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!