Astorians Craig and Sara Wisti recently visited some of his cousins in Finland, and while there, took a trip to the church at Vimpeli, aka the Round Church, which also has family ties: his great-great-grandfather helped build it in 1807.
Not actually round, the 12-angled structure is made of logs using a "log latch technique" by church builder Jacob Riif, and is considered by many to be his last major accomplishment. (bit.ly/vimpeli)
The Wistis also traveled down the road a bit from the church to the tiny village of Visti (there are no Ws in Finnish, Craig said). They also took in a pesäpallo game (fast-paced Finnish baseball), and were greeted by the mayor and the local newspaper, which did a write up on the couple. Some photos of their visit can be seen at bit.ly/wistivisit
Craig also provided a little family history: His grandfather emigrated to America in 1906; his grandmother and their three children followed in 1910.
The route was arduous. From Visti to Vimpeli, to a boat across Lake Lappajärvi, to a horse and buggy ride to a rural train station, to the Finnish Coast, to Liverpool, England, across the Atlantic, and finally across the U.S. to Oregon.
Craig's father was born nine months after they arrived in Coos County, where the family homesteaded. Craig was raised in Coos County, as well.
"Going to the Vimpeli Church that day was quite spiritual," Craig recalled. "All the family stories came into laser focus. It was just a very special day."