Thursday, January 29, 2015

Note from Karlan's mom

No blog post this week, but here are a couple of excerpts from the email Karlan sent me:

Finland has warmed up a bit lately- snow on the sides of the roads, but not much on the actual roads or sidewalks. Hopefully this means I don't fall on my face this week (because it TOTALLY happened again last week!) I'm not as much of a winter enthusiast as the average Finn, so I'm just fine to see some color on the streets. 

In Preach My Gospel this week I've studied a lot about keeping commitments. We've noticed that when an investigator comes to church, it's like a catalyst for keeping other commitments. We had a kid from our school presentation come to church on his own this week. He didn't want a Mormonin Kirja, [Book of Mormon] but he took our card, and had some good questions. Miracle. I've never had that happen before.

Five more weeks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ANTI-Trunky Letter

A letter for Sisar Hansen falls into the mail slot with a slight "thunk". The return address is the mission office address. Another trunky letter? Upon opening the letter and scanning its contents, I discover that it is, in fact, an ANTI-trunky letter from President Watson. Dear readers, I have 6 weeks left in Finland. That's right. SIX WEEKS. The time is flying by, and will only get shorter. I was really thankful for this letter, reminding me to "sprint to the end" and be the best missionary I can be while I can. Being a trainer helps with this quite a lot. I have to be on top of things for the sake of my companion. She needs to start out her mission as strong as possible, and I can have a big effect on that. She actually pushes me to be better, with tovereni, I have a bit of a built-in anti-trunkiness system.

As I reviewed the letter, I noticed an invitation to re-read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon during my last transfer, or rather, my last transfer, minus the almost 3 weeks before I received the letter. Hoo, boy! Challenge accepted! I've been blazing through, reading almost 20 pages/day in addition to any other needed studies, and it's been amazing how much I can get from it at such a pace. I'm highlighting, writing in the margins, and discovering insights for investigators. I'm about halfway through 2nd Nephi after about 4 or 5 days of reading, and getting more out of Isaiah than I ever have before! There are so many things I'd like to do before I go home. I know that I can't do everything. I pray that, instead of this adding to my stress, that the Lord will help me to prioritize and to not mourn over the things I may have to give up, but to find enjoyment and peace in the things He asks of me to do, those things that are best. It's refreshing to get rid of baggage, don't you think? The ridding of baggage of too many projects and time-drainers sure does feel invigorating. (As does reading the Book of Mormon!)

Friday night we arrived at our weekly coordination meeting after a few hours of some odd contacting adventures (former investigator giving us a book about the Shroud of Turin, anyone?) to hear that, "Oh, yeah, there's a school presentation on Monday morning. Who wants to do it?" Ooh! I LOVE school presentations! The sisaret will do it! Sisaret! Not even thinking of how poor tovereni might feel about it, I quickly volunteered. It's settled. School presentation Monday morning. No members involved at this point, and not even sure if we had a copy of the materials in our apartment, we tried not to think too much about how big this task might actually be. There's a lot of material to cover, and even I don't know all the vocabulary involved. Instead of losing her cool, Sisar M made a study plan to help us prepare for our latest assignment, and we went from, "How is this even possible?" to "At least we'll have a member there with us!" Well, when our member cancelled early Monday morning, all we could do was laugh. We really didn't mean to wake anyone up, but at least the YSA we called out of desperation had a good sense of humor about it (and hopefully they liked our apologetic cookies later that day). With everyone at work or in class, we had nothing to do, but just go out and do it ourselves. We arrived in the class of about 10 high school students, set up the PowerPoint, and the words just came. Tovereni blew the class away with her 12 weeks' worth of Finnish. She commented, shared personal stories, and answered a few questions, all in Finnish! The teacher and the class insisted that English would be fine, but Sisar Mendenhall was not called to speak English. She was called to boldly declare the gospel in Finnish, and that is what she did. We got some tough questions, of course, not all of them well-intentioned, but we were always able to conjure up just the right words to give an appropriate response to any concern. A MAJOR success, one that I hope will be a confidence-boost for tovereni. Quite an accomplishment for any missionary on just her 3rd week in the field. I was in my 3rd TRANSFER when I did my first school presentation, and it was daunting enough. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, my companion in miraculous.

Other adventures from the week include:
-Wiping out on the snow as I ran for the bus to church. Good thing everybody was watching...
-Getting caught in the snow in inadequate footwear (It had been MUCH warmer that morning!)
-Cutting out snowflakes as baby shower decorations as a mini service project
-More fun times teaching and learning with Lance
-Contacting BINGO, our latest attempt to help us be better at contacting on the street/bus (We look for people to contact who match the attributes on our squares. Bonus points if we can actually get in a lesson. It's been miraculous so far!) 
-Waiting outside an investigator's building for 15 minutes in the cold (and wearing afore-mentioned inadequate footwear) until somebody came out of the building, and we were able to drop a cookie/letter combo in her mail slot
-And many more anti-trunky antics!

Dear reader, life is grand. Let us, like Nephi, "live after the manner of happiness" and avoid the angst of trunkiness. Life is literally a gift from our Heavenly Father. May we treat it as such.


Sisar Hansen

New Beginnings

January 7, 2015

This is the first blog post of my final transfer in the Finland Helsinki Mission. Surreal, huh? Half of my previous companions all left the country last week, and the mission has undergone yet another transfers change-up. There were a lot of comings and goings last Tuesday/Wednesday. Tuesday night we had to get all of Sisar Schellenberg's luggage to the Central Railway Station in Helsinki center to load onto a big truck headed to the mission home. There we met with other departing missionaries, including Sisar Heggie (who joked once again that since we keep running into each other, we'll never actually say goodbye) and Sisar Dayton (a more-than-welcome surprise). We took a couple of them home with us, as well as another future-trainer sisar and her luggage (she's training AND transferring, brave soul!) to spend the night before the next day's departure/training meetings.

It was fun to see the new missionaries. They are so full of light and hope. They want to serve with all of their gusto. After our trainers-only meeting we all had lunch together at the mission home, and got to know each other a bit around the table. I can only guess that most people were listening closely so as to make predictions as to who our new toveri would be. I sat by a bubbly girl from Utah, and an army kid who identifies as growing up in Belgium. There was another sisar who's 23. Maybe she would be a good fit for me. 6 new sisters in total who could possibly be my final toveri in the field. We weren't to find out until after another combined meeting where we went over some policies, including how to cope with the extra hour of companionship study that missionaries and their trainers have during their first 12 weeks in the field. When we were finally paired up, I was put with the army kid, Sisar Mendenhall. All of the other sisters' eyes seemed to pop out of their heads when I told her that we had a less-active lesson in just a couple hours' time. Everyone seemed pretty well-matched up. These things are definitely inspired, a fact that President repeats often.

My new toveri is simply miraculous. She's expressed to me her weaknesses and her fears, and yet she gets up and works through them anyway. She's a bold and fearless contacter. Contacting is a bit daunting for many new missionaries (as well as some more seasoned sisaret, like the one writing this blog post). We did a contacting roleplay during studies the other day, and she still wasn't sure about how it might go. She did set a goal to stop at least one person in the street that day, and the second person we came across, she taught them about God's love, and a living prophet! We taught 4 street lessons that day, mostly thanks to her. I frequently hear her whisper to me as we walk down the street, "Hey, shall we stop that man over there?" She's bold and eager in lessons, too. I know it's so hard not knowing everything that's going on, but she responds to invitations to answer questions or to testify like a champion. In our lesson with Lynn on her second day in the area, she gave an IMPROMPTU object lesson about church attendance in FINNISH, even though Lynn assured her that English is okay. She fought off jet-lag to contribute prayerful goals to our weekly planning session (let's be honest- she practically did that one all by herself) and is bubbling over with ideas on how to best help the people in our area. I am humbled and excited to be her trainer. She keeps me on my toes, and even reminds ME of good missionary habits. "Uh, Sisar? Shouldn't we pray first?" "I'm going to make this chart so we can keep track of our daily contact with investigators throughout the week." SERIOUSLY. What did I do to deserve her? The Lord has been long preparing me for this. I can see it as I re-read past journal entries. I can see how my dear Sisar Schellenberg, who was twice a trainer, has prepared me for this with her constant love, patience, and diligence. I think she was my trainer-trainer. There are, of course, the normal and natural stresses of being new to the mission field, but tovereni handles them well, and always finds a way to move on.

I am blessed to get to begin again during the last transfer of my mission. I am blessed to serve in this area with these people. I am blessed to start off 2015 on such a high note. In a way, being with a relative mission beginner will help prepare me for the inevitable re-entry into the "normal" world in just two months' time. There will be a lot more new beginnings awaiting me there.

Kiitos more than I can express for all of the love and support you've all shown me throughout 2014. I hope to be able to repay you in 2015.


Sisar Hansen