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Archive for July, 2007

Weeks 29-30

Where to begin, I’m overwhelmed…
My first week in Finland has come to a completion.  It has been a rather eventful week indeed! I’ve shed the tears of both Red heartjoy and Broken heartsorrow; the unfolding events being pretty intense at times. It’s difficult if not impossible to describe everything in depth, but I’ll give it my best try.

I’m staying at my oldest brother’s oceanside log house in the town of Merikarvia for two nights, finally I get a chance to update my blog.Smile (There’s thunder in the air so I may have to shut the computer down temporarily at times).  

My childhood village has changed so much in the last five years, they no longer have a store nor a gas station, even the library is closed during the month of July! Computer (Meaning, no public internet access!) Surprised Even the local bank is open only on Tuesdays! 

OK, let’s start from the beginning:
On Monday morning, I bid farewell to my loving family and boarded a plane in West Palm Beach. The flight Airplane to New York went smoothly, as did my connecting flight with Finnair to Helsinki. I had plenty of time to spare and plenty of space in the airplanes as well. Finding the right terminal in NYC and going through the security checks proved easier than I had expected, even my luggage was among the first ones to arrive through the baggage claim Tuesday morning at Helsinki airport.

Left hugMy brother Ari was there to take me to his apartment. I would’ve been lost without him as my guide in the city. Helsinki public transportation is simply superb; one can purchase tickets that are honored in any of the buses, streetcars or the metro-rail, and mothers with young children in strollers ride for free!

My brother had to work an evening shift so we had little time for catching up before he took off. I was tired and decided to take a nap in order to get over the jet lag. (Wishful thinking- it actually took me several days Disappointed to overcome!!!) Clock A few hours later I woke up, refreshed. The evening was sunny Sun and beautiful so I went out for a stroll. The Helsinki-Vantaa area has plenty of forests and green meadows for the city dwellers to take advantage of. And Helsinki, being also a seaport, offers miles of beautiful shoreline marked with bedrock, sandy beaches, picturesque archipelago… The city itself is unique with lots to see and do.

Walking along an unpaved road, I soon discovered a little path. It led me to a number of garden patches the city of Helsinki rents out to it’s residents. Taking a closer look, I saw lush, flourishing vegetables, fruits and berries. Yummy! I had a pleasant conversation with a lady who was tending her crops. Beaming with pride, she was eager to show me the fruits of her labor. Red rose

GirlI love meeting new people; however, here in Finland it’s not always easy. "Mind your own business" remains the quote of the day, despite the effects of globalization. Unlike many ethnic European people groups, Finns’ gene pool has remained (for the most part) unchanged for centuries. There are several reasons for this, remote location, strong sense of identity and patriotism, stubborness and self-sufficiency… To put it in a nutshell, Finns keep to themselves and are -at times- hard to approach. On the other hand, once a true friendship is established, it’s usually for keeps, lasting a lifetime!Right hug

It is not very common for people to acknowledge strangers here. Embarrassed Rarely does one make eye-contact with, or greet a passer-by.Don't tell anyone I found this almost physically painful Broken heart at first, excited as I was, to be back in the old country.  I wondered just how "bottled up" I’d become, but soon dismissed such thought as rubbish Sarcastic and whenever a foreign looking or a black person crossed my path, I greeted them in a cheerful way! Open-mouthed They’d greet me back, smiling, Smile though a bit surprised. Oh, that made me feel so much better! Girl

Back at my brother’s, we enjoyed each other’s company, sharing our thoughts late into the night. My brother is pretty neutral in his opinions when discussing the matters of faith, but he does not "object" either. So I can share my views and experiences, little bits and pieces here and there, without endangering our good relationship. I’m thankful for that. Red rose

On Wednesday cousin Harry picked me up to visit his family. Coffee cup There I’d meet another Canadian cousin and his wife also, they had just arrived there Airplane from the airport. It was a special gathering, cousin H. and his wife have a very special place in my heart Red heart-I consider these precious people "my angels."  Angel In the early 90’s they helped me re-establish a closer walk with God after I had gone astray. I was in state of despair during the late 80’s, reaching the bottom after a downward spiral of partying, drinking and smoking. Sick

We then received our first blessing, a beautiful and healthy baby boy and I could not continue such destructive lifestyle any longer. The sins I had committed bothered my conscience and, combined with the added responsibility, weighed heavy on my shoulders. Clock  The time was ripe for repentance.  So, during my visit to Finland Airplane with our baby boy, I spilled it all out in the open to cousin H and his wife! I received the sweet gospel of mercy and by God’s grace was able to renew my faith in our Savior and Lord! Praise Him for the precious people He places on our paths!

My cousin has in his possession a testimony I wrote in Finnish regarding those events.Sleeping half-moon It’s titled "From darkness to light" Light bulband was also published in a Finnish Old Apostolic faith magazine.  My cousin’s wife Inkeri (who was born in Russia) mentioned to me a certain young lady Girl (belonging to the Apostolic faith) who was going through severe crisis and had been institutionalized as the result.  She had married very young and has a young daughter.  However, the pressures and demands of adult life had crushed her, causing her marriage to fail and her childhood faith to crumble… Inkeri (remembering my previous struggles with self-doubting and despair) thought that, maybe somehow I could encourage this young lady. Secret telling We decided to go visit her at the mental institute and, in addition, hoped to gain permission to take her on an outing to their lakeside cabin that weekend.

My cousin’s log cabin and sauna cabin are authentic old country log houses, dis-assembled and shipped from their original sites to the new location, the re-assembled by my cousin and his work crew. They must have worked hard, assembling these old cabins to serve as a vacation residence.

Open-mouthed I was glad for the opportunity, spending a weekend by the lake with my relatives and their 5 children would be wonderful! I could not stop doting on the kids (especially the 15mo. old Melinda) -such sweet children! Sad Missing my own children, I quickly became a surrogate mother to any of my relatives’ children Right hugthat I met during my travels…

H. and I. already had overnight visitors so I decided to spend two nights at my cousin Lea’s apartment in Helsinki. She is also very dear to me, I’ve known her since the age of two. She has visited us in U.S. several times and is Godmother to one of our children.

I was also planning on visiting a wheelchair-bound brother on the following day. He’s been paralyzed since young adulthood by a muscular degenerative
disorder.Angel Brother M. walks in a strong anointing, I consider it a very special priviledge to know him! I’ve received tremendous blessings from the Lord through this dear brother. He has prayed on my behalf during troublesome times and his mp-3 e-mails have blessed me more than I can describe. Thank you Jesus, for bringing brother M. to my life! Smile

I had earlier informed brother M. about my upcoming trip via e-mail, hoping for a chance to meet him. I found out that, sometime during the previous week the doctors had inserted a feeding tube to assist
him with nutritional needs. Despite the added discomfort (his way of
communicating is using his mouth and voice), he e-mailed back immediately, welcoming me
to come over and visit him.

It touched me deeply to finally meet with my dear brother!  (We were probably both a bit nervous before meeting each other). Yet, no matter what  life’s circumstances, belonging to God’s precious family unites us with a special bond! We had long, heartfelt conversations…  I will miss you brother, hope to see you again soon! Secret telling

The next day Inkeri and I met the young lady in the hospital. She was quiet and reserved. The sadness I sensed in her was heart-breaking Broken heart and it was difficult to tell whether she received me well or not… Witnessing to her about God’s grace, mercy and love was all I could do, as I tried to encourage her in a hushed, caring tone…

Lord Jesus, restore her! Black Sheep She’s so precious, so sensitive… I will continue praying on "Tanya’s" behalf,  trusting her to Your care! I know that You in Your mercy, Lord, will provide her with everything she needs. Thank you Daddy, for caring for us, your little ones! Secret telling

To our great disappointment, T. was not allowed to leave the hospital to join us at the lakehouse.  The head nurse made it loud and clear… Sad

The weekend turned out sunny and warm. SunWe spent many unforgettable moments at the cozy surroundings, playing with children, picking berries, enjoying the woodburning sauna and swimming in the lake, Clock discussing issues of faith for hours on end, Coffee cup even as we enjoyed coffee and cakes with visitors. The kids all got along, dad’s enjoyed guy time together, and us ladies, Red lips girl talk.  Such blessings! Red rose

On Sunday we went to a prayer meeting in another town, where I met my uncle and his family, a 85-year old aunt (who’s just as bright-eyed and and playful as she ever was), cousins and second cousins. As the sun was slowly setting that night, I walked down to the lake with my 2nd cousin whom I have not previously known.  She told me a very tragic story, how her 21-yr. old handicapped son had committed a suicide by jumping in front of a train two months ago.  There, surrounded by water, we cried… so hard, sharing the pain and heart-ache, trying to make sense of it all… Daddy, comfort her, give her your peace that passes all understanding. Restore and heal her Lord…Wilted rose

On Monday the weather turned cloudy as I traveled north toward my childhood home.
Left hug My Dad was there in the city of Kristinestad, welcoming me home.Right hug How much he has changed during the last five years… From robust and strong to frail, careful, solemn.  This too, unsettles my heart. Mom remains patient – and, every now and then- allows me glimpses of her melancholy, innermost reality.  Her hopes and dreams, the disappointments- life’s tracks deeply imbedded in the surface of a mother’s heart…

God Bless mom and dad!  Red heart

It’s raining Umbrella off and on, as I’m updating my blog on big brother’s computer. I’m spending 2 fun days with him, enjoying the company of my niece and nephew and getting to know brother’s new girlfriend and her cute little kids, a girl and a boy.  They’re off spending a day at an amusement park, I’m here at their beautiful home, reminiscing, missing my loved ones, catching up-  It’s turning  into a gorgeous day, sun is coming out- so I’m going out for an evening stroll…



Weeks 27-28

I’ve no idea what to write on my blog this time… So -here goes nothing!

It’s good to be back with dear brothers and sisters, sharing and receiving God’s blessings. It’s a rather quiet time of year, good for reading, reflecting and discussing the issues of faith.

For some reason, Jeremiah keeps popping up, over and over again when I open my Bible… This has been going on for several weeks now. The unpopular prophet bringing warnings of doom and gloom to people incapable of learning their lessons, unwilling to listen or receive instruction. Perhaps it applies to today’s Christian churches as well. Are some of us refusing God’s oracles? Not willing to submit under the lesser evil of Babylonian captivity but running toward Egypt to be comforted by it’s idols and strange gods, to be destroyed in the end? (Rather than accepting God’s appointed "hard" way that leads to spiritual restoration). It might be a remnant issue. Or it may be a personal lesson for me to figure out, who knows… Well, Lord does, so I’ll trust Him to reveal it to me in His appointed time.

The Lord has been preparing things, hidden from our view. To me it feels like a time towards the end of pregnancy, air weighed by expectancy, both nervous and exciting…

Or it’s simply the upcoming trip stirring up my nerves. Three days and counting! Woo-hooo!

It’s hot, even with the afternoon t-storms and the sea breeze. I’m concentrating on making preparations indoors, household, financial and practical issues I won’t be tending to while I’m gone. It might be easier to just clean the mess later. But I can’t leave’em hanging -shame on me for even entertaining such thoughts!

I’ll be visiting many friends, relatives, village folks, going back all the way to my "not so ancient" childhood… I trust that God will provide whatever means necessary to bring forth His healing and love, the light of Our Saviour to shine along my paths…

I’ll update this entry Sunday night after the meeting…

July 15

Lord revealed His Spirit in a special way tonight!!! Partaking of His precious spoken Word, powerful praise and intercessory prayers, we truly felt His anointing over us. A dear sister received a word of knowledge and shared it, confirming and encouraging us in her heartfelt way. Oh, it’s so good to belong to Jesus! All Praise and Glory to Him, who gave us life, hope and victory! Thank you Heavenly Father for giving us Your only begotten Son, to show us the way! Thank you for giving us Your Spirit of Truth, our most precious guide and helper!

Watch over your children these coming days and weeks, sheltering us in the shadow of your wing.

Weeks 25-26

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk
Through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will
fear no evil; For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they
comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

May God Bless this nation, continuing to guide us in His Mercy and Justice! Happy Fourth of July!

It’s good to be back home, safe and sound -Praise God!!!
Our mountain vacation turned out very special, indeed- He restored our souls, led us to green pastures and still waters. God is good!
His angels did ride along when my husband took the "dragon" challenge, a very curvy stretch of US 129 through the tri-state area of TN-NC-GA. He had a couple of close calls but made it back in one piece, praise God!!!

On his very first ride he encountered a full grown black bear crossing the road. Neat!!!!

I had a pretty scary encounter as well, while hiking alone on Raven Cliffs trail which is part of the Appalachian trail. I sat down to rest on a smooth rock slate after reaching the summit, before heading back down. The view was beautiful, I took some shots (pic#30) and then proceeded to capture the awesome sights on my camcorder. As I was recording, I noticed some movement to my left. I quickly stood up and stepped back to observe a grand-daddy of all rattlesnakes slither over the very spot I had just been sitting on!!! Yikes!!! It’s rattle was sticking up, but not rattling, thank God! It was a big snake, perhaps 6-7ft. long- could have easily lunged at me as I was (recovering from shock) filming it with my shaky hands… If my son can help me download this exciting encounter, I’ll be sure to add it to my blog.

Needless to mention, I praised God for sparing my life, all the way back!

We did a lot of hiking, day hikes to Blood Mountain, Slaughter trail (the older boys hiked from cabin to Lake Winfield Scott), waterfall hikes to DeSoto Falls, Raven Cliffs Falls, Byron Reese trail (we also saw a beautiful deer on this one), and the one I did alone, Raven Cliffs top trail. I met some hikers there that had encountered a mama bear with two cubs. (I decided that one "creature feature" was enough for me and turned back at that point).

Awesome hikes, some very steep and challenging.

Our cabin was cozy, although there was a road directly under us (as our cabin was built on a steep ridge) and we heard continuous traffic below, mainly during the day. Kids thought it was rather cool. They had a great time, made friends with neighbors and played by the stream that runs through the cabin sites. They loved the country store and spent hours chatting Mr. George, who’s absolutely the kindest host we’ve ever had a pleasure to meet!!! The cats and the quarreling humming birds amused them greatly as well.

We found a cute little hillside church and attended their Sunday service, and I also went to their Wednesday meeting because I was missing my regular Bible study in UR. The church folks were so kind and friendly, welcoming us back the next year! May the Lord Bless them abundantly!!!

We visited tourist town "Alpine" Helen on two or three occasions, kids went gem mining there with dad while I hiked the Appalachian. We also visited a real consolidated gold mine in Dahlonega, Ga. That was an interesting experience, walking through the mine which still has plenty of gold. It’s not in operation due to gold’s low rating.

Upon returning home on Sunday, I spoke with mom on the phone, planning a surprise trip to Finland (God willing)! My dad is not feeling well, he’s been losing a lot of weight according to mom. So this just might be the last time I get to spend with him, who knows… I miss seeing my dear brothers too…

It’s been 5 years since we all visited Finland. This time, I’ll travel alone, our kids don’t have valid passports right now. Lord bless this trip!!! I trust that He will guide and protect me and my loved ones (whom I won’t be seeing for three long weeks!).

So, I’m pleasantly "jittery"planning for my upcoming trip!

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