Well I know I am writing this on Christmas day but this blog is not my Christmas blog, that will be separate and done on Boxing day or maybe the day after as here in Finland they have a 3 day celebration.
So the biggest thing that we have had since I last wrote was the graduation party for Tanja's best friend, Tiina. She graduated as an Engineer and Tanja had offered our apartment to hold a party so people could come and congratulate her. So this meant we had to get the entire flat shipshape. We had help from Sonja and Päivi on Wednesday, we got the place hoovered and most of the stuff away. Tanja got her hair cut whilst this was going on, so she was 'supervising'. On the Thursday we had the Finnish lesson at the chapel. I had a talk on Sunday and decided to give it in Finnish, so I took it with me to the class and spent the last 30 minutes giving it. It took me to whole 30 minutes but we'll practise it. Then we went to do our Christmas shopping as well as get ingredients to make 3 cakes for the party. We spent over 100€ on the Christmas shopping but we did buy cheese and other things that will be obviously more than for Christmas day.
The rest of Thursday night was used up making the three cakes. The first one was a plain three layered Strawberry cake. The second was Chocolate sponge with a middle plain layer filled with Banana & cream. The third cake is something they call a sandwich cake, it is a Finnish thing. It is bread with two layers of a ham, gerkin, mayo and mustard mix and then a layer with an egg butter mix. Then it is covered in cream and I am not entirely sure if I like it or not yet, very undecided; however Finns seem to love it. On the Friday I spent the day cleaning up the last bits, going over the kitchen a third time and just making sure the house looked and smelled nice. Then at 4 Tiina and her family arrived so it was all hands to action stations for setting up for the party.
We covered up our table and put the food on it. Then Tanja unveiled the great plan.... she had earlier that week printed off loads of photos of Tiina, then she put them into picture frames and put them all over the house. Later on a few people commented that I was only in three photos in the entire house, so I know my place in this relationship.
People started arriving from 6 and within an hour the house was fully buzzing with people mingling. Tanja and I went into the 'study' and called it the VIP room, several of our friends also joined us and we had a good laughed. We talked about all getting together on New Years Eve, how I was getting on in Finland, what everyone is up to, what we all doing over the xmas season and several other topics. Overall the night was very fun, I know I enjoyed it.
Everyone left at coming up to ten, so as a reward Tanja and I decided on getting Pizza from town (Oulu really needs to get on the home delivery wagon). We managed to get the bus with five minutes to spare and ordered two pizzas from one of our frequent pizza places. After finding out that ten minutes outside in -20oC is a really long time, we got on a bus home. The driver was only going to the Hospital stop which is not far from our flat, about 7-10 minutes but as he got to the final stop he asked us where are we going, when we said we only live at the next stop and we were getting off here, he told us he will drive us to the next stop. That was nice, there are some nice bus drivers out there. Ate the pizza whilst watching the new Batman, it wasn't bad but I am not entirely a fan of the new Batman. Tanja was fast asleep on the sofa for almost the entire movie but it was because she was tired not because it was boring..... I think.
When Saturday came we didn't set the alarm for the first time in a while. It was Tanja's first day of the Winter Holidays. We didn't get up till after midday but I was so rested. We then had a visit from our home teachers who talked about Christmas Spirit and about how we can rediscover it. After a good discussion and general chit chat, they left. Then Tanja dyed Sonja's hair, whilst I went over my talk in Finnish. I got it down to 20 minutes first time but on attempting the second time I couldn't get my head around the words and became disheartened. I then gave it another try and still made it 20 minutes. I'm not entirely sure what we did for the rest of the day but I am sure we just chilled.
I woke up on Sunday and before even getting dressed I was reading my talk again to see if I could get it shorter than 20 minutes. This would be my last practise. I got it down to 16 minutes which I was thrilled with. I then got all suited and booted, grabbed both the English and Finnish versions of my talk and then we headed to church (Päivi, Tiinas mother was giving us a lift as she came to pick up a cake that was left on Friday). We asked the Branch President if it was ok if my talk took sixteen minutes as I wanted to do it in Finnish, he said ok. So I start at the front facing the congregation, the first time up front and before the whole thing starts I already start breaking out in cold sweat and my hands become clammy. So after the Sacrament a musical piece by the missionary Sisters and Heidi Laitinen, it was my turn. I was not feeling well at all, my tummy felt like it was a butterfly park, my hands felt like they were not responding to my requests, my legs felt slightly weak. Well I couldn't back out now, I could change it too English but I had no translator ready and that would defeat the point of why Tanja translated it for me and my practising then asking the President for the extra time. So with a deep breath I put my head down and began to read. I heard a ripple of what appeared to be giggles but not giggles of mocking but of shock. I know when you are giving a public speech you are meant to address the audience but I was reading in a different tongue than my mother one. It was hard, I had to think about how every letter was pronounced how the word was constructed and how to approach the next one. After what seemed like an age I finished my talk and got off the stage fairly quick, I passed the President who whisper Thank you. As I was getting to my seat I was thanks by three elderly ladies and then Tanja's Grandmother. I sat down next to my wife who showed me sixteen minutes and forty four seconds, not bad I thought. Tanja told me that when I started talking in Finnish, a lot of members turned to look at her, that must have been when I heard the giggles. Overall we thought it went well and I know many people got the drift of what I was saying. This was what I talked about:-
You are the light of the world
Good Morning Brothers and Sisters.
Please bare with me as I attempt to give this talk in Finnish. I originally was going to do a talk based on the Shepherd story presented in Luke 2, but as I was going through some research I had inspiration to do a talk on another subject.
In Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount he says 'Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.' That's Matt 5:14-16 (KJV). In the Nativity story the Shepherds went to see the newborn Jesus,“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” These humble Shepherds became the First Evangelists of the Dispensation of the meridian of time. They left their flocks, a rare thing for Shepherds to do, obeyed the commandment receive from a heavenly messenger and then they testified of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
We should be like the Shepherds of Luke, proclaiming the truthfulness, not shamed by the world we live in. We are living in an age where being a Christian is a stigma, there have been several articles this year alone where Christians have been persecuted because of their faith and not following the ways of the world.
What are some of the ways we can strengthen ourselves and become a beacon for others? We should continuously study the scriptures and apply them into our lives. In 2 Nephi 15:24 we are given this promise “And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.”, we are promised protection if we hold on to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will also find it easier to hear the spirit and strengthen our testimonies. Our testimonies can be powerful tools in helping keep us strong in the face of adversity and also in spreading the Gospel.
We should pray often. D&C 19:38 tells us “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.” We are promised that be praying often we will be treasured by the spirit and receive blessing and are warned off the things of the world. This is similar to the warning Jesus told us about storing up worldly goods in Matthew 6:19.
Be Christlike. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” We cannot be a beacon onto the world if we are doing the same thing as those of the world. If we steal, we cannot tell others not to steal. Christ laid down the perfect example for us, Paul followed Christ's example as closely as he could and we should follow that example too. But we have to be wary of getting prideful in our Christ-likeness, we are warned in Matthew 6:2-4 “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” So be humble.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” So let us be a light unto the world, be able to stand out of the crowd and praise his name.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
After the whole service we went to the family home. Janne was not very well, sick the day before, and so he and his Mother stayed at home. The dinner was a nice stew with mash potato which I lapped up. When Tanja and I got home, we took a wee nap which lasted till nine at night, we slept a few hours over. The rest of the night was spent chilling. The next day we had to be up at nine so we could spend the day with the family, Christmas eve is the first day of Christmas here in Finland.
I will write another blog about my three days of Christmas soon, I hope you enjoy this and had a Merry Christmas.