Sunday, March 8, 2015

Valentine's weekend road trip to Lappeenranta, Savonlinna, Kuopio, and Mikkeli

Over the Valentine's day weekend we took a road trip to deliver a car to Elder and Sister Melby in Kuopio.  We also made a loop to visit some of our YSA.  It was a fun and productive trip.  You can see the map of our trip in the right side bar. We started in Helsinki (A), then drove to Lappeenranta (B) where we had lunch with one of our YSA reps.  We went on to Savonlinna (C) where we spent the night.  On Saturday we drove to Kuopio (D) and traded vehicles with the Melby's.  We stayed that night in Mikkeli (E) where we attended church, and then had lunch in Mäntyharju (F) before heading home.

Friday morning was a little below freezing and all of the birch trees were covered with hoar frost.
Because of the gray sky it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of this winter scene.

We stopped in Lappeenranta, which is in southeast Finland, near the Russian border.
There we had lunch with Maria, the YSA rep for the branch there.  We had a
wonderful visit getting acquainted with her and learning about the 15 YSA in
Lappeenranta.  She is wonderful and dedicated to serving the Lord and her
fellow YSA in Lappeenranta.

This is Olavinlinna in Savonlinna, for which I have always had fond memories since my service there 45 years ago.  In the background is Olavinlinna - Olav's fortress or castle.  In the summer there is an opera festival in the castle.  We are going to try to attend one of the operas, if we can work  it into our schedule.

There are a lot of these cameras along the highways in central Finland.  Some of the Elders
say that they don't work, but I got caught speeding.  The speed limits change frequently and
they are different in the winter than in the summer.  Our GPS shows the speed limit, but I think
that it must be the summer limit.  Don't know what the damage will be yet.

After attending church in Mikkeli, we went to the branch president's home in
Mäntyharju for dinner.  He suggested we check out the snow sculptures there on
our way to his house.  This was in the first group we saw - a playground of snow
sculptures.  There were six sculptures of this size, each with a stairway up the
back and a slide down the side or through the middle.  Lots of families were there,
and the children really enjoyed themselves.

In addition to these there were two other groups of sculptures of a more artistic nature.
They were very creative and artfully done!

This is the Multamäki home.  The small mother-in-law home to the left is where
Sister Multamäki lives.  We posted a picture of her in one of our previous blogs.  

This is the Multamäki family.  They are wonderful!!!  We enjoyed a very delicious dinner and the warm hospitality of the family.  Anja Multamäki, on the left was the branch President's wife in Savonlinna, when I served there as a young missionary.  Her son, Lauri, was only 1 at that time.  Now he is the branch president in Mikkeli, and is providing wonderful leadership to the branch, just as his father did in Savonlinna, so many years ago.  
This hexagonal shaped building houses a grilli or barbecue.  After learning about
this one, we began to notice many more in the yards of country homes as we
traveled around the country.
While we were visiting, their oldest son started the fire and showed us the inside.
They grill hot dogs and makkara (horse collar sausages).  With the weather outside below
freezing it was quite comfortable in the grilli shed.

As we left Mikkeli, the weather cleared up and we were treated to a beautiful sunset!  We arrived home safely after traveling about 950 kilometers or 600 miles.  It was a leisurely trip, with several stops along the way to photograph the beautiful scenery and visit with new and old friends!
We love serving in this beautiful country.  But even more we love the people with whom we are able to serve, especially the young single adults and our fellow missionaries.

We love you all and appreciate your emails and prayers.  Some have commented that it is cumbersome to add comments to this blog.  Our email addresses are and

Coming up in future posts:
          Our trip to Mustelma (Bruises) and YSA activity in Oulu in northwest Finland.
          A luau in Finland - our ward party.
          Plus many more exciting adventures.

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