General Conference Helsinki style!

1. We’re nine hours ahead of SLC, so the morning sessions start at 7 pm here, and the afternoon sessions at 11 pm. Many people listen to or watch the morning sessions at home and go to a church building for Priesthood and Saturday afternoon session, which are shown delayed over the satellite on Sunday afternoon. Of course, Sunday afternoon session never gets shown at all, so if something really important happened in that session, we’d be the last to hear about it. (Although the zealots who stay up until 1 am listening to conference would smugly email us, I guess.)

2. At our stake center, conference is broadcast in four languages: Finnish, English, Swedish and Russian. There’s a Swedish speaking minority in Finland, and a few members in the stake (mostly from the West coast of Finland) prefer the Swedish. The temple often has Russian visitors, so they have a chance to hear conference as well. The English broadcast is very popular. Many members who have been on missions or have otherwise lived in the English-speaking world prefer hearing it in the original, so they pile into the English room.

3. Women come to the priesthood session: not very many, but they include sister missionaries, and it doesn’t attract any interest one way or the other.

4. Overt Americanisms will get a murmur or even a laugh from the congregation, usually sports metaphors or references to lifestyle. The idea of writing checks gets a chuckle as paper checks were replaced by electronic transfers here more than a decade ago. One of my favorites was a description of a poor family who, the speaker lamented, had only one working car. Since a majority of the congregation had taken public transport to the chapel, it got a big laugh.

5. It has been a practice, especially (but not exclusively) among YSAs, to bring a bag of candy to general conference. Said candy is shared amongst pew-mates. This practice was denounced by a mission president a few years ago, but as a more recent mission president offered me some licorice in April, I guess its OK now. (I offered him Haribo in return. Of course.)

Comments

  1. You offered the MP Haribo in return? Did you offer him the little gummy coke bottles as a test of his devotion to the WoW?

  2. My daughter in Edinburgh, just one hour closer to Utah time, says they go to the church for all the sessions, live. (Except priesthood meeting, which is rebroadcast Sunday during the day.) That means that the afternoon sessions end at midnight.

    Which seems pretty late. But, when I first moved to New York, we’d go to the priesthood session at 9:00, when it started at 7:00 in Utah.

    My daughter didn’t say if they offered translations, or subtitles, into whatever that language is which the Scots speak.

  3. …My daughter didn’t say if they offered translations, or subtitles, into whatever that language is which the Scots speak.

    Mark B., you’re joking, right?

  4. Makes me grateful that I live in California, which is an hour ahead of Utah. I love having the sessions at 9 am and 1 pm.

    On my mission, I served in a tiny town in southern Virginia during one General Conference. Our branch building didn’t have a satellite feed, and most of the members went to another branch in the next stake over that did have satellite. Unfortunately, it was out of our mission boundaries, so we couldn’t go with them. We got to watch it on tv at a member family’s home. It was nice to just sit on a couch and relax.

  5. It has been a practice, especially (but not exclusively) among YSAs, to bring a bag of candy to general conference. Said candy is shared amongst pew-mates.

    I’m glad to hear there is at least one conference tradition I share with these wonderful saints. Seriously though, thanks for this glimpse into international mormonism.

  6. In the philippines, Conference was something we read in December and June… I hear they got satellite dishes as we were leaving, but that everything would be on tape delay.

  7. Ah, the swedish speaking minority. Norbert, bizarely enough, part of my dissertation involves a study of the Winter War. I wonder if anyone has done Mannerheim’s work?!

  8. Yeah, Tony. At least I was trying.

  9. You offered the MP Haribo in return? Did you offer him the little gummy coke bottles as a test of his devotion to the WoW?

    No, I was suffering an addiction to Haribo Peaches at the time. I’ve moved on.

  10. Steve Evans says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen the phrase “Helsinki Style,” but I suspect it won’t be the last.

    Haribo Peaches are a tough one, Norby. Thank His Noodly Appendage that you weren’t hooked on Clown Fish.

  11. Re: my number 4 comment. I meant to say CA is an hour behind Utah. (It’s been one of those days.)

  12. Token Average Member says:

    We used to have a bbq for the YM & YW in between Saturday sessions. We would also have a “How Well are You Listening?” game where we would ask the kids questions about the session they just watched. They participated in groups, by table, and if they got the answer right they each got candy. It was fun and I think it helped to motivate them to attend, listen better and even take notes!

  13. If we had watched conference live in Australia we’d have to take the day off work on Monday since we were a day ahead. As such they always taped it and showed it the following week, which means that we never had a fast Sunday on a non-first Sunday.

    We watch conference at home on the Internet ever since we had our daughter. Naptimes and attention-spans being what they are, the web makes for a much more enjoyable conference experience. Although, we do miss a session or two of the weekend but those talks just become FHE lessons for the next six months.

  14. Hei Norbert,

    Hauskaa yleiskonferenssia!

    It’s interesting to note that in Finland, a bag of candy is the functional equivalent of a bag of popcorn–every movie theater has a big bulk candy section for loading up before the show. So anyone in Bloomington had better eat well before priesthood, because you’ll be smelling by Blast-o-Butter!

  15. Kiitos, Owen. Samoin.

  16. mmmm. Haribo peaches. My favorite. We loaded up on them during our trip to Sweden this summer.

  17. Thanks for this great post! I was in Helsinki for 3 of my 4 General Conferences as a missionary in Finland. I don’t remember the bags of candy, but I have a lot a lot of other fond memories – like taking the metro to the Marjaniemen chapel, sisters attending PM, the sähly sticks and drum set on the stage in the gym, and the overflowing English room in the back :)

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