To Finland!

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Jan 11, 2008

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Uneventfully we get to the port of Tallinn and board the Viking Line "Roselle." There are at least a 1000 people getting on for the three hour crossing to Helsinki. The sea is rough with lots of whitecaps. The SuperSeaCat was cancelled.

The ship is mostly and casino with many many video poker machines in operation. Bev and I were glad to get a table that we could sit at read and work on this computer.

Getting off was interesting. With the new Schengen agreement, there is no "border" between Estonia and Finland.and we were on the street in minutes. When we met our Austrian "friends" in Vienna they made a swipe at the Schengen border policy. Now, they said, criminals will have the greatest benefit in traversing Europe from Portugal to Finland with no one slowing them down.

At Helsinki we took a cab to the train station about two miles away. $16 for taxi with the meter starting at $10. Welcome to the Nordic countries.

At the train station we activated our Scanrail Pass and got our seat reservation to Kemi on the 1:06 pm train. We got to the station at 11:30 am so this has been ultra convenient. How do we contact that we will arrive tonight at 9:23? There are NO PHONES. No more phone booths at the train station. I thought I'd turn on my laptop and see if I could on the Internet and use Skype. Sure enough, I found a free wireless portal and called them on Skype. There was Margaret. Gave her the arrival time of 9:23 PM and asked her NOT to make dinner. We'd be OK. She said OK. When we got there, however, she had dinner waiting for us.

The train exactly on time. Sunset is 2:30 pm and our arrival in Kemi is at 9:23 pm.
Anneline is talkative and Bev finds out her family. She rides with us about three hours before getting off. We continue on for the next five hours in darkness. The time is well-spent. I have a few hours to read a tremendous book by Stephen Covey's son called The Speed of Trust. As far as I'm concerned it's a must-read for anyone in a position of leadership to anyone wanting to motivate anyone to do anything. With trust so much is possible and the simplest things can't be done unless trust is developed....and it CAN be if you follow a disciplined process. I was amazed at his insight and as to the ethics of business who define values that are parallel to Christian values that are recognized to be a WAY that works.

Bev and I played a game of Scrabble and just enjoyed being together.

We pulled into Kemi exactly at 9:23 pm. Snow was falling. Klogay Doh was right there in his parka with a big smile waiting for us. Ten minutes later we're at his home! This is a train ride WITH NO HITCHES!

It was wonderful to talk to Margaret and Elsa. It's the fourth time we've been here to visit them since our first visit in June 2006 when I baptized Margaret. We gave greeting from Bruce Anderson who came with me this past June. Elsa has received has received either her Finnish residency or citizenship. She is doing great with the language and works some for social services in helping with translation. Margaret finds the going in Finnish a bit more difficult and Klogay finds the going hard. Finnish is not an easy language.

They stay on top of things from the Church. They receive a sermon weekly from the United Kingdom along with reading material for which they are thankful. People like Reggie Warren contact them on Skype. While they are very isolated here, modern communications makes things bearable. But, there's nothing like personal contact.

We contacted Elsa's parents in Norway by Skype who we also plan to visit at the end of this trip. This last part of the trip will have a lot squeezed into it and I'm not sure if we can get to everyone.

We talked until almost midnight before going to bed. Looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow night we take the all night train from Lulea, Sweden to the Spensers. The trip goes on!

I'm very thankful that Bev is taking this trip with me. Having a loving wife with you takes the edge off the darkness and cold. In Estonia the days have a little more than five hours of daylight. As we go further north that will decrease further.
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