Thursday, December 8, 2011

Finlandia !!!

Visa Trip 1 of 5
Helsinki was fantastic!  We walked along the waterfront Sunday after church and we felt like we were back in Seattle, very rejuvenating.  The young missionaries call Finland fairyland and the Finnish language they call the elf language.  After careful study we believe this is because we don’t think you can speak Finnish unless you are smiling and they say that if you are smiling when you speak Russian you are pronouncing it wrong.  Anyway, we found the people to be very warm and helpful and very proud of their country; and when they hear you speak English they immediately change to English also.  They all start learning English in school at age 9.
  The airline magazine rated Finland the number one country in the world in which to live.  This was of course the FinnAir inflight magazine so might have been a little biased.  Helsinki was very interesting and loaded with things to see and do.  We were only here for a couple of days so couldn’t do it all but we have 4 more trips to make so we’ll do a little more next time.
We arrived Friday evening, spent Saturday attending the temple and doing a little exploring, (rode the tram around the city), went to church Sunday and did a little more exploring, walked around the city a little more on Monday am and then flew back to Novosibirsk on Monday evening, arriving early Tuesday morning.  This time of year it is dark in Helsinki by 3:30pm and doesn’t get light out until about 9:30am.  I am sure before winter is over it will be even worse.  I thought Siberia had short days but these are even shorter.
We met a couple at church who are serving a mission in Helsinki.  They are from Tigard, Ore and have been in Finnland for only 3 weeks.  A lot of what they are experiencing we could identify with and some we could not, i.e. they have a car and a view of the Ocean (Gulf of Finland) from their apartment.  That was a little beyond our imagination even.  They were very nice and we will probably see them next time we visit, 90 days from now.  
One evening we walked down a main pedestrian/tram only street which was all lit up for Christmas.  Their big department store is “Stockmans” which had the windows decorated with animated Christmas scenes.  They are all very into Christmas in Finland.  Also they celebrate their independence day on Dec 5 so that just adds to the festive air.  FYI they gained their independence from Russia in 1917.  A couple of the current pics are from our evening stroll.  The one of the H&M store window is especially for our granddaughter Brenna.
On Sunday when we rode the tram to church we unfortuantely caught the second tram which took us around the city in the wrong direction, returned to the pick-up spot in front of our hotel and then headed off in the right direction.  Then while in route, about 1 stop from where we were to get off, it had to shut down.  The tram was unable to round the corner of the street as there was a nice new BMW parked too close to the corner for the tram to clear the car.  We got off, walked the rest of the way, and needless to say were a little late for church.  We were only about 15 minutes late but what a ride!
 We so enjoyed everything about Finland and will look forward to our next trips, with long days and “white nights” and the opportunity of attending the temple.  As our time in Finaland came to a close we looked at each other and realized we were both thinking the same thing - we couln't wait to get back to Russia and the people we had left behind.  We couldn't believe we were thinking that way but Siberia is a beautiful place and the country and the people have become a part of our live already in this very short time.
Our love to everyone and our prayers for each of you for health and happiness and a blessed holiday.
Randy n Sue
Street Performers
Native Finnish Indians?

More Street Performers
singing Jingle Bells in Finnish?

Christmas Lights!!

Just for Brenna!!

Along the WaterFront
An old Cathedral

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