Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tervetuloa suomiin! 3rd vikko. Elder Ford

Hey everybody!!!
Man, it just felt like last pday, days go by sooo fast here!! Somedays the actual day can be long, but weeks go by sooo fast!!  I keep thinking that spring is just around the corner, but this week was one of the coldest. Atleast Saturday and Sunday were, it was about -8 celcius, but if you couple that with the subartic winds and walking around tracting it gets pretty chilly. But I love it!!  So I"ll apologize in advance, I havent taken many pictures because I keep forgetting to bring my camera around, but next week Ill upload a lot of pictures from Finland.  The thing with Finland winters is they are so harsh and everything looks dead, unless it really snows then it looks like Narnia. But since the spring is coming everything is starting to come back to life and its starting to look way pretty!!
So a funny story that happened is I was having a dinner appointment with this family thats in our ward, and they were just asking questions to me about my family. The word for mother is Aiti in finnish. Well my brain decided to not work while trying to think of the name and instead I said "minun (swear word, donkey) is very nice. I meant to say my mother is very nice. But yea, that didnt come out right, but they just started laughing really hard haha!! So sorry mom, I promise I didnt mean it haha.   Foreign language probz.  But this week has been a good one. Weve done a lot of tracting lately because a lot of our investigators keep dropping. We have quite a few investigators though which is great. But havent had much success lately having a consistent meeting with them.  We have this investigator right now whos had a long previous past with the missionaries and has had a tough time, but lately he has been coming to the church and has been really accepting of our message. Hes from russia, and hes a really cool guy. Tough outer shell but a soft heart haha.  Another family we have been working with is the H family. They are a cute family and there kids go insane with excitement when we teach them.  Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself because there 3 year old son can speak and understand more finnish then I can.  The father is running for parliament so they are super busy so its hard to teach them.  But I have high hopes for them!  One of the converts that Vanhin Findley recently baptized right before I came to Finland received the priesthood last sunday. he was all smiles and so happy!! It was awesome, and there was such a strong spirit while it happened.  Its great to go over and teach him, hes a super cool guy.  
This week while tracting we found a man that invited us in. Apparently he knows the Book of Mormon is true, but he has never been to church or knows anything else about the gospel. So im really excited to go back and teach him because if you know the BOM is true, then you know Joseph Smith was a prophet and then everything else falls into place.  
So Ive noticed I have been able to understand a lot more recently when people talk. Now when I say a lot more it means I can pick up on more words but by no means do I know what people are fully saying to me haha.  I talk to a lot of people in Finnish, like contacting on the street, but when they respond usually I hand it over to Vanhin Findley because I dont know what there usually saying.  But its very humbling, and I have a lot of fun talking to people even though I dont really understand what there saying. The best is when I talk to people, and I do understand what they say back to me and then we get in a conversation, and then I explain that I have only been in Finland 3 weeks and the looks on there face is so priceless haha.  Some have called me a liar because they think no one could speak like that for only being here 3 weeks. Even the Finnish people know how hard there language is and will have pity on people.  But sometimes its really fun to be the noobie and take everything in.  I know I dont need to be afraid when I talk because I know Im representing God and know matter what, even if I cant talk to them I can give them a smile and sometimes thats good enough.  
This week in church was super good. In sacrament meeting I focused more on the words during the sacrament prayer and I started thinking of Jesus Christ Atonement for me.  I have been doing a lot of studying on the atonement to understand it better since everything in the Gospel works because of it.   Its just something so hard to understand.  But this week I was reading a talk by Elder Bednar on how theres two parts to the Atonement. The Healing (repentance), which is normally the thing we think of when we think of the atonement. And then there is the empowering part. That allows Christs mercy to strengthen us, and it allows good men to become saints. We need to use the atonement daily and it allows us to become closer to our savior Jesus Christ. 
Anyway, good solid week.  Everything is possible through God.  If we apply the atonement to our lives daily, bad men become good, good men become better, and better men become saints.  It empowers us in everything we do.
Mua mua! Mina tiedan etta, kun me uskomme jeesuksen kristuksen me saamme voima.  I know that when we believe in jesus christ we receive strength.  
Vanhin Ford.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Good week down here in the good ol land of the Finns

Vanhin Merrill and me pulling the sweet pic on our last temple walk in the MTC!!!

Minun Toverani
My companion Vanhin Findlay

Terve everybody!!
Man, sometimes days can feel like weeks here, but the weeks fly by!! It just felt like it was pday!!  Ok, first off I want to clarify something. In my letters, especially since my letters are posted on a blog, you wont see many names other then the names of missionaries and people I get approval from. You may see a first name here and there, but never a last name. This is because Finland has VERY strict privacy laws.  They dont allow people to post names of other people on websites if they dont have that persons permission. So missionaries have to be very careful in what they write.  So usually if you see me refer to a family, it will be like there first initial or something like that.  
But this week has been really good! When I first got here 2 weeks ago the sun wasnt out that often and it rained or was dark and was pretty cold. But spring is definately coming and the sun has been out a ton more and its been a lot warmer! Ive noticed that everyones moods on the street really pickup haha.  Heres a thing about the Finns. They are very reserved and quiet upfront. For example, the other day I was in the train station getting new Bus passes. I dont have a bike or a car, because I use the bus. Anyway I was getting it renewed and I looked around the bus station and there were tons of people in there, but it was like dead quiet.  It was super weird. And in the people that were talking to each other, finns can be very quiet sometimes. Its really weird. Also, the Finns have the highest percentage of phone usage per capita in the World. Sometimes it can be kind of sad, because youi get on a bus and EVERYONE is looking down at there cellphone not acknowledging anyone around them. They got what you called Text necks, Dad. haha Its because there looking down at there phones SO much.  They also have headphones in all the time. Not everyone, but a TON of people. But you could say that with pretty much any first world country now a days. Its sad sometimes because people miss a lot of genuine human interaction because of technology and always being glued to there screen. But, now that I have ranted about them, Im here to tell you that the Finns are super cool and super nice once you get to know them! They are really reserved and quiet upfront but once you get inside there home and get to know them there really friendly! 
So a really cool experience happened last monday I forgot to mention.  So Vanhin Findley and I were coming back from an appoitment and we had about an hour to go and contact people on the street but we didnt know where to go. So we decided to say a prayer on where to go. We got done praying and decided to go a certain way, and when we were walking into town we spotted this guy we had been talking to the day previous. We just picked him to talk on the street the day before, and my companion then recognized him as a previous investigator. This guy has to be the most shy person I have ever met. He will just stand there and make grunting noises with an awkward smile on his face while we talk to him haha. He doesnt say much at all. I was told when he was being taught that he wouldnt say anything either because hes super shy. I heard this way funny story about this Elder who couldnt get any answers out of him when he asked him if he would accept the commitment to be baptized.  So then the elder said "Dont say anything if you want to be baptised" haha..  Then the guy said he mabye. But it never progressed to much.  Anyway back to the main story.  We started saying hi to this guy again, but he wasnt saying anything, Just standing there awkwardly. Just then my companion gets this hard tap on the back from this guy and they start hugging. This was a previous investigator that he hadnt seen since december! Hes from south africa and speaks english.  Hes a really cool guy, ill just refer to him as R.  But he said he had been thinking about us the day previous, and we started teaching him again, and he said he got a really good feeling when we showed him the Joseph Smith movie. But he goes back and forth between Helsinki so that can be a downer cause hes not always here, but I have high hopes for him.
Oh yea, another weird experience this week. We were checking out one of our investigators whos name is Jen. While we were talking to her she just passed out in front of us at the door haha. We got one of her roomates and she said that happen sometimes to her. But basically she just woke up after a few minutes and all was well.
Right now we have a couple of solid investigators that I have high hopes for. One is this family of 4, the 5th one is on the way.   There kids go CRAZY when we teach there, it can sometimes be hard to teach. But the mom is really interested in going to church which is super cool.  
Right now my finnish is progressively getting better slowly. The way I see finnish is this massive rock wall that you have to slowly chip away at.  But you cant chip away at a whole massive rock, so you work at drilling several holes at pressure spots in the rock, and eventually the whole rock collapses. I see that in finnish by you work on key areas of the language and slowly you just start picking up here and there.  Eventually you start understanding things, things just start to click.  
Yesterday we had zone conference which was super cool. It was awesome seeing my former companion Vanhin Nissen, and I got to see all the missionaries in my zone.  At the end we saw meet the mormons. That is literally like my 8th or 9th time seeing that movie haha. But none the less its a good movie.
Anyway, thats all for this week! I promise you the gospel is true and the Atonement is real! One quick message, is I was reading this talk about the atonement from Elder Bednar. He described how the atonement has two parts. To heal and overcome sins, which is what most of us think about in the atonement. But we can also use the atonement to better ourselves and make Good people better.  We receive strength and mercy through his atonement because Jesus Christ has experienced everything.  Dont pray to god to remove the circumstances, but pray to god to give you the strength and ability to overcome our circumstance and trial. That is how we become stronger. Sometimes he gives us trials not because he wants us to struggle, but because he loves us so much that he knows we grow from it. Its the same with working out, you have to apply force to the muscles which can be hard, but they eventually grow. 
Anyway it was wonderful hearing from everyone, have a fantastic week!
Vanhin Ford

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Finally in the land of 18,000 lakes!‏

Woooohhhooooo, finally here in Finland, first letter!!!!
Ok, so I havent been able to have a pday last week since this time last week I was traveling to Finland so there has been a bunch that has happened.  So this is going to be a pretty long letter.
So I left the MTC at 6am. Normally missionaries, especially international missionaries leave at 3 30am so we got to sleep in a bit.  We first flew from SLC to Dallas, and then from Dallas to England.  It was weird leaving Utah knowing I wouldnt be seeing those beautiful rocky mountains for two years, but thats ok! On the 12 hour flight to England I sat next to a scottish guy named Charles. He was a really nice guy, and me and him chatted most of the flight. I told him what I was doing and he seemed genuinly interested.  I ended up giving him a book of mormon which he said he would really read, so im hoping he will.  He even asked if it would be ok if he got some Alchohol because he knew I didnt drink and said he would respect that and not drink next to me haha. But I just said that he has the agency to do what he wants, but I still got the word in that Alchohol isnt good for you. But he was a really cool guy, and his son looked like Justin Bieber, except hes 11 haha.  It was weird.  Anyway, in the British airport, Vanhin Monterosso and I ended up talking to a guy from India, he was really cool. The cool thing about Elder Monterosso is hes been a convert for only 2 years, and hes 23 now. He knows about every religion super well because thats what he studied in college before he joined the church, so hes SUPER knowlegable about other religions and can show the similarities to people of there church and ours. Super cool elder.  
Anyway, the flight to Helsinki was about 3 hours and I slept most of the time. We landed in Helsinki, and went right to the mission home. For a house, the mission home is super nice in Finland. Very modern and big.  We had a really good dinner and slept over. The next morning we got to meet our trainers and mine is Vanhin Findley. Super cool guy from Seattle Washington. He went to USU though before he came so he knows Utah.  We then went off to our areas.  My area is in a pretty decent sized town called jyväskylä. Its a pretty city, very modern. Are apartment is super modern and nice.  The train ride from Helsinki to Jyväskylä was about 3 hours. I ended up in the train station placing to pass along cards. I really cant understand much of what the Finns are saying haha, but I try my best and I can get the message across.  But I ended up giving away two handout cards speaking in Finnish.  Then on the trainride I talked (more of struggled through a conversation)  to a Finn and ended up getting his contact info to give to other missionaries. I can speak a lot better Finnish then I can understand.  In lessons I dont understand much, but everyday I can understand more and more of conversations which is good.  Most of the time I bear my testimony, or teach short part of lessons.  Most people speak english here to, so if I have a question sometimes Ill ask them how to say a word in Finnish.  
Right now Vanhin Findley and I are in a rebuilding phase, because most of our investigators dont want to meet.  We have this couple, whos names are Keijo and Saari. Saari was baptised not to long ago, but Keijo hasnt been yet. He still has trouble with smoking which were trying to help him out with.  But the thing about it, is EVERYONE smokes in Europe. EVERYBODY. Its not good. Most teens even smoke.  But through the atonement of Jesus Christ everything is possible. Anyway so we keep trying with him, Jyväskylä is also a cool college town so theres some people here who just speak english. They come from other countries because schooling in Finland is free.  We may have a few potential investigators, a couple from russia, and other african countries. 
But I know the Book of Mormon is true and if we listen to gods council he will bless our lives.  
Mina rakastan kaikki sinua
I love all of you!
Vanhin Ford
PS  the apartments here are super solid, and all the houses. They have super think insulation so the heat stays trapped in super good and thats good cause heating is expensive in finland.  We also have a sauna in our bathroom except we cant use it.

PSS also the temple is super pretty here to. Pictures dont do much justice.