Monday, October 15, 2012

Second week in Espoo


I love libraries. I also love Finns. So it's really easy to just laugh and smile when I find out that the reason my new library card was impossible to work with last week was because the librarian accidentally entered the current date instead of my birthdate in the slot intended for my birthday. Something about a one week old kid setting up time to use the internet just didn't sit well with the library system, and I think I can understand that. On the bright side, the time-space continuum has been rectified, and I'm now twenty years old again.

This week was an absolute blur. Easily the fastest week of my mission so far, and Elder Linden was absolutely no consolation as he reminded me, "It only gets faster." Great.

My journal tells a very interesting story about this week. I began every day complaining over this and that, some random problem that arose, and how frustrated I was about it. However, the mood always changes as I get to the end of the story for that day, as I realize that nothing was as serious as it appeared in the beginning. In fact, the opening lines of all my journals this week actually appear rather ridiculous considering the ending.

Take Monday for example. The story above about my library card had me upset. I was pretty ticked off about how it hadn't worked and no one had been able to address the problem. It had wasted my time and my companions'. However, it forced me to use Elder Esplin's computer and his leftover time, while he just had to stand around awkwardly, placing him in exactly the right position to talk to a couple of people who were sitting across from us, had seen our nametags, and were looking up information about the church because of it. He had a wonderful discussion with them and cleared up a lot of the "facts" they had found on these "credible internet encyclopedias." ("Everyone can write whatever they want, so you know that you're getting the best information possible" -- Michael Scott). We also had a Family Night out in a place called Lohja, and had such an incredible evening. We watched a couple of the "Mormon Messages" clips, and just had a small discussion about each. My favorite one right now is one called Reclaimed. Go watch it. The Spirit in those short discussions, and in the chatter of fellowship that followed as we ate, was enough to make me forget all the frustration of earlier. Plus there was a little four year old with absolutely no fear. Just said whatever was on his mind to whomever he wanted. Yeah, it was pretty great.

Or how about Friday. First driving lesson. It did not go well. Tried to reverse. Stalled. Tried again. Stalled. Get halfway out of the spot. Stalled. Finally got out of the spot, around the corner, switched gears, pulled up to an intersection, got cocky. Stalled. Ripped the E-brake and yelled to Elder Linden that he was driving. Yeah, it was pretty bad. It could have ruined my whole day. But, instead we went off to do service for an investigator. It was way fun, chatted it up with her nine year old son while we pulled ivy down off the fence and got to tear apart an old deck. I was still apprehensive, though, because our very intense, slightly impulsive ward mission leader had scheduled Member Exchanges with us so that we could have a member go along to a lesson, but not have all three plus a member there. That left me to go tracting with another member, something I've never done before, and didn't like the idea of doing. But against all odds, it worked. And I felt way happier the rest of the day. Frustrating moments will always be a part of life - that's just the way it is. Like how I accidentally left my jacket in H&M in the middle of writing this email, causing my companions to have to go back and get it with me (There's a reason I get called "junior" in this companionship). But the next time I feel all that stress start to build, I'm going to try something I've never done before and just see where it takes me. I bet I'll wind up happier. That said, I'm working on a list of crazy new things to try -- any and all suggestions welcome.

Speaking conveniently of brand new things, I had the chance to perform a baptismal interview on Wednesday. I thought at first it might be a little bit awkward or strange, but it wasn't. It was new, exciting, and the candidate was incredibly prepared for baptism, which made it really fun. After the interview was over she turned to the missionary who had taught her and said. "now go find some more young people." There was just a good spirit throughout the whole visit.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked into church on Sunday. Nine months in a small branch got me very accustomed to seeing forty to fifty in sacrament meeting and having a small, cozy atmosphere. In Pietarsaari, the missionaries are nearly integral. In Espoo, the missionaries might actually get lost in their own chapel. The first ward was great, lots of good people and some pretty impressive youth speakers, but when the second ward showed up, my companions kept laughing at the look on my face. I felt like I'd stepped back into the United States. The Espoo second ward is one of the largest wards in Finland. The whole chapel was packed all the way to the back row, and all of it was families.

Other random notes about our new area: We have a lot of American families living here for work. One of them had us over for dinner last night. Homemade pumpkin pie for dessert. Yeah. I could get used to Espoo.
Also, the first night I arrived, we were sitting around when all of a sudden a siren starts blaring. Esplin and Linden got all excited and Linden told me it was a bomb. I laughed and asked what it really was and he just smiled back until I heard a small clap and then a rumble in the distance. Turns out it was a bomb. They're doing some blasting not too far away from us, so we get to hear it.

Any questions? Man, I love you all so much. Thanks for all your support and encouragement. Have a great week!

Elder Hansen

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