28 June 2010

Íslandsdagar (Iceland Days)

Spanish Fork, Utah was the place to be this week if you have the blood of an Icelander or two in your veins. I've never found my one or two Icelandic ancestors (yet) but spent parts of Friday and Saturday in Spanish Fork just the same.

On Friday night I gave a lecture on the history of the settlement of Iceland and the development of religion there since the settlement. Basic summary of the lecture:

870 - 930 A.D. - Settlement period in Iceland
870 - 999/1000 A.D. - Paganism ruled in the land
999/1000 A.D. - Catholicism replaced Paganism as the religion of the land at the "request" of the King of Norway who was a Christian convert
1551 - Lutheranism becomes the state religion after the beheading of a few Iceland Catholic leaders who were against the idea.
1551 - present - Lutheranism is the State religion
1850 - Two Icelanders hear of the restored gospel while in Denmark in school and are converted
1851 - First two baptized Icelanders return to Iceland as missionaries
1854 - 1914 - Four hundred and ten Icelanders emigrate to the U.S. after joining the Church.
1914 - 1974 - All formal LDS missionary work and immigration of Saints halted
1975 - Formal missionary work begins again in Iceland through Byron & Melva Geslison

From 1851 to 1914, a total of 22 Icelanders were called to return to their home countries after having emigrated to serve missions in Iceland. Since the missionary work resumed in 1975, a total of 167 young missionaries have served missions in Iceland, along with 24 senior couples.

On Saturday in the city park in Spanish Fork, all the western Icelanders and a smattering of returned missionaries showed up for the festivities. I got to eat a few Icelandic hot dogs, thanks to Rick Mathews. I took pictures of all the returned missionaries who were there for your viewing pleasure:

Shirl and Mary Holt served in 04-05. They are standing with one of their missionaries, Craig Holdaway who served from 03-05. Ray and Sally Anderson who served from 99-01. They are standing with one of their missionaries, Travis Hoban.
From L to R: Tyler Shepherd served from 96-98; Travis Hoban from 98-00; Curt Hutchings, one of my MTC teachers, served from 78-80; me, from 84-86; and David and Bonnie Ashby who just returned from their mission in Iceland.
A final shot of Bro. & Sis. Ashby. They returned home early from their mission three weeks ago because of health problems that Bro. Ashby was experiencing. Many have asked how he is doing since his return. I am happy to report that he has been seeing his doctor and is doing much better. Brother Ashby is of Icelandic descent and he and Bonnie were sad to return home earlier than planned.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. So many good people living in Utah who are of Icelandic descent and who love their Icelandic heritage. Happy to be a part.