Monday, February 2, 2015

Kutsuttu Palvelemaan - Called to Serve

We have told you how wonderful the YSA we work with are.  This board was inspired by something we did several years ago at a family reunion and our Christmas Gift from Tom and Emily.  It shows many of our current YSA.  On the map are the pictures of those currently serving as full-time missionaries.  Around the outside edge of the map are those who have served and on either side are pictures of other of our YSA - our member missionaries.  We still have many pictures to add - a half dozen or so who are currently serving and about 2 dozen or more who have served.  Then we have a lot of active YSA for whom we still need pictures.

As missionaries return they bring a renewed energy and strength into the group.  

The Europe East Area Presidency has adopted the following goals for all members in 2015:

  • Bring a Friend 
  • Become Spiritually and Temporally Self-reliant
  • Take an Ancestor to the Temple
We are trying to focus the attention of our YSA on these goals as we reach out to those who are less active or are searching to find themselves.

Note about the content of this blog.  We are actively engaged in missionary work, teaching, fellowshipping, seeking, etc.  Our primary assignment is with the YSA members, but we have ample opportunity to be involved in more traditional missionary work.  Because of the privacy laws in Finland we have been asked not to post names and pictures of individuals - particularly those who are not members of the church.  For that reason this blog may seem more like a travelogue than a missionary journal.  For those who are interested in a more detailed account of our missionary experiences we have begun a weekly family letter that discusses it in more detail.  If you would be interested in receiving this letter, just let us know by sending us an email or entering a comment on the blog below.

One of the frustrating things about writing a blog is the lack of feedback.  We would love to hear any comments or questions you might have.  Again, just send an email or add a comment at the end of any of our blog posts.

Among the many great things we get to do each week is participate in missionary district meetings.  We are serving with awesome missionaries and they never fail to lift our spirits and inspire us to better service.  There are four districts in the greater Helsinki and we rotate our attendance between them, as well as occasionally attending one of the outlying district meetings.  We are also able to enlist their aid in working with YSA that need extra support.  They are wonderful.

Neitstytpolku District: Elders Suorsa and Ryan, Smith and Anderson, Stephenson and McMaster; and Sisters Thayne and Richards.
We are fortunate to have a car, and do most of our traveling that way.  However, Helsinki has a wonderful public transit system and parking in the center is very expensive.  We have a tram stop right out our front door and find it very convenient for trips downtown.

Another advantage of taking the tram is that it affords and opportunity to talk with people.  Right after this picture was taken, I was approached by a young man who wanted to know if I knew Elder so and so.  I didn't but we had an opportunity to visit and I invited him to participate in some of our YSA activities.  He seemed quite excited about the opportunity.  I learned that he had just moved to our area and lives just around the corner and across the street from our chapel.

I met another young man who has been working with one of our YSA for a few months now.  I asked if he had talked with our YSA about the church and when he responded "No" I asked if he would be interested in meeting with the missionaries and learning morning.  He responded positively and we are working with the missionaries to set up a teaching appointment.  Putting on a missionary badge somehow gives us the courage to ask those questions.  I wonder how many opportunities that I have missed by my reluctance to simply ask.  If anyone reading this blog would like to know more about our message please let me know!  Who do you know to whom you can extend an invitation to learn more about Christ?

On one of our excursions we found this souvenir shop.  Naturally we had to take this picture.  Anne is not a common name here - it is more Scandinavian than Finnish.  Anna or Annu are more typical Finnish spellings.

This shop is just across the street from a church that has become somewhat of a tourist attraction.  It is called the Rock Church, although its proper name translates as Temple Square!  It is cut down into the surrounding rock and is quite beautiful.  We wondered about the acoustics and hope to attend a concert there sometime.

Once a week, usually on Saturdays, we try to visit a cultural site and learn more about Finland and our community.  Last Saturday we went with the Melbys, from West Virginia, and the Smiths from North Salt Lake to the natural history museum.  The Melbys have been helping in the office for the last couple of months and will be going to Kuopio this week.  We have really become attached to them and are sorry to see them go.  The Smiths are completing their service as temple missionaries and returning home this week.  We have enjoyed working with them very much and will miss that association as well.

In the background of the picture above is the Kampi Kirkko.  Kampi is a commercial district.  This small church is located in the square in front of the Kampi shopping mall.  It has no windows except for some skylights.  The small chapel offers prayer service each weekday morning and evening, as well as a peaceful spot for prayer and meditation amidst the bustle of the commercial activity and traffic outside.  It is very beautiful in its simplicity!

The Helsinki Natural History Museum is one of the best museums of its kind that I have visited.  The collection of displays from antiquity and from around the world is very well presented.  It is small enough that it can be visited in a few hours and laid out in an orderly and methodical pattern.

The taxidermy work and displays are among the most natural and lifelike that I can recall seeing.  And like the Finnish nature it is not without its whimsy - which is best demonstrated by the giraffes enjoying a coffee break on the balcony.  We spent a very enjoyable afternoon with our missionary friends and then went to dinner in one of the excellent restaurants which seem to be everywhere in Helsinki.


  1. What a cool place! Too bad about the rules to not put up pictures of people, because by far that is to me one of the most interesting things, the people! Well, there's always you guys and your associates :) Looking forward to more updates

  2. I have been enjoying your blog. Wishing we were on a mission but it seems like health concerns may prevent that from happening. So we serve here as much as we can. Sorry I have not commented before, it was because I had to figure out my google password first. You could add me to email if you want.