Monday, July 14, 2014

Travel: Transfers & Helsinki

My dearest Friends and Family! 

I don't know how I'm going to write about all that has happened in the last week, but I'll sure try. Hopefully all of the pictures can fill in the gaps. I've put on quite a few miles since the last time I've written. We're writing a little later today because of the craziness of the week. So for those of you who missed this email by a couple hours, I'm sorry! 

Last Monday evening, we hopped on a train to go to Novosibirsk. Four Elders went: Elders Stucki, Jarman, Riordan and myself. We were all put up in one compartment for the night's trip over. We got to Novosibirsk, my whole MTC group went on visa trip, and I went to meet Elder Swenson and head back to Omsk with him. It was a bit sad not to go on the visa trip with my group. It's kinda like a 6-month reunion! I'll join them on the next trip I suppose. This time, I was planned to go with Elder Swenson who has a 3 month visa, as opposed to our 3 year visa with 6 month periods. Anyways, we got back to Omsk on Wednesday, and had Youth Night at the Walkers. Thursday we planned for the week, and Friday was District meeting. We set a new district goal to increase the number of people attending Sacrament Meeting. We're at about 40 these days. With a Branch list of 241, we've got some work to do! The goal is to help us get less actives, investigators and contacts from the street to come to Sacrament Meeting. We had a lesson on keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The most challenging thing to do here, is to get investigators to actually come to church. By studying together, all the blessings we receive, we're now more prepared to teach others those blessings. None of us really realize how important it is to follow this commandment. If you feel like you need to do something different with your Sundays, start by reading entries for Keeping the Sabbath Day in Preach My Gospel, and True to the Faith. There's some good stuff!

Okay, so here we go! Visa trip! Elders Sweson and Moore, along with Sisters Cisar and Fullmer. Saturday Morning our alarm went off at 3:45. We left the house at 4:45 to walk to the Sister's place and catch a taxi with them to the airport at 5:00. A little over an hour later we were up in the air on our way to Helsinki, Finland via Moscow. We left Omsk at 6:50 and thanks to time changes landed in Moscow at 7:15. We had a 5-hour layover in Moscow. A little better than the 13-hour one we had my first time around on the way to the mission field! Knowing Russian while being stuck there was also a plus. We wandered around the airport, found all the little shops, ate Dunkin' Donuts and read the Book of Mormon all together at the Burger King. The flight from Moscow to Helsinki was FINNAIR which was much better than the Russian Airoflot airline. Better airplane food. :) We landed in Helsinki at 1:50 pm and that's when the adventure began. We went to the tourist desk and picked up some day passes for the Helsinki transport. Outside where you wait for the buses, there are these little animal sculptures. While waiting for our free shuttle to the Holiday Inn, we went to take some pictures with these sculptures. Sooner than you know it, we were surrounded by a busload of Asians. They came out of nowhere! In big tourist cities, there are always the bus tours that the Asian people use. They like to get off the bus, take pictures and jump back on. That seemed to happen to us! There were 25 Asian people. Who knows where from exactly. They all needed a picture with us. What are you going to do with that picture when you get home? Look at these white people we found! haha Well it was an adventure. We got to the Holiday Inn. We realized that we're not in Russia where the water quality is pretty bad, and that we're in Finland where it's really good! We could drink straight out of the tap!! Probably the cleanest water I've had in the last year. Once we got over the clean water and all the pillows we had to choose from, we set out to find the Temple! I grabbed the address from, the desk at the Hotel got us bus directions and we went for it. Public transport in Helsinki is the opposite of what is in Omsk. It's on the Switzerland level. We had to transfer twice to get there, and the second transfer we weren't sure exactly which way to go, so we asked someone. He didn't know much English, BUT he knew Russian. He was really nice and got us to the next bus stop right when our bus showed up. We ended up at the Temple!

Going to the temple is a big deal. Especially when you live about as far from a temple as you can possibly get. Even though it was closed when we got there, it was amazing just to be on Temple grounds and to see it. Just an immense peace was there that I haven't felt in a long time. We walked around, took pictures, and went up to the little visitor's center. It was closed, but there was someone inside who let us in. We talked with the senior couple that worked there about how and where we could got to church the next day. We planned to come there the next morning at 9 and carpool with them to one of the wards. We thanked them and found our way back to the hotel. Elder Swenson and I went outside and walked in the grass bare foot. Something I wouldn't dare to do in Russia. 

When we checked into the hotel, there was mail waiting for us at the front desk. It was Elder Swenson's and Sister Cisar's second passports. They have two passports so they can always have a visa for Russia. I'm not sure how it works, or how their second passports with new visas ended up at the desk of the hotel, but whatever works! It kinda felt like we were in a Jason Bourne movie or something. They had to like switch passports and stuff while traveling. 

We got ready to go the next morning, had a fantastic continental breakfast and then missed our bus to go to the temple grounds. So we caught the next one and then missed a train we were supposed to take. As we were waiting for the next one, we ran into some Sister Missionaries that were serving in Helsinki! It was pretty crazy to just run into them there. So we figured we wouldn't make it to the Temple on time anyways and ended up going with them to their ward which was in downtown Helsinki. About a 2-minute walk from the Ocean! So right before church we walked down there just to touch the ocean. Siberia is pretty far from an ocean. 

Church was a ward, in a stake. Not a branch in a district like Omsk. There were so many people. A bishop and high priests. The bishop asked us to pass the sacrament. So we did. It was pretty amazing. 

Finnish is a crazy crazy language. Harder than Russian by a long shot. The grammar and declination of words is so much more involved. Finnish words can be really long. Listening to it is like listening to a combination of Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and a little bit of French. Luck for us everyone there speaks English. A couple living there from California for work went to the ward we attended. He had served in Vladivostok 10 years ago. They offered to drive us wherever we needed to go after church which was great because it would have been a whole other adventure trying to get back out there. We flew out of Helsinki at 7 pm and got back to Omsk at 6 am today. We slept a good chunk of our P-Day away which felt great.

It is crazy all of the things that have to happen for missionaries to be in Russia and other places. Kazakhstan is super crazy when it comes to visas and laws. 

The Hymn "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" Has been in my thought lately. 
  1. 1. It may not be on the mountain height
    Or over the stormy sea,
    It may not be at the battle's front
    My Lord will have need of me.
    But if, by a still, small voice he calls
    To paths that I do not know,
    I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
    I'll go where you want me to go.
It really feels like this side of the world is the Battle's Front. We are close to creating a stake here in the Novosibirsk Mission. We are close to branches becoming wards, and to having weight and responsibility move slowly from the shoulders of the missionaries to the members. There are two cities in this mission where we have a Group. Smaller than a branch. The Group Leader being a missionary. There is one branch here who has a Missionary as the branch president. The church has been here for 20 years, but is still young. I can't wait for it to become what it is in Helsinki. There are so many blessings waiting to be poured out upon the people here. The Church is true, and the Gospel truly blesses nations. From the few faithful among millions, the Lord will pour out blessings.

This email didn't really do this last week much justice. Hopefully some pictures will! Since that's what you're all waiting for anyways. :)

Miss and love all of you!

Elder Benjamin Moore


 Big theater in Novosibirsk
 Dunkin Donuts in Moscow

Asian flash mob in Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland Temple

More Temple

Donor Kebab!

Bus stop in the middle of nowhere

 We had a selection of pillows.

 Train into Helsinki

Downtown Helsinki from the tram on the way to Church

The Branch


 McDonald's We don't have that in Siberia either.

We saw a Reindeer.

Just kidding, it wasn't a real reindeer.

Elder Swenson was OUT. 

And now we are at the Walker's emailing. :)

Have a great week.  Miss and Love you all. 

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