Friday, April 29, 2016

April Springs With Activities

It is at the end of April now and we want to share some of the activities we have been involved in. We are enjoying the spring season that is not anything like spring in Blanding, Utah, USA. From your texts, emails and snail mail you tell us it is warm with fruit trees blooming and the bees buzzing. Our spring is not quite that colorful yet. Most of the snow either has been removed by machines or is in the process of melting by the sun.
The Relief Society asked Sister Hunt to give a presentation about the Navajos for the second time. The members are very interested in learning about the Navajos. She gave her first presentation on back in January. They wanted to know more so the Relief Society made arrangements for her to give another Navajo presentation for Family Home Evening to include the whole branch. Prior to our arrival in Joensuu, Finland the members did not know very much about Navajos or Native Americans in America. Some of the topics she presented were the language, the traditions and customs, history of the Navajo people, and life style. She also presented parts of  "My Grandmother's Teachings" that she used to present as she traveled all over the state of Utah telling about Navajo traditions as her grandmother had taught her.  She did that for Utah Humanities Council before they changed their program. We also served beef stew and tortillas Navajo style.  We served Navajo fry bread with honey, butter and strawberry jam at the first presentation. It was fun and the people who attended were very happy that they learned more about the Navajo people. They said that the Navajo language seems very hard. Her presentation went well even without the props she was used to using when she presented back home. All she had for props were play dough and a head scarf.


We had Elder Allen and Elder Scott in our home for dinner. We served beef stew and fry bread. They were brave enough to make their own fry bread, but they turned out good, very close to how a Navajo would make it. We invite the Elders to have dinner with us once a week. We enjoy their intelligence and their valiant spirits. Elder Allen is the Joensuu District Leader (DL). He does a good job as the DL.
It has been fun to see the ice on the river melt. We see it daily out side our living-room window. Elder Hunt has waited anxiously to see chunks of ice float down the river as it melted. It finally happened. Now we see boats and canoes floating down the river. It is truly spring in Finland. The people take advantage of every slightly warm day to enjoy the out door sports and activities. Spring here is considered warm at 6 degrees Celsius (47 deg F). They still wear jackets with warm scarves. Sister Hunt still wears her winter coat outside sometimes. The sun shines early in the morning around six o'clock and sets at 8:30 and we love it and enjoy it.

The sun set lingers for an hour until it sets and slowly the dark night comes and ends the day all too soon. It is exciting to have longer day of sunlight. When it is time to go to sleep we use heavy black curtains to shut out the light that never dims. The curtains are called black out curtains. All missionary apartments are required to have them.
Sister Hunt is experiencing the seasonal changes that she had never experienced before. Elder Hunt knows all about the changes in the seasons. He served in Finland as a young missionary 50 years ago. He says that everything he knew about places and people from his early mission have changed except the seasons. He said they have stayed the same as he remembered them.

On Easter day the seagulls returned to the river area. We heard a familiar bird call in the sky and we looked out and saw a couple of seagulls flying around above us. We got homesick for a second and were so happy to see them. We have seen many more since then. They fly around everywhere. They are beautiful birds. Not only were they a blessing to the pioneers in the Salt Lake area they have been a blessing to us as well. They bring happiness to our hearts by helping us remember our homeland. We think about our families and friends and the good times we had together. So we love the seagulls.
We had a zone meeting on Monday. We traveled on the train to Mikkeli which is two and half hour drive by car. It was a cold day but we didn't mind it at all because we saw and visited with the missionaries who have served with us in Joensuu. Two of them were the first Elders who welcomed us to Joensuu, Elder Kontinen and Elder Bekmezian. It is always good to see them and they are doing so well in the areas where they are now serving.
We are happy to be serving in Joensuu, Finland. The members are very friendly and kind. We have made many wonderful friends. They invite us to dinners and different activities. They have served us some very delicious traditional Finnish foods. Salmon stew is so good. Their salmon is very mild and so good in every way they serve it. Pannukakku is also very delicious. It is a thick Finnish pancake served with strawberries and creme, much like strawberry shortcake. They serve it as a dessert after dinner. We try to serve our members in any way we can. We often make cookies and cakes to take to them as we visit them. We have also learned to take off our shoes at the door as we enter their home and hang our coats and hats by the entrance door. They have beautiful hardwood floors and they protect them from being scratched by not wearing street shoes or boots on them.

The gospel has great teachings and here is one of them. We are all children of God. He wants us to be happy. He created the earth and everything on it for us because He and His son Jesus Christ love us very much. They want us to return to them. They bless us daily and abundantly for which we are very thankful.

Family Home Evening Group
Elder Bekmezian & Elder Hyer (ZL)
Thank you very much for your love, prayers and support in every way. We love you and our prayers are with you. Happy May 1st in two days! :) There will be celebrations going on everywhere in Finland and Russia. If it were on Saturday we would celebrate too, but it is on Sunday, the Sabbath day and we will be at church and have dinner with our Finnish families. Have a wonderful May 1st day! We love you!
Train Ride to Zone Conference
Beautiful scenery from the train.
Snacks for Institute class.
All the ice on the river has melted
& beautiful reflection appears.
Ice floating down the river.
A sure sign of spring. 
Spring is here and no winter coats. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Things We Do

Time is flying by.  Before we know it, it will be time to leave our mission to go home to America. We learn something new every day. We study a lot, we drive a lot, we teach the gospel a lot, we pray a lot, we visit people a lot, we eat a lot and then we sleep sometimes. In between all that we think about you, our family and friends. We miss you and our prayers are with you. We are thankful for modern technology, especially in communication, that works around the world. Even from opposite sides of the world we use it to communicate and comfort each other.

We are very thankful for you. Thank you for keeping in touch with us. We love you.

Treasured Friendship Emlems given to
the Watsons and the Hunts.
A few of us watched General Conference
in the English Language.
We entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah on July 6, 2015 then on July 17th we went to The Family & Church History Headquarters Mission in Salt Lake City for four months as our visas were delayed. Then on November 12th we received our visas for Finland. We flew away on November 16th and started our mission in Finland Helsinki Mission under our mission president, President Watson. It was exciting and frightening at the same time. We have always loved the people of Finland and now we love them even more. We are happy to share some photos of some things we have learned and enjoyed.

Elder Scott & Elder Allen
Kuopio District before 1st transferr.
We serve with two of the most wonderful, smart, intelligent, courteous, kind and thoughtful missionaries, Elder Allen and Elder Scott. They bring their investigators to Church, Institute, and Family Home Evening.  We often go together to visit members. We also go with them to their teaching appointments. Every week they travel with us in our mission car to Kuopio to our missionary district meeting. There we learn new scriptures, role play and teach from the Teach My Gospel manual, hear companion reports, hear one missionary's testimony, There are new missionaries coming in from MTC every nine weeks and that is when transfers take place. Elder Kontinen and Elder Bekmezian, who welcomed us to Joensuu in the darkness of the night on November 19th, have now moved on to other areas in the mission field. We miss them, but are pleased that they are still in our zone so we can see them regularly.  They are hard workers and are doing well with their companions in their new areas. The young missionaries are so easy to get attached to because of who they are and because they remind us of our grand-kids. :)

East Zone with President & Sister Watson
Lunch at Zone Conference

The photo of the tree to the left appears as a natural Finnish spire to heaven.
Our faith in the Lord is being nourished and growing abundantly. We know that no matter who we are God hears our prayers and answers them according to our needs. Sometimes His answer is not what we want but it iswhat will help us draw closer to Him though it may not seem that way at the time. Prayers are powerful. 

We love you and love all that you do for us. May the Lord
bless you and protect you.        

Sister Hunt's new apron.  
Elder Hunt helping unload.

Hand muffs for the elderly.
They have things sewn on the inside
to keep their fingers moving and busy.

Our washing machine that takes
two hours or more per small load.
Happy to have it.

Ice cream with fried bananas topped with
hot caramel and cranberries. Yummy!
In one of our travel assignments we
came upon Savonlinna Castle.
We plan to vist it this summer.