So...despite our best efforts this week, R was indeed baptized on his scheduled day, without any issues. I'm still not sure how Elder Edwards got him all the way under the water (he's about a foot and a half taller than Edwards), but it all worked out.
Monday: Five days till baptism
Lesson with R in the evening after a pretty typical P-Day involving us going to the store at seven in the morning, after Edwards and Ingersoll dragged me out to run. I actually got all of like 200 meters into it before I hit a wall and my body started screaming "you moron, you haven't run for months, why are we running now?" but at least I finished. Went to the office and I played a few games of pool against myself while Elder Ingersoll emailed and Elder Edwards tried to email, but ended up getting sucked into the other office to help with the never-ending stream of computer-related problems only he can fix. I swear, without him, this mission wouldn't function. Pretty proud of my companion. The lesson went really well, too. R loved general conference, so trying to teach him why it's important to follow the prophet right after it was about the easiest thing I've ever done on my mission.
Tuesday: Four days until baptism
Spent most of the morning moving the Londons (our beloved office couple) into their new apartment right around the corner from the office. Lots of headaches getting language school arranged for Wednesday, trying to figure out what things to do with them, etc. But we got to meet with R again and go over the last details of the lessons before his interview on Wednesday. Seeing him always makes my day.
Wednesday: Three Days until baptism
I was actually pretty proud of this day. We used a lot of the companions of missionaries attending language school to go out in our area, so we as a companionship were in three places at once: me running language school, Edwards in the office (as always), and Ingersoll out teaching lessons. In fact, even after language school was over and the other missionaries had returned to their areas, we still kept it going by getting members to stay with Elder Ingersoll in the chapel while he taught lessons, and Edwards and I stayed upstairs in the office working on our own things. Ingersoll did R's baptismal interview, and everything went smooth. R came out with a big smile on his face. I couldn't help but match it.
This language school was also one of my favorites thus far. Really good group with a lot of talent for the language, which, ironically, means they ask better questions about things they don't understand. A lot of younger missionaries just get overwhelmed and are too afraid to even try. But this group had some gems. We talked about how/why they make plans for studying the language and I went over my usual presentation on how the same principles of vision, goals, planning, and accountability that occur everywhere in missionary work also apply to studying a language. So the question I always ask when a missionary wants help studying the language more is, "well, what do you want to learn about?" I made them a promise that as long as their desires were pure and in harmony with God's will, they would make better choices on what to study and their language would improve. Then one of them asked the greatest question, "So, how do we change our desires?" We spent the next half-hour studying the Atonement. There's a phrase I never used before my mission that has now become commonplace: "Use the Atonement." Before becoming a missionary, I didn't know what that meant, nor do I think I had ever heard anyone say it. But the Atonement is a gift, one meant to be used. And it was amazing to see how much I've changed based on that one simple realization.
Thursday: Two days until baptism
MOVE DAY....and the day we nearly died. We have fourteen new missionaries coming tomorrow. That meant that Thursday we had to move furniture and supplies into and out of five different apartments to try to have everything ready. We started by moving the Haaga sisters into their new apartment, then taking the junk they didn't want/need to Pasila, and the rest to a self-storage place until we find a home for it in all the apartments that will be opened this spring/summer. Also, Elder Edwards was on this day deathly ill, but too stubborn to stay home.
While moving the sisters' ENORMOUS desks (seriously these things were beasts), we realized that to get them into the van we would have to take them apart and put them back together in the new apartment. Being the great handyman I am, I took them down in no time, assuring the others that I could put them back together without directions on the other end. Uh...yeah. Long story short, I lost half the screws somewhere, mixed up the small drawers that go under the desks, put the top of one desk on the wrong desk, and ended up having to crawl underneath that desk on my hands an knees to hold it on my back and shoulders while the other four missionaries tried to figure out what it had looked like before we took it apart. An altogether relatively humbling experience for yours truly. Not to mention later Elder Ingersoll dropped a couch on his toe and slammed his head into a low-hanging air duct, and I threw out my back lifting a washing machine. We walked into the office to teach R and just laughed about the idea that none of us would actually live long enough to see R baptized on Saturday. This lesson went well, as usual. Taught him about the priesthood and how it was both power and authority from God and the duty to serve other people. Bishop wants him to get the priesthood next Sunday, so we definitely need to make sure he is ready by that day.
On the upside, we happened upon and old version of Monopoly and Settlers in the old Haaga apartment. You can guess what we played that night. :) You can also guess who won at both of them. :)
Friday: One day until baptism
Missionary work. I know right? Apparently, office elders do that kind of thing once in a while. Spent a lot of the day on the phone as well, getting everything ready for the baptism.
Met R at the train station with a bunch of his friends from his hometown. Bunch of classy guys. All of them spoke at least some Finnish, plus a mixture of English, and Arabic and Curdish, of course. Never met a more animated group of guys. And they were all really happy for R, even if some of them didn't understand why he wanted this so bad that he would quit smoking and drinking for it. Oh, and all of them agreed that the missionaries look like the mafia when we walk around in our suits, and that Ingersoll looks like John Cena (the WWE wrestler). Pretty funny.
The whole turnout for the baptism was small, but it just made it all the more special for R, just all of his best friends (which includes us!). I was standing at the top of the stairs as he came walking out of the water, and the look he gave me was priceless. Just stared at me with his eyes wide open, a half-grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. But he was too shocked too actually smile. Reminded me of the look he gave us after we gave him a blessing for the first time.There was just perfect peace in his face. Perfect happiness. Like nothing he'd ever felt before.
Everything went perfectly during church. Couldn't have asked for anything better. Things went wrong after church, though, when one of my companions whose name I wont mention but it starts with I and ends with ngersoll, scheduled a lesson at the very top of our area, meaning we couldn't get back until 10.00. After a week like this, I was more than happy to just go straight to bed.
What a great week.
Love you all,