Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How far away is that plane? Oh, you're already on it....

Hyvää huomenta,

Elder Linden and Elder Esplin have been making that joke about the airplane flying overhead being "two weeks away" forever now, but that week has actually arrived. Tuesday night I drive down to Helsinki, drop them off, stay the night, and drive back to Espoo with my new companion, Elder Clegg, the next morning. Thursday morning, Elder Esplin begins the twenty-four hour journey home, and Thursday afternoon Elder Linden gets tossed into the ocean and swims home. Just kidding. His flight is an hour from Helsinki direct to his hometown. Because of the time switch, he'll actually land only twenty-five MINUTES after he takes off. Lucky dog.

But that doesn't really affect me, right? So why am I talking about it? Well, because I'm going to be dealing with it again before too long. This next transfer is also Elder Clegg's last in the mission. I'm trying to figure out why President sends missionaries to me just before they go home. What does that say about me? I'll let you all use your imagination.

Despite two soon-to-depart missionaries living in our apartment, we managed to get some wonderful missionary work done this week, and in perfect timing too, because this weekend was stake conference! We recently had a new temple presidency set apart, so the theme for the whole conference was temples. There were some great messages shared and it made me very grateful for the number of times I've been able to attend the temple as a missionary. I'm still trying to get used to having the temple in our area, though, and seeing it so often. Every city I've been in has their giant Lutheran church, that almost just belongs as much to the culture as it does to the religion, because it's so present in the center of the city. Every time I drive past the huge spire with Moroni on top, I have to stop and remind myself, "oh yeah, that's OUR big church." I love the Finland temple so much. A very good friend of mine, baptized about a year ago is eligible to attend the temple now, and I'm so anxious to hear whether or not she will be able to go soon. I sent her a letter a while ago, but haven't heard back.

Unfortunately, I missed our lesson with M this week, and sadly it seems like some of her friends at work have not been very supportive of her investigating and she's worried about the pressure that would be put on her when she gets baptized. I was on exchanges with Elder Oberhansely. It was so much fun to work with him again and talk so much about the time we had spent together. We ended up teaching C, our african mother investigator, who has been moving pretty slowly, not really wanting to commit to be baptized on a date, but still very excited about the idea in the future. Stake conference was a very different experience for both of them. Here's what I wrote to President:

"Stake conference this weekend was an absolutely miraculous experience. On one hand, I'm very sad that one of our investigators, the one with a baptismal date, missed out. She had a ride scheduled and set up with her friends, but sent a text just a few minutes before and canceled. We are rather worried that pressure from her friends and co-workers has been getting to her, and that she is nervous, so we'll be sure to role play that prior to our lesson on Wednesday. Very timely counsel from you today.

"On the other hand, one of our other investigators finally found the true reason for coming to church. She has been investigating for a long time, but has had marriage and family troubles that have been difficult to handle and have hindered her progression. We've talked with her many times about how we find peace and rest in church when we set aside that time for the Lord, but she always seemed a bit skeptical of that, despite the number of times she's been in church. Sunday night, I gave her a call to see what she had thought during Stake Conference and double check our next appointment. She raved about the spirit she had felt, how peaceful she had felt, the revelation she felt she had received for her family, and even how well she understood the Finnish when the English translation was malfunctioning! She loved church, and the best part is, we had little to do with it. She has a wonderful friend and fellowshipper doing all he can for her - inviting her, giving her a ride, finding someone to sit with her and watch her children so she can concentrate. I felt just pure joy at the thought that she had such a wonderful experience."

This mission has really high goals set for the end of the year. Like REALLY high. It's going to take a lot of faith and hard work if we're even going to come close. But I think the best thing to remember is something Elder Esplin always says, "Look, it's not about people, it's about numbers, and if you're having fun, you're doing something wrong." I hope you all can catch the obvious sarcasm in that. As these two get ready to leave the mission, I've thought a lot about how many people's lives they've touched and the friends they've made, whether, member, investigator, less-active, etc. Life is about people.

Go make somebody smile this week.


Elder Hansen

P.S. The countdown to Christmas is already on. One missionary has an advent calendar counting down to the time the rest of us usually start our advent calendars, and this morning I came running out of the bedroom riding a "Joulupukki" like a horse and Esplin died laughing. Joulupukki is the Finnish name for Santa Claus, but the words Joulu and pukki mean Christmas and goat. So they make these little goats out of hay every Christmas that are really cool. That story wasn't nearly as funny with all the explanation. Use your imagination! And know that I actually am going slightly insane out here.

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