This week was long, and a little bit odd. We had a zone meeting in Oulu, so missionaries from all over the north of Finland came, which means we got the sisaret from Kuopio at our apartment for the night on Tuesday. Turns out, one of them is a bit of a sleep talker, and her cries of, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm so confused!" woke me up in the middle of the night, although it was so funny, I couldn't be upset. I hope she got the answers she was looking for, and is no longer confused. Since all of the zone's sisaret were already in Oulu, Sisar Francis took the opportunity to do an exchange with the Vaasa sisaret. The complicated story begins now: Sisar Vath was feeling quite sick, so she couldn't go out to teach our scheduled lesson with Nancy. So we had to do an exchange-exchange, where Sisar Francis and her Vaasa companion came over, Sisar Francis stayed and took care of Sisar Vath, and Sisar Foster from Vaasa and I went out to go to some appointments together. This is actually the third time this has happened since I've been here, twice with the Vaasa sisaret, and once with Kuopio (that time it was my turn to be sick). Poor Sisar Francis- she just wants to do her job and do exchanges with the other sisaret, and our feeble bodies are getting in her way! Ah, well, it's always good to take some time to teach with, and learn from other missionaries. (And Sisar Vath is now doing much better!)
Last week was the UN's Religious Harmony Week! There was a gathering at a local coffee shop on Friday night, and representatives from the local churches were all invited to come and share a bit about ourselves and how we view religious harmony. All of the Oulu missionaries were there, and when we arrived, almost half of the room was full of Mormons! Way to represent, Oulun seurakunta! The missionaries all sang, "I Am a Child of God" in all the various languages we speak. I was excited to use French again. I always am. Anyway, there was a time set aside at the end for us all to go find somebody we didn't already know, and talk to them for a bit about themselves and their beliefs. As luck would have it, I sat down next to a person whose first question to me was, "Why do you not believe that *his religion* is true?", followed by some other difficult questions, obviously aimed to make me feel ashamed of my misinterpretation of scriptures. (His religious leader was obviously embarrassed, but couldn't do much.) The elders got up and left after a couple minutes, and so I was stuck there with the one argumentative person at a religious harmony gathering, trying to figure out any polite way to either respond or move to another part of the room. Too bad we missionaries didn't have some sort of safety word! To quote Elder Horseley, "That WOULD happen to you!" HA! Sisar Vath, of course, managed to find the one non-affiliated person in the room, and put him down as a solid potential investigator. Hooray for the work moving forward!
In "Preach My Gospel" there's a chapter all about Christlike attributes. I've taken the approach of picking one attribute and studying it out a little bit in each daily personal study hour. I chose humility, because it applies to everything else that we do. I'm learning to see that humility is very, very powerful. When we learn to rely on the Lord and accept that we need His help, we are given power to do anything that He asks of us to do. When we're humble, we don't argue, compare ourselves to others, or see ourselves as ineffective, rather, we align our will with the will of the Father, and receive the means to use our strengths to do His work, and even to cover up our weaknesses when we need extra help. Pretty powerful stuff.
My challenge this week is to think about which attribute you want to develop more, and to think and ponder and study for a bit about how you can make it a bigger part of your life. I testify that we do have the power to change and become better people as we put forth the effort to do so.