happy when he ran around shouting it when we walked in the door. Apparently, that's what he now calls everyone in a shirt and tie, too. So great.
That's all for now. I love you all. Have a great week.