Friday, July 31, 2009

RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS....... Well, I think this was actually Wednesday or Thursday this week! Nevertheless......the day doesn't matter. It just poured buckets of rain!! Within a few minutes the sun was out and you never would have known it had rained. No wonder it is so green here!!

I was able to 'catch' Wayne picking some of the spent (dead) flowers out of the perfectly manicured flower bed outside of our window. He had to stay a little longer at the temple today to help out. I 'caught' him!! Isn't he cute!! This is his way of being able to 'work in the yard' without being at home.

Then.....he found out I was watching. Hi Down There!! Come on up......lunch (or dinner or whatever it might be) is ready!!
This has been Moskova (Moscow) week! There have been about 60 saints here. It has been wonderful to get to know them and watch them LOVE being here at the temple.

And who said the Finns and Russians couldn't get along! Here
are some of the Finn youth and Russian youth playing games with each other. They were having a great time. I think it was Phase 10.

This sweet sister has worn this same outfit all week. LOVE her outfit. It is so bright and cheery.....matches her personality. She always has a smile on her face. She looked so pretty standing outside the guesthouse (asuntola) admiring the beautiful flowers in full bloom. Her name is Nina Kamogorova.

I made and gave 3 more little Helsinki Temple cross stitch pictures as gifts this week.......2 couples that were sealed and 1 couple that were the 'leaders' of the group. This is a young couple that was sealed and had their little boy sealed to ehm. They were so happy to be an Eternal least!
Their names are Maxim, Natalia and Egor.

The young couple are the group leader. They also both work for the church in transcribing, etc. She actually works in the Area Presidency Office for Europe! I am sure they would have some wonderful stories if only they could share them! Their names are Brat & Sist Samaykin.

Also, the older couple were sealed. They were just so cute. They were so excited that they said 'wait a minute......wait a minute......' She ran off and came back a minute later with a gift for us.....Russian decorated spoons. They are beautiful!! What a great treasure. We will cherish them...they are light-weight and don't take up much room in a suitcase when we go home!

What a great week.......

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We received a phone call today from Mary Goins Wall (a cousin) in North Carolina. She wanted to let us know that her mother, Aunt Susie Goins, passed away peacefully this morning at Mary's home where Aunt Susie lived for the last many years. I was saddened by this, but she was 101 years old! She will be missed on this side but I am sure she is having a great reunion on the other side!

These pictures were taken in March 2009 when Wayne and I made a trip to North Carolina before leaving on our mission here to Finland. We got to see Virgie as well as Mary and Aunt Susie. We are so glad we got to see them at that time.

With calling Mary back, it gave us a chance to try out SKYPE for landline phones. It works really slick! And we were able to call Aunt Eva and tell her as well. It was good to talk to her too!!

The funeral plans call for a viewing on Thursday, July 30th and a funeral on Friday, July 31 at 4:00 p.m. at the Friendly Funeral Home in Pilot Mountain. We have ordered flowers from a florist in Pilot Mountain. We wish we could be there but it won't be possible!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Russian week again......Moscow this time. We hurried back from our p-day trip to a castle with the Gee's so we could help with their arrival. We always open the distribution center on Monday afternoons to allow them time purchase temple clothes. They are always so excited.....even though they have spent 2 - 3 days from bus and train and bus again to get here. And it is always so fun to meet them for the first time. We even saw a brother who had been here several weeks ago. It is fun to recognize a few faces. That means we are no longer 'greenies'!!!

My 'assignment' is always at the computer register to check people out. It is so fun. I really enjoy doing that. I think I might be getting the hang of it!! Finally!!! Sister Luthy is so good helping these people. I can't speak much Russian but we somehow seem to be able to communicate!

Our last p-day with the Gee's today. They leave a week from Saturday, August 8th to go home to Bountiful, Utah. Next p-day they will be packing, cleaning, etc. So we took advantage of the time we could spend with them to go to a castle about an hour north of Espoo......called Hameenlinna Castle. It was a fun trip. It was a castle that Veli Gee had seen as they have driven up the highway but never stopped to check it out.

As I recall it was built by the Swedes. Seems like most things of earlier years were either built by the Swedes or the Russians. Finland only gained their independence in 1917. They are a young little country!

We quite enjoyed walking around. Our tour guide spent about 45 minutes talking to us about the castle......and he had a fairly good command of the English language. That was nice.

This is a round turret. Kind of neat. Very deep drop off there!

We have enjoyed many such trips with the Gee's over the past 6 - 7 weeks that we have been here.

LaRue and I are standing on a 'balcony' of the inner court on the 2nd floor.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

As missionaries we are encouraged to be out and about and visit as many branches and wards as we can. We are not assigned to any one particular ward. So today, the Gee's (we have become good friends with them) wanted to visit Espoo 2nd Ward. They meet in the morning. It was fun! We had been there once before but it had been several weeks. Since the Gee's finish their mission in a bout two weeks we wanted them to choose where they wanted to go.

This has also been Estonian week. The picture of the young couple with us is a couple who were endowed on Friday and Sealed on Saturday. They are officially the FIRST couple from Estonia to be sealed in the Helsinki Finland Temple. They are just as cute as can be.

This sister with us in the red dress introduced herself to us today after church. Come to find out she is Anne Luthy's sister (Anne is the matron at the temple). We were totally surprised to meet her and know she is right here!

Then while at church we met a young man by the name of Steven Jones. Found out he is from Cardiff, Wales!! Did he know Lauren Tamplin?? He remembers her as they were growing up. Turns out that he served his mission the same time as Kevin and Lauren in the London South Mission!! His wife and two children were on holiday visiting family so we invited him to join us and Gee's for lunch after dinner.

That turned out to be a fun afternoon. We put our leftover spaghetti with the Gee's leftover spaghetti and cooked some peas and carrots along with some corn. And, low and behold we had a wonderful meal.....part ONE!! I had purchased a pork roast yesterday to cook today along with some new potatoes. I put that in the oven to cook. After round ONE we played some games. Then it was time for round TWO with the pork roast and potatoes! And I baked a spice cake for dessert!!

BUT.....back up a few hours. When we came home from church there were two tour busses in the parking lot of the asuntola! We were not sure what language to speak when we parked our mission van and went to greet them. We started out with Finnish. Turns out they were all Americans touring around. So we had fun visiting with them.

What a great Sabbath day right here in little 'river city'.......Espoo Finland!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This has been Estonia week at the temple. Estonia has several branches that are Russian. Therefore, we had a lot of Russians (again) along with the Estonians. And what a fun week trying to get all of the languages straight!! That is the BIGGEST challenge for us right now is ALL of the different languages! Fun.....but challenging!

It is always fun, as well, to get to know the people that stay in the asuntola.......teenagers included. Here are several young folks
(and several more behind the camera that were 'camera shy' and didn't want their picture taken.

They wanted to learn to play 'something'. Wayne being the great 'musician' that he is (and his mother teaching piano lessons for something like 50 years!) decided they needed to learn how to play CHOP-STICKS!! And that they did. So now, Estonia will have the American great song......CHOP-STICKS. Estonia may never be the same again!!

The kids had fun and loved it!!
So, this is a fun little story that goes back to September of 2008! Let's start there! Wayne retired from his medical practice and we had planned a trip to Europe for a month. As a part of that trip, we planned to visit Finland for a week......where Wayne had served his mission. We had a wonderful time. When we visited Lappeenranta the Bishop was out of town but his wife invited us out to their home. We readily accepted. We were trying to make as many connections as we could. It was quite a ways out in the 'woods' but a very pleasant drive. What a great family. What a sweet gal. The Silvennoinen's have a passel of kids.....6 or 7 I think. We visited for a few minutes then we were on our way.

As we were leaving Sister Silvennoinen gave us some delicious homemade bread / rolls that she had just made. That was actually our lunch that day.

Fast forward to April 2009. In preparation to leaving for our mission to the Helsinki Finland Temple, we decided that we were going to take a little long-weekend trip to Nauvoo. First of all, I have a cousin (Margaret Hein) and her husband (Howard) who are serving a temple mission in Nauvoo. She had encouraged us to come see them before we left for Finland and to see them!! Great idea. Off we went.

While there we 'found' this great little art studio owned by an LDS Artist.....Michael Bedard. His works were beautiful. We bought a large picture for our home of the Nauvoo Temple that we just loved. In talking with Michael, we told him we were headed for Finland for a mission. He told us he wanted to give us a small version of the larger picture that we purchased and asked us to give it to anyone we wanted to. He wanted to get him 'works' in Finland. We were excited and knew exactly WHO that person would be. Yes, Sister Silvennoinen. Their family, she told us last September, was saving their money so they could come to America! What a nice thing to have in their home......a very nice picture of the Nauvoo Temple.

She was here at the temple this week......a day trip to the temple with some of the sisters in the Lappeenranta Ward. When we saw her we were so excited because we could now give her the picture that we had been carrying around with us for several months!! She was very, very pleased to have it.

And so the memories continue to 'build up' in our daily activities of being on our mission here at the Helsinki Temple!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Morning Kids.......

Dad and I are on the afternoon shift this week. That means we have a little time to get a couple of things done around the apartment before we head to the temple usually about 1:15 p.m.

I woke up this morning in the mood for a pot of soup. The weather here the last few days indicates to us that summer is coming to a close and fall may be around the corner!! Chilly temps......60's during the day and 50's at night. Great
sleeping weather!! If it could only stay like this year round we would be in heaven!!

At any rate.......the top picture shows a pot of white beans I have cooking (the frying pan in the back shows the pan I fry bacon in so I could add it to the soup). The bread is banana nut bread ready for the oven.

AND......the end result......a pot of white bean soup that turned out really, really good and a nicely baked loaf of banana nut bread!! Don't know that I will be able to make my chocolate chip cookies over here because of the different ingredients they have, but at least I can make banana nut bread!! We actually saw a small bag of american chocolate chips this week at the grocery store. They wanted 5 euro 45 for the bag......that would be about $8.00 for a small bag of chocolate chips!! And they were 'clumped' together as if they had been on a boat, melted some and stuck together like ONE BIG chocolate chip!!

Now we are ready to go to work at the temple in a couple of hours having accomplished much today. Even added some posts on our blog if you want to check it out!!

Love, Mom (and Dad helping out at the asuntola desk with the Estonians here)

One last post for today! I guess I am just on a roll and want to keep going!

These are little 'projects' I brought with me here to Finland. I love to cross stitch, scrapbook and do things with my hands. I was told I could bring things like this with me just in case I had any 'down time'! I have had, I do these and I am a happy missionary!

Wayne 'made' the Helsinki Temple cross stitch pattern for me. As well as a Washington D.C., Nauvoo and Salt Lake Temple mini pattern. There are no such patterns available.

I put the design on bookmarks and in small 3 inch frames. I love giving these as gifts to anyone I feel would like to have one. They always seem to appreciate getting them. They are very quick to make!
July 20 - 24th.......Estonia Week here at the temple!!

This is turning out to be a fun week. Actually every week at the temple is a fun week. Lots of surprises with different people that we meet. Always meeting such fun people from the far reaches of this Baltic region!

Because Elinn served her mission in Estonia, she still remembers a few folks there. This is one of them! Her name is Mari Timakov. She are her husband are here for the week with lots of folks from all over Estonia. Because Estonia used to be part of Russia, there are several Russian branches in Estonia. Therefore, we had lots of Russians again this week. We have got to really learn more Russian!!!!

At any rate, Mari has been a HUGE help to us this week so far.....and will continue to be so. She reminded us that she had actually been to our home in Brunswick about 10 years ago. When I saw her, I remembered seeing her before. What a small world in the church. More friends made this week!! More wonderful memories!
Monday, July 20, 2009

Okie, was P-Day and it had been about 6 - 7 weeks since I had been able to get my hair cut! This is a MAJOR dilemma for me since my hair was getting totally out-of-control!!! Something had to be done. Sister Carol Gay Thorne had her hair cut by a local Finn beautician by the name of Tuula. When I called to get an appointment several weeks ago, low and behold, she was on HOLIDAY like every other Finn in the country was!! The Finns are totally serious about their vacations. They take them no matter what. And she did!! As soon as she got back, I had Wayne call and make an appointment for me. The Monday could not come soon enough.

I was very pleased with the way she cut my hair.....even though she cut it DRY!! I was totally not used to that. The pictures don't really do it justice of how it turned out. It was a cute cut and hopefully will do well with the unpredictable weather here.

The picture of me with the hat on....well! Wayne and I had been in Helsinki during the morning doing some errands. It was rainy. I bought me a ball hat just for days like this. And that is what my hair does on those yucky days. I am now ready!! Bring on that yucky, rainy weather.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We went to Savonlinna over the weekend of July 11 - - 14th with President & Sister Luthy (Temple President and Matron) along with Veli ja Sisar Gee. They had actually purchased tickets several months ago to go there and see an Opera.....Madame Butterfly. They invited us along after we arrived here. We quickly accepted their invitation.....if we could get tickets to the Opera and Hotel reservations! We lucked out and were able to get both. The plan was to leave Saturday after finishing our shift at the temple. We did and we stopped at a former acquaintance of the Luthy's and Gee's from many years ago on the way. Can't remember her name but she sure fed us a great spread of a meal! Just like the Finns are known to do....they have great 'southern hospitality'!

After we spent several hours with her, we finished our journey. We arrived at the hotel about 12:00 midnight. It was still somewhat daylight outside so we didn't have to drive in the dark. That was nice. We stayed in a very old Russian built hotel....about 250 years old. Even for its age it was still quite nice. Typically very European.

Sunday we went to church at the Savonlinna Branch....all three of the guys had served there as young missionaries. President & Sister Luthy were speakers along with a High Councilman. Wayne was called out of the congregation to speak. Funny thing....he somehow had forgotten his tie back in Espoo. He asked this guy at church if h happened to have an extra tie. Can you believe he DID!! That is a picture of he and Wayne with him pointing to the tie. As it turns out, he was the High Council speaker AND Wayne remembered him from 45 years ago too. He was just a little tyke and his dad was Branch President. Small world. After church Sister Maasinen invited Wayne and I over for a little lunch. We accepted her invitation. It was wonderful food. She also remembered Wayne from 45 years ago. We invited her husband to be baptized and Wayne said we would come back to Savonlinna for him to baptize him. He smiled!

We drove around o Sunday afternoon....saw the largest wooden church in the world. It was quite impressive. Drove on the 'ridge highway' that goes between several lakes. Walked up a tower so we could look out. The view was wonderful. Lots of little islands.

Monday we drove into Savonlinna and spent the day. Parked in ONE spot and left the car there. Took a ferry boa around some of the Savonlinna Islands. It rained most of the day. Had a late lunch on a floating restaurant boat....salmon soup. It was good. Went to the Opera at the Castle...very old, very impressive. The bottom fell out of the sky just minutes before the play started. YWe were afraid the noise would interfere with the sounds. It stopped just as the play started.

Got back to the hotel about 11:30 p.m. The opera was wonderful and it has been a great weekend. Came home on Tuesday morning and worked in the afternoon at the Temple. Memories were made and, as is said, a FUN time was had by all!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

So this is Russian week again.....from Rostov, Russia. (Yes, this makes 3 Russian weeks out of the almost 4 that we have been here....can you believe we have been here 4 weeks tomorrow!!!.......and I am wondering WHY I tried to learn Finnish!)

At any rate.....there were about 45 Saints that came this time. They are from quite far in Russia.....some of them taking 3 - 4 days to get here! There are always youth that come with every group......varying numbers depending on what I am not sure! Two young women caught out eyes this week! They are Margo (14) and Marina (12). (A little background first...I have been asked by the Matron to work at the cash register in the Clothing Distribution Center which is located here in the asuntola, guest house. The other sister missionaries help in there also by hemming men's pants and women's dresses that are purchased by the Russians. It is quite the process to watch them do all of this for free). Well, these two girls came in to the distribution center to look with their mom. They saw some YW logo charms they wanted to buy along with a necklace, chain to put it on. They asked me how much it was (there are different prices for the Russians than other people that come in......the Russians are so poor they need a price break!). I told them it was 2 euro 40 for each. Their mother looked at them and said they would have to wait until NEXT YEAR when they hopefully can come again before they can buy it. They were so disappointed. I was heart broken. I told Wayne later that we had to buy them those necklaces as a gift for them. (I actually had to go to the local mall and purchase the necklaces because there was only one left in the store. So, the matron took me to the store to make that purchase, I bought the necklaces charms before I left the store and we were off to find our little YW and make a presentation to them.

The bottom picture is of Wayne and I putting the necklaces on the.....we had them close their eyes so we could surprise them.

Oh my goodness, when they opened their eyes you would have thought we had given them the moon! They hugged us and hugged us and hugged us and hugged us. They were just thrilled beyond belief! This is what our reward is......bright, grateful, loving young women!

The top picture is of the girls and their mom!!

Are we enjoying our mission?? YES, especially when we have wonderful experiences like this.......and many, many more inside the temple. Those are not always as easy to talk about.....notice the girls with their necklaces on!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It was a beautiful P-Day. Wayne and I had planned on going to Sello to do some errands. However, at about 7:30 a.m. the Gee's called to see if we would like to go to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum with them. 'Sure.....why not!' And off we went at 10:00 a.m. The Russian Missionary Couple gave us some pine nuts to feed the squirrels! I didn't think we would actually be able to do that because I am not used to having friendly squirrels around! Well, low and behold.....there were friendly squirrels everywhere! Here is proof that I did!! And aren't they cute as can be! Sweet little faces!

When we got home we found that the Russian bus from Rostov, Russia had arrived with 45 saints. There was lots of work to do to help them get ready for the temple on Tuesday. In the distribution center I worked the cash register. Those clothes that had to be hemmed were taken to the back room where the Missionary Sisters took care of that. Wayne helped a lot by running clothes from the front to the back once
they were paid for. And he helped bag those purchases that they took with them. It was a good day......albeit a very busy day! We do enjoy it when the Russians come! It took them about 3 days to get train from various parts of the Rostov area into St. Petersburg and then by bus.

When we got to our apartment about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. we were totally pooped. We got a bite to eat and then Wayne did the dishes for us. Not many to do, but every little bit helps!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We're willing to bet our fourth of July picnic was
BETTER than any of yours.
Here are some pictures to prove it:

So here's Dad, instructions on the left (in Finnish, Swedish, German, and Russian), Finnish-English dictionary in the middle, and tab B going into slot B in the right hand (I hope):

Then we heard that 21 people were coming to our "picnic," so we borrowed a grill from one of the temple presidency. Recognize the cook? Maybe by her apron!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In preparation for our missionary cookout tomorrow, July 4th, our assignment was to purchase all hot dog and hamburger buns along with the hamburger and hot dog meats! That is not an easy task in a country that doesn't celebrate and understand what July 4th is! They try to come close, as you can see from the purchase that we made yesterday! The hamburger buns come packed with 6 to a package and cost 1 euro 19 per pack (I am not sure.....maybe $2 for 6 buns). The hot dog buns come packages 8 per pack at the cost of 1 euro 99 per pack (probably $3.50 - $4.00 per package). In our food shopping we have decided we can't be trying to figure out the cost of each item. We would drive ourselves crazy if we did. We just know that food cost double what it does at home. We figured milk cost nearly $6 a gallon based on the current euro price here!! (we have found it for .65 euro a liter at a little market close to us....cheapest price around.....this makes it about $4 a gallon).

Oh, and the reason for the cookout is because we have one of our missionary couples leaving early Monday morning to go back home......with their mission completed! This is a celebration in their honor.

We even bought a small grill last week because we wanted to cook the hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill outside. The grill cost 20 euros. It is small but hopefully it will be mighty!!

We will take pictures of the cookout activity tomorrow! What is everyone else doing for the 4th??