Monday, January 27, 2014

An Acquired Taste

In Finland, they like food very much in the ways that I don't- They like their licorice black, their bread rye, their soup fishy, and their milk warm in the cupboard. I'm trying to develop a taste for a lot of the things here that I don't particularly like (except for the milk- I learned in France, where they drink the same kind of milk, that there's no getting past that one.) I can now easily chew and swallow mild licorice without wincing, and I know that when members give me dry rye bread, there's always butter, cheese, and meat to go with it. I had fish soup a couple of weeks ago without much trouble, which was a major victory for somebody who grew up in NW Washington and STILL never came to like the stuff. I'm trying to become more and more Finnish, as much as some of the mannerisms and foods are not what I'm used to.

There's a lot to get used to on the mission, but it's coming along. Yesterday in church, a 17-year old boy touched me on the shoulder to indicate he wanted to walk past, and the thought, "AHHHH! DON'T TOUCH ME!!" came immediately to my mind. For somebody as huggy as myself, I'd say that's a major shift. Riding a bike is easy as a piece of piirakka nowadays, and I actually look forward to it sometimes. That being said, with the colder weather, we've decided to make more use of the local public transportation, so the obscurity of the Oulu bus system is still a bit new to me. The time table is unlike any other bus schedule I've seen in the USA or Europe, so I'm going to have to be very observant as we ride, so as to get to know places and routes better.

We had a very productive week, although very trying in some ways. I know I've gotten better at letting the Atonement work through me, when I face some of the same re-curring disappointments, and I can go back to a peaceful frame of mind in a shorter amount of time. I can only hope that some of these trials I've been facing will improve over the course of my service here, but if they do, I feel much more equipped to handle them.

We continue to work with some less-active sisters, although since one of them keeps coming to church and YSA home evening, I'm not so sure we can even call her less-active anymore! So much of this work is helping less-active members and new converts either remember their covenants, or understand them better. We get some really great comments from one recent convert in particular during Gospel Principles class. I sometimes wonder where he's going at first with his questions or comments, but then he always manages to make an incredibly simple, but profound statement that is always impressive to me.

I've been a bit obsessed lately with the thought of simplicity. In Mosiah, it mentions several times teaching only faith and repentance. Obviously, there are other important things, like obediance, God's Plan of Salvation, temples, etc. but everything goes back to those two principles. I'm trying to simplify a lot of what I do, especially in my teaching. Does what I'm teaching help the investigator/member increase their faith, or have more desire to repent? No? Then it doesn't belong in the lesson, no matter how well it directly answers their question, or no matter how interesting it is. Because really, everything can be answered with faith in Christ, and with the desire to repent, so a lot of nit-picky concerns and interesting tidbits don't really matter that much. As a result, I feel like I'm a more powerful teacher, and I feel more peace in my daily life as I try to simplify an already simplified lifestyle.

I have two challenges to my readers this week- One is to find ways to simplify your life for the better, and the other is to find something that's good for you, but something that you may not particularly like, and find a way to make it an acquired taste. Those are two skills I've learned on my mission so far, and about which I still have much to learn, that I know can be a blessing to me throughout the rest of my life. It's amazing to see the ways Heavenly Father is molding and shaping me through my time here, and I look forward to continual growth as I do what I can to serve others.


Sisar Hansen

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