Helsinki, Finland. Saturday, 12 May, 2007.
- It was a shirtsleeves spring day like a Louis Armstrong song, 15 glorious degrees Celsius (59F). The birch trees are coming into leaf and shimmer greengold in the wind. As I climbed the hill to the temple, I looked up to Moroni rising into sky so blue it made my heart expand. What a way to go in.
- The temple is small and in the next ward boundary over, so I know all the workers. They greet me by name, ask about the family, tease me about having forgotten socks a few times. It really is like a second home.
- It was our ward temple day, and some members wanted to do baptisms for names they’ve submitted. So we booked the font for the morning. It was also Baltic week, so there were some Latvians, Lithuanians, plus a couple from Moscow who want to do some baptisms as well. There’s this wonderful spirit of patience and love as it all gets worked out. Languages are flying around, and everyone is smiling.
- To reiterate what Kevin Barney posted about the other day: here are these senior missionaries, mostly from the American west, some of them speaking Finnish they learned fifty years ago, picking up conversational Russian, communicating with smiles and outstretched hands, managing this Babel-in-reverse with adventurous and generous hearts.
- Sister N. is 80 years old and in our ward. She is always smiling and gives these great twenty-word prayers in sacrament meeting. She was submitting four names. She sat in the corner of the baptistry, and when her names came up, a matron escorted her to the railing so she could see the baptisms performed. I couldn’t look at her or I was going to cry.
- Two young women from Latvia did quite a few names which they brought with them. They were willing to do more and did a good stack of Finnish names. Afterward, they came up and asked to see some names and details of the people for whom they did the ordinances so they could put them in their journals. They were also enthusiastic about having done it in English, and wanted to write down some of the words and phrases we used: ‘font,’ ‘confirm,’ ‘for and in behalf of,’ receive the Holy Ghost.’
- On ward temple day we have a simple lunch together at the residence hall, a bright yellow building at the bottom of the hill. We were expecting 26 and only 15 came, which allowed us to invite the Russian couple and the Latvians to join us. We sat together at a table, sharing food, trying to talk while all the little kids played together. The Latvian girls sang a couple of hymns for us. All smiles.
- It’s not always great; there are tough times and negotiations. And there are days like this when being a member of the Church feels the way it’s supposed to feel.