"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad



Thanks to our Finnish friends I now know exactly one word in Finnish--heihei. It's a very versatile word as it means both "hi" and "bye." And today we must say goodbye to Nina and Juha and their son Martti as they are moving back home to Helsinki tomorrow.

martti, nina and juha during a very serious game of "kimble"

Nina was the first English-speaking person I met when we moved to Heidelberg--and she has such impeccable English that when I first spoke with her I didn't detect an accent. We met at a children's event at the Guesthouse, where her family was also staying. The conversation went a bit like this:

Nina: How long have you been in Heidelberg?

Me: About a month.

Nina: Us too.

Me: What brings you here?

Nina: I'm on a grant to study at the University.

Me: That's the same as my husband.

Nina: What is he studying?

Me: Theology.

Nina: Oh, really? Me too. What specifically?

Me: Something having to do with Paul.

Nina: No way! Me too.

martti takes out his papa

As it turned out, Nina and the Father had been working a few feet from one another in the Theology library during the previous weeks without knowing it. In fact, the Father had actually read an article by Nina in a new book without knowing that the very author of the article he was reading was sitting right across from him.

Since then, we've enjoyed hanging out with Nina and her family and learning lots of tidbits about Finnish culture. For example, did you know...

--children don't start school until they're seven
--Finns don't like Russians
--but they love Martin Luther
--they report one of the highest qualities of life in the world
--Nokia is from Finland
--they think Americans are incredibly unhealthy for eating the largest meal at dinner time
--they looove their saunas
--Santa lives in Rovaniemi, Finland

a present for penelope!

We will miss our fine-feathered Finns, but we're planning on visiting them in their homeland in the Spring!

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