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