Maralyn's Updates

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Compounded Joy

"Friendship redoubleth our joy and cutteth grief in halves." Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Our time of packing here in Finland has illustrated what we have been feeling for two months. You, our friends, have helped carry the "load" of this illness.

Monday morning we got up early and headed out, with the help of three kind Finnish men, to go to Helsinki with the goods we had stored at the Bible school. Iso Kirja College provided the truck and the day's wages for the three men.

But on the way to Helsinki we had to stop in Tampere and buy our little piece of Finland, a Tulikivi soapstone fireplace.

Two of the men carefully wrapped the pieces of the stove...

Others carried them out...

A former student, Usko, came to translate.

And the owner of the store and his wife gave us a special gift of stone cups to use while sitting around the fireplace in America.

Team work helped us accomplish the task in just one hour!

Two days before, on Saturday, 30 former students lined three flights of stairs...

...and passed our things...

...hand to hand... the truck to be loaded... one had to carry it all alone!

And a week ago Saturday I organized a retreat for nine ladies who will be facilitators for the Ladies Bible studies in our international church. When we got out of the car I said, "Okay, let's have an object lesson. Nadia, you carry everything to the cottage." The other eight ladies looked at me with questions in their eyes. Why would we make her carry everything alone?
"Okay, here's the point," I said, "if everybody carries her share of the load, it's not too heavy for anyone. It will be the same with Ladies Only this coming year. If you share the load, it will be easier for everyone."

So they all picked up a bag or two and in we a delightful day of food, fellowship, teaching, and preparation for the coming season among the ladies of our church.

We fly back to the States on September 4, and I await my September 12 appointment with the endocrinologist at UW University Hospital in Madison, but I don't feel the weight of "the wait"--because you are all carrying your share of the load.

Thank you for sharing our sorrow and compounding our joy!


Saturday, August 11, 2007


Finland is a very still place.

But I am not a very still least not naturally.

If you know me, you know that I'm always on the move. Making lists, checking things off, standing up, sitting down, moving around. Some days I'm non-stop from morning to night. Probably if I were a kid in school today I would be labeled ADHD. I was a very active kid. I remember spreading out my feet to the width of a doorway, and then quickly climbing to the top, like a little monkey, so I could be higher than the adults. :-) As a teenager I was a cheerleader, and not just at the games. I bounded around the house, jumping, twirling, and twisting. My mom said that I was more active than all three of my brothers combined!! :-)

Still was just NOT my thing, at least until I came to Finland! It's here that I have learned the beauty of silence. As I have been packing to leave, I've realized that one of the many gifts I have received from this culture is an appreciation for the stillness. The people here are comfortable with silence. In the Helsinki airport you can almost hear a pin drop. It's lovely. Also the calm Finnish nature invites reflection. In Keuruu, where we lived for six years, I had a big rock with water on three sides. It was beautiful out there in every season, and my favorite thing to do was take my Bible, a notebook, and pen and just go out there and listen.

It wasn't easy for God to teach me about this "quiet thing." It was a big job, but He's a big God! :-) But I believe that teaching me to be still was one way he helped prepare me for this moment in my life. The challenge of the ALS diagnosis is eased by the ability to rest quietly in Him.

You've probably heard the hymn "Be Still My Soul," but did you know that the Finnish national hymn "Finlandia" is set to the same tune? So, I hear that tune fairly often when I'm here in Finland, and each time God reminds me that He can speak to me through the silence. But! Finding time to sit still is SO hard for me! ;-)

Today as I sat down to have my morning devotions, my mind was racing. Things to do. Things to pack. Things to decide. Then I heard God whisper, "Be still." I took a deep breath and opened my ears. Then my eyes fell on my bookmark from the November Ladies Only meeting, and there were the words to THE song. I let my mind settle down and then I listened to God's voice in the stillness.

"Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul, thy best thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope thy confidence let nothing shake
Oh thou mysterious will be bright at last."

I paused and read through the words again, allowing them to penetrate deep into my spirit. The "stillness" felt so GOOD!

Then I looked at the bottom of the bookmark and read this lovely paraphrase of Philippians 4:6. (Taken from Amy Grant's album Legacy...Hymns & Faith.)

"Delight yourself in the Lord; yes, and find your joy in Him.
Be known for your gentleness, and never forget the nearness of our God.
And don't worry! Whatever's going to come, just tell God every detail
And the peace of God that no one understands will come to you.
No, don't worry, just tell Him every detail and His peace will come to you."

I'm sure my pulse slowed. I know my eyes closed, and I felt God's peace penetrating through to those deep inner concerns, and also infiltrating my fluttery lists for the day. I don't know how long I sat there STILL, but I know when it was over I felt deeply refreshed.

Then as I moved through my day with speed and efficiency, there was a deep peace below the surface--the strength of silence.

I challenge you, especially if you're a mover like me, to just find a peaceful place. Open your mind. See what God says. Walk through a woods. Sit beside a lake. Listen to the silence. Let Him tell you how much He loves you. Listen to him saying that He is bigger than your situation.

"Be still and know that I am God." Ps. 46:10


Friday, August 03, 2007

Finishing the Finnish Chapter

We've lived in Finland for seven years, and it has been a wonderful time, but now it's time to close this chapter of our lives. Our five weeks here will be eventful as we pack up our apartment, have an English Line Reunion (see details below if you are a former English Liner), and have a farewell service at our church (EICF). There are undoubtedly many bittersweet days ahead. Your prayers will be appreciated!

We've been here now for two days, and we're both still in major jetlag. Actually, it's kind of fun to sleep from 2:00-8:00 P.M. or 4:00-12:00 noon! I've been getting big projects done during the nighttime hours. :-) However, other than the "sleepies" I'm feeling really well. My swallowing and speech continue to improve, so we are hopeful.

Our colleague, Shaun, sent us this wonderful quote: "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that he didn't trust me so much." (Mother Theresa) That kind of summarizes it! :-)

Many thanks to all of you for your e-mails and comments on the blog. You keep me SO encouraged. Thank you!!

By the way, we can add two more countries to the list; I've heard from my North Vietnamese friend and also some friends in Scotland. There are literally thousands of you praying for me. WOW!


The English Line Reunion will be Saturday August 25, and Pilkku asked that I announce this on the blog because she doesn't have everybody's e-mail address. You're welcome to come anytime from 10:00 A.M. on. If you plan to eat lunch at Iso Kirja, you need to send an e-mail to Pilkku so she can sign you up. Her address is: She's still working on the program, but there will certainly be an evening meeting for praise, worship, and testimonies. Also let her know how you'd be willing to help on that day.
For us it would be fun if each of you would bring a personal A4 page for our English Line memory book. You could put a picture of yourself when you were in EL, and a current photo, then write a paragraph telling what you're doing now and how English Line has impacted your life.
Thanks! Hope to see you there.