Mission Map

Friday, November 22, 2013

Four Weeks in Finland!

Some of the Elders made Gregory a scarf for his birthday.

Hello everyone! 
Well I cannot believe that I have already been in Finland for about a month! Wow! The weeks are starting to fly by already! Well we had a great week this week! Last P day I treated me and my companion to a McDonalds lunch, haha it sounded way good and the Mcdonalds in Finland are so much better than in America! The French fries were some of the best french fries I've ever had, so it was a good choice. Then on Tuesday, my birthday, we had district meeting here in Seinäjoki so that was good, but it was so cool because the elders in Vaasa knew it was my birthday (one of them was in the mtc with me) and they made me a scarf! hahaha it was super nice of them so I got a sweet homemade scarf! So then after district meeting we ate at this asian buffet that was actually pretty dang good and they had all these little Sweedish pancakes for dessert and they were amazing, I had like 6 hahaha!  I also got my birthday package from you guys and from Aunt Shelly this week so I was so happy! Thank you so much! The cake was so good we ate it in like 12 hours haha and I love everything you sent me thank you so much! I'm definitely the most spoiled missionary out here, thank you. I will be nice and warm now with my new beanie and hand warmers from Shelly! 
Well we also had a great week of missionary work out here! We found three new investigators which is really really good, especially for Seinäjoki. One of the investigators is a sweet story I'll tell you. So last Wednesday ( I think) we didn't really have any appointments so we did whats called a blank day schedule and that means we just literally try to talk to every single person we see on the street and we check a bunch of former investigators from the area book. So, we literally talked to people on the street allllll day long and we were biking down this little bridge and there was like 30 people on the bridge, so we just decided to stop and talk to this one random guy who was kind of leaning against the railing. So we stopped and talked, he's a man from Burma and he speaks a little Finnish and no english. So, we explained we're missionaries and asked if we could stop by sometime and he gave us his address! So then later that night we were leaving the house of this less active member and we see this same guy walking in to his house, so we run over and say hi and he told us to come in. So, he's married and has four kids, one of his kids was there, she's this little 12 year old girl and she spoke pretty decent finnish but the parents don't speak well at all. So we gave them a book of mormon and told them how the gospel could bless their family and gave them a restoration pamphlet. The 12 year old girl is SUPER interested, she loved it, and she just wants to learn about Jesus.  We made an appointment to go back on Sunday, so we went back last night and the girl said she had read the whole pamphlet and read some of the Book of Mormon but that it's really hard to understand the book of mormon (which is true, I still don't understand most of it when I read it in Finnish). But anyway, she loves learning about it and so basically the whole time while we teach we will talk to the daughter and then she will translate stuff in to their language which is called Karrie or something like that, but so we're not too sure how the parents feel about it all because they sort of just sit there while we teach their daughter hahaha so its super funny. We asked the girl if they are ok with us being there and if they would want to learn more and she just says ya ya its fine! But we don't reaaaally know what she says to them when she translates for us hahaha so it's a little bit tricky but they are a very nice family and we are going back on Thursday! So we are excited about that! Then also we taught this new investigator with the Branch president and his wife yesterday which went well so we have some investigators that we're really excited about! 
Finnish is coming along gradually but it is definitely getting easier. I can understand WAY better than I could even 3 weeks ago. I have definitely learned a ton by just being here in Finland, just hearing the way Finns say stuff is very helpful. And Finn's are just really helpful in general, they are always so impressed that we can speak their language at least somewhat. In lessons now I pretty much always know what's going on and always know how to say what I want to say, and when we talk to random people I generally know what they're saying but like when we're in church and people give talks or if someone is trying to talk to us about like deep philisophical questions they have about the gospel it gets really hard hahaha, but it is coming so I will get there eventually! Well we had two investigators drop us this week, but it is really hard because they basically both said that they believe the church is true... they just don't want to change their lives. Like one guy said that he wants to join the church but he doesn't jaksaa to quit smoking (jaksaa is this great word in finnish that we don't really have in english but it basically means he doesn't feel like doing it, like if you're in bed and super tired you don't jaksaa to go take out the trash) but so anyway it's hard to deal with stuff like that but we're doing all we can do. Finn's are just very satisfied with their lives and don't really like to change, so that makes it hard to explain why they should join our church but anywho, it's going really well. We have been having great success with number of lessons and all that, it's just still really hard to get member lessons since we have one to chose from hahaha and he doesn't speak any English, so we can't really take him to those lessons cause that would just be awkward. But anyway for Thanksgiving we are going to have a district meeting in Vaasa and this elderly missionary couple is going to cook a thanksgiving meal for us all so it will be so fun! Well that is pretty much the whole week! Just know that I love you and miss you all! Keep being amazing! 

Elder Wilson
Yes, that is Elder Wilson's bike, it's the only one he could find in Seinajoki, that wasn't expensive he said. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is it Winter Yet?

It's not Winter yet, just a preview!
Hello everyone!!!  Well anyway thank you so much for all the birthday love everyone! I miss you all so much, especially with the most important day of the year tomorrow, but you are all the greatest! I'm sure the package will get to me soon mom thank you so much for sending one! You know you really don't have to! hahaha well if I must give an ideas for a christmas thing... the only thing would be like a nice looking scarf. I bought this neck and hood thing to kind of shield my face, but all these Finnish guys walk around with super classy scarfs … and they look dang good so I want to embrace the culture hahaha so that would be an excellent gift idea! But anyway, we had a good week here in Seinäjoki! 

We had two new investigators accept baptismal dates and one other new investigator accept a baptismal invitation! WOOT WOOT! It has been great! Our most promising investigator is this guy from India. We met him about a week and a half ago on the street and have met him like 4 times since. He married this women who lives in Finland, but then they got a divorce and he has been going through a lot of hard times, but he grew up a christian and has a lot of faith. He is a really cool guy and he has accepted and enjoys everything we've taught so far. He was out of town this weekend but we hope he comes to church next weekend! As far as other investigators we have this really cool really religious guy from Africa who is a student here and then we've found a couple other new investigators so we've been staying pretty busy! The thing thats hard is like all these international students are pretty open and willing to learn about the gospel, but it's hard to teach actual finns. They are just very content with their lifestyle and usually don't see the need to join a different church. They are great people though, always very kind and they think its super cool that we know finnish haha. Especially like college aged Finnish people when they hear we're from America they just think were super cool hahaha. A lot of young Finns speak pretty good english so they want to practice their english on us and a lot of people are very interested in religion, but more just to talk about it not really to test it out. So it's tough, but it's been so great! 

We didn't have any investigators in church this week, but we had a less active lady we've been working with there and another family that usually goes up to Vaasa for church, but this week they were in our branch so we had 19 people in church on sunday! It was awesome! It's funny what a difference 7 people make when you go from 12 to 19 hahaha, but we were super excited about it. I even blessed the sacrament this week which was a little scary but I nailed it haha and the sacrament prayers sound awesome in Finnish. My companion gave a talk in sacrament this week and the branch president asked me to give a talk in two weeks.... a fifteen minute talk.... It will be kind of hard hahaha I need to start working on that one early, probably shouldn't try to wing it. So, yesterday morning we woke up and looked outside and there was snow everywhere! I almost started crying hahaha so we biked to church through the snow storm and my face was numb when we got there and so I said to the branch president that winter has come! And he looked at me and just said.... no ..... winter has not come winter WILL come in about a month when we have a meter of snow everywhere and its thirty degrees colder all the time...... ouch hahaha I'm so scared. I did buy my coat and another beanie last week though and some mittens! so now I just need to buy some snow boots. I want to buy a big russian hat with fur and stuff but you cant wear those hats with helmets so I guess I'll have to stick with beanies. The bike I've been using has been horrible, one of the tires popped again this week and then yesterday my seat popped up while I was riding…. so I'm just going to buy myself a bike today haha it's not worth it to use this one all winter because it could be lethal. 

Well, we did splits this week for the first time which was fun! So our district leader and his companion came down from Pietasaari (the swedish speaking city) and they were with us for the day. I was with elder Gustaffson, he's a really cool guy and he actually used to serve in Seinäjoki, it was his first area as well, so he introduced me to some former investigators and helped us out a lot so it was great! Elder gustaffson has been in Finland about 7 months, but he's been learning swedish for the past 3 months so it was funny because there were several times throughout the day when we were in lessons or talking to people and we both just had no idea what they were saying hahahaha and it's not like he's bad at finnish, but he just hasn't used it in three months so it was tough, but it was good because we kind of took everything together, usually I can always rely on elder Christiansen to understand everything, but with Gustaffson I really had to focus all day so it was really good. We had a great time though! So, tomorrow we have a district meeting here in Seinäjoki and then we're all going to eat at this asian buffet place so that is how I will be celebrating tomorrow hahaha 7 euro asian buffet! But, I'm excited I like my district a lot it will be fun! Well, we had a few hard days this week as well, we had to drop one investigator, the 77 year old guy. Which was really sad…. kinda makes you feel like a bad missionary, but I mean he didn't really ever listen to what we taught and he said he didn't want to receive any answers about the book of mormon and wouldn't come to church or do anything so .... had to move on I guess. 

Well the weather hasn't actually been too cold yet but the thing is its dark and cloudy like every single day, I've seen the sun like 4 times since I've been here haha and it rains a lot, and yesterday it snowed on us like all day so I'm just always wet and numb and by the end of the day my hands are frozen haha, but it still hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be already! But in another month or two I will be crying about it every week, but Finland is beautiful and everything has been great! The food is all good! We eat these little things for dinner almost every single night haha they are called riisipiirata and it is basically a rye bread crust with like rye bread budding inside and then you put butter and cheese on it ... and it may sound kind of gross but it is SO GOOD! So everything has been great and I'm having lots of fun! I love you all and hope all is well at home! I miss you all! Moi Moi! 

On splits

Monday, November 4, 2013

Zone Conference in Oulu
Hello all!!!! Well it has been a great week here in Seinäjoki!! We had a busy week again but it was so good! Tuesday we took a train up to Oulu which is a beautiful city, we slept there Tuesday night just in the chapel on little sleeping rolls and then we had the zone meeting on Wednesday then came back that afternoon. It's way fun being able to travel all over for meetings like that, and the North zone of Finland is so sweet! All the missionaries here are awesome! Finland is on fire for missionary work, the standard of excellence for the mission is 20 lessons a week and this week we taught 19, so were almost there! Honestly Seinäjoki is a bit of a challenging area just because there really is like 12 people there each Sunday and when we want to bring members to lessons we only have like 2 people that live in Seinäjoki to chose from hahaha so its challenging, but the members are fantastic. They are all so sweet and are so excited to do missionary work with us! They love us and all want to feed us whenever possible haha we had two dinner appointments this week and o man.... it was so good. The people go all out here when they feed the missionaries. Full on 4 course meals and its all like steak and potatoes and the most delicious home made pastry things for dessert.... wow. hahaha I love dinner appointments so much. We ate at this families house on Thursday and we wanted to share a brief message and be in and out in an hour, but they just wouldn't let us go haha they just talk to us forever and they love having us over. 
Finnish was definitely better this week! It's obviously extremely hard to understand people still, and will be for a while, but when we talk to people on the street I feel like I'm able to recognize more words and I'm picking up a lot of common phrases that we hear alot (usually indicating that we should get lost) but I'm actually really surpised how many people talk to us on the street. There's a pretty big portion of like born again christians in Seinäjoki and also Jehova Witnesses so they always want to discuss a little doctrine with us, but there are actually a lot of people that are just religious and hear us out for a few minutes. Unfortunately, most people feel that their faith is sufficient and there's no need for organized religion or that their childhood baptism was sufficient, so it's difficult to find people that actually want to investigate the church on the street, but we actually did get one new investigator this week from street contacting! He's this really cool 20 year old guy and we gave him the first lesson on Saturday and he seems very interested and were meeting him again on Saturday so we are really excited about that! We also have met a lot of international people that go to the little college here and a lot of the African and Asian students are interested and talk with us so we're  building a pretty solid pool of potential investigators. We're basically building from nothing here in Seinäjoki, we came in with two investigators for us, one is the 90 year old man and the other is 77 and has some dimentia..... so not extremely effective to teach him because he doesn't remember anything that he learns. So it's difficult but the work is moving forward and it is awesome! I am definitely getting more confident and talk a lot more in lessons. Finns are way helpful too and they're very kind people. They are quiet and reserved, but they're always willing to help you and they're very courteous, we've really only been yelled at like 1 time so that's pretty solid I would say haha. Most Finns are just very impressed that we speak some finnish. They all ask where we're from and how long we've studied Finnish, and when I say I studied for 8 weeks then got here last week they are amazed haha, so they are really cool people. The culture is very similar, so it's not really like a huge culture shock in that way.
One funny thing though is that in apartment buildings here a lot of the time they will have like 1 sauna for every floor, so the floor of apartments has a schedule and everyone has their designated sauna night. And when they have their sauna night there is literally nothing in the world more important hahaha like if you ask a ward member to teach a lesson with you but it conflicts with his sauna night there's not a chance hahaha. Well anyway, so we were knocking a few doors in this apartment building this week and this guy answers the door. He's about 40 and he's in his underwear and a robe that's just open and nothing else, so he sees us and he's like oh you're the mormons!!! COME IN! So we walk in and him and his buddy are sitting at the kitchen table (his friend is wearing the same thing) and they are just totally drunk, but they wanted us to share a scripture with them hahaha so they tell us "Our sauna time begins in twenty minutes so you must be done by that time" So we shared a scripture with them, one of them threw up on the table about halfway through and then when we left they gave us both hugs so it was quite an experience hahahaha. Definitely doesn't happen every day but they had spoken with missionaries before so they were pumped to see us. 
Well the weather is definitely getting chilly, and of course riding a bike doesn't help because the wind is just blowing in your face haha but I'm going to buy my big coat right after I send this email! Seinäjoki has a train station for long distance trains but theres no public transportation locally so we just ride our bikes everywhere. 
Well that's pretty much the report for the week, Oh we had these two investigators in church on Sunday which was great! They are from Morocco and are Muslim, one speaks Finnish and one speaks english and they speak to each other in Arabic so its way confusing when we teach them hahaha, but they came to church! So it was awesome! Well I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week! The pictures of the babies were so cute!!! I miss those kids and I can't believe that Wilson bore his testimony hahaha that is the cutest thing ever! I miss you and I love you all! 
Biking before the big coat ha ha!

Week One in Finland - Seinajoki

Vahnin Wilson and Vahnin Christiansen
HELLO ALL! Well I just want to say if my grammar and spelling is a little weird in this email it's because this is a finnish keyboard and it's super weird haha I'm not used to it yet. Well week one in Finland has been an adventure! Today has been a little hectic, we had to change my bike tire and then the computers at the library locked us out, so I don't have a lot of time. We had to come all the way to the chapel so I will type as fast as I can! I have been sent to a small town called Seinäjoki. It is a town of about 60,000 people and has a small university here. It's about 3 and a half hours northwest of Helsinki. I am in the Pietasaari district which means our district takes in the Swedish speaking cities of Finland so two elders in my district are Swedish speaking (one of them is a real Sweed though so.... no fair) There is a grand total of 25 people in the Seinäjoki branch. About 12 were actually in church on Sunday. We are in the smallest branch in all of Finland haha so we have some work to do. We live in Seinäjoki, but we can take trains up to Lapua and a few other little towns around our area because our branch takes in all those towns. There's only one Priesthood holder in Seinäjoki, everyone else comes from surrounding towns. 
My companinion is elder Christiansen, he is from Utah and has been here about a year. He's a super nice guy, we get along great! Yeah he's pretty good at Finnish so that it super helpful hahaha Ok so finnish..... when we're on the street I understand about 5 percent of what people are saying to us. When we're in lessons I can understand more and I can talk pretty well, like if I know what's going on I am able to contribute to the lesson and testify so what I usually do is listen to what my comp says (because I can always understand everything he says) and then I just add on to that. A few times I have embarrassed myself... like some guy was talking to me on the train and he was talking about some horrible train crash in the 70s and I had no idea what he was saying so I just like laughed and was like O ya ya that's right ...... super embarassing..... But in church on Sunday they had us both speak hahaha so that was a little scary. We have a tiny little chapel but I got up there and told them about myself and shared a couple scriptures and they loved it! I'm winning over the hearts of the people already hahaha all the sweet Finnish ladies were talking to me after saying that I speak really well and all that haha what's ironic is I didn't know what they were saying but my companion told me later. It's already getting a little chilly here.... I bought some gloves and a scarf thing but I don't really need a big coat and boots yet, my rain coat is pretty warm, but don't worry I will buy my coat and stuff next week probably. The branch here provides a bike for me which is way nice, so i just won't buy a bike until I transfer to a new area because I don't know if I will actually need a bike in my next area so i will just wait and see. 
Well we're doing whats called SHOTGUNNING an area. So that means that elder christiansen is new in Seinäjoki as well so were pretty much starting from scratch. We have a couple former investigators weve been meeting with though and we just contact all the people we pass on the street. We haven't done any tracting yet. Finland has strict privacy laws so I can't actually tell you peoples names here, but let me tell you about this one guy..... so its my very first lesson, I'm a little nervous and we go in there and this man is literally 88 years old. Picture an extremely old american person with dentures and whatnot..... now picture that person speaking finnish. That is this man. Full on wears the same robe every time we're over there and his dentures fall out while he's talking hahahaha I cannot understand ANYTHING he says. So it's a definite struggle but he is just the coolest, sweetest man and he has a baptismal date!! So we already have one baptismal date! We also taught a lesson to this guy who full on answered the door and sat with us the entire time without wearing pants.... so ya I'm officially a finnish missionary. I guess that's fairly common here hahaha well anyway, Seinäjoki is way cool! We get to go up to Oulu for a zone conference this week which is way exciting! I here that Oulu is a beautiful city and it's way up north so I'm excited. We're in the northern district of Finland which we call the district for men so that means we get to go up to Rovaniemi for Christmas!!! (Christmas village)
Well even though its extremely difficult everything is going really well. I'm learning so much every day and finns make the best desserts... and the chocolate is so good I want to die..... well I really have to go but I love you all so much! I'll send lots of pictures! and mom tell grandma and grandpa thank you so much for their email!
Pretty nice missionary digs! 
Finland doesn't have dryers!