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.