Monday, August 29, 2011

Southern France/Geneva, Switzerland

Last week I returned from a one week trip to Southern France and Switzerland to visit the churches there and to be with Pastor Schaller, the pastor of Greater Grace Church of Baltimore and leader of GGWO. Pastor Schaller came with his wife and we had a 5 day conference with the three Greater Grace churches of France (Paris, Nimes, and Montpellier). It was so amazing to meet these precious believers and to see their unity of their fellowship in the midst of such an atheistically minded country.

Two pastors, Jean Cartier from Nimes and Yohann Pepe from Montpellier, were ordained during one of the evening services.

It was shocking to watch 50 or so people looking on as Pastor Schaller did a sketch-board display in Montpellier as part of the outreach.

We were so blessed to see the work of God there as so many believers are laying down their lives, walking with Christ, and making an impact on the western world. Pray for France. Pray for Finland. God is moving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

an epic day

Jouni (our youth pastor in Helsinki) and I (Mathew Laflamme) left shore this morning expecting a easy ride on our little white fishing boat around the lake known as Ylä-Lylyjä didn't turn out that way.

 We've been spending the last few days there relaxing and doing some serious bouts of fishing. The first days on the lake were pretty uneventful, that was until last night. On our way back in from a 2 hour fishing expedition we were carrying two small pickerel and we were quite satisfied to just go back and hit the sauna. But Jouni wanted one more cast, so we did, and he hit gold. A 7 kilo (roughly 16 pound) northern pike nailed his lure and after quite a struggle we wrestled it into the boat. Jouni was shocked as we saw how big these giants can be. It was over 3 feet long! I've never even seen a fish this big.
Then this morning we went off again without any real equipment because we weren't expecting anything big. I cast my line...we began talking... and BOOM, another big hit. As I was thinking to myself "how big could this one be?" the thing jumped out of the water with my lure still in its jaws. Jouni rowed the boat slowly back to the dock as I wrestled the beast. Finally, I was back on the dock, thinking I would just reel him in. I was wrong. It took me over 30 minutes to fight him back to shore and finally get him close enough for Jouni to grab him in the net. This pike was even bigger then the one from last night! It was 18 pounds and way over 3 feet long. Two huge catches in just 24 hours... crazy stuff...

Now we're headed back to civilization with our prize fillets stocked away in the cooler

Two fish over 16 pounds in less then 24 hours...

Saturday, August 13, 2011


 Last week we visited a nearby city of about 50,000 people called Porvoo. It's a city that's mostly Swedish or Finnish speaking with very few immigrants living there. Our church has had amazing times of outreach there over the past few years and we decided to spend a few hours there just enjoying the city. After eating some sushi at a local restaurant, one of the crazy Americans who was visiting us here in Finland, Ruth Caron, decided we should kick around a soccer ball randomly in the park at 9:30 pm. So we did.  As we were talking and playing, two young guys approached us cautiously. "Can we play with you?" they said in English with an obviously foreign accent. We replied with a yes and started to talk with them as we booted the ball around. As we spoke, they told us that they are two high school kids from Italy, one from Naples and one from Palermo. They are living in Porvoo, Finland for one month as a part of a English course that is run by an international organization. They just so happened to be the only Italian students studying in that program that were sent to this little city, the rest were sent to Helsinki, about 30 of them. They had been walking around the town receiving only cold looks and laughs from the "natives" and were about to go home before they found us in the park. We ended up talking with them for almost 2 hours and discussed many things including religion and the Gospel. They were very open and invited us to come visit them in Italy.

As we drove home we all were amazed how random the night seemed but also how Divine the appointments are that God puts in our lives. Italy is a place that is been on my heart for many years, not only because I am a citizen but because I feel it's an open door for the gospel, especially the southern parts and Sicily. Maybe these two guys will be the next P. Scibelli's... who knows?... He does.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bändi Leiri

Band Camp here in our Finnish church is something really special. Every summer about 50 young people go out into the woods to get away from the world and fellowship together around Christ through music. The camp is run mostly by young adults and teens from our church who teach kids from the ages of around 8-15 to play a selection of Christian songs on all types of instruments. This is a ministry which reaches far beyond the walls of our church with kids coming from different countries, churches, and backgrounds. A few of us had the chance to drive up into the wilderness to witness the annual "Band Camp Concert."  There are different bands which are formed throughout the week who perform at the grand finale concert on Friday evening. It was something special. One of our youth leaders, Tommi Viljanen, is the camp "pastor" and we had the privilege to listen to his message on the Blood of Christ during the concert. It was an amazing night. One for the history books for sure.

Juho and Päivi's Wedding

We had two great disciples come together recently here in Helsinki. They are both awesome believers and vital parts of this ministry here. We pray that God will continue to lead them personally, and now together, as they follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.