28 April 2008

Nokkrar myndir (A few pictures)

Not quite the cliffs of Dover, but impressive nonetheless.
I must not have gotten an invitation for the branch outing....
I lived in the north of Iceland during the winter of 85-86 in a fjord town called Akureyri. Winter in Iceland in a small northern town with few city lights is the perfect place to see the Northern Lights on a regular basis. My companion and I used to walk home after meeting with people in town to our apartment a little outside of town in the dark of that winter. It hadn't snowed too much that winter so it had been nice taking that 20 minute walk home on the dirt road. We would regularly see the Northern Lights just like you see them in this picture, twisting and weaving along slowly in the sky. They were usually green and white, but on occasion there was a dramatic bit of purple and red to make us take note. Once we saw a single strand of light from one mountain to the next like someone was slowly wiggling the end of a rope just out of view of the mountain. The Northern Lights move in what seems like slow motion, providing a silent solar symphony just for us, it seemed. I didn't realize it until later that I never saw the Northern Lights in Reykjavík. Too many lights in town there and too many buildings in the way. But if we just got out of town and paid attention during the winter--there they were.

22 April 2008

Eldur og ís (Fire and Ice)

As missionaries in Reykjavík we frequently found ourselves downtown on the Torg for a number of reasons. The woolen outlets were easy to find, each attempting to draw in as many tourists as possible. We'd browse on occasion to see what was being sold. Without fail there were the tourist books which frequently had titles like, "Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice" or something very similar. I guess it was what made Iceland unique in a lot of ways. You could find glaciers right on top of volcanos.

It isn't hard to imagine the cataclysm that must have occurred to make the rocks look as they do in this first picture. Broken lava flows are everywhere in Iceland, frequently with a freezing river running around each twisted mass of rocks.

It was sometime during my mission that I started to think about the earth, and land in particular, in a different way than I ever had before. The way each land on the earth looked was interesting and varied, to be sure. But the real reason that the earth has any land masses on it at all is so that man will have a place upon which to work out his salvation. Whether a person's "plot" of earth is in Iceland, Utah, Cypress, Banff Island, or anywhere else in the world, the Lord gave the land so that each person could have a place to work out his or her salvation. In Noah's day all of the land was taken away for a time so that those left would remember their God. "Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it." 1 Nephi 17:36.

Iceland provides a unique set of trials for those attempting to come to God. The trials are different there than for those who live, say, in Hawaii, or Australia. And yet, each land gives the same opportunities to know one's God. I found it easy to get to know God better in Iceland.

21 April 2008

Þrír óþekktir trúboðar (Three unknown missionaries)

Well, it's been a bit of time since my last post. I went to Iceland in early March, only to find that the weather this winter has been about the worst in living memory for most folks. I guess it didn't bother me too much since we planned to spend most of the time inside doing research at the University of Iceland library and the National Archives (a fun name to say in Icelandic, incidentally: Þjóðskjalasafnið). I'll spend some time in the next few weeks talking about the things we did there.
I met all of the current missionaries who are there right now. Elders Teodoro, Lyon, Redford, Brockmann, Higgins and Soelberg. They were in church the morning we flew in. A few were out at the Selfoss branch that morning, being stationed out there. We saw them later that night.

While there, the current senior couple in Iceland, the Wohlgemuths, told me of a woman who had a ton of photos of many of the previous missionaries. I told them I would love to see the pictures. They offered to send some of the missionaries over to borrow her photo album and to scan all the pictures for me. They did so, and now I have a ton of new "old" photos to add to the photo archive I've been creating of all who have served. There were only four missionary photos I could not identify. I have attached them below. If you know who they are, let me know.