Michael Flynn and son Elder Jaswant Flynn (from Meltham Ward Huddersfield Stake) experienced a unique opportunity to appreciate God’s creations and serve Heavenly Father from opposite ends of the world. At Rothera Antarctica, Michael, an instrument specialist at The University of Manchester, spent three weeks in January making airborne measurements of clouds over the Southern Ocean from a British Antarctic Survey Twin Otter aircraft.
He says Antarctica is completely different from anywhere else in the world, partly because it is so remote. It has no permanent inhabitants and has penguins rather than polar bears, and the huge floating ice shelves that are unique to Antarctica.
Of his experience in Antarctica he says, “I am in awe of the complete white expanse and wilderness and have an appreciation of the place, a place I would go back to. Experiencing the beauty of nature and its variety in different parts of the world increases my appreciation for what Heavenly Father has created for us and strengthens my testimony in Him.”
Near the North Pole, Elder Flynn (or Vanhin Flynn as he is addressed) serves as a missionary in the Helsinki Finland Mission. He says,
“I've been serving in the Finland Helsinki Mission since September 2022 - I'm so happy to be here! It got VERY cold in the winter where I served in Kemi in Northern Finland, but I guess it gave me a feel for what my dad felt at the same time, in Antarctica.
“The language is very difficult, but I've seen the blessing of hard work, perseverance and enduring to the end, so much, as I've tried to learn and speak more. Having also served in the Swedish speaking area of Finland, therefore being assigned to learn Swedish and Finnish, I've really had to develop my faith and understanding of God, as well as striving to be obedient and doing everything I can to be blessed with the gift of tongues.
“I've also grown in my testimony more on my mission so far than I did my whole life before. I've already seen so many blessings of serving a mission, and even though there are many trials, so many more blessings come as we endure through them. It was interesting being basically on the other side of the world to my dad - but such a blessing that through technology, even though we were tens of thousands of miles apart, we could still communicate.
“The blessings of being a missionary have been evident to not just me, but many family members and friends also. And they are not limited. If you can serve a mission, do! The Lord will bless you and so many others for it, family, friends, members, non-members - on both sides of the veil!”
Helsinki Finland Mission President Ville Kervinen, a native of Finland, provides insight into the climate and culture of Finnish people. He says they are ‘most loyal’ with Church statistics reflecting this, which helps to shape missionaries’ attitudes towards service and missionary work generally. The North is a quality of mind. He grew up in Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle and he and Sister Leena Kervinen, through inspiration, spent their married life there. He says,
“There is a difference in attitude about life even between northern and southern Finland. All the Finns are very independent-minded, but those living in the more extreme climate and isolation of the North are even more so. They hold onto their culture more naturally, being further away from Helsinki and the cosmopolitan influences there. We have the identity of a northern person, and we are grateful for it. After our mission we will return to the North to continue serving there.”
Even though father and son were far apart, they still found a way to appreciate the gospel and serve others.