Monday, September 1, 2014

Shotgun Sisar

Some missionaries seem to have a pattern established in their mission. Some missionaries are involved in leadership from early on until the end of their service. Some missionaries train early and often. Some missionaries stay in one area for long stretches of time. I am shotgun sisar.

In Finland Helsinki missionary terms, "to shotgun" is a verb meaning to transfer to a new area with a companion who is also new to the area, aka, you are both clueless and have to just jump in and go from there. When I left my first area, Oulu, my companion also left at the same time. Coming to Lappeenranta, Sisar Heggie and I replaced the elders previously serving here. Tomorrow, Sisar Schellenberg and I will "shotgun" the Huttiniemi area of Marjaniemi, part of Helsinki. It's a position I'm excited to be in, as shotgunning is an excellent way to get to know a new area quickly and efficiently, and there will be no pre-existing area prejudices or opinions to get in our way, as often happens when one missionary stays, intentional or not. Sisar N served in the other Marjaniemi area for a full YEAR before transferring out to Lappeenranta, and she's been telling me all transfer, that she thinks I might serve there some day. It'll be an interesting switch from a small, isolated, one-companionship town to a suburb of the largest city in the country, in the same ward as who-knows-how many other missionaries, including the assistants to the president. I also know next-to-nothing about my new companion, except that she came in the group before me, so there will be a lot of new things in a short period of time. Good. I like to change things up and refresh the energy. I also like to learn from different people in different places. When we tell investigators and other friends about transfers, and answer the questions, "But why are you leaving? Why did so-and-so-missionary leave? Why sisters when there used to be those two boys?" etc, it often seems strange and a bit confusing, but I love transfers. It shows me that God is in control, and that He knows where we need to be, with whom, and when. It helps old areas receive new perspective, and it even brings new life to some areas that are struggling for breath. I've gotten so efficient at packing, that I did 90% of my packing within an hour or so, and except for a few small items, I'm ready to get going tomorrow afternoon.

We've seen some good things in my soon-to-be-former area this week. We've gotten in touch with some potential investigators who have been elusive as of late. We've run into some old familiar faces, and had some good chats with recently-returning students. We have one investigator who absolutely LOVES our banana chocolate chunk cookies. Last night we invited him to our church building, and had flour, eggs, bananas, chocolate, and all of the ingredients for cookies ready to go, and we made cookies together, giving a church tour as they baked in the oven. It was his first time in a church. Ever. In his life. His religious background is quite a bit different than ours, so he has a lot of good questions, and brings a new perspective to our meetings. I've enjoyed all of our meetings together, and it was good to have a fun time with him and show him how we worship the Lord and learn together through church. The cookies were delicious, and the atmosphere was easy-going and open. Not exactly knocking on doors. I like this kind of missionary work.

We also had a wonderful lesson with a part-member family in our ward. The husband of this family has been learning about the church for a long time, and his wife has told us on many occasions that he knows this is true and wants to be baptized. We're not sure what holds him back, but we enjoy visiting and sharing our thoughts with him. We can be especially bold with him. Last time, I straight-up asked, "What can we do to help you prepare to be baptized?" This time we felt impressed to talk about the Plan of Salvation, and it segued into a very emotional and powerful discussion about temples. We got the okay for missionaries to come visit once per week (they live a bit far away), and he is finally our official investigator!

In other transfer news, my thrift store watch gave up the ghost a little while back, and I've felt unnaturally unprotected as I walk the streets of Lappeenranta without knowing what time it is from a glance at my wrist. I've been wondering to myself how I want to solve this problem- Do I risk another thrift store purchase, or buy a durable-but-expensive replacement? As a joke during one district meeting, I asked if anybody knew who might have a spare watch lying around, and my district leader said, "Oh! I have one you can use! But it's in Oulu. I gave it to another sisar to use when we were serving in Kuopio, and she left it in Oulu during exchanges there. If you can get it, you can use it." Promising, although a bit complicated. Well, with the upcoming changes this week, I found out that Sisar Knapp from my MTC group, currently in Oulu, is coming down to the other Marjaniemi sisaret area, and can bring the watch (thankfully still sitting around) for me to use! Blessings! Although I look forward to the day when I'll be a "for realsies" adult and have my own things and not feel like I'm living from short-term to short-term, mission life and all of its switching around places, clothes, companions, etc is kind of fun. My wardrobe now consists of a mixture of home-brought, former-companion-discarded, and kirpis-purchased items, and every transfer we get an email announcing that a departing missionary has left behind a bike if anyone wants it. I'm wearing Sisar Heggie's old shirt at the very moment, as I type this email!

Well, that's the news for this week. There will obviously be a bit more next week, after I've spent a few days in my new area. Best wishes from Finland for health and happiness!


Sisar Hansen


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