19 December 2007

Myndir, myndir, myndir (Pictures, pictures, pictures)

Pictures, pictures, pictures. As part of my attempt to catalog and organize all the pictures and information I have been getting from the current mission couple--the Wohlgemuths--in Iceland, I have started to organize a collection of photos (of people mostly) from all periods of the history of the LDS missionary work in Iceland. I am getting photos from all eras, but have a lot of years where the photos are few and far between. Any photos you want to send me of people in the Church or associated with the Church would be appreciated. The photo I have added here is of me on the far left and then Víðir Óskarsson and Klara Gunnarsdóttir. They were married not too long before I arrived in Iceland in 1984. Klara's first husband was named Páll and was in the Branch Presidency in the early 80's. On a hiking expedition he and another member fell from the side of the mountain they were hiking on and died. These two then married and are now living in Selfoss, about an hour's drive from Reykjavík. This picture was taken in 1986 in their home that was then on the Westmann Islands off the southern coast of Iceland. The Westmann Islands is the site of the first group of large numbers of conversions from the early 1850's through the 1890's. Missionary work continued in Iceland from 1851 until about 1914 when WWII halted formal missionary work among the Icelanders until 1975.

Of all the places in Iceland I have visited, the tiny main island of the Westmann Islands called Heimaey is one of the most picturesque. I visited there right before the end of my mission in June of 1986 and then again a few years ago in September 2004. I'm in the process of converting a ton of my old mission slides to digital images (now that that is possible). The first photo above is from an old mission slide that was 20 years old. The one at right is from 2004. Its what you see when you come in on the ferry from the mainland on a two hour ferry ride. If you click on the picture and blow it up, you'll be able to see a little house on the mountain at the top left of the picture. Apparently there is a fellow who lives up there and takes care of the sheep that cling to the cliffs all around. The mountain goats in the U.S. would have a hard time keeping from falling into the sea here, but the Icelandic sheep seem to have no trouble. How would you like to live in that little house? I hope the fellow doesn't sleep-walk.

This one shows a large part of the only town in the whole set of islands. There is really only this one flat part that they could build on. Part of it was covered by a volcanic eruption back in 1973. But since then things have been quiet. The eruption partially closed off the habor entrance, but that ended up being a good thing because now the harbor is protected better from bad weather and the periodic ferocity of the ocean. We rented a car the morning we arrived (taking the 7 minute flight from the little airstrip within sight of the island) and caught this lady on her morning walk out of town. You leave town and most of what you see is just this yellow grass and cliffs. Quite a beautiful place to visit. Incidentally, the island has no fresh water supply, which, more than once in its history, nearly caused the residents to abandon it. Now their water is supplied by pipeline from the mainland the two or more miles it takes to get it there.

Right now there is only one couple living on Heimaey who are members of the Church. Their names are Óskar and Una. They have a bunch of kids at home. The kids' grandparents are on the island as well, so it ends up not being too bad for them there. Both Óskar and Una spend time off the island each week either working or going to school. Any members or missionaries who go there seek them out since they do not get a chance to be "sustained" through normal church attendance and/or home and visiting teaching. I am amazed they have stayed strong.


Joe Holt said...

I remember that Mickey Mouse hoodie. I have a picture of you wearing that and crammed into a closet in Aukureyri.

Dale T. said...

I loved Heimaey. We visited there during August of 84, just before you arrived. We stayed in large canvas army tents down in the valley where they have the celebration. Picture if you will, 6 missionaries, 2 tents, suits, ties, tracting...awesome! We went with Hamblin, Martin, Taggart, Hunt and Carpenter. Byron and Melva also brought their grand-daughter, Heather.

Joe Holt said...

Correction "Akureyri".

Kory Ainsworth said...

I knew Klara when Páll was still alive. We went to visit them often after Páll baptized her. In 1981 they took a trip to the US. We were teasing them about Americans and we told them that if they ever were late, they just needed to hand a cab driver $5 and tell him to step on it. We even gave them a $5 bill. Well, they got to New York and almost missed their flight to Utah because of some mixup. They were late leaving the hotel and decided to take our advice. They waived our $5 bill and told the cabbie to step on it. They made their flight, after a VERY wild ride through New York.

Kory Ainsworth said...

Klara had family on Heimaey. When the Book of Mormon was first published in Icelandic, Elder Shawn Campbell and I were the senior missionaires in Iceland. We got the task of going to the library in Heimaey to deliver a book. Klara contacted her family and asked them to put us up for the night while we were there. We didn't know them. They didn't know us. But when we knocked on their door, they took us in like their own sons. They even gave us a tour of the island and volcano. Those of you who have experienced this hospitality will understand why I still love the Icelandic people after so many years.