Well everyone, I FINALLY MADE TO FINLAND! It is so amazing here, the people here are really amazing and I just cant say how amazing everything is. It was a very long and boring flight. Since you can’t use media as a missionary, it was me staring at a seat in front of me for 21 hours. England was really weird. I was looking out of the window of the plane and I saw Buckingham palace and I was just like “That place is actually real? I thought it was only in the movies!” We had a quick layover in the airport and we checked out the duty free mall. I mean everything was still really expensive, but hey at least you dont have to pay taxes. England was the first time I had two horrendous realizations 1. I dont use american money anymore 2. EUROPE DOESNT HAVE DRINKING FOUNTAINS AND IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY. Why for all that is good and holy would people not having drinking fountains? What do people do when they are thirsty? Die? But anyway that is besides the point. Then, when we got to Finland we were met by our mission president President Wattson and he sort of reminds me of that grandfather figure everyone points to as the person who changed their lives. He took us all across Espoo and we got to see the outside of the temple. It is weird how small it is but it means so much more for them. They have people come from as far as Russia to do work at the temple. For them it means so much more than for most people in the United States does. But finally I got a new companion. It feels really weird not being with Vanhin Jaccard anymore. It feels that a part of me is gone. When you are with someone for 24/7 you really feel weird without them. My new companion is Vanhin Nelson. Hes a really cool guy from Alpine Utah and this is his last transfer. Hes been having those realizations such as I am his last companion and his last area and so on and so forth. He is really dedicated to this work and because of him we have been able to do extremely well here. The area we got sent to was Kokkola. A really cute town in the middle of Finland. It is really nice here. It has that small but big town feel ya feel? But we have been grinding at the work. We have several new investigators and they are all super pumped to hear about the gospel. It feels weird to finally be doing this work and being able to help people accept the gospel. The branch here is also amazing. IT is really tiny but it has so much faith. We had a dinner appointment where we shared a lesson about the fruit from the tree of life and how we want to share that with our friends and family. You could feel the spirit so strong that night that I almost cried because of how strong it was. But we could only have done the work we have done because of the members and for that I am eternally grateful that they are willing to help so much. One of the best parts about being in Finland is the rejection. I know that sounds really weird to say but everyone here is so polite. They simply say no thank you and then they move on their way. I mean we have had a few people who were a little rude but nothing unbearable. Worst I have heard so far is “I dont want to hear your crap” which as a missionary that isnt that bad. The drunk people are interesting. Whenever there is a serious hockey game such as the finland vs russia game everyone hits the streets wasted. We had one guy who wanted to fight us but he was too far away and we just walked away. Also during this week we had district meeting and that is held in Vaasa which is one of the more northern parts of Finland. But there I finally met the man and the legend. Vanhin V! (I dont think I can give specifics on everyones names. The privacy laws here are really strict and while I dont think it would be that big of a deal, I dont want to risk it. I am going to find out more about this later because I need to talk about people. But Vanhin V is one of Vanhin Farkas´ best friends growing up and he would always talk about him and now I finally meet the legend himself! Its so cool that I can be in the same district that he is in, and I think we will have a lot of adventures together!
Ricky has finally made it to Finland!
GUYS I AM FINALLY BUSTING OUT!
I never thought this day would come. You see when you have been in the MTC for so long you begin to think that that is your entire mission. But honestly, time has gone really fast. Something that is said a lot here is that on the mission, the weeks go fast but the days go slow. For me it felt like the days went fast and the weeks went faster. If someone were to tell me that I have been sitting in the same 5 rooms for 57 days I honestly would not believe them. It has felt more like 21. But I am really excited because I also hear that the MTC is terrible and no one remembers it from their mission but my experience here was absolutely fantastic! I have made a lot of new friends and for the most part I am actually going to be really sad when I leave everyone. Our zone (all of the missionaries going to scandanavia) has become like a family to me. But I know that greater and better things await me on the other side of the world (literally the other side of the world). But anyway, the good part of what happened this week. Everything has slowed down, we are now in review mode and it feels like I am getting ready for a final exam and in a way, I am. And also Jib has finally left the MTC. It feels weird because he was in here for around the same time that I was in here. But yeah he finally left and I am going to follow soon afterward. While he’s a little crazy, I know he is going to do well. But we have also had a lot of lasts this week. One of the main one’s is gym time. It is going to be weird because we don’t get to use the gym for the next two years. I mean it doesn’t really matter because we are going to be walking and biking for 9-10 hours a day so I don’t think exercise is going to be an issue. Also my companion will be leaving the same time as us! We knew it was probably going to happen but we didn’t know it for certain. We went to the hospital to get him a hard cast and then we got the ok signal from the MTC medical services that he could travel to Finland on time. That makes me really happy because he wanted to go so bad. Then it was our last day with Veli Velho Ryan (Brother Wizard Ryan). And it was a little sad. He also helped as he roleplayed our investigator Miro and we taught Miro on our last day and it was actually really sad. We got him to commit to baptism and we finished up the baptismal interview questions. Even though I never knew Miro in real life it was actually really hard to say goodbye to him (DARN YOU ROLEPLAYS). And even harder to say goodbye to Veli Ryan partially because he has helped me a lot over these past couple of weeks. But we are needed elsewhere. Also after Tuesday Evening Devotional (which we realized are TEDx talks) we talked with Sister Freestone, our branch presidents wife and she gave probably the most inspirational quote I have ever heard in the MTC. Her daughter had to leave her mission early in Taiwan because of medical issues and she was really depressed about it. She decided to serve again and this time had to serve stateside and she bumped into a family that had family in Taiwan that she met and it was because of that connection they recieved the gospel. But the one thing that stuck out from what she said is that “When we think that things are going so bad, they are actually going so right”. And that got me thinking that even when we experience the hardest struggles of our lives, God is actually working his miracles through those hard times and sometimes when we are in the dredges of despair, he is actually accomplishing his work. It made me reflect on all the times that I thought things we going bad for me but actually Christ was working his miracles through me. At the devotional the speaker recounted a story of a Farmer who wanted a tree to grow a certain way that he knew would look magnificent, so he cut the tree down to almost nothing. The tree, now being angry being cut down complained to the Farmer “how could you do this to me, I was growing so nicely and then you cut me down”. “Well little tree”, he responded “I don’t want you to grow into what you were becoming because I know that you can become something much greater”. And so the tree did, it became a magnificent tree that grew exactly how the farmer wanted it. And in the end the tree thanked the farmer for loving it enough to hurt it. That was one thing that really touched me in the MTC. It was probably one of my all-time favorite talks and post-discussions ever. The last main thing was that today was my birthday! I was not looking forward to it because due to……..interesting scheduling. We had to do a lot of stuff on that day. We started out in the morning doing service. We clean a different residences bathrooms. But I told the people in charge that it was my birthday and they cut our time in half! Then we were first in line to get breakfast. Then we did our last gym time and we had probably one of the best gym times ever. It is tradition that the leaving group has to face everyone else. Then I didn’t feel like doing our weekly skype chats with someone in Finland and they didn’t pick up. While it is a little lame it was still nice because I didn’t really have a lesson planned. But we left a voice message with a lesson on obedience and I meant to say word of wisdom but I actually said word of corn AGAIN. I said the same thing in a previous lesson. But a long with birthday presents it has been a very amazing day. The weird thing is that my birthday luck has rubbed off on other people. Almost half of the people in our zone got packages today and everyone else just had a fantastic day. But it has been a nice way to end our time in the MTC. It has been really fun being here and I am excited to enjoy the rest of my time here!
One last thing that I wanted to take a picture of but I couldn’t because it is so long is there actually is someone in my zone who can trace back their lineage until Adam and Eve. Literally freaking Adam and Eve. He has some Jewish heritage and some of it is royalty and for those of you who know a thing or two about family history work is that when you have royalty it shoots back, like wayyyyyyy back. I mean I would find it funny if someone actually made the whole thing up and just wanted to mess with his whole family but holy cow it looks impressive.
But see you all on the other side of the world!
This picture has a funny story, so this is actually a picture of a tv show that went on when I was a kid and the funny thing was shows like this is that everyone forgets the name of the show and we all believe it is a group hallucination (because those are totally possible, not). And we spent a whole day trying to figure it out what the name of the show is. We asked around and NO ONE COULD REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE SHOW. But finally someone remembered and it is maggie and the ferocious beast.
Well, it is officially getting close to the end of my time in the MTC! This has been extremely fast for me. I feel this is even faster than most missionaries experiences in the MTC. But per usual, lots of fun times and sad times. My branch president described the MTC as the Church’s official roller coaster and it is strangely fitting. Am I going to tell you about the bad times? Nope, you want bad news turn on your tv. But me and Vanhin Farkas finally told the new russians that he could speak perfect english. I was expecting some serious rage from them but they actually started to die laughing. Not too bad, it’s been a week since it happened and I am still not dead so I am assuming that they actually got a kick out of it. Also I am certain I met someone who set the record for serving a mission. For those of you who aren’t mormon, most girls leave when they are 19. This girl is 30! and she is serving a mission. I have mad props for her. Anyone who feels that that is the right time and goes takes a lot of courage just because it isn’t normal. I know the Lord is going to bless her in so many ways it isn’t going to be funny. Also during this week, one of the people I have become very good friends with is Eldste Erickson, he is from North Ogden and he is going to Denmark. He we talked about our life plans for after the mission. He is planning to own a ranch give his kids the life he always wanted. It was a nice heart to heart we had and I know he is going to do well. The Danes are leaving the same time that we are on literally the same day. It is really weird because they get to leave at the same time as us. But also we had to do a computer project on family history where we had to go onto familysearch and do a tutorial. I thought that it wasn’t for me but holy cow it is actually quite fun! My companion has some interesting people he is directly descended from. Namely, Charlagemane (I am sorry for those french speakers or history buffs, I cannot ever get names right) and Emperor Constantine. It has actually become pretty fun to use family search and see how far back our lines go. I don’t know who has been working so hard on our family tree but whoever it is you are my hero. But it is also weird because you still have a big impact even if you aren’t out on the mission field yet. We had a knock on our building door and it was some elders who told us that one of our sisters was incredibly incredibly ill. We rushed over as fast as we could and the sister you could tell was miserable. She has missed a few days of class and threw up 20 times that day alone. She was experiencing malnutrition and needed a blessing stat. We met her outside of her apartment and gave her a blessing. It was probably one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I could feel that when me and my companion were giving her the annoiting and the blessing that our words were truly guided and we felt the prompting of the spirit that she was going to be ok. Fast forward a few days she is healthy again and is able to eat food again and is able to hold down food. The priesthood is truly, TRULY amazing. Also another miracle that happened this week is Vanhin Farkas is hungarian and while he could speak English he was still having a hard time with the big words. He has been desperately needing a hungarian to english dictionary and we were bored and there wasn’t a classroom being used and we opened it and sitting right no a desk in the room was a hungarian to english dictionary. We left it for a few days and no one came back to claim it so he is planning to use it during his time in the MTC and is going to leave it back but it has still been a blessing. Also yesterday we got to experience talking to someone from Finland on Skype. We taught him a lesson on miracles and talked about my companions arm and how it somehow didn’t break as badly as everyone expected ti to be because of the fall. We could understand him for the most part until he talked about a story of his own and then no one could understand him because he was using words that no one was familiar with. It’s also weird because I came here when it was snowing and now it is warm outside and green. It hasn’t been too long in my mind but it has been a really long time. When people tell me that I have been here for 50 days I am a little skeptical and then I realize that they are actually really right and I have a little heart attack. But I love and miss all of you and that includes those of you who I have no idea who you are. Also people of Finland, I’ll see you soon!