Follow Me to Finland-Part 4

Just another day in Helsinki

Two town girls visit the city .   My friend forgot to mention she isn’t a city girl and rarely takes the train.  How was I to know?   I’m sure we stood out. How can a 5’3″ American amongst a people of stature walk next to a dazed Finnish girl (both speaking English) and stand a chance of blending in? When I enter a big city, I tend to slow down.  The world is racing past (literally) and I become Sid the Sloth.  Not on purpose.  It’s just stimulation overload.  Nearly got run over in NYC a few years back.

Monday. Helsinki. Capitol of Finland.  SO much fun.  We took the hour train ride and started with lunch. That’s pretty typical of us.  As long as the day included food and coffee we were set.  Anything more would be a bonus.

We started at the food mall, choosing a place that served pita type sandwiches.  Except for not knowing how to use my credit card (different kinds of machines in Finland, I promise) and staring at the man who was actually speaking English but with a hard to decipher accent, I did ok. Check one.
A bit of shopping afterwards.  But here’s where the fun starting revving up.  Unsuspecting, we were approaching her. The girl who would add an element of the “random” to my day.
This was my conversation with Maiju before heading out the door in the morning.
“Maiju, I can’t find my fingernail clippers ANYWHERE!  My nails are chipped and need kindness.  I hope no one notices.” (She couldn’t find hers either).
Back to the girl.  She approaches me (on the left) full force and begins her speech.  I realize immediately I’ve been intercepted.  She sniffed out my “foreign-ness” a mile a way.  Within minutes I learned she is an Israeli Jew selling products from the Dead Sea.  I didn’t stand a chance.  What does she do?  She grabs my hand and takes out her fingernail buffer.  This girl is buffing away at one of my raggedy fingernails (which I had silently prayed no one would notice). I’m not exaggerating, she actually went to town.  Explaining about my cuticles and how to take care of my nails (humiliation!) with these

products she wants to sell me.  I’m starting to laugh and cry and she’s enjoying it.  I also learn while she’s carving away that she is half hispanic and half Israeli.  That would explain the completely extroverted warm temperament.

Maiju?  Does she help?  No way!  She reaches into my purse and starts taking pictures.  Long story short.  I bought two of what she was selling for the price of one.  I was sold before I knew what hit me. Then there were hugs, I told her I know my Hebrew name, Elisheva–which I have no clue if that’s how it is spelled.
Needing Coffee

Coffee Shopping.


Other highlight of the day.


The tram. This is the little train that runs through the city.  Public transportation at its best.  But remember, I move in slow motion when others are in a hurry.  We were to catch the tram.  Suddenly Maiju yells, “That’s our tram” and takes off running.  I’m not prepared to run, but I don’t want to be left behind.  We jump on and then I’m frantically trying to count my Euros which I’m still getting used to.  People are waiting to board behind me and I’m all flustered.  I didn’t have time to “prepare”.  Apparently, the tram driver was really irritated and was being extremely rude.  I’m glad I don’t understand Finnish.  He was not a nice man.


Then to top that off, we were to look for the numbers on the buildings.  Maiju told me 57.  Ok, I can do this.  Well, we get dropped off around 62.  Even numbers on our left.  Odds on our right.  Then Maiju says “oh nooooooooo! We should have been looking at the other side of the street.  We are only on 15.”  I know.  It doesn’t make sense.  So, we stood on a teeny patch of sidewalk with cars racing past us on both sides and I looked over at the restaurant near us.  Gringos Locos (Crazy Americans).  No joke.  I thought “hmmm…that’s appropriate.”  I realized it’s more american to want to ask for help so I told Maiju “call Jaakko and tell him that this crazy american wants him to pick us up RIGHT NOW. I don’t care if he’s in a meeting. I’M FREAKING OUT!”  Ha ha.. I was calm within a few minutes.  I just needed to rant.  Well, we made it to our intended destination, enjoyed good company and Indian food with Jaakko and Jeff. Time to leave.


Back to the tram.  We saw it go past and she does it again.  Maiju takes off running!  This is getting to be a pattern, I notice, so what can I do but run after her?  And it’s raining.  I was envisioning myself wiping out and getting run over by a tram.  Needless to say, we did leave Helsinki that night and made it back alive.  Good times.

Follow Me to Finland-Part 3

First morning in Finland

I left you at the Chicago airport!  Hope you don’t mind.  It’s just that I’ve been having such a grand time, how do I stop to write about it?  Here are a few highlights for your enjoyment.

Thank God for coffee! Second day in Finland.


Typical Easter decor
Easter lunch with Maiju’s parents.  Her dad LOVES videography.  I had a meltdown.  Hilarious!

Easter Eve.  Outdoor Easter pageant where the crowd walked through the city of Lahti “following” the story  of Jesus from Palm Sunday through to the resurrection.  We saw donkeys, Finnish disciples, and curious spectators.  Did you know that Jesus speaks Finnish?  Well, he does.  Oh, and it was excessively cold.  My smile is frozen.                                         

     A walk in the park.  On Easter Sunday. No kidding.
Finnish cuisine.  Some sort of fish, steamed veggies, bread, and some sort of beet. Yum.

Last day of Father-heart “A” school.  Amazing first week in Suomi.
Menske and Arend.  Two amazing new friends from Holland. Arend means “Eagle”.
Pekka (front) and Jeff.  Heading up the schools.  Pekka has an amazing Father’s heart.  We get to communicate through an interpreter, but his heart speaks pretty clearly, so language is less of an issue.  Jeff? One of the funniest guys I have ever met.  Classic English humor.  He feels like an old friend. I laughed more in one week than maybe my entire life combined!  So appreciate these two men.
Loving this.  It’s not what I do. It is who I am! I am defined by who I belong to.
Maiju in desperate need of caffeine.  I had been telling my life story 😉
Next to the frozen harbor.  We won’t shrink back and stay indoors.

Follow Me to Finland-Part 2

 Frantic Departures

I’m at Chicago airport trying out different seats at my gate.  K12.  Hoping to pick up an internet connection so I can wow you guys with my technological savvy.  Oh well.  You will probably read this long after I land in London or possibly even when I get to Helsinki, Finland.  Heck, you may get this at the end of my 6 weeks there 😉
Just so you know, I left Knoxville today (April 3) at 12:30.  And unless the tornados in Dallas affect my flight out of Chicago, I will arrive in Helsinki 4:50 pm on April 4.
First leg of Trip-TYS (Knoxville to Chicago)

Today was hilarious.  I don’t hide the fact that I’m strongly introverted. I love people, I love my friends.  But don’t stick me in noisy places for long periods of time or remove my privacy for great periods or I change. I get frustrated. Antsy.  An angry edge to my tone.  It’s like my insides scream “I NEED CLASSICAL MUSIC AND A  VIEW OF A ROLLING HILL (preferably in Ireland) TO CALM MY INNER COMPASS.”

Well, I wasn’t acting like the introvert this morning.  After my morning walk to release any extra adrenaline before travel, I was racing through the house barking orders.  Clomp clomp clomp.  BAM! (Doors slamming).  Sweating profusely.  Freaking out about leaving a few minutes after my desired departure time.  My parents were so chilled out which made me want to act even more crazed.  Up and down the steps.  Hair expanding in the humidity.  A slight meltdown.  Mom reminded me to stay under the covering of Father’s wings (basically, calm down!).  Dad was trying to crack jokes.  I didn’t smile.  I told them that though they do frantic trips out the door when they travel, I like to show up at my gate unhurried and happy.  Then I nearly start crying while telling Dad that I have to travel alone and there isn’t any man in my life to help me out of a fix if I show up late at the airport.  He gently reminds me that I don’t travel alone but Father is with me.  My response: “Will He carry my suitcases for me???”  Ha ha.. wow, I was a mess.  I think it was my Zyrtec allergy medicine.  Just think what I would have been like WITHOUT my morning walk!


Stay tuned for more.  When I can think straight and jet lag is gone, I will start telling you about Finland.
Until then…
(Written a day ago! I’m now on Finnish soil!)