Last weekend we had the final weddings of this seasons. The last service at Finnsnes was in English, and it was slightly surreal to hear the Norwegian liturgy in ‘our’ language. The reason was that bride is new in Norway, and speaks very little Norwegian. It was also Sarah’s first outing as a wedding singer here, and she received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the couple.
Sunday was filled with worship too, with services in three places. The evening family service in Finnsnes was very lively with lots of children and young families. Every year there is an invitation to all 4 year to come a receive a book designed to help them understand some of what happens in the church and to give them and their families resources to use at home, including songs and prayers. In Finnsnes over 40 children came for their books which was lovely, if a little chaotic! Also the children’s choir sang for the first time under our leadership and did very well. The YouTube video below is an audio recording of them singing with the band in the service. The quality isn’t great (a microphone at the back of the building) and we have work to do on the singing too, but their enthusiasm shines through! It’s also my first Norwegian song.
At the same service there were a lot of this years confirmands, including 9 who were apparently in charge of the lights and took their responsibility very seriously (notice one young lady practicing the art of the ‘switch off’ and four boys are researching the topic on an i-phone).
After a week or so mixed weather – snow, rain, warm(er) and cold, today we finally got ‘proper’ snow. And today we also had our all-important glatt kjøring course (smooth driving, ie. driving on snow and ice), which was fascinating and could be life saving!
Over the weekend we also got a taste of what happens when the road surface is below freezing and it rains. You get a sheet of ice which is almost impossible to stand up on, and we’re glad it was gone before we had to drive to service on Sunday morning.
Pictures below are taken over the last week. The light is amazing now we have snow, clouds and a low sun. However, driving requires much more concentration than before and it’s not so easy / safe to pull off by the road for pictures, so the photos are a bit ‘pedestrian’. The sunrise was taken at about 9am on Monday – the day it rained so there was no snow.
If you’re in the neighbourhood on Friday 2nd November, do drop in for ‘Være i stillheten’. It’s a short form of evening prayer with lots of music (a bit like an evening version of the Midday Musical Moments we did at Prince George), with the addition of images and video to go with the music. The first time we did it, it was just Susanna and I, but this time Sarah is here which really helps spread the load and gives us more flexibility in the music. We are taking a ‘watery’ theme and music will include:
- Beethoven ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (1st Movement)
- Elgar ‘Sea pictures’
- Mendelssohn ‘Hebredies Overture’ (Fingal’s Cave) – piano duet
The slide into winter is definitely accelerating.
The Trees: Just about the only thing left on the trees now are the berries. At first this seemed a little odd because in England there are so many birds which eat the berries they are always gone before the leaves fall, but here there only seem to be crows, magpies and a few smaller species, and none in great numbers, so the fruit remains, at least for now.
The Freeze: It seems the local council were right to shut down and remove the fountain and their boat, because in the course of three nights, Finnsnes Vann (the pond / lake) has frozen over (pictures taken on 3 consecutive mornings). Now every night is well below freezing with day time temperatures a balmy 2 or 3 degrees C.
The Dark: Last Sunday we were at a family service in Rossfjord which started just as the sun was setting (5pm) and by the time we left a bit over an hour later it was pretty much dark.
The Poles: The council continues to deploy them on the side roads. I was curious to know how they were erected, and today I found out. There is a special lorry with a machine on the back which makes a hole and inserts the pole to a pre-determined depth automatically, and all in a matter of seconds. It’s very clever, but sadly I didn’t have my camera. And just for clarification, the poles I refer to are the red plastic ones used to mark the edge of the road, not people from eastern Europe.
The Pigs: No, we haven’t gone all ‘good life’ and started a farm – it’s just a cheap headline-grabber. In Norway, the word for a car tire is dekk and the word for studs (as in blunt spike) is pigg. This therefore allows us to say we have piggs on our dekk, i.e. tires with studs, suitable for driving on ice and snow. This year October 15th was the official date on which you could switch from ordinary summer tires to vinterdekks. Oh, just for completeness, the word for pig is gris, so if you read a post entitled gris på vår veranda then you will know we have become farmers.
Just a very brief post today.
This Sunday our recently reformed barnekor (children’s choir) will sing for their first service. It’s a little different to our Junior Choir back in the US – no robes, no procession and ‘all age’ music (at least for now), but the children love it: of the 28 who signed up, all except one has stuck with us.
Sunday’s service in Finnsnes should be very exuberant!
On Sunday, Sarah will have her first outing to Fjordgård, to play for worship at the chapel on the ‘human powered’ harmonium (pump organ in the USA). In much of Europe and the US they are mostly regarded as outdated and antique, but here there are modern builders and the instruments are quite useable. This does however mean that Sarah has never played one before, but as always, the Lord provides, this time in the shape of an instrument which someone donated to the Finnsnes church a couple of weeks ago. So, instead of a two hour round trip to practice in Fjordgård, she was able to learn here. There is a certain art to playing, because you have to remember to keep pedaling so the air doesn’t run out, whilst not playing (necessarily) at the same speed you are pedaling: it’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy.
The only slight problem we encountered was locating the instrument, which was stashed in the ventilation plant room. Having overcome the initial fits of laughter at the coordination required to play (did I also mention that you control the volume with ‘knee flaps’?) she got down to some serious practice. We also found that it’s where the ‘pauker’ are stored (timpani), so I’m considering writing a piece for harmonium and pauker, which will of course have to be debuted to a small, hand selected audience of close friends, in the cupboard.
Today was my first visit to the chapel on Husøy, Senja. Husøy is a small island fishing community at the north end of Senja, in Øyfjorden. Until relatively recently it was only accessible by boat, but then a road was built over and through the mountains, and a causeway was constructed to allow road traffic on and off. The drive is (as always) spectacular and I took time for photos on the way home.
The service itself was the culmination of Husøy ‘fokusuke’ (focus week), led by Mereta (our Christian education worker) and Glenn (one of the the pastors). About 50 people came and there was participation from a large proportion of the island children. After the service we enjoyed coffee and cake, and I took the opportunity to fix some faults on the organ.
Below are photos, and if you like the ‘immersive’ panoramas, there are four here:
Last night was Undomsgudstjenester (Youth Worship) in Finnsnes Church. It was planned by the MILK group (MIni Leders Kurs – mostly young people who were confirmands last year). It was a really good event, by (mostly) young people and for young people, on the theme ‘Never Alone’. We had several new singers join the band for the evening and it was great to hear most of the 100+ youth congregation joining in worship.
However as we left church to walk home, we realised something was wrong: instead of the familiar sound of gushing water, there was nothing – silence – someone had stolen the town anemometer. And as you will see from the pictures below, not only have the thieves stolen the fountain, but the ‘cute’ minature Norwegian houses from the town lake were gone too. The really observant, will also note that the rowing boat, which is normally moored outside the council offices, is missing (presumably used in the getaway). But the really strange thing is that there appears to be no police investigation nor press outrage.
Joking apart, this is just part of the winter preparations here. Last week we had a couple of days of wind which removed most of the leaves from the tree. The shops are advertising ‘ny sesong’ winter clothes, and the council have cleared the lake ready for the big freeze. Even at midday, the sun now seems to only make it up to a ‘mid-afternoon’ point in the sky. There are still things to be done, including informing the mosquitos that it’s way past time for them to die!
On hearing the news we would be moving to Finnsnes, a dear friend in South Carolina told me ‘You can’t go to the arctic – you’re too skinny’. So, we too have been making preparations for winter, with the aid of the church Internasjonal Kafe. After music from the Finnsnes strings and some singers from Congo, we feasted on delicacies from around the world.
On Saturday we had a wedding in Finnsnes. The music was mostly ‘standard’ hymns and the Wagner wedding march (often used in Norway as exit rather than entry music). However, the opening procession was a little unusual being ‘River Flows In You’ by the South Korean composer Yiruma. It was a delight to have one of my piano pupils play it beautifully (I should add that the young lady concerned has only been my student for 3 lessons, so I can’t really claim very much influence!). And despite very dark clouds, the sun held out for most of the day.