So, two sisar missionaries walk into a bar (bu-dun-dun-ch!).....Okay, I'll explain. At the end of a rather unusual week that included two school presentations, exchanges in Jyväskylä, and cranky responses from some less-active members, Saturday came with no confirmed appointments, despite our efforts to schedule in some time with our investigators. Well, we realized that this gave us some time to go check out a less-active member who lives quite a far distance out, who the bishop has asked us to find. Nobody really knows anything about her, so we put a plate of cookies together and headed out. The thing about missionary work in Lahti is, it's a very spread-out region. A lot of our church members, and even investigators, live a bus or train ride away. Such is the case with the nearby town of Hollola. We got on the bus with our bikes (it's no extra charge in Lahti- how cool is that??) because this woman lives so far out in the country, there's no way to get close with just the bus. We got off at the most advantageous stop, and started pedaling. By Sisar Dayton's estimation, we went about 10km before we reached the farm house we were looking for. (This was all the day before fast Sunday, so we had no snacks handy, but I was getting really tired and a bit cranky from lack of sustinance, so Sisar Dayton made me sacrifice our extra plate of cookies for the good of my body and my mood.) The woman wasn't home, and her husband said that they're not interested, but at least we followed counsel from our leaders and got some more information about the situation. As we rode back out the driveway, my companion noted that it would actually be a shorter ride to Herrala, where we could take the train back home (yes, it was that far out that it would be closer to go to a commutable-by-train destination than straight back the way we came!) So off we went to Herrala, which turned out to be roughly another 7km of difficult, muddy roads and nobody to talk to. But hey- the scenery was beautiful, as it always is here in Suomi, and the weather was just cool enough for optimum comfort.
|"Two missionaries walk into a bar...."|
|Glad to arrive in Herrala, finally!|
And that is just the first part of this rather unusual tale! We arrived in Herrala, only to realize that we were low on cash, and our American debit cards wouldn't work on the train. So we called a local member to ask where to find the nearest ATM. Unfortunately, she told us that there is none (Not too surprising, considering that Herrala is hardly even a town at all), but fortunately and selflessly, she came to our rescue and brought us 10 euros so that when the train came (almost an hour later- we missed the first one!) we could get home alright. We both needed something to eat, so we found the only place within convenient distance, which would of course be, a karaoke bar!! Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we went inside and asked about their food. The first response- We don't serve food here, but there's a little convenience shop attached to the side of the building that we could check out. Turns out, convenience means chocolate, soda, and chips, which was not quite what we had in mind. Then the lady at the bar told us she could warm up some spinach pie for us, which sounded perfect, so we sat down at a table to eat. (for the record, it was delicious.) While we ate, one of the men sitting around at the bar handed us a karaoke song list and challenged us to sing something. He then got up and sang some 1980s Finnish pop song, while we stared at the list, wondering what would be the best response. He went out and took a smoke break, which left us off the hook for a bit. UNTIL, that is, we went to pay for our pie, and the lady informed us that this bar, like the train station, would not accept our American debit cards, and we'd have to pay 5 euros in cash. So, math time. 2 train tickets at 2.60 euros each, equals 5.20 euros. 10 euros minus 5 euros for pie, means we are in 20 cents of trouble. Luckily, the entirety of the contents of my wallet came to 20 cents, and we miraculously had enough to pay for our food and buy train tickets back to Lahti. PHEW! UNFORTUNATELY, we didn't take our bikes into account, as they are not free on the trains. In the end, though, the ticket man on the train was very merciful when he saw how frazzled and tired we were, and let us pay with our exact change for two regular tickets, just this once. We got back to Lahti and raced on over to our meeting with a less-active friend, hours after our big adventure had begun. (Suffice it to say, it was one of the sleepiest fast Sundays I've ever had, the next day.)
|Eating salted black licorice on the train back to Lahti|
We're also getting excited for Conference this weekend- I can never believe that it's actually that time again when it comes around, but I have developed a strong love for General Conference, and I know that there will be something there that's meant just for me, and for each of our investigators. We're praying that we can get all of our friends to come watch with us, and share some of our stock of conference candy. It's an odd feeling as well because last conference time, I was in the MTC, as in I've been a missionary long enough to see TWO conferences now! It's crazy how time flies past! I remember the time when I had no idea what Finnish even sounded like, and now I use it and understand it every day, as I serve in a town I didn't know existed just months ago. Life is pretty amazing, isn't it?
I challenge all of you, of course, to check out General Conference and to see what you can gain from counsel given to us by a modern-day prophet. It's proof to me every time that God is a loving Heavenly Father, and that He knows and loves His children perfectly. I will of course report on my highlights in next week's post. I hope you're all as excited as I am for Conference weekend!!
Be good, carry some extra cash, and be thankful for little miracles!