janne and ellaFinnish students Janne and Ella Henriksson were stuck. Janne needed to find an eight week placement in an English speaking country as part of his studies to become an English teacher, but none had been forthcoming.

Since Ella herself is studying to be a music teacher, she was free to join Janne, but they hadn’t found a suitable opportunity.

“It could have been eight weeks of holiday, but we couldn’t afford that, so we began to look for a school exchange, or for job opportunities, but we couldn’t find anything,” explained Janne.

“Then we looked up Christian volunteering on the internet and saw an advert that Minsteracres had placed. As they were offering bed and board it was ideal!”

Janne and Ella have been helping out wherever they’re needed. “We work for about two and a half hours mornings and afternoons, and have Sunday and another week day off. It seems a reasonable amount to give in exchange for food and accommodation! And we’ve learned new skills like gardening and painting. It’s good to have different tasks, and we haven’t been bored”.

Perhaps clearing out the cattle grids on the estate might not have been top of their list of learning opportunities, but, they insist, “We’ve received way more than we expected!”

As Evangelical Lutherans, being part of the Christian community at Minsteracres has been a big part of their enjoyment. “It’s a fun community,” says Janne. “It’s not what you would expect of a group of monks and nuns in our country.”

Ella agrees, “We’ve really enjoyed our time here. It’s been a learning experience about life and what is important. It’s so different living a simple life with the community.

“There’s something really special about this place. Everyone has taken us in with open arms, like a family. We haven’t been here that long, but I feel part of this place.”

Janne (29) and Ella (23)  met in their hometown parish in Raahe in Finland and married three years ago. Their faith is central to their lives, and they have been considering missionary work at some time in the future. “God is a guide for us in our lives. You can be yourself if you follow God’s way,” says Janne. “We feel it’s God’s work that we’re here.”

But they are also enjoying the more material aspects of their stay. “We don’t have big old mansions like this in Finland, so it’s been great to live in one.

“And the views are great. Where we live it’s flat and we’ve been surprised by the hilly landscape.” says Janne.