Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010 - surprise email!!!

Brian in his skinny Euro suit!  
Hey family,

Elder Schoof hadn't done his email yet so we had to go to the library and I decided to write you another letter. I'm all moved in. All I have to do is install the Chris Collins bell onto the bike I'm borrowing from Elder Schoof because he bought Elder Beard's and now has two. I may have to buy another bike but I'm really hoping not. We will see. I hate moving. I got all my stuff in the bags pretty nicely though. I'm planning on shipping some stuff home either soon and/or after winter. What do you think?

Not much to report on. I just got into Lappeenranta and getting familirized. Lappeenranta seems like a really nice place. It's full of Russians! About 1/4 are Russian. It's going to be cool. I'm hoping I will stay here for more than 1 change. ! change in a place is way too short. i need at least 2 to feel alright. I'm excited to be here. They have a medium size Finnish ward (around 50 people) which I'm pretty excited for. i ddin't really like the big wards. I much rather like the small wards. you get to know people better and it feels more comfortable. I am excited to meet the ward on Sunday. I hear nothing but great things about this ward so I'm looking forward to meeting them. We have an investigator with a baptismal date which is pretty cool. Elder Beard and Elder Schoof say that she can't comprehend anything of what they teach her but she just feels the spirit and wants to be baptized. "So I got that going for me......which is nice" There you go Train! Caddyshack!

I got Mom's and Dad's latest letters. That's crazy what happened to the house. Have you moved back in yet? Is everything good again? 

I liked the birthday wishes page. That was way cool. Have you heard from anyone?

European gear. That's funny that Scott is jealous. I don't want you to think I'm spending a lot of money out here. I have 5 suits. The two I came in with. The brown awesome 3-piece 5 euro suit. The gray wool 4 euro suit (which i decided to leave in haaga because I don't think I'll ever wear it). And the 40 euro real nice suit I bought from Elder Struthers which I was wearing in the pictures. To answer about the pointy shoes, i have a pair. Someone left a pair in the Haaga apartment and I took them. YES!! I have been picking up cheap skinny ties here and there. The main thing you need is European shirts. They are expensive. I have one because I traded Elder Fuchs in the MTC. the American poofy parachute shirts don't work very well with them. I'm glad you like it though. With a simple "go for it" I will go get more ;)

Also, I believe I have a USB Port in my room. If you could add that to my next package that would be great because I have pictures and I have to delete them after I send them to you so I have room. With a USB port, I can keep everything. If that's possible that would be great.

I got the chain letter the other day. The guys seem like they are doing great. All of them have been in the field for over a year. CRAZY! McKay is coming home soon. That's wild! This is going by really fast. I'll be home in no time. I'm closing in on a year really quick.

That's all I have.

Love you all,
Vanhin Behnke

Silly picture!

Looks like dinner - groovy chair cover Brian!  :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 24, 2010 - a break from the action

DESERET NEWS, Saturday edition, Sports Section - FRONT PAGE

A little break from the missionary news.  This picture appeared in the paper on Saturday.  Very funny.  His friend Darrian emailed me with the info.  Luckily, because I don't get the Deseret News and would have totally missed this.  This was taken in 2008 when they were all freshman.  It was a fun surprise!

Elder Nathan Stanford - Arcadia California Mission
Elder McKay Potter - Colorado Springs Colorado Mission
Elder Steven Knapp - Des Moines Iowa Mission (no facepaint)
Elder Andy Perez - Jacksonville Florida Mission (glasses on)
Elder Brian Behnke - with the Y hat on.........don't know the other guy in front with the 'joker' facepaint as Ellie calls it.

It was fun to see these boys - they are going to have a BLAST when they all get back from their missions.

To see the full article, check out site below.

(sorry, tried to copy picture but it wouldn't let me......dang copyrighting)  :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010


I'm off to Lappeenranta. It's right next to the border of Russia. I'm replacing Elder Beard and I will be serving with Elder Schoof. They have a baptismal date so hopefully I don't screw that up.

I got your package with the the teaching stuff and chocolate. It's great. Thanks for all the letters. For next package, I need deordorant. Did Drew send me a letter?

For packages, send to me in my apartment unless it's really close to a change calls. All letters, send to the mission office. 

I like the cold here much more than the summer. I'm excited for the winter to roll back around. That's what we learned when our apartment was ridiculously hot, that it would suck to be in Africa. 

The boots. Sorry i keep forgetting about that question. They weren't very helpful. My toes freeze either way. The dress shoes are better to use because they are easier to put on. 

I have pictures to send to you. I have one in front of the temple but not one of the temple. Everyone in the picture is wearing European suits except for me and I look like a fool haha. 

Pictured outside of the Helsinki temple with Elders Bacille, Struthers and Butler with who we think is a tourist but can't be sure - I am thinking the camera might give it away, will have to ask Brian.

That's all i got. I leave tomorrow night for Lappeenranta.

Love you all,
Hei he


From Donna:

I'm not really sure what these pictures are from, I am guessing a museum.  I thought I would include them in his blog.

We really don't know what was up with these dolls but we are thinking they are  Disney characters.
Brian outside Espoo - his 2nd area

Random countryside of Haaga (Espoo) outside of Helsinki

Brian's companion, Elder Butler (drinking the Coke with Struthers and Baccile)

With Elder Struthers in their groovy Euro suits.......Elder S is going home this week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Missionaries in Finland are getting A LOT of press these days!

Here is another great article in Finland about the cute missionaires there.
This one is about Elder Christiansen (Elder C was in the MTC with Brian - came out after Brian) and Elder Powell.

(I just have to say that I am in love with this little town of Rauma and their cute shops and streets, hope to go there one day)

From Elder C's mom:

Editors note:  I just now got this article that was written from an interview that Adam and his companion did for a Finnish newspaper.  It is a rough draft that the reporter has sent to various people, including Adam and Daniel for corrections.  It was translated by a former MTC teacher.  He didn’t change the grammar much, so it is pretty much as it is.  I was amazed how touching and thoughtfully it was done.  The reporter seems to really want to get the facts right.  And it is done in a very positive light.
It really makes us proud of Adam and all the other missionaries serving the Lord.

The Translation:

Would you like to learn a bit more?
Elder Powell is not old, a 21 year old young man from Utah named Daniel. Even younger is Elder Christiansen (19-year-old Adam) who walks with Daniel along the stony streets of Rauma.
The road of a Mormon youth is not exactly painted with roses: a missionary’s life is full of work and the days are long. But yet, Daniel and Adam appear to walk with more spring in their step than most other street-walkers.(i think she means the good kind:)

Their bright white shirts, straight pants, interchanging ties, bikes, and of course bike helmets are what you know them by.
Polite boys, many think.
They come from America and then they go back. They knock on people’s doors. Pleasantly, they chat. Their finnish language is good!
Daniel Powell and Adam Christiansen are Mormons, or more accurately, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But before young men become missionaries, they are regular mormon-family youth from Utah.
In Salt Lake City, Daniel Powell has a sociologist father and engineer mother as well as three brothers and two sisters. His two older brothers have served as missionaries in Germany and Ireland.

“Leaving on a mission is a personal choice. I would not have come if I didn’t want to. As a 16 year old, I questioned the whole faith. I didn’t believe that anyone could say that they knew that the stories in the Bible were true.”
“I received a promise from a teacher that if I read the Book of Mormon and sincerely prayed about it, I would receive faith in my heart. Eventually, I did it over a span of three weeks. A lot of other things happened in my life. I received my own testimony and now I can say that I know that this is true” – Powell tells of his faith.
Adam Christiansen’s story is similar. Stay-at-home mom, a father who works at a bank, three sisters and a brother.
“As a child, I believed the whole package. But now, my belief has become my own.”
Life as a missionary is astonishingly full of work. Adam and Daniel set their own goals every day and it’s important that they’re achieved.
A typical day might look something like this:
6:30 a.m. – wake up
Half hour of exercise.
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Individual scripture study.
9:00-10:00 a.m. – Companion scripture study, daily planning.
10:00-11:00 a.m. – Individual Finnish language study.
1:00-9:00 p.m. – Missionary work. A couple of scheduled appointments, meeting people on the streets, and going door-to-door.
9:00 p.m. – Planning for the following day and nightly routine.
On Sundays they go to church and Mondays are their maintenance days when they go shopping, write emails and letters, and do some sort of hobby.
“We also have a goal each week to do three hours of service like helping a church member in their garden.” – tells Powell.
“Usually cutting down trees while swinging from their branches” – laughs Christiansen.

So about the missionary work. How well are the missionaries accepted?
“Every encounter is different. You never know how a person will react.”
“We have been in Rauma so long, that everyone for the most part knows who we are. So we can approach them openly.”
“Usually, people will talk for at least a little while. Every day we get a phone number or address of someone we can contact again.”
If a new appointment is scheduled, the topics of discussion are the gospel of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, commandments and living good lives as well as the Mormon church and its relations to the origins of Christianity.
“Often, people want to talk about what they like or dislike about their own religion. Many ask, why we are here, what are families are like, and what America is like.”
“A lot of times, we meet single people who just want someone to talk to.”
Knocking on the doors of people’s homes is in a certain way exciting.
“You never know what’s behind the door” – Christiansen summarizes.
“One time I was pretty scared when immediately after ringing the doorbell, someone from inside ran quickly to the door. At first I thought they wanted to kill me. But they just thought that a little boy was back who had earlier rung the doorbell and then run into the woods. He was trying to catch the boy. After the fear left, I laughed for a long time. We all laughed.” – Powell remembers.

Powell and Christiansen also face a lot of adverse prejudices.
“People might think that we judge them. That we’re better than them because we preach to them. That we are here to argue with them or to question the Bible with the Book of Mormon. Many ask about polygamy.” – tells Daniel Powell.

But the desire to judge and argue is impossible to find in these men.
“We are here, to help people understand and learn faith. We respect other convictions and we don’t want to decide for God who will return into his kingdom.”
“The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and it has been given to us as a companion to the Bible. The Book of Mormon does not conflict with the Bible” – Powell offsets the common misconception.
“A visit from us won’t hurt anyone. We just want to share what we have received for ourselves.”

What about polygamy?
“Polygamy was practiced based on a commandment that was revoked in the 1890s. It is not approved of the Lord.” – Powell says.
Instead, a normal nuclear family is of utmost importance.
“Family has a central role in God’s plan of salvation. It must be protected.”
“I’d like to find a spouse that believes in the same things as I do, have children and have joy.” – Adam Christiansen says.
Establishing a family is also Daniel Powell’s dream. He plans to study medicine and hopes to find a good job. Adam hopes to be a graphic designer.
Missionaries don’t have their friends here in Finland. They have supporters and help in the church and companions in other cities, but they only have each other for friendship.
“We don’t have time to have normal interactions. When we meet people, our purpose is to teach the word, not to hang out.” – Powell says
It’s probably best for them to not create any really strong ties to Rauma because every six weeks there is the chance to be called to a different location.
“Our mission president knows where we are needed. He decides where and when we move.”
Christiansen came to Rauma from Espoo about three months ago. Powell, on the other hand, has been in Rauma the whole time, already nine months.
“I think I’ll leave within the next few weeks.” – he says.
“I don’t really know where I’d like to go. On one hand, the big cities unnerve me, on the other hand, it would be a great experience.”
Powell leaves for home in Utah over a year from now, Christiansen in November.
“I’ve often thought why I was assigned to Finland” – Daniel Powell says.
Missionaries’ assignments are decided by one of the church’s twelve apostles.
“I believe that there’s a purpose. I’ve always felt that there’s someone here who needs my help.”
Finland is viewed by the young men as a beautiful and friendly land.
“I’ll miss Finland, the language and the people. They are friendly and honest. Finnish honesty surprised me, America doesn’t have that.” – Adam Christiansen tells.
“I really like my life in Rauma. Unfortunately, I have not learned the language of Rauma.” – mourns Daniel Powell (side note: the word ‘language’ in Daniel’s quote was written in the Rauma dialect – ‘giältä’ instead of ‘kieltä’)
Graced with modesty, these young men can easily be proud of their precise and beautiful general purpose language.
“Although I studied finnish in a missionary course, I didn’t understand anything when I got here. But when you study every day and speak it, you learn it.” – Powell says.
“My goal is to learn and use three new words a day. This morning I translated a portion of a story. I make notes of grammar and sometimes I speak Finnish with Adam.” – Powell tells of his study methods.

Goals. Learning. There you have a missionary’s life in a nutshell. What gives these young men the strength for such a focused and diligent life?
“Faith and desire to come closer to God” – they assure.
Does missionary life ever feel strenuous?
“Yeah. It’s discouraging when you don’t succeed. Sometimes, the whole day is frustrating.”
“At those times, it helps to just get out. Prayer also helps, and study and soul-searching.”
“We hope to learn from our difficulties.”
And they do.

Mormons in Finland
The church was founded in 1830 in New York state by Joseph Smith.
According to the church, Smith restored the primitive church of Jesus Christ to the earth.
The first missionaries came to Finland in the 1870s.
The state recognized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1948.
Now, there are 30 branches throughout Finland and there are 4,500 members.
There are about 70 missionaries in Finland right now. Some of them are finnish, but most are from elsewhere, with the largest portion coming from the U.S.
Missionaries are generally 19-21 yr. old young men and women but they can also be retired couples.
Missionaries serve missions for 1.5-2 years on their own dime.
Leaving on a mission is voluntary. The church teaches that true faith would lead one to want to go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21, 2010

Today Ellie got the most amazing wooden hair clip in the mail today from Brian for her birthday.

It was made by a man in Savonlinna - beautiful!!!

It's hard in this picture to see the amazing detail on this clip...........

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

NEWS ALERT: If anyone has tried to write me on Dear Elder, I won't get it and never will. Dear Elder stopped sending me mail my first week in Finland. They just delete them when missionaries get into the field. So if you want to run this information by people that would be great because I don't want anyone to feel like I'm ignoring them. I heard the guys wrote me awhile ago from a letter from Chris and I never got their letter and I think it's because they tried to do it through Dear Elder. I don't know who else has tried to write me so if you just want to give everyone a shout out, that would be great.
I got the CTR ring. Scott's fingers are huge!! It fits, barely, on my middle finger. So it's good that I can still wear it. I like it a lot. It's snazzy. Does Scott like his? How is he doing? How's his work going? He misses me carrying all the load over there huh? :) 

All of sudden there's soooo much to do and it's really hard now haha.
Is it bad to hand wash leather? This humidity is ridiculous. When I sweat, the leather straps on my watch suck it up on my wrist and now the leather straps smell horrible!!! What do you think I should do?
Elder Slade's music. I like it! Do you? I think he's pretty good. He's a stud. I like the iPod you sent me. Thank you very much for it. I'm a fan.
Ellie's present. Tell her to relax. I just sent it out like 4 days ago. It will be there hopefully in 2 weeks. Tell her settle down. I hope she likes. Why did you tell her? You knew it was going to drive her crazy.
7 missionaries leaving is a lot. The mission may get flopped around a bunch. A lot may change coming soon. I will find out on Saturday. We'll see what happens.
I have not been to the temple but I have seen it and it is way nice (totta kai). I may go this week. We are allowed to go once a change. It should be fun.
We have 3 investigators currently. It's great. The weather here is really nice. It's really hot lately. in the hundred's. Whew.
That's all i got this time around. I'll talk to you soon.
Love you all,
Vanhin Behnke

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 12, 2010

Hey family,

I started shaving with a real razor last Tuesday. My face burns all the time. I bought some after shave stuff and it was just like Home Alone haha. I think it's working. Today was the first day, I didn't cut myself. WOO HOO!!! GROWING UP!
I forgot. How did the house flood again? When can you move back in?
So Chris called. That's great. I forgot about that. He has called me every birthday. That's why he is my best friend. He is a stud. I know how to pick em' :) He should be getting my letter soon because i sent it out the same time as Abbey's. Drew wrote me, eh?I thought for sure i would never hear from him. That should be a good letter. I'm excited.
Espoo. We travel by train and/or bus. I sold my bike to Elder Christiensen, who still hasn't paid me. I'm going to need to call him soon about that. We have 3 investigators, one we are trying to help stop smoking. It's going well. I haven't been to the temple yet or seen it but we are thinking about going next week with Elder's Stuthers and Baccile. DOUBLE DATE!!! haha. The weathe ris hot here. WAY HOT!! Finns are all about energy saving so there really is no air conditioning in the entire country so thats fun. The light doesn't bother us because Elder Butler tin foiled out windows in the bedroom. Problem solved. I don't know when the sun sets because it always looks between 10 am-3 pm out everyday. I haven't seen the night since Savonlinna.
Language school was great. Everyone was going so well. Elders Gorringe and Fuchs are really good at the language. It was really good to see Elder Pond again. It was fun to see him. He seems to be doing really well. The sisters are good. I tried to take a cooler action photo of me and the sisters instead of us just standing next to each looking really uncomfortable but it kind of looks weird. They are just on their phones or looking away so they didn't come out the way I planned. I will send them to you. After langauge school, it started raining hard and me, Butler, Struthers, Baccile, and Sisters Zimmerman and Kelly were stuck ina tram (light rail thing) because the streets were flooded to the knees. It was way cool!
Story. Elder Butler and I go out this this one place by the beach with these really nice apartments. It was such a rough day so far and I'm talking with Elder Butler how ridiculously tired we are as we are looking at a map, when all of sudden, this car stops in front of us. "Excuse me boys, can you help us? (in Finnish)" says the Red Bull girls in the Red Bull car. So we are just like "ya what's up?" They wanted to know where the beach so we were able to help them out there.
Dad's quotes:    Never take sides against the family: Godfather
                        John Wayne, that's a terrible cowboy name: Shanghai Noon
I still got it. Give me some harder ones.
Matt has got a girlfirend. Sweet. The picture was really dark so I couldn't get a good look. I bet she's cute though cause Matt is the man.
My dear friend, Elder Higginson went home last Monday due to a knee injury. It's sad. He was probably my best friend out here in the field. Be sure to talk to him and try and get me updated with his status. 
LeBron and the Heat. That is a way good team especially with Dwayne and Chris Bosh. They will be good.
 That's all i got today. I will send you some pcitures. In the language school pictures, I'm wearing Elder Stuthers suit because he wants me to buy it from him so he let me test run it.
Take care and love you all,
Vanhin Behnke
Tell the Secors I say hei

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010

Hey Family,

I'm 20!!!!! 

Elder Causse' of the Seventy came on a mission tour. The Helisnki conference for that was on my birthday day so that's what i did. After that, I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (Cookie Dough) and devoured that. 

Is dad sending me my traditional box of cards? I didn't get any for Christmas. The whole North zone called me and sang to me for my birthday. It was great! Elder Lytle sent me 3 years old pistachio pudding haha. It was funny.

How are things going back at home. There are signs for the new twilight everywhere! I hope it was amazing! Is there another one or was that the last one? 

Packing. I'm just curious. I'm not throwing anything a way but for when that time comes, I'm just wondering what is and is not ok to do. No worries though, nothing is going in the trash.

Fourth of July. We actually had a DA with a guy from Wales. I thought that was interesting how here 2 Americans are eating fourht of july dinner with a guy from the UK. In one of the pictures I sent you, there is a Declaration of Independence. Elder Butler and I share a ward with the Zone Leaders (Grimm and Leppard). Elder Leppard is British so we made him one of those and he thought it was funny. We had Elders Struthers and Baccile sign it too. I wore the red tie you bought me for Christmas. It had the blue and white dots on it so it was perfect.

The ward is big. There are 2 wards in Espoo. The ward I serve in is about 160 people. It's huge. Definitely a step up from 20 :) It's just like an American ward but Finnish. Give me a list of questions you want to know, and I will answer them. I don't know what to really say because Espoo is just like America but people speak Finnish. Send me a list of questions.
I forgot dad's letter at my apartment but i will answer his movie quotes next time. 

I got to go. I love you all.

Vanhin Behnke