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First Missions
Finland & Estonia
Revised February 26, 2024


Estonia has been worked mostly from Finland, since it just a short boat ride across the water, and since the Estonian and Finnish languages are closely related. It id doubtful there were any workers there in pre-communist times. Larry Stephens from Montana, who has spent years in Finland, has spent the most time there.

Who was the first to profess in Estonia?  The first contact there and the first to profess was a young man who originally got in touch by reading some of the anti-fellowship websites and somehow contacted someone and asked if workers could come visit him.


When did the workers first arrive? circa 1920-21

Who was the first Worker? Adolph Pearson (Swedish)

The earliest Finland Workers List located to date is 1924-25 shows 4 workers: Adolph Pearson (Sweden), August Karlson (Sweden), Edith Hanson (Oregon) and Hilda Halberg ( Minnesota).  August Karlson or Karlsson was in the work from at least 1917 until at least 1937 in both Sweden and Finland. 

Who were the first brother workers?   Possibly: Adolph Pearson ( Sweden), August Karlson ( Sweden)

Emil Keltto (1900?–1970) went into the work in 1923 in Alberta Canada and went to Finland in the 1920s.  Emil was fluent in Finnish because his parents came from Finland. Emil Keltto was born in 1900? on the Keltto homestead in North Dakota. In 1908, Issac and Ida Keltto and their children Emil, Oscar & Naima went to homestead in Aberta. The Keltto family all professed thru Katie Hay (Swiss) and Ruby Long (British) in one of their first missions in Alberta, sometime between 1908 and 1918.  Emil travelled between Canada, England, Sweden and Finland a number of times before he passed away in 1970 and was buried there in Finland where he spent most of his years in the work.  He is listed on the 1929 Finnish Workers list.

Who were the first sister workers? Possibly: Edith Hanson ( Oregon) and Hilda Halberg ( Minnesota)

Edith Hanson (1890-1965) and her brother Henry Hanson (1888-1973) were Americans who went to preach in Sweden in 1920. Edith was born in Oregon to Hans and Anna Hanson, who came to America in 1882 from Sweden. Both Henry and Edith professed in 1911 and went in the work in 1912.  Both continued in the work until their deaths. Henry died in 1973 and Edith died in 1965. They basically remained in Scandinavia for most of the rest of their lives, Henry mostly in Sweden, Edith in Finland, Sweden and also Norway. Henry was the Overseer of Sweden for the last 4 years of his life. He is buried in a cemetery in Bjarnum , Sweden where 4 other workers are buried.

Edith Hanson was arrested in Norway on October 14, 1942 with her companion Alma Lee and they became Prisoners of War in Norway and Germany during WWII. They were released in 1945. Edith returned to Oregon in 1959 and labored there until her death in December, 1965 at the age of 75. She is buried in the Sandy Hill Cemetery in Boring, Oregon, along with several other Hanson family members.

Who were the first native workers? Astrid Berglund was the first to start in the work from Finland in 1934, and she continued until her death in 1996.  Erik Andersson was the first brother to go in the work, starting in 1948.  He was killed in Finland in 1980 in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycles were used as a common means of transport for workers there.

Who was the first to profess?  Unknown

When & Where was the first meeting?  Unknown

When & Where was the first convention?   Unknown

Where is the convention currently held?  Convention has been held at Vaasa (in the Swedish-speaking area of Finland) for many years.  Every message is translated either into Swedish or Finnish, depending on which language the speaker is using. When the speakler is English, it's translated twice, so they used to actually have three speakers on the platform at once, which certainly would have been a slow process.  
Previous Convention locations: In1996, the convention was held in Osterhankmovagen.

Who have the Overseers been? Currently, the work in Finland is linked with Sweden and does not have a separate Overseer. It is not known whether Sweden and Finland have always been combined under one overseer. Erik Andersson was considered Overseer of Finland when he was alive, and Finland may have been a separate staff then, but that has changed. See Sweden for Overseer List.

Hymnbook: Dorothy Hanson (1910-2002), daughter of Carl and Mary Hanson of Boring, Oregon USA, labored in Finland for many years, going there in 1946. Dorothy was gifted musically and in languages. She made the translation of the hymn book to Finnish. In 1973, she wrote Hymn No. 210: Gently the Holy Spirit. She labored in Western USA, Sweden and Finland.

Languages: The work began in Finland among the fairly large Swedish-speaking population, and it's just in relatively recent years that there have been more inroads among the Finnish-speaking people. The Finnish language is extremely difficult, and only a few workers have managed to really master it.  Even most of the Finnish citizens who have been in the work have spoken only Swedish.  (Finnish is not related at all to the other Scandinavian languages, which are otherwise all quite similar.)

TTT Editor's Note: In the absence of a written account, the above information has been compiled by the TTT Editor from various sources. Corrections or additions are most welcome; as well as other historical accounts for this country Email TTT

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