Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hello From Finland

Dear Family and Friends,

We have decided that the best way to start our mission in Finland is write our blog as a letter.  We hope you are all well and happy.  We are learning many new things and happy to be here.

We arrived in Helsinki on the morning of November 17th.  It was raining but not too cold.  We were greeted by our mission president, President Watson and his wonderful wife, Sister Watson.  They told us that they have been waiting for us and were happy that we were finally in Finland.  That made us feel good.  Some of the things we did on the day we arrived was to tour the mission office, the mission home, and had dinner with the mission president and office missionaries.  Then we watched a live broadcast from the European Mission Regional General Authority.  We were so tired but we were glad to call it our first day in Finland and went to bed and slept good.

The next morning, Wednesday, we had breakfast with President and Sister Watson.  They are such wonderful people and leaders.  We love them already.  We received our training and orientation.  We were given a mission car to drive to our new home in Joensuu, (which means rivers mouth).  One of the mission staff elders took us around to get all the necessary equipment that we would be using in our new area.  Then we closed out the day with a dinner at a local restaurant.  Everything around us is in a language that we will soon be speaking or trying to speak.  The Finnish language is a beautiful language and the common national language that is spoken by all.  All the signs are in Finnish.

Wednesday was also the Helsinki Zone meeting which we attended.  We were so impressed with the level of maturity and intelligence of the young elders and sisters.  There were 30 of them.  They conducted and carried the whole affairs of the meeting and training from beginning to end.  President Watson and Sister Watson were present.  President Watson gave the closing remarks.  We were blessed to have had our first zone meeting sample.

On Thursday morning we had another breakfast with President and Sister Watson.  Again it was so nutritious and delicious.  Sister Watson packed us sack lunches.  By noon our suitcases and other necessary mission materials were packed and off we drove to our new home in Joensuu.
It was raining and cold and we only had a few hours of day light to travel in.  It is six hours from Helsinki to Joensuu.  We didn't know the town and were very happy that the two elders assigned there were able to meet us and guide us to our new home.  They met us at the church and because our car, a Toyota Yaris, is so small we had to leave a couple of our suitcases at the church so the Elders could ride with us.  They are really neat missionaries.
Elder Kontinen, is a native Finn and the other, Elder Bekmezian, is from Utah.  They both speak Finnish well.  It was fun and amazing to listen to them conversing with each other.  Elder Hunt says that the language has changed somewhat from the time he was a young missionary 50 years ago.  Sister Hunt feels that her job is to observe and absorb for the time being.  We arrived in the dark at our apartment.  It is the same apartment that the couple missionaries had four months before we came.  It is a nice apartment with a view of the river and a lighted walkway bridge over the river.
There is a beautiful old Lutheran Church that must have been built in the early times.  It is lighted as soon as it gets dark which is around four o'clock.  We can watch the beautiful scenery from our living room window.  We appreciate nature and what God has created for us to enjoy.  The motion of the river is very soothing. The trees are so tall, straight and alive reaching into heaven for sunlight.

Last Wednesday we traveled on the bus to Kuopio which is a part of our district for district meeting.  It is a 25 minute walk from the bus stop to the chapel so the elders called the couple missionaries to pick us up.  That was very thoughtful of them and we were glad they did.  There is a senior couple, like us, serving as missionaries, a set of sister missionaries and a set of elders because it is a bigger city than Joensuu.  These missionaries were wonderful.  The church that we met in was a nice one.  It is one of the newest chapels.  The sister missionaries have a baptism scheduled in December.
Our Finnish missionary is the district leader.  Since we have a car we will be taking the elders to the district meeting every Wednesday.  In all the cities the streets are difficult to follow but their driving rules are the same as United States.  It was a very long trip on the bus and it will take less time to travel by car.  We won't be making frequent stops like the bus.

We are getting to know our town and finding new routes to get to our destinations.  We had to clean the apartment again because it hasn't been lived in for four months.  We are very happy that the couple before us left lots of useful things for us.  We will tell you about all the strange things we had to learn how to use on our next blog.  We go to a very small branch but the members have lots of  faith and have strong testimonies.  We are happy to work and help out in our branch.  Every member that we met have told us that they have been praying for us to come.  Some of the work we will be doing are Family Home Evening in our home, teach Institute for college students at the church, Finnish language class at the church, district meeting every Wednesday in Kuopio, and helping with the branch in what ever they need our help in.  It has been difficult to finally get here because of our visa problems.  But now that we are here we are excited and happy to go to work for our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.  Thank you very much for your love and prayers.  We love you very much and you are in our prayers.  We are happy to be serving in Joensuu, Finland.

Love, Elder & Sister Hunt

Friday, November 13, 2015

We Truly Have Been Rewarded

This is looking back at our four months at The Family and Church History Headquarters Mission (FCHHM) in Salt Lake City, Utah. We began our mission in Provo at the Missionary Training Center on July 6, 2015.  We loved it there and we were ready to fly away to Finland but our visas didn't arrive.
 So we were given a temporary assignment to FCHHM.  We have truly enjoyed it here and learned so much about the Family Search program.  We have met and made many new dear friends. They come from all walks of life. We want to take you on a memory tour of our four months as missionaries for our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We love our mission and we look forward to serving in the Finland Helsinki Mission.  We are cleaning our apartment and returning things we have borrowed.  We will leave on Monday morning from the Salt Lake Airport.

The explanation of each picture is under the pictures. Some captions are combined for two pictures or the whole row.

We finally have visas to Finland.    Saying goodbye to all.  Our dear friends at Family Search Center.

The rest of our zone with Zone Leaders The Serrao's. The middle and right pictures are Hale & Farewell dinner.  Hale & Farwell dinner is held each month for all incoming new missionaries and outgoing missionaries who have finished their mission.  It is a happy and sad event with lots of food. Old friends leave and we make new ones. The first picture below are the new missionaries and those who are going home.  There are more new ones than those going home. It has been fun to get to know them.
We came to this mission as trainees in Family Search program and after two weeks we became teachers and instructors to our guests searching for their ancestors. Other missionaries got assigned to other places in the mission like Family History Library, museum, church history library, or the granite vault. There are other places besides that where missionaries serve.

It has been a real treat to have family come and visit.  We are grateful to belong to a wonderful and eternal family.  Thank you for your visits and memorable moments.

We thank our Friends, so many to name so we show only a few, who came from near and far to add to our mission's spiritual experience.
We had other unforgettable friends who also came on the scene that made it fun for us. The stick figure lizard above is a unique-shaped natural tip of a tree branch that fell with the autumn leaves from a tree next to the temple.  It just lacked a head so we installed a pencil eraser.

We truly love our Mission Presidency and we will miss them.  They have been so loving and kind to us.  We were orphans and they adopted us right from the beginning.  We are very grateful to them.
L-R Mission President Tate & Sister Tate, First Counselor President Oliver & Sister Oliver, Second Counselor President Larson & Sister Larson

We love our mission.  We enjoyed our training and working here at The Family and Church History Headquarters Mission.  Now we leave to a beginning of another mission in Finland.  We are excited and happy to go where we can serve further in what the Lord wants us to do. We will continue to serve with honor under our new mission president President Wayne Watson.  We will continue blogging from Finland.  Thank you for your love, prayers, and support in every way.  May the Lord bless you and protect you.  We love you all.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

October Mission Conference 2015

A few facts about our mission. The name is unique: The Family and Church History Headquarters Mission. Our mission choir also has a unique name, "The Elijah Choir". This whole mission is about family search, ancestral work, and genealogy. Many stories are told throughout the history and some are recorded and stored in the Family Search program. All people throughout the world are invited to participate in doing family search by finding names and stories of their ancestors. You can also build your family pedigree chart as a family tree and attach pictures, stories and documents in the Memory spot. We work in one of the areas called The Family Search Center. We help guests find their ancestor's public records from the past by searching many kinds of records: census rolls, marriage certificates, christening records, immigration records, ship passenger lists and many more types of records on Family Search. It is fun but it take time and effort. We also take souvenir pictures of our guests with our Ellis Island backdrop.

Pictured at the top is our missionary group.
The picture at the bottom has Elder Hunt working as a camera man taking an Ellis Island picture of our dear friends the Richards from Vernal, Utah.

Once again our October mission conference was great and inspiring. The speakers from the mission presidency were President Oliver (First Counselor) and Sister Oliver, and President Tate, our mission president was the concluding speaker.

Sister Oliver spoke first. She talked on how the Gospel teaches to love one another.  She told a story about herself as a young girl and how her desire was to get married and have lots of children.  She loves children.  But a few years after her marriage there were still no children.  So they adopted a one-month old boy.  Eighteen months later he was sealed to them in the temple.  Then she saw another boy three days later and then completed the adoption process for him too. After that her own children started coming the natural way.  First was a daughter and then a son.  Then they adopted a whole family of three children who had lost their parents.  By now they had 7 children.  Then child number 8 came through the natural pregnancy.  This took a lot of love and patience and caused a lot of stress but they all bonded together.

She then told the poem entitled, THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND. It tells of an old violin that was up for auction.  It was about to be sold for just three dollars when an old violinist came forward and picked up the violin, prepared it to be played, and then played it.  As he played it brought forth the most beautiful music.  After he sat it back down the auctioneer, knowing of its increased value, then started the action a thousand dollars and it sold for three thousand dollars. What changed the value of the old violin?  It was the touch of a master's hand.

Her testimony was that her children that she and her husband adopted were given to them through the master's touch.  She recognized the worth of each soul and she wanted to give them a home where they would have a chance to return to our Heavenly Father.

Her advice to us as missionaries was that we must be aware of each other's needs and love each other, have patience, help one another and that charity never faileth like the scriptures instruct us.

President Oliver, Second Counselor to the Mission President then spoke.  He praised his wife for being an angel and that she is the product of the Master's hand.

In Doctrine and Covenants 59 the Lord tells us what we need to be doing to become a true follower of Christ and practice charity which is the pure love of Christ.  In verses 5 and 6 it says to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him" and to "love thy neighbor as thyself."  Then in John 14:15 the Lord says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Are we willing to do what the Lord wants us to do?  Do we shine forth with the brightness of the pure love of Christ?  Look around you, is there someone needing a little encouragement, a kind word or two, or just a smile?  We can all do something to be a light for Christ. Be of service and touch the lives of others.  Be enthusiastic in your service because attitude makes a difference.

He told a story about an interview for a farm hand. The man that was hired said that he can sleep through a storm."  ?When asked about that his answer was, "I do my job and duties as if there will be a storm every night.  I tie things down that need to be tied down so I can sleep through a storm."

Our work is accomplished with the help of our Lord.  President Tate said that it has been a wonderful gift to have read the Book of Mormon three times in 90 days. Reading it has helped us prepare each day for the the storm ahead.
Picture: President Tate and his wife Sister Tate

Like always it was President Tate that gave the concluding remarks. First, he stated that the presidency is united and are one. They are all working for the good of  the Lord and the welfare of the missionaries.  Then he expressed his love for all the missionaries under his care and direction. He told the story of Jesus healing the blind man while in Jerusalem.  The blind man was born blind and Jesus put clay over his eyes and told him to wash it off in the pool of Siloam.  The blind man obeyed and his sight was restored.  The lesson in the story is that we sometimes are blinded by unrighteous things represented by the clay. The scripture tells us that Jesus is the light of the world.  Seeing brings light to our senses.  Reading the Book of Mormon has removed the blindness from our eyes.  It has helped us become more righteous.  Now we must continue to acknowledge Christ in all our doings.

He introduced the mission's next reading challenge: Studying the October 2015 General Conference Talks with a "purpose".  All the talks will be bound in a spiral book form with all the talks in columns without pictures.  There will be blank pages in the back to make notes and impressions about the talks that we read.  This reading challenge will further disperse the darkness from our minds and will strengthen us to give heed to the words of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The books will be given out in the zones by the zone leaders and the reading will begin on the first of November 2015.

October mission conference was great and informative.  We love our mission.

We have been told that our visas have been approved but they have not yet been received.  We are learning a lot of wonderful and great things in Family Search that we can use and teach in Finland.

We will have more news and pictures next time.
Thank you for your love, prayers and support in every way.  We love you all very much.