[Ed. note - the parents of one of McKay's high school friends (Andie Tillett Robertson) stopped by the mission office in Helsinki. Brother Tillett served a mission to Finland]
There is no way to gracefully get into all the things I need to tell you about this week, so I'll just go for it, start to finish.
Monday, was a good Pday, hung out with Elder Ingersoll on exchanges and went out to lunch with him. His last Monday in the mission. I don't believe it. Time goes by so fast. He was a really good elder, too, we're going to miss him. That night we had two lessons with some star investigators. First, P, the one I told you about last week, to some degree. He actually lives in Haaga's area, so we brought along a member from Haaga who talked more than we planned for, so we didn't get to teach everything we wanted to, but he really bonded with P, who thanked us for bringing him along, so I guess it all works out. Later was A, the one we met last week after we got lost. First lesson, got to know more about her. She is a full-time painter, and has a lot of her own paintings up in the living room. Most of them are really nice landscapes of ocean shores. She has investigated tons of religions and so had all kinds of questions, many of which were tough to understand, but our member along pulled through for us and had some great answers. We talked about her being baptized when she knows the Book of Mormon was true, and she just laughed and said, "That would be way too fast, guys."
Tuesday, we helped an older, less-active couple wash their windows, which Elder Clegg and I have a lot of fun with. Actually did a pretty good job too, if I do say so myself. I love working with Elder Clegg. He just always wants to do his best, do it right, and do it right the first time. So solid. Afterwards we had a lesson in which we pulled out a 50 day Book of Mormon reading challenge for them. We picked the fifty most important (from our point of view) on the basic doctrines from PMG and assigned them to read one per day over the next fifty days. We're excited to see how it goes, and they seemed really happy with it too!
Wednesday, we had a zone training meeting. Elder Clegg and I have mixed feelings on the outcome, but I'll keep that to myself. Our zone leaders are really good guys.
Thursday, we taught P again. We went over both the Sabbath day and word of wisdom, heavy hitters for a man who smokes, drinks coffee, and who loves going out with his wife in their camper for long weekends. I'll admit, I was doubting just a little bit going into it. We started with the Sabbath and talked about why it is so important, especially with the covenants we make, to be in church each Sunday. He pondered the things we had just told him, and we asked him what he thought. He said simply, "well, if it's that important to the covenant, then I guess the important thing to do is arrange my life so that, as long as I'm not sick or on a long trip or something else, I can be in church every Sunday. yeah, I'll do that. Sure." And he looked up at us and smiled. Then, we moved on to word of wisdom. He's been sober for 22 years now, after spending plenty of years as an alcoholic, so alcohol wasn't an issue. Neither was smoking. He just said, "yeah, I should probably quit. I've quit before and I've been meaning to again, so I'll get on it. No problem." He wasn't so sure about tea and coffee, though, because there haven't been any proven terrible effects of using them. So, out of ideas, I turned to the missionary's best friend: the member. He gave a great thought about his friends and how some of them can't even function without tea and coffee, something he never knew was possible, and that he was grateful for the fact that he didn't have any substances that seemed to interfere in any way with his agency and freedom. P thought about that for a long time, then looked up and said, "you know, I really like what you just said. I think, if it really is true, then God will give me power to get rid of them, and to understand why." Goodness, I love this man. Every time I talk to him I'm astounded by the way the gospel resonates with him.
The rest of the night, I stayed home with Elder Murray while Elder Clegg and Elder Ingersoll went out to teach a few people. Elder Murray has been really sick for a while, and the doctors aren't exactly sure what is causing it. Will you all please pray for him? We need him to stay in this mission. He's too good of an elder to lose.
Friday was our second lesson with A, the artist. We had a really good time, and she was very excited to come to church on Sunday.
President also called us on Friday night. Change call night. He told Elder Clegg he was going to Joensuu. No surprise there, we all figured he was leaving so that the next language coordinator could be my companion. Then, he surprised us by telling Elder Murray that the new language coordinator would be his companion, not mine. Finally, it was my turn. Now bewildered, I ask who my companion will be. He paused. Then, slowly, he said, "Elder Hansen, you're going to wonder when I tell you about this. I've prayed a lot about it, and, honestly, I still don't really understand, so I want you to pray about it as well.....
You are going back to Pietarsaari."
It seems there is more for me to do there. Feels a bit like going home, to be honest. Six more weeks in Jakobstad. [ed. note - Pietarsaari and Jakobstad are the same city - Pietarsaari is the Finnish name and Jakobstad is the Swedish name - it's the bilingual area in western Finland where McKay spent nine months earlier in his mission.]
Saturday was a great baptismal service in Marjaniemi. We've basically just been trading weekends with them for a while now, it feels. One week our baptism, the next week, theirs. It's incredible.
Sunday was so much fun in church again. "A" was there, and we sat with her in sacrament meeting. Elder Ingersoll gave his farewell talk and we had a really good high council speaker. The whole time I was cheering because every message seemed, in one way or another, just tailored to A's needs. After the meeting, she leaned over to me and said, "you know how I laughed when you guys talked about baptism earlier this week? Well, I feel like God has been pushing me this direction this whole week and, well, I really feel like I would like to be baptized. How does it work?"
Lucky for her, we get sisters into this ward this week, so they will come to visit and help prepare her for baptism. At the end of the day, I'm sad to leave this area, because things are going so well right now. Things are really building. Elder Clegg and I are leaving behind work we can be proud of, and people who will surely continue to progress with more than capable missionaries. And I am going back to PIETARSAARI.
love you all,