Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Season

Tervesaurus Rex (that greeting brought to you all by Elder Hoggard),

With Fall comes apples. And when members have food that they don't know what to do with, they give it to the missionaries. Translation: We're drowning in fresh apples, apple pies, apple crisps, apple cakes, and now these little sliced, dried apples that our branch president gave to us last night. I love this time of year! Those dried apples have a pretty cool story actually, they're rings. They cut them with this cool device that has a big vice-grip that locks it onto a counter, a two-pronged spear on the end that cores the apple while a drill screws all the way through it, slicing it into horizontal rings. That probably didn't make sense but, essentially, it looked more like something that belonged on Dad's workbench than in the kitchen. That's Finland. I love it.

This week was so hectic. I don't think my companion will ever forgive me. We had a couple of great lessons set up for Monday, but we also needed to be in Seinäjoki for companion exchanges on Tuesday, so the only solution was to get up at 5.00 to catch a 6.00 bus to Pännäinen to get on a 6.30 train. Elder Kääriä hates mornings, so he wasn't too pleased by the idea, but it worked out just fine and he got to catch up on some sleep on the hour and a half train ride. I thought it was beautiful at that time of the morning. Everything was so quiet. Plus, we got so much done that day.

Tuesday night, everyone slept over in Seinäjoki, so we would all be ready for District Meeting the next morning. Actually, it was mostly so that we could all get up a 6.00 and go play soccer together in the rain. We had a blast. Plenty of collisions and stumbles, leading to a lot of muddy clothes and wet backsides as we marched back home. One of our new missionaries scored the winning goal on an assist from yours truly. But who's counting?

Wednesday was district meeting, which means we talked about a lot of stuff that probably doesn't mean a whole lot to all of you, except for one thing. Mosiah 22:14. We spent a long time in district meeting talking about how we help people attend church. There are a lot of details they need to know before they step into this entirely new environment, but the most important, at least in my mind, is that we do as King Mosiah did, and "receive them with joy." I've always liked it when someone came up to me and said, "hey, are you new here? Welcome. It's good to have you here." Or something to that effect when I was visiting somewhere new.

Wednesday afternoon, our Branch Mission Leader picked us up straight off the train and took us home for a dinner appointment. His one year old daughter has really started to love the missionaries. We even have a nickname there now. She calls us "Na" because she can't quite get "missionärerna." She also was very happy to show off how she could mix the vanilla cream all by herself, and feed her daddy his cake. We always laugh, because our BML (big, strong, moose-hunting man) turns into a huge softy around his daughter. He always just looks back and goes, "just wait till you have your own kids."

M and N are doing really well. They've developed this habit now, though, of asking tons of questions right at the end, and it makes it really hard to wrap up lessons and commit them to act on the message. So we'll see how it goes. When we invited them to be baptized, they said they would discuss it together during the week. While not a yes, it certainly wasn't a no, and in any case, that's not my point. It made me so happy to see them pursuing this idea together. They are a family, and we want them to be an eternal family, so the two of them sitting down, talking about it is about as perfect a way to decide it as there can be. Plus prayer and including Heavenly Father, of course. We had some really fun discussions with them about the Word of Wisdom this week. Everyone gets hung up on the fact that we use water instead of wine in the sacrament.

District Conference yesterday was amazing. I took a question there and thought about it during the whole meeting, and came out with a full page of notes as an answer to my question. Chalk one up for personal revelation. Also got to hear a testimony from a mother in our branch who sent her daughter off to the MTC last week. A bit of a strange experience to see that from the missionary point of view, but it made me so grateful for all the parents and families who support their children in making this decision. This is the greatest experience of my life. I asked that same member about her daughter's progress in the MTC and she said, "oh she sent an email telling us how she's not homesick at all. She's just being mean to her poor mother." I laughed pretty hard at that. I do miss you, fam. You're great. Love you all to pieces. But it will take a lot to pull me away from this beautiful country.

Have a great week! Thanks for all your emails, they make my day every preparation day.


Elder Hansen

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