Wishing you all an early Thanksgiving all the way from Espoo! Don't worry about me by the way, one of the blessings of being in a big city is there are a few American or part-American families here, so I'll be having a nice Thanksgiving right along with you all!
I can't believe this week. Not every moment was the best, but looking back on my feelings at the beginning of the week, I didn't think my attitude in this moment would be quite as positive as it is. Monday was a prime example. Just as Linden and Esplin are in the full swing of packing and getting ready to go home, we get a call from some members asking us to come help them paint the apartment they were moving from. I was nervous that it might put some pressure on us, but it ended up taking just the right about of time, and was a lot of fun. They had nice big rollers, which of course meant that Linden ended up rolling Esplin instead of the wall, and getting white paint all over his black slacks in the process. Who wears dress slacks to a paint project? Only a missionary on his way out.
Tuesday we had another one of those "farewell appointments" with one of my favorite families in Espoo. They have three boys, one who just returned from a mission in Sweden, one about to leave for a mission to Japan, and a 17 year old, who just laughs all the time. Their parents weren't home, so it was just the three of them there, and we had a great time. At the end, we practiced teaching the Restoration to them and had the son about to leave on his mission teach with us. But four missionaries is too many, so Linden decided to become one of the investigators and had a ball with it. Kept going off about how he "knew we were prophets" and how his "nieghbor back in his home country used to be a prophet." The funny thing is, that's actually happened to all of us.
Tuesday night we drove down to Helsinki to drop off the two homebound ones and pick up Elder Clegg. Ended up shuttling a lot of changing missionaries to and from the train station, which we weren't prepared for, but it didn't end up being to much of a problem. A bunch of twenty year olds in the biggest city in Finland, none of whom have ever done much more logistics than who's bringing the root beer to the sleepover, could have been a disaster, but I guess two years as a missionary actually does teach us something. Elder Clegg and I ended up staying the night to play sähly with the assisstants and a few others in the morning, which meant I had to sit out...again. Very painful, but, Mom, just want you to know I was responsible.
Friday probably ended up being the craziest day. In connection with companion exchanges, we had been asked to participate in a young men's activity all about missionary work. While my companion took another missionary and two priests along to a lesson and some finding, I stayed back with the other missionary's companion at the chapel and worked with the deacons and teachers on talking to their friends about the church, and especially about the Book of Mormon. It was so much fun! I would like to think I was that much fun to be around when I was twelve, but I'm not totally sure. They all came up with their own ways of talking to their friends about the Book of Mormon, ranging from a long explanation and testimony about why this book has been so important to them personally and how it will bless their lives to one who just threw it at the one pretending to be his friend and said, "Take it. Read it." I think I'm friends with the youth here now, but they might just be pitying me.
This week we also saw a lot of breakthroughs with our investigators, both before and after Elder Clegg got here. There was no secret, just hard work. Or rather, perhaps it was that the secret was different for each individual investigator. For example, with one with whom we have met for quite some time now, we set up a baptismal calendar, talked more seriously about baptism and redefined our expectations. It was wonderful! This is a part-member African family that is now on their way towards becoming a complete, active member family. With another, she is already set on being baptized "in the future," but wants to stabilize her life prior to her baptism. We talked about her with our ward council. Because she had been in church, these members knew her and cared about her. One of them suggested a fairly recent convert in a nearby ward who had gone through similar circumstances. We brought this member along to a lesson the following day, and she was perfect!! Our investigator needed a lot of emotional support, which the member supplied both in the lesson, as well as after, when she stayed and ended up setting a baptismal date for us with our investigator! I really learned how to trust member's inspiration this week.
Sometimes, though, the Lord still shows us that this is his work. We fasted on Sunday for M, our Estonian investigator, whose progression to baptism has been interrupted due to pressure and talk from co-workers and others. That whole day I felt very peaceful. We won't be able to talk to M until Wednesday, when she returns to Finland, but the Lord blessed our efforts with other, unforseen miracles. In the Espoo 1 ward, a man I didn't recognize walked into sacrament meeting and sat down. After the meeting, a member ushered him into the gospel principles class, where we had a chance to teach him. Turns out he visited the church six years ago, and out of nowhere decided that day that he would like to come again! We asked if we could come visit him, and he said of course! We have an appointment with him tomorrow. Although he came to the first ward, he technically belongs to the second ward, which makes him an even greater blessing and answer to prayer, because with all the work we've been doing in the first ward's area, finding in the second ward has suffered quite a lot.
Sunday night, Elder Clegg and I just looked at each other. We had been through a long week, fasted that whole day through six hours of church, and finally finished long call-in reports. It was nice to go to sleep, and definitely not easy to get up this morning, especially when it's so dark. But, I've never felt so satisfied with the work I've done.
Thank you all for your letters and support and love. I love you all and miss you very much.
P.S. Looking for concrete examples of how you know that this is the only true and living church and/or how the church structure has been a blessing to you. A lot of investigators keep bringing up the idea that they like that there are more churches to choose from so they can pick "their own way" etc. thanks!