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. :)