Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Time!

Here it is mid-December, November is long gone, but we are left with fun memories of Thanksgiving.  Still no snow here in Helsinki, but the darkness has come.  It is dark now by 3:00pm!  Daylight begins each day around 9:00am.  It is pretty strange leaving the office each day in the dark.  We have been having lots of rain...

Full bellies and lots of smiles...not one of the 22 wonderful
missionariesforgot to say thank you...most said it over and over!

We had a fun Thanksgiving!  We had to special order our turkeys, not something the Finns have in their groceries on a regular basis.  Chicken is common, but not turkey.  We cooked three 14 lb. turkeys to feed all the missionaries in our Helsinki Zone.  We made our own cranberries.  Even had pumpkin pies which is also not common here.  We played a fun Thanksgiving Alphabet game...telling what we were thankful for with each letter of the alphabet.  We had a delicious time!  Hey, kids guess what is VERY common to the Finnish diet...rutabaga!  Yup, I had my rutabaga with lots of gravy.  They even make casseroles with it.

 One of the new couple missionaries made small napkin rings with turkeys on it for us all.

Here's the work crew!  We are a formidable team!

This is what is done to the those gorgeous pots throughout the city in preparation for winter.
They plant this beautiful gray and purple heather that can withstand the snow and low temperatures.
Beautiful isn't it?

Christmas lights are going up everywhere...

In preparation for Christmas, families visit the cemetery and  lite candles in the lanterns there.
Much like we do, decorating on Memorial Day.  These are special candles and they stay lit throughout the entire Christmas season.  We will go again sometime just after Christmas and there will be wreaths, ribbons, etc.
It is a thoughtful and touching tradition.

There are many Swedes in Finland and one of their Christmas traditions is to  crown a queen for the Independence Day Parade.  This is a picture of this year's beautiful.  And, yes, those are real candles that drip wax!
Here's our little tree...

Lions meet the needs of local communities and the world. The 1.35 million members of our volunteer organization in 206 countries and geographic areas are different in many ways, but share a core belief – community is what we make it. The Lions Club is busy helping people even in Finland. 

We attended our Stake Conference in a large Conference Center. Our
mission president and his wife spoke.  We were challenged by the
Stake President to read the Book of Mormon before our next
Stake Conference in the spring...we accepted the challenge

New guessing games for you...
everyone guess!
What is this?
Can you guess?
I'll give you a clue - Grandpa
took this photo.

This is right in front of our apartment...
a huge backhoe digging a five foot deep hole,
pulling out ten large boulders.  We tried to guess what they were building.
What is your guess?  The hole was five foot deep about 15 foot square.

Also, guess what we did one night for Family Home Evening Activity...yes, we had permission!
It was really fun...first movie we attended in Finland.
We ate our dinner there...they have sandwiches as well as popcorn in their concessions.
The movie was in English with Finnish subtitles...they never dub over an English film.
We all thought it followed the book very well!  Check out the smiles...

We had a language training, birthday party, new seniors arrive, Finnish birthday party on their Independence day (December 5th) and attended a lovely Christmas Ballet Recital. 

Language Training Luncheon
Birthday Party 

A special Christmas song at the birthday party...
three of these dear missionaries were transferred
out of our area.  We will miss them!

Christmas Ballet....made us miss those "good young days" when we were younger and our girls were the ones we watched dance!  They were all so beautiful!

New Senior Couple!

New Senior couple!

Had a very special baptism for the sweet young woman we helped teach.  She inspired us with her testimony of the Book of Mormon, she said, "Reading the Book has made me want to read my Bible and say my prayers again.  I had not been doing that for many years.  It (Book of Mormon) makes the scriptures so much clearer."  She is from Camaroon, Africa, and is here to study in Finland, a truly courageous young woman.  A real highlight for us...

Grandpa has two questions for you all - 

  1. How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper?  What's your answer?
  2. What happens, however, if  on that piece of paper there is a second point?  How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points?  

Great idea for a missionary's tree!
Mom sent him this with ornaments to attach...just plug in the lights and instant tree.

They put glass in our patio...making a nice enclosed patio...see our Christmas candelabra?
Is that the star of Bethlehem?  Looks like it...

Grandpa and I were able to attend the Nativity Lighting Ceremony at the temple.  There were about 100 people in attendance.  It was bone chilling cold, but hearts were warmed by the wonderful spirit of love that was there.   A few words were spoken by the temple president expressing gratitude for the season coming, the temple, and of course, the life of our Savior Jesus Christ.  These beautiful primary children sang several songs.  

It was a special evening for all...

We hope you are all enjoying preparations for the Christmas Season.  Remember to remember to keep Jesus at the center of all you do! We are grateful to be in a country that celebrates Christmas...we miss you all so much and love you for all eternity!

Guessing game answers:
First photo:  They are building a Trash Building...these are elaborate small buildings with big bins for each recycled item inside.  It will be great to have our trash bin so close by...just a few steps out the front door. We'll post more photos when it is done...we are also suppose to have our building sauna up and running before New Year's Day.  We love to sauna...
Second photo:  This is an advertising urinal...Ha!  Grandpa couldn't believe it when he went into the rest room at the theater.  That's a little LCD screen with advertisements being shown on it!  These clever Finns...

Grandpa's answers:

The answer to question one - An infinite number!
For a moment, suppose that single point is the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church. 

The answer to question two - Only one...think of the two points representing the Bible AND the Book of Mormon.  Only one interpretation of Christ's doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses. Check out the link... (Two Witnesses)

Sounds like that was what our young woman convert was trying to say...Cool!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time Moves Fast!

Beautiful birch trees...These trees are everywhere.
We have been here in Finland for the three months!  What a country...of beauty and diversity.  We have had some wonderful highlights this past month with baptisms and helping to teach four investigators. The weather is turning cold and we are now wearing our winter coats, scarves, gloves and hats.  We are told that this is a very mild fall.  Last year at this time, there was snow on the ground several inches deep.

Where has the past month gone? It has sped by.  We have been super busy here.  L.ife for us has settled into a somewhat predictable routine.  We get up anywhere from 4:00am-6:30am, leave for the office at 8:00am, arrive at the office by 8:45am-9:00am depending on traffic, work until about 1:00pm then eat lunch.  Leave the office between 5:00pm and 6:00pm.  Come home and eat dinner, work on our computers or I read mostly. Grandpa Finland brings a lot of work home from the office.  We usually do our laundry on Mondays and Tuesdays. We try to attend the temple every week on Friday evenings. Even though we have a somewhat routine schedule our challenges this month have not been routine.

Just after we posted last time I had an accident.  I woke up in the morning came out to the living room and said, "Good morning..." which was the last good thing that morning.  As I went to walk into the kitchen for a drink, I hit my foot on the door trim while walking full stride.  Crunch! Yup!  Grandpa says, "Didn't you see the four foot opening?" No sympathy there...Here is photo of the culprit that changed my life for this past month.

Sharp and ugly!  Believe I broke my toe and really bruised the foot as well.  What a pain!  Literally...didn't slow me down to much...I just hobbled everywhere for a month.  Feels better now, still foot rubs for awhile still.

We found an apartment for a senior couple arriving on the 12th of November.  We looked at five different apartments and found a great one.  Then the work of furnishing it began.  We had so much fun.  I developed a blister putting together IKEA furniture.  We only bought a few things and had a lot of furniture from our storage to contribute to the whole thing.  It turned out super!  We pick them up today and they will be in charge of the Helisinki Young Adult Center.

We walked (and hobbled) to the bank one day and took these photos of downtown Helsinki on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon.
Taking time to smell the flowers...roses!

Famous Finnish Restaurant

Wedding Photos made us reminise... 
International BANK!
See the stars and stripes...

 We had another birthday party for one of the sisters we serve with.  It was fun and the food was marvelous.  Cooking here in Finland is with the metric system so it can be a challenge!


Homemade rolls and I made the cake!  This pan fits in the whole oven and slides in like the rack might...

We went to dinner at a Finnish home.  The people live in our ward here and went to America and stayed in our home while touring the area.  They loved their time there!  They saw the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and had a wonderful time.  They visited family in Salt Lake and took in Conference.  From this kind sister I learned how to make Salmon Soup, the Finnish way, and also a very popular Finnish dessert, Rahka.  It has whipping cream and rahka (which cannot be bought in America and is somewhere between a cream cheese and yogurt).  I have since made both for our own company and they were delicious!  Finland has so many breads and so many cheeses.  It is quite delightful!

We found an unbelievable FLEA MARKET!  Forgot to take photos, but I will next time.  It is a hockey arena, huge place, where people (like you and I) bring their stuff and sell them.  You could call it a big garage sale, all in one place.  Each person has their own tables.  The Market spans the entire arena, just to see what is there takes hours.  We had so much fun!  All the prices were rock bottom prices.  Many of the items were brand new with tags still on.

A blessing that came our way was discovering that we could live-stream our favorite radio channel from back home:  KMGR  We especially love the "Sounds of Sunday" programming all day every Sunday!  It's worth checking out...

Fall wrapped up so beautifully here...colored leaves and sunny days. Now it is already getting completely dark by 4:00pm in the afternoon.  Seems so strange...  Finnish people love Christmas and they have no Thanksgiving holiday so they have already begun to decorate everywhere!  It is exciting to see and we will be posting some wonderful photos of the store windows and their magnificent decorations.

We took a drive to Sipoo to teach an investigator and it was a beautiful change from the city.

Granite rises up out of the earth...I find it breathtakingly beautiful!

 Two more Language Trainings...missionaries come to Helsinki for training at 6 weeks into their missions and at 6 months into their missions.  They come in groups and have language (Soumi) proficiency training for an entire day.  We, the office staff, provide a home cooked lunch for them.  It is hard work, but we love it!

Welcomed seven new missionaries!
Said goodbye to nine!  

Our President and his lovely wife hosted a farewell dinner of delicious Finnish food, all home cooked by her.  She has amazing culinary skills!
Fun photos of the mission home where the President and his wife live. This is the basement set up to accommodate in-coming missionaries.  They will stay here over night, at least, be interviewed by the President and then sent by inspiration to serve throughout Finland.  Trainers who have already been chosen will have arrived in Helsinki to meet the new Elders or Sisters and become their new companions. Sometimes the trainers sleep at the Mission Office.  Change week is a big and busy time!


All of these are photos at a baptism...some photos of members, investigators who are always invited, refreshments provided by the ward and ward mission leaders.  Of course, Elders who performed the baptism interview and the baptism.  Confirmations are performed in the ward meetings on the Sunday following baptism.  Baptisms are so special; the spirit of love is present!

Here is a little story that brought laughter to us in our travels to and fro.  One Friday evening after attending the temple, we were hungry and wanted to stop for a sandwich.  We passed a sign and I said to all..."Oh, Oh! McDonald's is only 1.5km down the road.  Well, we drove a bit and it felt farther than 1.5km so all the way everyone, Grandpa Finland and the two sisters, laughed and teased Grandma Finland all the way that I saw a sign advertising McDonald's and it must have read - 1.5 Euros, NOT km.  I told them it did so, but they were merciless and Grandpa Finland never let up...he even took this photo of the sign at McDonalds. AWK!

The teasing went on for days and days...whenever I would say something, point out something, someone would be so kind as to remind me that "my vision was not what it used to be" or "are you sure that is right?  You know you see things differently than they really are."  It was a source of laughter for all...

Well, here is the rest of the story.  The last time we were at the temple we had occasion to drive home again that same way.  AND, here is the sign that I saw...

A, Ha!  There were heart felt apologies all around and now it was Grandma Finland's turn to laugh!  Don't let others laughter or fun making let you doubt what you know you saw or felt in your heart!  I never backed down from what I knew I had seen...let's always stand as witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ in all places and at all times, no matter who may ridicule.  Fun story for me to tell, but a life lesson to live!  (As an addendum to this story, I would like to add a link to the profile that our oldest grandchild wrote. We love her so...She is an example to us all!  Raye Elizabeth )

Okay, time to wrap up this has been a modge-podge of information. We are feeling the effects of being so far from family and friends.  We are lonesome for the feel of our grand kids kisses and hugs.  We miss the laughter and smiles of our adult children.  We work hard and get so tired out!  But, we love the Lord and His is such a wonderful feeling to know that we are serving Him and helping His work to go forth to those who seek after His happiness and peace.

We will be having a Thanksgiving dinner for all who reside in the mission home zone...twenty missionaries, office staff of five and the President and his wife.  There will be twenty seven of us!  We will play games, eat lots of good food and reminisce about our forever families that we miss everyday.  We will listen to the miraculous stories of conversion and change. Elder France (Grandpa Finland) will play billards and fuseball.  He's a champ at that!  We will watch Mr. Krueger's Christmas and be filled with thanksgiving for the Lord's blessings upon us.

A Christmas trip is planned in December.  Guess where we are going?  We are going north to visit the home of Santa Claus.  You knew he lives in Finland, right?  Yes!

May your month be wonderful as you gather for your Thanksgiving celebrations.
Know that we are grateful for each of you, more than you can ever know.  

I want to share in parting something my sister shared with us.  She is doing better now and is rehabilitating in preparations for going home.  Thank you to all who prayed for her!

And who can say there is no God ???
Fascinating, I've never given most of this a thought!!!!
God's accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs.
For example:
-the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
-those of the canary in 14 days;
-those of the barnyard hen in 21 days;
-The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
-those of the mallard in 35 days;
-The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.
(Notice, they are all divisible by seven, the number of days in a week!)
God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant... The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs... For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.
The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!
God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains.
-Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.
-Each orange has an even number of segments.
-Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
-Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
-Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number.
-The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.
All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirty fold, sixty fold, and a hundred fold - all even numbers.
God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

The lives of each of you may be ordered by the Lord in a beautiful way for His glory, if you will only entrust Him with your life. If you try to regulate your own life, it will only be a mess and a failure. Only the One Who made the brain and the heart can successfully guide them to a profitable end.  Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purposes and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence. Only the God-planned safe life is successful. Only the life given over to the care of the Lord is fulfilled.



Love and prayers to you and yours!