Sunday, November 2, 2014


How did missionaries do work before cell phones? We're living in a time of, "Text me later to make sure I'm free at that time" and "Which phone calls do we need to make on the go, so that we don't have to resort to knocking doors?" and it's nearly impossible to plan without a phone handy. You may be wondering why I address the topic of phones/the lack thereof at this time. I'll just say it- Sisar Schellenberg and I lost our phone this week. We had some business at the chapel, and then we headed off to do some service for a member in our ward. She lives in a locked building, and we usually just call, and she'll come out to get us. As we searched our pockets, we realized that this would be impossible, as the phone was not with us at all! Luckily, we were able to knock on her living room window, but that relieved only a small portion of our distress. After our appointments, we made time to dash over to the church and search ever nook, cranny, and pew for the lost puhelin. Nowhere. It was absolutely nowhere to be found. Voi, että, we had a problem on our hands! The other sisters just happened to show up to prepare for a lesson, and we were confident that, after calling our phone with theirs, we'd hear the ring and know where to go. To our dismay, Sisar Knapp had grim news for us. "Your phone is off. It went straight to voicemail." OFF??!! We NEVER turn our phone off!! 

Sometimes in life, we must come face-to-face with dreaded realities. Some are major, some are relatively minor, as was our situation. Nonetheless, it is not a pleasant experience. We were thankful that the next day's plans were all ready and set in stone, and that we'd made a few necessary calls that morning during our planning. We gave it a few minutes of careful thought, and then decided on the best course of action for the time being, not knowing when we'd be once again in the communication loop. The I had an appointment in central Helsinki for later that week, and it was the perfect opportunity to stop by the lost-and-found office on the way. That was at least convenient. We'd have to keep our lessons fairly short to make it out before the office closed, but Sisar Schellenberg's excellent organizational skills would serve us well there. (The office didn't have our phone, by the way, but we did talk to a really nice American student while there, so bonus!) One of our appointments for the next day required us to once again enter a locked building, and we weren't sure how that one would work, other than just arriving at the door, and praying really hard. Well what do you know, it worked! Our friend figured that maybe we weren't coming after a few minutes of silence from our end, and came outside to run an errand. We went with her, and taught her a fine lesson about the Book of Mormon! In the midst of triumphal feelings over our good door fortune, it hit us that my appointment in the Helsinki center would prevent us from meeting with a member, who we had actually run into earlier in the day! We forgot to bring it up! Good thing we had no absolutely set plans for the evening- We ended up hiking out to her house, as the buses were taking their sweet time. We arrived just as she got home with her boys from the store, and we were able to inform her that we'd need to change the time of our next appointment. She was a bit amazed that we would take the trouble to come all the way out just to tell her in person, but a sisar's gotta do what a sisar's gotta do. Even with no phone we were able to make things work out a lot better than we would have anticipated. It was an experience that stretched us, and made us rely more on the Lord. A blessing, but also an experience I'll try not to repeat.

Another concern was that, as you know if you've followed my posts, change calls were imminent. We spent the day on Friday wondering how the next day would unfold. How would we get our call from President Watson? Would we have to go to a member's house? Would we have to receive ours as a tag-on to another companionship's call? Luckily, the office elders were able to set up a time for us to go get a new phone with a temporary phone number, so that we could receive our change news as scheduled. We'd also be able to take the oral portion of the language test, which we'd missed in our phone's absence. HUGE relief, I must say.

The next day was change calls day, as well as a baptism for the friend of the Porvoo area elders. We were relieved to have a phone in our pocket as we walked into the church. As we did last-minute work cutting vegetables for the post-service refreshments, our bishop poked his head through the door. "Excuse me, did you sisters lose this?" he asked, waving OUR OLD PHONE in his hand. "Somebody found it in the chapel and put in it my desk in my office." We were stunned. WE JUST BOUGHT A NEW PHONE!! Rejoicing over the relief of less office debt, and perplexed as to how we could have possibly missed it through our thorough search of the building a few days earlier, we called the office and walked into the baptism with lighter hearts and gratitude for our blessings.

The baptism was wonderful, of course. The newest member of the ward was emotional over his new life milestone, and it was a joy to be there with him, even though he was a bit surprised that there would actually be other people WATCHING his immersion under the water in the baptismal font. Afterwards we went into the gym to eat some snacks, congratulate the man of the hour, and chat with members and friends. Distracted by a glass of delicious juice, and unfamiliar with dulcet tones of our still-in-use temporary phone in my own pocket, I was the last person to realize that we were receiving a call. "Uh, Sisar! The phone!" "Ahhh!! You're right!" With no numbers saved, we could only guess at the identity of the voice on the other end, but ours was a very educated guess, considering the date and time. "Hello Sisters, this is President Watson speaking." The change call had come. (Dun-dun-duuuuun!) Sisar Schellenberg and I had discussed briefly our predictions for how this one would go. She had a strong feeling that we might stay together for another transfer. I thought it was fairly likely, but ever since my arrival in Helsinki, I'd felt that my stay in this ward would be very short. President Watson's next words confirmed one of our predictions, "We're going to keep you two together." 10 points for Sisar Schellenberg, and a gazillion bonus points for me, for getting to stay with her another transfer. "But" he continued, "We're going to move you both to Haaga." 10 points for me, too! That makes a gazillion-and-ten, which is fairly impressive. In a bit of a rare move (literally), we are both transferring together! We'll still be in Helsinki, but in a different ward and a different district. Our area is being commandeered by an elder and his trainee, and I am once again involved in a everyone-is-new-here transfer situation, which I love. I was wondering if I'd have another chance to do this on my mission, since I'm down to just 2 more transfers, and onneksi olkoon to me, because this is where I feel that I thrive. Keeping us together to do exactly what we just did either means that we've done well over the past two months, or that we have a lot to learn and need to try again!

We've been frantically making calls (because we can do that now), making visits, informing the masses, and preparing detailed notes and lists for the two new missionaries who will soon inhabit our living space. Planning for elders can actually be quite a departure from planning for sisters. No more women members on our planned visits with women. Also, more possibilities for members when meeting with men. We tried contacting some less-active men in our area to fill out the elders' schedule for the next few days. Neither my companion nor I are overly fond of calling people, and after many experiences with irritated or even angry less-actives and former investigators, I sometimes need to prep myself a bit for making those calls. Like I said earlier, we sometimes must face uncomfortable tasks, and as it was my phone day, I punched in the first man's number. We had a nice chat, and arranged for the elders to call back when they've arrived. Piece of cake. Our next phone call was not so pleasant. Have you ever talked to somebody so angry, that you couldn't so much as eke out a complete sentence? I recently have. I couldn't help myself, and I ended up crying. I've made a lot of such calls on my mission, and I've never responded so strongly before, but I was filled with so much sorrow for this man's anger, and hopelessness that I could not say anything to make it better. I wondered why this keeps happening, and why there is so much bitterness in the world. It gave tovereni and I a good opportunity to talk about duty, and how sometimes those tough phone calls simply need to be made. It's not our job to do only those things that are pleasant, but also those things that bring temporary sorrow or discomfort. As long as we're making the calls, we're doing our part, no matter the response on the other end. A valuable experience, after all.

Yesterday was our last Sunday in the ward. This is my second time leaving an area after just 2 months, and Sisar Schellenberg's first. She was in her last area for 8 months, so it's a bit of a shift, but I know we'll be just fine, because we've been in the exact same boat before and done just swimmingly. (Not sorry about such an awful pun, otherwise I wouldn't have included it.) All this transfer we've tried hard and put ourselves out there, but have had limited success in terms of finding people in our area to teach, and helping them come to church meetings. We were thrilled when our friend Ben showed up on time at our meeting place (or rather, he waited for us quite a while, forgetting that the clocks had just turned back an hour!) We walked to church together, and got to know him and his concerns more. He's just moved to a new apartment that can accommodate his fresh-from-Morocco family. He's stressed about finding enough furnishings and taking care of his children and wife who don't speak Finnish. His face lit up when we told him that the boys that would soon arrive could help him around the house if he'd like. "I have so much to do at my house! Can they get in contact with me?" Of course! He met the bishop, got a peek at the baptismal font, and although he could only stay through the sacrament, as we escorted him to the door, he said that church was really fantastic, and that he should bring his family sometime. He also asked us to give his phone number to a member in our ward who speaks Arabic, Ben's native language, as well as his family's language. An excellent closing to our service here in Herttoniemi. A sign that we've really tried, and have done well. Luckily, Heavenly Father doesn't rely on phones to communicate His love and appreciation for us.

Next week will of course bring a host of new adventures. New place, new faces, new ward, although same city. I have no idea what to expect, which is part of what will make it fun. I'm thankful for revelation from Heavenly Father, which guides us to those places where we most need to be, and at which points in our life. I know that every time we get that long-anticipated phone call from our mission president, that he acts as the channel through which we receive God's will for us.

Until next week.


Sisar Hansen

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