Friday, October 30, 2015

Finnroast 2015!!

In the middle of October the Helsinki Stake YSA hosted the first annual Finnroast, an event for YSA from the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and Russia. The neat thing about this activity is that it was the brain child of our Stake YSA leaders and was organized and put on  by them!  The meals and refreshments were provided by ward and stake YSA advisers - we took our turn, but several others were involved as well.  And it was a great success!  There were participants from all of the Nordic countries as well as Russia, and even Turkey, China and Mexico!
The kick-off event was what else - a sauna night!!!  About 45 YSA participated in this activity at a local public sauna on the shore of a small lake.  Many of them made repeated trips between the traditional savu sauna (literally "smoke sauna" meaning a wood fired sauna) and dips in the pool.  The temperature outside was a brisk 45 degrees - warm by Finnish standards.
Saturday morning began with a trip to the Helsinki Temple to do baptisms or endowments.  Once again about 40 young adults participated divided about evenly between the two ordinances.

A picture of Larry with Gökmen Özturk and Eren Manis.  Eren was at the Temple to do baptisms for the second time since joining the church in May in Ankara, Turkey.  Gökmen, was not yet a member, although he was baptized later that day.
 As has become our custom, we enjoyed a lunch in the Temple guesthouse following our visit.  In the picture below are members from China, Russia, Turkey and Finland!

A delicious lunch was prepared by Pertti and Kirsti Vorimo, the young adult advisors from Espoo 1 ward.  We ended up feeding over 50, about twice the number we usually have.

 Following the Temple visit most of the young adults participate in a traditional Finnish orienteering competition.  Finns love the outdoors, and orienteering is a popular hobby, as are hiking, running, and biking in nature.  There are many nature paths throughout Helsinki.  In this case they participated in the competition in a forest area adjacent to the Temple.

While others were participating in the orienteering event, I was able to spend a little time with Eren and Gökmen in the Temple family history center.  Both of them were able to begin their family trees and will continue to extend them as they are able to gather information from their families. Afterward, Gökmen was quite excited.  He said, "I always wanted to have a map of my family on my bedroom wall.  And now I can!"

Then we attended Gökmen's baptism.  He was baptized by his Eren.  We were fortunate to join the Sisters in teaching many of the discussions to Gökmen.  He has amazing faith and was diligent in studying the gospel and reading the scriptures.  He and Eren will be a strength when they return to Turkey at the end of December.  Both would like to serve missions.  They are so much like the Turkish people we met when we visited Scott and Joy Newey on their mission in Turkey about 15 years ago.  Eren and Gökmen are exceptionally considerate and thoughtful young men and they will be great missionaries!

Elder and Sister Brasher, with Eren Manis, Gökmen Özturk, Sister Kwok and Sister Hayter.
The annual Gold and Green Ball is a very big event in Finland, with members 16 and up coming from throughout the country to participate.  Planning Finnroast around the Gold and Green Ball made a lot of sense, and helped bring many from the northern part of the country that might not have made it otherwise.
The decorations for the dance were simple, but very nice.  They were done by the Helsinki Stake YSA.  I had the chance to blow up about a hundred of these balloons - 500 were hung from the ceiling.
With special permission from the Stake Presidency, we had a special YSA fast and testimony meeting on Sunday afternoon.  Anne gave a wonderful talk - "The Holy Ghost Brings All Things to Our Remembrance" emphasizing the need to treasure up knowledge of the scriptures, so that they could be brought to our remembrance.  We had expected about 30-35 to attend, as many were leaving for home that afternoon.  We ended up with 54 attending, several of whom bore strong testimonies.

After the testimony meeting Anne served a delicious luncheon in the institute center.  Several of the YSA are shown in the pictures below enjoying the meal and visiting.

The final event of Finnroast 2015 was a night of flashlight tag at Suomenlinna an 18th century island fortress in Helsinki harbor.  About 35 participated in that activity and we met them with hot cider and "funeral sandwiches" (that's what Anne calls them.  If you don't know what they are, ask a Relief Society sister) in the market square when they returned from the island.  They had a great time!
YSA from Russia, Finland, Mexico, and Nepal clowning for the camera and enjoying hot cider and funeral sandwiches.

A few of our local YSA.
It was really fun to be involved in this event and see the enthusiasm of the YSA.  Hopefully, this will inspire the YSA leaders to plan similar events!

We are loving our time working with these young people, the missionaries and at the Helsinki Temple, and feel the pressure of time pressing unrelentingly forward.

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