Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy New Year from Finland

Onnellista Uutta Vuotta! 

Happy New Year!

On December 30, during a drive to take our daughters to Vanha Porvoo (Old Porvoo), Finland's second oldest town, I commented that "I'm finally beginning to no longer feel foreign." Glenda responded, "Do you realize that it has been exactly one year since we arrived?"

I can only say "Wow!" when I look back at the last 365 days. We landed with a vision and a plan, then were immediately slapped in the face with reality. I can specifically remember an April day when I was trying to transfer the license registration of the SFC vehicle to our name. I struggled through multiple Finnish websites for three hours! Finally, in frustration, I called our insurance company for advice and was met with a cheery, "Oh, I can take care of that for you!"  Within 3 minutes of my call, the registration was complete. One can't help but be amazed at the unforeseeable challenges that occur when relocating to a new country. To add to the comedy, new national friends don't realize many of the requirements that need fulfilled because they were citizens upon birth.

Why would I share that challenge with you? I simply wanted to give you a glimpse into the world of a missionary. Like you, we deal with a unique set of challenges in life, and each comes with its accompanying stress. I often make the statement, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

However, the more circumstances change, the more my God remains the same! His presence has never wavered. He has been by our side through each challenge. I can imagine Him possibly chuckling at times, while watching us struggle through any specific day's challenge, and waiting for us to simply ask for His guidance. He has been so good to us this past year. We could never adequately thank Him for His love!

God's vision has not changed. Finland will have a church! He has proved himself time and again in this area by bringing people into our path according to our "bandwidth" (or ability to handle). We have taught Home Bible Studies and seen God wonderfully fill some with His Spirit! We expect 2012 to be no exception.

2012 will be a busy year! Here are a few of our primary goals:

Continuing our study of Suomi (Finnish)
It is a challenging, but rich, language. Each day of study brings a new part of Finnish culture into focus. This is the central key in being able to effectively reach this beautiful country. We greatly appreciate your prayers for our minds. There are few parallels between Suomi and English, which requires us to learn a completely new way of thinking.

Continue to work our way into the culture
We will get involved in local events, reach out to fellow students, become involved in various groups as we learn about them and access their opportunities, etc. The more people we meet, the more people meet Jesus. We ask that you join us in praying for open doors.

Continue to look for needs that Jesus can meet, and then introduce the people to Him
This requires prayer and spiritual sensitivity. There are many hurting people who are looking for an answer to their pain and loneliness. Jesus is that answer! Please pray that we will watch for any opportunity Jesus places in our path, and that the hungry and hurting will be receptive to this wonderful message.

Continue to grow our Home Group by reaching out to the people around us
Please pray that we will continue to find opportunities to teach Home Bible Studies. We love to introduce our Savior to others.

I am filled with anticipation as I look forward to 2012. Will there be challenges? Absolutely! But, "the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits."  (Daniel 11:32)
Mark Alphin

First Finnish Friend

Sirpa is amazing! We met her the first week of January, and our friendship has grown over 2011. God knew we needed someone like her, and we could truly never count the ways she has helped us throughout the year. Thank you, Sirpa, for being such a wonderful person and friend.
Best Memory

2011 was an awesome year for me. One of the things that I enjoyed was Finnish class. Yeah, it made me want to pull all my hair out sometimes, and some nights after class my brain could hardly function, but I enjoyed it. It was interesting to learn about a foreign language, its complexities and simplicities. (In some ways, it's simpler than English, and in others it's more complex.) We had a great teacher, and she helped us understand a lot about Finnish. And, I made a new friend, Angelica, in class. She's an exchange student from Canada, and she now comes to our house often and attends our group. I made a friend and I learned a new language. I'd say that Finnish class was a success!
Oddest Experience


Copenhagen Reenactment
US Civil War Reenactment
in Copenhagen, Denmark!


Most Fulfilling

Every Home Group meeting, Bible Study, prayer meeting, fellowship dinner - all in our home, and all so amazing. Thank you, Lord, for every experience!

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. -Acts 1:8

Thank you to our FAMILY, FRIENDS, FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS, PRAYER TEAM members - - all of you have helped to make 2011 GREAT here in Finland. We pray for you often! Our family loves you, appreciates you, and we look forward to sharing all that God will do with us, in us, and through us in 2012.

For souls, until He comes, 
Mark, Glenda, Miranda, and Candace Alphin

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
1Thessalonians 5:24

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
Psalms 117:1-2

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