"My dear family,
How are you all?! Oh my goodness. I have so much news for you today. First off, super exciting this week. Winter has finally come! WOOOO!!! We've all been wondering where winter has been- this is supposed to be Finland. No snow in sight and temperatures at around 38 degrees F. Then we woke up on Friday and WHOA! it was a winter wonderland! We got about two feet of snow in this storm. It snowed for about 36 hours straight-- just a total blizzard. I've never seen snow like this. Cars were buried. We live in a really windy area by the harbor and so there were massive drifts as well--big old mounds of snow with cars underneath there somewhere. We had the Christmas music going all that morning. It's so exciting because it's a change of pace and it makes things bright outside.
December is so dark without snow. We were studying that morning and saw a lady down on the street trying to dig her car out. We got all our warm clothes on and went down there to dig her out--so much fun. It felt like we were little kids on Christmas morning. We were just giddy to get out in the snow and help people. We dug a few people out. Boy-- Finns know how to deal with the snow. That first day while the storm was going things were pretty shaky. Transportation-- buses, trams, and trains were a nightmare-- it took us two hours to make a trip that normally takes 30-40 minutes. But the day after when the storm was done the city had the snow cleaned up in a blink of an eye. All the streets, side walks, and stairs are cleared with gravel laid down. Perfectly manicured. All the moms with strollers have their babies in these little sleds. So cute! Every child is in big Michelin man snowsuits like the little brother in the Christmas Story. Oh man-- we were so excited for the snow. It felt just like Christmas.
Friday night during that storm we made the long trek up to the Patriarch's house. Veli (Brother) S____ is in his late 80's and lives way up at the very top of our area-- you take a train there and then a long walk. It was so cold and just windy blizzard--dark. We were trudging through this deep snow. I was thinking-- WOW This is the Finland I was imagining. He received us into his home- so very cozy. All wood interior. So Finnish. He built it himself. He had hot glogi waiting for us (a Christmas drink-- like Christmas spirit in a bottle) along with some warm pulla (sweet bread with cardamom spice) and a chocolate bar for each of us. So nice. This man is the most energetic bundle of joy of an old man that you have ever seen. He is tiny and his eyes just shine and he has a voice like a happy little troll. He is so fun to be with. We shared a message about the light of Christ in times of winter darkness. He loved it so much that he bore his testimony about it in Fast and Testimony meeting. It just felt like Finland. So happy. This is the Finland I've been waiting for..."