Saturday, April 13, 2013

Home Again!

It took us a couple of weeks to pack and prepare to fly home.  We bought a luggage hand held weight scale and so Elder France found himself lifting bags over and over until we had all of our eleven bags weighing just right.  It was worth the effort...we paid no overweight charges. We had a lovely dinner at the Mission Home and flew from Helsinki to London on 18th December.  From London we flew on the beautiful 777.  We had excellent seats on the right side. The service and food were excellent and  very much appreciated.  Our flight was eleven hours "over the top" to Los Angeles, California.  We stayed the night in Los Angeles and flew the final flight the next evening to St. George, Utah.

Family greeted us at the airport!

"They're coming! I can see the plane!!"

We met our newest grandson for the first time!

Three of our beautiful daughters were able to meet us!

Emotional reunion for Grandma and granddaughter!
Back home in the beautiful Land of Dixie!!!
The first Saturday home we gathered for our youngest daughter's little boy's baptism.  It was a special time for all!  Our other three families arrived for the baptism and the holidays. A spectacular reunion for us everyone!

All of our children arrived for Christmas and we had a wonderful holiday time together!

Great family photo taken!

This handsome grandson won the guess, "Where will Grandma and Grandpa go to serve their mission?"
He guessed Russia and was the closest, winning $100.

Cooking for our crew is no small endeavour,
but everyone pitches in and does it with such great fun and willingness !
THANKS goes out to all!!!!

The house was all Christmas decorated!
We decorated the tree together...thank you daughter-in-law for putting the lights on!

Having all these grandsons around was so wonderful!  Merry Christmas!

Laughing and talking together is one of the most precious things about gathering!
Making memories and connections!

All the grandkids opened their stockings!

Just what I wanted!

Grandma was given a new HD+Nook...what a surprise!
Grandpa was given cash for his choice of a golf pass!
Our children and grandchildren know us and love us.
We are so blessed!!  Thank you...thank you!

We were given the newly published and amazing Brainy Bookiacs Book for 2012 vacation!
FRANCE FIGHTERS...each grandchild wrote a part of the story and did their own illustrations
(see below) with Grandpa and Grandma Finland as main characters in the story.
Our daughter, children, and grandchildren did a fantastic job again of pulling it all together!
Our grandchildren are the most talented on the earth!  Well, they are.

Finland gifts all around!  It was so fun to see each family enjoy what we brought them.

Our five granddaughters like their handmade mittens and hats.
Grandsons liked their hats and knives too, but I couldn't get the fifteen of them all together just then!
Go figure...such energy!  Wish we could bottle it for our old age.

Swimming was also fun for all!
We have now been home for six weeks...talked in church and at a couple of firesides.  We have two more talks booked.  We have settled back into our home and know we have had a bit of a glimpse of how it will be when we return to our home with Heavenly Father and our family someday...mission complete!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Farewell Finland

"The time is far spent!"

We leave from Finland the day after tomorrow and as I have contemplated this last entry in our blog written in Finland it has been good to review what being here on our mission has meant to us. We have been blessed beyond words in spiritual things.  We have felt the personal influence of the  holy spirit guiding us and helping us to learn what we needed to learn.  When in need we had those needs met sometimes by miracles.

We have loved the Finnish people and this beautiful country!  The Latter Day Saints here are amazing.  In all the world more lessons are taught to investigators with a member present than anywhere else.  The Saints are devoted to God, country, and each other.  These last days have been filled with gratitude for the experiences we have enjoyed and those people who have contributed so much to our well being, happiness, and joy.

I would like to share some of those last experiences that we have had.

We  had a fun evening together...dinner and a puzzle with a Sister missionary who had to come to Helsinki because she needed some medical attention.  While here she became our dear senior sister's companion.

We had a wonderful, fun time working on the puzzle.
Due to the sister missionary's influence, our new Chinese friend is now
saving to go on her own mission.  Our new Chinese friend stayed with us
 for a few days while waiting for her school apartment in Helsinki to open.  She is a sweetheart!
While we had fun Grandpa Finland did the dishes!  Silly face...

Another day some of the temple senior missionaries came
 and shared a meal and friendship together.
 We took a trip to see the Castle in Turku.  The ride to Turku was such a great ride.  We saw tunnels, granite walls, and walls made of  small granite pieces held together with strong wire (looked like our chicken wire, but was much stronger).  We saw seven tunnels.  It was amazing!

What a beautiful country!  When we arrived in Turku we saw many fun things!  This duck was one...

This beautiful building another...

Here is the castle in all it's glory.  It is preserved very well.  It is a REAL medieval castle.  We had audio headphones and toured from top to bottom and even saw a REAL dungeon.  In the courtyard I could almost hear the clip clop of the horses hooves on the cobblestone and the clinking of their armor.

 Inside the courtyard.  The model below helps you to see the way the castle was laid out.

Do you recognize this dragon slayer?

How about this beautiful princess?

Can you pick which one doesn't belong?  
We had fun with the section built for younger visitors.

LEGO model built by students.

A couple of medieval married folk!

Oh..Oh...he is stealing the king's gold!  Get him!

An awesome doll house showing all the rooms in the castle and set up like they were many years ago!
So beautiful!!!

This room is where one king was held captive
because he did not do what he was supposed to.
The window Grandpa is looking out of is where his food was delivered.
He spent many years here....until his death.

Amazing construction!

The dungeon door...

Another time period and another part of the castle.

It took us all day to drive to Turku and tour the castle.
This photo was taken as we left in the evening light...

Wow!  That is one big daisy!

Beautiful sailing ship in the harbor...Turku is known for the beautiful cruise ships they build there.
Cathedral of the Lutheran Church in Turku.  We only took photos outside...too late to go inside.

And it hasn't stopped since!

More temple senior missionaries came for dinner and fun together.
Those on the right are taking our place in the office.
We did receive word that there will be no move to a new
office location because of the changes announced in the
ages of missionaries.  The influx of willing missionaries
will create no budget for such changes.

HEY!  Angry birds is everywhere!
This banner is announcing the new
Star Wars angry birds.
Have you tried it?
More Finnish guests for dinner.  Lasagna and garlic bread is good in every country!
These are dear Finnish friends who had us over to their homes for meals and fellowship.
The very best of Finland!

 It is custom to bring flowers when asked to dinner and these were what they brought to beautiful!

This is how we spent our Thanksgiving...with pumpkin pie and all.  Turkey is expensive, but it was worth it.
The stuffing turned out marvelous, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, etc.  It was a great meal!
Oh yeah, rutabaga is a commonly used vegetable here...wonder if I have Finnish ancestors.

Dear sisters!

Christmas lights were up before our American Thanksgiving!
Wonderful artisans at Parliment Square at the Tori...selling their handmade items.
Such wonderful craftsman, friendly and filled with the joy of the season.
We had so much fun shopping and buying Christmas presents!

Metal craftsman at work!
Traditional Finnish foods are everywhere.
This is rye bread with herring and pork stuffing.
We bought some just to try it because it was recommended
to us by our Finnish sister friend and guess what?
It was delicious!!
Makkra and little fishes or moiku...yummy!
A senior couple comes to begin their mission and a senior couple leaves to head home!
WE ARE NEXT....I will post again in January with all the photos from our trip home...
our reunion with our wonderful family...a baptism...and our Christmas celebrations.

Do you all know how grateful we are that we have the knowledge 
of the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ 
and our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness? 
We are truly blessed...

Please click on this link Glad tidings of great joy!  
We love you and wish you a very
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!