Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Homeward Bound

Our return trip was not simply the reverse of two weeks ago . . .


It was not what I would have called ideal flying weather in Keflavik. If the combination of almost freezing temperature, steady rain and strong winds had been whipping around Atlanta I believe that our flight would have been canceled. But I guess it was nothing unusual for Icelandic pilots so there was not even a hint of that happening. There was, however, a short delay as the stewardesses came to the back of the plane and cleared out the last 3 rows of seats. The passengers there had to be relocated to other open seats at the front of the plane, then warning tape was put across those last 3 rows so they could not be used. Since the Hills and Howards were sitting across the aisle from each other on the 4th row from the back, we were definitely wondering what was going on. Jimmie was very happy with this development. "Great! Now there won’t be anyone kicking the back of my seat," was his reaction. I was thinking more on the lines of, "Are they expecting the tail to fall off?" Finally, I heard a stewardess explain that the pilot wanted to redistribute the weight for better balance. Apparently waiting for better weather was not an option so moments later we were zooming down the runway. It was a very rocky, rough takeoff - the kind that rattles your bones – but we made it into the air and watched Iceland fade away behind us.

Turbulence followed us for much of the flight. It often felt like we were on a very rough, gravel road above the clouds. And one patch in particular took first place as the roughest turbulence I have ever encountered on any air trip. But balance that with some incredible views and yesterday’s flight was wonderful.

We actually got to see Greenland! (Coming out most of our trip was in the dark. ALL of the flight home was in daylight.) Greenland is most definitely not green. From the air the world’s largest island looked like a vast, frozen wasteland covered in ice and snow. Of course, most of the 50,000+ people live along the western coast while we were flying over the southern tip, but the part we saw looked like one huge iceberg.

A bit later as we neared the northern coast of Canada Jimmie pointed out the ocean below us. It was beautiful swirls of white and pale blue that appeared to be painted into place as far as my eye could see. As we continued toward land the white became thicker, choppier chunks of ice, and finally icebergs. Even after we reached land, though, the fascinating geography display continued. We crossed stark, gray mountains where all of the cracks, crevices and lakes had been filled to the brim with solid white ice. Unfortunately, shortly after that the clouds closed below us and we didn’t get to see much again until we dropped down for landing in Boston. But the harbor and lighthouses there were quite a view. And our landing was considerably smoother than the takeoff.


Being our point of entry into the States we had to go through immigration and customs before we could exit the terminal. When we did get outside the first thing we noticed was the heat. Keflavik had been in the high 30s with a sharp wind when we left. Boston hit a record high of 93 Tuesday. We found the shuttle to the hotel, had a quick supper, a hot shower, and then sleep. We had to be back at the airport by 8 this morning, but I awoke way too early – about 4. My body is obviously on Iceland time right now so it may take a few days to get over that 4 hours time difference.


The final leg of our journey home had one interesting difference. The lady who sat next to me was someone I recognized from our Icelandair flight. She is from Akureyri in the northern portion of Iceland. Her daughter lives in Norcross (just south of Duluth) and she was on her way to visit a new grandson born yesterday. I learned a few interesting things from her – like rock trolls are not in north Iceland. She had never heard of them. She also asked me how I found the people of Iceland. When I said "Very nice" she actually looked surprised. She told me that she never thought the Iceland people were nice. People from other countries were always much nicer than her countrymen. To that I had to reply that I had noticed that people walking through the street or in the shopping malls were always very solemn-looking, even glum. They also tended to wear black to match their expression, to which she immediately concurred. An Icelander had told me that it was because of the long, cold winters. Everyone feels oppressed by the gray skies and weather, but when summer arrives then spirits lighten and the bright colors come out. But even if they looked glum at first, when I spoke to them they immediately became friendly. She told me that it must have been because I was nice. They are not so friendly with each other. It was a surprising conversation.

Not a surprise was to find Thomas Reid waiting for us at the baggage claim area. He was a very welcome sight.


We got to our house a bit after 2 this afternoon, so the return journey took us almost 29 hours. But tonight when we went to New Hope Road for Bible class there was a welcome home sign by the street, a welcome home banner in the foyer, and lots of welcome home hugs and kisses. It is good to be home.

- Linda

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Iceland - Day 14

Goðan daginn!

The suitcases are zipped, ready to head to the airport and back home to the USA. We are scheduled to go to the Leifur Eiriksson Air Terminal right after lunch. It is named for Leif Erikson, the first Norse explorer to discover North America many centuries before Christopher Columbus. We fly out of the Keflavìk International Airport at 5 pm. (Rules say we must be there at least 3 hours in advance.) We should reach Boston tonight, but too late for any connecting flights to Atlanta so we will have to spend the night then leave the hotel early tomorrow morning to continue the trip. We are due to reach Atlanta in the afternoon. Please keep us in your prayers for safe, on time travel.

But this has been a marvelous visit to a beautiful country. More importantly, I believe we have helped our sister congregation to grow in Bible knowledge and have gained some new friends.
Takk fyrir to all who helped us come on this mission trip and to those who have supported us with their prayers and good wishes. I hope by the end of the week to post some of the incredible pictures Jimmie has taken since our arrival even though I know they will not begin to do justice to the places we have seen.

Bless! until I write again from America.

- Linda

Monday, April 27, 2009

Iceland - Day 13

This was our last full day in Iceland and it was an active one. I started some preliminary packing, cooked scrambled omlettes for our lunch, then we headed for Reykjavìk. Yesterday the horizon had been amazingly clear showing the mountain ranges that circle this Reykjanesbær Peninsula in all of their snow-capped splendor. Until then they had only been a hazy image of not much impact. Today was not quite the crystal clear of yesterday but still breath-takingly beautiful. I am so glad we got to see them like this.

Our first stop today was at the Linder radio station. William had visited with them in January and left programming that they had said they might use from time to time. We were disappointed to learn today that the programs were still sitting on the manager's desk waiting to be reviewed. But we had a nice visit with this American woman and her husband - so maybe they will check into our materials soon. They seem to have more Pentecostal leanings in their philosophy, but their main import is getting the people here away from the Lutheran church, which is the official state church of Iceland.

Second stop was to the newspaper office where we took out another advertisement for our Bible correspondence course program. Our former ad had been in Icelandic with an offer to improve English skills by taking our course. But it was a small ad and probably lost in the crowd of other Icelandic ads on the same page, so I suggested changing it to an English ad. Anyone taking our course needs to speak English already, and being in a different language would help it to stand out. We also changed the content. We learned yesterday that a newly printed version of the Bible in Icelandic has caused quite a bit of controversy. Not only was the language changed to a more modern reading, but doctrine was also changed. The new Bible now omits any reference to homosexuality being wrong, and it has many people upset. So we made the first line of the ad, "Has someone been changing your Bible?" I hope we get some interest.

Our last destination was to Marias and Gyða's house for dinner. We could smell the good food as soon as we parked the car outside. Gyða had made a feast! We had one skillet of grilled salmon, and another of breaded haddock fried with onion. To both skillets Gyða had added sliced pineapple after the cooking finished. We also had coleslaw, vegetables, potatoes, and that wonderful Icelandic brown bread that has quickly become one of my favorites. And ice cream for desert. Have I mentioned the ice cream here? Move over Mayfield, Iceland has you beat. Even the cheap brands of ice cream here are unbelievably creamy and rich tasting. It tastes like they have mixed in real whipped cream. I don´t usually care much for vanilla ice cream unless it is ON something, like cake, but plain vanilla here is a treat. Delicious!!!

And, of course, after dinner there were Bible questions and discussions. So a very productive day indeed.

- Linda

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iceland - Day 12

We headed into Reykavìk about noon to have lunch at the furniture store again. The cafeteria at Ikea has proven to be good food at the chepeast price we have found. As we drove I thought again how driving here differs from Georgia. The roads in Iceland have been good, even those that are gravel. The traffic in Reykjavìk has been brisk city driving but nothing hair-raising like Atlanta. but there are still a few oddities. Some intersections in downtown Reykavìk have traffic lights, but everywhere else the norm is traffic circles. Jimmie is used to those in Africa but I still find them strange, especially since the car in the inner lane of the circle has the right of way. You really have to watch carefully so I'm glad I am not doing the driving.

There are also the road signs in Icelandic with street names 12 syllables long and completely unpronounceable to American tongues, but we try anyway. Other signs use pictures a little easier to decipher, such as the steep hillside with rocks falling. Some signs on the busy divided highway in downtown Reykjavìk, though, have made me laugh. According to the pictures farm tractors are prohibited during morning and afternoon rush hours - but cars must always yield to pedestrians or horse-back riders so I guess they are welcome at all times. With a posted speed of 90 kph I just can't imagine any of those being able to keep up.

There is also another custom here that did not seem unusual to me since it was the practice in Samoa. Everyone takes off their shoes at the front door when entering a home. Of course, guys in snowboots have a harder time of it here. In Samoa everyone wore flip-flops.

Worship with the brethren went well this evening. We met at 4:30 for Bible class, probably the first one the children have had. We sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children" in Icelandic. They were not familiar with it but the tune is easy. Then the children taught Katrece and me "Jesùs Er Bestí Vinur Barnanna" (Jesus is the best friend of children). We used bread and fish for visuals as Katrece told them how Jesus fed the 5,000 then the children colored a picture of the loaves and fish. It was not a bad class, especially considering that we had to put it together hurriedly with very little at our disposal. We will be sad to leave these sweet children and brethren behind on Tuesday.

- Linda

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Iceland - Day 11

Today was election day in Iceland, a very important one since the country went bankrupt a few months ago. We went the couple of blocks into downtown Keflavìk and actually had a hard time finding a restaurant open, but the traffic was heavier than usual. It was a reminder, though, of one of the things we have found different in Iceland. The people tend to wear black all the time. All black. And the folks you see on the street or in the mall or even on the advertising billboards look so solemn. But speak to someone and suddenly they are very warm-hearted and friendly here.

Today was also back to work for us. About midway through Jimmie´s lesson Tuesday Marias had rushed from the room and returned with a tape recorder. From that point on he recorded everything. As we were leaving Thursday Marias handed the recorder to Jimmie with a request that Jimmie do again the missing 2 1/2 days. He wanted to have all of the evangelism series on tape, so Jimmie worked on that today.

Also, the tiny congregation has never had any Bible classes, only worship. And they don´t usually even bring their children to that apparently thinking it is only for adults. Katrece and I stressed the importance of teaching the children as well, so we put together a children´s Bible class for tomorrow. Katrece decided to tell the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 so I went to work attempting to translate "Jesus Loves Me". I used an Internet translation site, but I simply could not sing it. There were way too many syllables. So I tried "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and got better results. Then Hilmar, our landlord, arrived so I asked him to check the translation. "No! No! No!" was his response as soon as he started reading. The web translator had used a bad word, totally unacceptable. Oh, dear! I never expected that! Thankfully, Hilmar rewrote the song for me. Now if only we can sing it tomorrow.

This evening we went to the grocery store to buy the fixins for a Mexican Nacho dinner. But the first hurdle was "Where´s the beef?" We all searched the meat trays searching. I located various pork cuts. That was easy because there was a picture of a pig on it. But ground beef was eluding us until we got help. Mexican was good tonight.

- Linda

Iceland - Day 10 Again

In my enthusiasm for the lava beach I completely forgot to mention a few other interesting spots yesterday. I'll blame it on exhaustion after a very long day.

When we were hit by those unbelievable winds about midmorning they did more than create havoc with our car and picture-taking. That stretch of the trip we had the ocean to our left and frequent small lakes to our right. The wind was causing rough waves in both, but in the mist rising from the lakes rainbows appeared to skip across the water pushed by the wind. It happened repeatedly so I finally checked to make sure I wasn't the only one seeing this strange sight.

One stop (after the wind) was to a little sod-covered building that must be a restaurant and picnic area during tourist season (May - September). There was a hole in the ground and a large sign stating that it was where the journey to the center of the earth began. None of us wanted to try it. But I had read that the Brendan Fraiser movie was filmed in parts of Iceland. Now we will have to watch it again to see if we recognize anything.

We also missed a turn off the highway we had been following since leaving Borgarnes onto a gravel road that would keep us on the coast. We realized this rather quickly as the road headed straight up the Snæfellnes mountain range that fills the center of the peninsula. The road was narrow so we had to climb for a bit before William could find a spot wide enough to turn around. But we had been warned that this was the high mountain pass going up to the glacier, Snæfell-jokull, and we should probably stay off of it. After seeing how much snow, ice and slick road we encountered on the LOW pass on our return, I am very glad that we came back down when we did. Besides, we would have completely missed that spectacular lava beach.

We got back to Reykjavìk in time for supper at a restaurant our landlord recommended, Pöturinn ög Panninn (Pots and Pans). It was our first time at anything more than a sandwich shop. I had monkfish - something I had never heard of but read that it was popular here - while Jimmie had a steak that he was not sure was beef. But both were delicious.

- Linda

Friday, April 24, 2009

Iceland - Day 10

Today was down time since the brethren were busy with other things, so we got up early and headed out to see some of the island north of us. Jimmie and I donned our long-johns for the first time today and I was already grumbling that they were too warm before we left the B & B. THAT conclusion evaporated in a matter of seconds after stepping out of the door to cross the parking lot. The weather in Keflavìk was partly cloudy with a temperature of 35 degrees, but it was soon to get colder still so we were grateful for every bit of warmth we could muster.

William plotted out a course to drive north on Hwy 1, the Ring Road that encirles Iceland. The countryside was lovely with lots of horses again and the first sheep we have seen - a flock of exactly 3! At the Borgarfjordur we took the tunnel that goes under the water to reach the other side then stopped at Borgarnes where it was snowing briskly. Then we branched off to travel around the coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula along the coastline and minutes later we had clear blue skies. The snow-covered mountain range was incredibly beautiful. It was also incredibly desolate, the kind of wild beauty where you are actually suprised to meet another car or see an isolated house nestled under a mountain because they were so few and far between. But one section of the drive we experienced the fiercest winds imaginable - gale force at least. We stopped for pictures a couple of times and the guys could barely manage to stand in the wind even hanging onto the car. (We heard after our return that the wind was so bad that it actually blew over a truck.) We were very glad when that was calm again.

We stopped at one particularly striking rock formation along the coast, but had to climb a long grade to reach the cliff and get a proper look. It was worth the effort! The black lava beach with the blue breakers instantly reminded me of Taputimu where we lived in Samoa. Jimmie, William and Katrece continued on up another hill to get another view of the cliff while I opted to wait for them. I sat down on a lava formation and viewed the area around me. Straight in front of me were miles of lava field covered in lichen or dried grass. To my left was the North Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks far below me. It and the sea birds circling were the only sounds I could hear. And to my right was a massive mountain topped by the Snæfells-Jokull. I had hoped to see a glacier while we were here, and there it was before me! I could only think that you would not find that combination very many places in the world.

Today was truly a beautiful day, and an amazing reminder of the greatness of our God who created such wonders.

- Linda

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iceland - Day 9

"Gleði legt sumar! Takk fyrir veturinn!" That is how Marias greeted us this afternoon.

Today was a national holiday so there was no school and many businesses were closed. It was Sumardagurinn fyrsti - the first day of summer. The ancient Icelandic calendar viewed the world as having only two seasons: skammdegi - short days (winter) and náttleysi - nightless days (summer). So what Marias told us today was "Happy Summer! Thank you for the weather!" It actually snowed in Reykjavìk last night and this afternoon it was a solid grey world with a steady rain and 41 degrees. But summer has officially arrived in Iceland.

We held the last of our scheduled workshops early this afternoon since Darlene had to be at work at 6 pm. It went long because there were many questions asked so Darlene waited until the very last moment possible and still make it to her job. It is wonderful to meet with people who are eager to learn more.

We headed back to the B & B afterwards since Gyða had filled all of us to the brim with her wonderful afternoon coffee. Marias was telling us that afternoon coffee or tea with lots of little snacks is a tradition here. Gyða had again made her delicious pönnukökur (very thin pancakes) served with fruit preserves and whipped cream that have been a major hit with all of our group. The cream crackers with egg salad or bacon spread have been very popular as well. But today she also had something new, Icelandic brown bread served with butter and salami. Very good! No wonder her afternoon coffee served as our supper tonight.

- Linda

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Iceland - Day 8

It has been another wet, wet day. But not as cold or dramatically changeable as yesterday. We decided to head into Reykajvìk and hang out at the big mall everyone has told us about, Kringlan Mall. That would give us a place to walk around and see, and it has a parking garage so we didn´t have to get out in the weather even to get to the stores. Shopping is definitely not on Jimmie´s favorite anything list, but he doesn´t mind browsing so I think we all enjoyed it. We have bought very little while here, and we didn´t buy much today other than a late lunch, because everything is expensive.

But I ran into an Iceland oddity again so perhaps I should try to describe it. They have the strangest revolving doors here, at least I had never seen one like them before. At the entrance to the malls and larger stores there is a large, metal circle in the floor (maybe 8 feet across) with a glass wall that spins around it. There are 2 breaks in this wall allowing you to step into the circle and walk across to the other side to step out when there is an opening, which works wonderfully well to keep the bad weather out of the store. But there is also a glass wall that goes through the center of the circle that spins around with the outer wall. It always gives me a sense of urgency - we have to get out of that circle quickly before that center wall smacks you. Of course, they also use part of the space to set up displays which is rather interesting. They spin with the wall.

Another thing that we saw today was a rainbow. Katrece noticed it spanning the inlet where all the ships are docked at Reykjavìk as we were driving to the evening´s workshop. It went right across the water below the clouds as though touching both sides of the land, and looked so close it seemed that we could have driven right over to it. It has been years since I have seen a rainbow at home and they always look so high and faraway there. The ladies tonight were a bit surprised at our enthusiasm over the rainbow because they are quite commonplace here.

Katrece and I finished out lessons for the workshop tonight. The workshop runs through tomorrow but 2 of the ladies, Anna and Svanhildur, are leaving tomorrow morning flying to Budapest for the weekend and asked if there was anyway we could hurry our part. Since they didn´t want to miss anything we were happy to do that. So today our Ladies´class took a bit more than an hour as Katrece and I spoke back to back. The brothers and sisters here have asked some really good questions and I´m pleased by their interest.

- Linda

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iceland - Day 7

Today was a strange day weatherwise. The first thing I noticed this morning was that the sun was shining, definitely not typical since our arrival, and the wind was calm. Yet it seemed like just minutes later that the clouds started rolling in and the sun disappeared. By mid-morning it was sleeting tiny drops of frozen rain that bounced across the brick parking lot at the B & B. Right after lunch we headed to Reykjavìk to look about a bit before our workshop at 6 tonight. As we drove I noticed that to my right the clouds were thick and I could see a great expanse of rain falling. But to my left the sky was clear blue with sunshine again. In Reykjavìk we wandered down Laugavegur, an interesting brick road lined with shops that is the main shopping area in the city, under overcast skies and very cold temperatures. We stopped for a quick, early supper so that we could arrive on time at our class, and had hardly stepped into the little pizzeria when suddenly it was sleeting again. By the way, Jimmie and I had the fish and chips which were advertised outside as "probably the best in the world". They could be right! As we returned to Keflavìk tonight after our classes the sun was setting on clear, blue skies.

Ok, so I haven't mentioned some of the strangest things that have happened to us on the trip. Like Jimmie, William & Katrece getting stuck on an elevator in the Boston airport. (I made it off. They didn't and disappeared from sight.) Or being told to leave the big Lutheran church downtown. (It is open to tourists, but apparently had something special going on when we joined the other folks walking through the doors that were standing wide open. But it is the first time any of us had been kicked out of a church - and the only ones who were blocked. I guess we just didn´t look Lutheran.) But today was the weirdest, at least to me.

We had been walking quite a while when I mentioned that a bathroom would be nice. Minutes later we spotted the needed blue W/C on a large, round tube with advertising signs on it erected on the corner of the sidewalk. It had an arrow pointing to the right, so we headed that way and found . . . nothing. We went back and searched again, circling the big tube and could not see any sign of a bathroom anywhere. Then suddenly Katrece called out, "Here it is!" The bathroom was actually inside the tube. I took a look, saw what I took to be a money slot, and turned away because I did not have any coins. . . and because the idea of a bathroom on a busy city sidewalk was just totally weird. But Jimmie took a closer look, found the Opið button and suddenly the metal door slid back revealing a toilet. Thanks, Jimmie. I stepped into the tiny stall.

The first thing I noticed was there was no lock on the door - not good. The second thing was that there was no button, lever or handle to flush it - I searched. Finally I opened the door to see if Jimmie knew anything about this contraption, and it closed right back in my face. I opened it again and Jimmie told me that it would be automatic when I left the tube, but zzzippp and the door was closed again. I started out the third time, but apparently not quickly enough and had to jump back as the door slid shut again. The fourth time I finally made it back to the sidewalk. And what was my dear, sweet, knight-in-shining-armor doing through all this? Sitting on a park bench laughing, of course.

- Linda

Monday, April 20, 2009

Iceland - Day 6

I walked down to the bookstore with William & Katrece this morning first thing to look for post cards for my collection. I also wanted to buy an English / Icelandic dictionary and had a small paperback variety picked out. But what on earth was the price? The tag either said 4,245 or 4.245 - it was really hard to tell but made a great difference in what I would be paying. Finally, I went to the clerk to ask the price. It was the 4245 kronur so that worked out to $35 US. Whoa! I didn´t expect that much so I put the book back!

This morning the wind had a definite bite to it, but as the day progressed it became vansæll veðdur - miserable weather, truly nasty. By early afternoon the temperature was in the 30s with a driving rain and very strong winds. It was one of those days that you really want to curl up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot tea, and not move. But that was exactly when we had to get out to drive to Reykjavìk for the first of our workshop sessions.

The attendance today was very good, actually more than was there for worship yesterday. All 3 of Marias and Gyða´s daughters were there, plus their oldest grandaughter, as well as Paul and Darlene. Darlene is from the Philippines and speaks excellent English. She met Paul online and came to Iceland to marry him 2 years ago. She was a Christian when she arrived here and from what I understand was responsible for converting her husband. So the men and Darlene are easy to converse with in English, but Gyða and her daughters are not as fluent. We still manage to communicate though. The classes went well and took a full 2 hours. Jimmie spoke to the joint session about evangelism, then we broke into separate classes with William teaching the men and me the women today.

After class Gyða again provided us with a wonderful afternoon coffee or tea break while everyone chatted and got to know each other better. Suddenly, Marias came rushing into the kitchen where Katrece, Gyða and I were chatting to tell us we must hurry to the furniture store. They had told us that the Ikea store cafeteria was a good place to eat cheap so we had made plans to go there. We just barely made it. In fact, they locked the gate right behind the last of our party at 6:30 on the dot. Like I said, things close early here.

- Linda

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Iceland - Day 5

The weather here is a major element of our Icelandic experience. The first 2 days it was fairly pleasant so that a coat was not needed most of the time. As a result when we headed out in search of the newspaper office on Friday Jimmie didn´t even get his coat until I fussed at him - but am I glad that I did. When we ended up wandering about on that mountain top we got our first taste of bitterly cold Icelandic wind. We were definitely NOT dressed for it (my long johns were back at the B & B, brrrrrr!) but to not have had a coat would have been disastrous. Since then the temperatures have been chillier and the winds stronger. Our landlord was popping in and out this morning with only short shirt sleeves talking about the spring weather, and the 4 of us were eyeing him in disbelief. The winds were very strong today, shaking the building, rattling doors, and pushing you along when you walked outside.

There is a large map of Iceland in the foyer of the guesthouse and I took a few moments to look at it a bit closer this morning. Those miles and miles of incredibly rugged countryside between here and Reykjavìk are actually lava fields. They are covered in some kind of lime green lichen so I had not realized that, but no wonder they appear so harsh. According to the map much of the southern portion of Iceland (where we are) is covered in lava fields, which is not a comforting thought exactly. Makes me wonder where the source was. I have found pictures of at least 2 volcanic eruptions on the island in the last 15 years or so.

We worshipped with the church in Reykjavìk this afternoon and it was wonderful to at last meet everyone. The Christians in the congregation there were Marias and Gyða (the church meets in their home), their middle daughter Swanhildir, and a couple Paul and Darlene. Another man also attends regularly but has not yet obeyed the Gospel, and the last visitor was a man from Pennsylvania, Royce Sartin. They gave us a copy of the Icelandic hymns they planned to sing during worship, so before we started I asked Paul to tell us a translation so that we would have some idea what we were singing. He did and they were very pretty songs. They also sang What a Friend We Have In Jesus in Icelandic while the Georgia group sang it in English. Jimmie preached on the Authority of Christ. Everything went very well and afterwards there was lots of time to visit with our brothers and sisters. Our workshop begins tomorrow afternoon so I hope it goes as smoothly.

By the way, we would love to hear from you, too. Just hit the comment link below a posting or send us an email. If there is something you have always wanted to know about Iceland but were afraid to ask, now is the time. I will try to find out for you.

- Linda

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iceland - Day 4

We had a quiet day, which was probably a good thing after the unexpected adventures of yesterday. (Did I mention that narrow dirt road along the top ridge of a snow-capped mountain?) Today we kept it simple with catching up on laundry and cooking at the B & B. Katrece and I went grocery shopping this morning and were surprised that we had to wait for the doors to be unlocked because it wasn't quite 10. I'm glad it was Saturday because the store didn't open until noon the other days. Stores open late and close early here - by 6 or 7. That is certainly a different sales concept. But I also noticed that the store was bustling moments after it opened as customers swarmed in quickly, so perhaps the short hours work here. Americans have become accustomed to 24/7.

William finally heard from Marias this morning. William had tried to set up a meeting either yesterday or today to make the final plans fr our workshop. Marias emailed this meeting will be tomorrow afternoon followed immediately by the Lord's day worship. The workshop is supposed to start Monday with 2 teaching sessions each night, one joint and one for men & women separate, so we need more space than in Marias' living room. But the brethren have not yet told us yet where this will be. I hope there are no problems at this late date.

- Linda

PS. We had Skyr again for supper tonight, but an Icelander told us the best way to eat it was with sugar and milk. Much better!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Iceland - Day 3

It occurs to me that there is alot I have not mentioned yet, such as the place we are staying. The B & B Guesthouse is close to the airport. We have a tiny bedroom with 2 twin beds and a place to hang our coats. The 2 bathrooms, small kitchen and a lounge with chairs is shared by all. There is also a computer with Internet access that is open to all guests. This small desk is where Jimmie continues to do his usual TFTW BCC work each day, where we both handle work email, and I write on this blog. Some of the other guests are interesting since they come from so many places. One Icelandic lady has returned here from Belgium to run for political office, so she is out campaigning each day. Another lady tonight is from Scotland but is a college professor who has lived in northern Iceland for the last 5 years and is on her way to Italy. A German couple came through for which I know absolutely nothing because they didn't speak English. And so on. Hilmar, the landlord, is very pleasant and helpful and is trying to improve our Icelandic.

I haven't explained this Icelandic keyboard either. The Icelandic language has many more letters in it than English does, plus various accent marks that have to be used on the different letters. So, some of the English symbols are in different places while Icelandic ones are where I expect them to be. It has made for some interesting typing and I may not have caught all the typos.

As we headed to Reykjavìk in search of the newspaper plant this morning, I realized that I had not mentioned the Rock Trolls. Big, fearsome trolls or little rock piles; solitary trolls or family groups - Rock Trolls stand along the side of the road everywhere we go. William (the artist) said it was the lazy man's kind of sculpture. Me (the weakling) took a long look at the size of some of these boulders and told him he might want to rethink that one. Some of these human-shaped stacks of rock are humongous and obviously extremely heavy. Stacking them to make people was a lot of work.

Of course, to make a troll you would never have to look far for the rocks. There is definitely no shortage of them on this island. I do not believe that I have ever seen a place covered by so much rock. And since Iceland sits atop the joining of 2 of the earth's teutonic plates, more rocks show up from time to time.

One thing Iceland IS short of, though, is road signs. And of course, what few signs we do find are written in Icelandic which does not always help. This occurs to me every time we are on a desolate, unmarked road and I hear sounds from the front seat that indicate the guys no longer have a clue where we are on the map again. I heard those sounds today as we headed to Reykjavìk to take out an ad for our BCCs and we completely missed the newspaper building. A few turns later and we were on a narrow dirt road with no turnarounds that took us to the top of the mountain and down the other side at a 14 degree incline. That route looked hazardous enough today, but with ice on the road it would have been treacherous indeed. Our surroundings were absolutely spectacular, but it would have been comforting to know if we are headed away from or toward civilization.

- Linda

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Iceland - Day 2

The sun came up this morning about 5:45. Now it is 10 pm and still not completely dark outside. The time in-between has been filled with a fascinating day.

William couldn't get in touch with Marias, the Icelandic man he has been coordinating with, so we decided to see something of the island today. So with William driving and Jimmie navigating we set off . . . and almost immediately missed our turn. No problem, they just picked another route that quickly turned to gravel road and the most amazing drive. The first turn around for a photo was a curiosity. "What is that hanging in those sheds to dry?" Turned out to be thousands upon thousands of fish. We later learned that these fish are shipped to Nigeria for soup. Ugh! Following that there were incredible vistas with snow-capped mountains, black sand beaches, and deep brown rock sculptured by years of snow and ice. They were the kind of panoramic views that a camera cannot possibly catch but you try anyway.

At Seltún we learned a new Icelandic word - Hætta! That's Danger! The warning was about Steam Explosions. The area was filled with pools of grey, murky mud pots boiling in the ground before me and steam vents spraying sulphur steam into the air. By the time we reached Þorlàkshöfn it was well into the afternoon and we were seriously in need of lunch. But how to find a restaurant? Houses and businesses all look pretty much alike and after doing a complete circuit of the town we had not located anything open that looked like it would serve a meal, so we stopped at a bakery. What a wonderful choice. The Kökugerðdin had a wonderful minced meat and cheese sandwich big enough for Jimmie and me to share, plus pastries galore.

Today we saw the sea, and the mountains, and I actually got to make a snowball. We also drove through some of the harshest, most rugged terrain I had ever encountered. My respect for the original Viking settlers went up tremendously for they had to have been very hardy souls to carve out a settlement on this island.

Late in the afternoon we got back to civilization and the town of Reykjavik where we were scheduled to move tomorrow. But when we stopped to check on our hotel there we discovered that they did not have a reservation for us afterall. We aren´t sure what happened, but it is just as well since none of us particularly liked the place. It's only redeeming feature was that it would have been closer to the brethren for the series of lessons we have planned. But we will remain at the B & B instead and probably be much happier here.

And tonight we met Marias and his wife Gyða. We all went to a restaurant for American style hamburgers which were very good, but not exactly the American I'm used to.

So today was a good day. And tomorrow the day will be 6 1/2 minutes longer.

- Linda

Iceland - Day 1

We walked through Keflavík (pronouced Kef-lah-week) yesterday afternoon and discovered a few things.
  • The B & B Guesthouse shares the building with another business so our guestrooms are on the floor above the Fiskboðin - fish market. Ah, that could get interesting since our tiny room is so hot an open window is a must.
  • Coke is everywhere! The little diner where we ate fish & chips (breakfast) was filled with coke memorabilia. Definitely my kind of place.
  • This currency exchange is confusing. The prices in Icelandic kronur are HUGE but they don´t always write them huge. I picked out a small handful of postcards that said they cost .95 or .65 each, yet Jimmie handed the clerk a 1000 kr bill and only got a few coins back. I know my eyes popped. Later when we bought some Skyr for our supper Jimmie quickly figured out which coins to use in addition to the 500 kr bill he had just forked over. Now I am officially bewildered because I KNOW that the 2 items I put on the counter cost 1.79 and 2.98 plus tax. Why are 500 bills being needed? Jimmie had to explain to me that a period (.) here is just a shorthand way of writing 100. That little tub of Skyr actually cost 1790 kronur. A comma (,) is what they use in prices like we do a decimal point. So even the numbers need translating? I think that paying in Iceland needs to be a Jimmie job.
  • Skyr is the Icelandic version of yogurt, only much thicker with a little different texture. Not bad, but I don´t think Dannon´s has any need to worry.

We also got a rental car yesterday so we drove a bit, trying to get acclimated. The main color of Iceland right now is brown. The temperature is fairly pleasant and we only needed sweaters until we stopped at a lighthouse on the coast and then the heavy coats quickly came out of the trunk. The buildings are very simple in design, something Jimmie really likes, and except for the sea being in almost every view it reminds him of Malawi. But seeing huge steam vents rising in the distance is a reminder that this island basically sits on top of a volcano.

- Linda

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We have arrived safely and IF I can figure out this Icelandic computer keyboard I will tell you some of the short journal I dotted down during the flights.


While waiting for takeoff I was laughing at some of the strange and ridiculously expensive items for sale in the Sky Mall magazine. Jimmie smiled, "You don´t get out much, do you?" Suddenly it dawned on me that this was my first flight since our Samoa campaign in 2005. So, yes, I was fairly excited. I have always loved flying. Well, really just the takeoffs. I still find that moment when you go from whizzing down the runway to soaring into the air absolutely amazing. How is that possible? Add to that the beauty of getting a bird's eye view of God's creation through great mounds of white clouds dolloped below us. Of course you also have to balance that with cramped seating, crying babies, screaming kids, TURBULENCE, the boredom of not being able to read or even look at the Fasten Seat Belt sign without getting motion sickness, andthe onset of total exhaustion. Actually, these long campaign flights can be totally miserable.

Jimmie, seasoned world traveler that he is, was asleep before the plane finished backing away from the gate.


We have a 5-hour layover but "Boston" just looks like another series of buildings with planes parked outside. I can state this as an expert on the airport because we saw it ALL. Our hunt for the International Terminal turned into an excruciatingly long and confusing search filled with twists and turns like running a maze plus changing levels repeatedly for reasons that cause me to suspect the designers had a mean streak. All of this is hampered by a broken wheel on my large carry-on meaning that we now have 3 bags that have to be carried rather than pulled . . . because the airport push carts can't be taken from one terminal to the next. Again, thoughts on the designers. We never would have made it from Terminal A to E if William & Katrece had not volunterily taken on an extra load. They were so sweet.


16 hours after leaving our house in Dacula we got our first glimpse of Iceland. There isn´t a trace of white anywhere except the hazy mountains tops off in the distance. As we landed all I could see was shades of brown mud. A very short nap and we are off in search of breakfast.

PS William Howard set up a blog for this trip just before leaving Georgia. You may want to check it out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sitting on Ready

Well, the bags are packed - again. (We had to do some quick juggling when I discovered that the International portion of our trip had lower carryon allowances than the US flight.) Jimmie has done the pre-flight, online check-in and printed our boarding passes. It looks like the only thing left is heading to the airport in the morning. Thomas Reid, one of the elders at the Duluth congregation, will be driving us the 40 or so miles to the southwest side of Atlanta. From there we fly to Boston then on to Iceland, arriving early Wednesday morning just after the sun comes up. The weather experts say the temperature will be in the 30s with a little rain and wind when we step off the plane. Brrrr! But the forecast for the end of the week is that the thermometer will soar into the 50s. Heat Wave!!!

I will try to keep in touch on a regular basis if I possibly can. If there is something you have always wanted to know about Iceland, or you just want to say "hi", make a comment at the end of any of the posts and we should get it.

Please keep us - and the Hill and Howard families - in your prayers.

- Linda

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What is Your Icelandic Name?

One little oddity that we will run into in Iceland is the fact that they do not use surnames there. Rather than a family name the Icelanders retain the centuries earlier practice of patronyms (identifying a person with the name of their father). Makes it a tad more difficult to keep track of who is married to who, obviously! William Howard also tells me that finding someone in the local telephone book is a bit more of a challenge until you figure out that record-keeping is based on the FIRST name, not the last. But at least that explains why all the names I have been reading about in Iceland have such similarities. There are only 2 possible endings. If I were from Iceland my name would be Linda Everettsdottir (literally, Linda daughter of Everett) while Jimmie would be Jimmie Jaspersson.

So what would YOUR name be in Icelandic?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Good News!

Dear brethren,

Below is a letter that brother Shawn Elliot, one of Truth for the World’s Internet Bible Correspondence Course teachers, received from one of his students. This student obeyed the Gospel of Christ. As you read this letter, please keep in mind Matthew 10:34-39.

Brethren, this is just one example of what our work together can do for the church of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The letter is as written by our brother in Christ, Justice Chidi, of Nigeria and sent with the exception of a few corrections for smoothness and understanding.

Thank you, so much, for your support of our work with the Duluth Church of Christ and Truth for the World.

In Christ Who Saves,
Jimmie B. Hill

Dear Brother Shawn,

I called you brother because, I was told immediately after my baptism that I am now a brother in Christ in the household, so you are a brother in Christ to me now. In fact, I was so excited during the event, everything was like a dream to me but its real, I am now born in Christ, I know this decision and what I have ventured into isn’t going to be an easy task considering my background and former religion as a Muslim with all around one practicing.

Already, my parents were not comfortable with the news and are threatening. But I try to let them understand that Christianity is the ultimate. Yesterday, when I came back from church worship which was very interesting, I couldn’t find my LAPTOP computer. It was a gift by my dad last year for my birthday, now he has seized it, because he knows its what I use to communicate and study with you.

Now I now have to travel several kilometres to an Internet business center to write you and send the response to studies. He said the only way he will give me back the LAPTOP is when I forget about Christianity and that if I don’t adhere to that as at yesterday that he will deal with me and disown me.

I had to leave the house because, my little sister confided in me secretly that my dad plans to lock me up and deal with me. I had no choice than to move into brother Hope, the preachers house for now. I know God will see me through.

Please pray for me and continue to encourage me. I can never forget you because what you have done for me is more than Gold. You have lead me to where I will get salvation and get eternal life. I am grateful.

I was able to get some pics and I am sending them to you including the one I took when I was being baptized attached to this email. The first was taken when I was in water with preacher Hope Alozie for baptism. The 2nd is I and 2 other new converts and the 3rd is a group photographs of members of the congregation. Please give my greetings to your wife and kids. Lesson 6 is ready for your grading.

I hope to hear from you soonest.
Yours In Christ,


Greetings from Georgia!

I can’t believe that Iceland is now less than two weeks away! April 14-29 is rushing at us like a freight train, as the saying goes. But I think I am on track. My lessons are almost complete, I’ve gathered extra materials to take to the sisters there, and I have learned a few words in Icelandic. I have also gotten lots of warm clothing – probably more than will fit in my suitcase. But I really hate being cold and William Howard tells me that Iceland has stayed under the freezing mark for the last week. Actually, at this precise moment it is 31 in Reykjavik and snowing, with winds 18 – 20 mph making a wind-chill of 22. Excuse me while I go find another sweater . . .

March was filled with other activities as well.
• Jimmie flew to St. Charles, Missouri, to speak to the West End Church of Christ. They have a wonderful group of BCC teachers there and it sounded like he thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
• Jimmie also wrote a new issue of Equipping the Saints on the subject of Giving. It has been uploaded to the TFTW website, Volume 18.
TFTW Broadcasting completed a new DVD focusing on our work and staff, including Jimmie and me (cringe!) Being on camera is not one of my favorite things, but Dave Komisak managed to catch us all. If you would like a copy to show to your congregation, just let us know.
New Hope Road Church of Christ, our home congregation, began a 4-day Gospel meeting March 29th - April 1st. I don’t believe I have ever been to a Gospel meeting before where the elders of the congregation did the preaching, but Jimmie and Kieth Fields are doing a terrific job. Of course, I will admit that I could be just a tad prejudice – but not much.

Please keep the Howards and Hills in your prayers as we work in Iceland. My hope is to give frequent updates during the trip on our Hill Mission blog, although right now I am not sure how readily accessible the Internet will be. But if you are interested, check our page and I will write as often as I can. I hope you have a safe, warm Spring!

In Christian Love,
Linda Hill