Thursday, January 29, 2009

Elaine Dalton

Since the only exciting pictures of Iceland recently have been sunrises, sunsets and snow of which I have previously provided pictures, I thought I would share some thoughts from October General Conference.  Elaine Dalton, Young Women General President said "Could it be that first we tolerate, then accept, and eventually embrace the vice that surrounds us?"  When I heard her I thought yes we have seen that happen.  What really struck me was when reading her talk, I saw the footnote for the comment.  It was attributed to Alexander Pope from his 'An Essay on Man' published 1733-34.  The actions of men really haven't changed that much except for the blessings of the restored gospel to help us realize the dangers before us and also help us become better.  The following is from her talk without the footnotes:   

".... Virtue is a prerequisite to entering the Lord’s holy temples and to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. Virtue “is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost. President Monson has counseled: “You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. ...."

Could it be that we have been slowly desensitized into thinking that high moral standards are old-fashioned and not relevant or important in today’s society? ... Could it be that first we tolerate, then accept, and eventually embrace the vice that surrounds us? Could it be that we have been deceived by false role models and persuasive media messages that cause us to forget our divine identity? ... What could be more deceptive than to entice the youth of this noble generation to do nothing or to be busy ever-texting but never coming to a knowledge of the truths contained in a book that was written for you and your day by prophets of God—the Book of Mormon? What could be more deceptive than to entice women, young and old, you and me, to be so involved in ourselves, our looks, our clothes, our body shape and size that we lose sight of our divine identity and our ability to change the world through our virtuous influence? What could be more deceptive than to entice men—young and old, holding the holy priesthood of God—to view seductive pornography and thus focus on flesh instead of faith, to be consumers of vice rather than guardians of virtue? ..." 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Global Warming?

While our family in Minnesota is having a hard time believing in global warming you have to think there may be something to in when you stop at the gas station to by windshield wiper fluid and they are selling fresh flowers outside - Yes this is the outside of the gas station just outside of Reykjavík and there is no heater around to keep the flowers warm.

Just an additional high cost item - I bought a 5 liter container of windshield washer fluid (1.3 gallons) for 1295 kronar or approximately $12. Needless to say I was in a little bit of a shock considering I have to use a lot of it as the roads over the mountain are always wet and muddy and the trucks throw up so much spray you sometimes can´t see for a few seconds.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How would you like to pay $50 for a pizza?

This is an ad we received in Reykjavík Saturday (We don´t have Pizza Hut in Selfoss). As you look at the prices they are first small, medium and large. Thus the large Super Supreme is 5.170 which is a little less than $50 at today´s exchange but that goes up and down everyday so we just figure take the last two digits off the price and that is the cost in dollars - quick and easy way to figure prices. Right now the prices in restaurants do not appear to have gone up because they have been so high for a very long time - two years ago that pizza was closer to $100, but I am not sure how long that will last as the prices in the stores are going up everyday. Icelander´s are complaining about the high cost of groceries now and we thought they were high when we got here. Thanks to the improving exchange rate locally produced items are going up very little compared to imported goods.

Thin Crust Leads to Warm Floors

This evening we were teaching a lady in the town of Hveragerði where an earthquake happened last May. When we go into a home we take our shoes off and as I stepped out of my shoes on to a very warm spot I thought they had heated floors and commented about the nice warm floor and was told yes we have a hot pot under the floor. Yes the floor is warmed by a geothermal hot pot under their floor that came about after the earthquake. To give you an idea of what that would be like note the attached videos. Luckily the building is well enough constructed neither the water nor the smell come through the floor. The other pictures just show you how nice it is here in Iceland in the winter. The video and pictures were all taken in Hveragerði on Saturday January 10, 2009. The sun was coming out for the first time in many days and it was time for a nice walk.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Years Eve in Reykjavík Iceland

New Years Eve in Reykjavík Iceland started with a bonfire. As we understand about 10 throughout the city where families gathered at 8 PM to sing and shoot off fireworks. I was sure we were going to get hit with something as they were going off in the midst of the crowd and kids were carrying sparklers that were over 2 feet long. The Elders told us last year someone let off a rocket that shot right through the crowd - I was sure we were going to see the same. About 10 PM the real fireworks started and they lasted way past midnight. We were on the second story of a house up on a hill and could see all of Rejkjavík and the adjoining cities and it was one mass of fireworks. Remember these are not commercially sponsored fireworks but individuals shooting off their own purchases. Some families had to have spent thousands of dollars on their fireworks. The man we were with said the medium ones were costing $50 -60 each and we saw one family shoot off at least 20-30 from their backyard just while we were at the bonfire and then more and bigger at midnight.


In case you are wondering what Svið is it is boiled lambs head. Tradition has it there was a time the Icelander´s had very little to eat so besides eating rotten shark they also ate the lambs head and still do. I will say that I enjoyed the little bit of meat I found inside the head but I did not go to the extend of eating the skin, fat and eyeball which several of the Elders did. Systir Bremner would not even eat the good bit of meat I dug out for her. You have to understand that before you even can eat the lamb you have to cut through the skin and fat from the mouth to the ear and then take the lower jaw in one hand and the upper jaw in the other and pull apart. Our host had given us each towels to put across our laps as well as napkins and all were used. Oh for the good old days - NO. I will not call them back!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


When we arrived in Selfoss the space rented for the chapel had just been converted into classrooms but the last of the 4 classrooms designated as the Young Women's class room was not completed as they overspent the budget. The members were asked to finish the room. The room had been made by taking part of another room and adding a new wall in the hall - not the best arrangement as it is long and narrow. One member did some work to smooth the transition where the wall had been removed and had painted the room as well as the floor thinking it was being replaced. Friday we picked up a used whiteboard from the Reykjavik Chapel and took to Selfoss. It had a good bend in it so we put it on the floor of the chapel and piled chairs and tables on it until it was flat then went and bought paint to finish the YW room. Saturday morning we went to the chapel and removed all the items off the whiteboard to get it out of the way of a Relief Society activity and the board went right back to its bend so I decided we would have to see what happens when we mounted it. I then went to work painting the room. The ceilings are so high that standing on the top of the ladder on my tiptoes and the paint brush at the ends of my fingers I could just get the brush into the corners. Painting the room was a challenge with the height, the paint and the type of roller. I finished the room about 3 PM and we went home for dinner and to wait for the paint to dry. We went back at 6 PM to hang the whiteboard and I was shocked at how bad the paint job looked. I repainted the room, then took the whiteboard off the wall we were going to use in the YW room as the one from Reykjavik was too big. Then I went to work hanging the bent whiteboard. With Systir Bremner's help we got it mounted to the wall at the top and the bottom stuck out 8" from the wall. We tried pushing it tight to the wall but it wouldn't go so I tried putting a screw up 10 cm from the bottom. With us both pushing we were able to get it screwed to the wall and then I was able to get the bottom rail screwed to the wall on that one side. No matter how hard we pushed we could not get the other side attached to the wall but at this point it is only 3-4" away from the wall and it is in the corner and I don't think anyone even noticed today. (We were happy to see it was still on the wall this morning as I was afraid the screws might pull out of the wall from the pressure). I am going to get longer screws and see if I can draw the last corner into the wall. I then scraped all the paint off the linoleum as I felt it would look better even with the area that is not covered. We then hung the whiteboard as the walls were now dry - it is almost 10 PM at this point. We put in the chairs and felt good that the room was complete except for the flooring, baseboards, table, bulletin boards and cabinet. Today the YW´s President and her counselor were very happy to have their room and not to have to meet in the entry which is where the Elders Quorum is going to meet when we start the 3 hour block. You can see the tip of a ladder in the picture because we have no where to store it, but at least they were happy with the room today. I just wish my body felt as good - that was a long hard day and my body didn't like it.

Another Sun Rise

Another of our sun rises - note this one was taken December 30, 2008 at 11:30 AM. It is trying but never really made it because the cloud cover got worse. When people talk about getting depressed here in the winter I am beginning to understand why. We haven't seen the sun for days other than this brief moment and the last two days we haven't been able to see across the river due to fog.

Our Christmas Decorations

Those who know us know we love to decorate at Christmas so it was a little hard for us when we found everything so expensive here in Iceland plus you can't buy anything electric thinking you might want to take it home as everything is designed for their 240 V power. We managed a few items to make it seem a little like home. Kristi also sent us a number of ornaments, food items and other things to remind us of home including the little house I made with her girls. The ornaments are on the small tree (plant) on the left side of the picture as that is all we had until the day before Christmas when the candle tree went on sale 1/2 price. We were going to buy the Yule Lad figurines but at $15 a piece we settled on three we liked. This is basically the width of our living room and it is about half that size in depth. We do enjoy our big window and view of the river. I made our traditional Christmas breakfast of Eggs Benedict with the Hollandaise sauce Kristi sent and then for New Years I made the Spinach Dip with the vegetable packet she sent. We didn't have green onions so we used regular onions and I had to pay $2.50 for a tiny can of water chestnuts but it was nice to have my favorite dip. We had a great Christmas serving others and a great New Years Eve doing the same.