Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Billion Graves in Mikkeli

Last Saturday, we traveled to Mikkeli where we spent the afternoon with the young adults from branch.  This is a remarkable group of young adults - of 12 on the rolls 2 are currently serving missions, and all but one of the rest attend church.  Seven of them were able to join us on this activity.  

We started the afternoon at the chapel where we explained the Billion Graves website and its purpose, and made sure that everyone had the app downloaded on their phones.  Then we went to a nearby cemetery, Rouhialan hautausmaa, where we proceeded to photograph headstones.

Our group from left to right - Top row: Binh Le, from Vietnam; Taru and Essi; Eeni-Riia, an RM who served in Greece; Wille; Esa-Matti, RM who served in Sweden; and Mikko.  Wille and Mikko are currently in the army and are planning to serve missions when they finish their service next summer.

In a little over an hour we had taken 651 images of headstones.  Once the transcriptions are complete I expect that they will include over a 1000 individuals, as many of the headstones identify multiple family members.  Many of the ones that were difficult to read we transcribed as best we could on our phones while we had the headstone to look at.  The rest we uploaded for later transcription.

Esa-Matti helps Enni-Riia get a good picture
of the headstone.
Essi and her sister, Taru, both got into taking the images.
The next day they were talking about transcribing them on
their laptops.  I challenged the whole group to continue the
transcription until all of the images are done, and then to
go back and finish taking images of the whole cemetery!
Binh Le had just moved back to Vietnam, when we arrived here a year ago.  I was able to make
contact with him on FB and via email, and put him in touch with the missionaries in
Sarasota, Florida where he was going to study as an exchange student.  He returned to Finland this
summer.  This was the first time we were able to meet in person.

My favorite young adult!!!!

After returning from the cemetery we all built our own pizzas on crusts that Sister Brasher had previously par-baked, and enjoyed dinner together.  The following day some of them were talking about transcribing some of the images, so I expect that they will follow through.  The branch president also suggested that they may try to get some of the youth involved as well to go back and continue where we left off.

Before the weather turns we hope to get some of the other YSA groups involved in similar projects.

Wille is getting it just the way he wants it!

Taru, Esa-Matti, Mikko, and Wille add the finishing touches to three of the pizzas!  After this picture I was too busy eating
to take any more pictures!

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