Adrian Pirness | The Voice of Zion September 2019 --
In late May, Timo Kosola, of Joensuu, Finland, was asked by Juha Luokkala, who is responsible for SRK confirmation schools, to come to America to teach at the HLC Confirmation School in July. The brother previously scheduled to serve was unable to travel so a replacement was needed. Timo, who will enter his final year of theological studies this fall, agreed to come. This year was the eighth year that a teacher has been arranged by the SRK to serve at one of the North American confirmation schools.
We see in many ways how the work is mutual and happens together. For the first time, this happened as a teacher exchange: I traveled to Finland in June to serve at an SRK-arranged confirmation school at Siikatörmä camp. The plan is that this will continue as an annual teacher exchange.
Timo gathered with 53 students and the camp staff at Hasscib Lake Camp in Michigan. “From the first day, I felt the unity and was free to speak how I believe,” he says. “Society and language are different, yet God’s kingdom is here just as it is in Finland.”
The Siikatörmä camp where I taught had 47 confirmation students. It felt just like confirmation school at home. The lessons I kept were the same lessons I had taught over the years at confirmation school. I was encouraged to be free before going, and this was realized while there. I could freely teach and speak how I believe.
Adrian: The students arrived with their parents, who joined them and the staff for opening devotion at Siikatörmä. In visiting with parents, I heard my own hopes and prayers for my children: that God through His Spirit would be present and give His blessings for the camp, and that my child would be personally encouraged in faith. As a teacher this was also my prayer for the students here.
Timo: Many of the students arrived on the bus. From the beginning and throughout the camp, I saw the joy of believing in their faces. This is what I have wished to share with students at every camp; it is a joyful matter that we are believing!
Timo: It was a lovely group of well-behaved young people who were outgoing and willing to visit, also outside of lessons. They were interested to know about life in Finland. One day, following an evening basketball game, I was asked if I would join them the next day. It felt good to feel their interest in me also. These opportunities outside of lessons may allow for visits even in the future. When we have these connections, it is easier to visit about matters of faith. As staff, I have wanted to preserve the beauty of God’s kingdom. It is a place where we belong and as the Parable of the Prodigal Son reminds, “a place where there is food enough to spare.”
Adrian: The students seemed a little more reserved than I’ve experienced in North America, but I wondered if this was primarily due to the language difference. It felt especially nice when after camp some of students shared that they were surprised how much they understood from the English lessons. The weekend after camp, I was walking alone in the throng of people gathered at Finnish summer services. Three boys from the confirmation school came up to me and wanted to visit.
Believing young people endeavoring in the same faith as the staff gathered at both Siikatörmä and at Hasscib Lake. Their desire is to live of the gospel and make it to heaven one day.
Escorts on the Journey
As teachers, it is good to ask: Can I be an escort? For the few days at camp, can I travel alongside these young ones on their journey to heaven? We teachers experienced that we also received escorts for our journey. We were there with other staff and the students, who are now dear friends in faith. There is joy in serving and we marveled how we received much more than we had given. This isn’t only a North American experience or a Finnish experience, but what we experience as children in God’s kingdom!
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).