Monday, January 13, 2014

A Trainee No More! [plus photos]

This week was a bit uncertain for Sisaret Hansen ja Vath. We've had a really hard time booking solid appointments with investigators, so although we did our weekly planning, there have still been a lot of variables to work with, and a lot of this week was us going head-first into the unknown. I mentioned last week that we've decided to stop visiting one of our investigators who lives out in the elders' area, which has given us a lot more time to run around our own area. I'm getting to know streets and neighborhoods better every day, and Sisar Vath refuses to lead when we ride, unless it's to someplace we both know very well, like the church, or the grocery store. This means we've done a lot more stopping to look at maps so I can get oriented, and then sometimes stopping again 5 minutes later to re-check the map, but we're working towards the goal of getting me ready to possibly train in February, when our next transfer period begins. (Note: I have no idea what will happen next transfer, of course, but one of the sisters from the MTC group before me is training this transfer, so it's a possibility! And I figure that if I can get myself organized and practice my skills enough to be a senior companion, and I don't end up training, then so much the better for us, right?) She also encourages me to handle most of our texts and phone calls, and I'm doing my best to not lean on her (which is so easy, dernit!) and explain words I don't know using other words and/or gestures. I'm growing a lot. It's not as scary as I thought it might be, especially since I know I have a companion to back me up when I need it. Anyhoo, since I have now been in the country for TWELVE WEEKS, I am hereby no longer in training! And so now Sisar Vath, who USED to be my trainer, is now just another normal missionary, and I'm her normal companion! :)

Last P-Day we spent some time at the church with the other sisters- eating, emailing, writing letters, and watching church DVDs. One the way out, we stopped to talk to a woman on the street. Turns out, she wasn't interested, but when we asked her for a referral, she mentioned that her neighbor is a Mormon. It's the same less-active woman who we've tried many times in the past, and who always tells us that she'll call if she wants us to come. She's the one we "heart attacked", and she came out and caught us in the act! We'd decided to leave her alone for a bit, but this was a sign for us to head out in her direction and try one more time. We brought her a treat, told her that we miss her, and miracle of miracles- she let us inside!! We sat and chatted for a while about nothing in particular, but WE GOT INSIDE!!! She looked happier than I've ever seen her, which was another big "hooray". She even invited us back to help her clean her living room later that week. We returned, helped her clean and rearrange some furniture, and played with her cat, Oscar. Oscar, like many other cats, likes to poke his claws where they don't belong. On our first visit, he took one look at Sisar Vath's pretty wool socks, and decided they looked very scratch-able. After several cries of, "Oscar, ow!" (We still laugh about that sometimes) he finally let her go and went on his way. On our return visit, he decided he liked my brand new boots quite a bit and made himself a bed inside one of them. Thankfully, Sisar Vath's foot is doing just fine, and so are my boots, but next time we visit (yes, we have another return appointment!) we'll put our shoes in the bathroom so he can't get to them.

Even though we had a lot of blank space in our schedules, we've always had something to do, and somebody to see. That's the beauty of the Area Book. We can always go back to it and get ideas about who we might visit, and what service we might do for them. We made some pretty fantastic banana chocolate chunk cookies, which have helped us get into a couple doors. We're hoping to bring some tonight to a potential investigator who's been sick. We have two new investigators as a result of our Area Book searches, which is a great blessing for us in an area where finding has been difficult. We were able to do service several times last week, in a country where people are often too self-reliant to want to ask for much from other people. We've met with a lot of members and less-active members to help them become better missionaries themselves. We're working with one woman to set up a lunch with some friends where we can also come and talk about the gospel together. We did a roleplay with her about how she can invite her friends in a loving and non-threatening way to come meet us. We did another roleplay with another sister who was nervous to give a copy of Mormonin Kirja to a friend. Even though we're not always sure where to go, the Lord provides for us to do His work every day. We have a similar situation this week, although with a few more solid appointments than before, so hopefully we can see similar miracles.

Last week we were turning a corner that we go around very often, as it's on the way to the church, the city center, and many member homes, and we saw a teenaged girl lying on the ground, crying. Her mother, sister, and brother seemed very angry and annoyed, and the looked angry that we would ask them if they needed any help. It was a bit of a haunting experience for Sisar Vath and myself, because we had no idea what was going on, although we knew that something very wrong had definitely happened. We both admitted that it was now a bit hard for us to get to that corner withouth thinking of the girl. So the other day when we were about to reach that point, I just started belting out the Halleluja Chorus for a few measures. I wish I had a picture of Sisar Vath's face she made at me! Much like the afore-mentioned less-active sister's face when she caught us putting hearts on her door. But now we have a different memory of that corner, and Sisar Vath even started humming Halleluja one time as we passed by. I think this experience sums up a lot about missionary work. There are bad things that happen out here in the field. We see some ugly things, and go through some tough emotions. But if we can replace the bad memories of a place or person or experience with a new, uplifting memory, then we can keep going like before.

I can't imagine my life without the blessings of this gospel. It is the greatest gift I've ever received. I'm thankful that, despite trials, I have been called to represent the Lord in beautiful, frozen Finland.


At the mission home in December, 2013
The river is frozen!
Sisar Francis surprising me with a hug

Practicing our number for "Korihor, the Man, the Musical"  (just kidding)

The view from our apartment

A beautiful Oulu sunrise

What I unintentionally did to mission property

Hooray!  A new phone thanks to generous members

Sisar Hansen

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