Tuesday, December 12, 2017

We Celebrate Amazing Finland's 100th Year and Sisu too.

Not long after we got our call to come to Finland to serve a senior mission for our church, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or The Mormons) we found out that we would be here for Finland's Centennial year.  We were so excited.  There have been many experiences we've had, because they were available to celebrate the Centennial.  We toured the President's House last summer, its every bit as grand as the White House.  There were bigger and better fireworks this year as well.  We even got to sauna in the world's largest wood burning sauna. (It seats 200, but our group had just 100.  The fire for the sauna has to burn for two days before the day of the event to insure its hot enough!)

Then the long awaited event happened!! On December 6th, Finland celebrated its 100th birthday.  I bought a commercial mud cake (Yummy) and added powdered sugar for snow, and a snowman I made just for the cake.
 I decorated the table, and hung a banner of Finnish flags.

I even embellished a paper star with blue and white felt balls and blue and white strips.  Mr. P said it now looks like a pinata ... hmmmm.

Then I  bought all the traditional Finnish foods we've been enjoying, like this Makkara (Finnish Sausage) ... I took a picture of the package so you can see the 100 in the upper left hand corner of the blue and white packaging ... many things has been labeled like that this year.

I asked Missionary friends that I work with to bring other Finnish favorites ...
 Then we gathered for dinner ... those who had blue clothing wore it!
 Here we go, started at the boiled potatoes, then Makkara,we go clockwise.  Under the sausage is a cold beat salad, quite like potato salad, but pink, next is a carrot and rice casserole.  There are the quintessential cucumber slices and meat balls, then a piece of salmon (and it's lemon) and last of all is a riisipiirakka (traditional rice pie) which is served with egg butter. (A hard boiled egg, chopped with a tablespoon of firm butter will be enough for two pies).  Yep!  All Yummy!
 For dessert we had the mud pie with a lot of whipping cream, and these pastry stars, which are traditional for Christmas.  
 Here are the office people, ourselves, Sister Airto, the Londons, Sister Potter and Sister Romberg.

After dinner, a few of us headed out to the cemetery, where it is always traditional to place candles on the graves of loved ones and fallen soldiers.
This is an area of the cemetery that is dedicated to soldiers.  The large cross is a general area where candles, flowers and wreaths are left to honor all of the war dead.  It is beautiful and peaceful, and a good place to pay homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that this small (numbers wise, just 6 million people) country, who has stood up to its monstrously powerful eastern neighbor, can be free.

After we got to Finland, I read up on the Winter War, at the beginning of WWII when Russia invaded Finland.  There were more Russian Soldiers involved in the invasion, than there were Finnish citizens at the time. Finland stood up to Russia, and many conclude that Finland won the first part of the war. When Russia regrouped later, and fought smarter, Finland, with dignity came to the table to negotiate, and though they lost about 1/5th of their landmass, and had to agree to pay Russia's war costs (really Russia?) they maintained their autonomy as a country.  They also actually paid off their war debt to Russia (it took until the end of the 1950's) and were the ONLY country involved in WWII who did so.

Can you tell that I have come to love and respect these people?  They even have a word that describes what it takes to be a Finn.  The word is sisu.  It means have the guts to do what has to be done, no matter how hard, and to do it without whining.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Historic Karolineburg Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Kajaani, Finland

Here we are again, blogging from Finland.  This past week we traveled north from Helsinki as far as the Arctic Circle.  We were visiting the apartments of younger missionaries, to make sure that they have everything they need and to do small repairs.

The country side her is beautiful, like one enormous National Park. 

 Traveling was wonderful ... on the way down from Rovaneimi to Kajanni we saw well over a hundred reindeer.  We've not sure what brought so many out of the woods to the road side to eat, but we were so glad they did.  We came upon on herd of about 6 on the road, and had to slowly weave between them.

In Kajaani (pronounced Kah-yahn-ee)we found that our hotel (always booked by the best available price on line)happened to be in this historic mansion, the Karolineburg.  The largest home ever built in Kajaani. It was built in 1836, by an older man for his new twenty something bride, Karoline.

The rooms are furnished mostly with nicely done reproduction furniture, and it is comfortable and beautiful.

 This beautiful, antique Swedish Mora Clock was my personal favorite in the amazing manse.

This spiral stair case led up to our room ... and I thought this happy vine laden plant was astonishing.  But then I am finding that the Finnish people love plants and their homes are filled with them.

This interesting sculpture of a headless turkey wins the prize for the absolutely most perplexing piece on site.
 Here is hubs, ensconced at the dresser with his lap top.

The next morning breakfast was all laid out.  The main floor of the Inn is made up entirely of dining rooms.  They can seat 100 people.  What an amazing place to host a wedding party.

The estate includes more rooms in this second house, as well as old barns and sheds, which are used for storage. They are all stand in a large square, and the entire effect is charming.  I see these old wood houses through out the country, and once in a while I get to enter one.  There was an ice cream parlor, a thrift store and another that was an antique shop, but I was thrilled to get to spend the night inside one.  All of these 1800's wooden structures are protected by antiquity laws.  I have great respect for a country that so honors its own heritage. They are amazing.

 This property goes down to the Kajaani river, in which a castle was built on an island starting in 1604.  The ruins of the castle are still there, in fact the bridge from one side of the town to the other runs right across the ruins.  The castle held two records for European castles in its day.  It was the smallest stone castle in Europe and the furthest north. 

What an amazing property.  We hope to get chance to go back for another stay before we head home next spring.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cooking Time

So did you think I had fallen off the planet?  Sometimes. the world I live in now is so different, I sort of wonder.  My husband and I are serving a mission for our church in Finland.  We've been here almost a year and we are loving it.  So what does one do while serving a mission in Finland you ask? There are many different assignments possible for missionaries, but for us, as senior missionaries serving for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are part of a support system for the younger missionaries serving here.

So why the pictures of food?  One of our assignments is to cook for missionaries who come to the Mission Home for conferences.  I've never been an enthusiastic cook, so this has been kind of a new world for me.  I have learned a lot, and will probably be a better cook when I get home next spring.

Above is a favorite for the misionaries, taco salad.
Soup is always popular here in the winter.   
 This missionary is ready to chow down.  Did you notice his napkin and silverware in his breast pocket?  Nice touch!
Its amazing how long it takes to assemble 30 dinner salads... the best part is counting the ingredients so you come out even at the end.  Who knew I'd use my math skills this way.

Sandwiches, Rice Crispy Treats, chips, carrot sticks and pears with Lingonberry Jam!  Lingonberries are related to cranberries, and are very Finnish.  I've learned to like it on chicken sandwiches.  Kind of like the designer sandwiches you get at Bakery Sandwich shops at home around Thanksgiving time.

 This time its chicken salad sandwiches, chips, apples, carrots and brownies.  Yum
 My daughter in Texas even made me an apron. (She also made a Christmas Stocking out of her Dad's old ties for Christmas)
Sometimes the missionaries even step into the kitchen to help us.

 Other times its the other senior missionaries, who normally do office work, or have other assignments, will step in to help with a meal.  That's a lot of salad.

Surprisingly I still have enough interest in cooking, to entertain other senior missionaries on weekends.

We have loved our work here.  The Finnish members of the church are wonderful, as are the other missionaries we meet in the course of our work.  We are making so many friends and learning so much, that we feel younger than we have in years.