Monday, July 5, 2010

Missionary Weekend Trip To

Several months ago tickets were purchased for all 6 of us missionary couples to head over to SAVONLINNA, about a 4 1/2 hour drive toward the LAKE DISTRICT of Finland. A gorgeous area along the eastern part...near the Russian Boarder. The Groberg', the Michie's and we left Saturday morning after we finished helping in the temple. The other three couples left on Friday night.

We had a beautiful weekend to make this trip. Weather-wise.......I think we were able to enjoy a beautiful FINNISH SUMMER.....not sure how long this weather will last. Probably not too long!

When we arrived, we had a few minutes to walk around the quaint little town of Savonlinna.
Then, we headed on over to the CASTLE where the OPERA.....'CARMEN' was to be the courtyard area of the castle. And this castle was built in about 1435!!! Now, that has to be impressive! It was built to protect the Finns (which was then a part of Sweden) from Russia.
Stopped to have a couple of pictures taken both outside and inside.
THIS (below), my friends, is the inside of the courtyard where during the summer Opera Season temporary seating and staging is erected for this world-wide popular event. Very worth every penny to be able to attend this!! Two years in a row for us now!!
As we were slowly walking toward our car AFTER the performance, guess who we 'found'!! Yupper....the lead man himself. He 'played' the role (and beautifully we might add) of DON JOSE! He has a wonderful voice. His 'real name' is...... VSEVOLOD GRIVNOV, a Russian. There are NO microphones used in this production (or any production) performed inside the castle. The acoustics are so good with those stone walls that none is needed!
And I figured I might as well get his autograph as well....he certainly did not seem to mind!

We attended church in the SAVONLINNA BRANCH. It was here 47 years ago that Wayne served as a young missionary (well, at least ONE of the many areas where he served). This is also where he leaned to play 'WE THANK THEE OH GOD FOR A PROPHET' on a little pump organ. Below is Sisar Cosmo. She is also a physician. She lives in a ISO SININEN TALO (big blue house). We have stayed in her home before when we were touring around Finland. The pump organ is also 'stored' in her basement! It is always good to see her.
After church Wayne, Veli Groberg ja Veli Michie (each joined by their wife) for a group picture with the 3 sisars who were from the ORIGINAL Branch.....all 3 of them have remained stalwart and faithful for all these many years!! Amazing that they are all still alive!! It was indeed a wonderful reunion!!
Jenni Massinen was not able to come to church because she had to work. So, we decided to pay her a visit!! She was so happy we came by to see her. AND....we went back on Monday to do some shopping in those adorable handiwork shop!! Great shop for those in the Savonlinna area.......TAITO SHOP.
After a visit with her, we headed over to the LARGEST WOODEN CHURCH IN THE WORLD located just 1.5 KM from our HERTTUA HOTELLI in Kerimäki.
Wayne and I had been there before but Kent and Barbara and Dick and Ronda had not. So worth the trip there!!
Then is was on to the PUNKAHARJU area......a beautiful scenic drive through the lake district. We got a great overview of the area when we climbed up the WATER TOWER....and the climb was FREE!! Actually have something FREE here in Finland!!
Then it was back on the road for our gorgeous drive along the 'ridge' can see the lakes on either side of the road in the above picture.
We got a little hungry and pulled out a CANDY BAR to nibble on....guess what we found!! YES, another little LOVE NOTE from Becky! How sweet of her. We ended up getting chocolate smudges on the note!! Proof that we did eat it! :-)
Above is a gorgeous view of the 'mirror lakes' that we love to see!! Almost looks like FALL COLORS there.......but I don't think so quite yet!
Back to our HOTELLI for a little exploring around the historic grounds. The Hotelli is built on a battle ground. Machine guns and trenches everywhere......all of them authentic from the WORLD WAR II era!

We started our day off with BREAKFAST on the patio of the Hotelli. Again, we could not have asked for more beautiful weather!! Not sure how long this can last but we are sure going to enjoy every bit of it!!
After breakfast we headed back into Savonlinna for a boat ride, shopping at the TORI and also back to TAITO SHOP to shop a bit as well. AND TODAY IS KENT'S BIRTHDAY!! What a way to celebrate it! He was one happy camper......
These Finns LOVE their DOGS!!! Notice the dog in the above boat picture.....standing right up there with his 'master' and even wearing his lifejacket!!! Now you have to love that!!
This was the BOAT we would be taking our little tour around the SAVONLINNA area on. If you look very carefully, you might be able to spot me up top!
We were able to get a great outdoor seat on top......complete with little snacks!
The boat went around the water-side of the Castle.....LOVE THIS CASTLE!!
Wayne and Kent did more standing than anything. The sites were just spectacular!!
And back to the TORI for shopping! Then the drive back home.
I think we pulled into our SHELL station in Espoo on FUMES!! BUT we made it without running out of gas!!!

It was a fantastic weekend!! We are glad, however, to be back 'home' and ready to be in the temple this week.......

THIS WEEK: NOVOSIBIRSK RUSSIA with some of Helsinki Stake here. This will be Novosibisk's last week here before going to the Kiev Ukraine Temple next month!

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