President Watson had tovereni and I over for personal interviews a few weeks ago. In my interview with him, we talked a great deal about preparing for my final transfer in the mission. He gave me a lot to think upon and to study, and I have tried diligently to follow his counsel daily. He mentioned in a zone conference once, the story of a man who was NOT called to be the ward's next bishop. "But President," he humbly appealed to his stake leader, "I received a personal witness that I was to be called as bishop. How do I make sense of all of this?" As it turns out, he was eventually called as bishop, just later on than he had imagined. His initial impressions were not the whisperings of an immediate future, but a basis of preparation for the day when he would be called to preside over a ward. I remember feeling this way when, after such strong feelings about serving a mission, I received a very strong NO answer at the age of 20. I was in no way surprised when the thoughts and impressions (dreams, even) I've long had about one aspect of my missionary service came true, and my change call included the assignment to be a trainer for a new sisar entering the country this week. I've spent a lot of time studying, praying, fasting, and conversing with tovereni (who trained twice) about how I can be the best possible senior companion to whoever it is I'll be spending my last 2 months in Finland with. Although I know that there is no way to fully anticipate everything that will arise from most of life's transitions (moving to college, serving a mission, starting a family, all fall into this category), I do feel prepared (in addition to feeling very humbled). We've put together to the best of our ability a well-structured schedule for the next week. I've listed out the kind of trainer I'd like to be, and how I can become that missionary. When Wednesday comes around and I am paired up with the person the Lord wants for my companion, I will feel ready to keep the work going forward in the Haaga ward.
Sisar Schellenberg has done an admirable job of preparing to go home. Despite packing bags (in record speed, I might add), writing down addresses not to be forgotten, making goals for post-mission life, her mind has been in the present. She's been an indispensable aid as we've plotted out schedules, found members for lessons, prepared the apartment, and even made little flashcards to help New Sisar get to know the area and its inhabitants. She does not want to spend her last days in the field coasting, or wiling away the time in idleness. She is finishing strong, and I am inspired by her great example. If my last transfer is as dedicated and consecrated as hers has been, my departure from Finland will be bittersweet, but with an emphasis on the sweet.
As for the Christmas portion of Christmas week, we had fun getting to know members, eating traditional Finnish Christmas food (ham, vegetable purees, chocolate, etc) and of course, skyping. It always goes by so fast, those 40 minutes, although knowing that I will see my family in person in just 10 more weeks made it a bit easier than past sype sessions. We were blessed to be invited by a less-active member who had prepared skype on her previously skype-less computer, just for the occasion. She was prepared with an offering of fruit for us to take home, to counter the piles of sweets she knew we'd surely already scarfed down. How thoughtful! How well-prepared!
The weekend saw the end of our "red" days, and some opportunities for meaningful missionary service. Margaret came with us to a baptismal service in nearby Kerava, and had a good time at her first kastetilaisuus, and an ejoyable time in sacrament meeting the next day. Our newest Friend, Lance, came to church as well, and despite having a dump truck load's worth of new information put upon his head, he seemed to have a good time, and we are really excited to spend more time teaching him about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and their plan for us. The work her had slowed down a bit for a small period, and now it seems to be picking back up. We have a lot of potential here, in this most wonderful of areas. I'm blessed to spend my last transfer in Haaga. My poor new toveri will be spoiled from the get-go.
A big part of preparation, I have learned, is accountability. Accountability gives us a push forward, and keeps us on the right path towards our goals. I would invite you all to consider your personal or family missionary vision for 2015. Write it down. Put it in a place where it will be easily seen and remembered. Turn to the person on your left, and tell them your goals for inviting to church/giving away copies of the Book of Mormon/introducing people to the missionaries/whatever you choose to do. Now somebody else knows, and you are officially held accountable. Reading Preach My Gospel is a great place to start. Chapter 3, all about the missionary lessons, and chapter 6 on Christ-like attributes, are personal favorites of mine for member-missionaries. Tell me how it goes! I sincerely want to know! This life is a time to prepare to meet God. It is a time to help others prepare, who simply do not know how. The gospel of Christ gives us the tools. All we need to do is apply them. Make like a boy scout, and be prepared!