Sunday, March 20, 2016

Easter and Transfers in March

The month of  March is very busy for us. We had missionary transfers. Our district leader, Elder Kontinen moves to Savonliina as their district leader (left in left photo). We are will miss him but we know he is needed there and he will do a good job there, too.  We have a new missionary (left in the right photo) who transferred from Savonliina to Joensuu. His name is Elder Allen from Colorado. He is now our district leader. It is enjoyable to work with these young and very intelligent missionaries.
We drove past some pine trees that
 lose their needles in the winter.
In our travels we drove by a castle. We have been traveling a lot to other cities for missionary district and zone meetings and regional conferences. The photo on the right shows ripples in the snow as spring takes an effect on the snow covered lakes and fields. The country is so beautiful.

Our branch conference was here at the Joensuu chapel. Today is the third Sunday and we have been spiritually uplifted with good instructions and encouragement from our priesthood leaders. Today our Mission President and his counselor came from out-of-town to talk to us along with our local leaders at our church branch conference. It was a wonderful conference. The priesthood was in charge of the soup and bread luncheon afterwards. They did a good job. They served delicious vegetable and pork stew with Finnish bread, cheese, and juice. It was very filling. No one went away hungry.
We would like to share a one line or two line summary from each speaker as recorded in Sister Hunt's notes (She wears headphones to listen to a translator who translated the Finnish language to the English language). Many of the talks were on Easter and Christ's love for us and on His resurrection. Each speaker expressed their love for each member of the branch. Our branch president spoke first. He said that we must not be afraid to act for ourselves to choose God's laws and aim high to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then Mission President's counselor, President Kervinen, spoke next. He said that the distance to heaven is the same no matter where we stand on earth and that nothing is impossible to God. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we too will live again when we leave our earth life because He loves us. Then our mission president, President Watson, spoke about becoming perfect in Christ through His atonement (Moroni 10:33). The power of atonement is repentance. He told of how the Provo Tabernacle in Utah burned down years ago and now has been rebuilt into a very beautiful temple of the Lord and it was being dedicated today. He likened it to each of us, that our failings may cause us to feel like a burned down tabernacle. And that we can renew our spirits through repentance and rebuild our purpose and bring happiness back into our lives. Think of Jesus Christ more this Easter to make it more meaningful (D&C 19:23). He gave His life for you and me. Because He suffered He knows how to heal us.
Happy Easter!  (A Christmas Cactus  
in bloom at a member's home)

Our Easter message is simple: Our Savior Jesus Christ loves each of us and wants us to return to our Father in Heaven. He died and rose on the third day and gave us the gift of the atonement and resurrection. He lives and is our Redeemer!

We love our mission. We have been serving four months in Finland. We truly appreciate the longer hours of sunlight from six a.m. to six p.m.  We love seeing the snow slowly melting away everywhere. Soon the forests will come to life when the hibernating animals wake up. We imagine there will also be more walkers and bikers in the walkways everywhere. It is wonderful to feel the season of spring. Even the potatoes in our pantry are sprouting.

Thank you very much for your love, prayers and support in every way. We are strengthened by them, We love you all for all that you do for us. You are in our prayers. May the Lord bless you abundantly this Easter season. Happy Easter to all!
Our Missionary District before the

Joensuu Missionaries before the transfer.