Sunday, November 30, 2008

Watch Your Wallet

The pictures do not relate to my post heading - just thought I would share them. When we arrived in Iceland all was black between here in Selfoss and Reykjavík as we later found out the moss that grows on the lava was dead from lack of water. After the snow and rain the moss began to grow and it was really beautiful in the sun (sorry forgot the camera the one day it was sunny). The other is another sunrise from our apartment which we enjoy when it isn´t completely clouded in. The sun rises about 10:30 AM now. As for watch your wallet it is just a warning to watch that our government in the US doesn't mess up the financial system like has happened here. All payments (like rent, loans, ect) are pegged to an index of some category. This means that our rent goes up based on a particular index or if you have a house or car loan your payments will increase based on an index. Our rent was established on the September index of 310 and by December it had increased to 322.3. What that meant to our rent was an increase from 85,000 ISK to 88,000 ISK. The landlord rounded down from 88,373 ISK. The January index has already been set at 327.9 so you can see there is no slowing of the increases. Last night I walked across the river to get a head of lettuce that cost $3.88. The walk over wasn't too bad as the wind was behind me but coming home in the -8 C temperature with a wind in my face that kept the flags flying straight out was a bit chilling - all to save on the gas to pay for the lettuce (it was from Spain but even the local lettuce was just as expensive and it is not the same). Just remember the mess this country is in is the result to lots of greed and terrible financial policies and practices. Let's keep an eye on our legislators and financial gurus.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We woke up this morning to clear sky even though you don´t find out until later when it starts getting light. The sunrise was at 10:30 AM and the sunset was at 3:30 PM today. We had a beautiful clear day but with that comes cold temperatures. It isn't all that cold at 20 F but the winds are still high with the flags flying straight out so our walk across the river to the library was a cold walk. When we left yesterday to go to Reykjavík there was a little ice on the river but this morning it was a whole different story as you can tell by the pictures. It is a little hard to tell but in the center of the top picture the ice is piling up high in the middle of the river.


Much of Wednesday was spent preparing food for Thanksgiving except for the great teaching we had with Eyþor, Dagmar and Jón - great family. I made a berry cheesecake and peeled all the apples and potatoes for the apple pie and mashed potatoes, but then I blew it as I was heating up the berries for pouring over the cheesecake. Instead I burned the bottom of the apple pie (remember these kitchens are small and no where to put things to cool while continuing to make other things), so I had to run to the store and buy more apples for another pie. Maybe there was madness to my plan as I got a whole apple pie to leave home. Thursday we drove to Reykjavík for Thanksgiving dinner with all the missionaries and a young couple from the US going to the University of Iceland. The drive was treacherous with 45 MPH winds and gusts even greater but since the roads were dry and free of ice I managed to keep the car on the road if not always straight. Way too much good food with turkey (at about $5 per pound), dressing, jams, mashed potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, bread, cheesecake, and apple and pumpkin pie along with whipped cream. Wow makes me hungry even though I ate too much yesterday. We have so much to be thankful for and then we over eat!


This has been a very good week. Monday we had three lessons all out of town. One was NE of town about 30 minutes out and the other two were SE of town about 15 minutes and another 15 minutes further SE. Tuesday we went east 2 1/2 hours to teach a man who had been taught several months ago by a different set of Elders. It took us much longer to get there as we stopped along the way to see two waterfalls and a glacier that you can see from the road but we stopped to walk up closer. The weather was cold and windy but Finnur was so open to the gospel message it didn't seem all that cold when we got to him. We had a great lesson with him and when we got up to leave he gave us two fish he had caught - one was a salmon but the other we are not sure. Then Wednesday evening we taught a great family about 15 minutes SE of town. They were very open to learning the Gospel and asked us to come back even before we could ask if we could.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Denmark Copenhagen Mission Conference

On November 19, 2008 we attended one of those highlights of your mission. This was the full day mission conference session. It began with the testimony of a Danish convert of 1962 who was taught by Elder Larson one on our current senior couple missionaries. He told how the missionaries and particularly Elder Larson had taught his family the gospel and how it had blessed their family over the last 46 years. Then Brother and Sister Karlson of Sweden told how our current Mission President had taught and baptized them in 1966 on his mission in Sweden and the blessings their family - children and grandchildren have received because of President Olauson bringing them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Brother and Sister Karlson are both ordinance workers in the Copenhagen Temple and were with us on Tuesday too. What an inspiration for all these missionaries to learn first hand from people who were taught and baptized over 40 years ago my men they are now serving with. We have four Elders in our couples who served in Denmark who have been able to reestablish contact with members they taught and baptized in the 60's. Probably the only part of the mission conference that was not appreciated by some was lunch time when we got our flu shots. There were several missionaries that did not want the shot. After lunch Eileen and Sister Larson sang a beautiful version of "Prayer of Thanksgiving". They both have beautiful voices and they sounded wonderful together. After more speakers and training by great Elders and Sister we concluded the conference with a testimony meeting and then Thomas Kofod who portrayed Jesus in The Testaments (small picture) sang the closing song "I Heard Him Come". He was amazing to hear and I don't think there was a dry eye in the building. President Olauson said he has been trying to get him to sing at a Zone Conference for over 15 months but schedules have not worked. He as well as everyone in attendance were glad they didn't so we all had this special experience.

The Christus in The Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen

After arriving in Copenhagen Monday all of the Icelandic missionaries went to see the Christus in The Church of Our Lady. Outside the church is a statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments and inside is Jesus Christ at the front of the church with the 12 Apostles at each of the columns lining both side of the church. The statues are all quite impressive and it was great to see the original Christus as well as the statue of Peter holding the keys of the Priesthood that President Kimball talked about when visiting the church.

Denmark Copenhagen Temple

It has been awhile since we have posted as we have been very busy with the great mission work going on in Iceland and because Monday November 17 we went to Copenhagen Denmark for a Mission Conference. On Tuesday the entire mission went to the Temple and because of the large number of missionaries we had to split into two groups. I was in the 2nd group and again because of the numbers we had to find space for all the missionaries to wait for the second session. They ended up sitting on the stairs which were slightly curved within white walls so you could see all the way to the top. The treads were light blue with light glowing beneath each tread. With Elders sitting on each side of the stairs for almost 2 stories it created a most impressive sight. The Temple President when seeing it said it was a sight he would treasure in his mind and in his heart as it touched him so. It was quite the sight to behold - all that power and authority held by those great young men.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Not much time to write so just going to share these beautiful sunset pictures. All three were taken from our apartment. The top two are looking east and the bottom one is looking west.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Those of you who know me, know I am always turning off lights, shutting doors and windows and whatever else to conserve our natural resources as well as our money. So when we moved into our apartment and found the toilet ran constantly, I asked the landlord to fix it (I couldn't figure our how to get the top off to see if I could fix it). He could not figure out how to get the top off either and said we don't worry about the water usage so it is OK. Then this week the toilet wouldn't flush so I figured out how to get the top off and discovered the entire underside was covered with mold as well as the wall behind. I cleaned up the mold which probably accounts for our sore throats but I could not stop the flow of water so asked the landlord to again fix it as the constant flow also caused a constant flow of water on the floor from the sweating tank. He came last night and proceeded to break the insides and said he will have to get another and for now we are using a bucket to flush the toilet. He then said he noticed moisture on our windows and in Iceland that means we have to open the windows and turn up the heat. Again my conservation kicks in and he said OH it' OK that is what we do in Iceland to get rid of the moisture so it doesn't ruin the windows. So in our living room, kitchen and bedroom we have one each one foot square windows that are now open. It is nice though because we can hear the river better with them open especially in the bedroom. I am not sure how long this process will work though as we have the heat (hot water radiators) turned as high as they will go and it is in the 30's with no wind. When the winds pick back up which is most of the time and the temperatures drop again, I think the windows will have to go closed again. The picture was taken from our living room at 9:30 AM this morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Learning Icelandic

Eileen is reading a book on the history of Iceland which is written in a non-traditional manner. The writer is traveling with her father from their home in Scotland to learn about his homeland. She starts by saying her father is too fastidious about language - both English and Icelandic. On the flight to Iceland to deflect his wrath about her English she suggests talking in Icelandic altogether. This is a smart move because although my grammar there is a mangled mess, he is delighted I can manage anything at all. I horrified him by asking if he could remind me how to decline bók, a word I knew would prove useful. The nominative for 'book' was no trouble, but we were nowhere near the eight case variations, including all the plurals, before we gave up. And this is the man who is supposed to be fluent. But then, Icelandic is a seriously tricky tongue. We are talking about a language which has twelve different forms for every number from one to four. Twelve, I tell you. Everything which moves is conjugated, declined and mystifyingly altered. They would modify your grandmother if you let them. As a matter of fact, they do modify your grandmother: amma becomes ömmu when she is the object of a sentence.

We found her commentary on Icelandic funny but seriously it is very difficult for those of us who don´t even remember what an adverb is or a participle for that matter. We are learning though!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Iceland Conference

This weekend we had Zone Conference with all the missionaries and the Mission President - President Olauson. We also had an Iceland Conference for both branches in Iceland. It was a great two days to spend with all the missionaries, President Olauson and the great members in the two branches. Zone Conference was Saturday morning and afternoon followed by a Priesthood Session and an adult session in the evening. Systir Bremner spoke on service at the adult session and many of the members were very touched by her comments which included stories from our family. I think the sisters were touched the most as they related to their families. The conference theme was Trusting in the Lord. Many of the members have been greatly affected by the financial mess in Iceland and the theme was most appropriate. Sunday morning a sister originally from Uganda and now married to an American bore her testimony on Trusting the Lord and it was the most beautiful testimony and the Spirit filled the chapel. I was assigned to speak too but we had not been told when we would speak. As this sister spoke I thought I hope I don't follow her, but sure enough I was called on to speak next. I was prepared to give my talk in Icelandic and I wanted to say something about her talk but all I could think of in my limited Icelandic was to thank her. I guess I surprised everyone as the response from the members and President Olauson was more than I wanted. Of course now I have to work harder to try and learn the language as it is one thing to give a talk in a foreign language and entirely another to be able to carry on a conversation in a foreign language. A new twist to this language I learned this weekend makes it even harder to understand - people's names change just like the nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, etc. What does that mean - well an example: the name Anna in the nominative case becomes Önnu in the accusative, dative and genitive cases. Other names may change in all four cases. Anyway it makes learning Icelandic even more difficult than I already thought it was. Oh well we have beautiful scenery to look at. The picture of the geyser is right as it is getting ready to blow - I have never seen one so up close before. The other picture is just one of the many beautiful sunrises we enjoy most mornings.


I think everyone know that Eileen does not like fish - either cook it or eat it! So even with all the great fish in Iceland I have not had any until today. I bought some smoked Icelandic salmon which the Elders told me was very good. So for lunch I had a salmon sandwich. It was very good but I have to learn how to get it out of the package and the skin removed without touching it as Eileen did not like the smell on me. Oh well I enjoyed it anyway. They do have a great imported dried ham product like prosciutto but not as dry that I enjoy for lunches. I may have to give that up if according to some Icelanders we are not getting food imported at this time. There is a real fear among the Icelanders that we are going to run out of food and that it is going to get really bad here before it gets better. It seems money is having a hard time getting here too at least from England. The money the Church sends to Iceland to pay bills for the buildings and the Elders apartments comes from England and even though we have a receipt showing the money was transferred last Wednesday to the bank here in Iceland, the bank cannot find the money. We have a missionary leaving on his mission and his parents told us they cannot send money out either to pay for his mission. The next 17 months will prove to be interesting.