Finland So Far!


It hasn't even been a week, yet I feel like we've absorbed enough to last us a very long time.

A few of you are either joining us soon, or have just asked how things have been going and how to pray for us, so I figured I'd give you an update. Below is a long post, praising Jesus, asking for prayer and sharing some cool stuff that's here.

"Yay God"

  • Our flight, as mentioned previously, went incredibly well. Eowyn slept and so did we, so that 15 hour transit journey seemed like half of what it actually was. Plus all our luggage got there, plus we didn't have to pay extra for the weight we brought. Overall, it went great. Customs was a breeze. The finnish people from the start, have been incredibly helpful.
  • Our hotel is beautiful and the cleaning crew is weirdly fast (like, I put a 'do not disturb' sign on our door  for a whole day while E and I are playing indoors, We go outside for a 15 minute mini walk and when we come back our sheets no longer have cracker crumbs in them.)I feel like kissing the gal every time I see her. She's amazing.
  • We got our apartment keys super fast! They were unsure if we would be able to get them right away due not being residents yet, but it worked itself out. We ate dinner on our floor last night and all my prayers were answered. The market down the street is plenty big, (nothing compared to a U.S. grocery store, but the less options are actually kind of nice.) And plenty of light in our place. Also, Finland totally beats the U.S. for great usage of space. They are geniuses with storage and weatherproofing. Seriously, I kept praising the Finnish real estate guy (as if he had done it himself.) Our place has a sauna, which we were told will become our favorite room in the house. We shall see. Overall is really quite nice. In a week or two Ben and Britts B&B will be open for visits!  
  • The bus/transit/metro system here is so efficient and thus user friendly. We went to the main metro station, bought month passes from a kioski (like a little store-almost like gas station counters), and have been able to travel anywhere in the helsinki area with a wave of our little green card. We known how to get back and forth from Ben's work to home via metro and tram. (We have yet to venture on the buses, mostly because we haven't had the need.) And there are even little stroller buttons on the tram to keep the door open longer. Trams are kind of romantic looking too.  
  • We got a car seat for when we do use a car. They're super expensive here, but Eowyn was acting like it was a leather lazy boy when we brought it back to our apartment. They have baby stores here (they're a quarter of the size, but all the essentials are there. Again, I like the limited decision making.)
  • Ben is getting along great at work (no surprise, really) and he enjoys it. He has a great team already, and I think he enjoys having the routine. Plus there are neighbors that live in our building and work with Fast (Ben's company) who have two kids (the wife and kids will come later), so Ben already has started half-joking with them about swapping babysitting for date nights. In-house-babysitters would be pretty awesome. I'm excited for her to arrive, even if its just to have another mom here.
  • The recycling system here is noteworthy. I love it. They are very conscious of waste and our apartment has its own compost.
  • We've never gone starving despite weird store hours on weekends. And jet lag is working itself out slowly.
  • Eowyn is starting to adjust well and loves the water and all the walking. She cheers when the metro train comes in. I think she likes all the people, and several women and men have talked to her and I (often in finnish) She, as we suspected, will make friends just fine.
"Please Jesus"
  • Residence Permits. We have to wait to get an appointment with the police station, and the company seems calm about it, but I'd like to get it squared away so Ben's not working here illegally or anything ;) Really though. I look forward to submitting them and start the process going.
  • Ikea Furniture. Replacing stuff is a hassle. Especially when you start from ground up. My brain hurts when trying to decide what to buy that will be most user-friendly for day-to-day and for when guests come. (Our sleeper couch will get to be christened by our first guest in June!) Prayer for wisdom. I know it seems trivial, but I would prefer to not purchase a table that doesn't fit, or too little things that are just not accommodating to life in community. Plus, we live on the fifth floor so lugging furniture in an elevator that fits me, eowyn plus stroller and ben (barely,) will be...interesting. Luckily we'll be paying for delivery-but then I feel bad for making the delivery guys go up so many flights of stairs. :P
  • Banking/dental filing
    • We have to wait till residence permits kick in to get a bank account here. In our lack of knowledge, and in an attempt to do what you do during a normal move, we changed our address with our bank and everywhere else. Unfortunately we were notified that they are closing our bank account since it moved internationally. Ben sent an email and we're incredibly hopeful we get it worked out (it's a pretty awesome bank), but with the time change, it can be high anxiety waiting for morning to come and try to get ahold of them. Luckily we're getting phones this week, so hopefully that will take care of it. So, those that are coming here-don't change your address with your bank-or rather change it to your mom's house.
    •  Also, Eowyn had her tooth fall out many moons ago. A few days before we left, we were notified of improper insurance filing and given a hefty bill. So we've been playing a tennis match with the emergency dentist trying to get it all squared away. It really isn't that large of an ordeal, but its annoying to try and volley back and forth with an 8 hour time difference.
  • Marriage/Parenting: 
    • It's pretty awesome to be adventurers together. It's awesome to be parents together and it's awesome to be getting things done together (like laundry and sim cards, and grocery shopping, and figuring out the metro and filing out tons of paperwork). Yet, it all leaves little time to look at each other's faces without passing out from need to sleep or finding ourselves talking about yet another to-do. Pray we are successful in finding each other in the midst of the giant crazy mess this all is. 
    • Also, our parenting. Eowyn has been AMAZING with just coming along for the ride, She's been all smiles and calm. Then a few nights ago, all that overstimulation came rushing out of her little self. She was crying and hysterical laughing for like 4 hours straight, 11PM-3 AM. It sort of woke me up (ha pun,) to the reality that she is definitely being affected by this. Pray for wisdom that we break when needed, and look at her and play with her plenty so she can find stability and rest in all this uncertainty.
  • New Friends! We get to meet some soon-to-be-friends this week. I contacted them through a church planting website and am super excited with how cool their whole family seems to be. Pray we find the place we're meeting, and are able to really start building christian community. Also, that we could be a blessing to their family as well. More Fast employees will be coming soon tpo, prayers that we have a good time and build awesome relationships with them. 
We miss you guys back home dearly.
Fun Finds and Cool Things:
  1. There's a giant market area close to where Ben works (Hakeniemi Hall). It smells like fish, but has several floral markets, and veggie carts. I like it quite a bit.
  2. Speaking of smells, they hose things down a lot, and it smells just like the carwash smell. All the elevators  in the metro smell like fruit loops.
  3. The coffee is SUPER strong here, but smaller (8oz or so vs 12oz), and they don't have chai (ahem, shipment please!) but they do have a starbucks in the city center and they carry it there. So, I just will need to get my fix by walking the 15 minutes.
  4. The weather here is almost like Colorado. Cloudy/rainy then sunny/warm in the same day.
  5. Everything is easy to get to so far. If it's difficult, they provide for it (like an IKEA bus.)
  6. There are babies everywhere. I feel right at home as far as being a mom. We walk outside and see a good 10-15 strollers. Moms and dads alike are pushing strollers. I can't tell if they all work, or if some stay at home, but there is an even mix of genders, which is cool. People love their kids a lot (and are affectionate, towards them.) I like the culture being so friendly towards families.
  7. Angry Birds (a Finn invented it!) can be found everywhere. It even has its own drink line. 
  8. They have literally hundreds of different kinds of yogurts. (but only a few different cheeses-no cheddar here,) Both imported and not. It's kind of a lottery game trying to find one that has the right consistency. I once bought a yogurt that looked like cloudy water, and another that was so putty-like it wouldn't stick to my spoon. It immediately reformed, the surface tension on it was bizarre. Luckily Eowyn isn't a discriminator of texture yet and it tasted fairly normal. I just keep trying to find the right one. They put less sugar in things, so I'm definitely getting to taste bitter.
  9. It's true that people don't smile in passing. But I think its more out of practicality. Everyone would be looking like this if they smiled every time they made eye contact. People are walking all the time, and the city is filled with faces out and about. I feel pretty boss-like strutting along sans smile, but I kind of like it in some ways (especially in morning when I'm tired.) Once I stopped smiling, people started talking to me in finnish. I still smile at anyone that smiles at Eowyn, which a lot of people do because...she works in the currency of giggles and people obviously love her. Then they start talking to me in finnish and I say.."anteeksi?" Even without my smile, people figure out I'm american pretty quick. 
  10. We went to a pizza place that was labelled as 'americana.' They even had a 'minnesota pizza' that (we didn't order) had onions, pesto, cheese, meat, olives, and a bunch of other weird stuff on it. We just got pepperoni and ham and pineapple. Also, if you order 'half and half' they literally bring out two plates one with half pepperoni (or whatever you ordered), the other half with the other order.
  11. Everyone speaks English well, even using terms like "Sure" "cool" etc. They sometimes pause, especially explaining instructions-but they aren't shy about it and are accommodating. I've only met one gal that said she didn't speak english, and she just grabbed a different server.
  12. Toilets, light switches, plugs, road signs, door knobs, all are different.
  13. Cobblestone streets everywhere.
  14. There's a lot of graffiti and smoking. So, just like everywhere else, it isn't a perfect city.
  15. People are incredibly prompt. There is no casually late. (Which I LOVE...until we're late because we don't understand the metro.)
  16. It really is a beautiful city and the people are lovely.
Thanks to all of you who have journeyed with us so far. Tonight we wash our laundry at a laundromat and go to another kioski to get sim cards! Hooray! Wish us success.

As always, thanks for reading.

If you want to follow along throughout our days, follow me on instagram! Username: brittanysprague

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