Alongside Facebook and Skype, the blog is one of the ways we keep our family and friends in the loop with what we get up to ‘on the mission field’ while introducing them to the wonder that is Niceland/Iceland. Because the blog is often written ‘after the fact’, it acts as a sort of potted history of our lives, offering readers snippets of information on this and that. It also gives us an opportunity to take time out and reflect on why we are in Iceland, what we do here and what shape our future may take. Being reflective is such an important part of life as it helps us to think more consciously about what we are doing in the here and now and, as a result, can help us develop a more thankful attitude towards the many blessings we experience. Without the benefit of reflection, it is all to easy to see the thorn and not the rose.
In addition to being a useful way of summarising the many and varied things we get involved with here in Iceland, the blog has also enabled numerous people to contact us and (in some cases) visit us and/or Iceland. As a result, Chris and I have been greatly encouraged and blessed to have facilitated, hosted or otherwise cajoled a number of lovely people to visit us here in Niceland, each one bringing their unique gifts of friendship, teabags and more besides!
Our first visitor of 2013 arrived in Iceland at the end of May this year. Ian Koh, a recent Master’s graduate from Singapore had contacted us via the blog as he wanted to hook up with a Christian Church while he worked for a month as a volunteer on an Icelandic farm holiday. Here is a photo of Ian looking cool and sophisticated in Stykkishólmur. One of the great things about being a Christian, is no matter where you go in the world, you have a friend(s) who are ready and willing to help. To help Ian get the most of his trip to Iceland, when possible he accompanied Chris on his visits to the country Churches around Iceland. This enabled Ian to see much more of Iceland than would otherwise have been possible and to make many friends. Ian has an incredible testimony of how God sustains him daily through the challenge of chronic illness. As it happens, I got chatting to Ian via Google while I was writing this post, so I asked him if there was anything he would like to share on the blog. He messaged back that it would be good to let people know that Singapore is not in China and that Arsenal is the best football team in the world! It was a blessing to get to know Ian and we look forward to getting to know him better when he returns to Iceland next year for another volunteer holiday – við sjáumst Ian!
Our second visitor was another young Christian interested in doing some volunteer work alongside experiencing something of Iceland. Janelle Burris was her name, teaching music was her game. Janelle is currently in teacher training school. She is also a independent contractor (music and voice) and a professional musician. Listen to samples of Janelle’s music here and here. Like Ian, we were able to arrange for Janelle to stay with our Christian friends all over Iceland, and as a result, she was able to get behind the scenes and experience something of the ‘real’ Iceland and the people who live within her borders. As a gifted musician, Janelle ministered in song to several Church congregations and volunteered at the lovely and now quite famous Nytjamarkaður. Janelle is also knitting a lopa peysa…she is one talented lady. Janelle took many unique and beautiful photos during her visit to Iceland. If you are very nice to her, she might just befriend you on Facebook and let you see them 😉
One of the things we love to do is invite people we know and respect over to teach and preach at events we are involved in here in Iceland. This year we were blessed by the ministry of our friends Barnhard Steenkamp and Laurence O’Brien. We have known Barnhard for many years. Chris and Barnhard were trainee Pastors with AOG GB (both of them have now graduated) and both of them share a passion for mission. Bernhard and his wife Bridget moved to London from South Africa to work with YWAM. Twenty years later, they are still serving God in London, although they are now Pastors of West London Family Church in Fulham. Laurence serves as a leader/elder in Bernhard’s Church and is passionate about local Church and mission. Chris and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Assembly at Fulham for the generous financial gift they sent over with Bernhard. Thank you for thinking of us and for blessing us with your resources.
Chris invited Bernhard to Iceland to teach at a weekend conference for young people, on the topic of leadership. Bernhard’s teaching was very well received by everyone who attended the conference. Although Bernhard and Laurence were only in Iceland for five days, Bernhard also preached at Selfoss Church on Sunday morning and Kot Church on Sunday afternoon. In between teaching and preaching, the thee boys managed to take in all the sights Iceland could offer in the short time they were there including a trip to the Blue Lagoon and of course a trip to Gulfoss and Geysir. They also managed to find time to stand at the foot of the glacier at Eyjafjallajökull.
Dave and Madeline Russon contacted us via the blog to let us know they were planning a short ‘Northern Lights’ tour to Iceland and would we like to meet up. Of course we said ‘Yes’. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to meet up on the day, but Chris and our good friend and fellow missionary Paulo Sicoli were able to. Dave and Madeline have been in Christian ministry for over thirty years. Dave has served as Regional Superintendent for the North East region of AOG. He also served on the AOG World Mission Team. In relation to this, Dave was the Director of AOG World Ministries for several years. Together, Dave and Madeline have been involved with Church planting in the North East of England. They have also travelled and ministered in over 100 countries around the world. Catch up with the latest news from Dave and Madeline here. Dave and Madeline fellowship at Victory Church in Horden, Peterlee. Horden AOG is Pastored by Steve and Gabriel Sinclair and is one of the Churches Chris preached at when he was conducting an itinerary in the North East of England just before he came back to Iceland in July 2012. Steve and Gabriel sent a generous financial gift with Dave and Madeline. We were both surprised and very thankful. Thank you Steve and Gabriel and the Assembly at Horden for your generosity. The financial gifts we received from Bernhard’s Church and from Steve’s Church will help to cover the cost of Chris’ trip to the UK next year to attend the AOG annual conference.
Although Dave and Madeline were in Iceland on a ‘Northern Lights’ tour, not everyone who visits Iceland on a ‘Northern Lights’ tour is lucky enough to see the awesomeness that is Aurora Borealis. But, the night before they flew back to the UK, on the way back from a trip to the Blue Lagoon, Dave and Madeline were treated to a fantastic display. They couldn’t have been happier! Like many before them, Dave and Madeline have been smitten by Iceland. We look forward to seeing them again (and not just because they brought teabags and a big bag of money) in the not to distant future.
Towards the end of the summer, we found out that Paul and Jenn Weaver were booked to teach/preach at Fíladelfía Church in Reykjavík. We immediately booked a hotel room for two nights and spent the intervening months looking forward to hearing Paul teaching and (hopefully) getting to know Paul and Jenn in person. Paul is a retired General Superintendent of AOG GB, although from his current teaching/preaching/consultancy workload, you would never guess that either he or Jenn were retired…Jenn is a retired nurse. Booking the hotel was the best thing we could have done, as it meant we caught most of Paul’s sessions at Fíladelfía plus we got to hang out with them for the day in the city. You can hear Paul preaching at the Sunday service here. You can either watch the video of the whole meeting (including the worship) or skip ahead to the 38 minute mark which is where Paul starts preaching. We really enjoyed getting to know Paul and Jenn and have no intention of letting them visit Iceland only once. Be ye therefore duly warned Paul and Jenn…you will be back!
I hadn’t met Paul or Jenn before we met up with them in Iceland, but Chris had. Chris remembers talking to Paul about Dyslexia – a disability they both have and to this day remembers how enormously encouraged and comforted he felt when Paul shared with him his own challenges with the condition. It never ceases to amaze me how important our conversations are. Paul never knew how much solace Chris drew from their brief interlude and yet, it was one of the most encouraging conversations Chris has had. And now, many years later Chris was able to tell Paul, just how much it meant to him. We live in a small world, that seems to get smaller by the year. God is Good! Until next time…be blessed.
- Summer Arrives in Iceland (icelandreview.com)
- Iceland’s Capital Reykjavik Offers Tickets for Two Contest (travellingtheworld.ca)
- 30+ Images from the Land of Fire & Ice (shutterstock.com)