Monday, March 18, 2013

Fazer Factory!

Hei kaikille,

Just got back from a trip to Vantaa and the legendary Fazer Chocolate Factory. Think Wille Wonka, now drop a little of the fantasy and add Finnish. Brilliant! Combined district activity with the Espoo and Helsinki Districts, which was a genius idea right before transfers. Got to spend some time with people I probably won't see again for a long time. The tour itself wasn't spectacular, I was really hoping for a chance to go into the inner workings of the place and watch all the machines moving, but apparently they've had too many accidents with that so they've shut it down and just have a video instead. They video/presentation was still pretty interesting, lots of stuff about branding and marketing, buying other companies and how they're planning to expand into the Asian market....ok Dad is the only one even slightly interested right now...moving on. TO THE PART WHERE WE GOT TO EAT AS MUCH CHOCOLATE AS WE WANTED!!!! I feel pretty sick right now. But it was so worth it.

This week overall was a blast. The week of change calls has always been a stressful one for me, especially when I'm pretty sure something is going to change. Every time I try to avoid thinking about it, and every time I seem to fail. Manwaring and I were pretty sure that we would just be staying and that one of us would split off and open the other area when the two wards split, but President and the Lord had other ideas. Manwaring is staying in Espoo, Elder Green is coming from beautiful Pieatarsaari to be his companion, and I'm going to Neitsytpolku (Downtown Helsinki center), part-time office elder! That part time is going to be really small, though. We just got a new senior couple and a senior sister, so we're almost back to fully staffed in the office. We're going to get to actually do missionary work. It'll be sad to lose the car...but I'll get by.

But, the week:


Not much. slowish P-day. We got our new bank cards, which means that we have to withdraw all the cash on our old cards or else it would just be directed back to the general mission fund. So, I'm currently walking around with 300+ euros in my wallet....yeah. Good thing this is Finland, crime rate=0, otherwise I'd probably already be robbed blind. We had dinner with a member family later, where the father loved trying to practice his English with us. I think he used to speak a lot better, and he's still pretty good, just a little rusty. The word for cereal is murot, which is plural, so when he tried to tell us about his companions from his mission who didn't know how to cook, he talked about how all they ate was "the cereals." Close enough. On that note, with all the travel on public transport in Neitsytpolku, it's really inefficient to come back to the apartment in the middle of the day for lunch and dinner, so...evidently we don't really eat. We'll see how that goes.

We went to visit an old couple (part-member family) in the morning. We played two truths and a lie to try to get to know the non-member husband better, and it was really hard to explain in Finnish! They had fun with it, though. She was like, "well, it's going to be impossible, he (pointing to her husband) already knows everything about me, I can't lie to him!" I love old cute couples like that. After that we stopped by an old potential we had met a long time ago and he let us come in and talk about the Book of Mormon. Turns out he's a Swedish speaker too (who also speaks German and a little English), so I got to practice with him. My Swedish is dying pretty fast. It's a good thing there will be a Swede living with me in Neitsytpolku (in the other companionship) so we can speak together.

The list of characters here just keeps getting longer. Tuesday night we visited with a 31 year old less active man from Ecuador who has lived in Finland off and on for over ten years ("off and on" meaning he escapes the cold every winter by traveling back to Ecuador). He speaks great Finnish, but his English is even better, probably from playing video games - he was playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 when we walked in. He says he really wants to come back to church, but apparently he has a habit of doing this every Spring, and then dropping off again in the summer, or so the bishop says. We'll see if we can't get him to stick this time.

Exchanges with Kerava, so I got to work with Elder Fourtina, from Quebec. Hilarious man. He got really excited when we knocked on a door and found out the man spoke French! He just went off and I think I picked up four or five words from their conversation (thank you High School French). The man wasn't interested, but at least it was fun for Fourtina to speak his native language. 

We had one of the biggest miracles from the week today. That morning, as I had been praying over our plans, I had the image of an Estonian man we had tracted into a few days before come to mind. We had some time to slot him in in the afternoon, so we planned to drop by him. I knew he was leaving back to Estonia that day, so I wasn't sure if he would even be there, but the feeling was so sure that we decided to go for it. We rang the doorbell the first time, and no one answered. I was so disappointed. This man had been so excited to get the Book of Mormon. We rang it again. nothing. So, we decided to at least try to call him and see if he was anywhere close. Just as I heard the dial tone ringing in my ear, a phone began to ring on the stairs below us. He was walking up to his apartment right that moment! He was in a hurry to get back to the car and get down to the ferry, but we were able to teach him just a little bit more about the Book of Mormon and give him a copy in Estonian which we promised to read. Such a miracle the way Heavenly Father put us right there in literally the last possible moments before he would have been gone.

KIELIKOULU! One of my favorite groups so far. This one also included a surprise visit from a Finn! Her appointment there fell through, so she asked if she could just stay and sit in with us. Talk about pressure!! But she was a great sport and made it a really good experience, helping the young missionaries with their accents. She taught me a few fun things too.

We finally found a new investigator in Espoo II!!! It was incredible! It was a man Elder Manwaring had found a few weeks ago that had actually set (and kept) an appointment four weeks out. How's that for long term planning? We were also able to get the bishop along, which was wonderful. His big question was why we need the Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible, so we taught him about the Restoration and he listened so sincerely. When he asked questions, it was because he was actually curious, not just trying to start a fight. The bishop did a perfect job. He invited him to church instead of us needing to! He even offered to arrange him a ride there since his car was full and he couldn't bring him himself. All we did was show up and teach. I love when members understand how much more powerful it is when local members do the inviting, instead of the missionaries. Something about the badge makes it easier for people to say no to us.

Later that night, we were tracting and when we finished one building, I looked at Manwaring and said, "well, let's just go try that one!" and walked over there. We found a new investigator on the second door! She's very religious, but hasn't found a church she feels comfortable with yet. She was so confused by the fact that she had never heard of the Book of Mormon, since it testifies of Jesus Christ. I told her that was a good question. We explained Joseph Smith and the Restoration and gave her the Book, offering also to arrange a ride to church for her. She ran excitedly back into her apartment to get her phone and exchange numbers, calling to her boyfriend, "hey, these guys brought be true religion!" Well, yes we did.

Unfortunately, neither of these people made it to church. Something came up for both of them, but we're still so grateful to Heavenly Father for these miracles. Such a great day.

Change call this morning. Not a huge surprise, but I'm still excited about the move. Sad to leave Espoo, though. It's been a great area for these last six months, especially the youth here. We got invited to speak to the young men at the youth conference in Haaga, and it was a lot of fun. Got them all pumped to go on missions. Sadly, I had to say goodbyes to a lot of the Espoo kids there. Won't see most of them again for a long time. I was really touched by the things they said to me though. Sounds like they really liked having me around. i really hope the missionaries in this mission do a good job of not only being the "cool" missionaries and their friends, but also showing them a good example of living joy in the gospel and missionary service so they all go on missions.

My last Sunday in two wards. As weird as this sounds, I'm really going to miss having six hours of church every week. Such great wards.

Anyways, that was our week. It's been great. Espoo is awesome and the area is rising. Elder Manwaring has been one of my favorite companions. Life is good.


Elder Hansen

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