Friday, July 23, 2010

Missionaries in Finland are getting A LOT of press these days!

Here is another great article in Finland about the cute missionaires there.
This one is about Elder Christiansen (Elder C was in the MTC with Brian - came out after Brian) and Elder Powell.

(I just have to say that I am in love with this little town of Rauma and their cute shops and streets, hope to go there one day)

From Elder C's mom:

Editors note:  I just now got this article that was written from an interview that Adam and his companion did for a Finnish newspaper.  It is a rough draft that the reporter has sent to various people, including Adam and Daniel for corrections.  It was translated by a former MTC teacher.  He didn’t change the grammar much, so it is pretty much as it is.  I was amazed how touching and thoughtfully it was done.  The reporter seems to really want to get the facts right.  And it is done in a very positive light.
It really makes us proud of Adam and all the other missionaries serving the Lord.

The Translation:

Would you like to learn a bit more?
Elder Powell is not old, a 21 year old young man from Utah named Daniel. Even younger is Elder Christiansen (19-year-old Adam) who walks with Daniel along the stony streets of Rauma.
The road of a Mormon youth is not exactly painted with roses: a missionary’s life is full of work and the days are long. But yet, Daniel and Adam appear to walk with more spring in their step than most other street-walkers.(i think she means the good kind:)

Their bright white shirts, straight pants, interchanging ties, bikes, and of course bike helmets are what you know them by.
Polite boys, many think.
They come from America and then they go back. They knock on people’s doors. Pleasantly, they chat. Their finnish language is good!
Daniel Powell and Adam Christiansen are Mormons, or more accurately, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But before young men become missionaries, they are regular mormon-family youth from Utah.
In Salt Lake City, Daniel Powell has a sociologist father and engineer mother as well as three brothers and two sisters. His two older brothers have served as missionaries in Germany and Ireland.

“Leaving on a mission is a personal choice. I would not have come if I didn’t want to. As a 16 year old, I questioned the whole faith. I didn’t believe that anyone could say that they knew that the stories in the Bible were true.”
“I received a promise from a teacher that if I read the Book of Mormon and sincerely prayed about it, I would receive faith in my heart. Eventually, I did it over a span of three weeks. A lot of other things happened in my life. I received my own testimony and now I can say that I know that this is true” – Powell tells of his faith.
Adam Christiansen’s story is similar. Stay-at-home mom, a father who works at a bank, three sisters and a brother.
“As a child, I believed the whole package. But now, my belief has become my own.”
Life as a missionary is astonishingly full of work. Adam and Daniel set their own goals every day and it’s important that they’re achieved.
A typical day might look something like this:
6:30 a.m. – wake up
Half hour of exercise.
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Individual scripture study.
9:00-10:00 a.m. – Companion scripture study, daily planning.
10:00-11:00 a.m. – Individual Finnish language study.
1:00-9:00 p.m. – Missionary work. A couple of scheduled appointments, meeting people on the streets, and going door-to-door.
9:00 p.m. – Planning for the following day and nightly routine.
On Sundays they go to church and Mondays are their maintenance days when they go shopping, write emails and letters, and do some sort of hobby.
“We also have a goal each week to do three hours of service like helping a church member in their garden.” – tells Powell.
“Usually cutting down trees while swinging from their branches” – laughs Christiansen.

So about the missionary work. How well are the missionaries accepted?
“Every encounter is different. You never know how a person will react.”
“We have been in Rauma so long, that everyone for the most part knows who we are. So we can approach them openly.”
“Usually, people will talk for at least a little while. Every day we get a phone number or address of someone we can contact again.”
If a new appointment is scheduled, the topics of discussion are the gospel of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, commandments and living good lives as well as the Mormon church and its relations to the origins of Christianity.
“Often, people want to talk about what they like or dislike about their own religion. Many ask, why we are here, what are families are like, and what America is like.”
“A lot of times, we meet single people who just want someone to talk to.”
Knocking on the doors of people’s homes is in a certain way exciting.
“You never know what’s behind the door” – Christiansen summarizes.
“One time I was pretty scared when immediately after ringing the doorbell, someone from inside ran quickly to the door. At first I thought they wanted to kill me. But they just thought that a little boy was back who had earlier rung the doorbell and then run into the woods. He was trying to catch the boy. After the fear left, I laughed for a long time. We all laughed.” – Powell remembers.

Powell and Christiansen also face a lot of adverse prejudices.
“People might think that we judge them. That we’re better than them because we preach to them. That we are here to argue with them or to question the Bible with the Book of Mormon. Many ask about polygamy.” – tells Daniel Powell.

But the desire to judge and argue is impossible to find in these men.
“We are here, to help people understand and learn faith. We respect other convictions and we don’t want to decide for God who will return into his kingdom.”
“The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and it has been given to us as a companion to the Bible. The Book of Mormon does not conflict with the Bible” – Powell offsets the common misconception.
“A visit from us won’t hurt anyone. We just want to share what we have received for ourselves.”

What about polygamy?
“Polygamy was practiced based on a commandment that was revoked in the 1890s. It is not approved of the Lord.” – Powell says.
Instead, a normal nuclear family is of utmost importance.
“Family has a central role in God’s plan of salvation. It must be protected.”
“I’d like to find a spouse that believes in the same things as I do, have children and have joy.” – Adam Christiansen says.
Establishing a family is also Daniel Powell’s dream. He plans to study medicine and hopes to find a good job. Adam hopes to be a graphic designer.
Missionaries don’t have their friends here in Finland. They have supporters and help in the church and companions in other cities, but they only have each other for friendship.
“We don’t have time to have normal interactions. When we meet people, our purpose is to teach the word, not to hang out.” – Powell says
It’s probably best for them to not create any really strong ties to Rauma because every six weeks there is the chance to be called to a different location.
“Our mission president knows where we are needed. He decides where and when we move.”
Christiansen came to Rauma from Espoo about three months ago. Powell, on the other hand, has been in Rauma the whole time, already nine months.
“I think I’ll leave within the next few weeks.” – he says.
“I don’t really know where I’d like to go. On one hand, the big cities unnerve me, on the other hand, it would be a great experience.”
Powell leaves for home in Utah over a year from now, Christiansen in November.
“I’ve often thought why I was assigned to Finland” – Daniel Powell says.
Missionaries’ assignments are decided by one of the church’s twelve apostles.
“I believe that there’s a purpose. I’ve always felt that there’s someone here who needs my help.”
Finland is viewed by the young men as a beautiful and friendly land.
“I’ll miss Finland, the language and the people. They are friendly and honest. Finnish honesty surprised me, America doesn’t have that.” – Adam Christiansen tells.
“I really like my life in Rauma. Unfortunately, I have not learned the language of Rauma.” – mourns Daniel Powell (side note: the word ‘language’ in Daniel’s quote was written in the Rauma dialect – ‘giältä’ instead of ‘kieltä’)
Graced with modesty, these young men can easily be proud of their precise and beautiful general purpose language.
“Although I studied finnish in a missionary course, I didn’t understand anything when I got here. But when you study every day and speak it, you learn it.” – Powell says.
“My goal is to learn and use three new words a day. This morning I translated a portion of a story. I make notes of grammar and sometimes I speak Finnish with Adam.” – Powell tells of his study methods.

Goals. Learning. There you have a missionary’s life in a nutshell. What gives these young men the strength for such a focused and diligent life?
“Faith and desire to come closer to God” – they assure.
Does missionary life ever feel strenuous?
“Yeah. It’s discouraging when you don’t succeed. Sometimes, the whole day is frustrating.”
“At those times, it helps to just get out. Prayer also helps, and study and soul-searching.”
“We hope to learn from our difficulties.”
And they do.

Mormons in Finland
The church was founded in 1830 in New York state by Joseph Smith.
According to the church, Smith restored the primitive church of Jesus Christ to the earth.
The first missionaries came to Finland in the 1870s.
The state recognized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1948.
Now, there are 30 branches throughout Finland and there are 4,500 members.
There are about 70 missionaries in Finland right now. Some of them are finnish, but most are from elsewhere, with the largest portion coming from the U.S.
Missionaries are generally 19-21 yr. old young men and women but they can also be retired couples.
Missionaries serve missions for 1.5-2 years on their own dime.
Leaving on a mission is voluntary. The church teaches that true faith would lead one to want to go.

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