Sunday, August 14, 2011

First Train Ride!

      This was a busy week.  On Tuesday we said "Goodbye!" to five Elders and  welcomed seven new missionaries to our mission.  It was a day filled with activity which kept us fully awake!  It was "change" day and therefore, missionaries were transferred around the mission, including those who had been keeping things running in the office until we arrived to take over.  We only knew these young men for a week, but they became our heroes for what they had done when asked to.  There are five of us now in the office who will work hard to keep up with those two Elders accomplished. Their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ are on fire and they were anxious to return to the field to spread His word.  Here is a cool photo of them that they had hanging on the door welcoming all to the office!

      We worked hard for the remainder of the week to learn and glean needed information to perform our duties.  We also found that we were organizing and cleaning.  The library was in need of work so lots of filing and rearranging is being done.  Finland is a country of many diverse languages thus the library is also very diverse in languages, a formidable task to keep it in order.
      We took the opportunity then on Friday to attend the temple in Espoo, a suburb of Helsinki.  It is located in a beautifully forested area.  Finland is known for its lumber production and cultivation of their beautiful forests. They know how to live "green" and save the trees!

      The temple is built out of lovely white, shiny granite.  This photo does not do it justice.  We attended in the evening and the light was almost gone.  Much of Finland is made of ancient granite bedrock , which has been shaped and fractured by several ice ages.  The temple is surrounded by tall evergreens and the gardens are planted with lots of flowers. I especially liked these purple daisies!
      Saturday, our personal day, we decided to travel by train, for the first time, to Helsinki and go to their premier shopping store, Stockmanns.  It is eight stories of store...with everything you would want.  It is like one of our sprawling malls but built "UP"!  It was a fun day... here are photos of our trip.

      In the background of this photo are buildings very close to our apartment building.  We live a stone's throw from the train stop.  The glass walkway you see takes us over the tracks so we can get on the train.  The first photo is our train coming; the second photo is one returning from Helsinki, like the one we road to end our trip. 

      The trains were very comfortable, smooth and fast!  It cost us about 2.5 Euros...or $3.50 each one way. It is less to buy a month's pass. Our money is not valued at its face value.  This is the train station...lots of flowers hanging in gorgeous pots all over the city.  The Finns love their flowers...the second photo is the back door of the train station and the third photo is the amazing front door.

      As we walked through the train station I took a few photos of what we saw.  Inside the train station was fine architecture.  There are several levels with lots of escalators, up-down and cross-wise.  As we entered one escalator I spied something really American.  Can you spot it?  No, it's not the donuts.  No, not the flower shop.  As we left the train station we saw many entertainers trying to earn a coin or two. The little girl was eight years old playing the accordion at a skill level far above her age.

       Inside we found anything a heart could desire...the basement floor was the biggest grocery market we ever saw with foods from all over the world.  We bought salmon for about $4.50 a pound (I cook it for our dinner today and it was yummy!) See the floors...

      Of course, one of our favorite floors was the toy floor.  Look at the amazing "Star Wars" Lego figure and the Lego city!  "Star Wars" is loved by kids all over the world...

      We went to the 7th floor, chose from several restaurants and had a delicious lunch! I was caught with my mouth full...opps!

      Our trip home on the train was quick and comfortable.  Did you see what was truly American in the train station photos?  Here's a hint...look for the "golden arches"!
      We ended our Saturday by driving to a pool nearby to get some exercise.  It was a modern, clean facility and we hope to attend a few times a week.  While there Elder France (Grandpa Finland) had to take this photo of the ingenuity of the Finnish people again.

 Notice how the chairs are up so they can be swept under...pretty smart, right?  Do we have these in America?
      Bye for now...

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