An open letter to the Daily Mail…

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Hats of to all the people that give up their time to spread a little love 365 days a year, every year. I would like to see their names added to the New Year’s honour roll.

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The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today.  Here’s my response.

 

Dear Daily Mail,

I’ve got a little boy.  His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three.  Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around.  He’s barely ever still.

A few days ago though, he was.  I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank.  It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was.  As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.

This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply.  After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of…

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A brief look ahead..

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DSC06855A few people have been asking about Chris’ ministry schedule over the next couple of months. So, here is a brief overview of the things that we know about at the moment. Please be aware that if you would like Chris to come along to an event you are planning, it is best to talk to him approx. 6-8 weeks in advance.

This is a good map for giving you a feel for the distances Chris travels between the small Churches in Iceland. Churches that Chris actively supports include: Selfoss, Westman Islands, Kirkjulækjarkot in Fljótshlíð, Höfn í Hornafirði, Vopnafjörður, Ísafjörður, Stykkishólmur, and Keflavík.

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Schedule for January/February/March

Jan 3 – 5 Höfn í Hornafirði: fellowship and preaching.

Jan 10 Reykjavík: preaching at Fíladelfía (youth meeting).

Jan 12 Selfoss: preaching at the Sunday service – part 1.

Jan 16 -17 Keflavik: attending Church leader’s meeting.

Jan 19 Selfoss: preaching at the Sunday service – part 2.

Jan 31 – 2 February Westman Islands: fellowship, teaching and preaching.

Feb 5 -10 Poland: attending Royal Rangers Euro leaders conference.

Feb14 -16 Ísafjörður: fellowship, teaching and preaching.

From the beginning of March Chris will be employed by the Pentecostal Church in Keflavík on a part-time basis. Chris will be assisting the Pastor of the Church in a range of development activities. More about that in a future blog post. During his employment with Keflavík Church, Chris will continue to support the country Churches around Iceland.

Projects in progress

CourageousOver the past year, Chris has been instrumental in developing six men’s groups around Iceland. Using the Christian movie ‘courageous’ as a platform to get men thinking afresh about their role in the family and in local communities, Chris has encouraged small groups of men to meet regularly to discuss issues of importance to them and to work through the Courageous study material. All the groups will be meeting up 7 – 9 March in Stykkishólmur to enjoy a weekend of fellowship, teaching and backwoods activities.

That’s all from us for now. Until next time, be blessed and love God. Nothing. Else. Matters.

Chris and Ethna

You know you’re from Iceland when…

Given the flurry of interest in this post recently and the critical nature of the updates posted, I have decided to reblog this post. Stay alert peeps.

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There are lots of lists doing the rounds at the moment on the subject of, ‘you know you’re from Iceland when…’ this one from the howdoyoulikeiceland.blogspot.com is one of my favourites. If you come across any more, send them to me and I’ll dutifully post them 🙂

CORRECTION ALERT! I have been reliably informed (by an Icelander – thank you Jóhannes) that one of the factoids below is incorrect. The bit about trolls is in fact wrong:

Trolls don’t live in suspicious looking rocks, it’s elves, or Huldufólk to be more precise. Trolls on the other hand get turned into stone when exposed to sunlight.

CORRECTION ALERT! I have recently been contacted by Bergþór, who wanted to clarify one of the points highlighted below:

“okay, you pretty summed it all up very nice there. But there where some aspects that I didn’t agree on like… You believe in trolls (when foreigners…

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Sumar á Selfossi – summer in Selfoss

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If Icelanders know how to do one thing well, it’s celebrate, especially if said celebration involves gathering friends and family together, dressing up and eating good food. Preferably, all three. I woke up today to discover that today the good people of Selfoss were celebrating Sumar á Selfossi. Given the amount of time the good people of Selfoss (had obviously) spent preparing for this special celebration, one could be forgiven for inquiring how I didn’t know about it earlier. I put it down to a post-PhD viva/corrections fog. Anyhoo, the first I knew that today would be no ordinary day, was when Chris woke me from my slumber with the happy announcement that breakfast was on the town. Literally. Each year, businesses and other kindhearted folk club together and provide a free breakfast for the hungry citizens of Selfoss, all 5,000 of them!

IMG_0481So, we gathered, in the rain (well, it is summer after all), everyone in good spirits, and waited patiently for breakfast to be served. We weren’t disappointed. Breakfast included, sliced meats and cheese, fresh bread buns, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, meat and cheese spreads, fresh fruit, yoghurt and yoghurt drinks, cartons of fresh milk and chocolate milk, and coffee and kleinur (Icelandic doughnuts). A veritable feast. We had photos, but they didn’t turn out ;( But, you can take our word for it, the food was great.

IMG_0462 IMG_0472 Alongside the food there was live music and a play. Yes, at 9.00 in the morning we were treated to an enthusiastic performance that included lots of running around and silly voices. They were rather good, I must say. Afterwards, everyone involved in the production were individually thanked and presented with flowers. A nice touch I thought.

In addition to the early morning breakfast, there was also a decent sized fair and a competition to see who had the best dressed street. To make sure every street is in with a chance, the town is divided in five zones. Each zone is allocated a colour, i.e. red, orange, blue, green or red. Each zone is tasked with decorating their area in their colour. It wasn’t just the individual streets that were colour-coordinated though, children, animals and houses were also given a colour-coordinated make-over. We spent the afternoon, driving around the town (along with a lot of other people) admiring everyone’s handiwork. Most streets will be finishing the day with a BBQ. But, because we live on the main street – mostly businesses, few houses – we didn’t have a BBQ to go to…sad, I know. Gleðilegt sumar gott fólk af Selfossi 😉

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So, where have you been my whole life…?

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Northern LIghts over ChurchOr, at least, where have you been for the last six months? Regular readers of the blog have noticed the lack of posts over the past six months. Thank you for noticing. It is fair to say that Life suddenly became overwhelmingly busy as I wrote the final chapters of my PhD thesis on dementia and then began a new job – more about the PhD and the job later. And, for the longest time, after the death of my beloved brother, I simply didn’t have the heart to write.

We have, though, been keeping notes of our adventures in Iceland and over the next couple of weeks I am going to transform those notes into blog posts. We hope you find them interesting and we hope they give you an insight into what modern missionaries get up to. We hope also that as you journey with us vicariously, Iceland and her people become as familiar and as dear to you as they are to us. Every blessing, Chris and Ethna 🙂

Continuing the great adventure in Iceland

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It’s been a while since we’ve done a ‘proper’ blogpost so when Anna Roberts from AOG UK asked us to answer some questions on our new life in Iceland, it felt right to share those responses with you here on the blog. Chris and I returned to the UK at the beginning of May for a three-month itinerary. We visited 20 Churches across the UK, sharing the vision for our project in Iceland. The purpose of the itinerary was to raise financial support for Chris so that he could devote himself fulltime to developing our project in Iceland. We were unsuccessful in raising all the funds we needed, so we may have to think about another itinerary next year. Despite this setback, Chris is back in Iceland working hard on the first stage of the project. I will be following him shortly. If you are interested in learning a bit more about the work we will be involved in, download the PowerPoint presentation at the end of the blogpost. If after reading the blog you are interested in finding out how you can get involved in the project, please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

What is your vision for your second trip to Iceland? What do you want to see change and happen?

When we first went to Iceland in 1999, we worked with children and young people from (mainly country) Churches around Iceland. This time around we believe God asked us to work with the National Pentecostal Church of Iceland. Some time ago, God gave Chris a vision for Iceland. In the vision was a plan for linking the Icelandic Pentecostal Churches together via mission. Pentecostal Churches in Iceland work in a similar way to Pentecostal Churches in the UK, in so as much as they are all independent Churches in fellowship with each. Unlike their UK counterparts however, the Icelandic Pentecostal Churches do not currently have a robust infrastructure to support, guide and lead mission.

There are many aspects to the vision that God gave Chris and even after a short time back in Iceland, some of those things have already come to pass. But, I’m getting ahead of myself! In the beginning, Chris and I wrote down the vision and Chris shared with it a local Pastor – Jóhannes Hinriksson. Jóhannes was very excited about the plan and asked Chris to elaborate it further and to be prepared to present it to Pentecostal Church Leaders at their upcoming AGM. Leaders from every Pentecostal Church in Iceland were represented at the meeting, which took place over a long weekend. After Chris presented the vision God had given him for the Church, leaders were asked to vote on whether it should be accepted by the National Pentecostal Church as a project that would come under their management and supervision. The vote was unanimous.

What Chris proposed was that he and a small team of people would develop a ‘home missions’ department that would take responsibility for encouraging and supporting people to get involved with mission to geographically isolated regions of the country. Due to a combination of vast distances and difficult driving conditions, few people are in a position to visit country Churches on a regular basis. This means that some Churches are cut from fellowship, teaching and support during the long months of autumn, winter and spring.

What we envision is that Churches will contact Chris and the team with details of the support they need. That support could include a request for a small team to travel to the village and support the Church in their outreach programme, or it could be a request for help in painting the Church, or support to develop a presence on the Internet. Whatever need the Church has, the home mission team will develop a plan to support it. Meanwhile, Chris and the team will have a database containing contact information for people who have expressed an interest in contributing towards a project, together with details of their skills, talents, knowledge, preferences and availability. The idea is of course that the need of the Church will be matched to people with the relevant skills to help.

There is a launch conference planned for October 2012. During the conference, Chris and the team will expand on the vision, sharing their thoughts on how the project will unfold in the following 6-12 months. The project has caused considerable interest and quite a few people have already signed up to attend the October conference to see how they can contribute.

If you’ve a bible verse or passage that is a part of that please share it!

Our family Bible verse has always been Joshua 24:15: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

What are you most looking forward to the most?

Well, that would have to be our first call from a Church asking for support! And of course, Chris and the team being able to respond by sending out workers. What a lovely day that will be.

What is difficult about going back out on mission after having been home – and you know what it’ll be like?

Well, this time we are going back to Iceland without our children – James and Kim. James and Kim were very involved in the development of the work first time round in Iceland, so it will be strange to go back there without them. They have promised to visit though! To be honest, there is nothing terribly difficult about going back out on mission to Iceland. Perhaps this is because we are going back to do something completely different, so there is a sense that we have moved on. We didn’t go back thinking we would pick up where we left off, which is always a bad idea, as of course everything and everybody moves on. Learning Icelandic is a challenge of course, anyone who has ever tried to learn it will testify to that! Most Icelanders speak English though and that is both a blessing and a hindrance. Because their grasp of English is so much better than our grasp of Icelandic, we often end up speaking English. Icelandic is though such a beautiful language, one poet (whose name escapes me) once famously wrote that he learnt Icelandic so that he could think. And, why not?

What, from your last time in Iceland, were you most inspired by/pleased with?

Chris and I were in Iceland from January to May earlier this year. During that time we were invited to join a weekend conference run by fellow missionaries Mike and Shelia Fitzgerald, a wonderful couple who hail from the US. They are the directors of Lindin Radio in Iceland, the only Christian radio station in Iceland broadcasting the Good News 24/7. During the conference, several people gave testimonies about how the children and young people’s work that we had helped to pioneer in Iceland was still going strong. They talked about the tremendous blessing the work had (and continues to be) to the Church, but particularly to the smaller country Churches. We were blessed beyond measure to know that our work had been so well received and was still blessing the children and young people. You can’t ask for more than that!

What preparations are you currently making for going back to Iceland?

Chris went back to Iceland at the end of July to begin putting things into place. He is already busy developing plans, meeting people and preparing for the conference in October. His feet haven’t touched the ground since he got there, which of course, suits Chris very well. I am still in the UK, writing up the final chapters of my PhD thesis, which is exploring aspects of dementia care. As soon as that is submitted, I will be returning to Iceland, ready to start the next part of our great adventure in Iceland.

Resources

Pentecostal Mission Movement_presentation