Ok, I’m still alive. The internet connection at the hostel has been pretty much non-existent. Its been down so much that its almost not even worth making the trip upstairs to try to get online at all because every time I do, it just is disappointing.
So….I went to Finland. And now I’m back. Finland was nice. The people were friendly and all very helpful and it is just a very different feeling than in St. Petersburg. Finland feels more like any of the other European cities I’ve been in, and so it was a nice breath of fresh air.
check out my pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/amandafabiano
About a week or so before I was to leave for Helsinki, I got an email asking if I needed a place to stay in Finland, because Jimmy D has relatives there and there might be a way of finding me a place to stay with someone. I hadn’t booked a hostel yet or anything so I said sure, go for it. Well, jimmy D wrote me and said that there was a Cedarville graduate who was leaving that same week for Helsinki as a missionary with Greater Europe Mission. He got me in touch with this guy, Kyle, who was going to arrange a place for me. So, it was about 5 days before I was to leave and I finally connected with Kyle through email and he said that he had just arrived and he was still figuring things out but that if I could trust him, he was pretty sure he could line up something for me by the time I arrived. I decided to trust him, (more so trust that God would use Kyle to find me a place in time). So I was leaving on Tuesday, and by Sunday I still hadn’t heard anything from him, and I had not been able to get online, he didn’t even have my arrival info or anything, just that I was coming on Tuesday. So, finally on Monday afternoon I was able to get online and I saw an email from him that said that his pastor (at the church in Finland) had a couple that I could stay with in Esboo (a town just outside of Helsinki). That was all the info I got. No contact info, nothing. So, I still decided that I was trusting God. So that afternoon, I met with a lady who is working on getting me a cultural visa, and as I was coming home from that meeting, I got a text message from Kyle, giving me the names and phone number of the people I was to stay with. I finally got in touch with them via text message late Monday night. I was to meet them at the train station and they told me the name of which station to come to, and what color car they would be driving. And I left for Finland the next morning. So I arrived at the airport, and asked how I could get to the train station. From the airport, I took a bus to the central railway station. And then from there I caught a train to the station they had told me about. I had just enough airtime on my phone left to send a message to Saara, (the wife of this couple) that I was on the train and arriving soon. (because I was roaming, the text messages cost A LOT and used up my time really fast). So I arrived at the station and had no idea where to go from there. I didn’t see the car yet and there was a big mall type place at this station, so I wasn’t sure if I was to meet them inside or outside or what. I had no more airtime and I just kind of walked around for a while thinking and praying about what to do next. I found a cell phone store and decided that maybe I could see if I could add airtime to my phone there (not sure because my server is in a different country if they have the same or not), and as I was waiting, I got a message from Saara saying that she was outside at the platform. PRAISE GOD. Saara and Jukka are probably a few years older than my parents. They have 3 adult daughters. I am the same age as their middle daughter. Sam kept telling me, “Remember there are Finnish people, so they’re going to be cold, not all warm and welcoming, ok?” But they have been wonderful. They have been so accommodation and hospitable. They have a huge, beautiful house in the woods. I had my own room, we ate dinner together, they told me how to get the embassy and which busses to use, Saara looked at my wedding pictures and showed me pics of their youngest daughter’s wedding (she got married this summer also) and Jukka even let me use his cell phone to call Sam to tell him I made it here safely, since I was out of airtime. Jukka (the husband) went out of town yesterday for a seminar overnight a few hours away, so last night I was introduced to the Finnish tradition of Sauna. Apparently its pretty common in Finland to have a sauna in your house, as Jukka and Saara do. The other night they were telling me all about the tradition and how it began and they asked if I had been in sauna and I said, “well, a couple times in nice hotels” and Jukka was like, “a couple times in your life??” =) ha. Yes. So he said, “Well, now its settled, tomorrow night you and Saara will have Sauna.” They have a wood-burning sauna, and so it takes an hour to heat up. After dinner Saara started the fire and then an hour later we began. Lets just say, it was very…European. Ha. It was seriously hotter than any sauna I have been in in America. It was over 80degrees Celsius….which in case you are Celsius to Fahrenheit illiterate as I mostly am…is over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. When I breathed in (which was hard to do in such heat) it felt like my nose and lips were burning. I’m also very sick right now (Sam gave me a terrible cold…ah, the joys of marriage right?) so the breathing thing I think was even more difficult. But the sweating was probably good, get all the bad toxins out….hopefully. Jukka says that when he has been sick and gone into the sauna it usually makes a decision….either he starts to get better or it gets worse, I don’t exactly know which decision has been made for me, but I started antibiotics today, so perhaps the sauna didn’t really do any wonders, and if it did, maybe I’ll never know if it was the sauna….or just the meds!