So this week was Vappu, the Finnish Labor Day. Here in Helsinki it means a lot of things, but for missionaries it means the day we aren't allowed to even go outside unless we have a legitimate appointment because there are too many people running around with...more than a necessary amount of alcohol in them. Last year I was in Pietarsaari, and it was pretty quiet. We could have easily been outside and nothing bad would have happened to us. This year, down in the center of the biggest city in the country, there was definitely a lot more to be concerned with. So, where were we? Right in the middle of the biggest party in the country, of course.
The whole city lights up for Vappu. It all starts the night before, with everyone essentially congregating around the central train station and the tori (center market square). You can pick out all the college students easily, because they're all wearing huge, baggy, boiler suits in bright colors that indicate which school they're in. They're also decorated with more iron-on patches than a NASCAR has decals.
Those who have graduated from high school are running around in their graduation caps (which are cooler than ours).
Some of the kids are in big Halloween-style costumes with big balloons of anything from Angry Birds to Winnie the Pooh. The young single adults had a picnic in the park on Wednesday, so we decided to go and support them. IT WAS HUGE! This entire park in Helsinki was covered with people all dressed up in color and having a picnic and a party. Plus, one of the YSAs, a Chinese girl, invited about seven of her Chinese friends, and we got a great chance to socialize with them. Three of them are investigating, and we have a lesson/lunch appointment with them tomorrow! Now, technically, they're Elder Ingersoll and Elder Murray's investigators, but that's not really the important thing. It's a really strange dynamic living in a four missionary apartment and sharing the same ward. We mix things up a lot, but I like it. It really keeps us busy, and the fact that we live together means we're never too far away and we can be flexible if we need to. But yeah, bucket list number thirty three: visit the biggest party in Helsinki. Check.
Thursday was a big day for all of us, and unfortunately our coordination overall was lacking. We had a few appointments set up, as did the others, as did the APs, and I had another language school in the office (the first of THREE this month). The APs ending up stealing Murray, which took us down one companionship in Neitsytpolku and made us rearrange our schedule, but since it all worked out in the end, we're not too upset about it. This time, I tried all different things as part of the language school, and all of them worked out pretty well, everything from "missionary twister" in which they had to move each other around the room using commands in Finnish, to the end of day walk down to the beach. (They usually get really tired just sitting in the same room all day, so I've decided to start taking a walk to give their minds a rest. I can't really take credit for the idea though, I'm pretty sure the same tactic is used in nursery classes all across the church.) This group was very talented as far as the language goes, so I'm excited for them.
After language school, everything got crazy. Elder London requested me to go with him to pick up President's car and take it to Haaga, which I was happy to do, except for the fact that I almost didn't have a companion...that would have been interesting. Driving a car halfway across Helsinki alone. But I grabbed one of the young missionaries and we coordinated to get everyone at the train station. It all worked fine, except for the miscommunication about everyone, um, going to the train station...Some of the sisters got left behind at the office, so we had to floor it back there to drop off the van so the other sisters, who needed the van that night, could take them there. I'm still not sure how they did it (or if it was strictly speaking legal), but they all made it there safely and on time. I goofed up and forgot a lot of the supplies I was supposed to send back with them, which made me pretty upset with myself. But, overall, everything seemed to work out pretty well that day, and no one missed their trains.
Unfortunately, I also got some bad news about R this week. Bishop met with him to talk about what happens if he does move to a different country, and R made it sound like he's for sure out of here this week. His top choice right now is, I think, Iceland, or Greenland, to find work. I went over again what Bishop had told him, so he should be able to find the church wherever he winds up, but we're sad to see him go. He's been a pretty good friend.
We've had some great conversations with people this week, and one of them has turned into a lesson set up for this Thursday, which is yet another Finnish holiday (Ascension Day), and we're really excited. She was about to agree for this evening, but then she said, "well, actually, if you wait and come on Thursday, I'll have some time to read the book before you come." Can't ask for much more than that right?
Love you! Can't wait to talk to you next Sunday!!