Merry Christmas from Finland!!
|Traditionally costumed Joulupukki with his wife.|
Christmas season is a festive time in Helsinki - from Joulupukki (Santa Claus in Finland) to Christmas parades and concerts, street lights, etc. It is also customary for organizations and families to have pikkujoulut or little Christmases in the weeks leading up to Christmas. These are essentially Christmas parties where people enjoy traditional Christmas food, such as riisipuuro (rice pudding), glögi (wassel), Christmas star tortes, etc. It is a fun and joyous season.
|Public displays of the Nativity are not common in Helsinki, although you see them in and around churches. This is the Nativity scene at the Helsinki Temple. It is beautiful in its simplicity.|
Like our apartment, our own Christmas decorations are little more modest than at home, but the spirit is still here. Anne has done a good job of bringing Christmas into our home here in Helsinki with her decorations and cooking. We love this time of year.
|Anne has fallen in love with her hand made felted Nativity.|
|A mistletoe garland and Christmas stockings adorn the centerpiece of our living room - our family pictures. We enjoy having our family with us on our mission.|
A joulu tonttu or elf watches over my desk from his perch on my bookshelf. He is accompanied by a miniature straw goat. Traditional these goats and other decorations made of grain stalks were placed around outside during the Christmas season and served as beautiful bird feeders.
Anne loves rocks and has used a few of her collection (don't know how we will get them home) to build a ski hill for her felted skiers, a gift from the lady who makes the felted nativity figures.
Seurasaari Christmas PathSeurasaari is an open air museum on a small island in Helsinki. It is a fun place to visit to get an idea of Finland as it was 100-300 years ago, with several old farm houses, outbuildings, manor houses, and even a windmill and church. It is accessible year round and is a very pleasant place for a walk, but it is staffed only in the summer, with the exception of holidays. One afternoon in the Christmas season there is a well organized event primarily for children called Christmas Path. Below are some photos of our visit to Seurasaari with some of the young adults and sister missionaries. Afterward we enjoyed hot chocolate and dinner in our apartment!
|This was a live Nativity at the old church on Seurasaari. The story of Christ's birth was beautiful told by these children in narrative and song.|
Claire and Ellen, two of our young adults from China, were anxious for us to enjoy a real Chinese dinner at a restaurant where they both work part time. It was unbelievably delicious. Each dish was unique in its presentation and taste. And the food kept coming. We had a wonderful time, and look forward to taking some of the other senior missionaries there for a real treat!!
From left to right - Gökmen who was baptized in October, Eren who joined the Church in Turkey in May, their friend Emre with whom we have had the pleasure of getting acquainted, Jean-Louis who was baptized this month, Noel who joined the Church last summer, Ellen, Elin (Sweden) and Claire. These young ladies are amazing in their ability to lift our spirits. They are continually working with the missionaries and encouraging others.
Odds and Ends
|At Jean-Loius' baptism. He is such a kind and faithful man. He always has a smile for us!!!|
Sadly we missed the wedding, but were able to FaceTime with family when they came out of the Temple. We look forward to meeting Whitney in person when we return from our mission at the end of February.