Passing the language coordinator baton to Elder Anderton
We've officially reached one month to go. It's a good feeling, especially considering the fact that I get to spend my last month in Pietarsaari. There's only one catch, and that's that I might not be spending as much time actually in this city as I thought.
This past weekend I spent about two hours on the phone with President Rawlings concerning language coordinator business. With all the new missionaries coming in in such large numbers, we're concerned about the level of training they're receiving, and as a result, we're reengineering the way we train missionaries in the Finnish language entirely. We're going to go all the way back to the drawing board, start entirely from scratch, and build from that with the current needs of the mission. Elder Anderton, the one taking over as language coordinator after I'm gone, is also in on it, and he's got a ton of good ideas. He's also just as pumped about the idea as I am, so it's fun to work with him. But, the really crazy thing is the solution until we get a new system up and running. We'll be holding a series of special language schools, one in each zone, to retrain the basics of the language as well as train missionaries how to teach the language to the younger companions they'll have sooner than they think. Next week, we have zone training meeting in Oulu, so we'll be doing one there, then the week after that we head to Helsinki for Monday-Wednesday, then Thursday-Friday in Tampere. It's going to make this month just whiz by. Hoping to be able to have time to lay a foundation for something great here, so that everything can expand in the next couple of months/years.
That's my life in a nutshell right about now. If any of those rumors about cell phones giving you cancer are true, then I'm surprised I don't already have a tumor in my right ear, because I feel like I spend all my time on the phone. I wonder if I could make a career out of something like this?
This past Tuesday, I had a great opportunity to look at this time as a completely new take on this city, like I'm starting fresh. Last year, when I was here, Elder Oberhansley and I went to visit a man who has had missionaries over a lot, but they were more there to hang out, he didn't want to talk about the gospel. He was the same way when Elder Oberhansley and I went. He told us he'd already heard it all, but if we ever wanted a place to chill and hang out and not be missionaries for a couple hours, this was the place we could be. Then I get back here, almost a year later, and I find out Elder Heki and Elder Kääriä have been meeting with this man. I was pretty skeptical, but Elder Heki set up a time and we went to visit him. Except for the time he got on Facebook and showed us some interesting stuff that pokes fun at religion, the whole lesson was night and day from the one a year prior. He had sincere questions. He listened when we spoke and honestly tried to see if he could believe what we were saying. We talked practically about his role as a father and, in the future, as a priesthood holder. He feels some difficulties with his marriage right now, so we talked about how he can pray specifically for help with that. Not only, "please help my marriage," but also, "How can I show more love for my wife?" and "What can I do today/tomorrow/next week to strengthen our relationship?" Teaching that brought new perspective to my prayers. The whole experience reminded me that "God is in control," like Mom always says, especially when we walk into the mission office on Wednesday morning for language school and I find the July Liahona with the cover article "Nine Ways to Strengthen Your Family." Isn't that just too good?
Saturday night we got to go visit a couple that I got to know very well last time. He's Chinese and she's Vietnamese, and now they have a small, six-month old baby that loves to just make noise. She's adorable. When I was here last year, we were just waiting for them to get married so he could be baptized. They finally got married before I left, but some problems with his family made it impossible for him to get baptized. He's since been baptized and received the priesthood. There is still a wonderful spirit in their home, but it just seems more complete somehow, now. More lasting. It was great to be with them again. He told Elder Heki to get married before 2015. A little tricky since he goes home late in 2014, but he'll be at BYU, so I guess it's possible. Hahaha the jokes that keep us going at dinner appointments with funny members.
Anyway, time to get going, sorry this is late, but we had district meeting in Vaasa with President all day, so we didn't have time to email. We're also going to visit "A" and the kids tonight, so we have to get something special ready for that.
Love you all,