Well, it has been a wonderful week in Helsinki! It feels weird being here instead of small town Kokkola. But I really love this place! It was pretty sad saying goodbye to everyone in the north. All the missionaries were really cool and we had a lot of good memories there. But Helsinki is actually really nice! One of the weird things is that this place is so much more intregrated than Kokkola was, we are always taking the trains, and buses to get where we need to go. But my first week we had this thing called interim. Interim is when we get training that can help us for the rest of our missions. It was cool because I got to be with all of my old MTC buddies! Everyone has grown a lot and have had a lot of cool experiences. But that was really fun!
On another hand, our experience so far in Finland has been interesting. Last week was Johannes and that usually means that everyone either has left or is super super drunk so we havent had too much success then. But yeah, we have been having with some investigators. We dont have as much yet as we did in Kokkola but we are getting there!
Also my new companion is Elder Johnson, he is this really cool guy from Arizona and he is me if I left on my mission right after high school which is really weird because he is my age but he has reached the half way point on his mission. But we have been having some pretty fun adventures so far and the best is yet to come!
Also I have a lot more pictures now.
Also ps I am sorry I dont have a picture of my companion yet. We have been having problems with taking a decent picture of each other so until that happens….. sorry.
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 this week has been interesting. We had a schedule change so our schedule is now different than most peoples to make room in the cafeteria and to make room for the teacher’s college schedules. So while normally we have PLC is the morning (personal, language, and companion study) we have class some mornings. But it actually isn’t that bad. I usualy have the most energy in the morning and when we get our lessons out of the way it makes the day seem so much faster and boy do they get fast. It honestly felt like this week has blown by in a day. In fact, one of the Danish Elders Eldste Evans is still in denial because he currently believes that it is monday today. The prank with the russians has gotten hard because they are learning Russian really fast and they are trying to figure out why there are words that they now know aren’t russian. They are catching on too fast. We are going to break it to them but we want to do it in a way that would be great. On a similar note one of my new friends, Elder Hanzel who is going to Hong Kong decided to play a similar prank. He has been here for 2 weeks more than he is supposed to be because of a leg infection. So he is now part of the new group of cantonese missionaries. I kept the orange sticker that I got on my first day that I wanted to keep as a momento but I figured that this would be better so I let him have it and he wore it to their first day of class. The teacher asked him to pray and he started to pray and he said “God, please give us the gift of tongues that we can—-” he then switched entirely over to Cantonese and afterwards all of the missionaries were shocked because they thought that this was his first day as well. I wish I could have been there but oh well, you can’t have everything. But we have had a lot of injuries this week. Vanhin Ashby had to go to the doctor because he has shin splints, and also my companion broke his thumb because he was sprinting in the rain and slipped on some gravel. It has been sort of nice because we get to go off campus but he’s pretty miserable. But he experienced a miracle. He had to go to get a cast and they were trying to figure out if they were going to have to hold him back a few weeks. When we went to the hand specialist and he said that he has somehow managed to only break things that will heal and the one thing that should’ve been broken because of the pattern of all the broken parts was untouched. So instead of needed several months of therapy, he will only need a cast for a few weeks. Literally the definition of a blessing. But time is winding down here. We now only have 2 and a half weeks. Now we just have as much time as the english speaking missionaries do. It is really weird, I am not used to time going this fast. Everyone has told me that time crawls when you are in the MTC and it gets a lot faster in the mission field but if it is going fast for me now, I don’t want to know how fast it is going to go in the future.
-One last side note, I met another Finn here and he is also the only missionary I have met that has served a mission in greece. I have never met someone who has served a mission in Greece. EVER.
Also this week I was released from being zone leader. It honestly is weird going from being zone leader of the biggest zone in the MTC to doing nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, I like doing nothing but it makes me feel pretty uncomfortable with the change. But the new zone leaders, Eldste Erickson and Whitaker are definitely going to do a good job but Eldste Erickson has been really worried about it because he said that we set the bar so high he honestly doesn’t feel up to the challenge and still runs things by me. But I know he is going to be a better zone leader than I was. Also our 1st counselor in the zone just became a grandfather this week. It was amazing, he looked so worried during sacrament meeting then he gets a text and you just see the biggest smile in all of the world come on his face. The last real thing that happened is that Eldste Smith’s best friend just entered the MTC and is in the same apartment as us. I like how the more time we spend here the more interesting the mission gets. But love and miss you all!
1) My annoyed companion in his new cast.
2)My companion’s mother is Swedish (Vanhin Jaccard also speaks fluent swedish btw) and for his birthday sent him Bullar. This really great and weird pastry that tastes sweet but has a spice that tastes like pepper.
Well another interesting week at the mtc! Not too much different happened this week. It was sad though because my friend Elder Dugquem left for Thailand. He was one of the very first friends I had here and would always help out when I needed help. We helped them until midnight packing and as a favor they gave us a ton of stuff and I mean A TON. My companion got several sweaters, shoes and dress pants and I got from one of his roommates, Elder Earl a parka. This was no average parka, it was very obvious that someone shelled out serious money for this. But he was going to Thailand and really didn’t need it so he just gave it to me. Also our friends the Ukranians also left, so we inherited all of their stuff. The main thing we inherited was a nerf sword. Now this isn’t any sword but this sword is part of the history of the mtc. It has been passed down from Elder to Elder. The oldest one was an Elder who entered the MTC is 2014 meaning there is a good chance he finished his mission. One of the weird things about the MTC is that everyone wants to leave a mark on the MTC. There is graffitti everywhere and items get passed down. Of course graffitti is a serious punishment and one of the previous mission presidents sent missionaries home so for the most part that stopped but items keep getting passed down. Also an interesting fact, my mind gave up when I needed it the most. You know when you have a lot to do and you just end up taking a nap? Yeah, that was this week. I had so much to do and I flopped on most of it. We have to do this thing called TRC which basically means we teach members who are either from Finland or they served missions there. I worked really hard on my lesson with whatever mental energy I had but it wasn’ good enough. (Cute photo of TRC report below). But one of my best friends here now is Elder Lee (picture below). Elder Lee is probably one of the nicest human beings I have ever met in my life. I have never seen someone go so out of the way for anyone else in my life. He greets almost every Elder by hug and is honestly concerned with everyone’s problems. If there was someone who would probably be translated it would probably be him. The last real thing of interest that has happened this week is me and Elder Farkas are going into an extensive prank. There is a new group of russians in the floor below us and the old russians who have only been here for 3 weeks wanted to look like they were experts in the language. So Farkas who combined his little knowledge of russian with his native hungarian and was able to convince the new russians that he only could speak Russian. The old russians would just bear parts of their testimonies to make it seem like it was a fluent conversation and Farkas would respond with something different and when they asked what they were talking about one of the old russians would just say something random. I feel sort of bad because the new russians had the “what did we get ourselves into” look. Becuase to them it looked like they were expected to speak fluently by week 3. I don’t think they’re really going to appreciate it but they will probably find out when we are long gone. Also we somehow get randomly selected for everything. Our entire district was in charge of the people and purpose night. That meant that we had to teach an investigator in english in front of a crowd or around 80 people. We had to do this twice. I was shocked because I thought they only chose good missionaries but I guess we were good enough.
The first picture is the stuff we inherited from all of the missionaries that were leaving. That night was very interesting.
A picture of our little piece of MTC history.
This is a picture from a really awful Thai book. There are some books the Church made that they haven’t changed for 30 years and the drawings are awful. I got one from the Thais, I didn’t get it because I am interested in learning Thai but actually because they’re so awful that they can make any day good. This is probably the worst picture I found and I just had to share it.
Sorry about not having pictures last week, I forgot to bring my camera to the computers. But it has been a wonderful but emotionally trying week. Everyone in our zone left, literally I mean that besides the new Danes there weren’t anyone else in our zone but us. The other two groups:the Danes and the Nords left. But we just got the new group last night and it was MASSIVE. We are now one of the biggest zones in the entire MTC. We now have 38 people including us and the Danes. One interesting note is that one of the Danes, his name is Eldste Cooper, he is a convert! He is from around Cocoa Beach Florida and he has officially been a member for a solid year. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to leave after only having known the gospel for that long. My friend Elder Dugquem was the same way, he has only been a member for 1 year and will be leaving to Thailand on his mission in a week. On that same note, the only other original group that we still have is the Ukranians, and among them is someone from Finland! Have I tried talking to him in Finnish? Nope. Despite the fact that he is only 5’5 he always was in a grouchy mood and told us on the day that we met him that we shouldn’t bother learning the language because we never would be able to learn it. But he has warmed up to us and is pretty funny, but he still is pretty grumpy most of the time. But it has also been a crazy week because one of the people in our zone had to have surgery. It was not anything major, he just has throat issues and they had to stretch out his throat. We joked that whenever someone asked why he wan’t in class that he was pulling the good old surgery excuse. But it’s also weird when me and Vanhin Jaccard remember we are zone leaders. Language is coming in good as well, I want to thank all of you for your prayers for me in learning the language. I am learning the language a lot faster than I know I normally would, and I know it has a lot to do with everyone praying for me. My time in the MTC sure is going fast and I am excited to be out on the field.
miss and love all of you,
Hello everyone again! Time is actually really flying while I am here, it has already been 3 weeks but it feels like only a week has passed since I entered the mtc. But it was really fun being here for general conference (partially because it means we don’t have classes). But my ability in the language is starting to pick up, it has reached a point where I can give a lesson in Finnish without notes and have a conversation with the investigator but just like everyone else there is one part of the language that I struggle with, for me it is comprehending what they are saying half of the time and also grammar. In finnish, there is this thing called hardening or softening, based on how a word ends you change certain letters in a word to help it flow better. I am certain that whoever came up with it knew what they were doing but I don’t think it was really designed for missionaries who are entering the field in 6 weeks. But there were also a lot of tears this week, the old Danes who were some of our first friends in the MTC left Monday. It was really heartbreaking because one of them felt so unready that his anxiety was palpable. But the exodus has just begun, the other two groups in our zone: the nords and swedes, are leaving in the next two weeks. One of the nords is a solo missionary and because he needs to always be with someone, he has been temporarily assigned to me and Jacaard as a temporary companionship, his name is Eldste Nelson. But yesterday we got new Danes! As the weather starts to pick up so does the missionary population. We originally had 3 danes and now that number has bumped up to 7. i haven’t really gotten to know them very well yet just because their first few days are really busy but I will have their names down.
Other interesting things that happened this week.
-We inherited all of the old Danes food. One part of MTC culture is that your food supply builds up fast, people will get food from their families and because they leave before they go through everything they give it away.
-I got a missionary library for free! One thing that I was meaning to get but haven’t yet is a missionary library, it includes 4 books written by leaders of the church. While I was cleaning I noticed that they had a free stuff pile and there was a missionary library sitting on top of it, brand new.
-I’m growing to like Vegemite (surprisingly). Some of our closest friends, the Thais, have an australian who has a supply of vegemite. Remembering how awful my first time with it I had to try it again. It was surprisingly not that bad, so I am probably the first non-australian who would willingly eat it again.
Also I would really appreciate it if you keep me in your prayers that I can learn the language, I need all the help I can get.
Hello everyone again!
It’s been another great day at the MTC and a lot has happened since then. I can now pray and bear testimony in Finnish (very roughly though), but I will take what I can get. I have grown to love my district and zone and it will be very hard to leave everyone. The heartbreak began with the russains. The russians were some of the craziest people I have ever met and we would party every time we got back to class. It was crazy, since they would do their service at the mtc cafeteria they got all of the food they wanted to take home along with food their parents would send them. Also they had noodles swords so we would be mature and hit each other with them. But it was really sad, around 5 days ago they got switched to the Madrid MTC and the new russians just aren’t the same. We have hope that the other new scandinavians will also be cool because in the next 3 weeks, we will be the old birds. But also on Easter we got a talk from Russel M Ballard (nbd). He gave a lesson in honor of a mormon history scholar who claimed that Mormons were the most Christ-centered Christians. He finished by giving a blessing to all of us as missionaries. Also sorry I want to write more but it didn’t work out today, we had a lot to do and we didn’t get our full hour).
Favorite spiritual experience of the week
Actually today when we went to the temple I didn’t think I would make it because I felt like I got food poisoning (surprise, surprise MTC) and I didn’t think I would get out of bed but I told myself I would try. It was the most painful experience in awhile to walk to the mtc but it was worth it. My whole district got to go to the temple together and when we were walking back I had the greatest sensation in awhile of comfort and happiness, and without words I knew the Savior thanked me for doing what is right.