Monday, November 5, 2012

Last Week for the Troika

Sadly, this week will be the last full week together for Linden, Esplin, and I before they go home. And they won't let me forget it. I've finally given up fighting the trunky comments and just gone along with it. Saves me a lot of stress. This weekend I'll get a call from president about my new companion, and next week we'll start a new chapter. At least I know I don't have to move for at least six weeks. I hate moving....
On that note I'm going to skip the traditional salutation at the opening of a letter, mostly because, of the myriad of Finnish greetings I could throw in just to mix things up, I've already used the ones I know how to spell, and to butcher one would just be embarrassing. Or I might write something more than inappropriate by mistake. One letter off in Finnish can be that way sometimes....
This week has been something of a roller coaster. After Elder Esplin finally recovered from a terrible cold, that actually managed to turn into something of a slight lung infection, Elder Linden decided to get sick. We ended up just leaving the apartment to go to our appointments, then coming back to rest up in between. So with me still hobbling around a little trying to recover, we looked like quite the pathetic trio. The old man and sinking ship jokes were coming in from all sides. Elder Esplin actually decided to make a comic about it, in which he depicts Elder Linden (in non missionary clothing) standing on the back of a sinking ship shouting nothing in particular, me in the middle trying to steer the ship while making phone calls and sitting down, unable to stand, and Esplin on the front checking his watch and thinking about girls. Hey, it's always fun to have a laugh at your own expense.
Aside from that, we did actually get to do some missionary work this week. M, our Estonian investigator, has set a baptismal date for the 17th of November! And that's something to celebrate. It was such a wonderful lesson. She really was nervous about saying yes, but our member (now apparently one of her best friends) was the perfect, most supportive friend ever. If not a missionary, I might have hugged her. I love how natural the gospel is. When we are open and honest, the Spirit can guide us and talk to us so simply about how the gospel can bless our lives. At times, I fear our modern culture leads us to try to organize and catagorize and otherwise -ize up the gospel, because there needs to be structure. There needs to be order. We need to be able to separate ideas and concepts. But in lessons like this one, those borders between the "5 steps of the gospel" sort of slipped away. I liked that. It's really not just steps we take. It's not even really a process that we repeat throughout our lives, although that is a closer analogy. It is our life. When we are truly converted, we live those five priniplces simultaneously. Food for thought. I didn't really think about most of that until I started writing about that lesson and it all hit me at once so I figured I'd write it down. I'll get off the soapbox now.
At last night's lesson, I casually asked M in the beginning how she felt about her baptism. I expected a fairly generic response, the type we usually get to that kind of question, but instead, she pulls out a huge list of questions and says, "So, if I understand correctly, I'm going to have to change some things about the way I live when I get baptized. I have some questions about that." Turns out she's been reading the gospel prinicples manual in her spare time, and is about halfway through it! She's gane all the way from "God is our Heavenly Father" to fasting! She told us she wakes up at around six every morning and just reads until she gets ready to go to work. She used to sleep in, but now she feels like Heavenly Father is waking her up to help her to read more. We would prefer that she would read a little more out of the Book of Mormon, but we give her assignments to read in between appointments, and that should help. Honestly, when my only concern is that she's reading too much church literature, do I really have anything to complain about? She's really grown attached to the sister that has been coming along to her lessons. I think I mentioned this a little last week, too, but last night, when that sister was out of town and only her husband could be there, she actually made a comment about wanting another woman there to be able to support her. I had never really thought about that before. But it really makes sense. It would be really nice if we could have sister missionaries in every city and they could teach the women and we could teach the men. Or if we could just not have to worry about the rule regarding meeting the opposite sex (we are not allowed to unless another adult of our own sex is present), which means that for elders to bring a sister to a female investigator, we have to go as four or five people to the appointment, something Finns just don't like doing. But, that's enough of that. These are the little complexities of missionary work that I deal with every day, but that I haven't written very much about, because I imagine most of you reading this either still don't entirely understand, or really are just bored after that type of detail.
So, how about something more interesting. One of the other things that's helping so much in our lessons with M is her dog. One of the most friendly dogs I've ever met. A bit too friendly. She loves us, and whenever we don't pay enough attention to her, she comes up and, for example, puts her snout all the way up my pant leg, or jumps on Esplin's lap and tries to kiss him. On the upside, I've really been working on being less intense and more relaxed, especially while teaching lessons, because I find the mood around me tends to be more heavy than I want it to be. Last night I actually did a pretty good job and just letting the pure joy of the gospel come out when I spoke, instead of focusing on the words I was going to use, for example. I'm still not perfect at it by any means, but while I practice and try to get better, it really helps to have a friend like Evita (the dog) to lighten the mood when things get a bit too heavy.
Well, we have to go, sorry there's not much more, but next week I'll do better at writing down the other stories I want to tell you about.
Elder Hansen

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