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Wade Through the Water: A Spring Hike with Montreal Finns in the Forest

When you’re the pastor to Finns, watch what you wish for…you just might get it!

Back in February, I suggested to the confirmation youth and to their parents that we take a spring hike. Living, as I do, close to the sidewalks and cafés of Montreal, I forget that the end of April is still winter in most of Canada. I imagined a nice ramble through Quebec’s trees, a bit wet with thaw perhaps, and lacking some colour since the leaves wouldn’t be out yet, but otherwise a pleasant stroll.

I was surprised. As I often am in activities with the Finns!

One of the parents, Mari Sulkala, found our group a wonderful log cabin style building in the Laurentian mountains near Rawdon QC. There was even a sauna (not a great one) and an outdoor hot-tub (in much better shape). Another local Finn, Heli Parenteau, scouted out a path for us. It turned out that a large group of interested hikers wanted to join the five confirmation youth for the weekend and the walk.

Montreal Finns couldn’t wait to get into the trees. The first sign of potential trouble was the swollen river, rimmed with ice, that thundered by within a few metres of our cabin. Then there was the path, which was completely snow-covered. Unfortunately, it was spring snow – deep through the trees, and barely dense enough to support us as we walked single-file, sometimes falling through every few steps. But the Finns were not daunted. “Sisu!” they said, as we marched through a seven km walk to a local “suspension bridge” in the middle of a Quebec park. The youngest of our group was about sixteen years old, the oldest at least sixty years older than that.

It turned out to be quite the adventure. We sang, we talked, and more than once, we fell down. Pirkko Mönkäre got the best line: “take a picture!” was the first thing she said when we came around a corner and there she was, upside down in the snow. It rained, it was sunny, it was foggy…but it was all beautiful. The bridge was lovely against fog-covered hills. On the way back the youth helped us older trekkers to cross a long stretch of water cascading over ice, covering the path with spring flooding.

We all made it. The youth were the first ones into the hot-tub. “Pastor Matthew!” they called out. “Teach us the next lesson here!” And so I did. It was the first time I’ve ever taught a confirmation class in a hot tub. I thought: only with the Finns would this happen to a pastor!

Here's a video (by Samuli Vuokila) and pictures of our journey

This story has also appeared in Isien Usko

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