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Part 7 - 22.2.09

Helluntaiseurakunta

Isn't it funny, the things that make one nervous? I have been fine about most things this week - even approaching the stern-looking customer services lady about a lost glove (Andy!!!) However, I was soooo nervous about our first morning at our new church. Even though we had visited and met the pastor and his wife at Christmas, even though I knew the services are translated into English, even though Paul had sent a glowing reference about us, I was really nervous. There's something about days like that, everything that can possibly go wrong, does! It was 15 mins before we were due to leave the apartment that I discovered that my spare set of thermals have (hopefully) ended up in a box rather than coming with us. I did a wash load last night, with thick socks in and forgot to tumble dry, etc, etc. So I ended up going out with pyjama bottoms under my trousers and a little stressed! Who me?

I had tried to picture where people put all their outdoor clothing (of which there is much) when in the service. On arrival, we discovered the benefits of being organised. They have a whole wall with cloakrooms along it, each with a shelf for hats and gloves and twirly hooks for coats. Having disrobed, the pastor's wife walked by and immediately recognised me. I was quite surprised that she was full of hugs and welcoming words - the Finns are usually quite reserved in their expressions of affection. She pointed us in the direction of the English translation area, where we were kitted out with headphones through which Janne provided an excellent translation of the entire service - songs and all!

The service was better than I'd expected. The preaching was excellent! There was a baptism, which although a little different from how we do it, got me thinking that church is church, whatever the culture and language. The worship was bordering on 'sombre hymn singing' though slightly more upbeat than in Kittilä. The pianist was very talented and sang beautifully too. His songs (translated for us) were heart-felt and expressive. Sadly though, communal singing was just the hymns. I hope we find an opportunity somewhere for some modern worship! Maybe the Friday evening meetings called LIFT will be the place for that.

After the service, we were introduced to Luke, a chap from New Zealand, who runs the English house group. He and his wife seemed lovely and welcoming. I'm looking forward to house groups and meeting other expats. He also had a little shock up his sleeve for Andy. He asked which of them was going into the 5th grade and then announced that he will be Andy's English teacher. It's the first time this week that I've seen my little chap stuck for words.

I'm going to take the boys to play in the park this afternoon, so I'd better start getting coated up. I'll try and post some photos when I get back.

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