Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hailstorm, Thunder and Lightning in South Iceland

These pictures were taken last night as I was writing the blog items on our beautiful day. The bottom two were taken at 10:48 PM and the top one at 11:26 PM. Sitting here at the computer you completely loose track of time when it is so beautiful out.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day I forgot about the weather the day before. I had spent a good time Tuesday morning cleaning tar off our car. After many car washes and trying by hand too, I could not get the winter tar off the car. I then purchased a product made specifically for removing winter road tar. You spray the car and it melts the tar. It isn't quite that easy as it took several tries but I finally had a beautiful car again. Then we went teaching with the Elders and after while taking them to another appointment we got caught in quite a winter storm. It was snowing and hailing and lightning and thunder. Elder Teodoro said it never thunders in Iceland and we have heard many Icelanders say the same thing. Well the roads were deep in slush and I commented this is not good without my winter tires. Then last night as I was writing my blog on the gorgeous day we had we read the following news article.

"A hailstorm, accompanied by thunder and lightning hit heavily trafficked Hellisheidi mountain pass between Reykjavík and Hveragerdi (this is where we were at the time) in southwest Iceland yesterday. The ground went white in a matter of minutes and at least one car slid off the road.

“There were very dark clouds in the sky when I was driving across Hellisheidi and then suddenly everything turned white and there was thunder and lighting,” said Ingibjörg Bragadóttir.

Police were called out to assist commuters. Snow is unusual at this time of year and all drivers have switched to summer tires. Thunder and lighting is even more seldom in Iceland."

Then this morning we had to take the Elders to Reykjavík and the weather is again rain and high winds. Coming home we were going the speed limit of 90KM when we turned staight into the wind. I was in cruise control and I looked down at the speedometer and we gradually slowed to 70KM. I had to put my foot to the floor just to keep going that fast. We always joke about the weather changing quickly at home but it seems even more extreme here in Iceland.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reynisdrangar and Black Sand Beach

Just a beautiful day at the beach. We had a recent comment on our blog "Are you guys really on a mission because I think you are having way to much fun!!!!" Well a mission is supposed to be is fun. And there isn't anything more fun than teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sight seeing is just an added benefit but seeing people accept the Gospel is the greatest.

Spring has brought out the beauty of Iceland

When we arrived in Iceland on September 30, 2008 there wasn't a leaf on a tree or a shrub and everything appeared dead. It was very dreary. Now that Spring has arrived and we are coming up on Summer soon, Iceland is blooming all over with green and yellow and purple. Recently green mounds have been appearing all over the landscape and then in the last few days they started blooming beautiful purple flowers. We had an absolutely gorgeous day for our preparation day and we took advantage of it. We headed east along the south coast to Vík. Enjoy the pictures as we sure enjoyed the day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Westmann Islands Spránka

After the Elders did service for a family in the Westmann Islands, the family fed them a delicious dinner and then took them to one of the few things to do on the island - the swinging rope. Elder Fillmore took this video and wanted it posted for all to see (do you think he is trying to make fun of his senior companion the AP)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Paradise Reclaimed

Systir Bremner bought Halldór Laxness book Paradise Reclaimed even though she had no idea what the book was about. She just wanted to read one of his books as he is a famous Icelandic author and Nobel Prize winner. She had heard lots of people here in Iceland talk about Paradise Reclaimed so that was the one (she really didn´t have much choice as the tour guide insisted we had to go into the house immediately before she could really look over the books). I must not be much of a critic as I can´t agree with the The New York Times Book Review, New York Herald Tribune or The Atlantic Monthly comments on the cover and back of the book. The book is an interesting weaving of Icelandic people and Utah Mormons of the late 1800´s. I am not sure if you are not Icelandic or been to Iceland you would find it that interesting but worth a look from a different perspective.

Lots Done in Short Time

For Preparation Day we took a short trip close to home and yet saw many new and interesting sites. First was the Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant. We have driven by it too many times to count as we can see it every time we go to Reykjavík. They have some interesting displays on their electricity and hot water (used for heat and domestic how water) production from geothermal resources. We then stopped at a waterfalls call Troll Falls which was a good hike to get to it. Next we went so the Halldór Laxness Museum and took a tour of his home (the museum). We finished the day with another hike to another waterfalls. The Jaguar sits in front of the house like a trade mark. The house was built in 1945. The pool is a lap pool with a beautiful setting. Systir Bremner had to buy one of his books which will be in an upcoming post. All in all we had quite the trip in less than 6 hours total time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We´re having a heat wave a tropical heat wave!

The following was taken from the English version of the Icelandic News:
"18/05/2009 | 12:51

Heat Wave Hits Iceland

Temperatures were unusually high for this time of year in Iceland last weekend, rising to 20°C (68°F) at Thingvellir national park and 19°C (66°F) in the capital. People celebrated with various outdoor activities, walking, cycling and riding.

People crowded into the swimming pools and the capital’s thermal beach, Nauthólsvík, and attended the opening acts of the 2009 Reykjavík Arts Festival downtown.

The weather was sunny and warm in most parts of the country, although it was a bit foggy and chilly in the east, Fréttabladid reports.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office is predicting a continued heat wave, forecasting warm and dry weather throughout the week but rainfall next weekend."

It is now Tuesday and the weather has continued the same. We walk to the Church for our exercise program of walking the stairs and through the Church several times or until we are worn out. We would walk just outside as it is so beautiful but the stairs really provide the exercise. Tomorrow is our Preparation Day which gives us time to visit the island. We like the forecast per the above article even though the Icelandic Meteorological Office website forecast is for clouds, rain and wind.
The pictures were taken yesterday evening at a Family Home Evening activity. We provided the lesson and refreshments and they provided the activity. I can tell you even with the heat wave it was too cold to be just standing around as the winds were providing a low wind chill. From the pictures you might recognize the area as snow run off so the water is cold. The place where Þröstur and Matthias are is the same as where Matthias is laying in the water. The spot is warmed by a small stream from a hot pot entering just above the main flow of water. I put my hand in the small stream and it was warm but not enough to make up for the wind chill or the cold water it was flowing into. But that sure didn´t stop the kids. But when they were done they ran for the car and wrapped up in blankets.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

Bjarki Bragason will be 11 in September. We first met him and his mother when we arrived in the Selfoss Branch last year. Because they live out in the country it is difficult for them to come to Church every Sunday. Once a month we have been going out to visit and teach both of them. Last month Bjarki decided he would like to have the missionary lessons so he could be baptized today. Bjarki has a very sweet spirit and it was fun to be involved in the teaching even though he and his mother speak very little English. The missionaries do the teaching and we enjoy the Spirit.

Friday, May 15, 2009

19th Grandchild - 8th Granddaughter

May 14 is another special day for us with the arrival of Eliza (middle name later) at 11:36 AM in Austin Minnesota. She is the 6th child for Steven and Micah and our 19th grandchild. We now have 8 granddaughters and 11 grandsons. Eliza was born 8 lb 1.5 oz and 19 in long. As you can see she is another beautiful daughter of Our Heavenly Father and ours to enjoy now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beauty Amongst Desolation

Today we drove many kilometers through nothing but barren volcanic rock to arrive at this beautiful oasis. The video doesn't do it justice mainly because there wasn't any sun to highlight it and it is still awaking from it´s winter sleep. Also the wind was blowing at near gale force. At one point I even got knocked over by the wind as I tried to maneuver to take a picture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Organ Recital

Last night we attended an organ recital at the Hallgímskirkju which is the State Cathedral of Iceland. The recital was for two students of the Listaháskóli Íslands (Iceland Academy of Arts). One of the students Eyþór Franzson Wechner has become friends with several of the YSA in the branch. So the activity for the YSA Family Home Evening was first the recital followed by a lesson and then refreshments. This young man is 18 and it was a treat for all who attended to hear his recital and then to enjoy his company at FHE.

New Opportunities

May 4 and 5 we had visitors from the Church Education System. Brother Eckehard Jensen from Germany and Brother Jens Andersen from Denmark (CES Coordinators) came to help Iceland further develop their Seminary, Institute and YSA programs. Not knowing why, we had become the channel of communication between these men and the Icelandic members. At our first meeting they talk to us like we had some responsibility for the program. Sensing our questioning looks, Brother Jensen told us our mission president had assigned us the responsibility to coordinate the Seminary and Institute program for Iceland. So now we know. We held meetings with the Icelandic teachers and YSA leaders Monday afternoon and again Tuesday evening. During our time together Tuesday we showed them a little of Iceland as we discussed how we can help the CES program here in Iceland.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

Missionary work in Iceland is referred to as slow. To put that in perspective there has not been a baptism in the Selfoss Branch since July 2007 until April 18 while we were at Grandpa's funeral. Because Unndis speaks English as her native language (she was born and raised in the USA) we were asked to teach her along with our full-time Elders. In the beginning there was definitely more of an interest in one particular Elder, but because of good members who fellowshipped her and her desire to be apart of all the activities she grew to want to know why everyone was like they were and what it was that she was feeling. She attended every Church meeting and YW's meetings and Seminary for 3+ months and when she decided she wanted to be baptized her mother said No (she is 17). We encouraged her to just keep living the Gospel and her mother would see the difference it was making in her life and let her be baptised. It worked and after attending all General Conference Sessions her mother said she could be baptized. She is now one of our great member missionaries. We were then also blessed to have our second baptism on April 23. Isak is a single man in his 30's. He read the entire Bible and Book of Mormon in English even though his native language is Icelandic. Again the members fellowshipped and participated in the teaching so that he too felt the Spirit and wanted to be baptized once he could give up smoking. It is exciting to see how the Spirit touches the hearts of these good people and they desire to enjoy all the blessings of the Gospel.

Silver Lining

We spent two weeks in Gilroy California for Grandpa Connett's funeral and to help Grandma make the transition from 63 years with Grandpa to being alone. While it was a sad time it was also a good time to be with family. All of the children, grandchildren and some great-grandchildren made it for the funeral and it was a very special time. One special part was the opportunity for us as well as Grandma Connett to see our two granddaughters that were born after we left on our mission to Iceland. Roxie and Lily are both beautiful little girls and we enjoyed our time with them.