Thursday, January 20, 2011
So I am now in Kajaani. It is a very cold place. It is away from the ocean, therefore it doesn't get the warm air from whatever ocean current that goes past and it's out more towards Russia. We are on bikes. This is the first city in which I am on a bike (not counting the three weeks on bikes in Kouvola). It is a branch here; there are about 30 active members. I also got sick last week and had a mild fever on Saturday. I really like it though. I almost feel more ''free.'' We can work much more in our own city and because we are always on the street, we get to talk to a lot more people than we would if we traveled by car. Even though the ward is small, they are so excited about missionary work. They have activities twice a month specifically designed for members to bring their friends/neighbors/family members to learn about the church and the Plan of Salvation. Last year there were three baptisms in the branch, which is really good, especially considering the size. This year they want 10, which is so possible. One lady we are teaching right now should be getting baptized in February. She is really busy with work and is pretty stressed with a bunch of things so it may have to get moved back a bit. We'll shoot for February.
Yeah the guy in Oulu got his citizenship papers sorted out the day that I left. Pretty much a miracle. He had his interview with the appropriate priesthood holder and he is all set and ready to go for baptism. He should be getting baptized within the next couple of weeks or so. I talked to him on the phone before I left and he was really excited. He is going to be a good member.
It's fun being a district leader because I can be a bit more hands on with the district members. I get to teach more often because we have district meetings every now and then and it's just nice because I get to apply all of the things that I learned as a zone leader on the zone level and apply them on a smaller/more concentrated scale. I am excited to see the results and success that will be coming.
January 10, 2011
Well, change calls came on Saturday. I am getting transferred to Kajaani, a city a couple hours away from Oulu. I leave tomorrow and will be companions with Elder Shumway, who has been out a little under a year. I'll be the district leader of the Oulu District, comprising of cities Kajaani, Oulu, and Rovaniemi. I was pretty shocked to get the call. I thought for sure that I would be here for at least another transfer, if not two.
The one investigator is still waiting for his citizenship. He wants to get baptized so badly but I think he is realizing that there really isn't anything anyone can do except wait. He is such a good missionary too. He invites friends to activities and gives copies of the Book of Mormon to everybody. He is so solid.
One of our other investigators made it to church yesterday. She is a young mother with two kids. We have met with her once and have been in contact with her for the last few weeks. I think that she really enjoyed the meetings (she stayed for all 3!). The members did a good job being her friend and helping her to feel welcome.
We are going to visit the family again tonight. We aren't really sure how willing they are to change their ways, but we'll go and see what we can do. They are super nice and will probably feed us dinner again. The one guy is Muslim and loves telling stories about the history of the Middle East and Islam and such. Really good people.
January 3, 2011
It's nice that the Holidays have been celebrated and that things are more back to normal. It was really special to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Finnish style. We had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the Finnish culture. For New Year's Eve and Day we had to be in the apartment by 6 pm and weren't allowed to go tracting at all. We had a couple of appointments and didn't do too much else. On New Year's Eve we made some bread to give away, did a little cleaning, had a teaching appointment, and that's about it. On New Year's Day we ate breakfast again at the Calls place. Sister Call made ''sticky buns'' or as we would call it pull-apart bread. I wonder if other families are just more creative with their food names... :) After that we went to the Brower family for cake and to talk for a while. After that Elder Peterson and I delivered the bread we made to members/less-actives and such. It was pretty fun. We just spent our evening planning and discussing things we need to work on.
December 20, 2010
Our star investigator is so ready for baptism, he is just waiting to see if he gets his Finnish citizenship (he isn't from Finland). He should know by the end of the year if he gets it. Pray for him to get it because without it, he cannot be baptized. It's a pretty complicated situation so I won't try to explain it. He just needs his citizenship and then he's getting baptized! Last week he introduced us to one of his friends who is also basically converted already. He read a bit from the Book of Mormon and was so shocked by it's power. The way he said it is that when he reads it and when we speak about it, it is as though is heart comes out and is soaking it all up. The Book of Mormon changed both of their lives. It is important to remember that it's not the Book of Mormon itself, but it's the Spirit speaking through the Book of Mormon, testifying about Christ and Heavenly Father. My testimony of the Book of Mormon's converting power has been strengthened so much by meeting people who read it, feel the Spirit, and decide to change their lives. Imagine if we as members of the church would read the Book of Mormon more earnestly and frequently. Wow, that's a lot of power.
December 13, 2010
Last Friday was zone conference meeting with President Brown. We spent a lot of time preparing for that by picking people up from the train station, setting up stuff at the chapel, organizing some dinner things. For dinner we made pizza. A lot of pizza. We made about 14, in a kitchen with only one oven. It was a miracle. The conference was so good. It was a special Christmas conference centered on Christ and his Atonement/life. It was really really good. I have never felt so strongly about my personal relationship with Christ as I do now. The ''personalness'' of the Atonement is so amazing. I have never felt so close to the Savior before. It was really interesting because a year ago at the last Christmas conference, much of the same material was presented. This time however, I was influenced much differently and more powerfully. It was so interesting to see how that happened. We tend to change over time and so do our needs. That's one of the awesome things of Christ's Atonement. It doesn't just cover our sins and guilt, but it covers EVERTYHING. Any kind of pain, suffering, sorrow, and just anything that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement. That's something that I have learned. There is a reason that there is a special spirit around Christmas time, and it's not just because of the gifts and lots of food. It's because it is a time to remember that the Savior of each and every one of us was born, marking the beginning of his mission in mortality. I really like it.
December 7, 2010
Things are going great. Elder Peterson is my new companion and is great. Yes I am still a zone leader, but in the North Zone! Oulu is a really awesome place. I had visited here a few times in the past for conferences and what not but I never thought that I would actually come here to serve. The branch is awesome. They are missionary gung-ho and do so many good things. Yesterday a lady who was baptized a couple of years ago invited us to meet one of her friends who is having some pretty hard times. It was a good meeting and now she is an investigator. That simple! There is a really good spirit here and tons of potential for success. In fact, there has been tons of success in the north this whole year so it's a huge blessing to come up here and be part of it. Last year there were 12 baptisms in the whole north. This year there have already been 30 and counting. It's awesome.
Oulu is much smaller than Helsinki. I kinda like the smaller city feel. Despite the fact that it is smaller, there are us, a sister threesome, and a senior couple here, 7 missionaries in total. It's fun to be with them.
There are some pretty good investigators too. One guy was met just a couple of weeks ago and is progressing so quickly. The plan is that he is going to be baptized on the 18th of this month but that may have to change because of family difficulties. We'll pray for the best and it will hopefully work out.
It is a bit colder here and it has been snowing the last three days pretty much nonstop. They don't speak Savo here, they speak a northern dialect that adds syllables to words. It isn't too different than ''book'' Finnish though and not everyone speaks it very hard so it's not too bad to understand. That and I have been a missionary a lot longer now so I can pick it out a bit better. In fact, given my age in the mission and places that I've been in I want to try and adopt a bit of the dialect. I will be able to visit Kuopio again for splits. We should be going next week, which will be the first time that I will be back in Kuopio since I left back in February. Elder Ranzenberger is still in this zone and he is training a greenie, which is really cool. We have a Christmas conference on Friday where President is going to come and teach the zone here in Oulu. There I'll get to see/meet a lot of the missionaries that have been in the north, including Elder Ränzenberger! Because our mission is so small (only about 60 missionaries) we all know each other or at least have met each other/know of each other somehow.
It's quite a bit darker up here. In fact the sun is already starting to set (it's currently 12:46). The sunset will take a long time though, a couple or three hours or so.
We have a car and live really close to the University of Oulu.
November 29, 2010
So, I'll start with the transfer information. I am getting transferred to Oulu, way up north. It is going to be really cold and really dark. Cool! Yesterday at church was really sad. I have been here for about 7.5 months or so. That's a long time. When our Bishop got up to conduct the meeting, the first thing he says is, ''We have bad news. Elder Grimm is getting transferred to Oulu.'' Many of the ward members here became like family. And it's right before Christmas. A lot of members invited us over to eat throughout the week so we will have a number of appointments with them. They are really good opportunities though because every time we eat at a member's home, we get to encourage them to do missionary work and strengthen their testimonies. We also have a number of investigators to meet this week. It's going to be a busy week. I leave on Friday. After our zone leader council meeting on Friday myself and Elder Peterson (who is currently in Oulu and will be my new companion) will be taking a night train up. He's a good missionary. He is in the group that was after me in the MTC, eli we were in the MTC for a few weeks with his group. I like him.
Last week we had a cool experience with one of our investigators. He was up until 4 in the morning the night prior to our visit reading the Book of Mormon. He read from 4 Nephi all the way up to Moroni 9, leaving the last chapter unread. We read it with him and he really liked it a lot. Even though he hasn't come to church yet he has changed so much simply from reading. The challenge is that he believes the Book of Mormon to be true because it teaches the same doctrines as the Bible, but he hasn't yet identified a strong spiritual witness about its truthfulness. He has told us aboue the good feelings he gets when we talk about it and when he prays but it's a bit of a challenge helping him to connect the dots that that is God telling him it's true! He might be able to come to the ward Christmas party though and that would be a big step.
November 15, 2010
Missionary work continues to go really well. Everyone in our zone is really energized after having the week of training meetings. There are a good number of individuals in our zone alone who are waiting to be baptized. Our focus right now is shifted more towards the members. There is so much potential with the members of the church it's crazy. As missionary work goes faster and faster, more and more members are feeling the spirit and are wanting to take part. We have a number of dinner appointments coming up scheduled by members with whom we have never had the chance to visit yet. I can't even wait for Christmas to see the impact that it has on the work that is already going forward so quickly. There's something about Christmas that really brings the spirit into people's lives and softens them up. And it's a good excuse for us to make people happy. I mean, in the summer time we can't sing Christmas songs while we are tracting, but around Christmas we can!
November 8, 2010
Today, we made pies. Six pies, in fact. This week we have the training meetings again so we are keeping up our tradition of baking something for one of the lunches as a surprise. The time we made cookies. The second time we made cookies and banana bread. This time we were determined to step it up. So, we made pies. Apple pies. They are so good too. It's kinda like service. And it's fun.
We had our zone leader council meeting with President Brown last week. Everything in the mission is going really well. By the end of the year there will be many many more baptisms than there were last year. It's not about the numbers, it's about the fact that more people are willing to accept the Gospel and change their lives. It is really neat. I have talked a lot about how well things are going because it is so exciting.
November 1, 2010
Yesterday was our fast Sunday because the coming Sunday is Stake Conference. Our church meetings were really awesome. There a lot of really good testimonies and there was a great spirit during the meetings. A week ago was the farewell of a guy going on his mission. That family is really neat. Yesterday the mom came and invited us over for Christmas! Yeah! We already have a Christmas place! I really hope I get to stay in this ward as long as possible, to be here for Christmas and hopefully even after it. It feels like we have a very good relationship with many members and I would love to stay in it. That said, I will go wherever I am told to go. At least I don't have to worry about it for the next five weeks.
October 25, 2010
Stake Conference is coming up in a couple of weeks. Last night we received a call from a member of the stake high council. He called President Brown, who gave our phone number to him. Apparently there is a special meeting for those who will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood soon and their families. They asked President to speak but he isn't going to be able to make it but President said we could do it. We need to start preparing for that one! It'll be fun, as long as we prepare properly and pray a lot.
October 18, 2010
Our investigators are doing ok. One reads the Book of Mormon like crazy (so far he's read over 400 pages), but he doesn't think he's ready yet to come to church. Another is really good at keeping commitments and commandments for a while, but then kinda stops again. He progresses, and then slows down, and then progresses, and slows down. It's ok, we are being patient.
October 4, 2010
We had an ok week. We had a district meeting in Kerava, about 45 minutes away. It was good. The highlight was, of course, General Conference. It was very very good. We watched the Sunday Afternoon session today at the office with a few other missionaries. I really enjoyed all of the sessions. We watched them at the Haaga chapel. They have it in Finnish projected onto a screen in the chapel and then in English projected onto a screen in the overflow area. All of the missionaries were in the English section and so were many of the Finns. It would be cool to listen to it in Finnish but one of the best things about conference is hearing the actual voices of the general authorities. With the translation that bonus is lost. We brought a bunch of sandwich stuff and just ate at the chapel. It wasn't anything too special but the point was simply not to be hungry. It was fun to see Elder Causse give the prayer because we met him! Yeah! Did you listen to Elder Nelson's talk? I guess it was in Priesthood Session. What he talked about is exactly what members need to do to help missionary work! He is so right! Besides, how can you argue with an Apostle?
September 27, 2010
We had a pretty good week. The training meetings were all great and it was a lot of fun to have Elder Ranzenberger with us. He and I still get along really well and we had a few good opportunities to teach together. It was really good.
Today we went to Helsinki with the Espoo I elders for a few hours. We walked around and looked at some stores and stuff. We didn't take any pictures because we weren't really doing site seeing. Elder Leppard and I are looking for some good winter gloves because last winter my hands were always freezing cold and I don't want to deal with that again.
Our investigators are doing pretty well. One of them stopped drinking coffee, which is awesome. Another is reading a lot out of the Book of Mormon. Another is praying to know if God is really there. Each investigator is so different from another. They all progress differently and have different needs and experiences. Two of them came to church yesterday and I think they like the fast and testimony meeting. Church is a little bit more stressful when you have investigators there, though. Trying to make everything perfect and make sure that they are being taking care of is a lot of work.
We are excited for General Conference. Watching Conference for us is like watching a football game, but better. The elders from Hyvinkää are going to come down for the weekend and stay with us because Conference isn't shown at their chapel. Because of the time difference and such, we get to watch one session Saturday night and then all day Sunday is just conference sessions with an hour or two inbetween for food breaks. We don't get to watch the Sunday afternoon session because of the time difference so we might go watch the Relief Society meeting on Saturday to make up for it...
September 13, 2010
We had a number of opportunities to discuss with members missionary work last week. Some of the members are so excited and are trying to arrange meetings with their friends and neighbors. That's the best way to do it! I think I've said before, in a perfect world, the members do all of the finding and the missionaries can do the teaching. The best thing is that some of these potential investigators are families. There is nothing better than teaching an entire family. This ward is made of almost exclusively of families. For a family to join the church the transition would be so smooth.
August 30, 2010
Yes, our investigator, was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday as scheduled. It was actually pretty cold (about 12 degrees C) but she said the water wasn't too bad. Several of her family members came to the service which was really great. The location was so perfect because of how peaceful and pretty it was. It was totally silent when she and the brother to baptize her walked into the water. There was a good Spirit present and everything went very well.
AUGUST 23, 2010
Last week was our super intense week-long training meeting with President. Never before have I learned so much stuff in just a week. My head was pretty sore by the end of the week. The great thing is that it is all 100% applicable in any life situation. As a missionary or regular member or regular person or whatever, the principles apply. Because the meetings were all day every day we were only able to do teaching/missionary work in the evenings. Even so, a lot of good things happened.
The baptism is scheduled for this Saturday and all is going well. The most stressful part/biggest problem was finding a place to have the service. She wants to be baptized in Lohja Lake so it was a challenge to find a place that would be suitable and would ''please'' the most people. A little stressfull but now it has been taken care of so it's all in condition. Yes we will take lots of pictures.
These next two weeks are going to be insanely busy. We have district meetings we to visit, splits we to do, people to teach, and about a thousand other things. They are all good things, luckily, but we're going to be pretty tired. Oh well. Missionaries are supposed to be tired. We'll take it easy topside.
Last Monday we did a lot of baking. Banana bread, cookies, and pizza. We brought the cookies to one of the training meetings and gave a loaf of banana bread to President and Sister Brown. Mmmm.
August 16, 2010
Soo another week. We were, as always, crazy busy with all of the different things to do. We had splits on Wednesday with the Espoo I elders and then again on Saturday in Hyvinkää with the Hyvinkää elders. On Friday was Zone Leader Council with all of the zone leaders and President/Sister Brown at their home. We always go to the temple that morning with the others. That's always an awesome experience. The mission is starting to cruise forward. The number of baptisms is going to be quite a bit higher than it was last year, due to the great training from Elder Causse (the French seventy) and with the Spirit softening up the Finnish people
August 9, 2010
Last week was pretty intense. We had a lot of stuff from zone conference to a baptismal service to attend. Zone conference was awesome, as always. We didn't have to do a presentation this time because it was President presenting a new teaching program that came straight from the First Presidency and Twelve. Preach My Gospel is still the same and we still teach the same things, but the program is to teach missionaries how to teach. I'm pretty excited for it to come into full action soon. It's a pretty big deal.
Our investigator wanted to visit someone else's baptismal service to see what it's like so we attended one in Haaga (it's in Helsinki) on Tuesday. It was really good and she loved it. She is still doing great. There's not much to say except for that she is a good example and inspiration to us and to all the members who meet her.
Wee!! Our investigator has a baptismal date!! She will be baptized on the 28th of August in Lohja Lake. We are very excited. At the last teach we had planned to talk about baptism with her and see what she was thinking and she more or less brought it up herself and said she wants to be baptized in August. So, we picked the 28th. She has to get some eye surgery in the middle of August, thus the reason it will be so late in the month but that's ok. She is so ready. She keeps trying to teach her boyfriend the gospel and she accepts everything like crazy. We taught tithing earlier last week, which can be a stumbling block for many, but the Spirit told her don't worry about it, so she said she'd do it when she is a member.
We didn't get a change call so Elder Leppard and I get to stay together. He is only my second companion with whom I have will have been with for more than one change! Pretty weird. I can't believe that I've already been in Espoo for 3 months and after this change 4.5 months. Crazy.
Last Friday we were on a train to Kouvola for a district meeting and we got a call from President Brown. As you may know, every three months, missionaries in Russia have to renew their visas. He called and told us that such an event was happening, but one missionary's visa did not go through and has to wait until Tuesday. He asked us to take care of him for the next few days until his visa is good to go and he can go back to Russia. His name is Elder Haynes from Arizona. He's been a missionary for only 6 months, a little bit younger, and is trapped in Finland with us. I like him. He doesn't speak a lick of Finnish (who does?) and got to experience church, the lesson where our investigator set her baptismal date, a dinner appointment and Finland in general. We've all been having fun. He should be going back tomorrow.
July 19, 2010
So. It has been really hot lately. And humid. All of the Finns are amazed at how hot it is. First we have the coldest/longest/most intense winter in 7-10 years and then we have this crazy hot/humid summer. It's nuts.
Things have both slowed down and accelerated at the same time. Almost everyone is on vacation but the number of baptismal dates across the mission is shooting up and continues to climb faster and faster. Kinda strange how that works but we're not complaining! Our investigator close to baptism surprised us by coming to church yesterday. She is now back from vacation so we can get right back to it. The last thing we have to teach her is tithing and it was pretty convenient because they talked a lot about tithing at church yesterday so she's already learned the introduction to it. We're shooting for a baptismal date with her after we've taught it.
July 5, 2010
On Friday we had our zone conference with Elder Caussé. It was so good. He talked about exactly what we needed to hear to help get things going around yet another corner so we can baptize everyone. At least those that are baptizable. Friday night was a leadership meeting with us, President Brown, Elder Caussé, the stake presidency, and the other stake organization presidents. It was a sweet meeting. The whole meeting was how the members can be better missionaries and better help the missionaries. As soon as the few suggestions are enacted, everything will go forward that much faster. On Saturday was the Zone Leader Council up in Oulu. We jumped on a train from Helsinki at 7:30 and arrived at 2:00. It was a long ride. I got to see Elder Ranzenberger for a minute as he and his zone were just finishing up their meeting and leaving to the train station. A fun mini reunion. The council with Elder Caussé was also awesome. We have a good list of things to work on and make happen. He is such a good teacher it was awesome. He knows the scriptures so well and knows how to teach to people's needs. I really enjoyed being around him and trying to soak up knowledge. After the meeting we took a night train home. Let me tell you, that was an experience. It's hard to explain in words so the picture will have to suffice.
June 21, 2010
This morning we had a teach with our investigator who is so close to baptism it's ridiculous. She has narrowed it down to the first week in August when she could get baptized so she's going to pray about that and get a specific day. We'll follow up with her on Thursday about it. She is such a good example to her friends. She has taught one of her friends that alcohol is not good nor is coffee. This morning she told us that he has stopped drinking alcohol and today was the first day for him without coffee. It's kinda funny because he's very skeptical about the church and gives her a bunch of anti stuff but he is now trying to live the word of wisdom. It doesn't matter to her though, she knows what she told him to cut it out because it won't change her mind.
Next week is a mission tour with Elder Causse!! (He's from France). It's going to be so sweet. He's going to visit each of the zones for a day. We'll have basically another zone conference where the whole zone comes together at one of the chapels where he will tell us things and teach us things. We're all excited.
June 14, 2010
Wow what a week. Elder Nikiforov is now back in mother Russia and I'm with the elders in the Espoo I ward (my ward is the Espoo II ward). We'll still be together until tomorrow when my new companion comes. My new companion is Elder Leppard, from England. He's my papa Finn from the MTC so I already know him pretty well, and then he was in the Kouvola district when I was district leader there. He'll be coming from Lahti where he was district leader over the Tampere district. He's a good missionary and I'm excited to be with him.
Last Saturday was a baptism over in Haaga, a part of Helsinki. The three of us went and several of the other Helsinki missionaries were there as well, including the sister missionaries who taught the girl that was baptised. It was a very nice service. It was the first baptismal service that I had been to. There were several people who didn't speak Finnish there so they asked me to translate. I spoke into a little microphone and the people needing the translation wore headphones to listen. Let me tell you, speaking, listening, and translating are 3 completely different things. Listening is the easiest because it just makes sense in your head. Speaking is a bit harder because you have to put together the grammar principles and words yourself. Translating is a mess because you have to listen and speak in two languages at the same time. It was fun though and it went pretty ok.
June 7, 2010
A letter written to our ward:
My name is Elder Grimm and I have the privilege to serve in the Finland Helsinki Mission. I am the oldest of the Grimm children and have been in the field for approximately one year. Serving a mission has been one of the best (if not the best) experiences of my life. I would like to share a simple lesson learned in just the past few weeks. The question is, ''From where do we get our joy?'' Often we think that the more ''stuff'' we have, the more joy we obtain. I have learned that lasting joy or happiness can come only from the eternal things. Our television will eventually break; our car will eventually run out of gas, permanently. However, families can be together forever. We can enjoy life in the Celestial Kingdom FOREVER. The lesson I learned, to put it another way, is that we must be so careful to determine our sources of joy. A car or television or anything else of that nature is not bad, in it of itself, but if we seek happiness from these things, we will find ourselves in a never-ending search for more. Seek things of eternal consequence, not of immediate gratification. I am so happy to be a missionary. Thank you for taking care of my family. The church is true!
May 31, 2020
Another week come and gone just like that. We were insanely busy but it was good. The one investigator with the baptismal date decided to postpone it for a month so he can get more faith first. He's a good guy so we'll stay with him as long as is necessary. He was at church for all 3 hours, a first for him. Our other investigator was also at church for the full 3 hours. Last week when we visited her, she had invited her friend/neighbor over for the lesson. We ended up teaching him about the Book of Mormon and she was testifying along with us. It was great. Hopefully we'll be able to meet him again this week sometime.
May 17, 2010
Stake Conference was good. It was at this big conference center place the church rented in Helsinki because there aren't any church buildings that are big enough for stake conference. President Brown spoke, of course about missionary work. He did a really good job. Elder Nikiforov was trying to translate into Russian for a temple missionary couple from Russia. He was pretty done afterwards. Translating really makes your head hurt, especially since Finnish grammar is so different from Russian or English or any other language, for that matter.
Yes we got change calls on Saturday but I'm emailing you today because it won't work out later in the week. So, I am getting moved, again, to Espoo. Espoo is basically part of Helsinki, kinda on the western side. My new companion is Elder Nikiforov from Russia! He only has 6 weeks left before he goes home so I'll be getting another new companion in 6 weeks. The two of us will the Helsinki Zone Zone Leaders. Luckily, he's been a zone leader for forever so he'll be able to train me up pretty well. Once again, I think President was in a funny mood again when he made the decision to now make me a zone leader. It's kinda sad to leave Kouvola because I was only here for 6 weeks. The ward was pretty shocked. They all thought that Elder Fuchs would be the one to leave because he's already been here for 3 changes. But it'll be a lot of fun. Elder Nikiforov is a stud and we get to travel around and do ''zone leader stuff.'' Whatever that entails, I'm not totally sure but we have a car again! It kinda stinks because I just got my bike like 4 weeks ago and now I won't really need it at all for the rest of my mission...Oh well, I'll sell it to someone and then the problem is solved. There are actually 2 wards in Espoo and we're in Espoo 2. I actually think that that's the ward the Nielsons from Colorado go to. I guess I'll find out on Sunday!
Speaking of Finnish, it's going pretty well. I really think we know more than we want to give ourselves credit for as missionaries. Of course, it depends on the topic of conversation and some people just use really weird words that no one knows but overall I do ok. Everyday we hear words we don't know so we try to learn them but you kinda can just infer a lot of the time what the mysterious word means using the context of the conversation. It's a lot of fun though. I hope I can find a good way to keep it up when I get home. It's a beautiful language and only Finns/Mormon missionaries/random Italian exchange students can speak it. We still speak a lot of English together but we do also speak Finnish together too. I can't give you an exact percentage because we speak A LOT of Finglish (Finnish + English mixed together).
April 19, 2010
Anywho last week was a pretty crazy one. We had one normal work day because the rest of the days we were traveling or something. We were in Lappeenranta on Tuesday for splits, Helsinki Thursday night/Friday for a District Leader Meeting, Wednesday was District Meeting here in Kouvola etc...It was a really good week though. We were able to teach a few times and some good things happened.
This morning we had a school present with the Relief Society President from the ward. It went fine. The teacher was asking a lot of pretty intense/''deep'' questions that are hard to answer even in English. For example, ''Do you believe that only Mormons go to heaven?'' I answered by saying what Joseph Smith told that one reporter guy, ''No, not even all Mormons go to heaven.'' (something along those lines). I continued by saying HOW someone can get to heaven by describing Christ's Gospel, eli 1. Faith 2. Repentance 3. Baptism 4. Gift of the Holy Ghost 5. Enduring to the End. I described each step but pointed out that when God wants someone to work in His name, He asks them to. In other words saving ordinances must be done by the right authority and power. He then asked, ''So you believe that the Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran...don't have authority to do these things?'' That was a much easier question. ''Correct,'' says I. Then there was a pretty strong silence/feeling in the room. Now, as missionaries it is 100% ineffective to go around talking about other churches and why we're right. We only teach about the things that have blessed us and how others too can get the same joy and blessings. But when someone asks a question that simple and direct, a simple and direct answer is needed. It was a pretty good presentation overall. Afterwards the teacher said he asks those kind of questions because his students hardly ask questions and he wants them to think about these kind of things. I'm glad he was brave enough to do so.
So yesterday was one of the best church times I've had since coming to the country. It was ward conference so the Stake Presidency and other Stake leaders came to visit. We had planned for another investigator to come but she kinda backed out a day or two before. However, a little bit to our surprise, the husband (of the older couple we are teaching) came to church. It was so good. The speakers said things which were exactly what he needed to hear. The Spirit was great and the members, as always, did a great job taking care of him. We're going to teach him again on Thursday with the same couple from the ward that came last time. We're excited for it! He's doing really well.
April 12, 2010
Conference was really nice. We went to Lahti and stayed with the missionaries there because conference isn't broadcast in Kouvola. It was fun. No one else from our ward came to Lahti. One of our investigators was going to go to conference somewhere but she wasn't sure yet. Apparently it wasn't in Lahti! Honestly we're not totally sure she was able to go. We tried calling her but she didn't pick up so we'll have to wait and see what happened. We get to watch all of the sessions except for Sunday afternoon. We have to wait for the conference Liahona for that stuff.
There's not really much to report on teaching for last week because we didn't get to! All of our investigators were gone/busy because of Easter and there are very few less actives that actually live in the Kouvola area. Almost all of the less actives live in the two cities we visit: Loviisa and Kotka. These two places are in this ward but are both a little bit of a trip away (45 minutesish). It didn't work out for anyone in those places to meet last week so yeah.
I'll tell you what though, Finns love their holidays. If it's not a holiday, things go normally, stores are open, people go to work, people are outside...However, if it is a holiday, it's like everyone goes into hiding and the city shuts down. Friday was a ''Pyhä Päivä,'' a ''Holy Day'' and so was Sunday. Apparently today is too because everything is still closed and no one is outside. The members told us today is also a ''Pyhä Päivä'' being Easter Monday and all. On Friday and Sunday we were told not to tract because the last thing we want to do is make people angry. Today, though, we're kinda scared to go tracting because everything/everyone is still in ''Pyhä Päivä'' mode. We'll see what happens I guess. If I don't write on Monday it's because we got mugged by an angry Finn for disrupting his Pyhä Päivä.
March 29, 2010
It is nice to be here in Kouvola. Elder Fuchs is a stud and keeps me in line :) It's also nice because there are more people here to teach so we spend more of our time teaching and not walking around/tracting.
So as district leader, I am semi-responsible for the missionaries in this district. And by semi-responsible, I mean they still take care of themselves, of course, but at the end of every week on Sunday, they text me their numbers for the week which I record into the area book and then I pass the information up to the Zone Leaders and then they pass it up to President's assistants who then pass it up to President himself. I also conduct District Meeting for our district which is held a certain amount of times depending on the proximity of the cities to each other. For example, in Helsinki where everyone is close, they have district meeting every week. In our district, we're going to have one every other week (about). Elder Fuchs and I also get to go and do splits in the other cities in our district to check up on the others and see how they're doing. That's more or less all it is. So far it's fun. Luckily, the missionaries in this District are outstanding and take care of themselves very well.
Things are all going very well in Finland. This year has been dubbed the ''Year of Change.'' Anyone that says that Europe doesn't baptize a lot of people needs to come and see what's happening here. The numbers are off the charts good and are improving so rapidly it's unbelievable. But that's just it, we have to believe and that's why it's working.
March 23, 2010
Yes I got transferred. I am now in Kouvola, a city pretty close to Helsinki. My companion is now Elder Fuchs. He's been in the country for 3 months and is way cool. Guess where he's from. Austria!! And his companion before me was a Swede, so last night it was me (the American), Elder Fuchs (the Austrian), and Elder Karlsson (the Swede) all together. It was quite an international experience. I am here because I am now the Kouvola District Leader. In the Kouvola District are the cities of Kouvola (duh), Lappeenranta, and Hyvinkää. I guess President was in a funny mood or something when he made that decision.
The ward here in Kouvola is supposed to be pretty sweet. Not very big, maybe 50 or so, but still pretty good. I've met a couple of the people in this ward when I was in Kuopio because they have kids there that they visited and they were way cool. Kouvola is slightly smaller than Rauma but I don't think it's quite as spread out. Our apartment is right in the city center, above one of the clothing stores. It's really nice because everything is very close and accessable
March 15, 2010
In other news, last week was Zone Conference in Tampere. It was really good, if not my favorite one. Yes we ate reindeer at a member's house a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty good, kind gamey but good. No we actually don't eat a whole lot of fish. I've only had it a couple of times; both times it was really good though.
Last Friday we had splits with Elder Pettus and his companion from Turku. It was pretty fun to be with Elder Pettus for a while again. This is his last week and then he and his group all go home next week. Pretty crazy. When we started together, he still had like 7 months. Now he only has like 10 days. This coming Saturday is change calls. We're pretty sure I'm leaving and Elder Powell will be staying. So, next week, when you don't hear from me on Monday wait until Tuesday/Wednesday!
Our investigators are doing alright. The 19-year old prayed for the first time with us. It was kinda funny, we would commit him to read something from the Book of Mormon and then pray afterwards. However, he would read a little bit but not pray and then wonder why he hasn't received an answer about God. So, we figured we would have him pray with us right then so he did. Now we know that he knows how and he doesn't have any excuses not to pray! He would be a sweet member if he keeps reading AND praying to get his answer. Our other main investigator is from China and is a really good kid. He's been taught basically everything so now we're just going through the Plan of Salvation in a bit more detail. His parents back in China want to talk to him about joining the church before he makes a decision so we're just kinda waiting for him to do that. He can't go home until the summer so in the meantime we chill here and keep teaching him stuff.
February 22, 2010
Rauma is good. Last week was one of those weeks where we spent most of our time trying to find new people to teach. On Friday and Saturday, we had no teaching plans whatsoever so we spent those two entire days tracting and street contacting. The missionary work wasn't the hard part; it was that it happened to be -30 with wind chill both days. If nothing else it makes a good story. We were in Tampere on Wednesday for District Meeting which was fun. President Brown taught about pride from President Benson's talk, ''Beware of Pride.'' So good.
The new apartment isn't anything too special. It's actually attached to a home that is owned by a member from the ward. She and her husband live in the same building and there are some random people that live on the second floor. The apartments are all totally seperate with their own bathrooms and kitchens and everything. However, our apartment is a one roomer, the smallest in the mission. In other words, our beds, desks, couch, dressers, everything is in the same room. I'll try to remember to take a picture of it for next week.
Yes the big 20 is next week. That means I'll no longer be a teenager. Kinda weird. Elder Powell turns 21 in April so he's already used to it. I think to celebrate we'll go tracting or maybe teach a lesson. We'll be in Helsinki on the night of the 3rd through the morning of the 5th so I guess that's kinda like a birthday party, without cake, presents, candles, ice cream and stuff. Yeah the address I gave you last week will work just fine. Don't worry about anything fancy, or anything for that matter, it's exciting enough just to get a piece of paper in the mail box so anything more than that could trigger a heart attack or something.
Yes so in Kuopio they speak Savo. In Rauma they speak...Rauma. The Finns joke that there's Finnish, and then there's Rauma: 2 different languages. Non-Rauma speakers don't even understand the Rauma speakers. The nice thing, though, is that unlike in Kuopio where everyone is just hard to understand, only a few random people actually speak the Rauma dialect. In other words, it is MUCH easier to understand people here. Elder Powell, who has been here for about 5 months, said that he's only run into like 2 or 3 people that spoke the full Rauma and that they were impossible to understand. Everyone else, though, is quite a bit easier.
Yesterday after church we went and ate dinner with member who is actually from Germany but is working here while his family is still in Germany. He speaks a little bit of English and zero Finnish. Even so, he is in church every Sunday and we try to translate for him. We don't do a very good job but he's a way sweet guy. It was kinda funny because while we were still at church, he was talking with one of the Finnish sisters from the ward. Now, he speaks just a little bit of English and the sister speaks only Finnish, nothing else. As you can imagine, it was kinda fun to listen to their conversation as they were talking about 2 completely different things but were very nice to each other.
German Member (in English): ''Thanks for the cookies!''
Finnish member (in Finnish): ''Was it nice when your wife visited last week?''
German Member (again, in English): ''Yes, the cookies were very good!''
Classic. But the message is that it's way cool how members from different countries with a language barrier still try to love each other and be friendly. It's so great.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Monday, December 7, 2009
December 7, 2009
Another week come and gone and time is going pretty quick. In just three days will be my 6 month mark (not that I'm counting, it's just important to know the date all the time and it's not like you can just forget important days, like when I entered the MTC and such). I have yet to receive my package. Today is the tenth business day so I really hope I get it today so I can enjoy it all day because it's P-Day. If not, I'll definitely get it this week in time for our road trip to Joensuu.
We spent last weekend in Savonlinna. We actually went up Friday night because Sunday was Finland's ''Itsenäisyyspäivä'' Independence Day. On Independence Day we're not allowed to go tracting or anything so there wasn't really any work we could do, thus the reason we went up on Friday to get more than just a Saturday afternoon's worth of work. It was a really good trip. We met with a lot of members and got to know them a bit. They want missionaries so bad in their own city. We'll see what happens next change if they get some. It's pretty cool because Savonlinna has a real life castle! It's pretty sweet. We just drove past it because we didn't have any time to go and play around inside of it (because we're missionaries). Maybe in the future I'll be in Savonlinna and will get to take a P day and check it out and take a bunch of pictures.
This week is going to be a pretty standard week. We are going to Joensuu Saturday through Sunday, but other than that we'll be here doing our normal thing. Our investigators are doing ok. Right now our most exciting person is our blind investigator. A few weeks ago we were considering dropping her because she wasn't progressing but she suddenly took off and is praying about baptism! If she keeps progressing like she has been things are looking pretty promising. The other investigators still all have a lot of potential, we just need to help them realize we're not just neat guys who talk about Christ. There's a LOT more to it than that. We do what we can.
I just thought of something: my Schwab Check card expires in March, so I'm not sure what I need to do to get that taken care of. The Visa card expires soon too, FYI.
That's fun you get a new calling. Maybe you shouldn't raise your kids to be good and then maybe you wouldn't have to worry about having responsiblity :)
It's so weird because it doesn't even feel like Christmas time. Days just come and go without really any mind to what time of the year it is. To think that I started in June when it was warm and sunny is weird. Maybe it's a good thing because time is just kinda a blur. Doing the same stuff everyday really has a numbing effect on everything.
So we're still not entirely sure what the deal is with Christmas calls. We're meeting with our Branch Mission Leader this week to figure out where we will be for Christmas. I'll let you know next week how that'll go down.
It's lame because we don't have any snow at the moment. The Finns are all angry about it and so are we. There was that crazy warm streak that melted everything and it's settling back down into the normal cold/freezing temperatures it should be at. Hopefully we'll have snow within the next week. We do get to go to Rovaniemi again for a District Meeting. I think the plan is to go up on the 23rd and we'll be able to see Santa leave to go around the world and stuff. It's going to be sweet! And they'll have snow!
Wow Bri is getting married eh? That's cool. If you happen to see her/talk to her tell her I say congratulations. It's good to hear that Brandon got married too.
Hmm the stores we shop at aren't really that exciting. We shop for food once a week on our p day at this store called Prisma. It's basically like the Finnish Wal-Mart. Not too exciting. For other shopping (like for souvenirs and such) there isn't much in Kuopio. There's a department store called Sokos which is a pretty big chain here that has all sorts of stuff. I don't know, all we really buy is food. We did buy a vacuum (from Prisma) a few weeks ago because ours almost exploded. 100€ later we have a new vacuum! It's got serious suction power. The grocery stores do have a much bigger selection of dairy, sausage, and candy though for sure. It's kinda cool. Tell me if you get the package I sent. Hopefully it'll get there before Christmas.
Oh one other thing. If you'll be able to track down David Mauler's address in Denmark I would appreciate it. That kid hasn't written back to my last letter when he was still in the MTC and I've been expecting a response so I need to get on his case. Thanks. I haven't heard back from Young Tai either...
Ok time is up again so I guess I have to go. Christmas is in less than 3 weeks! It's kinda funny because we get our change calls the day after Christmas and then change day, when everyone moves, is the next week. So whoever gets a change will be in one place for Christmas and in another for New Year's. Kinda funny. Well I'll talk to you all next week!
November 30, 2009
I'm glad the basement is making progress. Hopefully the water test thing doesn't destroy the house or something.
No I haven't been in a sauna but I have seen what they look like. They were banned for missionaries a few years ago after too many bad incidents happened. As for piano, no I haven't had to play any songs/hymns for anything. Yeah I've played a little bit for fun at the church or something but not really much else. There are actually a lot of Finns, maybe just the members, who are very musical. They take care of all the music so we don't have to worry about it, or at least that's how it is in Kuopio. In fact, they have a special musical number every Sunday by different people from the ward. In fact, this new family just moved in a couple months ago and the dad is one of the best players I've ever heard in my life. He's pretty quiet but he's way cool. He and his wife are very young but he's already a doctor and they're probably loaded. We'll find out for sure on Thursday because we're eating dinner at their house!
I haven't gotten the package yet but our mail doesn't come until about noon or so so maybe today. If not, for sure this week which will be sweet because we're going to Savonlinna this weekend and it would be sweet to have some new conference talks for the drive. I actually haven't mailed my package home. We had some stuff come up last week so we didn't really have time, but today we're doing it for sure. It may or may not get there for Christmas but we'll see! The mission home address is perfect for the alternate. They'll either forward it to me for however many euros it would cost or they'll hold on to it and bring it to me at the next Zone Conference which is in about 2.5 weeks. Either way I'll get it!
Christmas in Finland is pretty similar as in the States but they, of course, have their own little tradition things. They actually celebrate on the night of the 24th and Santa comes in person to deliver the gifts. I'm not exactly sure yet how that goes down but I guess I'll find out. As with most big holidays here, the Finns celebrate by isolating themselves from the outside world. Kinda like what I like to do. So on the 24th, the 25th, and the 26th, everything is going to be dead. On those three days we hang out at members' homes and do whatever they do for those days. On the 25th also we get to do the calls home. Because we still don't know whose home we'll be in for the 25th, we don't know when we'll be able to do the calls so I'll keep you posted. People don't really decorate for Christmas. Some people will put some lights up or candles in windows but that's about it. In the city center they put up a huge Christmas tree with lights that change. It's pretty cool. They make a bunch of food just like we do and do gifts and stuff. Elder Pettus said last year at Christmas the members they were with gave them socks and soap and stuff like that which was very nice. It's kinda funny because there isn't really anything we need that we can't get with our MSF and as missionaries there's only so much we can do anyway. I guess it's easier that way.
We actually have 6 investigators at the moment, the most I've had since coming here. They all definitely have potential, the trick is meeting with them more often than we currently are. The perfect situation would be teaching them at least 2-3 times a week but it's hard because people are so busy, we're lucky to teach them once a week, if that. It's getting better though for sure. We have 2 families, our blind lady, a guy from Africa, an older lady who lets in the Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentacostles too apparently, but it didn't seem like she liked them very much, and also a lady who teaches music at a school here. They're all very nice and good people, we just need to help them act on what they're being taught.
Sorry but my time has run out. Ask the questions I didn't get to answer next week and I'll start with those (ie daily schedule and such).
Love you all lots and have a suurenmoinen week!
Love, Elder Grimm