scandinavia adventure // finland


this final and much-anticipated week of our trip is hard to put into words. bear with me as i do my best. i have been staring for far too long at this computer screen. hopefully if i just start typing the words will gradually begin to flow from my heart to my mind to my fingertips... hopefully. you know how from time to time - especially in times of great difficulty - you try to picture yourself in the new world? maybe even humming to yourself - "just see yourself... just see me too... just see us all in a world that is new..." - to evoke the peaceful mental images? i have been doing a lot of that lately. however, recently for one full week we didn't have to meditate to bring these pictures to mind, they were reality - right in front of our very eyes. sure there was still pain and suffering around us but for that one week in helsinki our brothers and sisters created the closest version of paradise we can experience in todays world. and for that we will always be grateful. we had a glimpse into the future. how cool is that? "american," "finnish," "swedish," "russian," and many more gathered together in unity and in love. one experience i remember was walking with a russian sister along a tree-lined pathway, i said something and she just smiled. realizing she spoke as much english as i spoke russian i starting singing a kingdom song. her eyes lit up as she began to sing along with me. turns out we spoke the same language after all. we experienced this again and again throughout the week. i have known for many years now that nothing is like being in the truth - nowhere else can you find it. but this week solidified this fact in my heart : the truth is absolutely priceless and our brotherhood is the most precious gift from jehovah. finland is beautiful - the land of lakes - there is water and green everywhere, even just outside helsinki. helsinki itself is a clean, laid back city with a modern edge. we loved being there. but hands-down the most beautiful part of finland will forever be our friends there. we love you all - please come see us in california!
^ our service day ^ we were assigned to work with a pioneer couple around our age. we were given an invitation presentation in finnish and the congregation provided a wonderful lunch and program for the delegates! the night before we attended the touching "evening program" where there was not a dry eye in the audience. bethel reserved the savoy theater in downtown helsinki for four nights. local brothers and sisters for over a year tirelessly worked on this production - planning, organizing and practicing to execute orchestral music, children and adult chorus music, live local finnish folk music, a ballet, interviews and a full-length drama featuring the history of the truth in finland. afterward we enjoyed time together with light refreshments. one of the most incredible nights of our lives in the truth. 
^ finnish branch tour ^ bethel hosted four hour tours for all the delegates the week of the convention. we appreciate their hard work in going above and beyond with every special detail, including stations set up in every department to explain the work there as well as a delicious meal and live music.
^ our wilderness tour ^ this is a big deal by the way because fins LOVE their sauna. there are more saunas in finland than cars. and on this day we were able to see why they love it so much. we hiked in the forest with our guides leading the way - stumbling across little special treats around each corner - such as sisters singing kingdom songs a cappella, homemade reindeer soup to be enjoyed around a campfire, and cloudberry liquor tasting. after our hike we went to a wilderness center to learn about finlands wildlife then to a large open area for a meal and activities as we waited for our turn to use the sauna. at the sauna we went in the ice cold lake first, then sauna, lake, sauna... repeat. such a blast!
^ our convention site ^ convention take two! even better the second time around! we had five languages : finnish, swedish, russian, english and finnish sign language. perfect three days.
^ esplanade park ^ being together all day for three days wasn't enough so we gathered at the downtown park to mix, mingle and of course... sing more kingdom songs. different languages groups singing in unison the same words with the same melody brought tears to the eyes of all and turned the heads of passerby. being with our russian brothers was such a highlight - seeing their strength, faith, courage and integrity will be something we will never forget.
^ the medieval town of porvoo ^ our last tour was of this quaint town. our guides took us on a walking tour to see all of the sites and then we went on a cruise through the archipelago en route back to helsinki. on the cruise we had a buffet with local seafood and a band to play live music. 

so thats it for our time in paradise... this post doesn't and truly can't do justice to the events of the week. we eagerly await the day when we will not have to find a quiet place to imagine the new world... when we will never have to say goodbye to it. we can't wait for the time when jehovahs promises are fulfilled in entirety and we will all have times like these repeated on a grand scale, forever.

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