The weeks have started to go by just a little bit faster each time, which gets more than a little disconcerting when you realize there are only two of them left.
We had a pretty typical P-Day for my companionship with Elder Heki - we were on a train. We left in the early evening for Oulu and wouldn't be back until Wednesday evening. I'm sure he's excited for me to leave and for him to be able to not have to travel so much.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we made history today!! In that, as far as I am aware, this was the first ever language school in Oulu, and probably the first one not held in the mission office. I made those participating in the Language School acutely aware of that fact as well. These are historic times. We haven't had this many missionaries in forever, and not in such large numbers coming all at once! Not to mention that these are all younger than they have been. These missionaries I was speaking to are the ones that will be asked to train and lead all of these that are coming in, and they should be excited about it!
The language school overall went well, only a couple of them dropped off about halfway through and needed to take a break. Not everyone is as excited about the intricacies of Finnish grammar like I am. I'm kind of a nerd.
The real treat of conferences in the north is the sleep over in the chapel the night before. It was really fun to get to catch up with Elder Helistö, who is now serving both as a full-time missionary and the second counselor in the branch presidency in Savonlinna (crazy), and Elder Oberhansley, who I haven't seen in too long. Gotta be proud of my boy, he's training for the second time in a row now, and doing a great job. Oberhansley told some funny stories about them tracting into some drunk people. Let's just say, that a lot of people don't realize they're swearing when they speak English. Oops.
Wednesday: Zone Conference
My very last zone conference. It was a bit of a surreal feeling, especially when I looked around the room and saw just how much younger everyone in the room was. No one else from my MTC group is in the north, only one from the group right below me and the next was from two or three more groups down. The conference was a really good one to close with. The zone leaders essentially just wanted to inspire us all to do a little more, so they invited a bunch of different companionships to share some stories of days they've done their best and times when they've felt successful, etc. I felt a great sense of joy when I listened to all those stories, just knowing that these are the types of missionaries I'm leaving this country to when I go. They asked me to bear my testimony at the end of the meeting, and I told them about those feelings that I'd had. These are some really impressive missionaries, even the really new ones. No fear, just faith.
Our trip home from conference was a bit of a wild one. See, there's construction on the tracks between Ylivieska and Oulu, so they have bus connections running between those cities to replace the trains. When we were planning the trip, though, there were some discrepancies between what the printed schedule and the online schedule said, so we just booked our tickets and hoped for the best. By the time we got to Oulu, we weren't actually sure if we would be on a train, on a bus, or on foot home. Not to mention, Elder Heki and I decided to try to go out to eat after the meeting with some other missionaries, so we ended up with a bit of a race to get back to the bus station, print our tickets, and get on the bus just as the bus driver himself was getting on. Yeah, uh, oops. But it all worked out. Then, on arriving in Ylivieska, we see a train that must be ours, only the train says it's going to Rovaniemi, completely the other direction. Two of us walk down to the other end of the train to find that that end is going the direction we want to go. Man, the thought honestly crossed my mind that we might not make it home that night. And, there are no members or missionaries in Ylivieska, so we likely would've spent the night under an bridge. I'm glad at least half the train was going the right way.
We had a lesson with a less-active, but by the time we showed up, there was a bit of chaos going on in their house. It turned into a bit more of us just hanging out with them. After a while, we got it around to some kind of gospel topic, but the wife (who isn't a member) wasn't interested in talking, she just hopes we can help her husband get himself straightened out. He's had a very hard life and he really needs the gospel right now, but he's so skeptical that he doesn't want to change. It's hard to watch. But, the greatest thing about visiting them is watching Elder Heki. He treats that family with so much love, especially the two young kids, and they seem to really love him back.
Elder Heki is doing a great job at trying to learn Swedish, but unfortunately, the words for "to reveal" and "to prepare" are giving him some trouble. He was practicing Swedish by just telling me a story from his time in Turku, and ended up telling me that a woman once revealed fish for him and his companion. I guess it kinda works if you stretch it.
I've also had fun teaching him some sports vocabulary. He was in marching band for four years, but still never bothered to follow the games he was playing at very much. This week's word was "punt." I figured out he didn't know that word when he described it as a "fourth down, get it down the field kinda thing."
We got to do some service painting doors for some of our favorite members up here. I felt pretty proud of my husband material after looking at the finished product, especially since I'd spent most of the time painting also on the phone juggling preparation for language school and answering missionaries' language questions. Not to sound homesick, but it will be nice to not have to spend half my life on the phone every day.
Church was a blast. "A" gave a short talk/testimony about the YSA conference Fest i Nord that she attended last week, which was really good for me to hear. She told us that she wasn't sure why she was going at all because she's "so old." It sounds like she had some experiences that she really needed though, so I was happy for her. While she was speaking, her little three year old boy ran up onto the stand next to her, started tugging at her dress and then turned and pointed at me, as if to say, "look Hansen's still here." Made me feel pretty happy:) I love that kid.
That night we visited another part member family, he's been coming to church actively for years, he just doesn't want to set a baptismal date. We shared with them a lot of the ways baptism has helped us and helped people in the Book of Mormon, and then out of the blue he goes, " I feel bad when I read the Book of Mormon, because I know I'll never be like one of those men." We then turned to 1 Corinthians 2:9.
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
It is so wonderful to me that God doesn't ask me to lead armies. He doesn't ask me to leave all I have and know and walk out into the wilderness. I haven't been called to start an entirely new civilization or to try to save one from destroying itself. At the end of the day, if we love our Heavenly Father and that love motivates all we do, that's all he asks for, and we will work miracles.