Sunday, December 30, 2007

Norsk Julen

Its been a busy week here in Norway, celebrating Christmas (jul). Let me share with you some of my Christmas and some of the Christmas traditions here in Norway. Unlike in the States, advent is actually observed, to some extent. Christmas tree lots only appeared about 2 weeks before Christmas and then people put their trees on their balconies until a couple days before Christmas. After observing advent, Christmas is then celebrated for 12 days, to some extent. For me, this has meant that I have been eating many norwegian and other sorts of foods and many different homes. It has been great to celebrate Christmas with so many people and to eat so many foods!

On Christmas eve, after the service, we hosted at church a sort-of potluck Christmas Eve dinner. There were about 80 people with food to spare. We thought we might run low on food, since one of the turkey's didn't cook right, but we were all full by the end. We even had an Indian rice dish that had been colored - I think - with little parts of green and red! How festive.

On Christmas, we had a Christmas morning service, at which I preached (in addition to preaching just 2 days earlier on the 4th Sunday in advent. Yes, sermon writing was also part of my Christmas this year.) I had never in my life, or that I can remember, been to a Christmas day service. But, it was nice to get up and have a service with less people, a bit more intimate. I preached about missing Jesus becasue we were looking in the wrong places. WE were expecting a party, a banquet, a parade, but God came where we weren't looking - in the darkness (John 1), in a barn to social outcasts, to the lonely, to the pained. and to celebrate Christmas, we too are to go into the darkness, bearing God's light. Was a different sort of Christmas sermon!

Then got to open presents and spent the evening with one of the church families - she is actually from Wisconsin!! And he cooked a wonderful meal. AND, I got to play 'guitar hero', which the daughter had received for Christmas. That game is harder than it looks!!

My second authentic norwegian meal came the next day at another congregation member's house. He prepared Pinnekj√łtt (Lamb Ribs). I had heard mixed reviews on this food, but I was game to try something new. They pretty good. Pretty much your traditional food that gets prepared once a year. Not good enough to prepare all the time and not bad enough to never prepare. The lamb ribs are steamed / smoked - in the pot, they are cooked on top of special wood chips in which water is boiling. As a result, the meat is tender and has a smoky taste. With pinnekjott, we also ate (as is traditional) the purple cabbage, sweet (kohlrabi), potatos, and parsnips.

That's enough for now - now that I have your mouth watering for our interesting norwegian food! I have also learned how to cook some Indian food and today I made rommegrot - a norwegian sort of porridge. But, more on that later!

God jul og god nytt ar!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Long Time...No Post

I'm back, finally. My computer's internet connection was not working correctly, so I haven't been able to post for awhile. But, the problems have now been fixed! Yippee. Not much time now, so I'll give you a little update and write more later.

At the end of November, I travelled to Turkey, yes the country, with the intern in Berlin. It was great to get away and to see an amazing place. Turkey sits in both Europe and Asia, so it has long been the crossroads and centerplace of much - including church history.

And just this past weekend (long weekend) 2 college friends from Madison came and visited. It was great to see some friends right around the holiday time and for them to see where and how I live. Now people really know how expensive it is here, but also what an interesting place this is. Last weekend it got actually cold for the first time since I arrived, so we were bundled up all weekend, even wearing long underwear!

Here's a pic of the landscape on our busride to Hadeland Glass Factory. There's a bit of snow on the ground, but in the trees its mostly frost. The air is still quite damp, probably because of the fjord, so what looks like snow, is actually frost that doesn't melt during the day because we don't get much sun!

And here are the Viking Women ready to board their sailing vessel.

I hope your advent has been one of peace and joy, with some anticipation mixed in! There are more pics from Turkey on my Picasa sight - just click on the "Pics from my norsk life" on the side bar. I'll upload more pics from Kristin and Danielle's visit soon.

Ha det!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

She stole my clothes!

Look! Its my dress! I was flipping through the channels the other day, and landed on the Norwegian soap opera type show "Hotel Ceaser". In walks this woman, who I think might be the conniving older woman who is still trying to be sexy.

I think - its in Norwegian. But, that's kind of what she looks like too. But, I sort of hope not, becasue, she's wearing my dress! Yes, I own this dress and like it! Its not anything all that special, its from H&M, but still.

Maybe she is the trying to be sexy older woman, since she's probably 30 to 40 years older than I am. I'm a bit afraid to wear this dress now! Oh well, I'll wear it proudly.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Preaching is Weird.

Preaching, or wait, maybe God, is weird. Or to use the Minnesota phrase, "its interesting..."

I preached again last Sunday. When I got to the 3rd paragraph, the part where I transitioned from my fun story about life at the beginning, I realized or became unsure that my points hung together and started wondering if I had actually explained what I meant by "power", which was a central theme in my sermon. Even if I did, something seems off here. Shoot, this isn't going to make any sense. Oh no batman, this could be bad!

I was trying to talk about how God's power, the power that was shown through Christ's life, death, and resurrection, is our power, through our faith and Christ's resurrection - drawing on the Ephesians 1 text from Sunday. But, that we get all mixed up and try to draw power from the clothes we wear, the jobs we have, by buying into these oppressive systems that allow some people to climb to the "top", but in climing to the top, we trample all over other people. Then, bringing in the Blessed are the poor...woe are the rich.

That's what I was trying to say, but when I started trying to say it, it felt like it wasn't going to make sense. By the time I was done, I was thinking, well that was horrible. As I reflect back, it feels a bit like I was somewhat removed from myself, I can't actually remember the whole preaching experience. Either my brain was racing so fast I was disjointed, or maybe the Holy Spirit was moving in me, or both. Weird.

Here's the really weird / funny / interesting part. My internship committee met last night, this is a group of people who give me feedback, support, etc throughout internship. Well, they said that they thought this sermon was better than my first one. Mostly because I didn't seem to rush through it so much, that I left more time to think. They could actually absorb what I was saying In their opinion, it seemed to be a better sermon. How amazing is that!!

Our preaching professor had said that how we preach is as important as the words we are preaching. That preaching an action, not just words. I guess its true. Its also true that God does amazing things even when we think they are horrible! It really isn't all about us and we are truly not the ones in power here. Thank goodness for that!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Is this internship?

This internship is turning out to have all sorts of strange things, but not necessarily involving the church. Two weekends ago I was in Paris (yes, France! how cool) for the International Chruches youth conference. Fascinating to talk with all these youth who have lived all over the world and who move every 3-5 years. Their sense of home and community makes for unique ministry experiences.

When we arrived back to Oslo late Sunday night, one of the girls, who we knew was soon moving back to India, but she wasn't sure when, was greeted by her mom telling her that they were leaving for India on Tuesday! That was 2 days away!! One just feels helpless for these youth who move from place to place.

On a positive note, we can now drink our water in Oslo now drink our water in Oslo. Whenever I'm drinking a glass of water, though, I'm still a bit suspicious. Wondering if its supposed to taste like this.

Another weirdness in my life. Remeber that royal sighting a month or two ago? Well, it has now been topped! About 3 weeks ago, I went to see the Bourne Supremacy (not so supreme, seemed like it was mostly fighting and car chases) at my local movie theater.

Yes, this would be it. The Colosseum Kino.

Anyway, the crown Prince of Norway sat right behind me! Yes, one row back, about 2 seats over. It looked like he was just with 3 friends, maybe they were security, but it didn't look like it. I just wanted to stare at him the whole time. Weird.

I guess this is internship. I guess this is Norway!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


So, I have to boil my water, right? Well, sometimes its possible to forget that water is boiling away right in your very own kitchen, because, well, its quite quiet. Really it is, try it! As you have probably guessed by now, I forgot that I was boiling water last night. Oops! Suddenly, I heard the stove make some sort of noise and I remembered. "Shoot! I put water on to boil! How long ago was that? Shoot!"

Rushing into the kitchen, I walked into a sauna and was confronted with this lovely site. Steam had accumulated on the window and had converted my kitchen into a sauna.

Then, looking at my boiling water, I found none. Instead, I found this my recenlty new, but has now been 'gently used' pan. It was just shiny, bright and new a couple weeks ago!

I scrubbed the pot this morning and it looked better, but still smelled burnt. But, then I learned a secret at church this morning. If you boil some water and baking soda in the pot, it will take away the burnt smell and residue. Just don't forget that one is boiling water. I tried this this afternoon, and it seems to have worked. We'll see what happens when I actually use the pot with food!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Can I drink this?

Hmm, you thought I was living in the great northern paradise? Well, here's some news for you! Oslo's public water has been found to have giardia (which I've heard of) and cryptosporidium (no idea what this is)! For the next 2 weeks we have to either boil the water for 3 mns or buy bottled water. It was first reported on Wednesday, but the people who test the water first reported it last Friday. On Wednesday, most of the convenience stores sold out of their supply of bottled water, which was quite funny! Now, some stores have signs up that say "vi har vann" or we have water. Never thought I would see that sign, especially in Oslo.
Being as I have some sort of problem, ethical, environmental, monetary, not sure with buying bottled water, I've been boiling water like a fiend. And, you have to let the water cool after boiling before using it. This is the worst part, since it seems to take forever to cool. I can still shower, etc with the water, but when brusing teeth, making coffee, cooking pasta, etc. I use the boiled water. I've never realized how much water I use, and how precious it really it. The first day I was so thirsty because I hadn't boiled any water yet. Uff da!
I can now say I have lived in a place where I had to boil the water! Funny how all the people at our international training this summer, everyone laughed that I wouldn't need to know any of the safety precautions we were talking about. Little did they, or I know what was coming. Enjoy your water!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The frozen chosen are melting!

Oh how God works and the Spirit moves beyond our expectations! I got to preach yesterday in worship at ALC. I didn't get to actually start writing my sermon until Friday afternoon - one of those weeks, but had been thinking about it since Tuesday. It was on the 10 lepers who Jesus healed, with one going back to give thanks and praise to Jesus (luke 17:11-19).

Walking to church yesterday morning and even when walking up to the pulpit to preach, I was much calmer and more confident than I was a couple weeks ago when I first preached. Partly it was probably having preached here before, but I was also more confident in the sermon that had been prepared. I thought that the sermon was a little long, but that God had been active, and would be in the preaching event itself, etc. But, was also feeling quite humble that, well, here it it, lets see. We've worked hard on this one. What if its horrible! But, well, God has been active and God will take and do what needs to be done.

So, I'm preaching away. Didn't get bogged down in the middle as usual. And I get to the end, say amen. And some people somewhere near the front start clapping!! I am in Norway, home of the frozen chosen, they don't clap. It seemed like it came from a certain group of people, but I'm not sure. I don't know who started it. How weird. I was completely flabbergasted. The last part of the sermon had a bit of an emotional push to it, so maybe that was it, who knows. Wow, never thought people would clap after i've preached (maybe they were just clapping that i was done!!)

One of the women who's been around forever told me that she has been at ALC for 46 years and she's never heard anyone clap after a sermon. I'm thinking, oh no. What have I done. I have a whole year left here! I can't keep this up, whatever it was that happened yesterday. Guess that's God's job, i'll just be the instrument.

I do, though, now understand why our preaching professor says that he goes to bed after he preaches on Sunday, that he is drained. I got enough sleep on Saturday night, but was quite exhausted all day yesterday. When I got home I barely had enough energy to make lunch! Guess it took my whole body, spirit, and everything to get that sucker out!!

Oh, I used Green Day's song "Working Class Hero" in my sermon. The video of it is pretty good, used in relation to Amnesty Int'l Save Darfur Campaign. Check it out.

Working Class Hero Video.

Some people ask for my sermon's (mostly my mom and dad!). But, I don't want to post them since I never know what might happen to them and since I'm still in the process of ordination, I need to be careful. But, I will e-mail them out if you so desire, just let me know. But, as you read them, remember, as my preaching prof says, "a sermon is not just the words, but the preaching event itself!"

Have a great week! Today's my day off!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wear your collar to work Week!

I wore my clerical collar to work today!! Oh my. It took me forever to get dressed because I wasn't sure what to do with myself. The last time I wore my collar was while I was doing CPE - student chaplaincy in a hospital. That was 2 summers ago!

Part of the problem is that clerical shirt companies still can't seem to figure out that women's bodies are different than mens! Hmmm, tough thought huh. I'm told that Women's Spirit now has a shirt that actually fits. The shirts I've ordered or bought in the past either have pleats down the front to make room for the part of the women's anatomy that men don't have or they're just bigger all over. At any rate, I always feel like the Vicar of Dibley (BBC show, also on PBS in the States, about a woman vicar in the UK). The other problem is that the shirts are also expensive.

I tend to wear a 'janie'. Maybe this is more than you want to know, but I thought I would share anyway! For you non-going to be a pastor types, or men pastors who don't have to deal with this. A 'janie' is like a dikie, but you can attach a clerical collar and wear it under a shirt. Since I tend to wear solid collar nice short sleeve or long sleeve shirts on most occasions, this works well. Plus, I don't feel like the Vicar of Dibly, but myself.

But, this morning, I tried to wear this 'janie' that I had gotten from someone, but it wouldn't work. The white collar part kept popping up and doing weird things. Eventually, I got my other janie to work, but uff da! All this for a collar.

Plus, there's the psychological struggle of putting on that collar. Everyone will know I'm a pastor!! What will they think, will people stop me on the street. How am I supposed to act? It was cold enough this morning, though, that I wore a scarf walking to work. This is why I'm wearing my collar for at least one week per month though, so that I can work through all these struggles, and to get more comfortable wearing my collar.

On my way home though, I had my scarf on, but was not so paranoid about my collar, but almost had a sense that people knew I had this thing on that identified me as a pastor.

If there is a textile designer out there though, could you work on the plastic collar part! It kind of sticks to your skin, and is not so comfortable. In a book i'm currently reading, one of the characters refers to clerical collars as dog collars. I have to say that at some points today, when I was physically uncomfortable with the collar, I had to agree with her assessment. Currently, my collar is being shaped into a more circular shape, so it hopefully will not try to form weird shapes while encircling my neck.

We'll see what tomorow brings! I meet with the youth in the evening. It will be interesting to hear their reactions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Now here is something I never thought I would do (or even considered doing). On Monday, I went grocery shopping in Sweden!!

No, I did not see the sights. No, I did visit my relatives. Yes, I bought fish, cheese, juice, candy, and other grocery items (but no cigarettes or alcohol). As I may have mentioned, Oslo is the most expensive city in the world - more expensive than Tokyo. The cheapest box of cereal is right now around $3. While this isn't too bad for most norwegians who also earn more money on average, it is not great for those of us living on a salary paid in US dollars - which are not doing so well against the Norwegian Kroner.

Anyway, meat, candy, alcohol, and cigarettes are especially expensive in Norway - mostly for tax reasons. So, the norwegian people hop acrosss the border to stock up on these products. Knowing that I am currently in the process of stocking my kitchen, one of the congregation members invited me to go grocery shopping in Sweden. So, away we went! Its about a 45 mn. drive to the border, where a little shopping area has sprung up because of the norwegian shoppers. The area feels kind of like an outlet mall in the US.

If you are worried about my ability to afford food in the future in Norway, don't worry so much. Knowing that I am living on the dollar and being a great, generous, and caring congregation, my internship congregation has been helping me stock my pantry and 2 offerings have been taken to provide me with pantry stocking money. How great is that! I have been so well taken care of - I have even received those precious items that people pack in their suitcases to bring back from the states - peanut butter, cake mix, zip lock bags, etc.

Enjoy that large grocery store with so many food selections, and much subsidized produce and meat. Here, the grocery stores are mostly small with limited selection. I will surely be learning to cook norwegian! and shop at the immigrant groceries, which tend to be cheaper and have more non-norwegian foods. But for now, I am well stocked, thanks to my great congregation and the great country of Sweden!

Happy cooking to you!

Royal Spotting

Special update!!

So, yesterday I was walking to the train station from church, going by the royal palace. But, I'm hearing a band and there are flags flying at the palace - more than usual, and guard looking people marching around. So, of course I wander across teh street and to the palace. Lining the palace drive are Norwegian and Brazilian flags, the road is just gated off - not the kind of real security gating of the US, but just like a parade gating. Near the palace entrance is a canopied podium type of thing, and a seating area, and a press stand.

Soon, in marches about 100 royal guard, who line up and then are inspected and moved, etc. by their superiors.

Well, eventually, after everything is neat and in line. Out of the palace comes King Olav, the Queen, and Princess Marit. Olav goes and inspects the guard (at which point he was about 20 feet from me), then goes back and they all greet what look like embassy people or something from Brazil, in the stage area. Eventually, in drives the official motorcade. And out comes the President of Brazil, his wife, and Prince Hokan!

They do a little tour of the guard, shake hands, go see the Brazil people (who are singing Ole, ole, ole ole...), remember from the World Cup. - not of the Norwegian ole and lena jokes.

Anyway, how weird is that that on my way home, I wandered upon a royal reception. I think they were leaving the palace as I walked to work this morning. Out of the palace drive came a larger motorcade, who then headed through town, with the police preparing their way.

As one of the Norwegian people I was talking to at the Royal Reception said - that's one of the great things about living in a small country! You get to see and be part of these things!!

Official Pics Here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Election Day

It's voting day for Parliament here in Norway today. There is a voting station at the school of the girls of the family with whom I am staying, so the girls didn't have school today. I thought it was interesting that there is no school if there is a polling station.

I will let you know the results soon, PLUS I'm going on a tour of Parliament on Wednesday, so I should have some pictures then. One of the church members works in Parliament, so we'll get a guided tour from him!

But, since it is election day, I thought I would put up some of the sites that are somewhat related to the political realm.

The Royal Palace lies right in the middle of the city. I think the King and Queen were even in residence the day I walked by (I also walk to work on the side street by the palace). I learned recently that they normally live in an apt. on the 2nd floor of the palace.

The Nobel Peace Institute - and the decision table - is where the members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee deliberate and decide on who gets the Peace Prize. I think the Prize is actually awarded in a a larger auditorium in another building, but I can't remember. I attended a Fulbright Scholars reception at the Nobel Institute and got a little tour, but that was on my 3rd day in Oslo, so I can't remember too well.

Finally, the lovely U.S. embassy. I also walk by this building almost everyday. Isn't it lovely?? I guess it was designed by some famous modern architect, but its not really too pretty, nor, in my opinion does it give off the friendliest picture of the United States. I have now seen the US Ambassador twice, yes, twice, that's right. He was at the Fulbright reception (I didn't talk with him, though) and then just last week, he was walking to his vehicle or something outside the embassy (but inside the gates of course.) I have to say though, it was quite strange and a bit scarey to walk by a man standing on the sidewalk with a large gun in his hand.

Oh, because school was closed we went to IKEA. For those of you who love IKEA as much as I do, it looked just the same! I did figure out why IKEA sells hot dogs though. Everyone here eats hot dogs, they are the quick food. 7-11 sells them, convenience stores, vendors, etc. There were a bunch of people eating hot dogs at the cafe part in IKEA! I even ate a hot dog in lumpa at the Norsk Derby - I'm not sure if I put a picture of that up.

That's it. Enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vigeland Park

In my first post, I said that I had gone sight-seeing. My first stop was Vigeland Park. I had visited this park last time I was in Oslo and rememberd it fondly. Well, this time, I remembered my camera and took some pictures.

The park was created as a home / studio, I guess, for Karl Vigeland to create his works of art. Almost all of his creations call Vigeland Park their home (the real name of the park is Frogner Park, if you're looking on a map.) I love the statues because they are full of movement and depict the poignancy (how do you spell this word?) and simplicity of life.

Here are some pics, enjoy!

Friday, August 31, 2007

We should try this!

A solution to the high cost of textbooks!
Students just put out their textbooks
on the sidewalk and wait for buyers to come on by.

Posted by Picasa

Here we Go!!

I have now been in Oslo for one week. I arrived last Wedensday and am still a bit mixed up on the days. Its so strange to lose a day/night when you fly across so many time zones.

I am serving this year at an enlish speaking church here in Oslo. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. Contrary to its name, the congregation is composed of people from many countries, even native Norwegians. There is also a man working on refugee ministries. He brings mostly men to church on Sunday mornings - most are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and a couple other hotbeds. I also met the pastor from an Eritrean church here in Oslo.

Oslo itself is also a city of immigrants. While you might think everyone is blonde - and many are, even if out of the bottle, there are many, many immigrants. It sounds like most have come within the last 10 - 20 years.

Last week I had dinner with a family every night, was shown around Oslo by an official Oslo guide who is also part of our congregation, and wandered around downtown all by myself!! Oh my. Our pastor is in Ghana until Friday, so I've had a chance to settle in and see Oslo.

On Sunday afternoon, I was invited to the Norwegian derby (think Kentucky Derby) by our fun church secretary. So, myself, the pastor's family, and the secretary went to the derby. She even made me a hat. The hat's people were wearing were quite impressive. Some were homemade and some were bought. We were even in a hat parade (fashion show). I did see a couple horse races too.

Today, was tourist day for me! (Our church secretary told me to take the day off since I was at church late last night). So, I went to Vigeland Park, where Karl Vigeland's statues are the main attraction. They are so full of life and movement. Very interesting. I took some pics on my new phone (its quite cool) and will post these later. Otherwise, its been fun.

Jeg leare litt norske (I'm learning a little norwegian.) day by day.