Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Brian's first area is Savonlinna, Finland.

Beautifully situated on two islands between Lake Haapavesi and Lake Pihlajavesi, Savonlinna is an attractive town with an imposing medieval castle and a lively opera festival every July.

The city was founded in 1649, based around Olavinlinna.  The castle was founded in 1475, it was occupied by the Russians from 1743 to the first half of the 20th century.  

The town is 208 miles away from the capital of Helsinki by road, some 4 hours away by train.  

To see more about Savonlinna, check out the following website:


Monday, December 28, 2009

On the way to Finland

What an unbelievable experience we had!  Even though Brian wasn't supposed to have us at the airport, we received several messages from him and the other elders worrying about the phone situation at DIA.  They have been taking out the phone pods and so we thought they would have a hard time finding a place to call home, so we decided to go........

They were late arriving in Denver from SLC and we waited off to the side - didn't want to be obnoxious!  :)  Me?  They were all sooooo cute.  We got to meet them all. 

Elders Behnke, Pond, Fuchs, Baccile, Watson, Gorringe, Sisters Brown and Zimmerman

Brian with his Grandma


They were all so very nice and gracious.  We took them to Wolfgang Puck's at the airport for pizzas and salads.  We carved out a nice place for us to eat while the missionaries called their families and relaxed.  We brought enough cell phones for them all to call home and spend as much time as they needed chatting.  Even Elder Fuchs was able to call and talk with his family in Austria.  

The time we were able to spend with Brian and his friends was priceless.  I am so glad we were able to go and share in their enthusiasm and send them off with fun care packages to tide them over on their 9 hour flight to Frankfurt.  

Then.......he was off!!! 


What a wonderful wonderful experience!!!!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25, 2009

Dear Family,

I hope Christmas was mahtava!  I loved the presents.  The book is so cool that you made me.  Everyone keeps going through it.  I love how I got the much needed socks!  The argyll scarf is so sweet.  I LOVE Ellie's luggage tags that she made!  So sweet!  The sneaker balls are a necessity.  I was also super excited  to get a sharpie with Ellie's gift.  I was going to buy them on Saturday.  The gloves and the 4 in 1 hoody are way awesome.  How cool is that jacket!!!  It goes into a pouch.  Awesome!  I hope you enjoyed Christmas.  I forgot to thank you for the turtles.  Everyone loved them!

I sent you a video.  On it are pictures, Christmas Eve and Christmas.  Also a Bonus Feature:  Me, Lytle, Fuchs, Pond, Marlor, Higginson and Christiansen singing carol of the Bells.  We literally have way too much free time on Christmas.

Can't wait to hear what everyone got and see some pictures.  Just 3 days away til I get to Finland.  I'm super excited and nervous.

Hope all is well.  I love you all!

Vanhin Behnke

 After the big party!!!!

All the Finnish missionaries in the MTC as of 12/25/09:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23, 2009

Hyaa joulua!

Mita Kuulu minun perhe?  Christmas is just 2 days away!  Excited?  Hope you have a great Christmas!

Just getting ready to leave.  We have successfully mastered the Finnish language.  :)  We have a pretty good base heading into Finland.  It should be interesting.  My last lesson with Vanhin Pond was our best one.  No lesson plan beforehand.  We just walked in and gave it and it was pretty good.  This week, I am teaching with Vanhin Marlor (he is one of the new guys).  I am in the senior companion and he's the junior it should be fun.

ELLIE!!!  Way to go on your singing!  Mom filmed it and I thought it was so good!!!  Hope you have an awesome Christmas and that joulupukki birngs you what you really want.

Fantasy:  You gave it your all Mom.  I'm proud of you.  But YOU"RE FIRED.  We're going in a different direction.  This train isn't backing up for you.   :)  Thank you though, and I hope it made you love fantasy again.  Hope Dad can win it!

Christmas....we had a talent show.  Vanhin Fuchs is trying to get a nativity story lesson going.  And Vanhin Lytle is trying hard to set up a play.  The guy is hilarious.  :)  We're having fun though.  We're trying to make it as home as possible.  We heard Elder Neil Andersen last night, he was pretty good.  A little boring but it was good.

Love you all,

December 23, 2009


Luthansa 9371 SLC-Denver 1:36pm-2:59pm
Luthansa 447 Denver-Frankfurt Germany 5:35pm-11:20am
Luthansa 3104 Frankfurt-Helsinki 1:45pm-5:05pm

I am coming to Denver!  BUT, we were all talking about it and everyone was so excited about you taking us to lunch and Grandma's care packages that I told them about and I think our mission president here overheard.  And he pulled me out of class and told me it is against the rules and that you should not come visit me at the airport.  It also does say that you can't come visit on the papers too.  :(

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009

I'm almost done!!!!

Finnish just hopped up another level in hardness.  It will come though.  Still fightin' at it.

So remember when you dropped me off and the host missionary took me in?  I was one of those today.  It seemed like it was going to be so awesome but everyone was crying and it was awkward for me and it was kinda depressing.  On the plus side though, I saw Zach Holub!  He was dropping someone off and he yelled at me from a car.  He's a stud.

Fantasy:  We got this!  Mom, play to win it.  CHAMPIONSHIP!

I really want to leave this place.  :)  I've had it.  10 weeks is way too long, let alone 12!  I was just doing the math, when I leave the MTC, more than a tenth of my mission is over.  That's pretty crazy.

For Christmas, we got a talent show!  YES!!!! I'm excited.  I'm not doing anything but I'm just excited.  It should be a good change up.

I think I get my flight plans tomorrow or Friday.  I think we are flying through Atlanta, not sure if we are coming through Denver.

Last practice teach tomorrow then I can just study.  I'm excited for that.

I sent Christmas cards to a lot of people.  I made 18 of them:  Wrays, Wandrys, Shubins, Secors, Kozaks, Kissingers, Griggs......They are so sweet.  I got a letter from Scott Kozak, he's a stud - I love that guy.

I love you all.  Take care.

Vanhin Behnke


Pretty sure Brian has had enough of the MTC and is ready to go!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9, 20009

Hey fam!

I got the Christmas package and I love it!!!  The Christmas lights are hung up in our classroom and the Christmas tree is on my desk in my room!  So awesome!  Thank you!!

The story of James Griggs is really cool!  That's awesome how it worked so miraculously like that.  I've been praying and it has gotten better so it's coming.

Fantasy talk:  Way to get us in the playoffs Mom!  That's what I'm talking about!  I knew I left the team in good hands!  We play Dad the second week, that's awesome!  We got this!!  :)

Christmas in the MTC.  We are celebrating Christmas in our room.  Everyone who got Christmas trees in the mail (like me!!!!!!!!) are putting our trees together and we are circling them around with our presents.  By the way, we are buying small presents for each other from the MTC bookstore.  I'm buying those sleeping things that go over your eyes when you sleep because of the sunlight at night in the summer.  They cost $2.75 a piece and there is like 10 of us.  I hope it's OK that I do that.  I will also be filming Christmas for you!  :)

Finnish is coming along.  It's hard.  It's hard to be smooth and just speak fluidly.  A lot of pausing and thinking.  But I can speak ok.

How's everyone in our ward?  I got a letter from Derek Wandry today and it was awesome.  Such a stud, I'm writing him back today.

Vanhin Behnke

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2, 2009

Ok, here's the deal.  I'm pretty sure I cannot get a job here when I get back.  I cannot, with all my life, roll my r's when I speak.  It's so sad!

Thanksgiving here was ok.  I got sick the night before so Thanksgiving day was a little rough for me.  Elder Holland was awesome, of course.  The meal was pretty good.  It's pretty good food considering they are feeding 2500 missionaries.

I'm sending you the memory card today, so you should have it sometime this or next week.  I took some pictures for you Mom.

Me and Elder Pond teach the second lesson in Finnish tomorrow.  It should be a tough one.  Things are getting better with the Finnish but it's still ridiculous.

Still working away here.  Can't wait for your next letter.  I love you all.

Elder Behnke

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 25, 2009

Terve minum rakas perheeni,

Thank you for all the beef jerkey, cinnamon rolls and Thanksgiving care package.  I hope you realize that I can't eat it all on my own.  They are awesome though.  You can lighten on how much food you send me.  I'm working on my figure.  :)

Mom, thanks for the folding instructions.

The new Finns are really cool.  I feel so much older than them.  How is the Thanksgiving prep?  Who all is coming for dinner.  Have any of the guys stopped by?  I got a letter from Chris, I was pretty excited for that, he sent me pictures and stuff of what he has been up to.  Abbey and Dad are awesome about sending me the sport updates.

I got my first chain letter yesterday.  McKay to Nathan to Knapp to me.  Everyone is putting in a letter answering questions and pictures to see how everyone is liking their mission.  It's pretty cool.  I have to send out the letter by today.  Nathan lost 30 pounds in the MTC.  Knapp told me he is getting ready for his first baptism next week.  I have seen a couple of people from our stake in here.  Johnny Horan and something Dixon (I can't remember his first name).  Also, giant Thomas Graham is still here.  I saw Dean Dwyre, one of my friends from my floor last year and DAVID DYNES!!!!  How great a sight was David Dynes, words cannot express!!!

Finnish is hard.  I don't know if you knew that or not.  :)  It's coming though.  Our first lesson in Finnish went pretty good.  We have to reach again tonight, it should be fun.  I'm getting worried about this Finnish cold front I'm diving into.  I'm questioning how warm my stuff will be.  But there's only one way to find out.

Dallin H. Oaks came and spoke to us last night and works is Elder Holland is speaking tomorrow, so that will be cool.

Have an awesome Thanksgiving and save me my drumstick!  :)

Mina rakastan teita,
Vanhin Behnke

The NEW Finns:

Elders Marlor, Higginson, (old Finn Baccile), Lytle  and Christensen and of course Elder Behnke - always clowning around.  :)

November 18, 2009

Terve minun perheeni

Question:  How do I fold my white long sleeve shirts like you folded them when I came here?  And how do I fold my suit cold when I leave?  I was thinking about this when the older Finns were packing.  Me and Pond have the room to ourselves now, it is kinda nice but sad at the same time.  We just got the new Finns today.  There are 4 elders and 1 sister.  Haven't really met them yet but will tonight.

I know you want me to film me speaking Finnish but I don't know what to say.  I had someone film me giving the David & Goliath story in Finnish, so I will send that to you.  It was really hard to say so bear with it.  I like to think I'm better than I was at Finnish than when I was telling the story.  :)

The Finnish lesson I gave went pretty good.  I didn't say much cause I didn't know much.  But now, It's go time and I have got to start giving some good lessons.  I'll let you know how this one goes.

All in all it's going good.  I will be sending you a letter with a chip probably next week so look for that in like 2 weeks or so.  Elder Holland is coming in on Thanksgiving so that's cool.

Vanhin Behnke

Random shot on Brian's memory card.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11, 2009

Brian looks like he is studying really really hard!!

Terve minun perheeni!

.............this week, we got to write any question to a member of the 12 - I asked how many times God the Father has shown a part of his body to a human in the scriptures.  I couldn't think of anything great.  I think for Thanksgiving one of the 12 is coming in to answer selected questions.  It should be pretty cool.

The older Finns are leaving on Monday.  They have a 6 hour layover in Denver.  So, I might be getting something like that.  I'll know in about 5 weeks or so.

Finnish is still hard.  Some Mandarin Chinese speaking elders came up to Elder Watson and said how hard Finnish would be and said good luck hahah.  I love it when people say "you're learning Finnish?  Good Luck!!"  It is a good feeling to know that I'm doing it.  I gave my last lesson in English last week.  Me and Elder Baccile got selected to give the first lesson in Finnish a week early as junior companions to the older Finns.  This is going down tomorrow.  So we'll see.  I'm glad you liked the movie.  I tried making another of me speaking Finnish but I don't what to say.

(Can't download movie but you can see Brian singing a song with 2 Sister missionaries at:  www.youtube.com and search for Brian singing in Finnish).

The prophet is coming soon to speak, we think.  So, me and Elder Pond are going to join the choir because they get designated seats.  Good thing there's no tryouts or solos.  STRATEGERY!

Everything is good.

Mina rakastan teita

Moi Moi
Vanhin Behnke

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4, 2009

Hey Fam,

Here's the deal.  I get 30 minutes every Wednesday to email a letter to you.  Please don't write me an email back because I can't see it for the next week, keep doing the dearelder.com thing.  There is a 30 minute countdown on my top right corner of my screen and when it reaches 0 it deletes everything I haven't sent.  Also, I absolutely LOVE getting mail during the day, I look forward to it so thank you.

Thank you for the brownies.  There was a TON of them.  I hope you don't expect me to eat all of them but to share them with my district which I did.  Elder McGavin who lives next door is going to Estonia - well he just got out of quarantine for swine flu and also the english speaking elders in my zone were leaving so we had a little brownie going away welcome home thing.

I took some pictures.  I'm mailing the memory card in an envelope to Ellie so just check for that.  I also took a video with my camera, it will be on the card so you know who is who in the pictures that I sent home.

When you get a chance - can you please send me Jesus The Christ in English, I want to read it.  Tell Jimmy that I go to the temples on Wednesday for the 11am session so hopefully he can make it and we can go together.

I have been doing the Perfect Push up but Elder Groberg is doing this crazy hard work out everyday so I've decided that I am going to do that with him until he leaves which is in 12 days, then I will go back to the perfect push ups.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009


Everything here is good.  Mom, you wanted to know my schedule.  I wake up, go to personal study for an hour, then go to breakfast, then companion study for an hour, then missionary directed training for 4 hours, then lunch, then gym for an hour, then missionary directed time for another 4 hours, then missionary directed time for 3 hours, then planning for a half hour and then I go to bed.  The times vary on some days and on Tuesdays we have devotionals.  In those missionary directed times some of the time we have teachers and some we don't depending on their schedules.  

Finnish is coming along.  I feel like it's a lot easier to learn Finnish than it was to learn Spanish so that's a plus.  We just moved on from the present tense case and got to the past tense case and I was feeling pretty good.  Then he gave us a list that we have 14 more cases to learn!  So, I got that going for me.  :)  It's fun though, I don't mind being in the classroom all day and learning these things.

There are 6 elders and 2 sisters who came into the MTC with me.  There are 2 elders and 1 sister who have been here 6 weeks longer than us.  When the 2 elders leave, a week later we will be getting 5 more Finnish missionaries.  The word for missionary in Finnish is lahetyssaarnaaja - just in case you were wondering.

Rumor has it, the flight pattern to Finland goes from SLC to Denver, to somewhere to somewhere to Helsinki.  So I might be making a stop in Denver.

Last Thursday, me and my companion had to talk to people from Finland for 15 minutes.  I could ask questions fine, but I had no idea what they said back.  We then gave them the first lesson in English.  It went pretty good.  I was impressed with us.  This week is the same thing again.

Today so far, has been a bit rough.  I bought Febreeze cause my shoes are starting to smell already (that's not a good sign).  I was opening the bottle and I dropped it and caught it.  I squeezed the bottle on the catch and it squirted all over my other suit.  I just took it to the cleaners cause I didn't want to deal with it.  Also today, I was in a hurry and I grabbed a quick sack lunch with a sandwich, then sandwich was egg salad sandwich.  People already hate the food here, WHY in the world would they even try to attempt an egg salad sandwich.  Another thing happened to - my top button on my collared shirt broke off and I can't find my sewing kit, did I bring one?  What a day.

I love reading what's going on at home so keep sending me mail.  Thank you for all the gifts.  Thank Grandma for the Halloween package and thanks for more cinnamon rolls


Elder Pond, Brian's companion in the MTC

Elder Gorringe

Elder Fuchs

Elder Baccile

Elder Watson

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our first email from Elder Behnke

October 21, 2009

We were so thrilled to receive our first email from Brian.  I will include on his blog - parts of his letters so you will know how he is doing.

Dear Family,

I really loved the cinnamon rolls you sent me.  I'm not sure how to send email to more than one person so I'll probably just be writing to you mom and you can forward.

Things are pretty good here.  My companion is named Michael Pond.  He is from Santa Cruz, CA.  He was on the BYU track team and played football and surfed in high school.  He's a pretty cool guy and I get along with him well.  My whole Finnish group is pretty awesome.  There is 6 new Finns and 2 older Finns.  I room with the two older Finns.  One of my roommates is Elder Groberg, the nephew to the Elder Groberg in The Best Two Years.  There is a guy in my group from Austria, his name is Elder Fuchs.  He is fluent in German and English.  Could be one of the funniest people I've ever met.  He speaks unbelievable English.  Our Finnish squad sticks together for the most part.  We're pretty close with the Estonian Elders.  They're pretty cool.  I can't stand the Hungarians.  No one likes them cause they are so mean and think they're so mahtava (amazing in Finnish).  I don't really like the Polish either cause they're so loud.  When I say I don't like them, I say it in the nicest missionary-like way possible, hahaha.

My first day was kinda rough.  They spelled my name tag wrong so technically I've only been Elder Behnke for 2 days since I got my name fixed.  I saw TJ at dinner, it was good to see him.  Also, at dinner I dipped my suit sleeve in chicken cordon bleu sauce reaching across the table.  So, things haven't started off too well.

Finnish is OUT OF CONTROL hard.  The minute I think I understand something, the next thing we learn, totally changes everything I just learned so it's tough to figure things out.  However, I said my first Finnish prayer on Saturday, but I had to read it.  But now, I can introduce myself and pray with no help.  The sounds in Finnish are hard to catch onto.  The O with dots, the Y, and the A and A with dots are hard to pronounce.  All I can do is work hard and try my best and that's what I'm doing.  I have learned more in this first week of Finnish than I ever learned in 3 years of spanish - things are looking up.

I don't mind the MTC.  I spend about 11 hours a day in a classroom but I still feel like I don't have enough time.  Sorry if my spelling is wrong, they only give me 30 minutes of typing before they log me off and I lose everything.  I don't know why people complain about the food here because I like it.

Finland is booming in converts I guess ever since the temple open house.  So a lot of people are getting sent there.

I give my first lesson tomorrow to an "investigator", hopefully it goes well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brian heads to the MTC

It was a rainy Wednesday morning and we spent our "last supper" lunch at JDogs and then drove over to the MTC for pictures, hugs, and our final farewells before Brian was unloaded at the curb and whisked away by other missionaries.  He was excited and nervous but no tears were shed with made it easier for Brian - not until we drove away and then I of course - lost it!  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brian gives his "farewell" at church

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What a great weekend we had. Thomas and Jenn - Jimmy and Kira flew in from Utah and Aunt Pam and Matt flew in from California. Unfortunately, Uncle Don had to stay home due to work related issues. We all missed him.
We had a fun time hanging out and pretty much roasting Brian for the weekend with stories and especially with family videos! :)

Brian spoke at church on the Healing Effects of the Atonement and was awesome. He started off his talk by saying "HEY" - got the congregration to nervous chuckle and he said that is "hello in finnish, it turns out I have been speaking finnish my whole life" which made them relax and laugh more.

Then everyone left for the airport - we sure wish everyone lived here in Denver!