Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flower Days - Hveragerði

Saturday on our way to the baptisms in Reykjavík we stopped in a small town of approximately 2000 for their Flower Days - a 3 day event. Hveragerði is a town of hot houses where they grow many varieties of flowers as can be seen from the pictures. It was like a small county fair back home with all kinds of displays of flowers, crafts, food and of course the commercial vendors. It was lots of fun and the pictures would be even more beautiful if we had sun to emphasise all the colors.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reykjavik Branch Baptism

Today we had the great opportunity to go to Reykjavik for two baptisms - Martin Ho and Oskar Sigurjonsson. We have gotten to know these young men through Young Single Adult activities. Both are in there early 20's and excited about knowing the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are now half way through the year and Iceland has had as many baptisms this year as all of last year. It is exciting to see the work moving forward.

Midnight Missionaries

Last night the missionaries called and said the president called and he had forgotten to tell them they could stay up until midnight on the longest day of the year to take pictures so they could do it tonight. They came over and we talked until midnight and then went out to take pictures. It was not a good night to show off the light as it was very cloudy, but there was one hole to the north of our apartment so here you have it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If Ye Are Prepared....

We received the following video in an email and thought we would like to share it. One item not mentioned in the video is following the prophets about getting out of debt. Our Branch President here in Iceland is so grateful he followed the prophet's council and is out of debt. With the financial crises in Iceland his income has gone down and the cost of everything has gone up (food over 25% in the last 9 months) but he is not worried as they are debt free. Just one challenge Icelanders face is indexed mortgages. A friend of the Branch President bought a house in 2007 with a 22,000,000 ISK loan and now the value of the house has dropped but due to indexing his loan is now 43,000,000 ISK. Talk about the dream of home ownership gone bad.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Longest Day of the Year

Yesterday June 21 marked the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere - Summer Solstice. We were told the sun would just set and immediately rise again. But in checking the times for sunset and sunrise for our area of Iceland we discovered we would have to wait about 3 hours from sunset to sunrise. The event we were told of happens on the northern side of the island where you look north over the ocean and can see the sun set and then rise again. We are on the south side the the island and we have mountains to the north of us so the sun disappears before the actual sunset time. The pictures were taken in the following order: Looking south at 10:23 PM note the rainbow; southeast at 11:18 PM; southwest at 12:11 AM and southeast at 12:12 AM.

One thing to be said for the long days - we don't use much electricity. Even in the middle of the night we don't need to turn the lights on unless the blinds are closed and because of our location we seldom close them except in the bedroom and then it is still light enough not to have to use the lights unless you want to read.

Friday, June 19, 2009

3510 Kilometers or 61,410 Kronur

The previous 12 days have been quite the experience for Lisa, David, Gunnar and Qatar and of course us. It began with Icelandic Conference the Sunday they arrived. Due to jet lag they didn't get much out of it but they met our friends and were invited to two very special truly Icelandic dinners. Everyday was filled with many wonderful sights as you can get a glimpse of from the pictures. We drove over 3510 kilometers using over 61,410 kronur of fuel and all with wonderful weather. Most everyday started early and ended as late as 11 PM as it is still light so we kept going to see as much as possible. We were all exhausted by the end of the 12 days but even on the way to the airport we stopped to see more sights and museums. The pictures are in order of events but not everything is shown although you many think so.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Seminary and Institute Graduation

Saturday June 6 was a special day in Iceland. When Sister Bremner and I were called as the Seminary and Institute Coordinators for Iceland in April the first assignment was to organize a graduation program. We were told this was to be the first formal graduation program in Iceland with an actual graduation exercise combined with activities and meal. Working with the other two Seminary and Institute teachers we planned a full day of activities and then we were told we had to also have the Icelandic Conference the same Saturday and Sunday. Since most of the people involved in the graduation were also going to be involved in the conference we had to do some quick juggling. We started the day at 10:30 with the actual graduation program followed by sports activities until 2 PM when we served a sit down lunch for 50. Then at 3 PM we moved into the leadership meetings of the conference while the seminary and institute conducted a scripture chase activity which was followed by an ice cream social for the graduation and then for the attendees of the leadership training. We finally got home after 9 PM. We had to then organize for Lisa, David, Gunnar, and Qatar arriving the next morning at 6:20 AM. For several days prior to the graduation we were heavily involved with getting the food bought and prepared and making sure all was ready. It all turned out very successfully as the CES coordinator from Germany who asked up to put it all together was very pleased with the results. It was a fun time and probably the best was when our Seminary Graduate was looking at his diploma and saw it was signed by Thomas S. Monson - he was so excited it made all the work and effort well worth it.

Horseback Riding - Never Again

We have been so busy with Lisa, David, Gunnar and Qatar visiting since June 7 that I haven't had an opportunity to blog. Well yesterday should have slowed me down but we still toured today but home early enough to make at least this short entry. Yesterday David and Gunnar went walking on the glacier and Lisa, Qatar and Eileen and I did the horseback experience. When they brought out a horse and said this is yours, I wondered about the meaning behind the statement but never dreamed it meant I got the horse with an attitude. The picture of us following on the beach was typical of the 2 hours. My horse would fall way behind and then suddenly take off to catch up. I think he wanted to get rid of me but worst was the abuse my body took. I think every muscle in my torso aches. It hurts to laugh, cough, sigh and just about everything else. I won't mention the worst of it.

I think I made the mistake of telling the proprietor a friend told me to make sure we got horses with a true Icelandic gait. The proprietor said "all my horses have an excellent Icelandic gait it is just up to the rider to handle the horse correctly." The proprietor then gave us instructions on how to ride which were the same as my friend told me. I think my horse just didn't want me on him and decided to try to get rid of me. Several times he almost pulled me off the front but the hardest part was when he took off running.

The upside of the trip was the scenic nature - we had a beautiful ride on the black sand beach.

The top picture was after the ride. Each of the horses took turns rolling in the same gravel.

The bottom picture is the horse Eileen rode. I don't have a picture of my horse as I think he was too much for me to handle and I kept trying to make friends with him rather than taking pictures of him. In the background are Qatar and Lisa.