to the World
By Esko Aromaa
I was born in the north side of Vaasa, Palosaari in Finland 8th April 1940 between
two wars against the Soviet Union. My father was in war till I was 5 years. I
remember just some things about war. Vaasa city was bombed hardly just before
I was born. My mother was pregnant that time. When I was a little we had many
alarms for russian bombings and we had to leave our house and go to some beter
shelter. The windows were shuttered in the evenings and as bomb shelters were
the basements of houses.
My childhood worked out in the war but I didn’t feel that somethig was missing
(just father). However we were hungry and food was missing. My mother worked in
Kutvonen factory and she made wooden bottoms for shoes using a band saw. She worked
on contract. Some way we had enough money for everyday life. At the end of the
war my mothers two borhers died and it hurted us all very much. The younger of
brothers (Tatu) had visited us in Vaasa during the New Year 1944 and when we molded
ten (which we use to do during New Year) he got a dying soldier and he said that
this will be his last visit. He died near Viipuri which city russians concured
during the end of the war.
My mothers sister Sylvi lived with her family in Virrat which is 169 km from Vaasa
to the south. We used to travel there by train that time. When we came home to
Vaasa we got some flowers and butter, which we could not buy from the shops without
a card. All food was rationalized and we got just small portions monthly. In Palosaari
we had near our apartment of two little rooms down on the yard a little kichen
garden where we got some potatoes. The house where we lived was red log house.
When my father came from the war he got a work as an usher in a girls school and
we moved downtown to live in a wooden house, which was by Rauhankatu (street of
piece). It was in the corner of Rauhankatu and Kirkkopuistikko. My mother got
also work at the school. In this house we lived till 1959. That time I was 19
and I went to Finnish Army in Koria near Kouvola. It was a place where all pioneers
where. We worked with explotions and mines etc. When we lived in the school there
was living also two old wemen. Because we used the same toilet with them that
time, they had left the Pearl of Great Price on the lavoire. I looked at the pictures
and I still remember the round picture with Egyptian letters on it. May be this
was my first contact with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The year 1946 when we moved to the school the yard was full of boards and colored
glases. They made some reparation work and built something at the school. Beautiful
glas paintings were demolished when they made new windows. Just some small round
colored windows were left and they are now on the wall in the assembly hall.
My brother Pentti was born 17th Marsh 1945. My childhood I spent with the children
in the nearby blocks and we had fun mostly by playing soccer or foot ball as we
called it. I graduated from Vaasan Lyseo high school 1960.
During my last years in high school I had two special frends and we had together
an English club where we had weekly meetings and we talked about English Grammar
and words. Some of my friends asked if we would like to go to the English Classes
mormons had. But we just had our own club. The Mormons had come to Vaasa the year
1947 and some time we saw them biking and they had their black costumes and white
shirts and ties. Sometimes they stoped and wrote something in their small books.
That time I was going to Lutheran boys club, but I was not deeply believing but
I wanted some good hobbies.
When I came from the Finnish Army, I studied in a Commercial Institute and graduated
there after a year. We had 30 girls in our class and just 2 boys. I did not like
the business and I wanted to be an architect. My school numbers were not so good
that I could start the high school but I came in to Tampere Technical Institute
and graduated there as an architect 1967. Just one year before I had married Ulla
Taalikka. She was form Punkalaidun. We lived at Rongankatu in Tampere in a small
One evening I said to my wife Ulla, that we had a book in our book shelter which
we had never opened. It was our wedding Bible. We took it and started reading
aloud some parts of the Saviors works. I said to Ulla, “why are we so unpolite
to the people who come to our door. We just say “we don’t buy”
and shut the door. Why cant we say to them, “wellcome in and then we can
speak with them for a while and then say polite “sorry, we don’t buy
The following evening I was home alone, when the bell rang. I remembered that
moment how I shoud behave. I went to the door. Two missionaries in their costumes
were standing at the door. The other elder said something about a Church. I could
not hear something more. The Brethren where elters Bruce Burdick and Kenneth Heaton.
I asked them to come in and they started teaching me. Brother Heaton did not say
a word the whole time but brother Burdig teched eagerly and I thought that this
man is a man of God. The other was not. (But later I heared that he had just come
to Finland and was a greeny). I heared also later that these two elders had made
just that night an extra visit to find me.
Then I got a place in an architect firm (Sulo Kalliokoski) in Vaasa and we moved
to Vaasa. In Vaasa two new missionaries, brothers Dave Bradford and Mark Hanson
came to teach me. They asked me to stop smoking, drinking coffee and alcohol.
One day we had a friend missionary Jyrki Koivisto (from Jyväskylä) and
he asked me to get a baptism and asked me to pray about the Book of Mormon if
it is true. One night I was alone home and I kneeled down in front of my bed and
asked in the prayer my Hevenly Father and I got a very strong felling,which filled
my whole body and spirit and in that moment I felt that everything is OK and I
want to be baptised. I went to my parents and said that now I know that this church
is right and I want to be baptised. And I did it and my parents did not like it
and my father didn’t talk to me for a while. But later he asked many things
about our church. I was baptised in Vaskiluoto in the sea 5th Aug 1967. I heared
later that the place where I was baptised belonged long ago to the city architect
who had donated the villa to his bride as a bethrothal gift.
My wife Ulla was not interested about our Church but she used to listen when missionaries
gave discussions to me in the nearby room. I said to her one day, “You will
be a member of our Church after 3 years.” And it happened. I baptised her
then. We also married in the Swiss temple. But 1992 she divorsed and find an other
man in Pieksämäki.
We have together two children Leena and Mikko. I married Mirja Räsänen
from Kuopio 1993 and she had a 3 year girl Maarit who is now 18 years and she
moves next year to Helsinki to study there. (We hope she would stay in Vaasa)
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