The Browns, the current mission president and his wife, graciously let me come and poke my nose around the place and reminisce. Walking into that house was the first of many times where memories rushed over me in a wave, things I'd forgotten or hadn't thought about in two decades.
In the picture above, I was looking at the spot on the yard where my sister Michelle and I built a snow fortress one winter. It had three rooms, windows, chairs, and doors. It was quite the production.
Below is a picture of me in the bedroom I claimed as mine for much of the time we lived there. I'm inside the closet where our older brother Mike hid one afternoon, hoping to startle Michelle as she walked in. Instead, Michelle innocently closed the closet door—effectively locking Mike inside.
Instead of letting him out, 8-year-old Michelle panicked and ran to Mom, asking what to do. Mom laughed her head off, figuring it served him right, as Mike had locked me and Michelle into the closet of another room for a couple of hours earlier that week. She didn't let him out right away.
Another Mike story involves the stairs. As you can see below, they're made of wooden steps attached to a metal frame, so there's a gap between each one. Mike was known to hide beneath the stairs and reach out to grab your ankle as you went down. This resulted in the person coming down either a having heart attack or slipping and falling.
Many a night, well after Mike returned to the States, I walked up or down those stairs certain that something was hiding under there ready to grab me. Good times.
Here I am with Mom outside the sauna in the laundry/wash room. The tile is completely redone, but it's still the same room, and the same sauna, where I spent many an hour.
Each morning I ate breakfast at this counter with my sisters as we looked out on the street. One record-breaking winter, it got so cold that there was a good layer of ice on this window. In the background you can see part of the dining area where we ate dinner and fed missionaries arriving in the mission and heading home.
The Friend magazine did a "Friend to Friend" piece on me while we lived there, and one of the photos they used was of me on top of the big gray boulder that the road is named after, doing a silly pose. Here's the shot scanned from the actual magazine (my school picture is in the corner):
The boulder is still there, but now a house is built on the site behind it, and there's a fence in the way. This is the best reproduction we could do of that original shot. (Okay, so I forgot how exactly I'd posed. Sue me. Close enough :D)
Summer is my favorite season in Finland, but fall has its beauties and charms, among them the bright red pihlaja trees (mountain ash, I think, in English), laden with berries. These ones were around the mission home, but they were all over the city.