1. Yesterday at church, the closing song for Sacrament Meeting was "Onward Christian Soldiers" ("Eespäin, Herran kansa"). It was the first time in probably ten years that I've sung that song in a Christian-majority country. In other words, it's the first time I've sung it without cringing at the possible misinterpretation by Muslims of the martial undertones of the lyrics. However, martial undertones aside, I really like that song, and not just because it rocked my world the first time I realized we were singing "Lloyd George knew my father" in church.
2. Speaking of hymns we sing at church in Finland, have you ever had the experience where you go somewhere else for church and they sing a beautiful hymn that somehow you've never noticed? I remember it happened in Russia with "Sweet is the Work." Now, in Finland, it's with "Johdata luoksesi ain" ("Nearer, Dear Savior, to Thee"). Really beautiful hymn; can't recall ever hearing it before; currently in the running for songs to be sung at my funeral.
(And yes, I am just waiting for the day I show up at church and we get to sing Finlandia!!!!!!)
3. In conclusion, it is so good to be in a ward with missionaries again. I don't remember actively missing a missionary presence in the UAE, but now that we have elders AND sisters in our ward...I love it! I love how young and eager and helpful and awesome they are. And, I confess, I love speaking English with the ones who are from the US.
4. Conclusion part B, though: it is also weird to be in a ward with missionaries again, in that we are allowed to proselytize in this country. I am not at all used to this, and when the sister missionaries gave us a Finnish Book of Mormon to think about giving away to a friend or neighbor, I clammed up by instinct. In the UAE, it was very much "we are fine with our religion and we are fine with you having your religion and we are all fine." It's a mindset I very much internalized and I'm not sure how much I can be de-programmed at this point.