Matt. 6:24
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve God and money (mammon).

Kukaan ei voi palvella kahta herraa. Jos hän toista rakastaa, hän vihaa toista; jos hän toista pitää arvossa, hän halveksi toista. Te ette voi palvella sekä Jumalaa että mammonaa.

Kaksi herraa, mutta kumpaa meidän pitää totella? Tässä maailmassa on paljon valtakuntia, joissa ihmiset riitelevät hallituksista, rahasta, ideoista, vallasta. Kaksi johtajaa kilpailevat toistensa kanssa yhdestä asemasta, hallituksessa, yrityksessa, tai perheessä. Joskus väkivaltaisuus, joskus rauha, mutta aina tämä kilpailu. Jumala ei kilpaile. Hän on totuus, hän on elämä, hän on rakkaus, hän on Luoja. Meidän olemassaolomme eivät ole itsenäisiä Hänestä, ne ovat todella riippuvaiset Hänestä. Jokainen päivä on lahja. Hän antaa joka hengenvedon lahjaksi… Joka ajatus, joka syke, joka hymy. Ollaanko me kiitollisia? Emme. Me seurataan toisia jumalia, toisia mielihyviä, toisia rakkauksia. Mutta nämä kaikki eivät ole jumalia, eivät aitoja mielihyviä, eivätkä  aitoja rakkauksia. Ne ovat valheita, valheita totuudesta, valheita haluistamme, sekä valheita Jumalasta. Mutta kysymys kuuluu, Missä totuus on, missä meidän toivomme on, missä elämä on?

Totuus on Jumalan Sanassa,…
Psa 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
160. Sinun sanasi on kokonansa totuus, ja kaikki sinun vanhurskautesi oikeudet pysyvät iankaikkisesti.

…meidän toivomme on Jeesuksen Kristuksen veressä,
Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
5. ja Jeesukselta Kristukselta, uskolliselta todistajalta, häneltä, joka on kuolleitten esikoinen ja maan kuningasten hallitsija! Hänelle, joka meitä rakastaa ja on päästänyt meidät synneistämme verellänsä

…elämä on Pyhä Hengessä.
Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
4. Jumalan henki on minut luonut, ja Kaikkivaltiaan henkäys elävöittää minut.

Mutta nyt, näistä jumalista, näistä mielihyvistä, näistä rakkauksista…nämä kilpailevat sun sydämestä, sun mielestä, sun sielusta. Ne ovat harhautuksia. Ne tarjoavat paljon mutta eivät anna mitään ikuista. Ne lupaavat kuun, mutta antavat raejuustoa. Joskus ne kuvittelevat kaunista maailmaa, jossa kaikki mielihyvät kestävät ikuisesti. Ei ole seurauksia. Eletään, juodaan, Me emme koskaan kuole. Valheita Saatanalta. Todellisuudessa nämä valheet aiheuttavat meidän vetäytymisemme elämästä, jonka Jumala haluaa antaa meille. Me antaudutaan työllemme, tieteellemme, ja mielihyvillemme. Vapaus, jolla me voimme vapauttaa itsemme kahleista, tulee vain Jeesuksen veren voiman kautta. Me ostetaan uusia autoja, mutta vapaus tulee vain Jeesuksen veren voiman kautta. Me rakennetaan korkeita kerrostaloja, mutta vahvuus tulee heikkouden ja Jeesuksen veren voiman kautta. Meidän poliitikot ovat voimakkaita, meidän poptähdet ovat kauneimpia, meidän kulttuuri on rehellisin, mutta voima, kauneus, rehellisyys tulevat Jeesuksen veren voima kautta…

Jumala ei kilpaile. Me rakastetaano joko näitä harhautuksia ja niiden tyhjiä lupauksia, valheineen, tai me rakastetaan Jumalaa, Hänen Sanaa, Jeesuksen veren vuodattamista ja kuolemaa meidän puolesta, ja elämää Pyhässä Hengessä. Ensimmäinen tie on kuolema, toinen on elämä. Kuka tai mikä on sun herra?

August 2010 Update

August 22, 2010

Well, summer might as well be considered over in Finland. It has been one of the hottest that it has had. I think that one day was the hottest in 75 years. I usually played the “I’m from Texas, you people don’t know what hot is” card, but at a couple of points, it was pretty warm. I think I even told one Finnish friend that it was hot, but mind you, I had been running up and down stairs carrying chairs in a building with no airflow. Nevertheless, this has been a very beautiful summer, and there have been quite a few enormous changes to our team here. I think that I am going to deal with this chronologically, even though two of the events are related.
The Pauls, a family serving short-term (2 years) in the city of Jyväskylä, ended their time here in late July. They managed to put two years of their lives into 5 suitcases. We met at some of their close friends’ home in Espoo for a send-off dinner. The kids were playing, the dog only responded to Finnish commands, and we took the opportunity enjoy each other’s company over some very Finnish dishes. Of the dishes I had kalakukko (literally: fish-rooster) for the first time. It is a dish from the Savo region. It is shredded chicken and whole sardines cooked inside a round loaf of rye bread. My supervisor was quite happy about this dish because he is originally from that area of Finland…you know, kind of brought things back. After the meal, and before the ice cream covered with the best strawberries in the world (yes, I said “best in the world”), the children were off running around playing when a game of “You had to have eaten this food while you were here” broke out. At one point it was determined that the food silli must be tried. It is a pickled herring in a honey mustard sauce, all of which comes conveniently in a little glass jar. I liked it, but it got a negative response from the better half of the Pauls. We discussed another food, viili (like a thick, sour cream yoghurt), but there was not a jar of it to be had, so no eating it. Fairly early in the evening, we said our good-byes, in which red-eyes and sniffles were at a surprising minimum. Pray for the Pauls as they had yet another curve ball thrown at them. Jason had returned to the States with the plan of attending Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, but a ministry opportunity came up in California, so they are there now. I don’t know what the opportunity is, but it obviously changed their plans drastically.
The last week in July was the Nuorten leiri, youth camp, in Kuru. I was asked to speak one night, and I decided to do it in Finnish. I wrote a paper about false idols and the lies around them but there is truth and power in Christ’s blood. Jere, our church’s civil service worker and my roommate at the time, corrected my errors, which were not as many as I had expected. The camp overall was great. A lot of time in seminars, a little time for a soccer game (jalkkis), a sauna, and then the evening worship. I spoke on Tuesday, reading from my paper. Of course, right as I reached the most difficult word in the entire thing, I got a bit of cotton-mouth. I stuttered past it, but I think it was well-received. The youth were very accepting and fun. Card games were everywhere, especially one called “Jungle Speed”, a game from France that seems like an addiction at times at these camps. I’ve been to several camps since being here, but this was the very first one that I was comfortable at the entire time. I knew most everyone, I knew how the camp operated, and I let myself have some fun. It is amazing being able to worship with believers in their own language. I usually am playing the guitar, so I don’t get to sing out as much as I would like, but at the camp I went full-voice quite often. I think that I will have at least 2 more chances for camps while I am here, one being the end of next month. Please pray for these youth. They are living in a culture that really rejects true belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is a culture much like our own but far more agnostic and defensive against taking steps of true belief. They are the future of Baptists in Finland as well. Pray that leadership continues to come from them and that God continues to nurture these future leaders.
The church plant that my supervisor Mikko started, Espoon Kotikirkko (www.espoonkotikirkko.fi), has made a transition into a larger building in Leppävaara. Our first meeting for the fall was in the old location, but thankfully, that was the only time. There was a lot of set up and very particular ways that the authorities over the building wanted things to be. Well, after this first meeting, the next weekend, we made the trek up to a Baptist campsite near Jyväskylä, called Kesäranta. We were having a church retreat in order to bring us closer together as a family and to strengthen each other in preparation for my supervisor’s family’s return to the States for 9 months (I will elaborate on this later). We had times of study and singing but a lot of time to just be around each other, have fun, and have a sauna. The water in the lake was amazing…ly cold for most Texans, but just perfect once you were in it. The warm summer has benefited the swimming greatly. In the evenings we would have a time to share a little bit, sing a little bit, and then the kids went off to bed. Once the young’ens had settled down, we would have a fire and sit around sharing and singing. Well, the signing happened on the second night…the first night, Jere and I sat around the fire for a little bit, but then got back into the sauna. He was away during the scheduled time, so we just warmed that thing back up and enjoyed talking and the cool evening. [Sidenote: I know that there has been a recent death due to a sauna competition here in Finland. First, it turns out that they were using painkillers to lengthen the time they could stay in the sauna. Second, the rate of which they added water is no where near the normal rate. Finally, if you are still worried about me, I know my limits concerning sauna. Thank you for your concern.] It was very nice to have that time together. Please pray for this fellowship. They have relied a great deal on Mikko and his family’s leadership, and this is a big stepping out for them. I will continue to support them in every way I can.
Oh, crazy story interjection here…on the day that we returned from the church retreat, the smoke from those fires in Russia had made their way into our airspace. It gave most things an orange hue. Now, I’m no meteorologist, and I can’t scientifically connect the two things, but…later that evening, one of the most severe thunderstorms that Finland has had occurred that Sunday night. Here is a link to some of the pictures…http://www.hs.fi/kaupunki/artikkeli/1135259190283 Hopefully, that link will still be active when you look. Click on “Katso lisää kuvia (See more pictures)” to bring up a pop-up, then “Seuraava (Next)” to navigate through those pictures. I was sitting in my apartment when I noticed the trees were bending far too much in the wind, then a flash or two, and their accompanying rumbles got my attention. I took pictures of it myself, even some video, but I haven’t posted those yet. Now, back to the regularly scheduled update…
So, the biggest news, or bits of newses (possible plural?) is the changes to personnel here. I already mentioned that the Pauls have returned to the States, well, California, if that counts, and well, the Sivonens were lined up to go as well, to the States, well, California, again, if that counts. They left on the 18th of this month. Right before they left, I officially lost my roommate Jere. He and his bride, Elina, were wed on the 14th in a beautiful ceremony. Therefore, Danny had to go. (I have an addendum to this newsletter if you would like a more detailed and somewhat funny account of the wedding. I am not sure when I will finish it, though.) I stayed in our apartment in Kannelmäki, a part of Helsinki, until the Sivonens left. Then, I moved into their apartment later the day of their departure. It is quite large for Finnish, well, even American apartment standards, so I have another roommate now, Seppo. He is an older gentleman with a teenage daughter in our church. His daughter stays elsewhere. He is only here as a transition from his old place into a new place nearer his work. He will be gone quite often for work and performances by a choir that he is part of, so I basically am here until Jeremy comes in October. Well, back to the Sivonens… They had to pack 4 years of their lives into 6 bags and a stroller to go back to California. We had a nice, and a bit hectic final evening together playing with kids, packing the van, and giving me the rundown on the different appliances in the apartment. I ended up staying the night, just to make leaving the next morning quicker (and it would have been like a 40 minute trip to go 5 miles by train back to the other apartment). At just about 10am the next morning, we packed up and headed for the airport. I parked the van after we had dumped the bags on the sidewalk. I found the Sivonens again as they were finishing their check-in, in which God was very gracious and let them have an agent that didn’t charge for weight overages. We sat in a kahvila, coffee shop, for a little while, sipping on some juice and soda. I just remembered that I need to get those final pictures of our last “smile for the camera” from them. Remind me to do that, ok? About 30 minutes before their flight, we headed for security. In one final act of cuteness, their daughter was holding her mother Heidi’s hand and wanted me to hold the other. For a while she was walking in between us, but at some point decided that it was more fun for us to drag her for the last 30 meters to the security ropes. We said our good-byes, not really any tears, and started to move apart when their daughter called for “Mommy” to hold her hand, and for “Nanny” (me) to hold the other in order to continue dragging her. We said, no, sorry, “Nanny” has to leave. One more hug, and they walked on and I exited the building. I managed to take the right roads back to Kannelmäki to get my stuff, and spent the rest of the day packing and moving back here to Leppävaara. I will stay in this apartment, barring something strange happening, until I leave next spring. Please pray for the Sivonens as they are making the transition back into American culture. Only one of their children was born in the States, the other two haven’t been there at all, I believe. Mikko is teaching at California Baptist University, and Heidi will be doing most of the domestic stuff. It is a chance for the kids to get to know Heidi’s family a little better. They will return in May to continue their work here.
And now…Things To Come…
As I mentioned, Jeremy will be joining Team Finland in October. Pray for his transition to here, travel, meeting people, finding ministries. He is my personality opposite, so we will have fun getting to know each other’s peculiarities. He has never been to Europe, so that is also a big hurdle, especially in day to day living. I think that he will do well. I must take responsibility in plugging him into the right places, with the right people, and in the best mindset that I can. Hey, maybe pray for me as concerning Jeremy’s move, also, because I need to do all those things for him and keep working myself.
We met yesterday to work out different aspects of the coming season of our Gospel Cinema ministry. We are going to have it in our new building here in Leppävaara, instead of in Helsinki. I see it as a bit of a fresh start. There are two schools here at which we can advertise. We are contemplating a name change but trying to stay honest about what the event is. A lot of our discussion was about whether we should attempt to show secular movies after which we would start conversations leading to the Gospel, or just stick with the Christian movies-only idea. One problem with that second part is that high-quality Christian movies are few and far between. This is a very modern culture so we just can’t amaze them with some new-fangled talking-picture show. Pray that God will guide us through these decisions and to the movies that we need to show.
Another ministry that I hope to get off the ground is something that I am calling “Hiljainen Lounas (Silent Lunch)”. I have dined at one of the university cafeterias in Helsinki several times, and I noticed the social interactions, or lack thereof, between the different diners. If a person is sitting a table by him or herself, another person will come up, ask if a place is free (Onks tää paikka vapaa?), if so, they sit down, and never speak to the other person again. I have received positive feedback from the Finns that I have shared this idea with, even one unbelieving friend who said that he would tell his other friends about it. I need to meet with the managers of the two largest cafeterias at some point after I have fleshed out the idea and made advertising. It’s easier to sell ideas like this if there is a nice, shiny ad for it. Pray that I continue with this. I am not sure when to start it, but I have some ideas. Ask God to be clear on when this needs to happen. I think that this would break down walls in Finnish social interactions and open up chances to share the Gospel. I don’t think anyone has done anything like this. Please pray, please, please pray.
I will get the opportunity to work with a Russian/Finnish church in eastern Finland in the town of Imatra. There is an American missionary couple, the Barfields, that started the church, and I will be going to support and lead worship. I don’t know how to sing in Russian…yet, but I look forward to helping out. I gets me out of the Helsinki area for almost a week at a time. September 1st is my first trip there. I have been once already, but that was a while back. Time to get those map-reading skills out again. Pray for this church. The Finnish Baptist Union leadership is quite happy about its existence. The joke is that it is the First Baptist Church of Imatra, as coined by Travis. They are from Alabama, so as a fellow Southerner, I find this name really funny. I am looking forward to the blessings that God will give to this church, through this church, to the Barfields, and to me through this chance.
Oh, I will be going to a much belated conference in Germany on October 31st. It is about adapting to life in Europe…a bit late for me…I think I should have probably gone to it in July or so, but that’s just my thought. I am thankful that I get to go to it. The campsite is actually just an hour and half drive from the town I served in back in the summer of 2001. I think that I may take another trip that way at some point, just because this has got my German heritage juices flowing again. Pray for the travel of everyone attending this and for the leadership conducting the week.
The final two bits of info…I will be taking a course to learn Swedish in order to meet people and develop relationships. Yes, you may ask… “But isn’t Finnish difficult enough?” I would have to say yes, but hey, I like languages, so…it’ll be worth the 30€. Finally, I am getting the chance to lead worship during half of the Sunday services this fall. I am accompanied by our pastor’s wife in singing. I can sing the songs, but sometimes the words get jumbled in my mouth. Sometimes a “u” comes out as a “y” (which sounds like the German ü), and that does change the words meaning. Well, please pray for the Swedish course that I can make some relationships that lead to sharing the Gospel. Also, please pray for the Sunday services that we will come there to worship God, preach the Gospel and Resurrection of Christ, and share and love each other in the Spirit.
Thank you for your prayerfulness and support. I have perhaps 8 months left in Finland, and I pray that they will be fruitful and that the Name of the Lord would be praised in this country.

July 2010 Update

July 15, 2010

Howdy from Finland!

Thus begins yet another installment of the life and times of Danny in Finland. We have transitioned into the summer schedule, meaning that the month of July is the time when a lot of people are taking vacations, some in the countryside, others in other countries. There is still constant activity in Helsinki, but after being here last summer, I am aware of the reduction in bodies moving around in the street. You can point out the tourists, mainly by the maps they are carrying, but also by the posture they have as they walk. Our church Espoo House-Church (Espoon Kotikirkko, http://www.espoonkotikirkko.fi) is still in our summer break. I believe that we have our first time back the first Sunday in August, but then the next week, we head to the Kesäranta campground to have a retreat. Following that, we are back in full swing. The only question being where we are going to meet. We have been trying to move out of the community building we have been using and into what is called the Albergan kartano (Alberg mansion), but the issue with that is that we were going to replace a free church that is currently meeting there now. That free church, at last I heard, needed a large sum of money to afford the move to a larger building. So, we wait. The community building is still fine for our needs, but the kartano would definitely help as we try to grow.
I have a bit to touch on, so I claim now that my story telling may be abbreviated. I know that in the past I have assumed that I wouldn’t write too long in relating stories only to see that fall apart in the next paragraph. Well, onwards and upwards…
Soon after my last newsletter, I spent a little more time with Olli, the Finn I met through my “Talk to a Texan” short-lived but hopefully to be revived ministry. He is a metal head, and well, Finland is the “promised land of metal” (not my words, search for that App on iTunes if you doubt me). He finds concerts and invites me along. His normal set of friends don’t really attend any of the concerts with him, and I enjoy the chance to make an investment in his life. I’ve shared the Gospel with him twice, and he has come to our church one time. Pray for Olli that he will come to know the Lord through either my actions or the witness of a believing Finn. Oh yeah, at the time of our last concert, we were drawing near the summer solstice, so as we came out of the club at 1:30am, the sky still had some light in it. I think that I noticed that the sun started to rise at about 2:45am, just before I got back to my apartment. I could have had another concert opportunity with Olli, but I was out of town when that Ronnie James Dio (google him if you don’t know him) Tribute concert was happening.
Well, June was a push for prayerwalking. Overall, I had three Finns join me. Jouko, a member of our church, Meri, who I met through trying to start a street ministry, and Tomas, an unbeliever with a lot of social anxieties. I had hoped that more people, especially some of the university students, would join in. It was included in a local free church’s Month of Prayer push, but none of their members showed up for the Saturday walks. I had walks on Mondays and Wednesdays as well, but missed one or two because of other activities that arose. Maybe in the Fall I could make another push for it. Pray for Finland. The people continue to hurry about unaware that they need the saving grace that only comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I turned 29 back on June 16th. We threw together a small party at the Sivonens, the career family here. I invited some friends through Facebook and a few showed up. Olli, previous mentioned, took the hour bus ride to come, which I appreciated greatly. The Matikkas, Tommi, Maria and Flora came, as well as Sami and his daughter Anina (her name is a palindrome) Nivala. Heidi Sivonen made chili (like we have in the States, the word “chili” here has a different meaning) and some of the sweetest, jalapeño cornbread I’ve ever had. Pretty good for a California chica. We then watched 5 or 6 Bugs Bunny cartoons projected on the living room wall. Yes, I planned that part. Very simple, the Sivonen kids were in bed on-time, and I made it back to Skype with my family. It was nice and low-key.
A couple of days later, I made the trip with the Sivonens to Jyväskylä (let’s go with Joo-va-skoo-la, for pronunciation, round the lips on the oo parts) for the yearly Baptist Summer Celebrations, or Kesäjuhlat for short. Over 300 people attended, including 80 or so of the Karen people of Burma. They are a people who were forced out of Burma because of violence, and perhaps, they will never be able to return there. I performed on the first night with Jere, my roommate, and Seppo, a musician in our church. I think it went well. I met a Finn the next night, and through very simplified Finnish, he complimented my playing on the previous night. Jere is from the Jyväskylä area, so he was kind and invited me to stay at his family’s home, a beautiful, wooden house set in the woods. I was able to spend time with friends I had made the previous summer, and I heard so much Finnish through sermons and songs that I think my brain shut off a little bit. Pray for the Baptists here in Finland. Many of the members are of the older generation and seem to resist the change that the union may need to make to be viable in a changing Finnish culture.
Juhannus (Midsummer) is huge here, in the sense that everyone either leaves or goes to a park to celebrate it (celebrations tend to include copious amounts of alcohol, by the way). Jere invited me to join him in going to a get-together of the Tampere Baptist church at their campground area. There was definitely a God-moment that happened surrounding this. As I mentioned earlier, Tomas, the unbelieving Finn, joined me for prayerwalking once. Actually, he sent me a text saying that he wanted to come. I was surprised. As we were sitting in Esplanadi park in the city center, I mentioned going with Jere to this Juhannus celebration, and he mentioned that he wasn’t doing anything special except probably getting drunk. I informed him that he didn’t have to do that, but to have a good day anyways. Well, here comes the God-moment. The next morning I was trying to buy a ticket from Helsinki to Jyväskylä to meet Jere, but the website kept saying that I couldn’t purchase a ticket that way. I tried several different methods, but nothing worked. I decided to alter my schedule in a way that would allow for me to purchase the ticket at a travel office. Just as I had decided this, Jere sent me a text telling me to invite Tomas. I promptly did this, and a few texts later, Tomas was going to join me on the trip. The idea popped into my head to try to buy the tickets online again. I changed the number of passengers going to “2”, updated the page, proceeded to the purchase page, and…it worked the first time. So there, I believe was a God moment because Tomas was able to hear the Gospel several times that weekend and see Christians enjoying each other’s love and friendship in the Lord. He came with us to a huge Pentecostal festival (Helluntaikonferenssi) in Keiruu and heard the Gospel there as well. Pray for Tomas that he will come to know the Lord. Up until recently, he thought of himself to be an atheist, but now, he is thinking that there is something more to all of this life.
Moving out of my apartment seemed as though it would be simple. Jere’s family had let us borrow their Škoda station wagon, Mikko, my supervisor, was going to help us move some furniture the next day, and most of everything that was left was just cleaning. We stayed up a little later watching some comedy videos thinking that the next day would be calm and easy. Well, low and behold, at 3am, not an hour and half later, the apartment door opened. I was in a haze because sleep still had a strong hold on me, but I was hearing someone move around in the entry hall. Then some knocks on Jere’s door, then some knocks on my door with a voice saying, “Uh, is anyone there? I am the owner of this apartment.” I got dressed quickly and opened the door to meet Simon, our Chinese landlord who had just flown in from Thailand with his wife and mother-in-law. Now, we knew that they were coming, but through email Mikko had explained that we would be moving out on that Tuesday, and the apartment would be empty on Wednesday. Simon took the email to mean that we would be moved out BY Tuesday. I didn’t tell him that he was wrong at that point. I think Mikko did later, but at the moment I had three people who thought they were going to an empty apartment on my hands. Simon told me to go back to bed while he went and brought his wife and mother-in-law up to the apartment. In his absence I opened Jere’s door to get his take on the issue. He was none too pleased, but we decided that we would get up at 7am to get as much out of the apartment as possible. Mikko would be there at noon to help us move out, but I sent him a message immediately at 3am to tell of our little, uh, situation. Back in my room, Simon and the ladies came back in, had either a conversation or an argument in Chinese (not sure what either sounds like), and then they disappeared. So, at this point I was trying to get to sleep because I knew that the day was going to be very long. Simon and crew returned a little while later. Luckily, our third roommate, Mikko (another guy), had moved out at the end of May, so the living room was available. We had put an extra bed in there, and when I got up at 7, I noticed that the ladies had taken it and Simon was on the couch. Immediately, Jere and I closed the doors to the bathroom and kitchen to reduce the noise of our cleaning. I tried to get Mikko (my supervisor) there earlier in order to get out. He agreed to come at 11am, but then later changed to noon again. With that schedule and Simon telling us after a few hours of cleaning that he and the ladies would actually be doing the cleaning, Jere and I hightailed it over to this new apartment to get as much as possible out of the old apartment as we could. By the time we got back, Mikko had showed up and we managed to get the last of Jere’s things into Mikko’s van. After a little bit of end-fo-contract haggling, we were released from the apartment and now are quite moved in at this new place. I will only be here until August 18th. Jere is getting married on August 14th and then going on his honeymoon. I will then move into the Sivonens apartment on the same day they leave for a stateside assignment. That apartment will be where I spend the duration of my remaining time here in Finland.
After all this moving excitement, I joined the Sivonens in going to Heinola to meet with the Pauls, the short-term IMB family here, for a few days of final hanging out. The Pauls are leaving next week for California and then to Fort Worth for seminary work. They had hope at one point to add a third year here, but with the birth of their daughter, Adelaide, moving back to the States was a better option. It was a really nice time there. The kids were almost always down at the lake swimming, we had sauna each night, I ran the grill one night, a crazy storm came through and nearly wrecked the patio furniture, I watched the kids while the Pauls and the Sivonens had a debriefing session, and we just enjoyed each other’s company.
After we had said our good-byes, the Sivonens and I headed north to Kesäranta for, I thought, only a camp the next week. I did not know until either on the way or actually there that we had come early for a celebration for a Finnish family who are working through Wycliffe Bible Translators. I had met the father last summer just days before they left out. It was a nice time, though, sitting through 3 sessions of presentations was a bit rough my brain (all in Finnish and with words I had never seen before). Everyone had gone back home on Saturday, so Sunday was a day to just be in the lake. We managed to get to a local church’s evening service and stayed a while talking with people there.
The next day brought about the commencement of a children’s camp that would last until that Thursday. It was hard trying to relate some things in Finnish to the kids, but I kept it simple. I shared a testimony through Jere’s translation on the first night. Ping pong is always the hit at these camps. On the last night we had a thing called a huviretki, amusement hike. An orange string was tied around different posts along a path. The children took turns being blindfolded, and followed the path around the main building. Along the way there were different stations that were intended to be entertaining to these young’ns left in the dark. The first station was one adult who would make noises at the kids, splash water in a bucket as the kids would try to step over an inflatable alligator, and throw water at their feet just to get them to jump. My station was next. We were supposed to be an airplane that took off from some jungle. The children would stand on a stainless steel plate and put their hands on the shoulders of one of the adults. Then two of us would lift it up the plate, making erratic movements but not going very high, while the adult upon whom the kid was resting their hands squatted down. The illusion was they had been lifted much higher than they actually were. We then asked the kids to step down from the plate while it was still in the air. It was only a few inches up, but many tried to jump off…with some hilarious results. At one point we instituted a storyline in which the plane was crashing and they had to get off quickly. Yeah, big fun. All this, and I got to be the night watchman that same Wednesday night. I had managed a 3-hour nap earlier in preparation for this, but the night was still hard. After a few battles with some guys who didn’t want to go to sleep, I settled into a rocking chair, reading a book from my iPod (yes, that’s possible), and playing some games on it as well. It never really became dark, just darker from 1am to about 3am. One girl was nice and relieved me of my duty at 5am for which I thanked her several times. We finished up the camp, did some major cleaning, and parted ways. Pray that the Gospel hit home with the kids and that they will be lead to faith in Christ.
Without his knowledge, a bachelor party had been devised for Jere. His good friend Juho, who lives perhaps 10 hours by car away from Helsinki in the city of Oulu, put together a trip to what could be called an “extreme” amusement park, a bucking bronco ride, some ATV tracks, some trapeze setups, two paintball ranges, and the topper…the bungee jump. We had lead Jere to believe that we were going to Heinola for his end-of-service evaluation. His civil service is up next month, so there was no reason to question the story. The problem that we were having was how far along the trip could we get before he realized something was up. I thought the moment that we were getting into the van in which sat Miikka, Jere’s friend, we had been found out. Even after Miikka had given Jere the traditional, Finnish bachelor party clothing (that is, anything that is ridiculously obnoxious… in this case, bright blue pants with purple trim, a blue soccer shirt, and a neon-orange cap) that Jere had figured it out. I hadn’t followed the Finnish conversation, so I was going on assumptions. It wasn’t until we were passing the exit to go to the supposed meeting house in Heinola did it hit Jere that there was more to the story. He still didn’t know what was going to happen. We stopped at the next ABC, which is a gas station/restaurant/mini-mall/coffee shop, and forced him to drive to the final destination in Mikkeli. There, we met two groups of his friends, one were the brothers and cousins of his wife-to-be, Elina, and the other group of guys I knew from the previous summer (13 guys in total). We had pizza in the city center of Mikkeli and then headed off towards the amusement park. Only until we were pulling into the park did Jere understand the plan. The first attraction…make him do the bungee jump (or here, the benji). It took a while, especially when the girl in front of him took 15 minutes to finally work up the courage to jump. Jere actually went over fairly quickly to a round of applause from the rest of us. A few more in our group jumped afterwards, but then…then came the big show. Paintball. We apparently had rented time for two hours. It was awesome, painful, awesomely painful, and painfully awesome. The two different fields made it nice for variations on the game. It was our 7 against their 6. I learned that to know that you were hit, there had to be an intense pain just under the orange paint on your clothing. Totally worth the trip. It took two days before I had accounted for all of my bruises. Nothing like being in a war situation with orders being barked out in a language you’ve only studied for a year. The only way to top this was to head for a cabin on a lake. One of Jere’s friend’s family summer cabin was near Mikkeli. We spent the evening eating, joking, having a sauna, and watching a soccer game. The next day was swimming and hanging around. We concluded the party with prayer and some praise choruses. Cleaned up, and headed home. Pray for Jere and Elina as they are being wed in Multia on August 14th. They are a very godly couple and represent the future of Finnish Baptists.
In conclusion, this summer is a time of transitions. As I mentioned earlier, the Pauls and the Sivonens are both leaving Finland. The Sivonens to return next May, and the Pauls will pursue whichever direction God leads them in. If that is back here to Finland, then I think that they are quite content with that, and to somewhere else, content as well. Pray for the Pauls as Jason, the father, pursues study in seminary, and as Heather, the mother, tends to their daughters, D and A (I haven’t gotten permission to use their names), and pursues whatever she is lead to pursue. Pray for the Sivonens as Mikko, the father, will be teaching at California Baptist during their time in the States, and as Heidi tends to the three children, B, T, and P (again with the permission thing). I believe that unless my time is extended for a month, I won’t cross paths with the Sivonens in Finland again, at least not during this time around. Also pray for Jeremy, a soon-to-be Journeyman, his time in orientation, and his travel over here. He should be here in early October if all goes well with his residence permit application. We will be roommates in the Sivonens’ current apartment and will be focusing on university student ministry in Helsinki while continuing to support the church plant that the Sivonens help start. I am starting to meet people in the university cafeterias in preparation for work this Fall. I have already shared the Gospel with a girl from Spain, but I would like to start a group for college students before the year is up. Sidenote: pray for a Finnish sister, Meri (of whom I mentioned during the prayerwalking section). She is part of a team in Italy which is part of a larger missionary activity for the Mediterranean region. Pray blessings on her work and her encounters with unbelievers there.
In conclusion, Part II the Sequel: Danny Finally Wraps Things Up, thank you for your prayer support, the letters that are sent, and the comments on my Facebook. I find it all very encouraging. Pray that I will see how God is wanting to use me in my remaining 9 months in this beautiful, but lost, country. Pray that Finland will see the rays of light breaking through the darkness, realize that they need that light, and that that darkness will come crashing down to the shouts of hallelujahs and amens.

God Bless You.

Early June Newsletter

June 10, 2010

Out of the North – blog: nordictexan.wordpress.com; Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nordictexandb/; email: breatheonmespirit@yahoo.com

Howdy from Finland!

I would like to take this time to thank you for your continuing prayer support of the work that is going on in Finland. It is slow work, but we are seeing some progress.

For starters, let’s take a brief look at what has happened since my last newsletter. I had the pleasure of helping in the refurbishing of a wooden sailboat with Mika and his fiancee Susaan (spelling?) on the fortress island of Suomenlinna. I have tried to garner support for a prayerwalking ministry over the last month. A driver’s license application has been started at the absolute last second before I would have had to attend a driving school. The Baptist workers’ days saw me in the campsite near Jyväskylä for a couple of days of connection with the leaders in our churches. I attended a showing of two German films (both utterly depressing) at the Helsinki Goethe Institute. I am just coming off of a theology weekend called 2 Timothy 2:2. I held the first meeting for a street ministry that I am hoping to start in about 2 weeks. Prayer requests happen throughout the newsletter.

So, I’m not going to promise any crazy stories in this newsletter. One may come, but only by extension through part of one of my updates. Sorry to dash any extreme feeling of elation from the anticipation of such stories, but there you go.

The sailboat: I am convinced that I am one of the few, if not the only, American whose first trip to the fortress island of Suomenlinna was for the purpose of working on a sailboat. Usually people go for the tourism. The island defended the Finns from attacks by sea from Russia, and now serves as a picnic area. Most people take a sightseeing boat around the island, or are part of a tour in which they are herded like animals through certain points of interest. I got the one-up and saw a part of the island(s) that few of the tourists ever get to see…the ugly part that the locals hide away. Well, I say ugly only because no one was trying to impress with the shape and condition of the buildings. It was an area to work in, and therefore, pardoned from the kind of upkeep that draws those kinds of people willing to throw money around. To tell the truth, the path to that area was so inconspicuous that if my friend hadn’t walked out from it, I would have never taken it. This particular friend, Mika, was the first Finn that I met after arriving in Finland…and it was on a plane…to Zürich, Switzerland. I thought we had lost touch, but he had promised to invite me sailing, and dadgummit if a Finn doesn’t keep their word. I had a prayerwalking time before I went there, but I was overjoyed about the invite. After I had arrived, he introduced me to his fiancee, Susaan (I’m assuming this spelling from the pronunciation), her friend, and the carpenter that he had hired to do the majority of the labor on his boat. We had some lunch, sat around halfway testing my Finnish knowledge, and then got to work. Mika had just had the deck of the boat redone, so that meant that there were hundred of holes in which the securing screws had been drilled. Our task was to take these little wooden pegs, dip them in this kind of glue, and hammer them into the holes with the wood grain pointing in the same direction (because when the wood gets wet, it will expand, so it’s better that it expands in the same direction). This took a few hours, so we got to talk, and joke, and talk, and point out that neither of us knew exactly what we were doing. It felt really, really good to swing a hammer again. Mika is an engineer of cheese-making machines, so this kind of work was a bit of an offset for his mind, using a different part of this brain…even though some of his colleagues found the passion for a wooden sailboat a bit peculiar. At the end of the day, we were chilling (ok, Finnglish word is chillailla: minä chillailen – I chill; me chillaillaan – we chill) at the restaurant near where we were working, and out of nowhere, these two guys on a boat, the guitarist who looked like an old-fashioned rock star and a the drummer who was older than the Mississippi River, began to rock. It was surprisingly good. After a while we all got back on the ferry and headed for Helsinki. It was pretty awesome. I am hoping for more encounters with them and that they will be open to the Gospel message. I laid the groundwork for it during the conversation on the ferry, but now, I need to see it through. Pray for this relationship and for this couple that they will come to know the Lord in a personal way, not just the member-of-the-state-church way. There, I guess that counts as a story.

Prayerwalking: We’ve come to realize that prayerwalking is very much a missionary mindset kind of ministry. It is very valuable in spiritual warfare, but we don’t always do it in the States. It is still a bit of a new thing to me. During the month of May, I had been working with a local international church to both support their month of prayer and fasting and to launch a prayerwalking ministry. I met with the lead pastor and the site leader, presented my idea, and eventually shared about it in both their Leppävaara church (a part of Espoo) and their Kaisaniemi church (a part of Helsinki). I only received two contacts who were interested in it through that sharing. So, then I realized that we had a list of people from the Gospel Cinema ministry that we had over this past fall and spring. I asked the leader of that ministry to send an invitation (that I wrote in Finnish, he said that he only changed a couple things that I wrote) to those people. No response. One member of my church walked with me going east-west through the lower part of Helsinki. We will be taking a break after June is over. I will be in camps during July, and I will never know when I will be around either. Pray that God leads us to the people that we need to meet during these prayerwalks and that we will continue with this spiritual warfare.

The driver’s license: Yeah, so last second. The rule is that you have to exchange your previous country’s driving license within the first year of your time in Finland. With the way that the EU travel rules are set up, I didn’t have a stamp that marked when I was physically in the country, and I had only registered at my address in August of last year. Soooo, they were going off the starting date of my residence visa. May 19th. My driver’s license appointment, May 17th. When did I get all my paperwork in? May 24th. Yeah, right under the gun. If I wouldn’t have gone when I did, I would have had to attend driving school…with a standard transmission car instead of the automatic that I know how to drive. The ladies helping me were very kind and a blessing. They could have pulled the governmental bureaucracy on me and thrown me to the lions (leijonat, in Finnish, leijonaille – to the lions). I have to call at the end of June to see where my application is in the process. Then, I get to drive Clifford, the Big, Red Van, legally in this country. That and have something that has my picture and my Finnish social security number on it so I don’t have to carry my passport around. This is worth a prayer of praise.

Baptist Worker’s Days: Työntekijöiden Päivät were held at the campsite, Kesäranta, near the town of Jyväskylä. I believe that four of the Finnish-speaking churches and two of the Burmese Baptist churches were represented there. It was a time to share ideas, successes, failures, and a sauna. All in Finnish, I kept up pretty well. My team member, Jason, hasn’t learned much more than survival Finnish, so he was mostly sitting there being a pretty face. I was distracted once I noticed the smoke coming out of the savusauna (smoke sauna). Unfortunately, that distraction was during the most interesting brother, who had grown up in Estonia and had served in the Soviet army. He told his life story, but I was just watching the smoke come out of the sauna. Maybe I will get a chance to listen to him again. The next day, we went to my roommate’s family’s home for a lunch as prepared by his parents. While we were waiting there, the Burmese brother, who we had brought with us and lives in Vantaa, was sharing about the problems in Burma (all in Finnish, but since he is a foreigner speaking it, I could understand it all). Yeah, he got into naming the countries where the weapons had come from…way to go, U.S. It was kinda rough to listen to his country’s problems and how he and is family could probably never return there. I am glad, though, that I had attended those days. Pray for this leadership that they will lead their churches in service to God and that they will be fearless when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel to their families, their cities, and their nation.

Goethe: I went to watch those German movies with the intent to meet people, but when the mother of an unbelieving friend walked in, that turned into relationship building. She is a believer herself, but her son, Tomas, my friend, is not. She thought that Tomas had invited me to watch the movies, but I assured her that it was purely a coincidence that I was there. Pray for Tomas. He has a hard time dealing with people, especially in large groups. Pray also about his future. He has an amazing passion for electrical engineering and in particular, the work of Nikola Tesla. He will be seeking to study this in the near future.

2 Timothy 2:2: http://www.yksinarmosta.fi, This is the website of the organization that took shape at the theology seminar this last weekened. I’m in the video twice, well, the back of my head is. Ideally, we are going to make thousands of copies of this DVD and deliver them to every household in Espoo. That’s the plan, and now we just have to see it through. The weekend itself was really good. I worked in the kitchen the entire time, which kept me from playing guitar with Jere, but I believe that I was forgiven. We tried to keep it close to the typical Finnish fare, but small Americanisms worked themselves into it. Sandwiches AND chips. Typical in the States but very separate things here. Chips are for parties. I had to explain that we would send children to school with a sandwich and chips. We got a joke about the presence of bananas at every meal. Hey, potassium is good for you. There were 5 teaching times. 3 from Finns, and 2 from Americans who serve in Finland, one of which has been here for 30 years, but I am not sure in which language he presented. I was only in the sessions after all the cleaning and further preparation had taken place. We had sauna. I skipped the one Friday night because I was worn out, but Saturday made up for it. I think that we had one of the sauna rooms up to 110 C (230 F). It was great…until someone started throwing too much water on the furnace (kiuas), then it was as though we were lobsters. I was thankful that the lake was around 40 F for a quick cool-down. At the highest point we had 23 guys there, including the 3 of us in the kitchen, a Romanian brother, Costel, an IMBer on Team Finland, Jason (the same Jason from earlier), and me. We cleaned up on Sunday morning and headed out to our respective cities. It will be next year, I believe, before the next seminar, but the guys have a passion for the Lord, for the Bible, and for the Truth of God. The seminar was designed to instruct, lead, and encourage the future leadership of the Finnish Baptist Union. I think that it’s working. Pray for future meetings, for more men to join the group, and for all the leaders here in Finland.

Street Ministry: On Monday, May 7th, we met for the initial meeting for an street art ministry. One couple from my home church here, a young woman from a college-age church in Helsinki, and I met in Helsinki and had a small picnic at a place called Temppeliaukio, referred to as the Rock Church in tourist books (not the actual translation). We shared some ideas, some that we may need to research licensing issues about, and set up a general time in which to begin. Two of the ideas are to show a video on the wall of a random building in Helsinki, but one idea that I had was much simpler and only needs two dry-erase boards. Pray that we hold tight to the vision of the ministry, to share the Gospel with the lost and perishing in Finland. Pray also that those of us participating with be encouraged and inspired by and through ideas and responses that come out of this effort.

Finally, I have had contact with a small church in Marion, Texas, near San Antonio. They have asked me to share with them as a part of an upcoming July Bible study. Please pray that I encourage them and that God may bless their study and the other missions stories to be shared there. Also, pray for Cheri, my contact there. She has already blessed my life by asking me to participate, and even more so because she has an as-yet incurable form of cancer. Please pray for her and her family.

God Bless You, and Keep Praying For Finland!

Shortness

June 7, 2010

So yeah, this will be a primer for the actual newsletter that I will put out. Well, I was worried that my class ending would have stopped my activities for a while. I have actually just started a good bit of business for a while. I went to the Baptist workers days in Kesäranta near Jyväskylä with some church members and a Burmese brother who leads a church in Vantaa. The Finnish was a bit hard, and I was distracted once I noticed the smoke coming out of the savusauna (smoke sauna). Unfortunately, that distraction was during the most interesting brother who had grown up in Estonia and had served in the Soviet army. He told his life story, but I was just watching the smoke come out of the sauna. Maybe I will get a chance to listen to him again. The next day we went to my roommate’s family’s home for a lunch as prepared by his parents. While we were waiting there, the Burmese brother was sharing about the problems in Burma (all in Finnish, but since he is a foreigner speaking it, I could understand it all). Yeah, he got into naming the countries where the weapons had come from…way to go U.S., way to supply the means by which a people are oppressed and dehumanized. It was kinda rough to listen to his country’s problems and how he and is family could probably never return there.

This past weekend was the 2 Timothy 2:2 theology camp that the Finnish Baptists are hoping to prepare future leadership for future churches. I served in the kitchen for most of the time. I never got to hear an entire presentation because of either cleaning or preparing food, but that was alright as long as those there being groomed for leadership were able to be there without worrying about food or the kitchen. A few American style things made a showing at the meals (i.e., the way we serve, or the way that we combine items of food…chips and sandwiches together doesn’t happen here).

Coming up is the Baptist Summer Celebration in Kesäranta. It marks the beginning of the summer break for us in the house-church. Smaller Finnish churches take breaks during the summer because nearly everyone is gone in July to summer cottages, or out of the country. Before that celebration, Team Finland will gather together one more time in Heinola to share and encourage before the two families move back to the states (the team leader’s family for only a 9 month period, the other family for an undefined time, that is, if they even come back to Finland). I will be here for 2 months without other IMB personnel here, but there is another guy coming in October for a two-year period, who will work with me during the period that the team leader’s family is back in the States and then transition into being here when they return next year. April of next year is the official end date of my employment. Not sure what happens after that, but gotta focus on the work at hand…and my impending moves in living situations…and coming only-birthday-in-Finland party.

Keep praying for Finland, keep praying for the work of believers in Finland, keep the workers in your prayers.

Transitioning

May 12, 2010

Here’s what’s happening…I am trying to get the local free churches in Espoo to have a prayerwalk. My church Espoon Kotikirkko and another one are the only ones that I have really had any possible impact on. The other church is having a month of prayer and fasting through which we are hoping to launch a prayerwalking ministry in their church. I’m praying that someone gets a fire for it, and I can bow out of any leadership role apart from guidance. I’ve have a few emails with other pastors, but nothing has really come of it. Pray that God blesses this attempt, and, if it falls apart, that we (I) learn a great deal from it.

Along with this, I am hoping to get a street ministry going. We have an artistic couple in Espoon Kotikirkko, and I hoping that we can come up with creative ways to share the Gospel on the streets of Helsinki, or even here in Espoo. I have contacted the church plant of the church that I mentioned earlier about either joining or starting their own version of the ministry. I am trying to connect with the group’s leader…he’s a student and works part-time, so I’m not surprised at the delay. Pray that something comes of this, that some or one of the Finnish believers will be able to step out against the cultural predisposition of just keeping quiet and have an impact on the rest of the nation.

Spring is here, so that means people are outside. We gotta find ways to meet, develop relationships, and share with these people. At this point, it’s not completely dark until 11pm at night…and we still have another month before the summer solstice (juhannus)…in this part of the country, 1.5 hours of “night”. I arrived in country on juhannus…yeah, that was a jetlag comedy of errors (3:30am looks just like 7:30am).

New guy coming in October. I am trying to work on ways to introduce him into the language and culture. I have ideas for public transportation quizzes, ordering at restaurants assignments, buying berries and mushrooms from the street kiosks…et cetera…uzw…jne. (ja niin edelleen). Language will be the craziest part. Like 100 forms of every word…perusmuoto (basic form) is the key. I will kinda regret not getting to go to camp with him. Camps are awesome, small, compact, but in amazingly beautiful places. Kesäranta and Kuru, I’m looking at you.

I will be changing apartments and addresses throughout July and August. We are having to move out of this apartment, which is not a problem in mid-August when the Sivonens go stateside for half a year, but we have to be out before July. Fortunately, Jere received a hookup with an apartment in Helsinki through Heidi (props), and we will stay there until I can move into the Sivonens’ apartment. Jere will have to have room for his new roommate…i.e., his bride-to-be Elina. Onnittelut!

Ok, there’s a way over due update. Ole hyvä.

Last week of April 2010

April 26, 2010

Howdy,

Keeping with my promise of promising to write blogs more often and then not really doing it, here is one of the few coming your way.

Little heads up on what is happening with the ministries here…Our liikuntkerho (activity club) for kids has only two more times left and only one of those times is actually playing. The last time will be a party in the building where our church meets to which we will invite the families of the kids who have come to play for a time of getting to know each other. We will see how many show up on May 7th for that party.

Gospel Cinema has one more time remaining. The last time will be the second part of the documentary on Calvinism. Yeah, a bit deep for a ministry outreach, but we will try to move on to something else as soon as possible. I do have an idea for a street ministry in which someone is telling a story as an artist is painting a picture on the street. There are a few variations on it, like explaining the meaning of the picture afterwards, explaining during the painting, telling the story with no painting happening. A little bit of experimenting will need to take place. There is a young, artistic couple in our church that are very positive about this idea, and I have a connection with a free church in which we might try it as well, I don’t know, I haven’t really discussed this with them.

The current project that I am trying to gauge at the moment is a inter-church prayerwalking event. I have contacted the churches that have connections with our church and a local pastor I know and informed them of the idea. I am about to write even more emails to see where we stand from which to determine time frames and preparations. The only twist I have is that we should share people between the churches to garner a sense of connectedness in the Kingdom work. I haven’t heard anything in a while, hence the task of writing emails, but I am still trying to be prayerful and faithful to this. The timing might be an issue, but we must just try it and see. I am getting enthusiasm in response, but I need to work to focus that or increase the enthusiasm level. Be in prayer for this. I have a very detailed description of this that I have mailed to the pastors of the local churches, but I need to boil it down and translate it into Finnish. I think that I will even try to walk a few routes to see how long it takes to complete. Lots of hills, lots of walking paths, gotta choose wisely.

I am going to Kouvola on Friday for a music festival called Vappugospel. Vappu is May 1st, and is considered the first real day of Spring. It is basically an excuse to get completely drunk on the streets of Helsinki. I, fortunately, will be at the concert. My favorite band is headlining and it will be worth the 15€ ticket, the 23.40€ train ticket, the 85€ hotel room, and whatever food will cost to see them. I will, however, miss the camp that Jere has put together in Kesäranta for young adults (no one under 18, or K-18). I hope it goes well, I could definitely make my way up there, but I might have to prepare to speak to and with a local church about that prayerwalking. Still up in the air. No niin. God Bless!

Spain 2010

April 12, 2010

Howdy from Finland!

Well, this is a just a little update about our annual meeting in Malaga, Spain, this last week. It was a great time of fellowship, sharing, worship and support. We reviewed the past year’s work, failures, successes and other experiences over the 3 days that the conference took place. Everyone arrived on Monday, the 5th, we had Tuesday through Thursday for the actual conference, then people left at different points after that. I found encouragement from my co-workers and blessings through being able to worship with them. There were a few funny moments in the week due to this large group of senior Spaniards coming into our meeting room. One lady came in during an optional evening session, not understanding why we were in there. One of our members spoke to her trying to explain what was happening. The lady stayed for a moment, realized that she didn’t understand the language, turned around and waved good-bye to us. Another and, I think, funny incident was that we had music playing in our meeting room and about 15 senior men and women came in. We kind of think that they were expecting a dance party because the hotel had put on such parties every night for them. Why would this be different?

There was a small group from Stafford Baptist Church near Richmond, Virginia, which came to provide daycare services for our workers. The pastor of the church came as well to lead in our devotions, a much needed portion of the week, I may add. Future co-workers in line to serve in Sweden came to lead in the music part of worship. This, of course, elicited some jabs from the Finnish contingent…”God loves everyone, even Swedes.” (Finns and Swedes are competitive against each other, more jabs from from the Finnish side, though).

Overall, a blessed time of renewal and review of the task at hand. I am spending this week adjusting my strategy for this coming year. Pray for God’s guidance in all of our Nordic countries…Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Pray that the hearts of the people will be open to the saving message of the Gospel.

God Bless You,

Danny Barnett

Out of the North – Newsletter covering February and March of 2010

Howdy from Finland!

I would like to begin by thanking you for your continued support, through prayers and messages, of my time here in Finland. Next month will mark the halfway point of my term here, and there is still so much to do.
First, the ministries…we continue to meet in the Espoon Kotikirkko, Espoo House-Church (www.espoonkotikirkko.fi), in the neighborhood called Perkkaa. The majority of the attendees are young couples with children, but we do have a mix of younger singles and older singles coming as well. I help with the music and, from time to time, with the children’s Sunday School. Jere, the brother who is helping the church while performing his required civil service year, is the leading force in the music we perform. We have a small band composed of two, maybe three, guitars, two flutes, and a djembe drum. It has the intended purpose of giving a bit of variety to the musical portion of our worship services. It is a little more work trying to get together to practice, but it does give a bit of freedom to open up while playing. I am enjoying it despite the conversation surrounding the arrangement of the songs is primarily in Finnish. I pick up enough to understand what changes have taken place. Each person in the group is a wonderful musician, and it is a pleasure to get to worship the Lord along with them. Pray that our church will open up to worship God in ways that they could not anticipate.
Another on-going ministry we have is the liikuntakerho, children’s activity club, that happens on Thursdays of each week in the local elementary school in Perkkaa. Sometimes it is a bit rowdy just because it is attended mostly by young guys who spend a lot of time of their days doing whatever they want in the neighborhood. Trying to settle them into a safer, structured situation has been a bit of a challenge. I don’t speak Finnish in a manner that is frightening enough for them to listen and do what I say. Two of the boys do speak English, but they are still hard-headed when it comes to several things. I am not sure about a discontinuation for the summer, but I am a little more certain that we may not continue with it in the Fall because there will not be the consistent presence of a Finnish speaker to assist in guiding the time. Pray that this ministry will have a lasting effect on the boys who have attended it.
I started this thing called, “Talk to a Texan” and have put up small signs in a few of the centers of higher education a few weeks ago. I have already met with one Finn who saw one of the signs and became interested. We had some tea at a coffeeshop in downtown Helsinki, talked for about 3 hours, and now, we are going to a concert on March 27th in Helsinki…a metal concert. So, this should be beyond interesting. Pray that I could meet more people through this, and pray for my new friend and the relationship that I hope will result from this encounter.
I am continuing in my conversational business German class. I would like offer thanks for support during my two presentations in German. I survived, and I think that I may have started a relationship with one of my fellow students, a Russian, in the class. Pray that this continues to grow.
So, I don’t know why it took me so long to take advantage of it, but Helsinki has TONS of concerts and events happening all the time. That being said, in the last two weeks I have attended more concerts than I had in the previous 5 years. One was a choir, called Higher Ground, at Mikael Agricola Church in Helsinki. The all-Finnish choir sang black Gospel music, and pulled it off. Some of those ladies had some soul in them, too. I invited two non-believing friends, a guy and his wife, to a folk music concert at the Sibelius Academy, the top musical and performance school in Finland. I didn’t know anything about the band. I just wanted someone to go with me, but the couple ended up really liking the band and the concert as a whole. They started questioning me about how I even knew about the band. To which I could only respond, “I just found the event online. I had no idea other than it was a concert.” I just went to another concert with another non-believing friend at the “big, honkin’” church in Helsinki. It was a performance of Johannes Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem, and it was completely in German. They used the acoustics of the church instead of a sound system during the concert, and that had a nice effect. Pray that I can strengthen my relationships with these friends and have opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
Well, on a sidenote but not as a matter of gloating, I will be in Spain the first full week of April at my region’s first annual meeting. The short-term family serving here in Finland will not be coming to the meeting,though, because … they are anticipating the arrival of their second child due on Easter. Traveling is kind of out of the question. It is in southern Spain (hopefully, there won’t be an economic meltdown while we are there), just a reasonable distance trip from Gibraltar. Yeah, so shorts and flip-flops…and one backpack of stuff, and I guess, a camera.

I usually have a crazy story that I begin newsletters with, and well, here it is, a little closer to the end, though. There was a youth camp in Kuru in the middle of February. It was well below freezing and there was still over a half-foot of snow on the ground, and well, that shouldn’t ever stop a sauna from taking place. So, to set things up, the building in which the sauna is nestled is next to a lake…that was frozen. Due to the temperatures, the water pipes to that building were frozen as well. Now, you see, that created a problem…where, oh, where do you get water when the lake is frozen and the pipes are frozen? Answer, buckets and buckets of snow that you melt, complete with little pine needles and bits of leaves, in a stove. Water is vitally important to the Finnish sauna. You throw water onto the kiuas, sauna stove, to create the löyly (ask me how to pronounce that when I get back), steam, necessary to work up a sweat. After the sauna you use water heated in another stove and mix it with cooler water to shampoo up and wash off all of the impurities that the sweating has left on your skin. So, it took a long time to get enough water to even have the first sauna. We had a bucket of ice water sitting in the sauna in order to melt it, but that wasn’t as effective as we were hoping. To cool off, we just went into the changing room because it was below freezing in there, but we did have the option of jumping into a snow bank to cool off because there wasn’t a hole in the ice covering the lake…yet. The next day, during breaks in camp activities, some of us older guys would go and try to figure out how to get the hole. I think that I accidentally fell asleep during the one break that they managed to get the hole in the ice. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t have a more active hand in making it. At most, I just cleared away the snow that was on the boat dock, laituri, leading to the hole. So, at sauna time that night…yes, into the frozen lake, twice. I’m sure that I screamed a little, and after the first time, as I was running back towards the sauna, a Finnish guy threw some snow on me as I was passing him. Ha, ha. Only my hands didn’t go under the water because they had a death-grip on the metal ladder leading out of the water. I think that maybe one finger stuck a little bit to the ladder, but other than that, mark “jumping into a frozen lake” off the list of things to do while over here.
Spring is technically here. Someone needs to tell the couple of snowstorms that have made an appearance of late that fact, but most of the snow is melting. I have managed to gain somewhat of a footing while walking on snow and ice. It’s a little more dangerous now because it’s mostly ice. Every once in a while, you come across a little lake of melted snow, but you just hope that your shoes are waterproof and carry on.
Finally, a bit of news … in August we are having some major changes here with our team. Our team leader and his family are heading back to the U.S. for some stateside time (maybe 9 months of it), the short-term family working in Jyväskylä will be heading back to the States as well for some seminary work, and Jere, our civil service guy I mentioned earlier, will be completely his year of service. So, I will be representing the team at that time, but lo, and behold, we have another team member coming to join us/me. Jeremy, a fellow Texan who is just now finishing his seminary work, will be arriving in early October. He will be serving a two-year term like me, and we will be focusing on college students primarily in Helsinki while continuing to support the church plant in Perkkaa. Please begin praying for him and the work that we will be trying to engage in during the last part of my term here and the first part of his term. We have already had a conversation through Skype, 2 hours worth of it, and he is really excited to come here. I’m already trying to gather information for him along the lines of language, important registrations that need to take place, and cultural items. Unless I can find a language course for him at that time of the year, he will have to listen to me and my ramblings about the Finnish language. He has 4 semesters of Greek under his belt, and that’s a nice start. At least I know what grammatical terms we can operate in. I tried to initiate him a little bit by sending a list of changes his name will take within the language. (Using my name, for example, Dannyn = Danny’s, Dannylta = from Danny, Dannylle = to Danny, Dannysta = about/from/in the opinion of Danny.) I am really glad that he is coming, and hopefully, we can have a few more conversations before his arrival.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (ESV) That verse may seem a little out of place, but it fits perfectly well here in this culture. Everything is so nice and well kept, that most people don’t and won’t look beyond them to the One who has blessed them with such things. Pray that God will do a mighty work here. It may be a long road until that point, but we must continue to be faithful and prayerful in our work.

Siunausta (God Bless),
Danny Barnett, IMB
CalypsoNorth (Nordic) cluster
Team Finland
Helsinki/Espoo

Catching up

February 26, 2010

Well, I crashed and burned on my German presentation. Oh well. They were very polite with me.

So, on the 13th (yes, two weeks ago) I had an even more authentic Finnish Sauna experience. I was able to go from the sauna, across about 30 yards of snow covered ground, and into at square hole in the ice of the adjacent lake. I was at a youth camp in Kuru, which is just north of Tampere. It…was…awesome…-ly cold. I survived, even did it twice. After the first time, as I was running back, a Finn threw snow on me as I passed him. Yeah, that was a good laugh… But I also got to share a bit of my testimony before the kids (with Jere translating for me). It was an interesting camp.

So on the 28th, our church service will be broadcast on Yle Radio, the state-owned media company. It will be from 4-5pm local time. Pray that people will tune in and really listen. And also pray that we can pull of the music in an worshipful manner. That’s right, I’m gonna be on a Finnish radio, well, at least my guitar playing will be heard. Siunausta!