Tomorrow the Vikings are coming to Finnsnes!
This might sound a little strange, as we now live in the land of the Vikings. However, this is a particular ‘clan’ – TX Vikings. They are a group of muskel gutter (muscle men / body builders) who travel Europe and the near east with a show of strength (lifting and breaking things), and also talking very ‘straightforwardly’ about Jesus. They are coming as part of Finnsnes Natta – a day and most of the night for about 400 confirmands from the area. Tomorrow they begin their ‘mission’ here in the church. We excited to meet them and have them share in the youth work here. Please pray that the message hits home.
On Saturday the adults took time out to embarrass the children (or at least they’ll probably be embarrassed when they see this video!). We purchased the cheapest form of ‘sledge’ available and sledged on the hill which leads to our apartment. We think the neighbours are now convinced we’re nuts. I tried to explain to a curious passer-by that we’re English, but either my Norwegian was too bad, or he was foreign too, because all I got was a puzzled look. After we had practiced on the road, we decided to try our luck on the slope outside church. However, the snow was so powdery and deep, we simply sank in!
Yesterday we finally saw the sun for the first time since last November. However, it came out during morning worship and had gone again by the time we had finished, so only caught glimpses through the church windows, although it lit the stained glass was beautifully. In the evening we were treated to a clear sky and the full moon illuminating the snowy mountains as we traveled for worship on Senja. Sadly we didn’t have a camera, but hopefully there will be other opportunities. Clear skies also signaled plummeting temperatures, and we noticed -20C (-4f) on the journey. This might sound quite cold, but the air was very still and dry, so you didn’t even need a coat – at least for a few minutes!
Anyway, here are the adults having fun:
We should have seen the sun in Finnsnes a couple of days ago but it’s been snowing a lot. Everyone thought today would be ‘the day’ because we awoke to pretty clear skies, but then just at the critical moment some cloud appeared on the horizon and we were cheated of our sunshine again. Never mind, we got some nice photos anyway, and then this afternoon we took delivery of some new lights for the church, so at least it will be bright inside!
Today dawned beautiful! Almost clear skies, the return of wonderful colours, and a low moon over the sea. I traveled to Sandbakken Kapell on Senja for a morning service, and am glad of being driven as it afforded the opportunity to take photos (albeit a little trick from a moving car!).
This afternoon was the culmination of ‘Lys Våken’ in Finnsnes Kirke, celebrated with a large family service, including the ‘Lys Våken’ children, barnekor (Junior Choir), and giving out Bibles to some of the 5th class children. ‘Lys Våken’ is a special overnight ‘party’ for children in the 6th class, celebrating Jesus our light.
As well as the pictures below, there is also a 360 degree panorama here.
A couple of weeks ago we noticed an old TV-series is being shown again. ‘Northern Exposure’ is a whimsical drama about life in a small town in Alaska: it’s good humoured, there’s no real violence, and the ‘romance-interest’ never seem to quite get together. We liked it back in the UK, but this time it has come a lot more alive as we notice similarities to life in Northern Norway, with the midnight sun and polar night, etc, and the many US cultural references.
As to the ‘over’ part: we’re beginning to wonder if we will suffer a little over-exposure. This week Sarah was asked to sing for:
- a meeting of one of the local political parties (the Christian Peoples Party),
- Kirketref (a fellowship evening at church with a special emphasis on invitations to people with learning disabilities),
- and a fund-raising lunch at church today.
3 gigs in 2 days, 2 in the same place? Well at least there was almost no overlap of attendees! Pictures below are of her ‘in action’ at church today.
The fund-raiser also featured coffee and, not too surprisingly, a lot of yummy cake, as well as an ‘Amerikansk Auksjon’. Whilst we fully conversant with coffee and cake, we have never encountered an American Auction before, even when we lived in the US. It’s an interesting twist on auctioneering, and it works like this:
- A ‘secret’ price is assigned to the item for auction.
- People bid until the undisclosed price is reached.
- The person who placed that bid wins.
- In order to place a bid you must pay the balance between the previous bid and your bid.
- The winner does not pay the price of the item.
Clear as mud? It took us a while to work it out too! However, the good new is that 1 cake and 2 baskets of fruit generated about 3800 kroner (380 pounds / 700 dollars). Not bad.
On Thursday we official ended nearly 2 months of ‘night’ when the sun theoretically returned to Finnsnes. However due to bad weather and nearby mountains, we wont see it for a least few more days.
Thursday was also the first ‘outing’ for our new sound equipment, when a team of young people on a mission to Finnsnes took part in our Torsday Klub, and it is a dramatic improvement over what we had before. The Visjon (pronounced vision) group shared some testimony and played some interesting new twists on well know hymns such as ‘Deg være æren’ (Thine be the glory), as well as more contemporary songs like ‘Open the eyes of my heart Lord’ (a favourite with our confirmands).
Yesterday was a bit like Christmas (again). Just after Tuesday lunchtime ‘andakt’ (short act of worship), a large Posten lorry pulled up outside the offices and a cheery postman, who spoke very good English, off-loaded 3 pallets of new musical instruments and sound equipment (pictured in the ‘weapon house’, with Frank, the youth minister – I’d better stop as it’s starting to sound like Cluedo / Clue).
Sadly the delivery wasn’t for me personally, but we are happy that, without us asking, the church council decided to upgrade the sound system in Finnsnes, and various other monies were found for a new digital piano and digital drum set. The only snag was that everything had to be ordered before the end of 2012, which was a bit stressful in the run up to Christmas.
Anyway, having spent the best part of a day unpacking and testing equipment, Sarah immediately noticed how sweet the sound now is. We can’t fully install it just yet because some equipment wont arrive for a couple of weeks, but it has come just in time for a large youth event tomorrow.
Oh, and today dawned much brighter and more colourfully!
The last couple of weeks have been, well, gloomy. We’ve had cloudy skies, plenty of rain and most of the snow has melted, so it has felt really pretty dark.
Whilst other Norwegians are showing beautiful pictures of the recently-returned sun (we should get it back here soon), below is a picture taken this morning at 9am. There’s just a tiny break in the cloud, and the pond is now unusable for skating as there are several inches of dirty water on the ice. Oh well . . .
Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we’ve not been out of Finnsnes much and it’s been very cloudy (and hence dark), so not many pictures (if you want landscape pictures, take a look at my colleague’s blog). We’ve also been pretty busy with planning for the coming year, so sorry we forgot to post pictures from the church Christmas Concert. However . . .
. . . just when most people were ready to take down their decorations (12th night / Epiphany), we were invited to a Christmas Party. It seemed a little late, until we discovered that it was an Orthodox Christmas party. It turns out that because a lot of the population in Eritrea are orthodox, they celebrate Christmas ‘late’. Anyway it was a delight to go, with the usual yummy food, friendly company, music and dancing.
Sarah and I sat out the first couple of dances, trying to figure out the moves – they do this amazing thing with the shoulders, which appear to move independently of the rest of the body, combined with a sort of Michael Jackson ‘moon walk’. Having determined that however unusual the dance appeared, I would look even more unusual, I decided to sit out, but Sarah had a go. Here’s the video (it’s from a phone camera, so the quality isn’t great) and some pictures.
Today we’re back to ‘business as usual’, although the work load is lighter than the last month. Sarah played for the funeral of a well-loved parishioner. School begins tomorrow, so Susanna will move back into the ‘internat’ (boarding accommodation) tonight. To celebrate the end of the holidays we went skating on the pond, and this evening will be pizza and movie night.