Satu Merenluoto of Turku, Finland


Satu Merenluoto of Turku, Finland

Ten-year-old Satu Merenluoto, whose first name means “fairy tale,” shows a creative flair with everything that she does. Her bedroom is a showcase for a collection of stuffed toys and creatures that she has made from scraps of material. And hanging from a tree branch in the Merenluotos’ dooryard is a dandy birdhouse that Satu made for some lucky bird family. In a tiny museum in the basement of her playhouse, she displays other things that she has created.

The Merenluoto family lives in a secluded home on a landlocked island a short distance from Turku. Their backyard is shaded by a huge tree that has hanging from one of its high branches a thick rope that’s just perfect for swinging. Satu loves to swing on the rope and seldom seems to tire of it. When she isn’t swinging, she’s probably playing in the playhouse with her lifelong friend, Anna Haikkola, who lives nearby. And, as do many young Church members in Finland, Satu and Anna often stay overnight at each other’s home after all the Sunday meetings are over.

Satu, who has some cousins living in the United States, likes to play the piano, dance, sing, help her mother in the kitchen and outside in the yard and garden, and write to her pen pal in Estonia, a Soviet republic across the Gulf of Finland. Satu has two brothers, Jukka (14) and Markuu (12). To help build the good feeling in their home, Satu and her brother earned an extra reward that was offered them by their parents for not watching any violence on TV for several months before Christmas.

The children’s mother, Kaarina Merenluoto, makes their home a happy place. A color coordination consultant, she is also busy in the Church as a counselor in the Young Women program and as an institute of religion teacher. Raimo Merenluoto, the children’s father, manages a plant that makes mobile telephones. He serves as first counselor in the Tampere Finland Stake presidency.

Asked what she liked best about her Primary classes, Satu said, “Church history and stories about Joseph Smith. I also like the stories about when Jesus was a little boy and about when He healed people when He was older.”

Back in her swing again, Satu lets her creative imagination soar. … I could make a miniature farm for my museum … maybe even a stuffed centipede. I could write to two pen pals—the one in Estonia and another one … in Japan!

[photos] Photos by Richard Romney

[photo] 1. Satu Merenluoto steadying the birdhouse that she built.

[photo] 2. Sampling a tomato in the family’s greenhouse

[photo] 3. One of Satu’s pet gerbils

[photo] 4. Some of Satu’s creations

[photo] 5. Making exciting plans with Anna

[photo] 6. Stuffed toys made by Satu