Sunday, August 23, 2015


One of the highlights of our summer was a week spent at Festinord in Randers, Denmark.  Festinord is an annual YSA conference specifically for the Scandinavian countries, although participants come from all over Europe and beyond.  This year there were over 720 participants, including over 100 from Finland.  We were kept quite busy supervising games, serving meals, setting up and taking down tables, participating in service projects,

This is Sister Hänninen, who served in the Roseville Mission.  Her last area was in Ben and Emy's ward.  Our grandchildren love Sister Hänninen, and so we had to post this picture.  It was taken in Turku, where two busloads of YSA from all over Finland met on the first leg of our trip to Randers.  It took over 24 hours in all, and although the bus wasn't that comfortable, it wasn't as bad as it sounds.  The overnight portion was on the ferry from Turku to Stockholm and we had a very comfortable cabin.

On our bus we were entertained by the Tuisku brothers, Pertti and PJ, who hosted a Radio Festinord program over the buses public address.  Between songs they presented very creative and entertaining monologues and conducted interviews.  Anne was one of the featured interviewees.  The most entertaining was Markus Metsäranta, who posed as an expert on Festinord dating and match-ups. He spoke of the goal of finding a life mate and coached the young men on how best to approach the task at hand.  He informed us of the appropriate age range a young man might consider - no more than six years.  The most valuable piece of information he shared from his vast repetoire of experience was the best "Festinord pick up line" It is simple but effective as it works in all 4 Nordic languages -"Hei!"  ("Hi!" in English),

In addition to workshops there were plenty of activities, just a few of which are pictured here.

Canoeing was an option that a few chose.

This is not a human statue!  Markus was trying to put on his socks and cleats without losing his balance.  One of the young ladies offered assistance by steadying him with a hand on his forehead, and it just escalated from there.  He did manage to get ready in time to join the game.  Our Finnish boys looked pretty good on the field and won their first game impressively, but failed to bring home a medal.

Some of the more lively activities included sumo wrestling, as well as bubble ball soccer and human foosball (sorry no pictures).  They looked like a lot of fun, and something I really would have gotten into in my younger days.

Thursday morning following the devotional everyone put on their Mormon Helping Hands vests and we descended on the community.  There were twenty or more different sites to which we were dispatched.  It was quite appreciated in the community and received a lot of positive coverage by the press.

Not everything went as planned.  Our small group arrived at a nursing home, where
no one had any idea we were coming.  They couldn't think of any service we could do.
Checking in with the organizers we were told to wait at this bus stop, to be taken
to another site.  We enjoyed some Danish pastries while we were waiting!

We ended up at the Randers municipal maintenance facility painting (in this picture) highway barricades.

Others painted a new awning...

...or the interior of the offices.
After our assigned tasks were complete the director gathered us all together for a picture for their newsletter and to express his appreciation for our service.  Anne and I are in the back row on the left.  We're the ones with the yellow vests on.

One of our responsibilities was to serve meals.  Lunch and breakfast were the easiest - dinner was somewhat more work.  It was good to greet our YSA as they came through the line.  
Oh goodie, DANCES!!!  Anyone who knows me well is aware of how much I enjoy chaperoning youth and young adult dances.  Somehow I survived - actually by pretty much avoiding the dances.

Blue Hawaii was the theme of the first night's dance.
We missed that one altogether, but heard that the
decorations were amazing and included a near life-size whale!

The theme for the second dance was Bedouin night.  The decor was really pretty gate with awnings spread around the perimeter of the dance floor.  Carpets and pillows were place under the awnings.  Many of the YSA came dressed in character in some very creative costumes.

The final evening the theme was New York!  New York!  We spent the day setting up tables and chairs for the dinner.  I walked over 20,000 paces taking a dolly of 12 chairs to each table.  Then we served a delicious dinner - cold smoked salmon appetizer, roast beef or chicken, salad, potatoes.  We actually got to eat before everyone else, and it was quite delicious.

Just a couple of our YSA, with their dates.  It is surprising the number of young married couples who say that they met their spouse at Festinord!

After partying for a week with very little or no sleep, you can imagine the bus trip back.  There was not near the excitement and anticipation on the return trip as there was at the beginning of the week.

We got home from Festinord in time to host Ben and Emy for a few days.  These are a couple of pictures from Seurasaari, a living history museum in Helsinki.

We also were able to celebrate Grampa Gene's 90th birthday over FaceTime, speaking with many family members and friends, as well as with Geno.  This picture is of Gene with Tom and Emily's children.  We are so blessed to have Tom and Cheryl, as well as our own children and grandchildren, and Terry Buys who are so loving and caring to Gene.  Without them, it wouldn't be possible for us to serve this mission.

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