Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!


                                           Finland spring has arrived! 
There was a deluge of rain for much of the month of March and into April.  "Merry Christmas" was our greeting on those few mornings the rain turned to snow when the temperatures were still quite cold. Beautiful flowers adorn the earth no matter what country or clime.  Thank goodness...



Golf courses are looking beautiful! We have had fun "Golf Course Hopping" this Easter.
April seemed to just disappear!  We enjoyed General Conference so much.  We are so blessed to live in this technological time.  Listening to each talk was uplifting and inspiring.  We were able to watch each session on our computer except the priesthood session which Grandpa Finland viewed at the Hagaa Chapel with the brethren. 

Easter was a special time here with sights to see and Finnish traditions to observe.

In Finland the children dress up in "witches costumes" and go door to door with the switches they create like in the basket above.  They knock on doors and share a poem as they gently strike the listener with the switch.  A poem like the one below is spoken.  Often the children help to write a poem specifically for family and friends.  


I am touching you with this willow twig,
to make the head of the house
loved and rich.
For a week’s debt,
a year of freedom,
a branch for you,
and some price for me,
do you give eggs, or money!
for us sweet children. 

This tradition takes place during the Holy Week. Children decorate their willow branches to represent the palms thrown under Jesus legs when he entered Jerusalem. These branches are to scare away the evil spirits or bad luck. In their witches costumes they go from house to house gifting the willow branches and telling the “Virpomis” poem to wish a good coming year. In return they receive painted or chocolate eggs or sometimes money. Recently some of the young boys have been seen wearing Harry Potter Costumes.  Something like the one below... the idea of good witches and wizards has been around a long time.


Speaking again of children, on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, we attended a beautiful Choir Performance in the National Cathedral. The performance was done by young boys from the ages of about seven years old up to seventeen and what amazing voices they had! The youngest to the oldest singing out with all their hearts and voice! The concert performance was  "St. Matthew Passion" by Johann Sebastian Bach. The texts of these are based on the account of the death of Jesus according to the gospels of Saint John and Saint Matthew.  We then went to the square outside the Cathedral and viewed the "Via Crucis – Way of the Cross" passion play. It started at Kaisaniemi Park (trial of Jesus) and the procession walks several blocks and culminates at the stairs of the Central Cathedral on the Senate Square.

Square below the Cathedral where we stood to view the play.
There were about 14 thousand spectators this year...








The angel is singing a song that pierces the soul.

The four people on the left are singing the story.  

Here the President of Finland came to assist the Savior in carrying the cross
...a symbol of his own desire to serve Finland.


It was incredible!
Of course, not as incredible as the actual event 2012 years ago...our hearts were filled with gratitude for the Savior for His sacrifice and love for the redemption of mankind, including us and each of you.  He has risen!

Shortly after Easter we had the news that our new office is a NO-GO!  Yup, still looking but the space #1 and then #2 were both rented before the church acted. So, we continue to commute each day...We are content with the office we are in and know that in due time a new office will be found.  On 18 April we celebrated our half way point in our mission!  We are so excited that we will be coming home before Christmas due to the love and consideration of a wonderful mission President.

For seven months we have been taking not so hot showers.  We were unaware until recently that there was a small button that would make your water hotter or the pressure more.  Those clever Finns!  We think it would have been nice to have known this information.  I wish you could have heard your Grandfather taking his first "HOT" shower in Finland after all this time!  We were lucky the neighbors didn't call the police to investigate the "Ohhhhs" and "Ahhhhhs".

See the little gray button!  It looks like just a decorative part of the faucet.  Right?!
We can hear you all laughing all the way over the ocean...awk!

Remember our guess as to what was being built in front of our apartment?
I was hoping for the swimming pool..
.Here is the completed trash shed in front of our apartment!
Created specifically for  recycling.

We watched ANOTHER sports event that we had never seen before.
  It is called  "Ringette" and is usually played by young girls.
It requires an unbelievable amount of skating skill and coordination.
We were in awe! The sport has come to Finland originating in Canada.
Here is a video explaining the sport.
"What is Ringette?"

Our Sister Airto, front and center, received her official call letter from President Monson.
 She has served for one year as a volunteer and is now a full-fledged missionary for another
23 months.  She is invaluable in all she does in the office.  We could not do the job without her!

To all the cribbage players out there!  Check this historical hand out...
One hand is the hand and the other is the crib.
Grandpa came one hole from a skunk during this game.
Grandma's cards were on fire...she won!
(Spencer can you figure the points out?) 

Here are some more photos of Helsinki!
Notice the beautiful carvings around the doors. Enjoy!












We wanted to share with you this photo and make an analogy if you will.


This was one of the beautiful towering pines behind our apartment.  As you can see its root system was not sufficient to sustain it through the winter and spring weather storms.  We were sad to see it go down.  It is difficult to grow deep roots here in Finland just as it is difficult while living in the world to develop the strength necessary to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and endure to the end.

President Eyring says it so well:
"My purpose today is to describe what I know of how we can lay that unshakable foundation. I do it with great humility for two reasons. First, what I say could discourage some who are struggling in the midst of great adversity and feel their foundation of faith is crumbling. And second, I know that ever-greater tests lie before me before the end of life. Therefore, the prescription I offer you has yet to be proven in my own life through enduring to the end.

As a young man I worked with a contractor building footings and foundations for new houses. In the summer heat it was hard work to prepare the ground for the form into which we poured the cement for the footing. There were no machines. We used a pick and a shovel. Building lasting foundations for buildings was hard work in those days.

It also required patience. After we poured the footing, we waited for it to cure. Much as we wanted to keep the jobs moving, we also waited after the pour of the foundation before we took away the forms.

And even more impressive to a novice builder was what seemed to be a tedious and time-consuming process to put metal bars carefully inside the forms to give the finished foundation strength.

In a similar way, the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity.

Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.

Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles.

One of the keys to an enduring faith is to judge correctly the curing time required. ...That curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. Getting older does not do it alone. It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength."
                                                                                                         "Mountains To Climb", May 2012


May you Choose The Right every day!  CTR!
We love you all so very much forever...

PS...
Everyday Grandpa Finland goes to the Postie mailbox and picks up the  mail for all the missionaries and the office business.  I took these photos especially so I could say,"Mail is never there for us!", but ON THAT VERY DAY a wonderful package came for us from a loving grandchild.  It brought us so much joy!

Have you sent us a letter yet?  Did you know all missionaries (and grandparents) love mail?!
As President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Do it!"  We miss you...



Cribbage hand points = 39  Wow! What a hand...

2 comments:

Vacation Rental Owner said...

What a fun Family Home Evening again! We thrill to read the blog and all the exciting news. The kids all what to play Ringlette is it? Sounds fun :) I also found it hilarious that when the part of the loving grandchild sending a package was mentioned, all the kids thought it was them. Really guys? Guess we'll do that next week. How fun to see your beautiful faces and such neat things in Finland. I wish we recycled better here. And man, I want that equipment for snow removal! Love you and miss you tremendously! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing! Keep it coming. Love, The Chamberlain's

Vacation Rental Owner said...

Jeremy is still laughing over the faucet thing! I just feel horrible about it . . . how could no one have transferred that kind of information!!! So happy you figured it out sooner than later.
(The sauna makes me jealous)