I was looking back over the past months, I have come a long way from the person I was when I arrived. I have learned about responsibility, being mature, living in a new place, following God with no other devoted Christians around, handling work, running on a schedule, avoiding temptation, the Finnish way of life, and many other things I cannot remember at the moment. I would compare the experience to when you first move out of your parent’s house for the first time, and you have to make your way in the world. I can say that I have learned things on this trip that I could not have learned at home. I have God to thank for this, he was the one who made it possible for me to be here. I didn’t have to be here in Finland. God could have had me stay in my hometown, but he didn’t, he set everything up so that I could go on this trip. It’s wonderful. I think this is a great example of how God loves us and works things out for our good. Just think, if he can send me to Finland, what could he not do for those who love him?
If you think of me while I am here in Finland, think of God, who, out of his love and power, allowed me to be here. He is more worthy of your attention than I.
It has nearly been four months since I came here to Finland. 33% of my time here elapsed. I look back on what has transpired.
We arrived in the height of summer, when the sun shone warmest and the days were longest. We were naive then, joyful and adventurous, looking at every tree and blade of grass, in wonder of it all, and excited to see more of it. The sun was with us for those explorations, helping us see things not seen before, accenting some of those things. It was a wonderful time. After that the sun made ready to spend more time other lands. The leaves of the trees roared in a flame of color, in a great salute and farewell to the sun. Their voices slowly fell away, and the color of the world fell with them. We had seen the summer. The darkness introduced itself to us then, and we exchanged greetings. The days became a bit shorter, and the nights a bit longer. We stopped looking so much at the world around us, except on those days when the sun shone through the clouds to point something out. The cold came whisping through the air, testing the ground and our faces. We chuckled a bit and went inside to warm up. The days moved by at an easy pace. Then in the night, the cold left us a present on the ground. In the morning, we looked from out windows over the rims of cups holding warm drinks to see the world a bit whiter than it was the previous day. The sun was also there to see what the cold had brought, but it went away after seeing the sight. Now we sit here in the dark, keeping warm and thinking of many things. For us, the world is now a mirror that we look out at and see nothing but what is in our hearts. For some, it is a dark grey; for others, it is a lighter grey, and others, white. I call this season Thoughtfulness. What was once on the horizon has arrived.
For those who do not care for my musings or are interested in more specific information, winter has arrived here. I have been enjoying it a good deal; I consider it to be my favorite season. Daylight lasts between 8 am and 4 pm. I’m doing well. Things are a somewhat less interesting, now that I have been here for a while and have had the opportunity to see most it. School has been going well. I have made a few more friends there, and I am happy about that. The third of the five terms of school will start next week. Interesting to think that I am two fifths of the way done with the school year already. Thus far, everything seems to be going well. God is good!
Apologies for the delay in the post, I have been rather busy and unable to attend to the blog.
My host family, another family, and I all took a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. We left on October 22nd, drove down to Helsinki and flew from there to Munich, Germany, then on to Portugal. We arrived around 3:30 am Sunday morning. We spent the following week touring Lisbon, and returned on the next Saturday/Sunday.
On day one, we toured the Castelo de S. Jorge (Castle of St. George), then walked down towards the water and had an afternoon meal in one of the many restaurants in the area.
Looking out over Lisbon
Looking out over Lisbon
Steps leading to top of castle walls
A typical street
Interior of a church
One of two organs in the same church
Piazza del Commercio. Note the castle on the hill in the back,
On day two, we took a trip to Sintra, an outlying town, where we saw a couple castles and then the westernmost point in Europe. We stopped to eat at a restaurant in that area and I tried octopus, which was interesting. It was like untextured shrimp, and it tasted similar.
Quinta da Regaleira
One of many footpaths in Quinta da Regaleira
Organic stuff growing on water in Quinta da Regaleira
View from inside part of the cave system, which can be explored
Quinta da Regaleira main building
Park and National Palace
Westernmost point in continental Europe
Lighthouse near the westernmost point
On day three, we visited an aquarium, Lisbon Oceanarium. It houses 450 different species, and 16,000 individual animals. Afterwards, we went shopping in a large shopping complex. I bought nothing.
The aquarium. Note that it’s built on the water.
School of fish
People checking out the main tank
Big, flat fish
Young girl checking out a fish
More fish in the big tank
Sea Dragons (Never knew about these before)
Small part of the shopping complex
On day four, we went up the coast a ways to see the town of Cascais. It is one of the richest municipalities in Portugal, and it was a great place to be. The other family with us on this trip left on this day to return home.
On day five, we crossed the Rio Tajo to walk the beach of Costa da Caparica. Then we headed back into Lisbon to shop around. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this.
On day six, we returned to Cascais and went swimming, then had lunch, We walked around for a while, then we headed back to Lisbon. We stopped on the way to check out the Belém Tower.
Overall, I thought Lisbon was a great place overall. The area is over 400 years old, I believe. The buildings in downtown Lisbon are all 4-6 story buildings, up to a couple hundred years old, although most are newer. The architecture is interesting, and the detailing is also worth taking a look at. The people are pleasant. There are interesting sights to see and things to do, most being rated 4 or five stars by Google. The food was good at every place we stopped at. Temperatures were comfortable, even in the late fall. It’s a very nice place to visit, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in seeing an interesting place.
You can check out a 3D view of the Lisbon area and any of the places I’ve mentioned by searching for them on Google Maps, clicking the Earth box down in the left corner, then clicking “3D” on the right hand side bar, then, while holding down “Ctrl” on your keyboard, clicking, and holding, you can moving your perspective around the map. If you zoom in far enough, the detail of the map is pretty good, and you can check out the area.
As mentioned above, I have been pretty busy with things in the past few weeks. However, I have been in a great mood for the most part. Snow came on November 1st in the middle of the night, which made me pretty happy that morning. We recently had another bunch of snow come, so the amount standing is around 7 inches. Temperatures have been in the 10s and 20s (F) which isn’t terrible if there isn’t wind and you have good gear on. School continues to go well. I have made a few more acquaintances. We are nearing the end of the second period. (As you may recall, the Finnish school year is split into 5 periods of 6 weeks each) My understanding of Finnish is also improving. My host parents speak to me in it for a good part of the time. I’m definitely no expert, though. Overall, things are good, and I am well. I still do not suffer from any home sickness.